Thursday, June 4, 2015

It is all about Consent

A couple of thoughts on Human Sexuality:

First, your sexuality is your own.  Nobody owns it.  You don’t subjugate it to someone else when you get married. You certainly do not subjugate it to a god.  As such, as parents or adults we do not own our children’s sexuality.  We merely defend their right to consent.  That defense should be against anyone who wishes to take their right to consent away from them.  I think molestation and the perversion of defining sex and sexuality as sinful or immoral is equally damaging to a child.  Teaching children to fight their natural urges because there is some eternal punishment waiting for them takes away their ability to consent. 

Children should be free to explore their own sexuality on their own terms. That means masturbation is an activity in which they can give enthusiastic consent to.  It is not something we should wrap in guilt and control (outside of teaching it is personal and private).  That does not mean it is a free-for-all. Part of exploring sex and sexuality is acknowledging that there are ground rules.  In my house that included a “Don’t Rape” conversation in which we discussed who is legally and ethically able to give consent. It also means discussing the consequences of sex including disease and pregnancy.  We certainly have on going discussions around what a healthy relationship looks like.

The individual defines sexual preference.  To deny someone their own sexual identity and preference, in the framework of consent, is to deny them the ability to consent. In that, teaching rigid gender norms also denies the child, in part, the ability to consent, as they become adults.  They are unable to engage in sexual expression that is free of guilt or shame. Consensual sexual behavior should not be wrapped in guilt.

When it comes to marriage/committed relationships monogamy is one relationship style.  It is not the only relationship style.  There are times when it certainly is not a healthy relationship style. While Lisa and I have chosen monogamy and it works for us, I don’t think any less of those who successfully practice polyamory. I also do not have an issue with non-religious polygamy, serial monogamy, asexuality, co-habitation, or fetish lifestyles like BDSM.  The question that has to be asked when evaluating any relationship is, "Does consent exist".  If it does, its none of my business.

Pornography is not addictive.  That does not mean that there are not compulsions that exist around sex and sexual behavior.  But the underlying mental illness is not in the media.  It is in the compulsion itself. Many studies have found that a stressor triggers compulsions.  When the stressor is removed, the compulsion diminishes or disappears.  There is some data that suggests our puritanical views of sex and sexuality creates that stressor.  We tell women they are not only the subjects of their husbands but also the gatekeeper of all that is moral and wholesome in the household.  It is their job to watch their husbands so they don't stray.  That includes watching the husbands Internet use to see if he is looking at pornography.  This leads to secrecy and in many case triggers a compulsion.  Its not the pornography that triggers it.  It is the secrecy.  This brings me back to my original assertion: “Nobody owns your sexuality… not even your spouse”.  There are many reasons to not like pornography.  You may find it exploitative.  In some cases it has been.  You may find it reflects unrealistic expectations on how sex works.  It does.  But at the end of the day if consent is given in the production of the pornography and your spouse views it privately, it is none of your business.  It remains none of your business until he/she asks you to partake.