Wednesday, 7 April 2010

OUR PROBLEM WITH SEX

OUR PROBLEM WITH SEX is summed up in the old joke: Two veterans in their 90s were reminiscing. One asked, “Do you remember that stuff they used to put in our food to lessen our sex drive? Well, it is starting to work.”

To the steady stream of prominent men engaging in extra-marital sex has been added one of our own, a capable and respected pilot in a responsible position who has left a trail of rapes and even murders. The only things new about this is that men now wreck their marriages and careers and receive public condemnation. The history of our species is one long horror story of the cruelty of men and women to each other and to children, quite extensive even today. But there is also, from ancient times, so many tender stories of caring, sharing, and love, of men improving the lot of women and vice versa. It is a tale too vast for this single page which will concentrate on male aggression.

Biologists explain that the male of the species is designed to go about the world, impregnating as many females as he can catch. Anthropologists argue that, early on, males discovered they could get steady and reliable satisfaction in a family setting and that co-operation was more rewarding than force. Sadly, the biology of the sexes too often lacks male contentment in the family situation as the average female, who has to bear the consequences, lacks the constant enthusiasm of the average male for sex and too many men, when the opportunity arises, quickly give in to their biological side. Over the years I have listened to many men complain that they love their wives far more than they are loved in return. But, to a man, “Love” has a much greater component of sex than in a woman’s interpretation.

Even Moses condoned his men raping conquered women. Napoleon, when he needed more men to invade Italy, got them with his “You want women? The Italians have women. They can be all yours.” Practically every army has permitted male and female rape, often as a means of demoralizing the enemy, but more often as a means of recruitment. Few women escaped being raped repeatedly by occupying Soviets. Chinese and Koreans were “comfort” women to the Japanese, and many were simply transferred to US occupiers. Christians raped Muslims in the Middle East and recently in Bosnia; thousands of Vietnamese were raped by US soldiers. African women still suffer rape in huge numbers. Numerous leaders, like Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan, had captured women stationed throughout their empires for immediate satisfaction wherever they went. At the numerous conferences of bishops defining the rules of Christianity numerous women were collected to attend sexually to the attendees. Muslim sultans were renowned for their harems.

God help us men if women get the power to seek revenge for their billions who have been wronged.

Is there a cure other than the one used by various women who severed the penis that was raping them? Thousands of male prisoners lost sexual desire when castrated to become eunuchs to guard such collections as harems.

Practically all religions and governments have imposed laws and beliefs for the masses to follow, often with cruel punishments for transgressors like stoning and hanging. Some Muslims, to save their women for themselves, confine them to the home or cover them from head to toe, considering them property not companions. For good reason some women feel safer hidden in all that clothing. Societies have permitted polygamy and brothels with various degrees of control.

We do need more women in government. Today, Belgium leads the world with 55% but the UK, US, and Canada are shamefully far behind with 14, 7, and 6 per cent. And 14 countries have no women at all in government.

Perhaps the most powerful weapon is mindset - it is not easy to change ingrained or encouraged mind sets as so few of us think, but it has been done over the years. My generation in my society of males was brought up to put women on pedestals. Foul language was never used near them. Whereas necking was permitted, few of us thought of going further. Then came WWII with entire populations caught up in war zones with death a constant companion resulting in a desire to taste life’s pleasures before death. Still, most of our boys killed died as virgins. Most of the sex was consensual causing thousands of pregnancies in an ill-educated and unprepared population. Canada can boast of having the highest percentage of warriors who married the girls they impregnated.

The easy sex of WWII, followed by the widespread introduction of condoms and pills promoted more mindset changes. Homosexuality, common in antiquity, was a source of jokes and something no true man would ever entertain. For 800 days I was locked up with up to 11,000 sex-starved men (all aircrew) in compounds that allowed no privacy or secrecy. I know of no case of any homosexual act. It was just not part of our mindset, so its resurgence is puzzling.

Another society mindset that needs softening is that towards adultery. Acceptance runs from a high in Africa, and the cause of their HIV epidemic, to a low in Muslim countries. In the West acceptance is higher among the ruling classes. While rape should never go unpunished, the odd dalliance of a husband or wife who have a record of marital responsibility should not be reason to be cast out and to lose it all. And the media should be censored for its lurid accounts. The most critical voices are undoubtedly those who are covering up their own guilt.

From insects to mammals there is tremendous variety in the conduct of sex. With humans it can become an abusive addiction as hard to cure as smoking or drug use. It is rarely a means to exert dominance as so often explained but rather a strong desire for perceived pleasure. We seem to have adopted the aggressive characteristics of our Chimpanzee relatives rather than those of our Bonobo relatives who solve conflicts peacefully with frequent sex. In many societies we are much better than we once were but large-scale cruelties persist. Care to give us your solution to the problem?


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