Pondering sensuality vs. sex

Sometimes I look at the younger generation – yes, the college-aged ones I teach – and I ponder things a bit. I ponder where imagination has gone in this era of instant-entertainment gratification, of youtube, iTunes and Netflix. I ponder where the line is for shock, for indignation when it comes to language on the foul end of the scale. Don’t get me wrong, I have a sailor’s mouth myself, but when Britney casually throws around “You better work, bitch” and Jay-Z tosses out the n-word, I ponder whether we’ve lost the potential impact of those words by frequency and flippancy of use.

And I ponder, will these kids ever really grasp what is truly sexy? I’m not talking sex here, I’m talking sexy. Something that builds desire, inspires the imagination, draws from deep within. Take sexy in the movies, for example. Not naked. Not graphic. No full-on porn someone downloaded from the Internets.

No, no, no … I’m talking about breathtakingly sexy. Sensuality versus sex. The kind of sensuality that leaves your lungs empty and your mind ready to implode with the possibilities. Those of you who, like me, are racing towards middle age (and older) understand what I mean. Sex in film isn’t all bad, don’t label me a prude – we’ve all seen Body Heat and 9 1/2 Weeks. And, um, liked it. And we know the difference between erotica and porn by now. But, in this age when so much that was taboo is becoming part of the everyday, I ponder what is being missed by those coming of age now.

Do they recognize sensuality and desire and what is truly sexy? Especially in film, those subtly sexy scenes or moments that need no nudity and no graphic sex to deliver. I think they are missing it, in the world of easily-downloadable porn and R-rated flicks. I fear their impressions of sensuality come straight from Fifty Shades of Grey and its ilk. And that’s a bit breathtaking all on it’s own. And not in a good way.

So, let’s talk sexy, shall we? Can we begin with Ghost? There is a reason that people still talk about the scene with the pottery wheel. We can’t get it out of our minds, years later. Pottery throwing turned foreplay? You betcha.

Who needs full-frontal? The Age of Innocence, with Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer, examines the story of would-be lovers in late-19th-century New York. If you think a ladies wrist can’t be erotic, watch the scene where the pining gentleman unbuttons Pfeiffer’s character’s glove and kisses her wrist. Holy hell, ladies, it will leave you surfing the Internet looking for gloves with buttons. And Daniel Day-Lewis pictures on Pinterest.

And there’s a touch of nudity in Titanic, but think about it: Do you remember Kate Winslet’s assets or do you remember the steamy car window with the sweaty hand print? I thought so.

But, for me, the ultimate sexy scene in film is well, pretty tame. It’s what made me ponder gratuitous sex in film a bit this holiday seaon. It’s part of a film you’ve all seen. Over and over and over and over.

And over.

It’s a Wonderful Life is a holiday classic that most Americans love, but one scene simply takes my breath away every time. In a good way, too. Most of the ladies reading this know exactly what scene I’m talking about while most men are currently staring at their screens, confused – yep, girls, the phone scene. Watching Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed’s characters slowly draw closer and closer to each other while they desperately try to focus their attention on a shared phone conversation with their friend – with Stewart’s lips in her hair, you can just feel his need to kiss her radiating off the screen until finally he can stand it no longer. He simply must kiss her. It’s damn tangible.

Sigh. Now that’s sexy.

And not an R-rating or naked breast in sight.


View it for yourself and decide if it rates for you in the sensuality vs sex face-off.


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