Human Sexuality December 11, 2003 by RedStar2000
Got your attention, right?
Some people would argue, I suppose, that sexuality is "a-political". Their view of what is "political" is stuff that comes with the word pasted on...often by the very bourgeois media they claim to distrust.
I take a more expansive view myself; it seems to me that all social interaction is "political"...is subject to critical analysis as best we can manage.
This collection of posts is my attempt at a revolutionary analysis of human sexuality in the capitalist world. It's not very "sexy", but I hope it makes sense.
Isn't sex before marriage immoral?
Of course not.
Why do you go for sex and not marriage?
1. Sex is pleasurable.
2. In advanced capitalist societies, people change far too rapidly to make a "life-long" commitment practical. It can be done but only under circumstances where both partners change more or less at the same speed and in the same direction.
How can anyone sleep with someone who is not ready to marry them?
Quite easily if there is mutual attraction.
If he is not willing to marry you, does he deserve to have sex with you?
This question appears to be directed to women. But sex is not a matter of being "deserving" or something to be "earned". It is, first of all, a matter of mutual pleasure.
How can you change your partners so frequently?
Because, as noted above, people change frequently themselves.
Why do you need partners at a very young age?
That's when the hormones are really pumping! Teens think about sex constantly (just look at all the sex threads on this "political" board). When one grows older (alas), the hormones decrease and one begins to develop wider interests. It's a "mixed blessing".
Why don't you wait till you are matured enough to make the right choice?
There is no abstract "right choice"...there are only better or worse choices depending on the people around you.
No one is ever "mature" enough to make perfect choices.
Why don't you wait at least till you finish college?
Why? If pleasure is available at any age, why pass it up?
I think having sex with someone or the other just for the sake of dating is unethical.
Again why? People are perfectly capable of figuring out what degree of intimacy they are comfortable with...why should "ethics" have anything to say on the matter?
If you are for the concept that each one can sleep with every other person at the same time, the society would be in chaos. like dogs and other animals, we would be fighting forever.
Your problem is that you are an "easterner"...that is, you grew up in a culture that was/is making the transition between some form of pre-capitalist society (semi-feudalism, colonialist, etc.) and modern capitalist society.
Such societies are almost always extremely puritanical with regard to human sexuality--the "Victorian Age" in England, Imperial Germany and the U.S. before World War I, even Stalin's USSR and Mao's China.
It probably reflects the need to constrain all forms of human consumption during the period of primitive capital accumulation. It would be paradoxical for the ruling classes in such a society to proclaim an era of "sexual liberation" when the working class is barely getting enough to eat to stay alive.
Only after the initial surplus has been achieved and resources can be diverted to ordinary consumer needs do ordinary people have the "luxury" of liberating themselves sexually.
Your children and grandchildren, living in a way far different than the way your country is now, are going to regard your attitudes as incredibly backward.
They will have become "westerners".
First posted at Che-Lives on November 20, 2003
You being a socialist, you want to follow the advanced capitalistic culture?
It's not a matter of personal "want", it's an observation of what is actually happening.
Advanced capitalism is a "high stimulus" form of class society. What's "hot" and what's "not" changes very quickly. Though much of this is purely a matter of fashion, there are also real changes taking place...in how and where people live, in the nature of employment, in the unfolding of people's interests and abilities, etc.
In the "west", the person you hook up with at 15 is going to different at 18, at 22, at 30, 40, 50, etc. The changes are quickest among the young...which is why they have "so many" partners. But people change even at 60 or 70...that's just the way things are.
Perhaps these changes will slow down under communism and life will proceed at a more sedate pace; on the other hand, things might speed up even faster. No one knows.
There is a curious thing that has been noted by studies of many species of mammals...from rats to cats to monkeys to humans, we like a stimulating environment. Given the choice, that's what we choose.
It's perfectly plausible that the over-all declining length of intimate relationships is primarily due to boredom.
Even though you are poles apart, life long commitment is possible.
As it happens, I used to know such a couple. They married in the early 1940s and when I knew them, they were in their 70s.
They tormented each other relentlessly. I never heard them say a kind word to one another in four years.(!)
I went so far as to drop a few hints about how perhaps they might be happier living apart...but they were "old-style" Catholics and such a move was quite literally "inconceivable".
There are not many younger "westerners" who are willing to put up with this anymore...can you blame them?
How come they suddenly realise after 8 yrs. when one of them proposes for marriage that they are incompatible?
Well there might be lots of reasons, but I can certainly suggest one of them: the institution of legal/religious marriage is seen, in itself, as a kind of "trap"...a renunciation of all further possibilities.
"Westerners" increasingly dislike, I think, the idea of "final and irrevocable choice". We actually seem to prefer the "provisional" choice which can be changed if circumstances change. Since circumstances do change--a lot!--the "provisional choice" makes more sense.
Except for the physical appearance, the basic nature of any person cannot change in such a short time.
That's the "easterner" in you speaking (or the "westerner" of a century ago)..."basic natures" do change in less than a decade.
You sleep with a person without even knowing her basic nature just for the sake of pleasure. I consider that immoral.
You appear to be using a definition of "morality" that I don't understand. Exactly why is mutual pleasure "immoral"?
Why blame hormones for your shortcomings?
It's not a "shortcoming". It's as natural as breathing.
Even rapists blame hormones for their misdeed.
Rape is an entirely different subject. Feminists pointed out 40 years ago that rape is not really about sex at all...it is about male violence against women (and weaker men), it is about power. It properly belongs in the same category as murder and assault.
Mutual attraction and Mutual Pleasure.. Is that all? We humans have a heart due to which we have some feelings like love.
Well, actually it's a portion of the brain that's involved in generating human emotions.
No one is suggesting that you can't "love" the people that you are intimate with...just that you can also simply like them, feel attracted to them, or simply want a little break from feeling lonely all the time.
Take a scenario in which a 16 yr old girl has an affair with a guy. Later that guy finds her mom attractive and she does too and both have an affair. Do you consider that perfectly moral too? (Actually this is a real incident which i saw in some TV show.)
Jerry Springer, right? What an asshole!
It's a rather unusual occurrence, but it doesn't bother me...the random variations in sexual attraction are far too numerous to single out one particular kind and get upset over it.
Again, it seems to me that "morality" is irrelevant in this context.
At any point in life, you always can get better choices. That doesn't mean you have to ditch the present choice for a better one.
I'm not saying you "have" to do it.
But consider this: now that it's known that there's no "afterlife", we in the "west" are more or less conscious of the fact that we only have one life to live and that any "good thing" that we pass up is gone forever.
If a "better choice" presents itself, and you pass it up, there's a very good chance that you'll spend the rest of your life regretting it.
As one old guy said, "The worst thing about getting old is remembering the times when you didn't yield to temptation."
If sex is just about hormones and mutual pleasure, I think you would find any person in the world good enough for you as long as it is a female.
There is a point in what you are saying: the "pool" of "potential partners" is actually a lot larger than most people realize.
One of the lingering ideas from the 19th and 20th centuries is that there is, "out there someplace", the "perfect mate".
The truth of the matter is quite different: there are people out there that you might enjoy mating with for various periods of time, from one night to several decades.
Even if "your girl" is "one-in-a-million" and you live in New York City, there are at least 3 more of her in that city alone.
I don't know how you fit your kids into your non-puritanical society.
I don't know what you mean by this statement. If you are a "moral person", then you look after your kids no matter what.
Isn't that obvious?
I don't know about this but I am sure when you are 60 yrs. old, you will regret it for not having a life partner who could love you for what you are , who could cry with you, laugh with you , who could share your feelings.
Well, as it happens, I'm a shade over 60 and do not have such a "life partner". That's how it goes.
On the other hand, I am free to arrange my life to suit my own preferences. I do not have anyone to "nag" me or "bother" me about things that are of no concern to me. I never spend any of my remaining time "fussing & fighting" with anyone, or steaming and stewing over some argument.
I live a rather "peaceful" life and like it that way...as do many older people who are unattached.
And, of course, I am not a "burden" on anyone else. No one has to "take care of me".
First posted at Che-Lives on November 21, 2003
Due to boredom or any other silly reason whatever it might be. Unless there is a strong reason, it is immoral to leave a person.
Do you think boredom is not a strong reason?
If I'm not mistaken, studies of animals in traditional zoos have shown that boredom suppresses the animal's immune system.
Stimulus and response, in a crude sense at least, is what life is all about.
And you keep using this word "immoral"...do you mean "sinful"? "Unethical"? What?
Most of the people I know, haven't seen their husband/wife before marriage and yet, they lead a happy life. They are committed to each other, love each other inspite of their differences.
I quite agree that anecdotes are not really evidence...I mentioned it only as something I actually saw with my own eyes.
The reasons anecdotes are not considered real evidence are that (1) I could have been mistaken in what I saw; (2) I could have misinterpreted what I saw; (3) They could have been putting on an "act" for other people and behaved completely differently in private.
The same considerations apply, of course, to your examples.
Also, do not forget a point that I think I made earlier: people who are raised to expect a life much like the lives of those who raised them react one way to "expected" events. People who grow up knowing that life is going to be constantly changing react to events very differently.
I gather from your remarks that you are from India. Some of your major cities are already becoming "westernized", are they not? And you know that's not just a matter of subway systems or tall office buildings or a new and very successful software industry, right?
Capitalism brings "invisible" changes as well as visible ones. It changes the ways that people look at reality.
It introduces--in however distorted and limited ways--the idea of individual choice. That's a powerful acid...that doesn't stop working with your choice of groceries or automobiles.
I'm sure that there are already people in India who would instantly understand what I and others are talking about (just as we have our atavisms on this board who would agree with you). Their numbers will grow...as will their influence.
The "arrow" of history is quite clear about this. You can slow it down...you cannot stop it.
Sleeping with anyone, just because you get sexual pleasure is immoral. If you do so, there wouldn't be any difference between you and an animal.
I cannot see how you could mean this literally. Animals have "no moral sense" in the way that phrase is usually used. To behave "like an animal" is neither moral nor immoral...it is "a-moral", if you need a word to describe it.
It's also untrue; aside from our other primate relatives, the idea of sex involving mutual pleasure is unknown among animals (I think...an animal behaviorist should correct me if I'm wrong).
And sex for mutual pleasure does not, of course, have any effect at all on our other "human" capabilities--we are just as human during and after sex "for mutual pleasure" as we were before.
Your statement doesn't make sense.
You can't survive without breathing. You can definitely survive without sex. You can't compare both of those.
You can "survive" without any number of things. Is that the measure of how you or anyone should live?
Devout Hindus refuse to eat beef and devout Muslims refuse to eat pork; do such voluntary abstentions make any sense?
It seems to me that both give up potential gustatory pleasures for imaginary "reasons".
One can indeed "survive" without eating beef or pork...but why do that?
One can "survive" without sexual pleasure...but why do that?
Rapist might use force as a tool for sex but the major thing they want is sex not power.
No, that's not true and here's why. If sex were the real goal, then rapists would seek out attractive young women to rape.
But in fact they are as likely to seek out pre-pubescent females, middle-aged females, even elderly women to rape. Some even seek to rape other men. Such a desire cannot possibly be sexual in origin...I think it stems from some men's sense of powerlessness and desire to "prove" their "manhood".
Yes. The girl and the mother fought with each other. That is so disgusting to see. Frequent changing of partners leads to these kind of petty fights.
We end up hurting many people and fighting with many. We will lose harmony in the society.
What can I tell you? The age of "harmony" in society is over. It never really existed at all...but the "stage settings" are falling away.
Some people think communism will be a "harmonious" society...but I'm skeptical of that. I expect people will still find reasons to quarrel...but they will be different reasons than people have now.
Once people realize that "perfect monogamy" is an illusion or at least a temporary situation, they won't fight very much about that any more. There will be no point to it.
The kid doesn't get a chance to be with both his parents due to your choices. It is like making the kids suffer for your mistakes.
Maybe it's not "suffering". Maybe the old partnership became a torment and splitting up actually improved life for the kid.
We used to have that myth in the "west"...it was called "staying together for the sake of the children".
My suspicion is that more kids hated it than liked it. Life in a family where the parents have grown to hate one another is rather...uncomfortable.
The major problems I see with the short term relations and frequently changing partners are:
1) Diseases like AIDS
2) Most women who are unsure of how long a relation will last are generally not willing to have kids. That will drastically reduce the birth rate.
3) Kids not able to stay with their parents.
4) The role of woman in a man's life and man in a woman's life will be limited to sex.
5) It would turn man more materialistic.
1. Sexually-transmitted diseases will become treatable and eventually curable. That's been the case so far and I see no reason why progress should not continue.
2. The birth rate needs to be reduced, drastically. Our poor planet groans under the weight of nearly seven billion people. Humanity will all be much better off, in the long run, when the population is reduced to one to two billion, at most.
3. Many kids in the "west" spend time with each parent on an alternate basis. That could turn out to be the norm by the end of this century, at least in the "west"...and it might turn out to be a very good thing.
4. That's a rather extreme prediction...do you think that there are no men who enjoy the friendship of women? I actually think that will become more common as people drift away from "permanent" sexual commitments.
5. I don't understand what you mean by "materialistic" in this context. If you mean that men will become "greedier" for material possessions, I think that is due to the economic insecurity that is inherent in capitalist society...and doesn't really have anything to do with sexual customs at all.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 23, 2003
I think what this thread really shows is that there are people who "believe" in walls.
And people who don't.
To a servant of the "wall", anyone who doesn't believe in walls is "perverse", "sinful", "sick", "disgusting", and "evil".
The "Wall People" believe in prisons; the "anti-Wall" people think prison is worse than death itself.
The "Wall People" think everyone needs a boss or else they won't do "what they are supposed to do" nor refrain from doing "what they're not supposed to do".
The "anti-Wall" people think that bosses are "disgusting", "evil", etc.
Regardless of their nominal political views, the "Wall People" are conservatives at heart...they think that human behavior is not to be trusted.
And, likewise, the "anti-Wall People" are revolutionaries at heart...they are encouraged by the potential of humans to "do the right thing" in the long run.
Do you really want to see the liberation of our species?
Or do you want to be "just another brick in the wall"?
First posted at Che-Lives on November 26, 2003
Very well, I won't "deconstruct" what you've written but instead go straight to the core of your "argument"...as I understand what you're saying.
Indulgence in sexual pleasure inhibits the revolutionary impulse.
Is that a fair summary?
I don't believe that you have so much as a scrap of evidence to support that assertion...and, indeed, I have no idea how one would gather such evidence in the first place. You would have to survey a group of revolutionaries (defined how?) and a "control group" of apathetic non-political people and ask them to report on their sex lives.
As many have noted, such "survey techniques" suffer from a most serious drawback: no one need tell the truth because there's no way to verify their responses.
Historically speaking, there has always been both a puritanical and an anti-puritanical current of opinion in the "left". Which of those currents is "really left" is, of course, the "sub-text" of this and similar threads on sexuality, marijuana, alcohol, etc.
Likewise, there is and has always been a competition between two "models" of how to live a revolutionary life. One emphasizes the "monkish" life of self-sacrifice, "total dedication", voluntary hardship, etc. Call it the "Mother Theresa" model.
The alternative model tries "to have it all", embracing life to the fullest now as a living example of how life should be lived. Yes, we should fight our oppressors with all the strength we can muster...but we should also enjoy the pleasures that come our way now. We can't just live "in the future"...postponing all the good things that life offers until "after the revolution". Call it the "Emma Goldman" model.
Perhaps it is a matter of temperament and personality...though I find it hard to accept the idea that there's a gene complex for puritanism. I know for a fact that some people react to pleasure negatively from childhood exposure to parental fuckups and neighborhood wreckage. If your parents are drunks and your neighborhood filled with the human debris of capitalism in the form of wasted junkies, it's "easy" to conclude that pleasure is the "villain".
Humans can easily mistake the symptoms for the causes of a phenomenon. If you see people drunk or strung out or suffering from AIDS, it's easy to conclude that if they would just abstain from drinking, drugs, and sex, then "everything would be different".
Well, no, it would still be the same. It is class society that creates, in its normal operation, the production of human wreckage in one form or another. In 19th century England, it was seriously suggested that "cheap gin is the curse of the working class".
As long as class society exists, there will be substantial numbers of people who, having found one or more pleasures in an otherwise intolerable life, will engage in them to the point of self-destruction...a slow form of suicide. Perhaps that response is genetic; I don't know.
But the vast majority of people do not respond in that fashion; one way or another, they balance their pleasures and responsibilities. The "Mother Theresa" model of revolutionary life holds little appeal to most people...it "sounds crazy".
On the other hand, the "Emma Goldman" model has, I think, great potential...it summons people to revolutionary struggle without demanding that they renounce all pleasure until "after the revolution". It's a "common sense" approach that intuitively "makes sense" to people (provided, of course, that they are convinced of the desirability of revolution in the first place).
The two models also have implications for the quality of post-capitalist society. Some people want to live in a rigid, neo-puritanical society in which every act is tightly controlled; "what is not prohibited is compulsory".
Others, like myself, view such a society as a nightmare...what Marx once quite properly condemned as "barracks communism". To us, the whole point of revolutionary struggle is a freer society...which means one of greater pleasure as well as less pain and suffering.
We want to enlarge human possibilities beyond the boundaries of class society...not shrink them into some wretched parody of Victorian or even medieval "morality".
If that be "depravity", then make the most of it.
First posted at Che-Lives on December 6, 2003
Perhaps we who want a revolution should attack capitalism on its false promises.
Yes, the media is "full" of "sex"...is that an acceptable substitute for the real thing?
Is "fast food" an acceptable substitute for food?
It seems to me that what capitalism offers is not sex but rather the appearance of sex, "virtual sex" if you will. It is as if you went into an upscale restaurant and, in place of a meal, you were invited to look at the menu for as long as you wished and "imagine" how good the meals would taste if you could afford them.
And the "meals" are expensive. My guess is that a sexual encounter with a Playboy "playmate" would probably cost around $50,000. An attractive topless dancer in your neighborhood club costs a lot less...perhaps $2,000 or so.
Or you can rent a DVD for $4.00!
What's an ordinary guy gonna do?
In capitalist society, his "desirability" as a potential sexual partner is essentially reduced to his net worth. His other qualities, whatever they might be, are, at best, little bonuses, perks, add-ons. He can always be out-bid.
The lesson for women, of course, is that your sexual appeal is a commodity to be exploited "for all it's worth" in the marketplace. You compete with other women for the most desirable men...the ones with the most money. The "better" you look, the more you are "worth". Pleasure is a secondary consideration...the main thing is to get the money.
If you want romance, rent a DVD.
Of course, most ordinary people don't accept this paradigm...at least not in the blunt way I have stated it. But it permeates our society; it's "in the air we breathe". It influences us.
Very well, why not then attack it as fake?
It is, after all, just as fake as patriotism or religion or anything else the capitalists do to obscure an accurate perception of reality.
Why not offer the alternative of a new society in which the possibility of real sexual encounters based upon mutual attraction is increased?
Without the pernicious influence of wealth, people would evaluate potential partners on their human qualities. Yes, "looks" would still count for a lot...there's no getting away from that. But I think there would be far less "pressure" to achieve a "fashionable look" in order to be thought attractive. People would be less likely, I think, to be constrained by a "mental picture" of "perfect looks"...and thus be somewhat more open to the varieties of human appearance.
I have no idea if such an approach is feasible at this point...perhaps there would already have to be a sizable revolutionary movement in existence to make it look plausible.
But I think there is little future in exhorting people to suppress their appetites "in the name of the revolution".
Why would anyone want to do that?
First posted at Che-Lives on December 7, 2003
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