December 04, 2006

Sex hacks: better working through orgasms

Cartoon from Gaping Void

I am a big believer in meaningful work, and this Work Manifesto by Pamela Slim is both practical and impassioned. She makes good points about responsibility, fear and secret desires, but I am especially in love with her second item.

2. Good work will improve your sex life. Frustrated employees desperately long for excitement and release in the form of fantasy football, internet surfing, porn, and the affections of their stressed and overworked spouses. No superhero could fill the gigantic void of a passionless man or woman in a 15-minute tryst in bed. Express your passion through your work every day, all day, and find that you will be less needy, more attentive, open, giving and loving to your partner. Which makes for better sex.

I completely agree: a good way to be interesting is to be interested, a good way to be sexy is to love your life. But I think it works the other way as well! Natalie Angier spends a chapter in Woman: An Intimate Geography, one of my favourite books, wondering whether the real purpose of a clitoris might be to help you make good life decisions.

We should not be surprised that the clitoris loves power, or that its nature is complex. For women, sex has always been risky. ... At the same time, we are primates. We use sex for many reasons beyond reproduction. ... In the face of vulnerability, we need effective defenses. The clitoris is our magic cape. It tells us that joy is a serious business and that we must not take our light, our sexual brilliance, lightly. The clitoris integrates information from diverse sources, conscious and unconscious, from the cerebral cortex, the hypothalamus, the peripheral nervous system, and it responds accordingly. If you are frightened, it becomes numb. If you are uninterested or digusted, it remains mute. If you are thrilled and strong, it is a taut little baton, leading the way, cajoling here, quickening there, andante, allegro, crescendo, refrain.

Towards the end of Sex For One, another of my all-time favourite reads, Betty Dodson talks about using orgasms to clarify your goals and motivate you to work on projects. She talks about having work fantasies, art fantasies or activist fantasies while you masturbate, and about getting off on visions of your own success and power.

I do that sometimes to help me invent websites or make business plans. I have joked about putting little "Powered by orgasms" badges on websites I make for clients. (Hi, clients!) So chalk up one more way that primates use sex: as a productivity hack.

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