Monday, August 6, 2012

Religion Usually Fucks up Sexuality... Especially for Women

Thanks to Allison for this topic!

Our prevailing sexual attitudes here in the United States can be traced to the early North American settlers. No, not the original settlers... the Europeans that took over staring around the 1600's. To sum up their attitude- it was all about the dudes. 

As Allison pointed out in her question, the early settlers used religion to justify a misogynist attitude where women were clearly second class. By most accounts I'm aware of, women's sexuality was vilified. As Allison also pointed out, this is probably why promiscuous women are branded with the moniker of "slutty." Promiscuous guys have no such negative moniker. 

Allison asked of we should rework our framework of sexuality to exclude religion. I believe we should as long as A) religion views sexuality as something negative, and B) religion enforces an explicit or implicit gender divide.

Not all religions consider sexuality to be a bad thing. Some world religions, including many sects of Christianity, embrace sexuality, even in women. I believe the problem stems from the moral judgements some religion seems to be fond of making. Because of this, I'd prefer to view sexuality as an entirely separate entity.

I'd propose sex be viewed as a recreational activity. It's something to be enjoyed, just like volleyball or the opera. There should be no gender differences... we should embrace male and female (and the variants between those designations) with enthusiasm. After all, sex is the most fun you can have without smiling. ;-)

Of course, I'm not going to change society. I can change my own behaviors, though. I can start by refusing to pass judgement on others for their sexual practices. If a dude wants to have lots of sex, so be it. If a woman wants to do the same, cool! Sex is a ton of fun... there's absolutely no reason anyone shouldn't fully explore all their body (and others) have to offer without fear of judgement from a pious few. 

Sidebar- in psychology, we know those that have the strongest attitudes toward anything tend to hold those attitudes as a defense mechanism against their own feelings. For example, those that most decry others for their sexual exploits usually have some pretty kinky-ass shit hiding in their closet. Remember that the next time you hear someone loudly chastising the sexual exploits of others. ;-)

For discussion- how can we as a society help support female sexuality in the face of patriarchal oppression?

Feel free to go off on a tangent with this one. ;-)

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9 comments:

  1. Start here: www.heartiste.wordpress.com

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  2. I think women are to blame for this issue... just kidding. They are only partially at fault. In regards to the "slutty" reference, I recall girls from my college days calling other girls sluts for their hyper-amorous activities, but had no qualms about hooking up with a dude that had worked his way through the female dormitories. Even among females there seems to be some contention as what constitutes appropriate sexual behavior. It seems that women are much more concerned with what their same sex peers doing than men are.

    In the realm of dudes, I have never heard one guy chastise another for his sexual practices, we really don't care what other guys do... unless its funny or we know it will bring them embarrassment.

    P.S. Great blog idea!

    -Glenn

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  3. the trouble with this discussion is that as a blogspot blogger, i can't respond anonymously and if i log out and respond anonymously it will be a big pain in the ass to keep track of the discussion... i'll decide what to do when i finish my response.

    as a woman with a high sex drive, i find myself, making a conscious effort to suppress my needs. as much as every man says that they would love to have a woman with a high sex drive, from my personal experience, this can be burdensome and taxing on a relationship. my hyper-sexuality (and i am in a monogamous marriage, for the record- i have had open relationships and the long-term consequence in my experience is not worth the benefit of more opportunities to get off) always eventually gets twisted and translates to "you are saying that i am not enough/good enough/satisfying enough" to pretty much every man i have had a relationship with that involves both emotional connection and sex. this leaves me burdened with two things: 1. the desire to be sensitive to his feelings 2. in being sensitive (because i actually do give a shit and i do not want him to feel inadequate) i frequently go with needs unmet. having my needs unmet makes me feel like i'm walking a tight rope or on the edge of a cliff or in a speeding car with no breaks- that feeling of overwhelming need for relief that cannot possibly come soon enough... only it does not.

    please do not suggest masturbation. while it can be enough of a fix to keep me functional, it is not the same and everyone knows it.

    is this because of society? has society/christian perspectives morphed man's ego into thinking that a highly sexual woman implies that he is inadequate? or am i living in a fairy tale world because i believed that a man who says he embraces my hyper-sexuality actually did and will continue to? in all relationships i have had (again those involving sex AND emotional connection) it seems my sex drive was an intriguing novelty that eventually became a burden. the idea that a guy is always "ready to go" (within reason- please note that i do live in reality- a job, kids, and obligations) is in my experience a total myth.

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  4. Regarding comments- I know Blogger is a pain in the ass in that regards. Unfortunately there's no way around it, unless you use another browser to respond. It will allow you to stay logged in on the primary browser. This is a pain in the ass, too, but a slightly better option.

    Regarding the discrepancy between sex drives... I think this is a major problem in many relationships. When the woman has a higher sex drive, the issue is even more pronounced for the reasons you explain. For the record, our society likes believe it's usually men with the higher sex drive and the woman isn't putting out. In reality, I think it's much more common for women to have the higher sex drive... especially once the dude passes the age of about 25-30 (lower testosterone, less sex drive).

    You're right- dudes often think they want a woman with a high sex drive... until they get it. The fact is not all guys have an unlimited sex drive. The key is to find a partner that has a similar sex drive, which can be difficult. How does that come up in conversation, and are we honest about it? You're right- almost all guys will "play the part" until the novelty wears off.

    Of course, that does nothing to help those that are already in a relationship. Many people recommend some sort of negotiation, which may or may not be helpful. I'd recommend finding a solution that A) meets your needs, and B) involves your partner in a way that does not make them feel inadequate. By "solution", I'd suggest specific acts.

    For example, masturbation alone isn't a great substitute. However, masturbation is his presence adds an element of intimacy and emotional connection, which may make it more enjoyable for you and wouldn't require work on his part.

    Unfortunately that may still leave him feeling inadequate. The best solution may be to seek professional counseling to explore his feelings of inadequacy. In my experience, most guys are terrible about managing the emotional and physical elements of sex. We're conditioned to believe we should be sexual dynamos that should always be able to fulfill our partner's needs. Simply talking about it in the presence of a third party can help a guy understand themselves better and free them of the guilt and pressure of fulfilling their partner's needs. Ironically, that usually allows them to really listen to their partner and begin honest, open communication about their differing needs.

    There are guys out there that have high sex drives, but it's probably more important to find guys that don't tie their self-worth to their perceived ability to satisfy you. You need the guy to be able to say "Hey, I'm not in the mood right now, but let's see what we can do to get you off." The latter is a learned concept most guys don't intuitively understand. As such, there's hope... but it would require open, honest communication and probably a little counseling.

    If that doesn't work, consider polyandry. :-)

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  5. I'm going to give this some more thought and write a new post on the topic... this response was a bit disorganized and not especially helpful. :-)

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  6. Thanks.

    To be clear this hasn't caused an urgency for professional counseling in my relationship- but perhaps because this has been "the way it has been" pretty much through the duration of any monogamous relationship (well, those involving emotional connection) that I have had for as long as I have been sexually active.

    The mere idea at this point in my life of talking to other women in hopes that they might relate (AND still respect me) is laughable. I have told single friends who have a difficult time finding a casual partner that I know UNDOUBTEDLY that if I were single, I could have sex with a complete stranger without any conversation, connection or even eye contact and have no qualms or guilt about it. Think of how we are designed. Our innate instinctual mannerisms completely contradict what society deems "appropriate" when it comes to sex. Think about other species and how sex "practiced". And compare that to what modern man does. It's ridiculous. I know that we cannot act entirely on instinct with no regard to consequence, but we, because of the rules that we conform to, suppress ourselves. Someone taught women to need romance, expensive gifts, sweet words, compliments, chivalry. Do primates need that? Or any other animal species for that matter? No. The female is aggressively perused and often, she initially resists, then she enthusiastically submits. Why are humans so different? Why have we created such complicated rituals in order to indulge in something we (are supposed to) enjoy the most?

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  7. It can be argued that our elaborate mating rituals derived from a need to develop social groups that facilitate the survival of our species. Historically, social practices have been "regulated" as a means of social control. This is especially true of women and patriarchal Western society.

    Having said that, humans are one of the few species that engages in sex as a form of recreation. It IS the most fun we can have without laughing, after all. :-)

    I think if we looked at sex as recreation, many of our societal hangups would disappear. In regards to having a partner with a different sex drive- if we saw sex as a recreational activity, the problem would be no different than one partner liking to watch more television. The problem would be easily solved by talking about it and coming up with a mutually-beneficial solution.

    Instead, the high sex drive partner has to live with unfulfilled urges, guilt, and a vague sense of being "abnormal" while the low sex drive partner has to live with feelings of inadequacy and quite possibly feelings of being "abnormal."

    I would seriously consider the professional counseling angle. If remaining in the monogamous relationship is the only option, there's a good chance the issue will not be resolved without an intermediary. The third party would essentially act as a mediator that can help clarify communication. They keep both partners from automatically going on the defensive, which is a common reaction if one or both partners has needs that aren't being met.

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  8. Do animals know that they are going to reproduce when they get it on? There must be some sensation of enjoyment or fulfillment for other species, not just humans. I doubt they go into mating season with the "it's time to ensure that our species lives on" mindset. They just do it. Probably because it feels right. (same reason we do)

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  9. It should be possible to comment anonymously. I'm logged into blogger and the dropdown box below this comment box says "Comment as: (Google)". One of the other options is "Anonymous".

    Seems to work OK.

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