The Seeds of Sexual Destruction
Sexual Needs Part 6: Sexual needs start in childhood and are always with us.
Posted May 12, 2020 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch
[Trigger Warning: the following contains a disturbing story about the violation of young people's sexual rights and needs.]
The blowback, and there's always blowback whenever anyone tries to talk openly and meaningfully about sexuality, goes something like this: "You do not have sexual needs. What you have are simply wants and that's it: They're not needs. You're not going to die if you don't have sex!" Yes, the same person may say that you may need a new cell phone or that you may need a new vacuum cleaner, but you definitely don't have any sexual needs. You have wants. And you probably should not have those either.
But hold up a second. Regular readers of this series will recall that we have made a concerted effort to define the word "need." Yes, the word is often used in the sense, "that which the organism requires in order to survive ." But there's another (and very common) legitimate use of the word "need"—"that which the organism requires in order to thrive ."
Without this essential use of the word we would be unable to say, "Children need an education." "Dude, you need more fiber," and, best for last, "If you ever want to have sex with me again, you need to get that rash checked out."
None of these cases are about survival. But aren't they all legit? Sure, especially that rash thing, right?
And this brings us to the question: "Why do some people get so bent over using the word 'need' to talk about human sexuality?" After all, just shy of the compelling need to survive, the need to reproduce was probably written in bold type on our DNA.
Then there's the fear of legitimizing human sexuality. This is mainly (but certainly not only) found in religions that want to control your individual sexuality. It's hard for these folks because saying we have sexual needs thrusts upon the mind that we have a responsibility to get our needs met. Generally, once someone (like you) uses the word "sexuality" in any sentence, these folks are hearing only the word "sex" (in the sense of intercourse). And they cannot unhear your use of that word, making you wrong and so going to Hell (and probably a sex addict, too).
So far in this series, we've talked about the very idea of "needs," pretty much as in the above. We've also come up with a humdinger of a thought experiment. Here's an example: You're with someone who loves you and wants you just as much as you do them. Now imagine taking this perfect sex life and then subtracting one element, say sexual conversation, and that your mate was unwilling (or unable) to talk about sexual thoughts, sexual feelings, behaviors, histories, or fantasies. Would your perfect sex life be perfect anymore?
For most of us, the answer would be, "Ah...no."
Here are a few more sexual needs (most that we haven't yet discussed in this series) for everyone who wants to learn how to manage their sexuality intelligently: the need for age-appropriate sexual information , for sexual innocence , to simply be sexual (beings), and the need for sexual dignity . And here's a story illustrating these needs. (Mind the trigger warning above.)
Decades ago, when phones were attached to walls, a mom was giving her youngest two children a bath. He was four and she was three. Just then the phone rang. After mom got up to answer the phone, the two kids stood up in their bubble bath and started comparing their anatomical differences. Mom comes back, was horrified because this was sexual and they were children . She yelled and jerked both of the children out of the bath. Finally, just to make sure the lesson is learned, she applied Tabasco Sauce to both children's genitals. Years later, the adults they became recalled that their genitals burned for three days afterward. But they never again engaged in normal childhood sexual play; they repressed their sexuality to the point of pathology for years; were humiliated and lost both their sexual innocence and their sexual dignity in one fell blow; and they had no right or need to age-appropriate sexual information.
Most people who consider this story would see it as a story of child abuse but few would use the term "sexual abuse." It is. But if you do see that this story is about normal human sexuality and sexual needs then consider: When would we ever stop having these sexual needs? That's right, never. These sexual needs start in childhood and they are part of us for as long as we live. And those who disbelieve in sexual needs? No one wants a parent (or a therapist) who is blind to this dimension of human life.