STYLE

Do Celebrities Need To Shut Up About Their Sex Lives?

07/09/2011 12:52 | Updated 22 May 2015

I just threw up in my mouth a little. Maybe you will, too, after you read Sinéad O'Connor's latest revelations on her blog post. The singer opened up about her sex life - or lack thereof - bemoaning the shortage of men in her life and discussing her sexual proclivities (she is considering yams if a man doesn't come along soon, in case you're interested).

She's not the only one airing what's happening between her sheets. Jane Fonda revealed recently that she started using testosterone to amp up her sex life at the age of 70 and only stopped when it gave her acne, while Joan Collins has credited sex for helping her look so good at 78. Even Cherie Blair (possibly one of the last people whose sex life we want to know about?) admitted of her hubby of 31 years: "even now he still excites me in all possible ways."

It's irrelevant who's doing the (dirty) talking: even when Angelina opened up about her sex life with then-husband Billy Bob, it was still gross. So isn't it about time for celebrities to put a lid on these inappropriate disclosures about their intimate encounters?

Don't get me wrong, I love celebrity gossip. From the Twitter feuds to the extreme weight loss diets, I enjoy reading about the latest celeb fads, crushes and baby names. And even though mass media and reality TV have ensured that celebs have lost their mystique (or rather, most celebs these days don't have any in the first place) from the days of Hollywood's Golden Age, and we see everything from extensions to plastic surgery procedures magnified before us on a daily basis, some things should remain sacred. Or at least silent.

While I understand that celebs are just like everyone else - well, perhaps just more talented, or attention-seeking, or attractive, or enhanced versions of everyone - I also sometimes like to think that they don't have the banal issues that the rest of humanity faces on a daily basis. They don't struggle with rent, their nappy bags are made by McQueen and they look better at 40 than they did at 20. These creatures certainly don't want for sex. They're celebrities!

Sociologist Chris Rojek has argued that distance needs to exist between celebrities and mere mortals; there needs to be a distinct separation between them and ourselves (often achieved through the medium of stage or screen) that reminds us that we're different (and inferior?) and that allows celebs to remain on their pedestals, however wobbly.

Rojek also argues that in our mass consumerist society, it is celebs who take on the roles of deities. According to him: "They are idealised sexual subjects who present an intense sexuality that is designed to attract us but, at the same time, to withhold consummation." How can they be idealised sex gods if they're busy confiding that they've needed controversial hormone treatments to stay interested in sex? Kind of kills the illusion, doesn't it?

I'll admit that there is a tiny, sneaky part of me that secretly rejoices when I hear of a celebrity's sexual struggles, even though I don't really need all of the gruesome details. Ah, schadenfreude. Undoubtedly, the pleasure we take from celebrities is intricately bound up with something unhealthy and perverse (as Jacqueline Rose wrote in The Cult of Celebrity).

There is a part of us that revels in seeing Lindsay Lohan in court, and derives even more pleasure when the judge criticises her for dressing inappropriately (well, we thought so too...) So perhaps we hunger for the most intimate, ideally depressing, sexual details from celebs as much as we want their beauty tricks and diet tips - we like to see them succeed, sure, but we need to know they can fail. And there's nothing quite so democratising as sexual failure, is there?

Personally, I'd still prefer it if certain details remained in the bedroom. But the truth is, celebrities reflect society as a whole and they represent society's interests, pleasures and fixations. Well, considering how obsessed by sex we are, and how candid people are about their sex lives (with complete strangers, no less), there's no chance celebrities will stop revealing their most lurid thoughts and deeds anytime soon.

Let's be honest. In a world where celebrities are so desperate for publicity they'll spend more time nude than clothed, where Kim Kardashian's sex tape viewings trebled as she was taking her marriage vows and where average Joes are busy posting homemade erotica on the Web night after night, I probably shouldn't even be blinking an eyelid at Sinéad O'Connor and her "hot date with a banana."

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