#parent | #kids | Ups and downs of lockdown longing | The Canberra Times

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This week’s column is rated M (Mature). It contains explicit references to human sexuality, pandemic poetry, neurohormones and abstract impressionist painting which may offend some readers. Promiscuously loitering and reading on the internet, in recent days I’ve found myself reading several newly posted pieces on what impacts the pandemic may be having on the sexual behaviour of the locked down. So for example, I was touched (for this is an inclusive column with room in its big heart for sinners) by Hilary King’s poem Lovers In The Time Of Corona. Written in a soft, confiding whisper, it has just appeared in the Pandemic Poetry section of the online literary mag Frost Meadow Review. No room here for it all, but it beginneth: What of the lovers? What of the affairs suddenly stunted? In the time of corona, no more assignations – What a word! Long, dangerous, meaning ‘An appointment to meet someone in secret’ No appointments now, no faked errands, No pretend conferences, no nights away on What was never business after all. Poets go to places where others lack the imagination and sensitivity to tread and I admire Hilary King’s inclusion of those, some of them adulterers, who of course like everyone else find themselves disrupted, bewildered, unnerved by these times. While on poetry, I commend the Cape Cod Times for serving the good, poetic people of south-eastern Massachusetts. It has been inviting, and publishing, the best of the pandemic-themed poetry of its pandemic-touched local readers. The quality is so high that one suspects that the people of Cape Cod, famously liberal, resemble the people of the ACT in being highly educated, deeply sensitive and literary. Ours is a city that bristles with poets. So how about it, famously refined Canberra Times? Don’t even bother to think about it, deplorable Daily Telegraph. But back to sex and to a new, fact-festooned piece in the splendid online science magazine Nautilus where two biologists look in a piece wittily entitled Sexless In The City at what research is telling us about love and sex in these strange times. “Despite initial reports that lockdowns were giving folks some much needed time for sexual self-care,” they report, “a recent analysis by the Kinsey Institute showed that ‘widespread social restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have significantly disrupted sexual routines and the overall quality of people’s sex lives’.” About 43 per cent of 1550 respondents said they had experienced a significant decrease in sexual frequency during lockdown relative to the previous year. “Solo play,” the authors continue, for the moment shying away from the m-word, “just isn’t as satisfying as partnered activities, and could be driving urban decreases in sexual activity.” “A study from Scotland’s University of Paisley found that partnered sex releases 400 per cent more prolactin, the neurohormone responsible for feelings of sexual satiety, than does masturbation. “Although solo activities haven’t been as satisfying in the past, the willingness of urban dwellers to adopt new technologies may not keep things that way for much longer because sextech, a $30 billion industry of toys, apps, robots, and virtual reality, is poised for its moment in the sunroom.” Reluctant to didactically soothsay, the authors conclude “whether virtual interactions are able to recapitulate the neurohormonal benefits of partnered sex remains to be determined”. “As with the rest of the topsy-turvy conditions brought on by the pandemic, it seems that the future of … sexuality is volatile and hard to predict.” Meanwhile a colleague acquaints me with reports that the generation of children conceived during the pandemic are likely to be called Coronials and then, later, the Quaranteens. Still, indirectly, on sexual matters, coinciding with Monday’s Canberra Times obituary ”Public servant who bought Blue Poles”, up pops online a reference to Blue Poles’ creator Jackson Pollock, famous for being a dribbler and pourer of paint. Alas, I fear my relationship with the National Gallery of Australia’s Blue Poles, its most famous possession, is changed forever by my having just read in online Quadrant of a postmodern feminist’s analysis that Pollock’s “poured lines of paint suggest … an ejaculatory (stereotypically masculine) method of applying paint”. Forgive me, readers, this aberrant M of a column. Normal G-ness will be resumed next week.

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