I’ll begin by making two broad assumptions. The first is that you, along with the other 16 million of us, watch Temptation Island. The second is that you know what “the bases” are. A reminder: first base is French kissing. Sex amounts to “going all the way.”
Now it appears that the two, our favorite reality- based TV show and our system of sexual hierarchy, have starkly intersected. Notice the actions of the couples on Temptation Island. Most feel that watching persons lick alcohol off persons of the opposite sex’s belly buttons and/ or nipples, and generally humping those persons’ legs and bottoms does not constitute cheating.
Think about it. The couples go on dates and hug, kiss, and “innocuously” mount their single compatriots, but steer clear of the social norms known as the bases. They know that kissing with their tongues, grabbing breasts, or touching the singles’ genitalia with their hands are all tantamount to having sexual relations with that person. Anything else, be it laying one’s head on a woman’s breasts, observing someone’s genitals, jumping on top of someone, or “grinding,” is fair game.
Still, a rigid definition of what constitutes “getting some” and what doesn’t has been stridently contested by those whose sexual exploits are few and far in between. Those people-I generously have not included myself in this grouping– argue that dancing erotically with someone, kissing them on the lips or cheek, or even touching the bare skin of their leg comprises “action.”
Without the bases, social norms and mores-among the young and sexual amateurs-would be unknown and occurrences of sexual faux pas, or worse, molestation would be far more frequent.
But let’s take this most didactic of topics a bit further.
Couldn’t Bill Clinton have rationalized that the fellatio he received from Monica Lewinsky was “kosher” because it did not breach the code of the bases? Indeed, Ken Starr’s report attests to the fact that Clinton would not allow Lewinsky to cause him to reach ejaculation nor would he kiss her. It seems then that one could argue that cheating did not occur. The bases were not passed, Clinton’s lawyers might say, thus there was no foul play.
The same rationale applies to the lovable Islanders on Fox’s island of sin. They see dating and light- to- moderate groping as being reasonable actions in the realm of a relationship. Even falling in love with someone else without French kissing that person does not equal cheating according to these standards.
Thus our friends from beyond the screen tiptoe the tight wire of our American pastime attempting to feed their insatiable loins on the all- you- can- eat singles as much as they can while taking care not to directly cross the social parameters set by the base system.
And though it seems that defining infidelity with such juvenile bounds is simply absurd until those idiots in Congress come up with a better system, I guess we’re stuck defining our sexual interactions the same way that kids at sleepover camp do.