Has Sex Had Its Day?

Sexual ruminating may perhaps be the most prevalent way to squander time in a person’s life. The perpetual churning of detailed sexual fantasies and fetishes, prospective conquests and Encounters are, if nothing else, a misuse of our intellect.

The need to procreate is undoubtedly humanity’s most prominent driving force. Sexual desire, the manifestation of our ingrained mammalian responsibility to keep our planet populated, keeps us rich in fellow humans and thriving gene pools. Leaving a trail of many descendents, with either a spouse or lover, was once considered a tribute to such a fundamental desire.

Isn’t it time we put sex in its place and treat it like any other appetite? After all, if we thought about food as often as we think about sex we would all be obese. Wait a minute though…

These propagative accomplishments, needless to say, no longer produce an envied sense of virile achievement in our contemporary society. To father nine sons by countless women does not make you an emperor, but rather the dumb ass who assumed your girlfriend was on the pill. Yet, although our gauge of procreation has adjusted with the times, (i.e. two daughters instead of 12), an archaic and consistent preoccupation with sex still lingers.

Given that our procreative responsibilities need no longer be such (hello in vitro fertilization!), both women and men are now free to explore a multitude of other pursuits and interests. Eggs can be frozen. Sperm can be whipped up and made more potent for later. Surrogate mothering is more accessible now than it has ever been, and if you don’t feel like burdening another woman with your plight, you can always adopt. In the meantime, you could learn 12 languages if you felt so inclined. Read an entire survey of British literature. Master chess. Design an eco-friendly yacht. Learn engineering. Hell, invent a cure for AIDS.

But we don’t. Despite the fact that science has given us the opportunity to shrug off our reproductive entanglements and thereby given us an entire lifetime to enrich ourselves and our minds, we continually succumb to mere sexual thoughts: The woman with the slinky dress at the bus stop. The man at the café with the very pronounced arms. Asses in shorts. Breasts in low-cut tops. Navels and hips. Legs and thighs.

What is this prehistoric sexual preoccupancy costing us in the long run? A couple harmless fantasies while taking the bus to work is, at first consideration, harmless. A ten to fifteen minute mental digression in a boring class is acceptable. But over a series of weeks or years, these moments produce astounding gaps in our productivity, in places where, perhaps, we were almost on the verge of medical breakthroughs, new artistic perspectives, or unexplored philosophical quandaries. In the proverbial foundation of human intellect, these fractures could be keeping us from truly magnificent endeavors.

Examine for a moment the accomplishments of Albert Einstein. Einstein was the father of modern physics with over 300 published scientific works. He also, allegedly, had a round-the-clock obsession with Marilyn Monroe. Now, with her on the brain, he managed to come up with the theory of relativity, relativistic cosmology, the first post-Newtonian expansion, and the first fluctuation dissipation theorem. Can you imagine what else he would have thought up if he hadn’t been simultaneously spinning masturbatory scenery in his head? The loss is surely ours.

Sex, in every form, position, and context, has been done a million times before. All possible scenarios for sexual fulfillment, embarrassment, and disaster are just about as predictable as the missionary position. Infidelity, love triangles, first-times, last embraces; all of these words arouse familiar plots that have foreseeable outcomes, manifested again and again in history, film, music, theatre, and literature. Our biology and our extensive past have allowed all combinations to ensue, and so when it comes to sex, and even love, there is nothing that has not been experienced or tried.

Yet, where our ingenuity and creativity is concerned, we have only begun to understand the capabilities of our own intellect. The human brain, the most complex grey matter of all animals, is still one of the most uncharted terrains in science. And while not all of us are Malcolm Gladwell, Noam Chomsky, Bill Gates, or Camille Paglia, the truth is most of us could be.

Procreative and recreational activities aside, time invested in procuring, maintaining, and considering potential partners all adds up. How would you spend your Friday nights if you didn’t have a sex drive? What about your weekends? What interests or talents might you have if you had directed your curiosities elsewhere (instead of pouring over highly salacious sex tips in magazines)? What might you have accomplished in the time that you spent with your lover, or more substantially, in the time that you spent courting him or her?

The wealth of “what if ” is enough to reconsider all of one’s contributions to the world, a planet rapidly deteriorating to global warming, economic crisis, and faith-based wars. Our problem solving energies are being frittered away contemplating ways to corner our best friend’s wife or obtain a pretty girl’s phone number.

The fixation on sex as the relationship barometer is also a somewhat exhausting gauge. Despite advancements in the field of couple’s therapy (i.e. communications tools, ways to healthily argue), most therapists would agree that sex is the number one dysfunction in most relationships. Esteemed as the “true” component of any romantic relationship, sex can often tear good relationships apart while holding bad relationships together. It seems that our desires, both powerful and incredibly base, continue to override everything else.

Is there not now a schism in our psyche? There has never been a broader gap between our primeval brain and the demands of our ever-evolving society. Although frequent sexual enthrallment did once have a place, particularly in more primitive days, this propensity does not correspond with our times. According to Did You Know.org, a week’s worth of The New York Times is more information than a person in the 18th century was likely to come across in their entire lifetime. Also according to the website, there are currently 540,00 words in the English language, about five times as many as there were during Shakespeare’s time. Our minds are obviously expanding in ways we don’t even notice.

Where do sexual pursuits weigh into this progression? In the face of constant invention and advancement, sex as a constant engrossment and a concentration seems almost outdated. Like the tonsils we don’t need or the appendix that serves no function, will sex, too, become simply a remnant of prehistory? Has sex, in fact, had its day?

by Aurora Dupin








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