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Why we can't stop talking about celibacy after the Lenny Kravitz interview

Last week, full-time sex symbol (and part-time leather-pant-clad gym bunny) Lenny Kravitz pricked our ears when he told The Guardian that he’s been celibate for some time. It’s worth noting that in the 1990s, the absolutely relentless sexpot was married to fellow hot Lisa Bonet, a woman whose factory setting is smolder. Nowadays, however, Lenny intends on keeping his giant scarf neatly folded away, working on his personal growth until he finds the right woman. We’re all a little shaken that one of the world’s sexiest men is deciding not to have sex. (And he’s not the only hot person doing it.) It’s fine, but also a bit WTF. None of us is quite sure where to put our feelings.

You don’t need me to tell you Lenny Kravitz is an autonomous man and can do whatever he bloody well likes, but I’m trying to unpack why someone’s decision not to have sex feels so alarming, so surprising, so wildly off the beaten track. Are we, as humans, not creatures of sex? Isn’t it integral to our species, to all life on earth? Isn’t it one of life’s greatest pleasures? Isn’t it the root of pleasure itself? I don’t want to be crass and say everything’s about sex, but isn’t everything about sex? Doesn’t sex penetrate all aspects of adult culture? Doesn’t our hyper-sexed media saturate us in open sensuality, in sexual possibility? As we all consider the line between sexual prowess and sexual promiscuity, doesn’t sex ultimately sell? And what else do we really want to buy? Long before we get anywhere near the obvious sexuality of pornography and OnlyFans-dom, our feeds are steeped in near-sex, in slow leans toward sex, in plains of risqué-depending-on-your-tolerance flesh. We marinate in titillation and we infuse sexual availability into interactions; these are the God-given rights of consensual adults. But Kravitz’s celibacy opens a Pandora’s box for questioning our sexual selves.

I’m wondering if by choosing celibacy, Lenny is reminding us that we’re all trying to be hotter? We work at personal hotness in myriad ways: It’s physical, sure, and gyms and Ozempic are making a roaring trade in confirmative beauty ideals. But attractiveness is about so many other things, too—reading well, dressing cool, being a wit. Ambition is sexy. Intellect is sexy. As are intensely rich friendships and fulfilling, striven-for careers.

All of these things matter—but never quite outshine our desire for the special sauce of a sexual relationship, of that deeper companionship. We’re highly evolved, socialized creatures, but we’re still driven by primordial needs, and though a significantly small amount of sex is procreative, we’re ultimately all still out here attracting a mate. As much as we evolve, we all want to be hot enough for someone else. What is hotness of not a sort of magnetism for potential breeding? A celibate Lenny Kravitz defies our expectations of the power of being hot and what hot people do with their hotness.

Is sex-free living going to be a thing? Could it actually be liberating to take the sex out of every equation? Are we entering a second wave of sexual emancipation in which one can simply opt out altogether? Maybe this summer can be a mini-break from the near-constant awareness of our own sexuality, of how (or whether) we attract. A vacation from transmitting and receiving sexual triggers. Will more of us be looking back on 2024 as the summer I turned sexless? No more afternoon delights, no more holiday romances—a veritable Celibacy and the City.

Original article is available on Vogue US

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