In an article that touted the benefits of one-night stands for women, the writer, Abigail Wick, responded to one of her reader’s queries about the positivity of one night stands, by stating and I quote: “my philosophy about life is seeking pleasure and avoiding needless negative emotions. There are so many means by which to sustain this path of non-harmfulness to oneself and others–for some it’s long-term love, celibacy, free-love, whatever. All of it’s good, (emphasis mine) just so long as it’s healthy and happy!” If I was in any doubt as to how this current age will be defined in the future on matters of sex, I doubt no more.
When it comes to the issue of sex, we seem to be living now in the STANDARD-LESS age; an age where we seemingly apply more care and forethought to the care of stray animals then we do to the guarding of our own sexuality. But then again, that in itself may be an antiquated notion. Sex by several of today’s proponents is whatever you make it; it carries no intrinsic core value other than what you may choose to give to it; if you’re so inclined. Of course people have equal rights and the freedom to do whatever they want with their penises and vaginas. They could rub them against a tree, a chair, a sharp object, cut them off, gouge them out, or put them in or around 1,000 different people. But really, to suggest that all choices in life are equally “good, healthy and happy” is as ludicrous as saying that our actions are devoid of consequences; regardless. People can choose to sleep with whomever they want, whenever they want, but to try to convince intelligent people that the context within which we have sex is inconsequential, is ludicrous. How could all sex be healthy and happy?
This argument is tantamount to saying that there is no such thing as healthy or unhealthy eating, or that the distinction between wholesome, organic food and food that is laced with harmful chemicals and preservatives is just a figment of the imagination. What about the other things we measure; like schools, health plans, financial investments, record-deals, contracts, parenting skills and the like? We have implicit standards for such things by which we judge whether they are good or bad. We know that some things in life are unfavourable; even when we like them, even when they make us smile (like sweet, gooey desserts, tons of fried chicken and loads of pizza!).We also know that some unpopular things, like regular exercise and whole-grain cereal, are also good for our health; even though they make some of us cringe.
The point is that standards and our ability to judge what is wholesome, beneficial or a “best practice”, are implicit aspects of what make human beings discerning creatures with superior intelligence to animals. We don’t just operate on instinct; we have the ability to think things through and to judge and act in our own best interest. Why pray tell are we trying to fool ourselves that sex is any different? There is all manner of sex but don’t let’s trick ourselves into believing that all sex is equal. Because sex is wildly orgasmic does not mean that it is necessarily “good, healthy and happy” as Miss. Wick would have us believe.
There were some other interesting elements to Miss. Wick’s argument. She maintained that 50% of women felt that uncommitted sex was more free or liberating. According to her, it gave them “a chance to explore (their) sexuality without the fun being bogged down with heavy meaning.” At the same time, she admitted that women love pair-bonding, and as such only a small percentage, 25%, felt that they were able to have sex without becoming attached. So in essence, a whopping 75% admitted to getting attached through sex.
If my Maths serves me correct, this means that of the 75% who felt that sexual connection was unavoidable, 50% still insisted in pursuing casual encounters. This is virtually the same as using a drug which you know is bad for you but you do it nonetheless because you are addicted by the high it gives. When we pursue something which we know intuitively is not the best for us but are chasing the thrill it brings, we tend to call this dysfunctional behavior. Yet where sex is concerned, we are afraid or unwilling to admit that a life of one-night stands (pursued for the thrill despite the experience of connection) is indicative of an area of dysfunctionality.
As I’m at pains to point out in my book “How To Have Mind Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain!”, Oxytocin is the “love hormone” which fosters the feeling of belongingness and connection during the sex act. It intensifies feelings of intimacy; particularly at the point of orgasm. The hormone doesn’t care whether you’ve known your sex partner for two minutes, two months or two years; it just does what its supposed to do! Theresa Crenshaw M.D in her book “The Alchemy of Love and Lust” refers to Oxytocin as some sort of hormonal “super glue”, which makes the idea of casual sex a difficult pill to swallow. Its existence goes against everything that is taught about the meaninglessness of sexual encounters.
Claire Daniel, author of “The Power and Science of Sexual Touch” confirms that Oxytocin ruins what should have easily been a quick “get away”. In other words, it doesn’t allow us to “get up and go” without leaving some part of us behind. If this act of emotionally connecting and then disengaging takes place over a series of one night stands, how emotionally healthy can this be? What about those who never manage to disengage (75% of women)? Sex seems then not to be as meaningless and casual as we would like to make it, since our hormones are in serious over-drive, working so hard to connect us with our sex partner. And I have a serious problem with a philosophy which suggests that women come into true sexual liberty when they begin to mimic the sexual behavior attributed to males for centuries. Does the woman (or man) who hops from bed to bed really remain untouched or emotionally unscathed by this activity?
I admit that some women may believe that they are good at ‘disconnecting’ after they have had anonymous or casual sex but our hormones confirm that we are not necessarily wired to experience sex in connectionless mode. If we agree that there are intrinsic standards in all areas of human experience, then let’s get rid of the “standarlessness” that we so easily attribute to sex. The quest for pleasure should never be an end in itself. It should instead be tempered by a reflection on our actions and their consequences. All sex is therefore not necessarily created equal.