The end of the sexual revolution

In the Cut (Unrated and Uncut Director’s Edition) (2003) – Jane Campion [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In the Cut, of course, continues Campion’s career-long examination of female masochism.

In the Cut (1995) – Susanna Moore
[FR] [DE] [UK]

I’m halfway through Susanna Moore’s 1995 novel In the Cut, the story of a thirty-something literature teacher in New York City with an interest in street slang who falls in love with a cop of whom she suspects he may also be a serial killer/psychopath. There are lots of similarities here with Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, which I read last year. Can both be categorized as chick lit? If yes, this kind of chick lit takes it upon itself to study men’s (sexual) behavior in an almost anthropological way. Moore describes how a post-coital man, Erica Jong described one of her lover’s post-toilet behavior.

So far I liked Jane Campion’s film adaption of In the Cut better, Moore’s prose is kind of trite and Moore lacks the philosophical breadth I liked in Fear of Flying.

What In the Cut and Fear of Flying also share is the concept of women’s sexuality after the sexual revolution, a topic I’ve first mentioned in my profile of Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977).

Speaking of the end of the sexual revolution which oficially arrived in 1984 (cfr. TIME cover) and which coincides with the arrival of AIDS (see Benetton AIDS ad) and of postmodernism: many writers of the pre- and sexual revolution era such as Gershon Legman, Wayland Young (Eros Denied), Gordon Rattray Taylor and Amos Vogel (Film as a Subversive Art) foreshadowed utopia as soon as we would get rid of our sexual inhibitions.

I quote from Jim Haynes’s website[1]:


Murder is a crime; describing murder is not. Sex is not a crime. Describing sex is. Why?” –Gershon Legman.

“If we were sexually liberated there’d be no president, no police force, no night sticks, no governments.” –Germaine Greer.

The utopia did not happen because of the aforementioned AIDS epidemic and what I suspect a whole range of reasons. Personally I like the concept of inhibitions, the concept of taboos, the concept of shame and guilt; not only are these inhibitions what makes sex exciting in the first place but I suspect that they are necessary to regulate a society. If these inhibitions would not be there life would be an eternal recurrence of the orgy in Perfume. Maybe I should read this?

The only writer that comes to mind who has dealt with this subject is Camille Paglia.

Well, um, what I’m saying is that I’m part of the sexual revolution, um, and I feel that the…in one of my most controversial sentences is “Everybody who preached free love in the 60’s is responsible for AIDS.” I mean by that the Mama’s and the Papa’s and all of us, so, the price of that revolution has been paid by gay men, primarily. I think that what we’re understanding is the enormous power of nature. Even Larry Kramer is starting to talk like this now: that nature apparently did not want us to be promiscuous and that it puts a thousand obstacles in our paths such as these diseases. OK. I feel that procreation is nature’s law, and that’s why I defy nature, I resist it, I oppose it. OK. I think that women certainly are in, you know we were the first generation to have the birth control pill, OK, which frustrates nature. […] –Camille Paglia interviewed by Jack Nichols, 1997

But of course there must be other literature out there, and if you know of any, I’m looking forward to your recommendations.

4 thoughts on “The end of the sexual revolution

  1. Muli Koppel

    In the Cut by Moore is one of my favorite books . If you’re in the middle – don’t let go. I didn’t see the movie, but I’m seriously doubting the ability to transfer the book to the cinematic medium without losing its essence – that of a linguistic thriller. This becomes clear as you read on – that the woman is a linguistic system, and her body – a language. In a sense, she gets killed because she wants to articulate herself in a different way. In other words, she’s a poet, playing with each word-limb, breaking the syntax, searching for new semantics.

  2. jahsonic


    I took a bath and finished the book.
    I see what you mean, now, although I would’ve never come up with the ‘linguistic thriller‘ analysis you so cleverly offer.

    Some further points
    It’s a bit like American Psycho but told by the victim.
    The film adaptation is not bad at all, but has — of course — a happy ending. Jennifer Jason Leigh is great as Meg Ryan’s half sister and the character of John Graham played by Kevin Bacon is also better developed.

    Note to self: further tags: rough sex and Robert Chambers and anthropophagia.


  3. jahsonic

    Good post here: prairmary

    I quote

    So now I come to what I’m really writing about: a double media work called “In the Cut,” both a book and a movie. “In the Cut” is slang meaning getting one’s male equipment into the birth/sex canal called in slang “the Virginia” which is adorned with the “broccoli,” pubic hair. It also means a place of safety. For many men, who need the comfort of women but hate their need and reject mothers or even wives, the moments of renewal are “in the cut” or “gash” or “slit.” Women know this, of course, and take advantage of it even as the men take advantage of them.

    The guys are all variations on the most blatantly phallic symbol in a while: a bright red lighthouse which is echoed in a souvenir on a desk, a drawing in the classroom, and the real thing — which is a haven for the cops and a place of death for women. “Cornelius,” the black student who defends John Wayne Gacy, is played by the same actor as one of the characters on “The Shield.” He knows the slang but he don’t “get” Frannie. The whole movie is a crossword puzzle of such metaphorical stuff, including the fact that Frannie teaches “To the Lighthouse” by VIRGINIA Wolfe. A student says “it wasn’t no good because it took so long and only one woman died.” “How many women have to die to make it good?” asks Frannie, sounding more like Meg Ryan than usual.

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