Stella Pulpo: why we don’t have sex (almost) anymore


The work is not statistical but anthropological. Thoughts on how and why sex has, in this decade, changed pattern (values, expectations, priorities) surpasses the numbers in age, frequency, duration. It’s a wide-ranging yet ironic and witty discussion of the new customs of love – those who practice it and those who don’t – spanning more than two hundred pages from Stella Pulpo in his latest book Once upon a time there was sex (Feltrinelli Urra). TO I feel good told the reasons we don’t (almost) anymore and those for which it is worth recovering a healthy and free appetite.

Your title is draconian: “Once upon a time…” no goodbye…

Because many aspects of sexual activation have changed, the way we relate to this dimension of our lives. The field I explore in my text is what I call “analog coupling,” which is made by the physical meeting of two bodies in the same space and time, and not one of the countless digital or two-dimensional substitutes that synchronicity offers us. Well, all of this arguably diminishes at any age. So the title alludes to what we have lost: a certain kind of sexuality, the lewdness.

Are we in a sexual recession?

Yes, there is a great effort of desire to materialize in the true sense of the word. From the feedback I get from my community, which is mostly women, is that you can’t “quail”. Long chats, billions of emojis, sexting in abundance, but when we get to the moment of actually sustaining the encounter with a flesh-and-blood being—along with all the meanings our bodies bring into play—that stuff is probably postponed, purged, avoided. It is no coincidence that in the last decade the movement of “ghosts” (sudden disappearance) has taken massive dimensions systemically. Of course, the desire on paper potentially continues to exist, also because we live in a hypersexual age that prompts us to consume sexuality in many possible ways. But that doesn’t mean it’s an authentic, genuine push.

Has sexuality become a consumption like any other?

Consumerism applied to relationships has significantly changed the concepts of meetings. In the approach with the other we expect, in fact, that it meets our expectations, as we do with a product bought on Amazon: you order it, try it and if it doesn’t go well you return it, without having to give any explanation to the sender. This utilitarian criterion, however, impoverishes sexuality. The most striking aspect is that the other is considered an “object” that must meet certain requirements. The other side of the question, however, refers to the relationship we have with our bodies, and with any act of our life: now everything is loaded with performative demands.

The mass spread of sexting, practiced at 15 and 60, explains well how far we have come in sex: we share steamy sequences with one another, but leave nothing to chance. We are the ones who decide what to frame, what to show, what to write. Very different from stripping in front of a man who understands us as a whole. In short, sexting gives us the illusion of better arousal management. It is faster, healthier, protective against human error or incompleteness. Let’s say it allows us to survive all our worries about sex, not being attractive, not perfect, not good enough. And fear of falling into bed it is no longer just a men’s issue as it has been considered for decades, it now concerns the women’s world as well.

What do women expect from themselves today?

To always be desirable starting from the image, let’s say competitive in the market of love. Today, more than ever, at any age, we are invested in this aesthetic mandate that, however, I don’t know how much it really has to do with sexual desire and freedom, but rather sexual desire and freedom. fear of getting old, and therefore no longer sexually attractive. Then, women are more conscious about their pleasure. Sex toys have been widely adopted, they are now cult gadgets. Pornography is democratic and has many female fans. Autoeroticism and even homosexual fantasies to try and experiment are no longer taboo.

What’s the result;

It seems to me that, especially in the younger age groups, there is a greater awareness and search for one’s own sexual identity in terms of aspirations, likes and dislikes. It is an important evolutionary step which, however, offers a margin of complication: when you have more choices, more information, more knowledge of the facts, it does not mean that the available material becomes a positive tool and not, paradoxically, a source of greater worries and a further sense of inadequacy . That’s what’s happening these days. So, once again, we need to explain to girls that sex is not a performance, but a possibility in which all bodies are different. Just as I believe it is necessary to regain sexual freedom not in terms of the number of partners, but rather in experiencing intimate relationships in a completely personal and cliché-free way.

Is it more of a men’s or women’s getaway?

Apart from the fact that modern men display insecurities mainly because of the new gender grammar, in which we women have changed to expectation, approach, resourcefulness, awareness, I make a thought that escapes the categorical distinction. What is in crisis, overall, is the human, everything to do with true communication. That is, with the reality of our bodies, which have never been exposed in the past but were retouched in every way: with filters, with aesthetic interventions that make you look more like the filters.

Is the crisis structural?

Yes, it is challenging the flattening of eroticism, which essentially is something that needs a stimulus, an exchange, a relationship with the other. Whereas, now, we are less and less willing to “get dirty”. Real sex is made of visceral stuff, it touches primal chords that have to do with ugly faces, strong smells, wrinkled sheets that we don’t want anymore. Simply put, we care too much about how we look, even in bed. Today’s sexuality brings to mind an image: in the bedroom, there are three of us, us, our partner and… the phone that photographs and films every position, every word, every sigh. And it is not a single sex game, but a very widespread practice if it would take 169 years to see the amateur porn material published in 2019 on Pornhub! Sex is now very visual, when instead the body should be re-centered with all its sensory apparatus contributing to the experience. Ultimately, physical intimacy is also a tool to get to know yourself better, as well as the other person in front of you.

Sex is a living matter: what is its soul?

I am answering as a woman. On the one hand it is a matter of physical awareness, that is, knowledge of one’s own body, one’s own pleasure, one’s fantasies: it seems trivial to say, but it is not even so in 2023. On the other hand, we need a certain ability to understand sex as a non-consumable part of life us. Not because we want to be “tigers”, but we just know that sexual energy is a positive charge. It does us a lot of good, it allows us to bring new life to other areas of existence as well. We should be able to focus on this concept, without being limited by feelings of guilt (“are things like this or not?”, “am I doing well or not?”), one of the main tools of control in our lives.

What memory do we need to retrieve?

Certainly the freedom to be who we are, without a billion aesthetic and non-paranoia. What matters is that you want this person and they want you beyond each other’s imperfections, flaws, scars. Because desire passes from the gut to the brain and through the skin, unimpeded. This very strong current is rarer, but when we find traces of it, then, let us preserve it.

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