Norway’s public broadcaster NRK made international headlines this week after it released an online sex guide featuring couples of various sexualities in various sexual positions. Whether you are an athlete or couch potato, they boasted, this guide has a sex position to suit you. And indeed there were an ambitious 60 positions included in the guide.
After days of internal rumination on what exactly the “spaghetti” position might look like (that particular pasta is just so limp and uninspiring – surely the energetic fusilli or jaunty farfalle would be a better title for a sex position?), I had to browse through the list.
Skimming over the off-putting “Fartsdumpen” and the excitable “Sett deg ned!”, I moved on to the cuter-sounding “Clamping koala”. The picture showed a couple clamped uncomfortably together and they did look exactly like a koala bear wrapped around a tree. So much so that I wondered would it be possible to engage with this position without experiencing intrusive thoughts about koala bears?
As I read the accompanying text, I became more and more confused. I've never been very good with spatial awareness challenges. It felt a bit like trying to make sense of an Ikea instruction manual.
Reidar Kristiansen, the editor of the guide, set out the broadcaster’s motive in publishing the guide: “NRK wants it to lead to increased knowledge, greater openness and security, inspiration and new conversations about sex, which ultimately means that even more people get a sex life they enjoy.” Truly noble goals.
We Irish have come a long way since the dark old days of sex-based shame, yet it’s still hard to imagine our national broadcaster producing a similar sex guide for Irish people. What would an Irish version even look like?
It would have to include the die-hard classic “Turn the lights off so I can get undressed” or the seasonal “I’m freezing can we please put the duvet back on”.
You could argue that we are way ahead of our Scandinavian peers in that we already released our own public-service sex guide in the form of last year’s award-winning TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People. It accurately portrayed a particularly Irish version of sex: zero chat, an awful lot of the missionary position and a football match playing somewhere on a laptop in the background.
But given that the series sparked a national morality debate that kept RTÉ’s Liveline busy for days with talk of “fornication”, an Irish licence-fee-funded sex guide would probably trigger a general election. That or mass fornication.