by Jason Stotts
Recently, I went with some friends out to one of the local bars, which is not something that I regularly do. Frankly, I don’t really enjoy paying way too much for alcohol in a place that’s so loud you can’t hear yourself shout. However, I’m glad I did go because while there, I was reminded of how sad a state of affairs sex is in our culture.
I think it’s incredibly sad that as a culture we are so repressed about sex and ashamed of it that the only time we feel like we can be our sexual selves is when we’re so drunk that we can deny any agency in our actions: “it wasn’t me, it was the alcohol.” Everyone at the bad, excluding those in our party, everyone was dressed as sexually as they could get away with: the women displaying as much of their bodies as they dared and the men trying to dress in a way that made them look intimidating and as though they would make a good lover and provider. The people were awkwardly grinding on each other, trying to flirt as well as possible over the music, and generally doing whatever they could to try to make sure that they didn’t go home alone.
It’s not the fact that these people were trying to find sexual partners that I find sad, but what the way they were going about it says about our culture. These people are so ashamed of their sexual nature that they couldn’t seek out sexual partners while sober, they can only do it when freed from the responsibility of thought by alcohol. And this is incredibly sad. If you can only ask for sex when you’re drunk, and sex frequently leads to relationships, then it’s no wonder why so many relationships fail: they’re based on nothing more than the simple fact that the two people were willing to have sex with each other.
As a culture, we need to move to a place where it doesn’t take the mind-numbing influence of drugs or alcohol for us not to be so ashamed of our bodies and sexual nature. But how can we do this? How can we overthrow 2000 years of christian hatred of the body and sex-negativity? We must start by simply admitting to ourselves that we are sexual beings and that we like sex. By admitting that we are sexual beings and opening ourselves to this, we can begin to move to a place where we can enjoy being sexual without first drowning our mind.
Consider a group of friends who get drunk together and get in a hot tub naked. Would this group of friends do this sober? It’s not likely. Or consider a group of friends who get drunk together and decide to play a game of strip poker or the like. Would this same group of friends do this sober? Almost certainly not: not in our culture. But why? If they wanted to do it drunk, then they also want to do it sober. Drinking doesn’t create new desires in us, it simply lets us admit the desires we already have, that we have to keep suppressed due to societal expectations. In this case, most people have a fascination with the bodies of other people, whether they want to have sex with them or not. There is an inherent curiosity about the bodies of others that begins in our childhood and only intensifies after sexual maturity. Now, to be fair, some of us have had this desire so completely crushed in them that they no longer feel it, but for those of us that have our natural desires intact, the desire is always there.
So the question is why does this group of friends need alcohol and the pretext of the hot tub or the artifice of a game in order to get naked, or nearly, with each other? It is because they are ashamed of their bodies, ashamed of their desires to see their friend’s bodies, and ashamed of anything that might be considered sexual. Besides, what would people think? We’re so debilitated by shame and fear of censure in our culture that we can’t even consider our natural desires. What harm would there be in friends being naked around each other? None. In fact, it would probably bring them closer together and help to satisfy some of their desires and curiosity. Of course, someone is probably thinking: “but their sacred bodies are private and shouldn’t be revealed to anyone but their lover, and then only for as long as necessary for procreative sex as god intends.” This is just crazy sex-negativity, born of a fundamental shame in the fact that we have a body and a sexual nature.
It is that kind of sex negativity, born of religion, that leads to absurd states of affairs like we have here in the US where a man can go to a beach dressed in a Speedo, but a woman being topless is beyond the pale and frequently can’t even breast feed in public because of censure, if it’s not outright illegal. We are so focused on oppressing sex here that we forget that breasts can be used to nurture babies: that sometimes parts of our bodies can have multiple functions. Why is it that we can’t be nude on beaches [LINK], when bathing suits are encumbering, feel horrible when wet, and are completely unnecessary? Why is it that a person urinating in public can be charged with a sex crime in some places? Why is it that a young adult taking a nude photo of him or herself is now a felon and sex offender? Why is it that hatred of the body and shame over it and our sexual nature is so strong that our very laws reflect it?
I call for a return to reason about our bodies and sex.
Let’s move to a place where we don’t need alcohol to be open about our sexuality, where we accept our bodies and our sexual natures, where sexuality is considered natural and hatred of the natural is considered abhorrent.
Let’s reclaim our human nature, including our bodily nature and sexuality, from the sex-negativity of religion and be proud of who we are. While I don’t think that we’ll be able to get back to the pagan Greek days where the body and mind were both held up as valuable and the ideal was “a strong mind in a strong body,” I still think that we should seek this as a goal. Let’s free ourselves from the shame that requires us to drown our mind in alcohol and embrace our sexuality as a natural right.