The Sexual Energy Crisis

by | Nov 3, 2008 | Dating, Sex | 20 comments

Where is the sexual energy in San Francisco? I am frustrated. I have recently come back from Rio, which is perhaps the sexiest place on the planet, and now I feel like I am living in a sexless universe. I am not talking about hoochie mamas dressed like Janet Jackson at the SuperBowl or random hookups or even on-the-street-make-out-sessions, though those are nice and there are plenty of those to see while you drive around Rio. I am talking about a sexual energy crisis.


We are in a sexual energy crisis. It’s not global warming, it’s global cooling. I don’t know about the rest of the states or the rest of the Western, industrialized world. You tell me. Is it so sexless in Spain or Holland or Germany? Have I been trapped at too many tech mixers filled with semi-autistic engineers? Too many Obama fundraisers where the boys will discuss political blogs but would never, ever look at you in the eye for a little more than four seconds?¬¨‚Ć Sometimes I get a chuckle at the unsexy feeling of this city, and think to myself, the sexiest feelings I get are at the dance studio, when we, a group of fifty women and five men in yoga pants do pelvic lifts on our black plastic mats. We raise our hips up to the ceiling in unison, and I feel something in my body. And I wonder, is this as good as it gets?

I am feeling passionate about the lack of passion here after this Halloween, the “sexiest” holiday of the year. I went to three parties. I was wearing a dress that my female friends told me looked h-o-t. My roommate told me someone would want to have sex with my back. But the big nothing. Zero energy. Zero lusty looks. Zero flirtation. This would have been the case in Rio. Comparing Rio to San Francisco is making me annoyed. In San Francisco, I feel like all the sexual energy is bottled up in the Internet on casual encounter ads.

What do I want, exactly? Not leering. I am not looking for catcalls, obscenities or random sex. What I seek is subtle. Eye contact. With a charge. Flirtation. Eyes allow us to see each other, to acknowledge each other’s presence. Your eyes might travel up and down someone’s body, and yes, there can be something sexy about eye lingering, but it’s also about that moment of charged recognition of contact–eye to eye: We are seeing each other.

What’s even sexier, too, is the ability to strike up a conversation easily. I don’t know why talking to someone of the opposite sex–to whom you are also attracted–seems like such a miracle in San Francisco. A press release must be issued! A man and a woman made contact on the dance floor! In Brazil, this seemed so easy, a simple equation–if you go out, you will probably meet someone, and he or she may not be the love of your life, but you might flirt, dance, make out, exchange phone numbers.

Are these just the wailings of a single woman who finds it hard to get a date? Well, my own dating frustration does periodically reach crisis level, and so does many others’. But public sexual energy is not just for single people. Sexual energy matters for everyone. It’s a vital lifeforce. Sexual energy makes the world go around. It’s fuel for people to feel alive.¬¨‚Ć It doesn’t have to lead anywhere. Do I want us to feel like we are animals? In a sense, yes, that we are bodies as well as minds.

It seems ironic that I find San Francisco so unsexy right now. Wasn’t this supposed to be a city full of swinging men and women? Armistead Maupin immortalized San Francisco’s sexual charge in the 1970s in his Tales of the City series, where young men and women would pick each other up in the Safeway Marina. That must be where I got the idea that couples met in the produce aisle.

What happened to make this city’s sexual energy cool? Did men lose their confidence as women gained theirs? Did the AIDS crisis make overtness sexiness unfashionable? Did the Internet suck the courage out of everyone, now that they can write a laundry list of what they want and post it, screening the replies that pour in? What do people feel passionate about here, anyway? Recycling, skiing, coding?

What am I asking for? It’s subtle but simple. We can solve the sexual energy crisis with simple everyday actions that are no more difficult than recycling, and that are actually more fun. It boils down to confident eye contact and an easy conversational approach. Dancing. Generosity of spirit and care, concern. And a smile.

20 Comments

  1. donte

    well, are you doing the things that you’re hoping to get from everyone else? i don’t know you, but if you aren’t giving off any of this sexual energy yourself, then why would you expect to receive it? i too run in tech circles, but that doesn’t mean that every situation _has_ to be completely neutered, just that it’s predisposed to being that way.

    and comparing yourself on vacation to where you are at home is likely to always be a losing proposition. grass is greener and all of that. it’s on you to bring some of that vacation mindset back with you.

    Reply
  2. David Eastman

    You’re right! Sexual energy, or lack thereof, is at the crisis level. Here in Chicago t may even be worse than San Francisco, except in the summer in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. With winter coming on, the crisis will reach epic proportions. Everyone will be hunkered down and bundled up to look like the Michelin Man. Definitely no dancing in the streets once the Obama victory party is over.

    Your solutions are simple, elegant, and spot-on, though. The old saw that “the eyes are the windows of the soul” still applies. Maybe people don’t look in each others eyes for long because they don’t feel they have a sexy soul!

    So you do your part in SF, ‘ll do my part in Chicago, and others will dance and smile and talk easily and flirt slyly in cities all around the good ole US of A, and we will take a large sexy step towards Rio-fying our life-leeching culture!

    Reply
  3. admin

    donte–good point about vacation vs. real life. i think that’s true. we’re always more open when we are on vacation. BUT it takes two to tango, and it’s undeniable that the energy is lacking here. step into a cafe and everyone is staring into their laptops. i can be as guilty as others, of course, but i also try to be open and friendly and i am known among my friends for often talking to strangers. it has to be a group effort though. . . otherwise it’s like playing tennis by yourself.

    Reply
  4. jeff from bloomington

    Nicely said and I DO agree with the comments about being on vacation and just putting the vibe out there, which I’m sure you know is more than just putting on a h-o-t outfit. I agree too that people are WAY to sucked into the web and having a hard time “being here now”.

    Those lovers among us just have to stay in love each moment. I’ll let you in on a secret…Things are very hot and loving in Bloomington Indiana 😉

    Reply
  5. Tamera

    It’s the same in DC, but we are known for being conservative, not so in SF.

    I think technology has short-circuited human social abilities. Email and text has replaced human voice and removed the need to speak face to face. Connection is represented by the word “SENT” or an emoticon.

    Yes, I’m equally frustrated! My friend and I started a company out of our frustration. We decided we needed something to help guys approach us. We needed a conversation starter to break the ice! So, we started with a women’s line of tshirts with clever messages that let a guy know we are 1)available and 2) approachable. And, they WORK! Women love them and the men THANK us. I hope you will check out our site (www.singletease.com).

    Here’s to SF becoming sexually-energized!

    Reply
  6. Kelly

    Yes! I feel your pain in LA too! The only man I’ve connected with in 8 years is my married chiropractor. How sad is that?!

    Reply
  7. Sidney

    You sound as though you are experiencing decompression
    of having returned from an apparently jovial vacation. Also, I
    doubt that there are many area of the country where the men
    and women are dancing about — on pointe — in their community
    Wall-Mark (sic). The current recession has put a damper on
    far too many lives this season. Personally, I have always found
    SF emotionallly flat with a lot of people pretending otherwise.

    Reply
  8. Sidney

    You sound as though you are experiencing decompression
    of having returned from an apparently jovial vacation. Also, I
    doubt that there are many area of the country where the men
    and women are dancing about — on pointe — in their community shopping malls. The current recession has put a damper on far too many lives this season.

    Reply
  9. Dan

    Well, SF once was hot. Then recently you guys defeated Prop K. Not what we expected from the neighborhoods around once cool Haight Ashbury… Really, throwing people into prison for being overtly sexual… and, worse, legitimizing entrapment. Not cool at all. So the chastity belt stays on until you reconsider… and legalize a good time for all – the way SF once was and should always be. For now, no flirting. I need my job and you might be a cop.

    Reply
  10. onadrought

    Same problem in Australia – it is so sexless here. I have written about this in my blog thetruthaboutmating.blogspot.com.

    I disagree about those that say that it’s because you were in a holiday mood. I’ve travelled around the world and reckon it’s cultural. In France there’s eye contact and flirting 24/7.

    San Fran, I spent a week in that great city about 10 years, loved it, but didn’t find it a very sexy city.

    Reply
  11. Buggie

    I think it’s happening here on the east coast as well! In Boston, people don’t even try to talk to members of the opposite sex in bars- they crouch around in circles with same-sex friends they’ve known for 15 years, avoiding eye contact at all possible costs!

    I think it is a product of the old American tradition of being ashamed of sexuality. Hell, it’s not even an issue of sexuality. In this country, you’re taught from an early age that “liking” someone is something to keep secret and rejection is something to fear. Asking someone out is cause for nervous breakdown, talking to a cute stranger is so outlandish we can’t even fathom it.

    I honestly can’t figure out how ANYONE gets together in this country.

    Reply
  12. PB

    Political correctness & the fear of rejection as well as the almost universal decision to dress as sloppily as possible seems to be the rule in SF.

    When I first moved here, not that long ago (pre .com), decent, attractive men would look & smile at me on the street. Eating lunch outside (not that it is often comfortable to do that everywhere all the time) and asking to share a table often provided a safe opportunity for conversation.

    I agree with you; forget the “back from vac decompression”, you saw & experienced the difference so, all I can suggest is that you fllirt.

    Reply
  13. Petra

    With all the people these days on antidepressants with their known libido-killing side effects, with so many getting off on online pornography for no-risk sexual thrills, I am not surprised that you are finding your environment devoid of sexual energy?

    What else could it be? Something in the water? In the food supply? Like GMO food? Could it all be part of a larger population control plan? Naaaah, conspiracies are silly. It is rare for people, especially high powered individuals with goals in the area of social engineering to dream of such things without telling the public. How do I know? Fox news told me.

    Reply
  14. Jon

    Maybe you’re like me, getting old and less sexy? Ya know a 44 year old, male or female, walking into a coffee shop will have less computer screen distraction power than a 24 year old. This stands true for all continents and cities.

    Reply
  15. Sasha Cagen

    No way, I’m getting sexier as I get older! 🙂 Sexiness lives on. In Brazil, people in their 40s and beyond go out and party. Unlike the U.S. where we assume that going out and partying is reserved for twenty- (and sometimes thirty-)somethings and the rest of us stay home and watch Seinfeld reruns. We can all be sexy if we want to be. It’s a matter of eye contact and interaction.

    Reply
  16. Dave

    I think it’s a societal problem in America. We aren’t generally comfortable with expressions of sexuality, so we tend to repress them in our real lives. Repressing sex makes it soo much more interesting and titillating than it really is, so we’ve also become secretly obsessed with it–which is why it’s everywhere in entertainment and advertising. On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with sexual images and tantalizing imagery–even if we stay OFF the internet. There’s so much simulated sexual energy everywhere, constantly, that we are becoming desensitized to the fake stuff and unable to create or recognize the real thing. Worse, our understanding of and expectations for sex have shifted to the fantasies we see in magazine ads, tv shows, websites, etc. It’s all becoming very unnatural and pathological. American “culture” these days frightens me.

    Reply
  17. C.S. Lewiston

    San Francisco? Once reputed to be the sexiest place in the unsexiest country on the planet? Heck, if San Francisco’s gone sexless, what hope is there for those of us in the heartland? We all might as well pack it in an join the nearest McChurch!

    Regarding antidepressants, sex columnist and native San Franciscan Susie Bright recently pointed out something rather frightening in her podcast. In the late 1970’s, when major tranquilizers like Valium and the paternalistic doctors who often prescribed them willy-nilly were prompting people, especially women, to seek talk therapy and other (woman-based) alternatives, a lot of psychiatrists were going broke. So the American Psychiatric Association got together and set out to re-medicalize depression, with an eye toward restoring their little racket to profitability. Drug companies gleefully joined in these efforts, TV commercials for Zoloft and all. Not to slash responsible psychiatrists or to deny that medications have saved lives, but this kind of corruption makes me hopping mad!

    As for legitimizing entrapment, the 4th Amendment has long needed a new layer of armor plate.

    Reply
  18. natalie

    Just came across this. .and I agree with Dave (above)–comparing latin america, or south america, or any spanish speaking country (sorry to stereo type) to america is like comparing dry toast to margaritas. . .latin men (in my experience) and women too, are much more in touch with their sexuality and aren’t afraid to flaunt it. I never felt sexier than when traveling in south america, and 3 (THREE) of my best friends have married latino men. ..and they swear they’re much easier to meet and love than american men. . american men will ask you out for “ambiguous coffee” dates, or not at all. . or at least not until you’ve made it super clear you’re into them first. . latin men, they just throw it out there, like “hey, you’re cute, wanna make out? wanna dance? wanna have a drink? my babies?” you can bite or say no, either way, most of the guys I’ve been hit on by don’t take it to heart the way american men do. . american men take the rejection too personally and hence the birth of emo. . . I’m not saying it’s easy approaching someone, but our culture is just TOO conservative. ..I think hitting on someone, or flirting with someone is so RARE, that it’s become a huge deal—when in reality, it isn’t as big of a deal as we make it out to be. This is where latin america has us beat, to them, flirting, or propositioning someone (and I mean leagally here folks) hasn’t been elevated to the extreme event that it has been here.

    Reply
  19. Michelle

    Saudade…. your story is so true! and it took a visit to Brasil to actually really notice the repression of sensuality in the US. I dare say, the US is sexualized but not sensualized and is so steeped in it’s own equal rights between the sexes that any show of affection is noted as a challenge. the mass androgyny in the average male female looks and behaviour is only matched by England. All hail the differences, and a quality of life that is strongly based on the senses!

    Reply
  20. SilentRio

    Hi,

    I think what it boiled (or boils is still ongoing) is this.
    In Brasil you were most likely viewed as exotic and interesting. You are not from their and obviously to most a ‘gringo’ so that attracts attention whether platonic or not.
    At home, one is or can become like the status quo needing USP’s to stand out from the crowd.

    Going on holiday is a great way to learn and discover, give and share.

    Brasil is an awesome and wonderful place and yes ‘o gente’ do have a particularly unique (to us) spirit with an outgoing party vibe, depending on where you are over there.
    I think it is good to take that kind of magic and make it your vibe and continue to shine wherever you are.

    Reply

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Hi! I’m Sasha

Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to pursue their truest desires in the bedroom and the world.

Author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperCollins) + To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).

At work on a memoir called Wet, about adventures in healing through sensuality.

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