There are a lot of ways to go to war against sex and to champion repression. Because sexual freedoms depend on clear thinking about sex, these attacks always have a strong ideological component.
Religious leaders have used The Almighty to shame the body. Psychologists have reduced vast regions in the landscape of desire to mere pathology. Evolutionary biologists and anthropologists have claimed that there is nothing essentially human about sex; that the natural male instinct is toward animalistic violence and rape, the natural female instinct is to be dominated. Certain feminists have claimed that the act of heterosexual sex is itself an act of aggression against women.
One common feature of these attacks on sexuality, sexual liberation, and clear thinking about sex, is that they present at least one component of their arguments as self-evident. A simple example of this can be found in attacks on pornography, which often angrily and urgently detail the sexual acts in the scene —- threesomes, foursomes, the use of fetish objects, rough sex, etc. —- but offer little explanation as to why we should be outraged by portrayal of these acts, hoping instead that whoever’s listening will have an automatic sympathy with the critic’s unthinking revulsion.
These arguments of unearned self-evidence are expressions of how tangled up our prejudices about sex have become with our philosophies. A prejudiced attitude against sex, bred by continuous attacks on it by many different cultural-ideological institutions, often lies beneath what may seem at quick glance to be sound reasoning.
Even though (for most of us) sex is as much a part of life as eating and breathing, there’s pressure to believe that sex requires a special (usually strict) moral code. Rather than being a basic human right, sex becomes an “issue” to take sides on. Another example from the world of sex work illustrates this: those who excoriate porn or other sex work tell us that sex workers are “exploited” by pornography studios or strip club owners, but don’t extend their worries to bankers, retail workers, farmers and others who are exploited by their bosses when profit trumps humanity. The truth is that, like workers in any field, some sex workers are exploited, while many others are not, and the roots of that exploitation have far more to do with economic attitudes than sex. When it comes to sex, shallow arguments are put forth quickly, in an almost kneejerk manner, and obscure our prejudices. So considering sex seriously often requires thought of a higher order — thought that observes where thinking and prejudice are entangled.
Pop philosopher Alain de Botton’s How To Think More about Sex may inspire us, as it promises, to think more about sex. But Alain de Botton doesn’t think much about his own thinking, nor does the book encourage the reader to. How To Think More about Sex is the first US-released “School of Life” book, a series created by de Botton as an extension of the philosophy school of the same name that he started in London in 2008. In the book, sex is “fundamentally disruptive,” “demented,” “bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation,” “inherently weird,” “confusing,” and “in conflict with some of our highest commitments and values.” All this in the first five pages, and it’s only downhill from there.
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More from or about Conner @ Nightcharm:
I looked at how he is the world's cutest cocksucker.
He wrote a moving piece about the suicide of Arpad Miklos.
He shared his gay sexual awakening, with reports of early masturbation over men.
And, he reviewed The Cabin In The Woods for last year's Hallowe'en special.
He's also scattered throughout the countless thousands of gay porn scenes available on call for members of Nightcharm's Inner Circle, so if you want to see him excellently perform at his day job, head over there.
Photo credit: Naked Sword.