Erotic Review Magazine

Drinking and Fucking

by Susan Quilliam / 29th November 2011

Drinking and fucking are surely conjoined twins. Copious drinking and boundary-pushing sexual practices are surely even further linked. Swinging from the nearest chandelier without a parachute, indulging in no-holds-barred Roman-style orgies, and seducing your best friend’s spouse (at their own wedding reception and without benefit of condom) are going to be not only accompanied, but positively facilitated, by liberal amounts of alcohol. Or as Dorothy Parker so beautifully put it, “one more drink and I’ll be under the host.”

When I write with my Erotic Review hat on, all this seems arousing, exhilarating and enormous fun. For let me be clear here – I not only buy but also sink my round with the best of them, particularly when it’s white and very, very dry.

But with my sexual health hat on, cue just a little tutting and clucking. Because we agony aunts aren’t too keen on non-holds barred sexual behaviour; call us spoilsports, but we look down the line a few weeks and see syphilis, look down the line a few months and see an unexpected pregnancy, look down the line a few years and see divorce. And that means we’re wary of mixing sex and booze.

And we have scholarship on our side. For decades all the academic research has stacked up to suggest that overmuch drink creates what might be called alcoholic myopia – that particular sort of irresponsible short-sightedness that strikes when one is half a bottle down.

One simply doesn’t see the possible risks involved in the future when here and now the rewards seem so delightful. Given enough Chateau Neuf du Carlsberg, it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re in danger of picking up a positive plethora of infections, if you’re completely ignored the application of appropriate rubber goods, or if you’re not actually in love with the sheep… well, you get my drift. In the Western world particularly, it seems undeniable that alcohol thoroughly depletes one’s regular moral and common sense and dramatically reduces one’s normal inhibitions.

Further, with a bit of luck, alcohol reduces the inhibitions of a partner one is attempting to seduce. Slosh out the champagne, add a few post dinner liqueurs and she (or he) will accede happily and willingly in situations that they may not have previously considered advisable. (I’m not, repeat not, talking non-consensual sex here; that’s another article entirely. I’m just highlighting the common belief that once one has put on those rose-coloured beer glasses, sex with a hitherto unattractive partner may suddenly seem to be a Much Better Idea.)

But here’s the thing. None of the last three paragraphs is true. A recent research review at the University of Wisconsin suggests that while alcohol may indeed provoke the desire and take away the performance, it actually has no effect at all on the inhibition. How wild we tend to be, what risks we tend to take, what sexual decisions we tend to make, – all remain remarkably constant whether we are sober or stupefied.

Our sexual boundaries (or lack of them) are set before we ease off the cap or pop the cork. These boundaries may be part of our inborn personality – for example whether we are a ‘sensation seeker’. They may be down to our belief in personal freedom, or our inner rebellion against convention and compliance. They may be influenced by our families, our partnerships, our losing or gaining religious faith, our feeling identified with or alienated from the society we live in. But they are not much affected by is the amount of alcohol we add to the mix.

So if our personality is such that we’re going to kick over the trace, we’ll go ahead whether or not we’ve been drinking. If our sensation-seeking is such that we’re going to jump headlong into that orgy, alcohol will make us only marginally likely to do so (and then only if we are have the added x chromosome – if we’re male it will make no difference at all). And in particular if our inability to think long term means we fail to use contraception and protection, then statistically we’re likely to fail to use it anyway, whether we’ve been on double vodkas or elderflower cordial.

And here’s the next unexpected piece of the jigsaw puzzle- that if we tend to go wild, we will probably choose the double vodka rather than the elderflower cordial as a matter of course. Why? Because it’s an alibi. It allows us to explain, excuse and shrug off whatever erotic behaviours we tend towards – allows us to tell those around us that it was the drink that was to blame.

It also allows us to tell ourselves that it was the drink that was to blame – in short, to forgive ourselves for any morning-after sexual regrets. Guilt can often be washed away by remembering that what was done was through the haze of alcohol. Actions that go against our overt moral code (or that of our partner, our parents or our rabbi) can be discounted because we’d had one too many. And the more we do discount, the more we will – next time we want to indulge our more covert but less acceptable tendencies, and experience some pleasure that makes us feel guilty or immoral – we will tend to choose alcohol as our get-out-of-jail-free card.

I guess what you’ll be expecting now is a sermon. If so, you’ll be disappointed. The important message from the new research is not that we should start walking the narrow path of sobriety and celibacy.

Quite the opposite. For me the important message is that we ought to be far more aware of, accepting of and open about, our sexual proclivities. Well, all right – on the issue of contraception and protection I do think that we ought to be toe-ing the line – but otherwise, why hide behind alcohol in order to have an excuse for taking pleasure?

Where drink adds to the experience – because of its look, its smell, its taste and that particular sensation of intense awareness that it can induce, then I’m all for it. But when alcohol becomes the vindication of sexuality, I simply don’t see the point. Rather than claiming to be under ‘the influence’, why not make a proud choice?

And I do believe that if we encouraged everyone to make a proud choice, then we wouldn’t need vast quantities of alcohol in order to give ourselves permission to feel the pleasure. We could maybe drink just a little but really enjoy it – and then have lots and lots of sex and really enjoy that. In other words, albeit safely, I both want and advise the best of both worlds.

Like this article.... Try this one: Rule of Thumb

Discussion

Leave a Reply