Friday, November 15, 2013

The Conventional Narrative of Love and Sex

At 8 years of age, boys and girls stay apart, due to superstitious fears of "cooties".

At 12 years of age comes the first sex ed course, and the boys start teasing the girls they like. A few chaste kisses are exchanged, then whispered about and giggled over.

At 16 years of age, hormones are raging, and boys and girls initiate awkward fumblings behind the bleachers and in the backseats of cars. But the good kids don't go all the way, because premarital sex is "bad", and can lead to STDs or teen pregnancy (education about the use of contraceptives can only undermine this important belief, and should be restricted as much as possible).

At 22 years of age or thereabouts, the child becomes an adult, having finished all his schooling. The men get promising jobs, and the women pair off with the men who can afford to raise their families. The family unit is paramount. Premarital sex, adultery, recreational sex, contraception, pornography, prostitution, non-traditional intercourse, and non-heterosexual couplings are all taboo because they (allegedly) threaten the sanctity of the family unit by emphasizing sex for pleasure rather than procreation, and by locating the source of that pleasure outside the marital partnership. Sex occurs only privately, and within marriage, or else it is ridiculed.

Now let me ask you this: Is this narrative objectively good? And is it the best one we can come up with? More importantly, is it necessary that as many people as possible follow it, or is there room for diversity? What about someone who, through no fault of his own, fails to follow the narrative, due to physical, psychological, or environmental factors? If they cannot find satisfaction in the conventional narrative, is it not okay for them to seek their satisfaction elsewhere?

What about people who miss out on the "awkward fumblings" of adolescence? What about those who never find the right partner - the person they want to spend their lives with, whom they are also physically attracted to? What about people who just can't function when confined within a long-term monogamous partnership? What about people who have a requirement for sex and affection like anyone else, but are unable to acquire it by conventional means?

Who's to say they even have a problem - could it not be that they are just different? Why should everyone be the same? Couldn't sex and love be a common human need that is tended to by different people in very different ways? Is there only one way to look at sex and relationships, or can we permit different people to define the parameters of sex and love as they view it in their own way? If, for some reason, you do not have the social skills to "snag" an attractive partner, is it somehow wrong for you to take advantage of pornography or a prostitute, as an aid to help you get what might come more naturally to others?

What if you don't want a family? What if the prospect of raising kids doesn't particularly thrill you? Do you have an obligation to society to live your life a certain way, whether you like it or not, or do you have the freedom to live your life the way you want to, to pursue happiness the way you define it, so long as that does not infringe on the rights of others (including their right to express themselves sexually)? If you want to talk about evolutionary psychology, and the propagation of the species, what's best for society on the whole - evolution functions through diversity. Your lifestyle may be good or bad for the species on the whole, but the only determinant of that value is whether or not you can survive. It is good for all of us to permit the widest array of diversity possible.

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