The Enemies of Sex
I can say "Fuck you!" in public, but I cannot (with your permission) actually fuck you in public.
Have you ever wondered why is it that a statement of sex as an insult between people who don't like each other is a protected right, when the actual performance of sex as an act between two people who like each other is prohibited?
Why is sex profane? This is not something that comes from nature. Sex is one of the basic needs of all mammals, along with air, water, space, warmth and food. So, it doesn't come from our DNA, which means that we made this shit up. Sex is free. Sex feels good. Societies across the globe discourage us from having sex, talking about sex, thinking good things about sex, being proud of sex.
The opposition to sex is so widespread across human cultures, that it seems universal, but is it?
How many people live inside a culture that vilifies sex, while personally holding different and more accepting views? I'd venture to say that it's a majority. At some point we all feel moments of sexual desire. In sexually repressive social settings, we hide our true views on sex in order to avoid retribution. This could be public shaming, beating, ridicule, disapproval and even killing. Here's a hint: gay porn and MTF trans porn are the two biggest revenue generators online. Cis-gendered heterosexual men are the people with the money and they are the people getting off in private to sexual images that society won't let them have while retaining the privilege of being cis-het men.
There are all measures of workarounds for the problem. Some cultures accept silently that we will fuck and suck all over town during the week, but if we show up to church on Sunday and make a healthy donation then we're absolved of our sins. It's sort of like paying a parking meter. (What a sales job that is! Taking something that's free and convincing people to pay for it - and not even to the person(s) they have sex with. Wow.)
The negative messaging about sex skews toward blaming and punishing women. Women are sluts if they fuck a lot, while men are considered studs if they do. Women are blamed for being raped because of the way they dress or for any other flimsy bullshit rationale for men to pretend that they are not responsible for their own actions. Women are killed by their own fathers and brothers because they were raped.
It is not only women. Sex workers of any gender, queer folk, trans persons, lesbian, gay, genderqueer...basically anyone "not cis-gendered, heterosexual male" bears the brunt of the negative sex messaging.
But, why is this?
All is vanity
One factor could be that we humans have our vanity and we like to compare ourselves favorably to other creatures and other humans in ways that make us feel better than them. Language is partly responsible for this. Language is comparative in nature, with the meaning of each word we use being framed by the context of usage and its comparison to what it is not.
It is possible that in our desire to feel somehow better than animals, we add these moral conditions to sex as a way of justifying it. If we are no different than animals, then how can we be better than them? I am not just talking about the avowed Dominionists. This perception that humankind is somehow different and by different, I mean "better" than every other living creature is ingrained in every image and message we receive from cradle to the grave. Knee-jerk reactions of denial or fear of change or even fear of the unknown can arise quickly with no articulate reasoning or consideration when such a broad based assumption is challenged.
Live by the sword
Another factor is our patriarchal, bronze-age social structure. Our social systems of government and civilization are only moderately different than they the times when Hammurabi set down the first laws into writing. Priests and kings have governed humanity since then by empolying military empires of lesser or greater brutality and tyranny. The classes of military, governing officials, priests and financiers - comprised of men almost exclusively has yet to run out of steam or show any real signs of extinction. The values and operational model of the Roman Empire is indistinguishable from corporate, government and educational hierarchies. This model is repeated in our family structure and both the family and the society reinforce the image of male dominance. This creates the comparison between the value of men vs. that of women.
Status quo and sycophants
So many narratives, messages, beliefs, systems and recurring conversations are all accepting and reaffirming the belief that sex is bad. We're surrounded by it. It's a 24/7 wall of "sex is bad", being broadcast on TV, radio, print and the gossip circles of the office water cooler. It's pervasive and oppressive.
Take a listen to sex conversations in your daily life or that you can remember. How quickly do people state their opinions of what is good or acceptable or the opposite? Somehow, if sex is the topic, people feel free to moralize, vilify others and justify their own position.
So, who benefits from us feeling bad about sex? Who benefits from telling other people who they can or cannot have sex with and what their value as a person is because of their sexual behavior?
There are the amateur moralizers going around telling other people that they are bad and by comparison lifting themselves up in their own minds. For some, the reward is in belonging to the group that's doing the ass-kicking instead of being in the group that's getting its ass kicked. There are the professionals like religious organizations that make a lot of money for themselves by installing themselves as the arbiters of value, morality and good living. Perhaps if we all set about fucking whomever we choose, we might not spend as much time in the houses of the holy. Religions make money from the attendence of people asking for forgiveness for having sex.
Who stands to gain from cis-het men being rewarded for sex while everyone else is punished? There is no facet of society that is not built on the privilege of cis-het men. Anyone else having control of their own sex and body is at direct odds with the traditional inequity that cis-het men are able to enjoy these freedoms with reward while others are punished. Fear of change and the unknown exist here, even if every cis-het man on the planet were to overtly embrace the idea. Cis-het men exist now and have existed in the privilege of sex and body autonomy for so long and so pervasively, that it is very difficult for most of them to even conceive of how others feel in a world without either of those things. The concept is truly foreign them, like a language from some unknown country.
There are enormous sums of wealth built on moralizing about sex. So, people do make a lot of money getting in the way of our sex.
Is sexual repression tantamount to censorship?
I am not talking about internal repression, but the external variety: someone telling consenting adults not to fuck. The Bill of Rights includes the right to own and use a weapon. Where is the right to fuck? Is it buried in the first amendment? Is sex a form of free speech? It doesn't seem that way in the oral linguistic sense, but if someone tells me that I cannot say what I want to say - that is censorship. If someone tells me and my friend that we cannot fuck each other - is that not censorship as well?
The real cost of sexual oppression
There are considerable costs to the oppression of sex. Poverty, for starters. The only proven way to end the cycle of poverty in any country or society - is the education and empowerment of women. Period. When half of any group of people is denied education, health and equality of choice and status in sex - that society is doomed to diminishing intellectual skills and survival. Especially when that particular half is tasked with rearing all young, regardless of gender. This means that the men who elevate themselves in their egotistical delusions of superiority over women are enabling a system that will doom their family and the next generation to poverty, violence, disease and failure. No amount of prayer or bullets will undo sexual inequality.
The oppression of sex costs us something and it gives us something. In part, I think the costs are in freedom, autonomy and happiness. There are financial impacts as well. Certainly, if we held back the donations to religions that we give to atone for our sexual activities, we would have more for our families.
What is the cost to any society to maintain inequality? How do we benefit by vilifying the pink community of gender queers, trans persons, lesbians & gay men? What good comes of cruelty and oppression?
Why do we even care?
Sex is a part of nature and there is no reason we need to get the opinion of anyone other than our sexual partners. So, why do we even tolerate the intrusions of other people? Are we simply not thinking about this? Are we just going along with the herd of lemmings? Are we afraid of being mocked or shunned? What is our deal here? These are questions for us all to answer - cis-het men and everyone else. Where are we taking the framing value statements and judgments of the cis-het patriarchy at face value? Here's the question I ask myself lately:
If I judge your sexuality, am I reinforcing my own oppression?
It may be that all we get out of this system of sex negativity is that occasionally we get to tell ourselves that we are better than the next person because of their sexuality. But, that is a hollow prize that nets only a fleeting sense of superiority.
So, maybe we're just intellectually lazy. Or, perhaps it is ego. It may be that we don't have a shared experience of speaking about sexual oppression as oppression. We are so used to hearing about sex in terms of "right" or "wrong" - in moral terms, that it has not occurred to us to address this form of censorship as exactly that.
So, this post is an attempt to ring the bell and state the oppression as simply that. How we got here, is only marginally important. How we get out - is vital the the well being of each of us as individuals and as a group. This is not an issue for which one answer exists and I am not the person to have such an answer, if it did.
I am asking you to look and see who gains and who loses from sexual oppression and to see for yourself where you could make a difference.