03: Sexuality cont’d

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The Solution

So, sexuality: what’s it really all about? I don’t know with any certainty why sexuality is the way it is. My aim here is to explain the net effects of sexuality and how we should deal with the hand we’ve got, rather than explaining how we got the hand. I know this runs counter to the message I’ve been sending about having to understand a problem before we can address it, but I think a bit of honesty is required here: the true reasoning for sexuality in all its complexity (in other words, beyond the base function of reproduction) is beyond us at the moment. However, and speculatively, I believe there are three main things going on behind sexuality, which I’ll highlight in order to provide a bit of context for my thinking in this Solutions section (although certainly not meant as the last word on the matter).

  • First, while I have done a lot of moaning in the previous chapter about biological determinism, this does not mean I deny biology: it simply means I deny that biological determinism is the fundamental factor behind a lot of issues surrounding masculinity. For the sake of argument, let’s say biology accounts for a third of sexuality. For example, in some sexually-charged moments I can literally feel parts of my brain start to operate differently from the chemicals that rain down upon it. It’s a very odd experience, and to successfully navigate it requires quite a bit of self-awareness.
  • Second, I believe sexuality has a lot to do with seeking union (in a philosophical rather than physical sense). Spiritual people might understand this union as being part of a relationship with some kind of divine universe. Non-spiritual people might understand this union as being part of a relationship with some kind of entity greater than the individual, such as partnership or community.
  • Third is desire. If you don’t rate desire as one of the most complex things on the planet, I suggest you haven’t thought about it properly. Desire mobilizes both biology and the inclination towards union, but it is separate. In some psychoanalytic theories, desire is seen as the surplus to need. The object of desire is sometimes sexual in itself, but the desirous pursuit of the sexual can also be seen as a playing out of more general and unarticulated desire which generally cannot be satisfied.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

One Response

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  1. Let me begin by saying, I am a layman just trying to make sense of the world around me, based on observation and academic inquisitiveness. And then applying the sense I make from those observations and academic inquisitiveness to my personal world. I think I have been able to keep up with the trail you have been laying down, up to this point. I have been excitedly waiting for this chapter.

    From “a base function of reproduction”, male and female are overwhelmingly identifiable by their sexual reproductive systems. Lets put aside those humans that don’t possess the typical reproductive systems or organs for the purpose of this discussion, mostly to stay within the realm of doing the most good for the most people. Let those humans from the latter group remain for a later forum. My thinking being, if there were some break through regarding the former group, it’s knowledge could be shared with member of the latter.

    Nature has energized human sexuality with the end goal of perpetuating the species through reproduction. As is the case with most evolutionary results, human sexuality is indeed complex and diverse. If I understand you so far, masculine and feminine traits can be different based on time and place. They can be mitigated by human intervention. Either sex can exhibit some traits from both the masculine and feminine. And finally, there is neither historical or biological presidence to justify one to holding dominance over the other.

    Just as a starting point…Merriam-Webster defines gender as “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex”. Further, a search of masculine and feminine, define them within the constraints of traits associated with male or female. So it seems clear, both of these terms are conditional on the time and place at which they are applied. That said, at any given time or place…society seems able to define the general traits of masculine and feminine gender. Similar to, “I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it”.

    Am I off base any where?


    September 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm

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