sex and violence

Sex and/or Violence


Sex and violence, sex and violence, sex and violence, it has become a kind of media mantra linking these two over and over again. They are uttered in the same breath, in the same sentence, and tarred with the same brush of scorn, they are the twin evils of modern society.

I have always been somewhat puzzled by this marriage for they seem to me a very odd couple. It is hard to defend violence. There is almost always a victim, someone is injured, coerced, or at worst, loses their life. About the only acknowledged justification for violence is self defense. A point which is unbelievably stretched in the popular entertainment media. It is also found in some sporting events, of course, but that could be termed consensual violence and doesn’t usually carry any stigma. Other than these two, I think it would be fair to say that violence is almost always wrong and deserves its lowly reputation.

Sex, on the other hand, even if it is only a poor imitation, is at least based on an act of love. A prominent philosopher once said that the only prerequisites for sex should be mutual inclination and considerations of health and manners. When these are met not only is there no victim, but there can be an exchange of pleasure which is quite intense. On top of that sex is a necessity of life. We cannot continue to exist without it. If one could wave a wand and suddenly eliminate all violence from human society it certainly would not be missed. Civilization would be much improved. If, however, you waved a wand and eliminated sex, not only would you have done away with a very positive experience, you would have done away with us as well.

I realize there are instances when the two are physically linked as in the case of rape. But rape is primarily violence. It’s not what the rapist is after that is evil, its the way he goes about getting it. Some will say that what the rapist is really after is power through physical domination. Maybe so, but that’s still violence. If you force someone to do anything they don’t wish to do, that is violence. If you coerce them by the threat of violence to themselves or to someone they care about, that falls into the same category. Coercion should also be suspected if one party is below the age of consent.

If you force a person to eat ice cream who does not wish to do so, and this repeated often enough, I suppose the victim might develop an extreme distaste for ice cream. One might even come to link ice cream and violence in one’s mind. Ice cream and violence, ice cream and violence, a new mantra? Even so, its obvious that the ice cream was never at fault, it was violence all along.

Money sometimes suffers from a similar problem. Surely you have heard money described as the root of all evil. Money is, of course, simply a morally neutral medium of exchange, but so many immoral, unethical, and illegal means are used to obtain money that it is sometimes viewed as evil itself. If a person wants money and robs a bank to get it, its not the money that was at fault, its the method that was used to get it.

The image of sex suffers from another cause, and that is the way it is often poorly portrayed in the popular media. Although this may now be changing, in the past this frequently took the form of an unrealistic power disparity between the sexes. The males are represented as strong, authoritarian, often wealthy, and the females are young nymphets with idealized good looks and not much mental capacity. And whereas the male is cast as accomplished with worldly goals, the female (especially in commercials) is shown as a person whose “be all and end all” is to attract a man or men. I think this qualifies as a very subtle form of coercion even when a relationship appears to be consensual.

A further problem for sex comes from the attitude of the worlds established religions. Most cast aspersions on sex in some way. In Christianity sex is often associated with the concept of original sin. What practical considerations would be at the root of this attitude and cause such a negative view to become fixed in religious dogma? Possibly it was the health risks associated with promiscuity. Maybe it was the threat of excessive  procreation. Perhaps it wasn’t so much a practical consideration as a genetic one. Genetic survival is a very strong drive in all living things. If opportunities to pass on ones genes were limited for some reason then there would be motivation to restrict sex in such a way as to insure that ones own genes were successful and not those of a rival. Any of the above could be the subject of extensive speculation and research, but they all have been considerably mitigated in modern human society.

From  a purely scientific viewpoint, biologists point out it wasn’t until the advent of sex that the great diversity of life on earth became possible. Prior to that, life replicated through dividing to produce clones. Sex allows the mixing and combining of different genetic materials to produce a vast array of evolutionary developments.

In conclusion, therefore, I vote the we grant sex a divorce from violence. Let her be free of this abusive relationship and assume her proper place among the delights of our society. Rather than be scorned she should be celebrated in art, literature, and music.

Mother Nature made sex pleasing so we would not neglect to partake.

R. L. Mason

Mendocino, Cailfornia

Circa 2005

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Friday, February 6th, 2009 Sex and/or Violence No Comments