joreth: (sex)

I'm reading a very interesting article that doesn't really tell me anything I didn't already suspect, but you know how confirmation bias can be, so I'm fascinated to read someone approaching the subject from an actual scientific point of view.

The article's conclusions, based on evaluation of various studies & data, suggests the following things:

1) There is a reciprocal relationship between pleasure & violence - as a person gets more of one, they want less of the other.
2) Infancy physical affection + permissible sexual behaviour after puberty = non-violent individuals.
3) Remove the physical affection from children & you get violent adults. But give them positive sexual experiences as teens & you can circumvent the violence as adults. In other words, you can compensate for a shitty childhood by giving someone a decent sex life.
4) Keep the physical affection as children but remove the happy sex life post puberty & you still get violent adults.
5) This suggests that it's the sex life / sexual attitudes that strongly affect the level of violence in individuals.
6) Cultures that have strong mores and taboos against physical pleasure (i.e. sex & drugs) have equally strong interests in violence.
7) Cultures that have dualistic philosophies tend to have those strong mores against physical pleasure.

Western (Judeo-Christian) philosophical thought is that "man was not a unitary being, but was divided into two parts, body and soul. The Greek philosophical conception of the relationship between body and soul was quite different than the Judeo-Christian concept which posited a state of war between the body and soul. Within Judeo-Christian thought the purpose of human life was to save the soul, and the body was seen as an impediment to achieving this objective. Consequently, the body must be punished and deprived. ... Aristotle did not view a state of war between the body and soul, but rather envisioned a complimentary relationship in which the state of the soul or mind was dependent on the state of the body. In fact he stated that "the care of the body ought to precede that of the soul." (Politica) Aristotle also appreciated the reciprocal relationship between pleasure and pain, and recognized that a compulsive search for bodily pleasure originates from a state of bodily discomfort and pain."

So, basically, cultures that believe that the soul is somehow separate from the body tend to discourage either infancy physical affection and/or sexual and physical pleasure. When they deprive their people of sexual pleasure, they tend to have more incidences of violence.

Vs. cultures that tend to believe that the soul & body are linked have a tendency to support physical pleasure, including sex. And when cultures support their people having sex, they tend to have lower incidences of violence.

Bottom line: philosophies that encourage more physical affection & more sex for pleasure lead to non-violent societies. Religions that prohibit sexual pleasure lead to more violent societies.

I did find it irritating, however, that every time the author broached the subject of multiple sex partners, he was quick to dismiss the motives for casual sex or multiple partners as being pathological. For instance, he defines promiscuity as quickly moving through partners in search of pleasure that one can't find with anyone, and group sex as "not a sharing, but more often an escape from intimacy and emotional vulnerability".

Clearly, he has not really looked into why people choose casual sex, multiple partners, or group sex. Rather than group sex being an escape from intimacy, I quite often don't want group sex precisely because it's too much intimacy for me at that moment. I have to be in the mood to be intimate with everyone in the group, and if I'm not, I can't have the group sex. Most of the poly people I know who enjoy group sex, do so because it can be a form of intimacy with several people at once, not just lots of slippery bits rubbing together all at once.

He does, however, go on to support multiple sexual partners in general, as well as premarital sex, and even teen sexuality.  He also goes on to condemn gender inequality & fear of female sexuality, stating pretty unequivocally that women need to be considered equal & fear of losing dominance over women when they're allowed to express their sexuality is harmful to everyone.

Date: 2/19/12 07:32 pm (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
Does this touch on allowing sex play between pre-pubescent kids? I don't mean adults or post-pubescent teens, I mean like 6 & 7 year olds for instance playing "house" or "Dr."

I've read conflicting stories about studies on those behaviors with some saying they're perfectly normal aping of adult behavior and help shape healthy sexuality among kids and others saying it's dangerous and abusive and has to be stopped.

Some of the first have contradicted the second by saying putting a harsh "full stop" to it (and even more so on normal exploration like kids touching themselves) leads to more unhealthy sexuality as adults.

Like I said, not asking for anything to do with adults and kids, just wondering about boundaries for kids themselves.

Date: 2/19/12 08:30 pm (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
ok that makes sense with things I've read that say kids are less likely to engage in play adults consider unacceptable if they have less curiosity because things aren't hidden from them.

If they have dolls like that or communal bathing there's a lot less need to play "Dr" to satisfy curiosity about physical differences for instance.

It would be interesting to see a side study if consensual BDSM is present at the same levels in the various cultural groups studied, since some people (especially in the more repressive cultures) tend to lump it in with violence.

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