Forget lingerie and romantic gestures, infidelity, wrecking homes and breaking hearts are the new ‘sexy’. For those who are unaware of this latest media scandal, Ashley Madison, a dating website for, yes, cheaters has been hacked and threatened to have the information of their ‘clients’ released if the website isn’t shut down. The website is extremely popular with around 37 million subscribers- now that’s a lot of people with too much free time.
It also got me thinking. In a culture where sex is not demonised and readily available, why would anyone feel the urge to get involved in something like this? Young men and women in the West are not only bombarded at a very early age with sexual images in magazines, TV and pornography, but are also sexually active and have the option of engaging sexually with a number of different partners, and utilising a lot of em… accessories. Basically, sex in the West is like a free- for- all, eat all you can breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet.
And as we all know, how we feel after a buffet…
So unless these people take pleasure in hurting others, why is one partner (or a couple more if you’re a polygamist :p) not enough? For me there seems to be a clear contradiction.
Think of it this way: at what point does an individual usually feel the need to binge on anything? When you really want something, can’t have it and are then suddenly allowed access to what you desire- like after a diet.
The strange thing about this sexual binging in the West is that there really is no need to binge because there are very few technical limitations on sexual behaviour. In other words, people behave as though they’ve been sexually repressed and now stuffing their faces. So strange- especially as you would think it would be us ‘repressed’ Muslim folk obsessing over sex. It kind of reminded me of something Foucault talked about in his History of Sexuality. He argued that the Western notion that the Victorians were prudish and sexually repressed is in fact inaccurate. There was much more going on than meets the eye. And believe me, after spending some time with these lovely ladies-
you tend to agree with Foucault. Don’t let their looks fool you, the conversations and house parties are wild…
Then I had light bulb moment! What if, sexual binging is simply a different version of the kinds of issues we see with some forms of obesity? The food is there, no one is starving, there’s no fear of starvation, yet individuals enter a cycle of addiction and binging. Of course, certain medical and psychological factors can play a part in this; however, there are two factors that may affect lifestyle choices and lead to this obsession with food or sex.
1-Hedonism brought about by having an empty life (or too much free time). The belief that there’s no higher meaning or purpose to life, can drive individuals into a lifestyle the focuses simply on the pursuit of new and unchartered physical pleasures. The Ashley Madison motto ‘Life is short. Have an affair’, reinforces this point. Programs such as ‘Man vs Food’, also highlights how this mindset pushes towards gluttony.
2- Consumerism/ capitalism also encourage pursuing physical pleasures and draw on the feeling that there’s always something more you want but have not attained yet. This ‘I want more’ mentality is deadly as it blocks the ability to be grateful for what you already have. You’re always looking at what your neighbour has in their fridge or bedroom…
Let’s not forget: ego. Having multiple encounters and getting away with being ‘naughty’, is an ego booster and can give the individual a thrill and sense of power.
It could simply be that certain individuals are nasty and stupid enough to risk everything over a little bit of excitement.
In any case, it’s a very disturbing trend and I must say I’m quite pleased with the hacking situation. Even though infidelity can never be eradicated, it should never be romanticized and marketed publicly as an attractive option for attached couples. Since when was it acceptable for a civilized society to behave in this way?