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Shame, Sex-Positivity and The Sensationalizing of Sex Addiction

Anya Garrett
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The new film Shame, starring an often-nude Michael Fassbinder as Brandon, with Carey Mulligan as his sister, Cissy, directed by Steve McQueen, is drawing lots of buzz and discussion about whether sex addiction actually exists.


Contributor: VanillaFreeSex

moderation. anything can be looked at as an addiction. any coping mechanism with negative effects or risks can take on the addiction label. Think of adrenaline junkies. notice the word "junkies" that is so loosely used. Addict in general is an overused term. so is alcoholic. I used to be a problem drinker, a drunk, but I'm not an alcoholic. I've learned my boundaries with drinking, and I am completely capable of taking cough medicine without it leading to a drinking binge.

I've had periods of my life where I would of been labeled sex addict. Yet I am completely capable, and have been successful at monogamous relationships. I am even able to endure and choose times of lack of sex.
Ok, I can get on my soapbox about such subjects. I think that addiction labels for actions that hurt people is a way of trying to place the blame on "illness" and not take accountability.

Contributor: downseason56

Hmm. I stumbled on your column through flickr, as I normally wouldn't go to this type of site. I don't like the term "addiction", since it doesn't really define the dynamic going on for the person, and it also implies that any sort of control is near impossible. I've personally stopped looking at porn through behavioral therapy, though I'm still working on the attitudes which led to it. (I've yet to have had sex - and would prefer to have love affair over at least 2-3 months before having that experience).

For me, the desire to sexually consume, degrade, dominate, and inflict cruelty seems to come from a desire to inflict resentment. This comes from self-loathing, a sense of rejection, a hopelessness about ever being love or appreciated for who I am. I end up stereotyping and viewing women (and men) in narrow roles. In Shame, Brandon is very sensitive to slights he feels others make against him, such as with his David and Sissy - about what roles they feel he doesn't measure up to. I would venture a guess that his wounded feelings and resentment against the angry boyfriend affected his going into the gay club.

Some related books are Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ("Men Who Hate Women" in Sweden). When I saw the sex scene of the Swedish film of the latter, it was the first time I saw a woman's naked body without feeling like a creep or voyeur. Another favorite book is Jane Eyre.



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