Sex Without Love Has Become The Norm For Too Many Teenagers In This Century

Topics: Sexual intercourse, Human sexuality, Human sexual behavior Pages: 5 (1364 words) Published: May 3, 2015
Sex without love has become the norm for too many teenagers in this century. Sharon Olds illustrates this fact in a very beautiful way in her ironic poem "Sex without Love." Olds was born in San Francisco, but she lived most of her life in New York. She received numerous awards for her writing. This particular poem describes sex without love in a rather questioning way, wondering how those indulging in this sex without marriage can do it. Olds criticizes sex without love while evoking it in terms of emotion and passion, and the attitude taken toward the couple involved changes as the poem progresses. In the beginning, the reader will accept the lovers and their actions, but in the course of the poem, the reader will come to see that the poet is in truth making fun of them. This is what makes the poem ironic. Olds did a good job in creating the image of the lovers having sex without love and suggests what is wrong with this without actually stating it in so many words. At first, she seems to be envious of these young people, but soon it is apparent that she is going to take a different tone and imply that sex with no love is wrong. Sharon Olds begins the poem with a tone of astonishment as she raises the ironic question, "How do they do it, the ones who make love without love?" (1). The reader is not certain if this is a description of beauty or ugliness, but it is far less beautiful than the image of the dancer on ice and so suggests that the face of the person having sex without love is not properly formed. Repetition is used to show antipathy toward the sex act in these circumstances and to add to the irony of the whole. What Olds is saying is that they are not choosing a lover at all but are instead dedicated to their own pleasure alone -- they seek pleasure, not union with a lover. Sex without love has become the norm for too many teenagers in this century. This is what makes the poem ironic and interesting. She then creates a stark contrast when she sets their bodies against her description of their faces as red and wet: Red as steak, wine, wet as the children at birth whose mothers are going to give them away (5-8). This mixture of images is organic, bloody, and basic, showing the faces to be a mixture of wine and steak, mixed with an image of birth. She seems to be asking why she cannot do the same thing, but clearly she is amazed that they can do it because she herself does not know how. She then begins to make fun of what they are doing and of the seeming dedication with which they are doing it: How do they come to the come to the come to the God come to the still waters, and not love (8-1). Here, the poet questions how these lovers can have sex constantly and not love. For instance, she writes, these are the true religious the purists, the pros, the ones who will not accept a false Messiah, love the priest instead of God (13-16). The poet here suggests that these are people who are religious and who worship God, knowing that in fact they are the opposite. They have intercourse for their own pleasure and not because they love one another. The poet further suggests that it is foolish to have sex without love because that would be only for your own relief and so would lack these essential components of love making from the start. Olds writes, "They do not mistake the lover for their own pleasure"(16-17), and she applies this to people who have sex without love and so choose a new lover every time they make love. She accordingly uses an ironic characterization to create one impression then dash it as she pokes fun at these people for appearing to be religious when in fact they accept a false Messiah and love the priest instead of the God. Sex affords more pleasure and more comfort when done with someone you love, and these people are therefore perverting the role they should be playing in life. They know they can go to their priest for forgiveness, and expressing this preference how that they are naive about the...
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