Someone at some point had to raise it (please no puerile sniggers) so let it be me. Sex and alcohol. They go together like bread and butter, Fred and Ginger, Boris and Donald. It’s also Valentine’s Day so what better day to address this primary drive. I must admit to being surprised that it’s not come up much before on these blogs as the two seem so entwined in both positive and negative ways. For us men, booze has always been a double edged sword (Is it possible to write about this subject without unintended innuendo?). It gives us a confidence to approach a potential partner and yet too much booze can lead to the onset of the euphemistic “brewer’s droop” . Shakespere as always puts it much better in one of the few funny moments of Macbeth when Mc Duff comes to wake Duncan and has a brief encounter with the drunken porter:
Macd: Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,”
That you do lie so late?
Porter: Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock; and drink,
sir, is a great provoker of three things.
Macd:What three things does drink especially provoke?
Port: Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance; therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
Of course alcohol as the drug that enables us to relax and give us confidence has an element of truth but when you give it up you see this for what it truly is, a myth. We are not going to examine my sex life you’ll be pleased to know, but I can say that I have had meetings with people and functions where previously I would have said to myself that I had to have a drink and now realise that I do not and probably never needed one. Yes I get a bit nervous sometimes but that soon passes and I now hardly ever yearn for the anxiety reducing qualities of booze.
Alcohol and sex. Common bedfellows. Laugh a minute. Lose your inhibitions and have a good time. Meet people and enjoy yourself. All part of the cheery mythology of drinking. But there’s a dark side.
The darker side of this is that booze certainly lowers inhibitions and that means the drive for sexual activity becomes less restricted. That may or may nor be good for some people but it also accounts for many instances of sexual assault, rape and unwelcomed sexual advances. The soporific qualities of booze can lead to some people becoming victims of sexual activity that the only fully realise after the event. Or they may become so drunk they are incapable of giving consent and for some twisted individuals a lack of consent becomes bizarrely some kind of green light.
The fact is a high proportion of rapes and sexual assaults take place where alcohol is involved and an article in the Guardian some years ago suggested rather than fixating on the role of “Date Rape Drugs” we should look at the role of alcohol itself.
While fears over exotic rape drugs might be unfounded, rape is all too common and alcohol frequently plays a role. Rather than fixating on unlikely scenarios of drink spiking, we might be better served by reexamining our collective relationship with alcohol and reinforcing the message that sex with someone incapable of giving consent is assault. (Guardian 2014)
Of course not everyone who drinks behaves in this way but drink does seem to make people do things they might not normally do. The crime statistics show that a high proportion of crimes are alcohol related and the figure is staggeringly high when it comes to crimes involving violence as this quote from a Government Crime survey illustrates:
Victims perceived the offender(s) to be under the influence of alcohol in 53% of violent incidents measured by the 2013/14 CSEW. This is equivalent to an estimated 704,000 ‘alcohol-related’ violent incidents. While the volume of incidents has fallen, the proportion of violent incidents that were ‘alcohol-related’ has remained relatively steady over the last ten years. Crime Survey 2014
Writing this I’m now aware I’ve moved from a light hearted let’s look at alcohol and sex, titter, titter, to looking now at the dark underbelly of alcohol and sexual violence. That was not my intention, but maybe it says it all that once you scratch the surface of our relationship with alcohol, what seems like a harmless pleasure turns into a something altogether much scarier and harmful. Drink doesn’t turn people into violent offenders and rapists but it certainly seems to encourage those harbouring those dispositions. It will be interesting to see if, as the consumption of alcohol declines, we will see a corresponding decline in rapes, sexual assaults and violence.
Sorry folks, not a chirpy Jim post, not a consistent post. A rambling, confused post and a real downer of a Valentine’s Day post but maybe a good reminder of why many of us have turned away from this most damaging of drugs. It harms us individually and collectively in so many ways and clouds our judgement and decision making. I’m glad I have put it behind me. I know what Love looks like and I certainly don’t need a bottle of prosecco to recognise it.
Personally I cannot see one advantage that drinking alcohol would make to one’s sex life. If you need a drink before making love maybe you’re with the wrong person. If you’re sober and with the one you love that’s as good as anything this life offers.
Enjoy being sober with the one you love.