Look At It This Way

Seeing old things in new ways.

Some Really Scary Sex

How the Fear of Sex Evolved
Deborah Anapol, Ph.D.
This post is a response to What Is Polyamory Really All About? by Deborah Anapol, Ph.D.

 A councilman from a small Connecticut town was on the radio talking about his attempts to pass a new law that would require anyone entering an adult store or a topless bar to show some identification. Their name would then be recorded and checked against a list of the community's convicted sex offenders. Those on the list would not be admitted; though one might think it would be good to have such people off the street. The show's host asked how those individuals not on the list could be sure their names wouldn't later show up in the local paper as having visited an adult establishment? The councilman was not the least bit concerned by this possibility. If they were doing something they didn't want known to their family and friends, they shouldn't be doing it. He went on to say that he devoted 18 hours a day, every day, to protecting his town from sex.

Now along with wondering why this gentleman should be spending virtually all his waking life worrying about sex (me thinks he doth protest too much) I wonder exactly what dangers he feels the sex act might pose? Especially in light of a study conducted in Great Britain. Researchers following a sample of 1000 men for ten years found that those who reported having twice as much sex were half as likely to die prematurely. Curiously, when people like the councilman rant on about the dangers of sex, they seem to have no inkling of the many benefits it provides, such as extending one's life span.

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And from Arizona, councilmen in Phoenix are doing their best to protect everyone in that city from sex by passing a law that will make swing clubs illegal and the only way to reverse such a blatant violation of the First Amendment will be through a voter's initiative requiring 50,000 signatures. Clearly, the cost of fighting city hall - when they already have all your money - is prohibitive. See http://www.libchrist.com/ for more information.

Unfortunately, such moves to protect us from sex can devastate the personal lives of people doing nothing more than minding their own business. A woman in Memphis who was part of a triad (she had two lovers) had her 3 year old daughter taken into protective custody when she, the mother, appeared on MTV to take part in a discussion of alternative lifestyles. Please note that there were no charges other than that of the woman's commitment to polyandry. It sounds like a scary erosion of rights Americans thought they had. Psychology Today's Dr. Deborah Anapol addresses this topic at length in her blog.

And a hot controversy involved an all girls' night out that included a male stripper. What made this event unique is that it was a high school girls' night out. Despite the fact that national surveys show the majority of this demographic to have been sexually active for years, there was still much tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth on the part of those typically upset by such things; clearly believing that ignorance is bliss in the nation that now leads the civilized world in unwanted teen pregnancies. However, reports say there was a noticeable drop in this number (to something just under one million) due primarily to Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive. But there is hot controversy here too because it can, after all, take adults (who have clearly been doing a less than stellar job) out of the supervisory loop. Anyway, the school and the mothers who were chaperones and the male stripper and anyone else who happened to be handy are all being sued, prosecuted and otherwise beaten about the head. If burning at the stake were still fashionable there would, no doubt, be those rushing in with flaming faggots.

My pretty and witty friend, Dr. Susan Block, has a very interesting view of why so many people seem to have an overwhelming fear of sex despite its rarely threatening and frequently beneficial effects. Fear and sex, she says, have shared an intertwined evolutionary history. When our very early ancestors gave themselves over to absolute pleasure, there was always the risk that some truly fearsome predators might just happen upon the copulating couple while they were locked in ecstasy and oblivious to any danger.

Indeed, Dr. Suzy continues, fear has become so tightly bound to sex that one is almost always associated with the other. Fear, it seems, can even be an aphrodisiac. This is why sex in a new place, in a new way, with a new partner is so exciting; there's that fear of the unknown. It may also explain the fascination some women have with dangerous men and why some men are drawn to hazardous occupations and dangerous sports. For more on this line of reasoning, you might want to visit www.drsusanblock.com.

Personally, I think there is a significant insight to be had from all of the preceding tales of scary sex. Simply put, the people with the least experience are generally those who are most fearful of sex. And why should this not be so? Any phobia is bound to persist so long as the effected individual avoids that which terrifies. Progressive desensitization cannot occur so long as education and experience are denied. So unless those scared of sex are seen not as more moral but as less healthy and until human sexuality is seen in a mature and positive light, the patients will continue to run the institution.

 

Stephen Benedict-Mason is a psychologist, a former university professor, syndicated newspaper columnist and radio talk-show host.

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