CYBERSPACE—Stephen Fry, the unmade bed of a man known for his penetrating English wit, has once again embroiled himself in controversy gone viral after supposedly remarking during an interview with gay U.K. magazine Attitude that women have no interest in and gain no enjoyment from sex. Fry, who is gay, tweeted on Sunday that he had been quoted out of context by “some fucking paper” and then seemed to sign off permanently from Twitter with, “Bye bye.”
We don’t have a copy of the magazine in the office, but according to the Telegraph, Frye is quoted as saying, "If women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas. Women would go and hang around in churchyards thinking: 'God, I've got to get my f------- rocks off', or they'd go to Hampstead Heath and meet strangers to shag behind a bush.
“It doesn't happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it."
He continued: "I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want.
“Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, 'Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!' But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?"
Fry, who hosts the quiz show QI on BBC1, is being pilloried over the comments, which led to his threat to flee Twitter. But quitting the 140-character social network may be the easy part of getting past this sociologic mess. The Pandora’s box he has opened will not be easily closed. He has, unwittingly or not, pricked the feminist mystique.
Surprisingly, legendary feminist Germaine Greer has weighed in, calling Fry’s remarks “gratuitous” and accused the broadcaster of having “delusions of grandeur.”
“Stephen Fry is clearly under a delusion that he is an authority on female sexuality,” she said. “Well, if he thinks that women are not interested in genital encounters with total strangers then he is absolutely right. But to conclude that we are therefore uninterested in sex is madness.
“It is true that men have an interest in a kind of sex which women find infinitely depressing, and it’s true that women really don’t want to hang around toilets hoping that someone will come along and play with their bits. That is not what passion is about for us and we would be placing ourselves in mortal danger if it was.
“Women have an idea of passion which men like Stephen can’t even begin to imagine. What women yearn for is intimacy. The fact that for women sex is an integral part of closeness doesn’t mean we are any less interested in it.”
Another feminist and journalist, Rosie Boycott, called Fry’s comments “rubbish,” adding, “Women are just as capable as men are of enjoying sex. We don't go cruising or cottaging on Hampstead Heath because we don't need to.”
Many others have and will continue to comment on Fry’s remarks, noting that perhaps there is some truth to them. Indeed, The Independent went there already, with a lengthy piece today on evolutionary biology that might support the contention that “women really find sex disgusting and only partake of the gruesome act in order to get their man to ‘commit.’”
“The science suggests that he may have a point,” the article notes, “but only if the long view of human sexuality is taken into account—in other words, the reason why sex has evolved in the first place.”
What’s minimally interesting as well is that Fry’s alleged comments could also have been made about female porn stars, and would have elicited the same responses. Small world.