The Big Idea: Should We Contract Our Sex Lives?Published on Thu 13 Mar 2014
Should We Contract Our Sex Lives? was the burning question at the Royal Court last night, in The Big Idea – one of a series of events inspired by the breadth of ideas in Abi Morgan’s The Mistress Contract, currently playing in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.
Chaired by broadcaster, journalist and theatre critic Libby Purves, the panel included playwright Alecky Blythe, anthropologist Professor Sophie Day (Goldsmiths, University of London), academic and activist Lynne Segal and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Debating the nature of contracting a relationship, Alecky Blythe discussed her research for The Girlfriend Experience – her 2008 verbatim play created from edited conversations recorded inside a co-operative brothel. The women she met there felt that the service they offered (which also included ‘conversation and cuddles’, as well as sex) was actively keeping their clients’ marriages alive. Professor Sophie Day suggested that we already do contract our sex lives and to have one could be a positive move as it can protect the most vulnerable person in the relationship.
Lynne Segal was emphatic that it is always wrong to have a sexual contract and to have one would go against everything the second wave feminists stood for, while Peter Tatchell proposed an alternative to marriage – ‘the civil commitment pact’, where each couple could choose from a pick and mix menu of rights and responsibilities, tailored to their own needs, rejecting the ‘one size fits all’ that marriage currently offers.
Questions from the floor sparked lively debate among the panel, including discussing whether humans were naturally monogamous, how we should teach relationships to our young people and what happens to the contract when someone changes their mind.
AlixPartners support The Big Idea at the Royal Court Theatre