The internet is abuzz today with both visceral and intellectual responses to The Art of Sleeping Alone, a memoir by Sophie Fontanel (senior fashion editor at French Elle) that chronicles her decision to abstain from sex. Not for religious reasons, not because she was waiting for the right person to come along and sweep her off her feet — simply because she realized she was happier that way. Because she was 27 and she wanted to. Because she decided that having bad sex, or sex just for the point of having sex, is not actually better than no sex at all — for her, at least.
People's reactions to hearing about her sex-free 12 years were so abundant that they make up the basis of her memoir. But, the reactions to the memoir about the reactions are also abundant. What gives? Why are we so fascinated with sexlessness? It's not just a lack of sex, by the way. As the title of the book indicates, the very act of sleeping alone deliberately can be a huge deal; a tragedy, or an art form, depending on one's perspective.
In a culture where sex is pretty much central to... most things, it appears that a lack of sexy time is perhaps even more remarkable than its inverse. It's like we can't imagine what someone would strive for if she's not out to get lucky or lock down a relationship. But, if you take that drive out of the life equation, a whole world of possibilities opens up — from the skin deep (what lipstick would you wear if you didn't have to kiss anyone?) to the existential (what do you define yourself by without sex?). It's taking "me-time" to a whole new level.
While our eyebrows are raised at all the hullaballoo this memoir is creating, we're not going to lie: We're dying to read it. Though we might not feel compelled to give up our own sex lives any time soon, we're definitely curious to know what would happen if we did so choose. We wonder what would be more difficult: not having sex, or sleeping alone. Sometimes contact with a warm body feels just as essential as... well, deeper contact.
Photo: Via Salon.