Don’t Think about Sex

We live in an age that’s obsessed about sex. We sell things with sex, we talk about it incessantly and it’s present in almost every movie. Porn is readily available on-line and anyone with an Internet connection and a bit of curiosity has seen a fair share of it.

So why does this happen? Why weren’t we so obsessed before? How have we turned into this debauc

hed society?

Or have we?

As I was reading “The Antidote”, a pretty fun book on negative thinking, I came across a sentence about sex: the more you try not to think about it, the more aroused you become. This happens for the same reason that someone forbidding you to laugh makes things even more hilarious; if I tell you “don’t think of a polar bear” you will instantly, well, do what you just did. Could our current obsession with sex be related to that?

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sex and Christianity

So I started wondering about what the Christian obsession with vilifying sex has done to us. By telling us that even thinking about it is sinful, Christianity has spurred precisely what it was trying to avoid. Of course, the more you think about it, the guiltier you feel and the harder you try, thus making you think more about it. (It is also possible this was a clever marketing trick: force people into sinning and watch them come to church in spades).

Then I thought about how Catholic priests must be doing in that area and I understood a lot of stuff.

So we could see this craze about sex as being created precisely because of the taboo about sex that has been the norm in society for the last century.

English: US Secretary Gutierrez meets with Chi...

Chinese Minister Bo Xilai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sex and China

However, I think that blaming Christianity for this is a little unfair. I live in China, were Christianity has a testimonial presence, and the taboo about sex is as great as in the West. Not surprisingly, the debauchery happening behind the scenes is pretty shocking too. Every month we see as scandal involving some government official and a bunch of young ladies. Most actresses in the country are known to have reached fame through borderline prostitution. In fact, some of them do prostitution: a couple of famous actresses are actually known to charge one million dollars per session. Bo Xilai, recently convicted for corruption, was one of the customers. The minister of transportation slept with the whole cast of the TV show “Dream of a red mansion”; after that, all of these actresses went on to have extremely successful careers. The minister himself ended up in jail for corruption, being responsible for the high-speed train crash that killed hundreds of people some years ago.

I don’t know if the same is true for Japan, but if it was it would explain a lot.

Buddhism

Buddhism (Photo credit: shapour bahrami)

Sex and Buddhism

One of the things that shocked me when visiting monasteries in Thailand was that women were not allowed to wear “provocative” clothes, with the argument that they would be distracting to the monks. I don’t know about you, but I have done maybe 100 hours of meditation in my whole life and I have no problem not getting distracted by a woman in a tank-top. You’d think that those monks, who supposedly are way closer to enlightenment, would have even less trouble not caring. Even if they did, couldn’t they make their arousal the subject of their meditation, just like they make pain? I suspect this idea that women shouldn’t mix with men in temples or that provocative clothes shouldn’t be worn around monks are based on ancient prejudices, rather than in logic. Crap, if you’re in such control of your emotions you don’t even fear death, a woman wearing a short skirt hardly seems like a challenge.

This image shows the coding region in a segmen...

This image shows the coding region in a segment of eukaryotic DNA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sex and Genetics

I know many people who haven’t been raised as Catholics, but they too seem to be obsessed about sex (though this obsession does seem to wane with age). Could it be that it’s just the way we’re programmed? After all, sex is the one thing our genes need us to do. The obsession, then, is thoroughly justified and will happen whatever you do. Of course, if you try not to think about it, the whole thing may get even worse.

What to Do, What to Do?

So what’s the healthy attitude towards sex? How should we approach it? Should we think about it all the time? Not think about it? Think about it but not attach to the thought? Write about it in our blog?

Fucked if I now.

(This post was inspired by livelysceptic’s recent series on sex).

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20 thoughts on “Don’t Think about Sex

  1. Humans Are Weird

    I had my issues with Freud when I was taught his work in high school; there was just something about his theories that rubbed me the wrong way. I read a book by Jung (his auto) detailing the falling out Freud and Jung had. Apparently it was, from Jung’s perspective at least, Freud’s insistence that Jung dogmatise the theory that… well, for his famous theory re how everything about our human genome revolves around sex; sex not being just one of the base drivers of human instinct, but the ultimate one. Jung didn’t like the idea of dogmatising anything, and alas, they parted.

    However, I’ve started, only recently, thinking that Freud was 100% right. Brief rationale: Our end-goal is to proliferate our genes, and the act of sex makes this possible. (the act’s effect is irrelevant; it’s the naturally felt compulsion to sex I empathise with).

    As a side, re the laughing, I remember in the fourth grade in one of my R.E classes, a friend and I were giggling during class; I think the teacher was talking about Noah’s ark or something. About 5 minutes after he’d told us off for laughing, every single sentence he spoke lead me to tears of pure mirth. It was one of the best laughing sessions I’ve ever experienced. And, well, it got me out of RE.

    Oh, and haha re the monks. I suppose in wearing a robe, the consequences involved with spontaneously getting an erection increase ten-fold.

    Reply
    1. David Yerle Post author

      So that must be it then. It’s not the lack of concentration: it’s the embarrassment. Though, again, if they’re enlightened enough probably they won’t mind the embarrassment either!

      Reply
        1. Tongue Sandwich™

          Humans Are Weird, the reasons why Freud and Jung parted ways are quite a bit more complex. Given that you’re interested, I would recommend reading William McGuire’s The Freud / Jung Letters.

          Reply
  2. Bereng

    With all the mysticism that has been alluded to the act of sex, and the attraction to the word itself, I think we need to be a little lenient to it. Sadly, using the media as an example, I recently watched a movie where, as the couple engaged in intercourse, references to the zodiac were made. Maybe this was a cheap act, considering the movie is a comedy, but it does not disembowel the inate interest we humans have in the act of sex and all that comes with it. The porn industry is booming for a reason, and it’s not because it’s a charitable affair. Someone is making money – lots of it!

    Is society overly sexually saturated? I say no. We are overly corporate saturated. The belief that we are to be adorned in uncomfortable suits, along with their foot-binding shoes to dispel an image of professionalism is nonsense. This attire, part of the concrete jungle’s apparel, does not provide a channel for people to be people, but profit generating monkeys. Maybe right now someone is reading your blog and thinking, hmm…now would be a great time for sex, but I’m at work. This, and many other reasons like it, to me, justify that we are slaves to a system we did not create. Our genes, and maybe even spirit, are talking to us, but the friction caused by our humane self and work gives the illusion that we are overtly sexually impulsed.

    So, I say have sex – lots of it, it may not be what the corporates want, but who the hell says they have your best interests at heart?

    Reply
    1. David Yerle Post author

      I wholeheartedly agree. I’d much rather be having sex than working. If something is screwing us up it’s capitalism, not sex. Heck, there’s been sex for billions of years and nobody complained.
      I like the idea of uncomfortable shoes and foot-binding shoes. I have always felt ties as a noose around my neck…

      Reply
  3. SilverSeason

    What is it with men anyway? In Reading Lolita in Teheran the author reports that, as the restrictions on women’s dress increased, the Purity Police (my title — they were actually called something else) would keep female students from entering the university if they showed a strand of hair or wore the wrong color of socks. The explanation was that this was arousing to men and caused them to sin.

    Wow! I went to a coed American university at a time when all the concern was about arousing women to sin. The men were just naturally inclined that way, whatever you wore.

    It isn’t sex that is the forbidden zone now — it is food. Look at the people can’t enjoy eating anything because it has carbs or raises cholesterol or will chisel 30 seconds off their life. What life!

    Reply
    1. David Yerle Post author

      Great point about food. And that explains the proliferation of cooking shows: the more we try not to think about it, the more we feel like eating!

      Reply
  4. livelysceptic

    Hi David! Great article, and what a surprise. Thank you for mentioning me. I am really grateful to see that sex is a subject that great minds like yours can ponder over. (Not joking.)
    I like what you write about ‘not thinking about sex’ being a great incentive. On the buddhism angle, that is quite complicated. I’d like to read BR on that…

    I would also like to endorse SilverSeason’s comment on ‘arousing women to sin’ being the point and Teheran getting that wrong, but more importantly about food being in the forbidden zone. It seems to me these things are related. 🙂

    Reply
    1. David Yerle Post author

      I’d also like to see BR’s take on this. Let’s see what he says. And yes, I like her point about food. Food and sex do seem to be related, at least if you take Freud and his “oral phase” seriously.
      By the way, thanks for the “great mind” label. I’ll print this out and hang it in my wall :p

      Reply
      1. Tongue Sandwich™

        Hmm. I wouldn’t consider masturbation sex — since the term is short for “sexual relations.” Unless you consider the “relation” to be the one between the hand and whatever it is that’s being touched. But hey, folks seem to have various definitions in this regard. I seem to remember a story about someone called Bill who didn’t think a blowjob was sex…

        Reply
          1. Tongue Sandwich™

            I’m thoroughly familiar with his body of work, I’m sure you guessed as much. In this case I would call it artistic license and let him get away with it. I seem to recall that he also mentioned once that masturbation was his favorite hobby…

  5. schn00dles

    Ha! People blame their sexual exploits and urges on everything under the sun. (And even some that are not: “The Devil made me do it.”) Too much scripture, not enough scripture, I was drunk… it all makes good reading.

    Reply
      1. schn00dles

        Well, a problem is that sex is one of the most disruptive desires out there. I think it’s a little like the sun. Habitable life is only possible at a certain distance from it. Otherwise you either freeze or burn off the necessary spiritual essence (water).

        Reply
  6. Johannes Nelson

    This is great! When I see most social behavior, I tend to think it is just the sex drive manifesting in layered forms. I guess I am with Freud on that. What is the cure? Well, having sex is one cure. Get that out of the way and the day is yours! Paint a picture, invent something, write a book. I think unless the drive is met, then tainted by eros will all our actions be. There is probably some innate part of us that just needs to know that if we wanted to proliferate, we could. So maybe even getting married and not having sex would do the trick. Whether it is the drive of drives, or just a drive, it is important not to let it rule you and impregnate you with anxiety. Trying not to think of it won’t work unless you’re really good at not thinking, like a buddhist monk. Maybe a very passionate person could override the sex drive via the drive toward their passions.

    Now I’m just rambling without aim, and I am still not sure what I think. Maybe it is because I am thinking about sex that I can’t arrive at a conclusion!

    Reply

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