I’m not sure why I feel compelled to comment on recent events surrounding Stephen Fry but I reacted rather strongly to reports of his thoughts on women and sex and the backlash that appears to have caused him to give up on Twitter in a dramatic [if queenly] ‘Woe is Me!’ fashion.
For those who aren’t so much in the know, he was reported by the Guardian having said in an interview with gay magazine Attitude he believed most straight men felt that“they disgust women” as they “find it difficult to believe that women are as interested in sex as they are”.
He goes on to say, “For good reason, if women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas. Women would go and hang around in churchyards thinking: ‘God, I’ve got to get my fucking rocks off’, or they’d go to Hampstead Heath and meet strangers to shag behind a bush. It doesn’t happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it.”
Finally, “I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want,” he said. “Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, ‘Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!’ But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?”
To which I reply Mr Fry, you are an absolute pillock.
Such statements are ridiculous sweeping generalisations about how both straight men and women think and behave, which, for obvious reasons Fry is woefully unqualified to make and that he does so with an insufferable presumption of authority on the subject beggars belief.
Men and women are motivated differently. While girls may not be out in Fry’s church yard looking to score their next orgasm from whichever faceless Tom, Dick or Harry is nearest they may well be lifting their shirts and skirts for some other Joe or Jock who told them he loved her. Heck they may even be putting up with sexual/physical/emotional abuse because they doesn’t feel like they’re worthy of being loved any other way or by anyone else. Just because the men like sex to feel powerful and women like sex to feel loved doesn’t make one or other motivation better than the other.
Fry’s suggestion that men think women are disgusted by men, may in some cases be true, but it would also be fair to say that there are men who are disgusted by women who offer sex indiscriminately; this doesn’t stop either gender from taking advantage of sex offered when the opportunity arises. It’s sides of the same coin and while neither motivation is wrong, cheap sex for whatever reason or by whichever gender/orientation is a distortion of the ideal; sex within a loving committed relationship. The mistake Fry makes is that assumes motivation and enjoyment are one and the same. I suggest consenting parties don’t have to be motivated to undertake the act for the same reasons for either or both of them to enjoy it.
The irony isn’t lost on me that I, as a self confessed celibate (who is rather less qualified to comment than Mr. Fry) am offering my twopence worth to the global conversation, but for all its salacious content the situation is an interesting study in celebrity, social media, and public opinion. I don’t have the article to be able to read the whole interview in context but if what was quoted above is what Fry said (and by extension meant) there’s no question he cocked up royally. The thing I’m amused by is that in a fit of pique (or more likely, raging embarrassment) Stephen has headed for the hills and withdrawn from the public [specifically, his Twitter followers, of which I am one] rather than face the backlash.
We all say things we regret, Stephen is no less human than the rest of us (for all his eloquence and cleverness) and it is clearly rather humbling that in this day and age what you say can reach both the other side of the world and millions of people in the blink of an eye.
I do hope Stephen returns to Twitter (as he has done before), but suggest he that returns suitably chastened and with a thicker skin.