Rational Religion

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Sex As the Engine of the Species


Sex makes people do stupid things. 


Reason?  Sex exists to perpetuate the gene pool.  Individual human strivings most often come with a different - even an opposed - agenda.


But sex is strongest.  It is an imperative.  We can protect ourselves with as much civilization as we like, the reproductive imperative always lurks just beneath the surface.


It is the denial of sex that causes most of the criminal sexual aberrations.  You can only deny an imperative so long; then it will break out.   You have to learn to sublimate or channel it; at least until you hit 65.  (A good deal of the "wisdom of age" is directly related to the atrophy of hormonal function.)


The accepted dogma that rape is not a sexual crime but a quest for power is way too simplistic.  And where is it written that the urge for domination may not be part of the primitively programmed sexual imperative? 


This is not an argument in favor of rape, but a suggestion that a realistic and complete understanding of the crime may do more to combat it than psychobabble mythology.


It all starts with a fundamental urge; biochemical; hormonal; imperfectly subject to the control of the central nervous system.  If the central nervous system doesn’t gain control of it before it manifests itself in overt action, it may burst out in any of myriad anti-social ways. 


It is correct to call this illness; but don’t pretend it isn’t sex. 


From a species perspective, the most important thing any of us can do in this life is to reproduce.


Most of us feel this imperative whether we individually wish to follow it or not.  One has to pretty much decide not to have children, and make peace with that decision, in order not to become a parent. 


Those of us who do become parents have to make a further choice of whether and how to limit the sizes of our families...whether in the interests of economic responsibility (How many kids can you afford?) or global population pollution (How many more kids can the world support?)


Those who avoid choosing limits, either from ignorance of the eventual consequences or a metaphysical belief that the process of choosing is immoral, are probably acting contrary to the interests of the gene pool at large; although we cannot be sure.


But whatever we decide as personal choice, and however we manage to sublimate the millions of years of reproductive pressure, the pressure is still there. 


It comes out, unbidden, in peculiar and often antisocial ways.


To confront a currently popular social problem head on... I think that way over 50% of "normal" adult males are dangerously attracted sexually to girls; little girls around or under the age of puberty; certain kinds of little girls in particular.  (Read Vladimir Nabokov's "LOLITA" for the literary perspective.  And forget the two movies.  Both of those actresses were simply too mature to make Nabokov's point.  Hollywood, as usual, chickened out.)


I have been observing my fellow men for many decades now, reading the literature (both artistic and scientific) and studying our proclivities.


I note that men, when they find themselves in positions of unusually complete power over the females in their lives....as in cult situations, for example... tend to indulge themselves  rather freely.   And the leader's sexual attentions are not limited to the adult or near-adult women in the congregation, but typically extend to just about any female of any age -- including the prophet's own pre-pubescent daughters -- who happens to catch his fancy. 


I see an apparently sudden rash of male coaches and teachers, especially elementary school teachers, who are brought up on charges of molesting their female pupils.  (Some of these affairs are homosexual, but sex is sex, no matter what final form it takes.) 


Given the publicity surrounding such charges, and the increasingly strict punishments handed out for conviction, one would assume that - despite the apparent increase in such crimes - far more inclined males with good impulse control are probably saving their asses by avoiding such temptations. 


This leaves us with the probability that the phenomenon of teachers molesting students has probably been greater; a good deal greater; in the past than presently.  (In my small rural Midwestern community, 50 years ago, the only male one-room-country-school teacher in the county was known to have had actual relations with one of his more mature 8th grade girls.  In that day, all that happened to him was that he lost his credential.  A lot of people were sad about that.  He was a hell of a good teacher.  I had him for a couple of years at the beginning of his career, right out of high school "normal training," and he was one of the best elementary teachers I had.)


The current "epidemic" is the result of increased publicity; more stringent definitions of molestation; and the rise of a good number of women to positions of real power in the society. 


The possibly apocryphal statistic is that approximately 40% of adult women have been molested as children.   


Even if it's only 25%, that's a hell of a lot of angry, resentful doctors, lawyers, judges and policewomen whose memories of childhood indignities are going to impel them to do everything in their power to put a stop to the sort of dominant male mindset and behavior which led to their discomfort and unsettling recollections.


What they are fighting is a primitive instinct for the male to "get there first" and head off the competition.   


Even if a molester does not realize this about himself, that is the source of his problem.    Not one child molester in a thousand has fantasies of actually getting any of his small victims pregnant.  Horrors!  He will do everything possible to avoid it!  That's probably one component of his obsession with persons too young to conceive.  


But the pressure is reproductive; and it is probably a manifestation of that basic impulse to dominate the reproductive life of any female who attracts him; like a herd bull.


Because we are human beings, and we can (must) rationalize our behavior, we can convince ourselves of all sorts of nonsense in pursuit of the gratification of our desires. 


Hard-core child molesters typically convince themselves that their young victims enjoy what is happening to them.  They almost certainly - except for the rare sadist who is into torture and death - have a real desire to give pleasure; to make it a rewarding experience (which the subject might be interested in repeating, of course, but that needn't be the overweening motive.)  


One complicating problem, as noted by many adult women in "support groups" and even in public proclamation in the cause of making molestation a more universally punished crime, is often the victim's confusion and uncertainty about her experience. 


Very often, if the molester was gentle and relatively unexploitive (beyond the exploitive nature of the act, itself) the young lady didn't realize until long after the fact that she and her older partner were doing something "they weren't supposed to do."  Under these circumstances, the nature of and feelings inspired by sexual play being what they are, it certainly is not rare for the young person to, indeed, enjoy the attention and the sensations it inspires. 


The memory of this enjoyment, in a somewhat older person who now realizes what happened to her, is often profoundly unsettling. 


"How could I have liked that!    There must actually be something wrong with me!"


And, then, of course there is the resentment in the still more mature person of having been put in the position of so harshly judging oneself; perhaps for years. 


It often takes a good deal of therapy and many "support groups" to realize that - given the innocence with which she entered into the situation, physical enjoyment was an entirely appropriate response.


This truth holds just as completely for those young ladies who "knew it was wrong" but went along with the activity out of curiosity or actual sexual interest and excitement.  Young children are a good deal more sexual than adults officially want to allow.  By age 7 or 8 most of us have masturbated, at least casually and aimlessly; by 11 or 12 perhaps with more purpose.  We know it "feels good" and the excitement of having somebody else "do it to you" is sometimes too good an opportunity to pass up. 


The guilt and self-recrimination inspired by memories of having "wanted" to be "molested" can be even more corrosive than the sense of having been exploited. 


The truth is that until one is old enough to make such important decisions for herself, she has been just as innocently exploited as if she had been totally unaware what was going on. 


This is not to suggest that there are not exploitive little girls, who enjoy both sexual feelings and the power of getting people into trouble; maybe the latter, even without the former.    But I suspect they are an order or two of magnitude rarer than the number of adult - or near-adult - males whose out-of-control hormonal imperatives lead them into sexual contact with pre-pubescent children.


And I'm not talking just about the obsessive sexual criminal who truly "can't help himself" and ought to be institutionalized, but about the ordinary family man who perhaps no more than once or twice in his life finds himself blindsided by an unfortunate "opportunity" with a daughter's  playmate.... or with a daughter ..  and succumbs to the temptation.  


It obviously isn't a rare phenomenon.  The news media are full of it and the news media cannot become aware of more than just the iceberg tip of such a privately guarded problem.   


It's so common one might be tempted to regard it as a variation of "normal" behavior. 


It can be argued that the impulses to cheat on school examinations, and to shoplift small items while on school trips are also so widespread as to be "normal" as well.  But we can't pretend that they are moral or ethical.   If they get us into trouble with our teachers or the law, we cannot plead ignorance and we have to pay the consequences. 


If we are human males, and we cannot even contemplate the possibility that we might someday be attracted to a female quite too young to be approached sexually, the chances of our being so "blindsided by the opportunity" are very greatly increased.


"Innate" doesn't mean, "inevitable."  But it sure as hell means, "Be Careful."


A sidebar here, to all teachers and counselors of younger persons!


The well-known phenomenon in psychoanalysis, which is commonly termed “transference”, refers to the tendency (the inevitability?) of the patient to achieve so deep a trust in and dependency upon the analyst that the relationship is likely to become emotional.  In simpler terms, the patient "falls in love" with the analyst, more predictably so if the patient is sexually predisposed to be attracted to a person of the analyst's sexual predisposition.


In a controlled analytical framework, the analyst knows this is probably going to happen; is prepared to deal with it; and has access to carefully tested techniques to ease the patient through this dicey stage of analysis without significant damage to either party. (If the analyst loses control the results can be pretty horrendous.)


Every good teacher will at one or more times during her or his career achieve the kind of relationship with a student that a successful analyst ideally achieves with a patient.


And I know of no adequate course material in any teacher's college curriculum, or PhD program, which deals with this phenomenon!


If you are a good teacher, some of your good students are going to fall in love with you! 


What the hell do you do about that?


There are a lot of very bad ways to handle the situation and only one or two good ones.


You can, of course, simply seize the opportunity; kid yourself into believing that nobody is going to get hurt, and "let nature take its course."


This path ranges from anti-educational to unethical to flat-out criminal, depending upon the age of the student and the effect the relationship has upon the student's academic progress and mental health.


On most college faculties there are professors and instructors who are known to be, in effect, "serial seducers;" or who too willingly allow themselves to become seducees.  


Some of these persons are nastily exploitive and therefore in the long run not very good teachers for at least some of their students; but many - I think - are more inclined to bond with their better students in a sort of combined meeting of mind and body which both participants might be likely to regard as a "natural" adjunct of their professional relationship.


  These relationships are more likely to be truly "serial," in the sense that they involve one teacher and one student at a time.


The danger here is to the spirit of pedagogy.  How thoroughly does the professor divorce his personal relationship from his duty to evaluate his student's academic performance?  How often might the pupil, under the stresses and constraints of multiple course requirements, be inclined to "slide by” occasionally in the subjects taught by her professorial lover?


Or, perhaps more troublesome, how thoroughly could an entirely conscientious student trust the evaluation of a person he was so emotionally involved with?   In the upper reaches of the academic world, where reliable objectivity is crucial to the student's preparation to enter a demanding field of endeavor, a teacher's emotional blindness could be crippling.


There are compelling reasons that most universities have sanctions in place for educators who habitually let their professional and sex lives too often cross, even if the objects of their various affections are legally adult and more than willing participants in the affair.


On an earlier academic scale, I can personally feature no excuse for a high school teacher to have overt sexual relations with a student, no matter how seductive or even aggressive that student might be.


That said, I can feature a surfeit of reasons for such activity, not the least of which might be the relative youth of the teacher, the absolute attractiveness of an adolescent person in the first bloom of sexual awareness, and the hell-for-nothing, consequence-ignoring first-love emotional imperative of youthful infatuation.


And there are dangers even in simply rejecting such adolescent passion!


A young person in love typically offers her- or him-self without reservation.  How does one refuse such an offer without damage to the person's self-esteem; or worse, without creating a caustic resentment which might create different problems for both parties?


Some teachers, especially those who have had bad experiences with this sort of "transference" before, simply panic. 


They run and hide, effectively withdrawing from any but the most routine classroom contact with the subject student; and therefore lose a good deal of the effectiveness as a teacher which inspired the student's affection in the first place.  The pupil will no longer strive to do as well "for" the teacher, and the teacher will no longer adequately, even objectively, reward the student for superior performance. 


We are not talking about "grades" here.  We are talking about encouragement and mutual respect and all those intangibles which go beyond the transcript record; the academic confidence that comes from knowing the teacher likes you!


Well, how does the psychoanalyst get through "transference?"


By confronting it with the patient!  By explaining that the patient's feelings are not only "natural" but an expected part of the process, but which must not be permitted to distract either the therapist or the patient from the goal of the process, which is the adjustment of a problem.


It is perfectly permissible to let a student know that one is physically attracted to her or him; and for many of the same reasons which he or she is attracted to you:  intelligence, sympathetic interest in the course material and life in general, a certain talent and facility in doing the work well; even sheer physical attractiveness.


But one must erect an absolute wall of professional responsibility.    "I am the teacher; you are the student.  The goal of the process is that you should become academically educated.  However we might be inclined to permit ourselves to feel about one another cannot be allowed to interfere with that process."


In case the question comes up...Sexual relations would profoundly change the environment.  We won't do that.


To those many, predominately male, elementary and junior high school teachers who find themselves potentially dangerously involved with their charges, I can only counsel constant vigilance and reality checks.  These are little kids, and no matter how much they love you they don't know what they are doing...even if they act like they do.


You're the adult, here.   Love is permissible; even desirable; but keep it platonic.  And no touching; occasional generic hugs excepted.