How many of our sexual beliefs result from conforming to or rebelling against arbitrary, indirect and unrelated suggestions? Things like a belief or a product that our sexuality could easily exist without.
Let’s consider letting go of sexual ideals as a compass and let morality be guided by joy and love rendered harmless through reason. How much sexual discovery exists beyond the things we habitually associate with sexuality?
Do we allow sexuality to be a life affirmation? Do we want sex as a delightful, living impulse? Most of us would say yes, but what if a more wholesome sexuality required changing our beliefs? We may need to abandon sexual ideas suggested to us by people pursuing something other than our well-being.
Consider sex as a shared affection that makes life better, something to offer those of us who want to take part. Sex can be like a good meal shared with friends; We cook the food consciously to avoid causing harm. Let’s ask if the metaphors we use about sex involve some reality loss or bring us closer to the truth. Some language, art and thinking takes us away from reality and, for that, there is a price paid in painful disillusionment.
Some of us learned to use sexual innuendo, to communicate desires which associates sex with other things. In the Victorian era, social sanctions would enforce stricter rules of propriety, including language. Today, in some groups, such as religious subcultures, such rules are still imposed upon the discussion of sex, even in sex education, and, as such, sex exists veiled in questionable analogies like comparing women to dirty candy.
There is an art to creating metaphors that can help us understand the subject they represent. Today, in freer countries, we can use a more direct (some say crass) art and language, we can speak honestly. Now advertisers routinely use sex to sell products, again redirecting our interest in sexuality toward other things often irrelevant to sex.
Repeated suggestions create unconscious habits and memories. Take this non-sexual example. American students from the 1980s probably can’t remember many of the lessons they crammed into their heads for a test, but they can finish the recitation that begins “two all beef patties, special sauce.” That is the power of repetition and it’s used for both good and ill. Both religion (the original corporation) and business have hypnotically associated sex with beliefs and unrelated ideas including products through redundant propaganda. Add to this innumerable love stories, music and pornography. At least porn (whether or not we approve) is the most direct sexual display of all the above and, for many youth, it is their most direct sexual teacher.
The indirect sexual message whether involving an invitation for sex or a product like a hamburger is about seduction and imagination. A direct sexual discussion is a touchy thing, particularly when involving an invitation. Such direct discussions pull sex out of the imagination into real circumstances. Such clear language is not as scary as some of us have learned and such communication can actually be refreshing. Here is an example from India in the 5th century AD:
Women adorn the beautiful breasts with nets of pearls,
and drape pale delicate silks round their shapely curving hips;
the fine line of down above the navel rises up
to meet the cool tingling touch of fresh raindrops:
how charming are the folds that furrow their wastes!
This honesty is not rebellion. The rebel is not free. I suggest that the rebel is still using the arbitrary suggestions of others as a guide in order to oppose the norm, but the suggestion of others remains the reference point for both the rebel and the conformist.
We need not agree in order to be honest, but, if we value truthfulness, we will need to seek out those people who share that same value who are also willing to speak. They may not be conveniently near us, but we have this thing called the internet and we may find that some people we meet online are worth meeting in real life.
By Todd Vickers