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Why sex sells and why we should all stop buying

From boybands to Calvin Klein models, should our failure to see through the marketing bother us?

Why sex sells and why we should all stop buying

They say that sex is a great leveler, that when we’re naked, vulnerable and lying prone on the bed, it doesn’t matter who, what or where we are. We are all the same. We are all wondering what got us here? Should we still be laying here? Should we really have kept our socks on?

Sex as a hobby is a good one. It doesn’t cost that much, unless you’re sleeping with someone for whom sex isn’t a hobby but a way to pay the gym membership / bills / cost of a spray tan, and it’s something that in all reality, practice really does make perfect. Sex is like learning to ice skate. You’ll be a bit nervous at first and unsure where to put your hands, you may find yourself rocking backwards and forwards and you’ll soon be flat on your back.

Sex is fine when it’s used as an occasional distraction from the matters in hand, but if you find yourself always thinking about being post coital and always taking the matter into your own hand, then it’s time to step away from fornication and find out what the fornication you should be doing with your life.

We are bombarded with sexual imagery, and I don’t mean people are flinging themselves at us indiscriminately (unless you have a really popular profile on Grindr); it’s more the fact that sex sells. The advertising industry is well aware that for an advert to work it has to be the visual equivalent of Viagra. It’s always going to be the hard sell, up in your face, reaching for your loins and heading for your G spot. Pretty people make a pretty profit and the shirtless will always bring home the shekels.

The music industry has always had sex as a jump into bedmate, from the days of Elvis with his thrusting hips to Britney and her schoolgirl tricks. Sometimes just the merest suggestion of sex is enough to make teenage girls and a sizeable proportion of gay men rush out and buy, buy, buy; of course, in the case of gay men, it always helps if there is a suggestion that the object of affection could be bi, bi, bi.

Sexual imagery is especially prevalent when aimed at gay men. It’s not a surprise when every boyband in the land or any reality show winner with even a hint of pectoral muscle is featured shirtless, hairless and airbrushed across a five page spread in the latest gay glossy. The gay pin up is now the equivalent to the ‘cheesecake pinups’ of the 1950’s and to steal a line from a film about dead people, ‘they’re everywhere’. If I see one more hairless nipple, come hither stare or one more ‘I kissed a guy and I liked it’ headline, I’m going to try and turn straight.

I don’t need a marketing man or record companies idea of how the newest straight guy can maybe go ‘gay’ and I’m over the whole ‘I love my gay audience’ or ‘I saw my bandmate naked’ angle that is always used to manipulate the gay masses. It makes me feel cheap, used and dirty (and not in a good way) but more than that, it bores me. It’s like a line I’ve heard from a boyfriend who was never any good for me, who spent all my money, drank all my beer and never really came up with the goods.

As a culture we’ve slowly become the sugar daddy to the pretty boys who’ve sprung from the loins of Simon Cowell and any talent agent with pink pound signs flashing in their eyes. At the beginning of a B list career to the final death throes of a D list career it’s always off with the shirt and on with the gay friendly connotations.

Do we really need to be teased by tousled hair and a pair of skinny jeans? Isn’t there enough ‘talent’ walking along the high street without us being titillated by the talentless? And surely any ‘man’ who’s constantly in need of a hairbrush and the airbrush is never going to be great boyfriend material anyway? We’ve come so far in our fight for equality that it shames me when we’re lumped in the same demographic as a teenage girl with a ‘Hello Kitty’ poster on her wall.

We all feel the need to look at pretty things but we need to be aware of when they are rifling through our pockets and stealing our wallets. Sex will always be used for the hard sell, to manipulate and free us from inhibited thinking and inhibited spending but it’s not possible for us to fornicate ourselves out of a recession, it’s more likely we’re going to blow our wad on a marketing man’s wet dream that’s been used to dirty up our minds and strip us of our assets.

If the next time you find yourself parting with your cash because of a come hither stare or a promise of ‘I could be gay for pay’ just ask yourself these questions: Was it really good for you? Did you feel the earth move? And are you going to keep on coming back for more?

Daniel Warner is a writer / journalist and can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.


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