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Sexpo and the Death of Sex

Billed as the world’s biggest health, sexuality and lifestyle exhibition, Sexpo came to Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion last weekend.

According to its website, “This show will increase your attractiveness and sexual drive. It contains beautiful women, hunky men, nudity and crackin’ entertainment.”

Call me fussy. Say I’m hard to please. But if whatI witnessed is supposed to promote a healthy, happy sex life, then I think I just saw the death of sex.

Sexpo sex is formulaic, conveyor belt, plastic, industrialised, peep show porn sex.

The space was filled with pumping, grinding, crotch grabbing and female porn stars ‘presenting’, as they say in baboon studies. Cosmetically enhanced bodies waxed to within an inch of their lives, a landfill’s worth of plastic toys, dildos, whirling vibrators, penis rings and fake vaginas.

There were faux lesbian threesomes in hardcore acts of nastiness. Pole-dancers, strippers, bondage mistresses and men in little aprons with their bums showing. Audience members were hypnotised on stage into believing they were receiving oral sex.

Male show-goers pulled their pants down on stage and played with their penises. An artist known as Pricasso slathered his in paint, ready to capture your likeness.

Men practised their anal prowess on stage with lifeless blow-up dolls. Others paid a porn star $40 to pose topless with them. Many visited the laporium for paid personalised lap dances. At times it felt like you were walking through one giant erection. All of it captured by men with video cameras, for a longer lasting Sexpo.

Designed to turn us all on were a man in a suit coveredin fake penises, giant characters depicting male and female sexual parts, a sex sideshow alley including moving clowns with heads as genitals, the gerbil sex train advertised with giant breasts and a penis in between.

A celebration of the vandalism of the human body.

Ex-footballer now porn film maker Warwick Capper in his Hustler T-shirt? Sorry, just not doing it for me. Ex-Hey Hey it’s Saturday’s Russell Gilbert as ‘crackin’ entertainer and MC. Define crackin?

Two older long-bearded men sold T-shirtswith slogans like ‘Wipe ya eyes princess and harden the f*ck up’ and offered to sign ladies underwear. Another T-shirt depicted a woman bound, with a red ball stuffed in her mouth and the slogan ‘Silence is golden’. “

I look at that and see fun!” said the cheery saleswoman.

I look at that and see the objectification and subordination of women.

My friend and I could ‘enhance our assets’ for a mere $7,000 each for boobs and ‘tush’. Photos of pumped up breasts and tight bums adorned the stand. We were invited to handle the silicone implants.

There were also before-and-after photos of labia subjected to a scalpel for a bit of tidying up. And would we like to know more about the G-spot enhancement? Women are not good enough as they are. We must be sexually modified.

The enthusiastic staff testified to the skill of the boss. He’s operated on all of them. One showed me the bandages around her mid section: pre-wedding liposuction. Hymen repair was also on the menu of services offered. They were seeing one to two Middle Eastern girls a week seeking the procedure to ‘prove’ their virginity.

Genital repair of another kind was being offered by a charity called Clitoraid. A devastating human rights violation against a woman’s bodily integrity is made sexy. They were raising money for female genital mutilation repair in Africa, with slogans such as “Give a Stranger an Orgasm”, “Help Build a Pleasure Hospital” and “Adopt a Clitoris”.

There were photos of smiling African women and a baby mid mutilation. A staffer told methey stopped showing a film of a child being cut as too many men stood around laughing.

I wondered what African women would think of the pornification of their suffering? And, this, my last encounter as I was leaving.

A shivering young Thai woman in a wet T-shirt, sitting in a cage waiting for someone to strike the ‘bang me’ target on the image of a woman bent over.

Freezing, soaked, alone, disconnected, in an enclosure, to be ogled by men.

In the end, Sexpo is anti-intimacy, anti-connection and anti-warmth. It just leaves you feeling cold.Melinda Tankard Reistis a Canberra author, blogger, commentator and advocate for women and