What would make this wordplay perfect would be if a groaning were an actual coin of currency. Like if a groaning were like a farthing – or something that sounded like a groaning, like Matt Groening or Kroner even. Then it would be BOTH a literal bit of money AND the sexual innuendo of a groaning.
Why this is the cost of sex, I’m not sure. Moaning is actually a benefit as far as I can tell. And groaning isn’t that far from moaning. Is it that groaning is related to childbirth? I don’t get the sense that a groan is exactly the sound of childbirth, either. Groaning sounds like too mild a sound for the pain of birthing. Shouting, keening, yelling, grunting, growling all seem more likely.
But I know that in Shakespeare’s work – this joke about groaning and the cost of sex comes up a lot.
And here we have Hamlet suggesting that in order to un-sharpen his blade, as it were, he’d need to get busy with Ophelia.
Which would cost her.
And that is the unfortunate way sex shows up in so much literature – as something that a woman must pay for somehow. With a groaning, with a child, with disease – or in a great many novels, plays and stories – with death. Anna Karenina enjoys some sexual pleasure but ultimately has to die for it. The cost of good sex is death. Which, you know, just doesn’t seem fair.
I was reminded of this trope recently when watching the film of Into the Woods – how we see the Baker’s Wife enjoy some sexual pleasure and is, in the next breath, dead.
And men’s sexual desire is the edge? Sharp painful – something to fear? Dangerous.
I’m done with this. Can’t both men and women just enjoy their bodies? Give one another pleasure? No edge. No groaning. No death.