Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Matter of Sex

What is this obsession with sex we humans have? My question is not why we have sex, the answer to which is as obvious as the differences in gender. It concerns why we are obsessed with everything that may be directly, indirectly and remotely connected with the act of sex.

Animals (and the word encompasses all living creatures except humans and plant life) have elaborate mating rituals, often strange behaviour leading to sexual congress and the ultimate and natural need to procreate. It is normally seasonal and limited to an annual event.

We humans not only have sex all year round, anytime, anywhere, anyhow; we are also particular about discussing it in depth, displaying it, debating it, being deviant with it, desiring and denigrating it, never getting enough of it physically, mentally or spiritually; and are either apathetic or empathetic to this original requirement to reproduce our kind.

Yes, we are humans with brains that allow us to think, analyse and process information, and respond to external stimuli. And we can’t help doing so. In all honesty, this piece of writing itself is a by-product of our obsession with sex and all it means to us.

Yet, why? Why is sex is so important to us even if it has moved beyond the ultimate goal of procreation? I don’t believe there are any easy answers.

The phenomenon is not new either. Very early on in our civilisation as we know it, texts on the act of sex began to appear. Nudity portrayed in art became popular. In modern times, once photography was invented, pictorial renditions of sexual acts were commonplace. Today the bulk of the Internet’s economy is driven at a furious pace by websites offering sex.

Again, why? Because there are millions who will have their most satisfactory sex by hearing and watching images and reading text on the WWW, never really experiencing the other sensations of touch, taste and smell with anyone but themselves, and if they’re lucky a partner.

Because there are other millions who will use the portrayal of sex on the Web for titillation, and then look for opportunities to experience sex themselves. Another possible answer.

A third. Because the human imagination is a greater force than what the human mind instantly perceives from received information. The Internet’s portrayal of sex, even though many sites claim to leave nothing to the imagination, is still limited to what it can audio-visually offer the viewer. It cannot account for psychological, demographical, geographical, medical, educational, legal and social factors that will affect those who seek sex on the Internet.

It often seems that the demand for information and imagery of sex, and the accompanying facility to discuss sex issues at a common, amateur level, far outstrips the availability and supply of such services. Sex is an industry that only registers continuing growth, remaining unaffected by political, economic and social conditions. No laws or social strictures are adequate or comprehensive enough to cover the exploitation by the sex industry. Is it because millions wish to be exploited?

Valid as well as populist research on sex and its diversities receives generous funding and often ecstatic approbation. News with a sex angle to it receives intense media attention. Censorship of works of art for reasons related to sex is more common than for political reasons. In fact, politics can be deeply impacted when a sex angle comes into the frame.

Music, graphics and imagery, text, clothing and lifestyle accessories, all sell well when sex is introduced into it in one way or another. Marketing gurus infuse flavours of sex into their strategies to ensure better returns. Our obsession with sizes and shapes is undeniable. Who’s taller? Who’s bigger? Who’s longer? Who’s thicker? Who’s better? Who’s prettier? Who’s shapelier? Who’s perfect? All these seemingly innocuous questions link up in some way with sex.

Child sex, geriatric sex, same sex, animal sex, sex, sex, sex. The mystery of sex. The canons of sex. The fascination of sex. The language of sex. The secrets of sex.

As I said earlier, no easy answers and far too many questions.

And the fact of the matter is, these questions will not even cast a blip on the radar of human sexual activity.


Scarlett said...

... Endorphins for some, others co-dependency.

patrix said...

thanks o'hara! well said, but it still raises more of those niggling questions...!