Recent findings indicating that sexting, once seen as the purview of pubescents and perverts, is being practiced by all age groups, with nearly 90 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 82 saying they've sexted during their lifetime. These are the findings presented by a pair of researchers at the recent American Psychological Association's convention. (That must have been a welcome relief from discussing the role psychologists played in torturing detainees.)
One reacts to that kind of news, initially at least, on a very personal level ... would, could, should or have I done it? I wasn't as interested in the researchers' conclusions about how sexting impacted participants' 'very committed' relationships (positively, as it turns out), because I'm not in one. I was much more focused on the age range of the sample -- I just hope when I'm 82 I can still type, let alone type and have an orgasm at the same time.
In fact, I was quite buoyed by the report. It opened up a new range of possibilities for continuing to enjoy sex as I age. The possibilities of finding myself in an intimate relationship narrow with every passing year, yet my libido has its reasons, 'which reason cannot know.' There are means at hand, as it were, to satisfy it, but none, right now, include close connection with another human being. And that is what I miss about solo sex -- having no one to experience it with, which is ultimately the most exciting, sexiest part.
How does one find a suitable sexting partner? As someone who has a visceral reaction to poorly written prose -- a misplaced apostrophe is like chalk on a blackboard, bad grammar worse than dirt under one's fingernails -- I can't just put an ad on Craigslist, or my email would be fuller of unsolicited porn than it already is. Perhaps, like the author of f a Round-Heeled Woman, Jane Juska, I should advertise in a higher-minded journal like the New York Review of Books.
Apparently there is a debate among the cliterati about whether affirmative consent, as Amanda Marcotte so elegantly put it in Slate, "is a boner killer and too much to ask of ordinary people." Sexting is clearly an expression of affirmative consent, and there's no "no" like a blocked IM or other technological means of discontinuing the conversation.
What holds me back from starting one at all it is not the unlikelihood of finding a sext partner with the wit, style and writerly chops to engage me, or even the omnipresence of the Cloud, which already hovers over all our electronic communications like a constant threat. It's not the fear of being laughed at, rejected, or embarrassed by someone I'll never know.
It's that last part that stops me. Someone I'll never know. And reminds me of the truth in that old saw about masturbation ... at least you're going to bed with someone you love.