The whole silly stick…

I suppose the keenest disappointment I feel about the past week and the almost incredible weirdnesses it has brought in its train is the idea that there are people out there who actually swallow the notion that I am so stupid as to believe that women don’t enjoy sex. That I not only believe it but that I am dense, dotty and suicidally deluded enough to make a public declaration of such a crazed belief.

Let me now come out and say before we go any further that I entertain no such notion. Much as you may wish to think me a compound of the most misogynistic, ignorant, sexist and antediluvian pig who ever trod the planet I can truly report that I know and love enough women to be quite assured of the fact that women do indeed enjoy sex. I would have to ignore evolution, precedent, personal experience and the empirical observation of vibrator sales and teenage pregnancies and all kinds of obvious and unavoidable facts in between to believe anything else. And yet the public perception appears to be that I have made a statement that proves I think otherwise. Any number of self-righteous, indignant and contemptuous figures have (if I have understood aright) come out to condemn me for opinions that I have never even held. I say “if I have understood aright” because I have not read a single newspaper article on this whole issue and I may well have got hold of the wrong end of the whole silly stick. I am going by the maddeningly well-meaning but wholly unwanted information given to me by others.

But I repeat: it is not the fury, the insult, the hysteria, the tut-tutting, the head-shaking or indeed the intemperate abuse that has apparently come from some quarters, none of those have astonished me so much as the disappointingly wholesale acceptance by so many individuals that I might genuinely have been such a twatty prune as ever to have meant such a bizarre thing. Many people have by turns condemned me or sympathised with me or even agreed with me, but very few have had the perception or necessary understanding of the British press and its ways to get the obvious point that, guilty of all kinds of crimes as I may be, I am happily guiltless of the mad crime of thinking that women don’t enjoy sex. But I dare say I shall now go to my grave being thought of as someone who does hold such a belief, much as I will go to that grave being thought of someone who “attacked” the Pope prior to his UK visit, although I never did any such thing – indeed I went out of my way to avoid attacking him.

How can we unpick this whole sorry business? It may be that you haven’t the faintest idea what I’m talking about. So we should begin by telling the story of Stephen and Women and Sex, such as I understand it. Here goes.

How it happened

For reasons that should be obvious now if they weren’t before, I don’t give print interviews. I never consent to them any more than you, dear reader, would voluntarily consent to being mugged, raped or burgled, but when under pressure I will compromise by agreeing to do a profile for some small magazine or other. I say “under pressure” because as an actor, writer and presenter, publicity duties routinely go with my profession. It is written into contracts that if I accept a TV, film or writing job that I must agree to a “reasonable” number of press requests. Because I am fortunate enough to be a busy soul there will be periods when three, four, five or six different projects will come to fruition all at the same time and I will have to sit down with the publicity people from each project and barter. I will agree to radio, online and TV interviews and then, heart in mouth, consent to one or two local or specialised print organs.

You may not believe this from my hideous omnipresence but my preferred number of publicity assignments is exactly zero. If I could get away with NO radio interviews, NO magazine profiles, NO television chat shows, NO bookshop signings, NO stage events then I would. All those who know me and work with me will confirm this. I am a very very reluctant mule when it comes to these awful moments of necessary negotiation with the publicity people attached to books and films and TV series. “Must I?”, “Oh god please let me off…”, “Surely I’m don’t need to do this?” I am as aware as you and as aware as the battalions of people who clearly loathe the sight and sound of me that my media presence can appear to be ubiquitous, overexposed and entirely de trop.

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13 comments on “Silliness”

  1. Piglette says:

    I am female, fifty and no fool. At first the comments took my breath away and then 2 seconds later I thought what a load of rubbish. Stephen Fry would simply not say such things. His humanity and kindness shine through in everything he does. I follow his work and Tweets in a casual way but I have to say if I was having a dinner party…. no I grew out of entertaining but if I was organising a picnic I would choose to have Stephen Fry there 100 times over than all his screeching detractors and media nitwits. I know Stephen’s too busy for a picnic and besides the weather at the moment is so dreadful the rain would soak the sandwiches. But it is his ‘good eggness’ that makes you feel you could a: ask him and b: enjoy it when he came along. I am pretty certain that the hot air merchants chastising him could not pass the same picnic invitation test.
    So please keep entertaining and drawing us into your life I don’t believe you would deliberately offend us; although Mrs Stephen Fry’s hat does come close.

  2. Mandi M says:

    I’m female, I’m a feminist, and I’m also rather fond of sex when it’s on the menu.
    Fortunately, I have not had my sense of humour surgically removed.

    From the moment this latest song & dance exploded I was sure that it was a huge storm in a teacup, entirely innocent from your side with no offence intended beyond a little light humour. But sadly, as you well know, the media loves to anoint folk as “national treasures” only to tear them to shreds at the first opportunity.

    Please pay no attention and put all this nonsense behind you and carry on being the same old Stephen we know…

    …oh, and for the record (purely academic for you, I know), we DO like sex. But then chocolate ranks pretty high on our sensual Top 10 too

    Hoping to see you back online with us again soon.


  3. RoxieDiva says:

    Never explain–your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.
    Elbert Hubbard

    Kind of sums it up – but I get why you posted this

    I do wonder if people dont get carried away by their own indignancy (sorry long day and I am sure that isnt a word but you know what I mean) and forget that behind it all is a person who still has feeling and can be hurt just like everyone else.

    Chin up babe xx

  4. adamdv says:

    Non illigitamus carborundum!!

  5. Aidanthingy says:

    Dear Mr Fry,

    I am appalled to learn that you have been loudly insisting that the Pope does not enjoy having sex. You scurrilous deviant!

    Cancel my subscription immediately.

    “Disgusted of Dublin”

  6. Ophiuchus says:

    I noticed the story in the media and thought ‘he’s been got at again’! I have just registered to say what a complete non story this was from the start. And yes, sure it causes upset and it won’t be the last either. The whole thing is such an idiotic proposition that no one would surely believe it came from anyone with a cubic centimeter of brain tissue, let alone you? One would hope…

  7. in-this-light says:

    Dear Sir,

    I read one of the aforementioned articles and discussed it with my girlfriend. We came to the conclusion that it seemed out of character and wondered if there had been a falling out with Edna over the matter (perhaps involving her at number 38?).

    We hope that if that was the case, that things have been sorted out and any cracks papered over, for the sake of your offspringand would like to wish you the very best for the future.

  8. bertyboy says:

    A little tale to hopefully make you smile.
    When I left school at 16 about to start an apprenticeship as a silversmith,my local rag – The Basingstoke Gazette came down to interview me.
    I said when asked if any of my friends were doing unusual jobs,I replied ” no,most of my mates are doing ordinary jobs” this was quoted as – “Dave says most of his friends are in dead end jobs” ! you can imagine how popular I suddenly become !

  9. hdiamond says:

    There is one positive to your having to post a reply, people like myself get to read more of your words.

    Personally I’ve had one experience with journalists which scarred me for life. Speaking with The Sun (I was just shoved in their general direction at the time) about a mass-nude photograph I did many years ago, the man (not gentle) managed to twist my simple straight answers into something that fit their agenda. The last question for example: do you have a boyfriend? At the time the answer was no. From this they turned me into a sex-crazed stripping harridan, desperate to snare a man under any circumstances. I just thought it would be a laugh. Oh well!

    The point I’m getting to is most of your admirers will be well aware of the twisting nature of the press. Welcome back.

  10. dansumners says:

    If only one person learns from reading this post that all is often not as it seems, that one should withhold judgement until appraised of all the facts and respond in a measured, rational and generous manner, it was not at all an ‘ill-judged’ conversation. In any case, as you say yourself, it was simply not judged, but undertaken in a spirit of humour and honesty. And we must not be deprived of the pleasure of such conversation, especially in public. It would reduce us to uttering the hollow, calculated and passionless statements, soundbites and scripts with which we are so familiar thanks to our front bench politicians.

  11. lugubrioustide says:

    Hi Mr F. I have just checked with my wife and she says that she doesn’t enjoy sex. It’s not because of her gender…I’m just rubbish apparently ;(

  12. ashleymills says:

    Wow, first time I’ve read your blog. Really nice writing style, I’ll be back :)

  13. Edward says:

    Regarding lessons:

    1. Seems entirely reasonable, but very difficult.
    2. As above.
    3. I recommend the opposite: explore the limits of the most outrageous and self-evidently untrue things you can convince the press that you earnestly believe.

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