From 1970 until he died a few years ago I had a friend named Bill who required some getting used to in the visual encounter department. Bill, Gale and I were part of a coffee-klatch at the University of Texas Chuckwagon. They’d both been recently released from the military, both were Russian majors, so I suppose Bill was the instrument for my becoming acquainted with Gale, who owns this place and lives through the woods half-mile from me.
Bill wasn’t an easy man to look at. He weighed around 250 pounds, had a huge head, eyes that didn’t look in precisely the same directions, kinky hair and teeth with a lot of distance between them. But he was a fine, intelligent person. Unfortunately for him, Bill also spoke with a stutter. He was acutely, uncomfortably aware of his appearance.
At the time I met him Bill had never had sex with a woman who wasn’t a prostitute, and he confided once he never expected to. A profoundly unhappy man whom I spent countless hours with trying to help persuade him away from suicide. Every month or two I’d ride with him to the Chicken Ranch, the famous Texas whorehouse, and wait, chatting with the girls while he took care of his needs. For me, one of the outcomes of those visits was the magazine article shown here: Vietcong Seductress, et al. For Bill the visits only provided temporary, but necessary relief.
Around the time he got his bachelors degree Bill found a woman who had a few problems of her own, and who was evidently able to see beneath his exterior into the fine human being he was. They were eventually married and seemingly enjoyed a happy enough life. Still, Bill and I remained close friends, talking on the phone several times a week.
One day Bill came to see me sometime in the mid-1980s with something weighing him down. We talked a while before he confided to me that he was a ‘sex addict’.
“What the hell is a sex addict, Bill?”
He explained the concept to me, as it had been explained to him by his wife, along with various pamphlets of the feminist genre describing it in loving detail. “I never knew this about myself,” he explained, carrying more guilt and self-remorse than I’d seen since he became a married man.
“Have you talked to a doctor about it?”
“I talked to [a mutual friend who was a psychologist]. He just laughed me off and said there’s no such thing as a sex addict.”
This brought a frown from me. Our bud the psychologist was a pro. If sex addiction existed, he’d know about it, and if Bill had a problem he wanted to talk about he wouldn’t brush him off. “Did you talk to him in any detail about what makes you think you’re a sex addict?”
Bill just shrugged and stared at the floor. “Yeah. He said it’s just normal. He said I’m the same as almost every other man.”
Not too long afterward Bill adopted the religious preference of his wife, Anglican. He became a deacon, and something of a zealot. But he carried his guilt and his conviction he was a sex addict with him, probably to the grave. And frankly, I never believed a word of it.
Bill had described enough of his sexual needs and practices to me over the years to convince me if he was a sex addict, so was I. I tended to agree with our psychologist friend more than I agreed with Bill, his wife, or the feminist pamphlets where the concept was invented.
Recently The Honest Courtesan, a retired prostitute has had a couple of articles and discussions about the subject in her blog. Not An Addiction, and Neither Addiction nor Epidemic examine the subject of the concept of sex addiction and what’s behind it in loving detail.
My general thought is that this wouldn’t work on most men. It would require one such as Bill, a man already inclined to guilt and one already decided to let others define right and wrong for him. Most men, I believe, would simply get a mistress or pick up a lady in a bar somewhere. A lady who measured the sexual desires and needs of the normal man as normal.
He’ll be something else then, a ‘cheater’, and she’ll be the ‘other woman’.
And that’s normal too when terms such as ‘sex addict’ become a replacement part for ‘too tired’, or ‘I’ve got a headache’.