This is the time of year when all media commentators employ 20:20 hindsight to figure out what was really important in the previous twelve months and link it to their predictions for the future. Within the sphere of competence of the Erotic Review, it seems to this writer that 2012 was a bad year for sex – and for men especially. Women came out on top with their voice, aspirations and gender status enhanced by the great success of British female athletes across most sports – track, water, equestrian, cycling, boxing; the firm leadership of female politicians (Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel); the triumphant apotheosis of Clare Balding as most appreciated national media icon, and amazingly the (albeit culturally dubious) triumph of E L James as literary killer, toppling H K Rowling from her best-seller leadership.
If one was playing the HIGNFY game of ‘odd one out’, the last candidate would be the obvious choice. This on the grounds that she is the only one for whom sex has been the primary discriminator in terms of her access to fame and fortune. This is, however, an arguable point, if only because how sexy it is for a woman to write about BDSM, for what audience, whether it is politically correct and, finally, whether it really is erotic, are mainly matters of opinion.
In all other arenas, the girls have seen off attempts to condescend to, or sexualise, their achievements. If it did one thing, the Olympics re-established the idea of the human physique as intrinsically a wonderful and aesthetic entity, regardless of gender and in spite of handicap. Jessica Ennis out-manoeuvred those who wished either to objectify her physically, or crucify her ethically, by cheerfully exploiting her good looks to her own advantage and dismissing the sexist issue. She did this by arguing that she had worked hard on her body and was proud of it.
But men have had a bad year. Apart from making a continuing shambles of world politics and economics, they/we have been convicted of quite a lot of notably bad, sexist and oppressive things. Admittedly, the men’s PR team haven’t been too clever – even Max Clifford has been arrested and charged for something (doubtless in error). But the fact of the matter is that the big stories such as Savile, the Rochdale issue and latterly the Delhi gang rape case have understandably both conflated and generalised the abuse of women issues to the detriment of our sex. Men, we really do need to get our act together.
Fashion and style often presage and symbolise trends; clothes in particular define social problems and often suggest the solution. It used to be hemlines up in good times and down in bad. Certainly we are in bad times and it is possible we are also suffering from an overdose of sexual, as well as alcoholic, excess. In the case of over-emphasis on physical sexual differentiation – and one wonders if the pressure group Object might not be behind it, the reaction has not been in hemlines but in a garment called the ‘Onesie’.
This may seem to be an innovation but in reality it takes us back to the days of innocence. It is like the ‘kidult’ movie fashion that made Harry Potter so successful. Clad in our fluffy romper suits we need no longer worry about our secondary or any other sexual characteristics. And if we do feel exploratory, and in the likely event that its zipper snags or jams, it will take so long to get out of the garment that we will either become bored; or forget why we did it or so lost in amazement that we don’t know what to do. In the event of true love or passion it will result in a redefinition of foreplay and give added impetus to tantric or as it were ‘slow’ sex.
More significantly, the Onesie heralds a whole new asexual age that could unite faiths and cultures and heal many social ills. Unemployed singles forced to return home can simply complete their retreat to childhood and spend their time in endless duvet days, descending occasionally in their Onesie for mid-morning coffee, or to watch Emmerdale. Flat-sharers can relax in mixed sex harmony with no possibility of embarrassment or frisson caused by some accidental solecism in apparel. The undoubted arrival of Onesie StreetWear ™ will mean that wolf-whistles and other harassments will be eliminated. The strangeness of the burq’ha will be less marked as shapeless beings sashay down the street, often sporting hoods, and probably some of these with cute animal ears and whiskers.
Style competition has already developed – much as it did in the fashion boiler suit market, as pioneered by Winston Churchill in his immaculately tailored ‘siren’ suit. However it will be a kind of Winnie the Pooh versus Paddington Bear kind of thing. The fashion and cosmetic business will certainly have to adapt – but they are experts at that. On the other hand, pubs and bars will close at an even faster rate – and the police can find something else to do on Saturday nights as our Onesie-clad youth recline at home on the latest DFS Sofa with their alcopop lites and Celebrity Strictly Ballroom reruns on the iPlayer. Although clever chains will market Onesie Theme Nites at which creativity will be rewarded with free drinks or meal vouchers. Even so, it’s hard to riot in a romper suit unless you add a bowler hat and a codpiece à la Clockwork Orange drughi.
Whether or not this prediction is in fact fulfilled may be suspect; but I stand by the perception that our sexual mores are changing. If the cast of TOWIE endorse the Onesie it had better be taken seriously. We may not all wear one, but believe me, the Onesie idea is going to re-shape our inter-gender discourse for 2013 – and probably for the better.