Monday, March 2, 1998

Week of 03/02/1998

Target: Sex in Society
Why liberals and conservatives just don’t get it
- by David Matthews 2

You know, the conservatives have got to be pulling hairs out of their collective scalps over this intern thing. Despite allegations, leaks, rumors of immunity deals, and supposed taped evidence, Bill Clinton is holding firm his denials of any impropriety happening between him and the former intern. And worse yet to the conservatives, the public opinion polls have the president’s acceptance level higher than at any time in the Administration’s history! If conservatism is in vogue like the moralists want us to believe, then the polls should be dropping, right? After all, extramarital affairs are wrong. Illegal in some states. And those same polls say the majority of people don’t believe Clinton’s denials.

So what’s the story here? Why is it that the people believe some kind of shenanigans happened between Monica Lewinsky and Clinton, but they still think he’s doing a good job?

Well, conservatives would grumble that somehow because the economy is good, that it absolves Clinton’s alleged wrongdoings. But is that really the case?

While the explanation would serve the Gods of Mount Morality and members of the beltway elite like conservative icon Bill Bennett, there’s something more complex lying underneath it all that needs to be examined.

As I have stated before, this society seems to suffer from the intellectual version of bulimia. Fiercely divided between the intellectual and primal needs, we are lulled into believing that the intellect is all that really matters in society. The primal needs? Well, maybe food and shelter.. but the rest, we’re told, we don’t really need. We’re told we can live without them. Matter of fact, we’re told it’s better if we don’t satisfy those needs.

Then, suddenly, those primal desires explode in various aspects, and those same intellectual voices just can’t explain why it happened except to say that maybe they weren’t as strict as they should have been. So they clamp down even tighter in an effort to purge society of all things primal.

We have long since faced this situation when it comes to sex in society. Sex is a primal need. Satisfying that need elicits both pleasure and possible procreation. We need the latter, but the intellectually-dominated have so deemed we have no possible need for the former. So sex for the sake of pleasure has been discouraged and even banned outside of the only "established" institution that requires sex for procreation, namely the family. Even the indicators of sexual pleasure, such as nudity or anything remotely erotic in nature, have been the scathing target of moralists since the beginning of civilization.

The crusaders are always considered champions of the intellectual realm. Men and women like Plato, Tsin Chi Hwangti, Saint Paul, Pope Alexander VI, King Henry VIII, Queen Victoria, Dr. Thomas Bowdler, Anthony Comstock, Dr. Frederik Wertham, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Rev. Donald Wildmon, Edwin Meese, Rev. Pat Robertson, Donna Rice, and others, all at one point moved - and continue to move in the latter regards - to suppress anything associated with sex. And while this list of chastity belt legends is not all-inclusive, they are and have been at the forefront in the struggle against anything sexual in nature.

And when intellectual idealism cannot sway the consenting adult from fulfilling their primal desires with other consenting adults, today’s crusaders pull out the atom bomb of intellectual reasons - to protect women and children. The excuse of protecting women and children has long since earned its place under the most nefarious excuses of despotism in between "We know what’s best for you," and "I was just following orders!"

But there is one little point that is missing with these anti-sex crusaders - they are champions of things that have little regard to reality! The intellect is, by design, not based in reality. This allows the thinking man to transcend reality and see possibilities and concepts that go beyond the here and now. This is the realm of fantasy, in which all intellectuals thrive in. In the fantasy world, all theories work. That’s why intellectual bastions like academia, politics, and religions thrive and are sought after by those wishing acceptance in society.

The problem, however, is when the intellectual crusaders try to apply their theories on reality. While all theories work in the intellectual fantasy world, applying those theories often means conflicting with laws and principles of reality. In the intellectual world, you can envision throwing a ball up in the air, and it will go clear into space. In the real world, however, that ball has to follow the law of gravity. So when you throw that ball in the air, it’ll fall back down.

Many intellectual concepts work in theory, but once applied to the real world they can become a disaster. Religious and political leaders have time and time again proven this. The "great experiment" called Prohibition was pushed by both groups to get people off alcohol. Instead, it created a greater demand for alcohol, turned ordinary citizens into criminals, and turned criminals into millionaires.

Likewise, the ongoing prohibitions against all things sexual by those same religious and political leaders have created many of the societal problems related to sex. Many of the dangers of prostitution, for instance, are not inherent of the profession. Streetwalkers face far more dangers from the customer on the corner than the prostitutes who work in legal brothels. The few legal brothels that operate in rural Nevada are proof of that. And yet whenever talk turns to trying to legalize brothels, the intellectual crusaders against sex argue that to do so would make crime skyrocket, and then point to the dangers of the streetwalking prostitutes.

The intellectual demonization of sex has also served to corrode personal responsibility. The notion that somehow your actions hold the key to someone else’s morality has long been the excuse for moralists in the name of protecting children. After all, children don’t know any better, right? Well the same notion has been used to include adults as well. Any activity or substance deemed offensive to someone now becomes a "corrupting influence" in and of itself. It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of the "evil, corrupting" substance for doing this to you. One only has to listen to today’s neo-Prohibitionists for proof.

But religious and political leaders aren’t the only ones who have a hard time dealing with sex in the real world. Administrators and faculty members in our colleges and universities are right now struggling to deal with the problem of young adults having sex. Complicating matters are factors like alcohol, growing up, and varying ideals about sex between both genders.

One prestigious university expelled a male student for having sex with a female student on the grounds of date rape, even though nobody questions or doubts his side of the story when he said both were drunk and she was the one who freely and willingly initiated the sexual contact. If intoxication is no excuse for the man, why is it an excuse for the woman who initiated the contact?

Intellectuals can’t handle such complications, because in their fantasy world, those complications don’t exist. Young men and women don’t have sex, period. And if they did, it’s the man’s fault, because young women don’t have sex willingly. No matter the reality of the situation, in the minds of these academic intellectuals, the young man was at fault.

Of course, it’s easy for people to make lofty ideals when their personal needs are able to be satisfied. A "let them eat cake" mentality of piousness and hypocrisy can easily occur then. A lot of conservatives can easily talk about the "sanctity of marriage" after they’ve already been married at least once. Too bad they didn’t feel the same way when they were married the first time. Then again, even King Henry VIII was a "family values" leader himself. After all, he didn’t divorce his wives, he just had each one of them executed. It’s good to be the king.

Fortunately, the dysfunctional idiosyncrasies of our intellectual elites don’t instantly translate into the sentiments of the general population. Most people are thankful when they can get the most vital of needs such as food and shelter taken care of, never mind afford to live in an intellectual fantasy world.

If we want to do something to stop the insanity that we have concerning sex in society, the first thing we must do is break ourselves from our dependence on the intellectual elite. We give them that power when we turn to them to make moral judgements for us.

Ask yourself why YOU think something is wrong. Forget what Reverend Blowhard thinks. Forget what Congress thinks. Forget what some intellectual think-tank in Washington DC thinks. Forget what some 2000 year-old document says. For that matter, forget what some 200 year-old document says. Those things can help you make up your mind, but in the end it’s up to you to decide how to live your life. If you’re wrong about the choices you make, Reverend Blowhard, the Washington elite, and certainly an ancient piece of paper won’t take the fall - you will.

The second thing we need to do is break ourselves from the self-centered notion that our beliefs are the exclusive and unquestionable universal beliefs. While we all consider ourselves the protagonist in our own life stories, that life story is still only an autobiography, not the definitive guide to all life on the planet.

Finally, we need to remember that we do live in the real world, bound by physical bodies with very physical needs. Men and women do not live on bread alone, not even if you include a glass of water. One of those very real and very physical needs happens to include sex. If those needs aren’t met, it comes back to haunt us when we least want them to. That is not speculation, that is reality.

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