Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nice Guys Get Hard Too

I was recently having a friendly discussion with a nudist about the merits of admiring the beauty of an attractive individual versus the dangers of encouraging gawking and similar rude behaviors. I (of course) insist that there is such a thing as polite voyeurism, despite the fact that sex-negative stereotypes portray it as something harmful and contrary to the interests of those being viewed.

Nudists, you should be well aware, are concerned about gawkers, because, due to society's treatment of nudity (a repeated cycle of repression and titillation), they have not uncommonly had a problem with those individuals who are not really interested in nudism, but show up only to take advantage of the nudity, presumably for some sexual thrill (whether it is primarily exhibitionist in nature, or voyeuristic, or a combination of the two). Naturally, they wish to discourage gawking, and this has the unfortunate side effect of having a negative impact on persons such as myself, who are polite and non-confrontational, yet have an interest in admiring the beauty of others in a somewhat voyeuristic fashion.

Now, in my defense, whatever pleasure I might gain from seeing an attractive person, I have no intention of behaving in a rude manner, and the last thing I'd want to do is anything that would make another person feel uncomfortable or in any way threatened by my behavior. Let's assume that it is possible to admire a person in a way that does not involve gawking or other rudeness. The course of the discussion led to the question of what kind of reaction would be appropriate if a guy was admiring somebody, while sporting an erection.

Now here, the automatic image is to assume that we're talking about a guy jerking himself while staring at a beautiful stranger, and clearly, this kind of behavior is not polite, and a nasty reaction is not unwarranted. But is this the necessary picture? What about somebody who happens to get an erection while admiring a beautiful stranger, but yet remains concerned about his demeanor, and whether he is bothering anyone? As it stands, the erection alone would usually been seen as an affront to the civility of the environment, but I'd argue that erections are a natural occurrence, and that even evidence of sexual arousal does not presuppose any kind of intent on the part of the aroused, and even if it did, the intent would not have to be aggressive or inappropriate in nature, by necessity.

We imagine those who are sexually open and free and liberated as being fiends and perverts. We assume that if they would go so far as to openly embrace the realm of sexual delights, that they must be lacking in morality and civility and self-control. The man who gets an erection among polite nude company then is necessarily seen to be a dangerous predator, or at best, a pathetic nuisance. Either way, he is to be captured and disposed of. But this is not the only picture that exists.

In truth, nice guys get hard too. Guys who don't want to cause problems. Guys who are friendly and funny and like to make people feel comfortable, and have no desire to impose their will on others. Guys who promote social harmony. They get hard too. They have sexual desires, and sometimes those desires show. It doesn't mean their demeanor will change. A nice guy who responds physiologically to an attractive girl isn't going to start acting all perverted and aggressive and controlling towards that girl. And when we see a guy get hard, why should we assume he's a bad seed?

Granted, social norms and customs, especially nudist ones, don't allow for public erections, and thus chances are you aren't going to see the nice guys in this predicament, because they know well enough to keep themselves in check. But if we speak hypothetically (because this issue can be ported to other situations), we shouldn't automatically assume that anyone who gets hard is some kind of perverted sexual predator. Maybe it's a safety precaution, to protect us against those who are like that, but how many are? And in the meantime, how many nice guys do we end up sacrificing? And what about our approach towards sexuality? I don't think it's healthy to assume that sexual desires are dangerous and aggressive, until proven otherwise. What does that say about our attitude towards sex? And how much does it promote the adoption of those kinds of attitudes, as a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The result of this kind of approach is that, when a perfectly nice guy like myself, without a hint of a predatory instinct, decides that he wants to compliment an attractive girl politely, in the hopes of boosting her confidence and spreading good cheer and positive sexual energy, he instead gets attacked in self-defense, being thought of as disgusting scum, or worse - dangerous disgusting scum. The fact that I am polite means nothing. Because we've lost the ability to make that distinction. All sex is dirty. All sexual speech is insulting. All sexual expression is obscene.

All I want is to live in a world with a healthy and positive approach towards sexuality, where sex can be a positive force that enhances a person's experience of life - sex feels good, and it's only natural for us to feel good about it in turn. But all society seems to want to do is reinforce its views on sex being dirty, and icky, and immoral, and, essentially, evil. And also aggressive and animalistic. Which it sometimes can be, but whatever happened to nice and gentle sexuality? Just because a person takes their sexuality out of the bedroom with them, doesn't mean that it necessarily has to be the aggressive kind. Enough with these sexual stereotypes. Don't judge a person based on their sexual desires, or the simple fact that they have them, and that they show them. Evaluate instead the nature of those desires, and the behaviors that accompany them. Give birth to the concept of the polite pervert!


  1. Erm... this is Satanic Thoreau btw.

    I concur. My whole life, I've never understood how sex could be considered bad and dirty and evil. It has always filled me with such ineffable wonder, warmth, and joy. It is love, pure and simple. It may or may not be synonymous with what we call agape, but it's at least akin to love of a great film or love of a sunny day. It's a positive emotion. Period. That's the end. There's no way around that fact. If you want to bring other things into it -- rape, hatred, control -- then you're adding something to it which is not innate.

    I'm certainly not breaking any new ground here but I just can't wrap my head around how we arrived upon the belief that a positive emotion of sensuality is automatically equated with an ACT -- when a thought and an action are not the same -- and what's more, it's an evil act. It's as though if you admit to being proud of your oratory skills, that means you're seeking to lead an insurrection and install yourself as supreme ruler. A great orator may have ambitions towards leadership, but insurrection is no more an effect of oratory than sexual misconduct is an effect of feeling that warm bit of positive energy we call attraction. Sex is a force for good in this world, yet we stifle it in favor of negative emotions which are 'proper.'

    *sigh* I try not to buy into the pro-sex concept that the normals are just stifling it because it is too pwoerful and they are afraid of their own emotions -- because I worry, what if it's just me, not them, that feels so strongly about sex? I've only ever been inside one man's mind. But when the evidence stacks up, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to play devil's advocate against myself in this matter.

  2. I can only speculate about why people deride sex the way they do, but whatever started it, I think a large contributing factor is that it is so ingrained in our culture. People grow up and are raised to react to sex in a specific manner. There are arguments against sex, and it doesn't really matter if they're valid or not, because what counts is people believe them, and they pass them on to the next generation. It's a paradigm that needs to be shattered. We could change it all with better education, but people are so tied to their beliefs, they can't (they won't!) understand the possibility that they may be wrong.

    And there may also be that other factor, that sex just isn't that important to other people. It's like with nudism, perhaps most people would be okay with nudism if it were more ingrained in the culture, but how many of them have that special drive, that affinity for it, that causes them to pursue a nudist lifestyle even in a society that is largely critical of such a lifestyle? But even so, even if the majority are against us, I think it's unfair, even downright irresponsible, for them to force their beliefs on the minority.

    Thanks for your comment, it was a good one. By the way, are you related to Taylor by any chance? ;-)