What kind of sex are you having in this, the Year Of Our Lord 2019?
(Or 20-Bi-Teen, depending on who you ask.)
Are you a powerful, independent businesswoman having multiple orgasms on a spaceship with the assistance of your custom sensation-enhancing neurological supplements?
Then you done goofed. Because according to this 1986 Penthouse, that’s exactly what sex in 2019 was supposed to be like.
Arthur C. Clarke, one of the greatest science fiction writers ever, wrote an article for the September 1986 issue of the iconic magazine, looking ahead to the distant future.
The promise of tomorrow – now today – apparently included “more realistic artificial penises”, penis transplants, grow-your-own genitals for trans people, “experimenting with male pregnancy”.
2019 was chosen apparently because the Kinsey Institute reckons sexual attitudes run on a 20 year cycle, so 2001 to 2020 would be similar to the 1960s and 70s in terms of sexual freedom and openness.
I mean… sure?
Clarke discusses research involving brain implants in the pleasure centres that could be activated externally, fixing impotence and low libido with the press of a button:
“People with pleasure buttons on their belts? Women rolling around in bed moaning away with 30-minute orgasms while acetylcholine drips directly into their brains?”
Clarke also quotes sexologist John Money, which is an excellent combination of occupation and name, who says genetic engineering may allow people to basically change their genitals non-surgically, just how “lizards can grow a new tail at any stage of their lives”.
Apparently “you’d just tell the clitoris to backtrack” to the kind of embryonic tissue that precedes the growth of specific genitalia in the womb, then it would “grow out as a penis with skin wrapped around it instead of having a hood and labia minora”.
Presumably the reverse would also be an option?
And Clarke reckons “the best sex in 2019 … will happen 300 miles up in space”, where “[t]he most romantic hotel in the universe will be found orbiting the earth”.
“Those who prefer big breasts will enjoy sex in space. As Ben Bova, president of the National Space Institute, explains it: ‘In zero gravity, the body gets taller after a few days. You become wasp-waisted and your chest gets bigger.”
While I’m sure Elon Musk has definitely floated (heh) this idea, and/or will be really mad if he’s not the official first person to bone in space, there have been no confirmed instances of sex on the ISS – and it’d be pretty hard.
From my understanding and totally uneducated assumptions, you’d also be too focused on trying to keep all the, uh, moisture where it’s most needed to notice whether your waist was extra skinny and your boobs extra buoyant.
But Clarke wasn’t completely off. He also posited that women would have more social and cultural power, and thus more freedom to pursue sex on their own terms, flipping the image of the businessman in his corner office playing grab-ass with the nubile young secretary.
“The greatest revolution in sexuality in the next century will not be result of aphrodisiacs, electrostimulation or bionic penises. It will be the growing stature of women in society. … With [more] jobs will come money, power and prestige, and women will use this collateral for the same purpose men do: to attract members of the opposite sex.”
Heteronormative assumptions aside – I’ll use my power and prestige to try and consensually bang members of whatever gender I like, thanks – that’s definitely the most accurate guess in the whole article. We might still be a few years behind Clarke’s timeline – but we’re finally making change happen so sex is more on our terms than ever before.