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Issue 5, 2019

Issue 05 – Sex

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News

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  • Features

  • Going Deep

    I grab my half-full glass of Prosecco and take a lustful sip. The smell of chamomile tea and marijuana wafts in from the kitchen. There are three bowls in my peripheral vision:   The first bowl: small, filled with green and black pitted olives. Sitting beside it, a medium sized bowl, overflowing with tight, red, […]

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  • Going Deep

    I grab my half-full glass of Prosecco and take a lustful sip. The smell of chamomile tea and marijuana wafts in from the kitchen. There are three bowls in my peripheral vision:   The first bowl: small, filled with green and black pitted olives. Sitting beside it, a medium sized bowl, overflowing with tight, red, […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • So Many Dicks. – Spartacus

     

    Bish you thought I’d talk about Sex Education, huh? Well, you’re wrong.

     

    Today we’re talking about Spartacus, which is a cheaper, hornier, more fun version of Game of Thrones. Seriously, if you like your fantasy in 40-minute excerpts and with consensual sex, Spartacus: Blood and Sand (and the following seasons) are great alternatives.

     

    The absolute joy of Spartacus is how bonkers it is. Set in 73 BCE but shot in New Zealand, this show follows the life of Spartacus, a Thracian warrior, who finds his fortune after being enslaved in Rome. Many, many historical(ish) things happen, there’s a lot of fighting, and the whole thing is a Snyder wet dream. The very first episode opens with this:

     

    Our reluctant hero Spartacus (who is not yet actually called Spartacus) is locked in a cage, enslaved. Though he is at the whim of a brutal master, he hasn’t yet lost his pretty boy appeal, rugged handsomeness, or his eight-pack. Above him is the Colosseum, where several thousand shittily-rendered CGI crowd members are watching two people fight. Within the next four or so minutes, we’re treated to the joys of a massive fight scene (a flashback), where the immortal words, “Where the fuck are the Romans?” are yelled in a Kiwi actor’s approximation of a Roman accent, and we move on from there.

     

    A unique thing about Spartacus is how damn horny it is. And I think that’s a good thing. (Maybe.) It’s barely half an hour into the first episode when we’re treated to some vaguely-sexy banging, complete with an Enya-esque soundtrack and a true-to-form fade to black, just ready to be put into a Youtube ‘Spartacus Sex Scenes’ compilation. (Of which there are many. I checked.) Things continue on, with much aplomb, from there.

     

    “Eventually, the thrill of seeing naked bodies during 12-hour production days wears off for the crew… Even the grips, these great big hetero crew men, could not give a fat rat about filming another sex scene,” Lucy Lawless (Lucretia) notes.” writes Richard Rorke in The New York Post*. Spartacus doesn’t shy away from nudity, regardless of the gender of the actors involved. It’s strange to see, because so many shows fall into the trope of having consistent female nudity, while full male nudity often gets thrown to the wayside or left out to avoid an NC-17 rating. So many works, especially within the fantasy genre, show us boobs upon boobs upon boobs—scenes that often appeal to the heterosexual male eye—but are too scared to portray nudity or sex in ways that could appeal to other demographics.

     

    Salmon Caspar points out in The Independent* that “at the heart of an understanding of male nudity is the question of looking at men and therefore making them the object of a work of art, which is still seen as revolutionary or even deplorable.” Male nudity is so often played as comic relief, as the punchline to throwaway gags, so it’s nice when it’s not. It’s not like I really ^want to see more dicks on television, but hey, ^Spartacus’ move to do so helps promote positive change. If we detoxify how we see the human form on screen—regardless of gender or critical eye—it can begin to promote positive change towards the portrayal of the human body in our media.

     

    Spartacus is a fun show, and probably not that deep, which promotes further questions: 1) Is Spartacus a good show? That’s debatable. 2) Can I spin a plot-light television show into an article about the patriarchy? Apparently so!

     

    *Read more:

    Rorke, Richard. ^‘Spartacus’ stars dish the naked truth. The New York Post, 2010.

    Salmon, Caspar. ^“The fuss over Chris Pine’s ‘dazzling’ penis tells us so much about the endearing taboo of on-screen male nudity”^ The Independent, 2018.

     

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  • From the Archives – Sex

    From the Archives

    Since coming to university, I’ve discovered that not everyone received sexual education at their high school. But one thing’s for sure, the sex issue of Salient has always provided an opportunity for students to explore and share the sex narrative.

    One of Salient’s first Sex issues was published in 1986, titled “Focus on Sex in the 80’s”. In his editorial, Richard Adams explained the reasoning for the issue’s creation: “Sex is something so natural and yet […] the way it is treated by parts of society makes drunken driving seem more acceptable as a form of social contact. The Eighties (if such a time exists) is a good time to be wise about such things. And why not – we have opportunities and (more importantly) information available to us in the Eighties that few of our parents had in the Fifties or Sixties”

    He made the bold editorial decision to spend the rest of his piece discussing the deeply lusty, sexually charged subjects of recent NZUSA reforms, the Blackcaps test series victory over England, and the practice times of the Victoria University Cricket Club.

    The “information” that Adams alludes to comprises much of the issue. Gone were the male gazey, wink-wink-nudge-nudge references to sex in the Salient of decades past—a striking example was Salient’s “Girl of the Week” on page three in 1963, an openly horny concession to a time when Vic’s student body was 75% men. The 1986 sex issue was mostly about communicating how to have safe and enjoyable sex on your own terms. Practical advice from Student Health dealt with how best to avoid some of the risks associated with being sexually active. This included articles on how to recognise, avoid, and treat STIs, and an explainer on the appropriate forms of contraception given your circumstances.

    Other articles discussed the emotional side of sex and relationships. Eric Medcalf provided this piece of evergreen advice on the nature of reciprocal support in sexual and romantic relationships: “Mature dependence implies an ability to become dependent when necessary and not to become stuck or trapped in that dependence once the need has passed. In a relationship mature dependence means each partner acknowledging, respecting and (as far as possible) meeting the other’s need for support without entrapping, and also respecting the partner’s need to not be dependent. So, there will be  flexibility, a degree of negotiation and a feeling of freedom without isolation within the relationship”.

    On the whole, the message of the issue holds up: Sex is something which everyone has different feelings about and a different relationship to. If being sexually active is something you want, there are risks which shouldn’t necessarily put you off but which need to be accounted for and talked about.

     

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