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Mon Feb 25, 2019, 03:43 PM

When Sex Isn't Sex

It's a good thing our species is programmed to enjoy sex. However you want to describe it, the physiological mechanism of more than one human sharing stimulation that results in orgasmic release is one of the things that keeps our species going.

And not just in terms of reproduction. If you look at our closest relatives, the bonobos, you can see how sexual enjoyment serves a social species by weaving a bonding fabric holding groups together and allowing the formation of complex linkages. Much more functional than the strictly hierarchical dominance mechanisms of other species, mutual sharing of pleasure and the resulting interpersonal and social bonds both enables and requires the development of versatile tools for communication and interaction.

Also, of course, it's fun.

Or at least, it should be.

Sadly, we seem to have made a right hash of things when it comes to sex.

Patriarchal culture and the religious constructs developed to enable and perpetuate its economic and social structures have freighted sex with so much baggage it's hard to tell whether we're even enjoying ourselves, much of the time.

Most sex seems less about having fun with someone else we'd like to form a social or personal bond with, and more about the gratification inherent in either affirming culture-bestowed status and/or privilege or transgressing cultural norms and expectations.

Which is just an overly-sociological way of saying that we have sex to prove how successful we are, or we have sex to prove we can succeed in spite of rules we don't agree with. The physiological pleasure is a nice adjunct, but there's so much more to it than that.

A potpourri of concepts to illustrate this:

The "pickup artist" is an extreme example of the whole "you can tell what an important powerful person I am by the number of people I have sex with. And by their perceived status."

Then there's the "I'm so hot, no one can resist me" person whose self-worth is deeply tied into their perceived sexual attractiveness.

And the people who have internalized various religiously-promoted models of sex in the context of socially and theologically sanctioned relationships, and whose sense of fulfillment is tied into how effectively they are actualizing their chosen model.

Those models are the source of a whole array of transgressive models of sexual pleasure: The thrill of "kinky" sex. The drive to get affirmation of potency or attractiveness long gone from a marriage. The power of pornography to take sexual imagination beyond a mundane here and now.

Very little of that is about "Hey, wanna have fun together? We can rub our bits against each other!"

Sex in our culture is all too rarely about mutual enjoyment and/or forming personal bonds.

It's about self-worth and ego gratification. It's about power. It's about competition. It's about fitting in. It's about social hierarchy. And most of all, it's about selling a product, whether that product is soap or stories or actual bodies.

We have commodified sex for the benefit of a patriarchal culture. If it's even a desirable goal to un-commodify sex, it's not a very realistic possibility within the lifetime of those born after 2010, at any rate. So we may want to re-examine whether it's possible to commodify sex in a way that ensures equity in spite of historic inequity. If so, what would that look like?

What forms of social and economic regulation would it require? How could we prevent those who wish to perpetuate inequitable norms and gratify their own culturally-shaped desires from exploiting such a system?

That's a huge discussion. We can't expect it to go smoothly.

But as with every other conversation about redressing historical oppression and inequity, to be effective it requires awareness of privilege, awareness of the complexities of vulnerability, awareness of history, respect for individual agency, and willingness to examine change.


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Reply When Sex Isn't Sex (Original post)
TygrBright Feb 2019 OP
Mr. Quackers Feb 2019 #1
IluvPitties Feb 2019 #4
HopeAgain Feb 2019 #2
safeinOhio Feb 2019 #3

Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2019, 03:48 PM

1. or


it's just fun to fuck.

Convoluted new puritanism.

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Response to Mr. Quackers (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 25, 2019, 04:08 PM

4. Amen!

Sex makes this world go round.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2019, 04:06 PM

2. The key is in empowering people

Solutions to addiction, education of men and women, prosecution of misconduct, protection of those who come forward, economic equality, but most importantly, we need a change in culture. Our mass media, our entertainment industries all say one thing and show another. Objectification is sexual, there is no other way to look at it in the final analysis.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2019, 04:06 PM

3. Culture makes the most forbidden

fruit taste best.

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