Nadja Geipert hit a nerve with her recent post Sex from Dusk Till Dawn
. When it went live, it became the Most Read blog at Psychology Today for four-plus days.
Could it be the racy image of the woman clearly in the throes of heart-stopping ecstasy? Or the provocative title? Or perhaps, the subtitle's implication that somehow our modern child-rearing practices are "ruining all the fun?" Or maybe it's the beautful writing and construction of this short, powerful blog.
Certainly each of these helped draw readers in, especially with the tempting implication that maybe we are all missing something that we might want or need. And with her first sentence, "I'm selling all my earthly possessions and moving to China ASAP," she suggests she's been won over by something big. Something very big indeed.
But if you review the reader comments on that post, you'll see some of them come from riled up readers who are aghast at the suggestion that other cultures have strikingly different (and very successful) sexual mores in place, and that Geipert, with her post, is suggesting we could actually learn something from that.
What you don't see in those comments are the legions of readers who kept clicking: shooting her piece to the (Most Read) Moon. Just what is it that kept her post at Number One?
Nadja Geipert hit a Big Fat Juicy nerve when she brazenly linked sex to child-rearing practices. That brassy gal had the chutzpah to describe an extant matrilineal culture (the Mosuo) where:
- ~women and girls are the ones who own and inherit property,
- ~people live in extended female-directed families in which the brothers remain close throughout their lives, helping with childrearing and household tasks,
- ~both brothers and sisters (as in all the children) grow up cared for by their mothers as well as an extended clan of aunts, uncles, grandparents, numerous father figures, and other loving, stable adults,
- ~and whence every Mosuo girl, as an early teenager when she "comes of age", is given her own private bedroom (in the matrilineal household) with a separate outer entrance through which whomever she chooses may enter and share her bed with her from dusk until dawn.
In response to such lurid, shocking ideas, one of Geipert's commenter's went so far as to suggest that sex for anyone under the age of 21 in our country, should be outlawed and made illegal (but made nary a peep about the quintessential matrilineal lodestar depicted in her blog). One might as well make eating illegal for such a cohort.
Still, the reason Ms. Geipert's got her bags packed, as she says, has less to do with sex than it does with love, cooperation, a profound respect for human autonomy and connection, and security. As she writes, "They don't have words for murder, rape, or war."
They don't have words for murder, rape, or war.
Right there is that Big Fat Juicy nerve she's hit:
Geipert wondered if in cultures where a child is born into a secure, extended, loving family that allows for deep bonding and connection (which is essentially how human beings evolved for hundreds of thousands of years), if loneliness and modern-day psychological afflictions like depression, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorders, anxiety, and other such "modern" maladies, simply don't exist. Perhaps this deep-seated bonding and security can also explain the non-existence of words like murder, rape, and war.
This idea is mind-bogglingly hopeful in our isolated, fractured and stressed-out world. Indeed, I suspect it's the reason her post is so popular. It hits on a deep, primal need for something very significant that many of us want and need, but are not getting.
But alas, here we are getting hung up on the sex.
...and on whether teenagers should be sent to jail for being sexually active, instead of leaping full-bore to Mosuo China in a credible quest to bring back the holy grail of peaceful society. (Isn't there anyone else who read Geipert's piece who is gripped with curiosity about what we can learn from them, and how we might apply it?)
But of course we do get hung up on the sex. We love to get hung up on the sex! And Geipert correctly wonders how it is that such a culture can enjoy their profoundly open and autonomous sexual society while comparing that to our own culture, where she has "met so few people who can pull these kinds of casual sexual relationships off."
She suggests that part of the reason for this, is that culturally, we grow up in painfully different circumstances than the secure, loved, independent children of the Mosuo. I also wager that she hasn't met those folks (who can pull it off) locally yet because she simply hasn't found them yet. Likewise, it's important to be clear about that word casual. Even in the Mosuo, open sex doesn't necessarily mean "casual" sex. It may well be casual on occasion, but it is also part of the glue that holds friends and families together for decades. Even casual sex in such a tightly knit society becomes an act between lovers who will know each other for their lifetimes.
Since I read Sex at Dawn by fellow PT blogger Christopher Ryan and his wife Cacilda Jetha, which also happens to be the remarkable book Geipert drew from when she detailed the Mosuo, I've been curious to learn more about how people in our own society may be living in closer alignment with the evolutionary underpinnings of our highly social/sexual nature. In other words, I wanted to know if people could get what they want in our society. And lo-and-behold, I've found that, under the radar, there's a thriving little world of people right here--who are living in open, committed relationships, and who choose to create a very similar experience of a loving, secure, peaceful tribe of extended friends and family for themselves and their children.
These are people who quietly shirk our cultural sexual mores about monogamy, who are honest to the extreme with themselves and their partners, and who are committed to both the bonds they create with their lovers as well as the bonds they have with children--theirs and others. They are recreating egalitarian, sexually autonomous tribes.
Had my husband and I known about this sex-and-bonding-positive approach to long-term committed relationship and extended, secure family, you can bet your sweet litigation papers, that we would never have gone through with our divorce.
Because, in our culture as it stands, divorce is very often what happens when people realize they are human; when they discover strong feelings outside their marriage. Then they split apart worlds, often with devastating, unnecessary impacts (including the startling new research showing that children of divorce die younger than children from intact families). Or they live lives of quiet desparation. Never realizing that they are living in a false paradigm that represses sexual and social health for themselves and others.
Oh, and by the way, divorce is non-existent in the Mosuo, too.
My bags are packed Nadja. When do we leave?