Anthony Synnott: “One thing that interested me is the speed of change. When I was growing up there was a two-by-two grid. Everyone was either male/female or gay/straight. Now there’s intersex, transvestite, transgender, transsexual, pan-sexual, solo sexual. It’s all become very complex.
As soon as people realize that an Olympic medalist such as Bruce Jenner can change sex, then people think anyone can. Something you’ve taken for granted comes into question. At the same time, sexual things that some people consider normal in one culture could be lethal in another culture. The motivation and goal was to show how sexual identities are rapidly evolving and how that’s culturally relative.
In some cases, though, what we’re seeing is regressive. In the United States, the halt of funding for Planned Parenthood has made abortion virtually unavailable in some places. We aren’t always talking about evolution when it comes to sex.”
Compared to other animals, is sex among humans strange?
AS: “In terms of what people get up to — yes. There’s a chapter in my book on paraphilia, which is doing something that isn’t normal. When you see people doing those sorts of things, it’s hard for most of us to see how they can be erotic. For example, most people avoid pain. To some, they actually seek it out in the form of sadomasochism. They find it arousing.
An example I provided in my book is of a man in Great Britain who enjoyed being whipped to such a degree that he required a skin graft from the damage it did. There’s little understanding of why extreme pain is enjoyed by some people.”