I just don’t see how anyone can write about sexual addiction without also writing about masculinity and feminism. But before I do that, let me propose a few caveats:
- It is not my place (or ambition) to say whether sexual addiction exists or not.
- I am not claiming that there are not also women who identify as sexually addicted.
- When I question the ways we conceptualize sexual addiction, I am not doing so to trivialize or disrespect anyone’s experiences.
- Despite the possible inclusion of “hypersexual disorder” in the DSM 5, I will use the term “sexual addiction” because it remains the term of choice and because the word ‘addiction’ shapes our understanding of the disorder.
- There will be some explicit references in this post.
I feel the need to begin with these caveats because I have already learned that to speak about sexual addiction with any sort of doubting curiosity is to invite angry assertions of its existence. The invocation of addiction implies the absolute certainty of the recovery movement. It demarcates a clear trajectory into abjection as well as the redemptive potential of recovery. Cohering (as in: bringing together and making coherent) sexual excess under this term leaves little room for nuance. Yet, as I have argued earlier, sexual addiction remains an aporia that helps shape notions of sexuality, morality, and even addiction itself. If we do not pay close attention to what we mean when we say that certain destructive sexual behaviors are “addictions,” we risk losing sight of what we might learn about gender roles and entitlements.
The other response to any doubting curiosity is the seemingly inevitable reference to men who feel compelled to masturbate until they bleed.