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On the Beauty of Sex.

Joshua Michail

24 December, 2014

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A picture of a couple in bed, with the woman on top, and they're clothed but being playful. Image source is unknown.        Why do we have such a problem with “slut” shaming? Why are women expected to wait for someone to approach them about sex? Why do all too many women expect a knight in shining armor to rescue them from the ivory tower? Why do we feel guilty for our sexual urges? There are many various attitudes toward the subject of sex. Unfortunately, the more common ones are detrimental to individual health and happiness. Of those, many are even a handicap to society, and more importantly to the individual. As I had written in my previous essay on this subject – Sex; Attitude and Greatness, back in 2012, a very large part of sex boils down to attitudes. The reality is that sex is mostly mental, and only partly physical. Of course, that's not to ignore, exactly, the physical part of it, without which sex wouldn't be possible. But, even touching, kissing, etcetera are stimulation of nerve endings, which send signals up the nervous system to the brain, where the action is interpreted and understood. In that way, even the physical is largely mental. My point here, however, is about how we think of sex. We all have some expectations, some preferences and desires, we even have beliefs outside of sex that influence how we think of sex. More importantly, these attitudes and beliefs all affect our enjoyment of sex.

        Some people might disagree with me about what I'm about to say, mostly the religious, I'm sure. If there's anything that is universally true about sex it's this – sex is natural and one of the most beautiful experiences of life. In fact, we could say life is ultimately all about sex, after all, most organisms struggle to survive long enough to reproduce. It's almost as if that is it the point of life. Worse still, for most organisms this struggle is paramount and not enjoyed, rather it's only the fulfillment of an undeniable instinct. Sex is ultimately an endless fight for survival. It is a fight, first for the organism, to obtain a mating partner. This often leads to fights between two or more competing animals, like rams locking horns to determine a winner. Those rams are not just trying to win the battle, they're trying to win the mating partner. This is part of the process of evolution. Nearly everyone has heard of – and most people understand – natural selection, the process in which as creatures evolve the traits that don't hinder an animal's survival can be passed on to the next generation if it reproduces. But, the male peacock's elaborate and beautiful tail patterns, just like the ram's horns and ability to win the fight with other rams, is sexual selection. In the process of sexual selection the evolution is driven by development of traits that make an animal more attractive to potential mating partners. The male peacock's tail feather patterns serve no function to help it survive, but they do help it obtain female peacocks to have sex with, and thus produce young peacocks with his genetics. The ram's horns are not particularly useful for his daily survival either, he doesn't use them to get food, and most likely doesn't use those horns to defend against predators. The ram's horns more-or-less only help it to win the fight for dominance for the sole purpose of mating. Just a little aside – sexual selection and natural selection are not mutually exclusive forces in the process of evolution. I thought I'd add that point in case anyone did not already know, we all know there are too many misconceptions out there.

Side-by-side comparison pictures of two ancient fertility symbols from different cultures. Both are depictions of goddesses, one is with certain animal features including wings and talons for feet, the other image has exaggerated broad hips and is holding up her breasts.        But don't think that evolution, or nature, is sexist because females often also develop traits that help them obtain mates. Nature often favors in the females greater ability to produce offspring or to provide for them. So, while it may not seem as obvious when we look at the various species, sexual selection does happen in females too. If a female can produce numerous offspring the species is more likely to survive. If the female can be more attached to her young, the species has a better chance at being continued because the young have a better chance at achieving sexual maturity thanks to mother's help is surviving to adulthood. This means that female forms often have been selected by males for what seems to be a greater ability to raise young to maturity or produce more young. In human females, for example, broader hips are instinctively perceived as a desirable trait. People have even demonstrated an intuition regarding a woman's hip and sexual selection when they say: “That woman has child-bearing hips!” Likewise, the breasts of human women has evolved do to sexual selective pressures, since the roundness of the buttocks has become less obvious and constantly displayed when we began walking upright, the breasts began becoming bigger and rounder and more noticeable. While the butt is visible from behind, it's not visible from the front – where it happens that the breasts are to be found. When males have a choice in mates, a female with the traits that seem most desirable is most likely to get a mate. While sexual selection is usually geared toward greater strength and ability to survive in males, in females it's usually geared toward greater ability to reproduce and care for the young. Either way, all species select for the best chances that the species will long endure.

        The process of evolution has long been at work in humans, as well. And sexual selection has also been a very potent influence on humanity, even to this day. One example is the average size of the human penis. Over a very long time, millions of years in the transitional species from which humans evolved, and in humans for around one hundred fifty thousand years, females have chosen to mate with males who had more desirable penises. So, straight ladies, whatever your thought about human penises you can thank, or blame, your ancient women ancestors. But, males have also influenced the evolution of the female human body. Broader hips have long psychologically suggested a greater ability to birth children. Broad hips have long been seen by many ancient men as a sign of fertility. It's true that breasts on women evolved in part because the round rump, which is seen in many mammalian species as a sort of sexual lure for males, are not as clearly visible when the female is seen from the front because we walk upright, but there's another possible not-mutually-exclusive reason. Larger breasts have long been seen by our ancient male ancestors as a sign of a woman's greater ability to nourish children. And, obviously, well-nourished children have a greater chance of growing up to be healthy adults who can pass the family genes on to another generation. Men have preferred these features over such a long time that the average woman's body is shaped as it is now. Psychology is a science that can help us better understand sex, and not just in understanding how humans have evolved due to sexual selection.

        In all these things about us humans, psychology explores us and explains us. A few things follow here as an example. Women have long found a man's wealth to be key factor in determining his attractiveness, though most claim otherwise. It does make sense that historically there's been an evolutionary reason for this. A partner who can provide for the children will, naturally, mean children who will grow up healthier and be able to continue the species. However, things have changed. Women in many societies around the globe now work. And many of them are able to provide for their children without relying on a man's wallet. The man's wealth is becoming less valid as a factor for attraction. Likewise, starting with the harvesting of milk from cows and sheep and continuing with the invention of baby formula, a woman's breast size has been less valid as a factor for determining a woman's attractiveness. The fact is that we carry many legacies of our evolution in our current attitudes about sex. Much of these attitudes are have outlived their usefulness to the species. Of these outdated attitudes, some are harmless, but some are really quite detrimental.

        Puritanical views have long perverted and permeated American views on sex, and to a lesser degree much of western views, as well. Pervasive in western culture is the Christian view that sex is not beautiful, but rather “sinful” and “dirty” – and much of this is true of Islam, as well. The idea that sex is some kind of disgusting thing that should only be done in the context of marriage is traditional among the most conservative of people. Why should this be? Because, the archaic view expressed by the early fathers of Christianity is that sex only exists to cause there to be more Christian souls to go out and dominate the globe. This is also true of most religions. Today religions continue to dominate our culture with their self-serving beliefs about controlling people, with unnecessary shame and guilt and fear. Now, one might think that promoting promiscuous sex would have been more effective at enlarging the ranks of the religious, but they had a reason against that. They wanted to make sure that the children were ensured to be members of the particular religion. If the children were born to unwed parents the children could be taken to any church or any religion. It served the religion's need to control its members and and to grow the religion's numbers, but there was another reason for sex being limited to marriage only. It actually mattered in terms of inheritance and family lines. Such restrictions were meant to ensure that a man's property would be inherited by his actual child rather than some other man's child. With a marriage, there was a recognized social contract between the man and woman involved, and it meant that there was a legal setting for the estate distribution. Again, today these things are less relevant. With the invention of DNA testing we can now conclusively prove a child's parents, further a person can choose to leave his or her estate to anyone or any group named in a legally-binding document called a will. The religious reasoning is something that can't be justified in the modern era.

A photo of a young man being kissed on his cheeks from either side by two young women.        Monogamy is not natural, exactly. It's true that for the survival of our species, since children require around 15 years to reach maturity pair-bonding of the parents served this interest. We evolved to form family units in which the father and mother cooperated to provide for and protect the young. I say fifteen years, but that's arguable, give or take a few years. The point is that it takes many years before a young human would be able to survive without parents taking care of him or her. Still, we evolved societies into which we live for all our lives, and which continue the benefits we gained as a child from having parents and family working together. But, at odds with this pair-bonding trait we evolved is another evolutionary trait found in both men and women. This is a trait that is so powerful that it's the underlying force making marital infidelity actually a fairly common occurrence. In males, of most species, the ability to spread the genetic code to create as many offspring as possible has been a great force in ensuring the survival of a species. Ours is no exception to that fact. In females, particularly in humans, there evolved a tendency to find a mate to bond with who can provide well, but to seek to reproduce with other males who have more desirable physical traits. A woman is predisposed biologically, by evolution, to settle down with the man who has wealth, but to have affairs with men who seem to be more fit and healthy. In either case, our species evolutionary legacy is conflicted and neither trait is ethically better or worse than the other. These just are the facts about our evolution and our nature. So, this leads to a problem. How do we reconcile our enlightenment and our nature to best suit ourselves? As long as we deny our nature we will find ourselves less happy and healthy than we can and ought to be.

        The fact that there are women who want to silently suffer a mediocre experience is saddening and ultimately self-destructive. The idea of putting up with not getting the most out of sex because of not wanting to disappoint will backfire. It's true that many younger people, with their tremendous amounts of inexperience, are more prone to not communicate properly, but they need to be encouraged to communicate. Fundamentally, by trying to please one's partner by not offering instruction and not communicating, one is building resentment and frustration in oneself and one's partner. Also, when one discovers one's partner has not been fully engaged it most certainly is a serious disappointment and ruins the experience. By doing this, some women are causing two people to become resentful of the woman in question, herself and her partner. The notion of quietly accepting poor performance needs to be put to an end. Though it may be true of some men, it is almost exclusively, in this issue, women causing their own problem. I believe this condition is largely due to archaic notions that still afflict us. Even today, popular culture suggests women are supposed to be submissive and to use sex as a tool instead of enjoying it for their own pleasure. So many socializing forces, such as many women's magazines and romance movies and fairy-tales still perpetuate the destructive narrative and bad advice.

        If women try experimenting with themselves, and then have completely honest and straightforward talks with their partners about what works for them, then sex would likely be far more enjoyable for most. It seems that many women have some kind of hang-up about both masturbating and about communicating with their partners. That's not to say that there aren't guys who don't listen, of course there are, but there's also no reason for a woman to assume that sex can't be great, or better. Most guys really do want to satisfy their partners, and no one is a mind-reader. In fact, no one, of either gender, is a mind-reader. No one can know things that are not told to them. And, it is unreasonable and inexcusable to continue to behave as if it's fair to expect people to be more than who and what they are. It's unjust to think that one's partner should live up to and perform like the fantasies that have been implanted by corporate interests like Hollywood and molded by corrupt influences like the Puritan church of hundreds of years ago. I believe it is high-time we as a species move into the modern era – we need to evolve out of the stagnate cesspit of the out-dated misconceptions. This is only going to happen as we continue to challenge the standard, and help to enlighten others.

A meme I created written on textured aged paper, it says: "Slut shaming? Really? For fuck's sake! So you've decided to socially stigmatize a person because of their rights and choices, and for something which does not affect you in any way? I say, no, shame on you!"        Sex is the most beautiful thing people can do with each other, intimately. Sex, however, is not love. Love and sex can and do often go together, but one ought not to confuse these two separate things. Many people believe that sex with someone they love is beautiful, and they're not wrong, but sex is beautiful even without love. In a way, sex gets a bad rap on that regard, because many people ignore the fact that love is separate from sex. But, I blame religion for that, and many more mental handicaps. Religion must be expelled from the bed sheets. The single greatest toxin to humanity and to sex is religion. The fact that people feel guilt for doing and enjoying a natural and beautiful thing is something that religion alone has foisted upon us. If we are half as wise as we like to think our species to be, we must change our ways. We can no longer afford to pretend that we are not what we are. Our concepts of marriage romantic relationships must change, we ought to embrace our nature. We can, of course continue to marry the ones we love, but we should expect and embrace the fact that sex is not and never has been and never will be confined to marriage. We must accept that we could forge a new model, the family remains, but why not have multiple wives for each man and multiple husbands for each woman? Why not accept polyamory? After all, not only do we naturally desire more than one partner for the rest of our lives, in regards to sex, but we are perfectly capable of loving more than one partner at the same time. We must also embrace the rights of women to be equal to men, including in their sex lives. Why should we look upon a woman who enjoys sex as someone to be shamed? It's a shame on us if we continue this “slut shaming”. We must not interfere with  women as they pursue their sexual satisfaction as they see fit, and embrace the happiness this brings not only those women, but also ourselves as a society. We must shed the severe hindrances that make life less happy.

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