How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘Human sexual activity’

On Scoring and Seduction

The worst sin—perhaps the only sin—passion can commit is to be joyless.
—Sayers

One of the biggest differences between the sexes is that, for him, a casual encounter is almost certainly going to be physically satisfying. Despite how he may feel psychologically, he will be turned on and he will come to a climax almost always. For her, however, a casual sexual encounter may or may not be one which leads to a climax. For many women, especially many young women, sex per se is not all that wonderful; the enjoyment derived from a casual encounter, if any, is often from some secondary aspect of the interaction rather than from the erotic part.

Film poster for Casual Sex? - Copyright 1988, ...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

And yet . . . young women do have sex with their young men and with old ones occasionally too. They lie down in parks and are awkwardly supine on the backseats of cars and hide in recreation rooms when no one is home. They are taken to cheap motels and smuggled into dorms. They are often not really being turned on, but neither are they being forcibly abducted. They are not willing, yet they go willingly. Why is that?

Young women have been taught, directly and indirectly, that it is more blessed to give then to receive and that sexual pleasure is something she can and should give to the man she loves. The man’s desire is for her, but her desire is often only to please him. If she loves him enough, or if she is generous enough, then his pleasure should be all the pleasure she needs.

Many times, women are not that generous. If a woman doesn’t want to give this gift to him when he requests or demands it but does it anyway, then men and women, in general, feel that she should expect some sort of compensation for the act. She is “putting out” for him, and he is “scoring” with her. What’s in it for her? The basis of the trading partnership becomes obvious.

Recently on a Los Angeles freeway, I passed a jazzy car adorned with a bumper sticker: “Gas or ass—nobody rides for free!” I didn’t notice the driver, but I am sure it was a man and I am equally sure he wouldn’t be the kind of man I would approve of for my sister, niece, or daughter. There are still many men in the world who believe that doing you a favor—be it giving you a ride to the local mall or buying you dinner—somehow entitles them to have free access to your body.

In her article “The Dating Game: The Dangers of Cash-Based Courtship,” Anne Morse recounts the dilemma experienced by a sixteen-year-old girl named Carrie after she had gone on her very first date ever with a young man named Trent, a senior she knew slightly at the large high school both attended. The pair went to a spaghetti house for dinner and then drove to the mall to see a movie. When the movie was over, they went to a restaurant for dessert. As Trent pulled his car into Carrie’s driveway, he asked Carrie for a kiss. Carrie didn’t want to go lips to lips with Trent (he was a little bit of a geek), but her first thought was, “He spent all that money on me!” In the end, she didn’t kiss him—and he never asked her out again.

Men who think of ordinary gestures on a quid pro quo basis aren’t usually as explicit as the man who puts up a sign saying Gas or Ass. Dealing with strangers might be somewhat easier if they did. The man who buys you dinner is entitled to polite attention during dinner and a polite thank-you afterward. He may hope for something else, but he is entitled to nothing more. Nevertheless, nice girls often find themselves putting out for many nonerotic reasons. They go to bed out of gratitude because a man has been nice to them. They go to bed out of sympathy because a man is sad or hurt or full of self-doubt. They go to bed out of boredom. Or as an alternative to being raped. They go to bed sometimes just to get a little peace, having been exhausted by the impossibility of maintaining an adequate defense against continuous pressure.

Lovers and would-be lovers offer a thousand and one reasons which amount to emotional blackmail but which are, nevertheless, effective. “Why not?” men used to wheedle. “If you get pregnant, I’ll marry you.” The offer of marriage was supposed to be the ultimate sacrifice. “Why not, you’re on the pill, aren’t you?” “Why not, we will use condoms?” “Why not, I’ll pull out just before I come?” “Why not, you’re not a virgin, it’s the twenty-first century for God’s sake!” “Why not, didn’t you like the dinner?” Etcetera. Unfortunately, the litany of reasons is quite familiar even to some fourteen-year-olds.

Discovering Female Sexuality

The man’s desire is for the woman; but the woman’s desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Victorian times and, indeed, well into the twentieth century, the dominant view of sexuality in the Western world was the Puritan Christian view. Sex was considered to be evil, albeit a necessary evil. Sex was evil not only in and of itself but also because it caused other evils. It was a sinister force to be denied, sublimated, and suppressed as much as possible. It was an impulse to be controlled through both the law and the moral codes associated with Christian marriage. The drive for sexual expression was believed to be a masculine trait, and the problem in controlling sexuality was viewed mostly as a problem of repressing the lust and lasciviousness of men.

The History of Sexuality

The History of Sexuality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most men in the Victorian era believed that most women did not have sexual feelings. More amazing than that, most women seem to have believed it as well. Sexual involvement for women was not supposed to be intrinsically enjoyable, at least not for respectable women. Good women were believed to be sexually motivated only by the desire to please their husbands, or at least to appease them, and by the desire for children alongside a sense of Victorian duty. We now laugh at those by-gone days when mothers advised their soon-to-be-deflowered daughters to “lie back and think of England.” Thinking of England wasn’t a ruse to get the virgin to dissociate from what was happening to her; it was a strong reminder of her duty to populate England and, particularly within the aristocracy, to provide “an heir and a spare” so that the land holdings remained in the family and increased its prestige and wealth. Bad women, who were whores or fallen women or women of the demimonde, were motivated by money or other kinds of exchange for their sexual favors.

The tradition of sexual repression began to be modified by major thinkers writing at the turn of the twentieth century. Havelock Ellis had a major impact with his seminal work Studies in the Psychology of Sex. The writings of Sigmund Freud placed the libido at the center of human experience and interpreted a wide range of behavior in terms of sexual impulses. Bertrand Russell expounded a philosophy of sexual expression and challenged Christian tradition with the publication of his controversial Marriage and Morals. By the time the Roaring Twenties started to roar, the secret was out. Men were sexual creatures but so were women. Sex was not all that bad; in fact, sex was a creative force. Rather than acceptance of an ideology of sexual repression, there arose an intensive quest for an ideology of appropriate sexual expression. Rather than being viewed as an evil, sex came to be seen as a positive force valuable not only as an end in itself but also as a means of contributing to personal growth and development.

Sadly, even with all the positive changes, the freedom of sexual expression continues to face strong opposition as we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century—as witnessed by the impassioned crusade of Evangelical Christians to ban premarital sex and demonize same-gender relationships

The Wanton Factor: On Lust and Womanhood

 

The great question . . . which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is: “What does a woman want?
Sigmund Freud,
The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud

Poor old Freud never figured it out. Neither did lots of women who, several generations later, are still having trouble with the same question.

Over the past few pivotal decades, women have both wanted to learn and learned to want. One thing they have learned to want is to explore and to savor their full erotic potential. And what they want to learn is just what that potential is and how to seize the opportunity to experience it. As women begin to realize the possibilities inherent in sexuality, they feel increasingly entitled to partake of this important element of life. They feel entitled not only to be sexually active but to be sexually active in the ways which are most rewarding to them.

WWW - What Women Want poster

Photo credit: Jonathas Scott

If you asked men why they want to have a mistress, they would reply almost to a man, “To get laid, of course!” They might phrase it more delicately and might hasten to add that that was not the only thing they wanted; but it would be obvious that a prime motivator, if not the prime motivator, was to expand their erotic experience. For many men, especially young men, the desire for sexual expression is a constant urge needing little, if any, prompting from outside stimuli. The desire seems to come directly from the hormones, and it is not only constant but relatively urgent.

It should no longer be very shocking to discover that spontaneous sexual urges may also be a prime mover for a number of women, some married and some not, some happy and some not. The erotic poet Irving Layton makes this point when he opines, “A woman who is attractive, well educated, and sensible has only one thing on her mind—to get laid.” Layton is given to hyperbole and so overstates his point. One can be forgiven for suspecting him of optimistically projecting his own feelings. Even adolescent boys occasionally have their minds on football, hamburgers, motorcycles, and cold beer.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember what should be an obvious point: in many cases, if not most, the erotic component is one factor, and an important one, in what contemporary women want.

 

Brothers and Sisters: The Last Taboo

The incidence of incest is much higher than we thought, and its consequences are much less pernicious.
—Simon Van Velikoff, sexologist

You can learn what is really taboo by looking for those things that nobody jokes about. There are endless raunchy jokes about premarital sex, about adultery, about homosexuality. There are comparatively few about incest. Only two jokes are in common circulation. One defines an Appalachian virgin as “any girl under six who can run faster than her brother,” which may be more of a comment on the fragility of virginity than about brother-sister incest. The other defines incest as “the game the whole family can play.” Most of the books of jokes or quotations do not even mention it as part of the folklore. It is the last taboo.

Lemon Incest

Lemon Incest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although there is no one universal incest taboo, some kind of prohibition against some kind of incestuous behavior is found in almost all societies. The most stringent taboos are against mother-son incest, followed by father-daughter relationships. The emotional saliency of mores and laws prohibiting these kinds of relationships has two sources: in part, they stem from the fact of incest per se; and in part, they stem from norms against the sexual involvement of any adult with any child.

There are many theories of the origin of incest taboos. One important element in their perpetuation is the perception that a child born of a union between persons in too close a blood relation to each other would have an unfortunate genetic structure and would run a higher than average risk of being deformed or retarded or at least of having some kind of congenital defect.

Taboos about incest are beginning to change. One source of change is more effective birth control so that unfortunate genetic consequences can be prevented. A second source of change is the changing nature of the family. As long as a man and a woman married once and only once, it was very clear who was related to whom. Biological parenthood coincided with legal parenthood; and that, in turn, coincided with social parenthood as manifested by living together and by assuming the roles of mother and father, son and daughter.

However, with today’s high rates of divorce and remarriage, who is related to whom and why is no longer so clear. Suppose a woman is married and has a daughter and then remarries a man who has custody of his son by his first marriage. If the remarried couple then has a child together, we can imagine a family of five persons. The three children grow up together as if they were siblings, but there is a girl who lives with a man who acts like a father but is biologically unrelated; a boy who lives with a woman who acts like a mother but is biologically unrelated; and a boy and girl who
seem like brother and sister but are genetically unrelated and have a half sister in common.

This kind of hypothetical family can become even more complex when you add in such ordinary possibilities as children who are adopted and parents who marry more than twice. It is made more ambiguous when such unusual arrangements are made when the children involved are no longer babies but are becoming miniature adults. If boys and girls have been raised apart for some time, they do not necessarily feel like brother and sister just because their parents marry. If a man remarries a much younger woman, his son does not necessarily feel that the new wife, who is close to him in age, is exactly like a mother.

What all this means is that what used to be an absolute and taken-forgranted taboo that clearly designated certain people ineligible as lovers has now become a relative taboo open to interpretation in each new and unique situation.

The kind of incestuous relationship which is least objectionable is that between brother and sister who are approximate age mates. Some research on incest suggests that, perhaps, one in ten of all people have, at some time in their lives, had sexual intercourse with at least one sibling on a least one occasion.

Ask yourself: Who do you love and why? And is one of the young and handsome and affectionate men who you love your own brother? Philosophers using quill pens in silent rooms readily draw the line between Agape, which is spiritual or platonic love, and Eros, which is sexual love. It is not so clear in the real world of the flesh and the psyche.

You cannot marry flesh of your flesh for many good and sound reasons, nor should you have children with them for other reasons that are good and sound. But to love them, that is something else. And if on occasion that love is expressed as men and women tend to express it, then lie down in silence and discretion.

In some cultures, opposite sex twins are allowed to become lovers because it is believed that they have already been intimate in the womb. How could two people be more intimate than that? Brothers and sisters of the ordinary
kind do not have that much in common, but they have been sharing many of life’s circumstances for years. They may understand each other exceptionally well in that they completely relate to one another through their shared background and upbringing. The brother-sister love may be the ultimate kind of self-love in that each sees in the other a reflection of his or her own eyes and features and personality.

A liaison between a bother and a sister is not to be advised as the best choice of a lover relationship—but neither is it necessarily as traumatic or as unfortunate as is commonly believed.

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