The sexual con is a game, as is the sexual pro. It’s about pros and cons, for and against, in and out. There are two sides to everything and sex is no exception. In fact, sex is perhaps the quintessential representation of duality, of polarities, of opposites. Positive and negative poles of an electric current are polarities. Attraction and repulsion are the two poles of a magnetic field. We can be highly attracted to the opposite sex; and, we can be highly repulsed as well.
Sexual attraction is based on a variety of complexities some of which are psychological, i.e., cognitive and emotional, and some of which are biological and chemical. A fair amount of sexual attraction is based on smell. The body emits hormones, called pheromones, which can be smelled, though often not consciously registered. In some cases these pheromones are an attractant, in other cases a repellent. Biologically, there is a fundamental drive to perpetuate the species and sexual attractions, at the biological level, take into account fundamental criteria geared to that drive such as fitness, adaptability to the environment, genetic predispositions, etc., some of which is gauged by smell. These elements are ascertained almost instinctively, sub-consciously.
At the biological level, based on the perpetuation of the species, women have a much more active sexual drive than men. A man can have sexual intercourse with a woman, ejaculate, with the intention of fertilization, and after which, generally speaking, his sex drive is low. A woman, though she may have climaxed, could easily have another sexual encounter with another man fairly soon afterwards. This works in favor of species perpetuation in which the impetus is to become impregnated and the more opportunities for impregnation, the better. On a cognitive and emotional level, i.e., a psychological level, it is a very different story. Here is where issues of connection, attachment and bonding become dominant and which have a role to play in child rearing. Species perpetuation is not exclusively about reproduction. It is also about nurturing and sustaining that which is reproduced, which is the offspring, the child. Women are particularly good at this, if not exclusively qualified, especially during the first years when nursing occurs. However, having a mate to help, helps, a lot. But, before all that happens, a man and a woman must first get together, sexually.
Men and women usually get together sexually based not just on ‘urges’ but erotic love as well, which combines the psychological needs for validation, connection, attachment and bonding, and the biological drives of species perpetuation. These two energies combined tend to generate what we typically call a romantic relationship. Romantic relationships can be quite blissful; however, they can also be agonizingly tormenting. Romantic relationships are fueled and held together by sex. If the sex wanes, the romantic relationship would fall apart. When the sex is good, the relationship flourishes. Although women, as stated previously, have a higher sexual capacity than men, due to the biological imperative of species perpetuation, there is a religious-based guilt and shame conjoined. Women’s sexuality has been distorted and repressed, and at the same time, displaced outward onto men. Men have accepted and internalized this displacement. Men are viewed as having an insatiable sex drive. All men think about is sex. And women don’t? This is not to say that men don’t have organic-based, animalistic drives to perpetuate the species, for they do. In men it takes the form of frequent ejaculations of semen. Semen, of course, is an absolute essential for impregnation so it works to the female advantage that there’s a lot of it all around and not difficult to obtain.
Clearly sex is an incredible motivator, for both genders, used extensively and excessively in marketing and advertisement. One of the key ingredients in these advertisements is “attract-ability”, i.e., one’s ability to attract. Although both men and women desire to be attractive, women go to greater lengths to achieve that end. Feminine cosmetics, particularly perfumes, which are based on the principle of pheromones as an attractant, is a large, profitable industry. Women strive to not only look attractive, but to look ‘sexy’ as well; and, men respond accordingly, further reinforcing the collective perception that all men think about is sex. Men think about sex because women look sexy. It’s a con game.
The underlying motivation for women wanting to look sexy and attractive is not nearly as much for biological perpetuation of the species as it is for psychological, i.e., cognitive and emotional, validation, connection, attachment and bonding. Women today, in most western cultures, have much more choices about bearing children and child rearing. Contraception and artificial insemination has transformed the reason for and meaning of sex. Women are becoming less sexually repressed and more sexually active for the psychological needs it provides. Cognitive and emotional connection, attachment and bonding are to psychological sex what genital contact is to physical sex. There are pleasures (and pains) in both. Women value psychological sex. The cognitive and emotional connection, attachment and bonding, the validation, is far more lasting than the physical sex. Women like to look physically sexy to attract that psychological validation, connection, attachment and bonding into their lives. Certainly, physical sex is a gateway to that, but is not the end goal. Men, typically, are less adept at the psychological component and are responding to women’s enhanced sexual consciousness with performance anxieties and a burgeoning market for ‘male enhancement’ drugs. It’s another con game.
Psychological sex can be replete with con games. Power and control issues, possessiveness, jealousy, passive-aggressive behaviors and violence are but a few of the dynamics that occur because of sex. Although these con games are acted out physically, they originate in the psyche, i.e., in cognitions and emotions. The idea of cognitive sex, or emotional sex, might appear novel; yet the interaction of polarities, of opposites, which is a basis of sex, does take place in the psyche, and amongst psyches. Psychological interaction is a give and take, an exchange of messages and behaviors amongst speakers and listeners, actors and observers. In close, intimate, psychological relationships, there is transference of cognitions and emotions, thoughts and feelings, almost like an exchange of fluids. There can be a sharing of history and experience from which dreams are conceived.
It is in the psyche, in the mind, where meaning resides. What ‘sex’ means, is made up in the mind. The sexual con games originate in the mind, not the body. What does sex mean to you? What sex can come to mean is the pro game.
Part II – The Sexual Pro is…
Sex, like any behavior, has no inherent meaning. Meanings are ascribed to behaviors, in the mind, from experience. A person who has been sexually abused as a child is going to have very different meanings about sex than one who has not. Although sex can be an ecstatic, transcendent experience, it is not without its dark side as well. And yet, because sex is rooted in our physical nature, it cannot be denied without ramifications. Sexual repression has a host of negative consequences, many of which are amply evident in modern society, not the least of which are the many con games associated with it.
The pro game is about coming to understand sex for what it is, and what it can be. And, coming to trust sex. Sex can be scary because of its intensity. It can not only alter moods and perceptions, it can ‘take us away.’ Sex can be an overpowering experience in which we lose control. And yet, trusting sex means we trust the body, which, like sex, has also been subject to ideas and beliefs of shame and guilt. The body is viewed as flawed and weak. But, the body is highly intelligent and capable. It has remarkable adaptive qualities and, being the product of eons of planetary evolution, is perfectly able to respond appropriately to sex, which is a natural behavior, unless of course the mind has fabricated meanings about it which are counter productive, maladaptive and dysfunctional.
For the pro game to work, comprehensive sex education is a requirement. Sex education needs to encompass not only the physical and biological aspects of sex, but the cognitive and emotional, i.e., the psychological, as well. And, in fact, comprehensive sex education needs as well to encompass the sociological elements of sex for, clearly, sex permeates the society for the simple reason that people make up the society, and people are sexual. Most sex education, where it is taught and not banned out of fear and rigidity of thought, focuses on the biological. There is little discussion about the psychological impact of sex and how sex influences our thinking, emotions and behaviors. There is little understanding of how sex contributes to our sense of connection, attachment and bonding, and how that then influences the society.
Comprehensive, professional sex education provides a framework of understanding sex from the purely animalistic level to the highest spiritual views on sexuality and the act of sex. Many spiritual traditions recognize sex as a fundamental creative energy to be honored and worshipped. Sex is viewed as both mundane and sacred, an everyday occurrence, and something extraordinary. Spiritual traditions from various cultures and through the ages accept the wide-ranging approaches people can take towards sex from celibacy and abstinence to hedonistic orgy’s and polyamourous relationships. Sex is understood, in addition to procreation, as a means of releasing basic sexual tensions, stimulating excitement, fun, and, as well, a means of experiencing a heightened, unified state of consciousness. Monogamy and exclusivity, in both heterosexuality and homosexuality, is but one form sexual relationships can take amongst many, none of which are inherently good or bad, right or wrong.
Because meaning is formed from experience, professional sex education must necessarily be based on direct sexual experience, which need not be limited to coitus. Sexual experience can encompass a wide range of sensual touching which can be highly arousing and lead to climax. Trying to form meanings about sensuality and sex without direct experience is like trying to get nourishment from reading about the different food groups. Certainly knowledge about food groups is important. But, that alone is not enough for nourishment. Sexuality generally emerges in early to mid adolescence which is when nature decrees it is time for sex education, which means not only facts and dialogue, but experience as well for it is through experience that meanings are formed.
The idea of promoting sensual and sexual activity amongst adolescents is certainly not in accordance with the general mainstream culture. Pregnancy and disease are amongst the most common concerns. And yet, despite the precautions and warnings, and with the common availability of contraception, everybody knows it is happening anyway. Adolescents are sexually and sensually active. It is far more pro active, wiser, healthier and saner to acknowledge this behavioral reality and provide comprehensive education about the many ways and means men and women touch each other, and what that touch means. Such an education would be real pro sex.