What Guides your Sexuality?
How has history and the sexual revolution influenced your sexuality?
Sexuality is a broad term for the way people experience and express themselves sexually. Sexuality is a part of human existence and is in relation to others. It includes not only a personal element but a social one. The personal aspects include physical, emotional and spiritual elements. The social part highlights how society can influence sexuality. Sexuality is therefore complex as it is affected and influenced by culture.
Sexuality does involve a personal choice, and to truly make an informed decision about it, one needs to understand how culture/society has affected it, especially in modern times.
For a long time, the practice of sex, a core component of sexuality, was majorly in the confines of a union. Some form of a union has existed in all human societies, past and present. The most common union practised even to date is marriage. The concept of marriage is diverse and has changed over time. Historically, it involved a coming together of a man and woman in a lifetime commitment that was to be governed by love. Individuals were to express and experience themselves sexually when married. Sexuality was supposed to promote not only procreation but also bonding and healing.
After the departure from the Latin church, people wanted to dictate their own rules of practising sexuality. The result was that over time sexuality gradually departed from the confines of marriage. In the 18th century, the emergence of sexual illnesses acted like a determent for expressing sexuality outside marriage due to fear of contracting the diseases. Syphilis was the most feared, as it had no cure and could transmit to infants as congenital syphilis. Women also feared getting pregnant outside wedlock. This fear was due to men being the primary providers and women preferred not to raise children alone. A single mother would have struggled to make ends meet as it was difficult to get a well-paying job as a woman.
The need to be “free” was gathering storm and sentiments from renowned thinkers of the time, like Freud complicated things. Freud was trying to understand psychological disorders, and from his observations and findings, he concluded that people mostly suffered from psychological illnesses due to sexual repression. He had a strong opinion that people should be "free" to express and experience their sexuality. His findings pleased the masses but they could not act in complete “freedom” as there was fear.
Freud was not entirely wrong on what he observed as sexual repression. The challenge was that Freud viewed it from a subjective bias without considering the history of the culture of his era. His claim that people inhibited and repressed their sexual drives due to social taboos meant that there would be an explosion of a need to dictate sexuality. Society was also changing its structures due to the age of enlightenment. A departure of not only old social structures but the original morals was gradually taking place.
In the 1900s, there was a birth control movement that was gathering traction. Before the movement, there was a ban on most birth control methods by dictated religious structures. The methods were also not as popular as most were harmful to the women, so marriage remained the safest option to practice sexuality.
Around 1929-1930, the world was hit by the great economic depression that started in the United States and spread across the world. It was the worst economic decline of the 20th century. The employment rate declined rapidly, and even for most European colonialists, owning a colony was no longer as profitable.
The Great Depression
World war II commenced in 1939, further threatening structures such as family and marriage. It was during this time that birth control became increasingly popular. There was a push in the west for a more efficient birth control method that did not affect women's health.
In the United States, the great depression ended with new economic structures and surprisingly, the war itself. Most countries mobilized their economy for war efforts and set up wage and price controls during the war. By the time the war ended in 1945, the economy slowly but surely picked up. It resulted in a baby boom in the late 1940s as people were more financially capable of raising children.
During the 2nd world war, there were scientific advancements. These advancements facilitated the discovery of penicillin as an effective way to treat syphilis in 1947. Not long after, in the 1950s' the birth control pill was invented and was the answer to the push for an efficient birth control method that did not affect women's health.
By the 1960s, the birth control pill was FDA approved. The economy was good, growing fast and healthy, and people could now afford time for entertainment. They could now do whatever they want with no perceived consequences. Factors aligned, and there was a burst that ushered in the peak of the sexual revolution.
The peak of the sexual revolution saw a massive increase in wild parties, raves. The raves included a lot of promiscuous sexual activities that eventually formed a culture that persists to date. Drugs such as alcohol, ecstasy and certain psychedelics, were incorporated into the raves. People gratified their desires whenever they wanted, which created a consequence; an issue with delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is crucial in the regulation of desires, it is what is referred to as self-control.
The incorporation of drugs into the expression and experience of sexuality in the raves created another problem. Raving would mostly happen at night, and people actively combined drugs with their sexual experience. Consequently, the recollection of stated sexual experiences proved problematic. The culture with time blurred the lines of consent, as when a person woke up the next day with regret due to their actions, there would be no sure way to tell if there was consent or not.
Identifying if a sexual experience was forced or consensual in such setups has now proven a challenge for most people who deal with sexual abuse and laws. There is no sure way of analyzing the situation as it is based upon a culture.
What is happening today is that people are trying to extract laws from the consequences of the culture to govern the culture. It is a challenge as the culture itself promotes self-seeking behaviours. A law pulled from an outcome will only manage the symptom and cannot address the disease. Without the guidance of love, a law cannot be just or sustainable as it will favour a group/individual.
Raving was not the only popular thing of this era as orgies also gained a lot of popularity. Orgies involved a group of people planning to meet up together in a house or outdoors to have sex with each other. It again grew to be a normalized culture that continues to date. The paradigm shift of sex from a tool of procreation and bonding to an instrument of pure pleasure promoted a distortion. The distortion started showing when women and men saw each other as objects of pleasure.
There are claims that this culture has made sexual abuse rise in recent times. The opposing view is that it was Feminists movements that made women report more and that the prevalence rate of sexual abuse did not increase. However, it is hard not to contemplate whether a culture with issues with delayed gratification and a distorted view of people as objects of pleasure cannot contribute to a rise in sexual abuse.
A focus on people as objects of pleasure led to the death of the inner aesthetic. People started focusing on what they viewed as aesthetically pleasing in their eyes, cementing standards of beauty. It got so bad that people desired to change how they looked from the outside. Plastic surgery was initially for victims whose facial and bodily features had been affected by injury, disease, or birth complications. However, the need for people to change their appearance created a gap, and when people took up plastic surgery as a way of changing their appearance, things changed.
A breast Implant
People used/use cosmetic surgeries, a form of plastic surgery, to alter their bodily features to fit into a particular standard dictated and incorporated into cultural/social norms. It was not made better by the addition of pornography into the culture, which promoted and still promotes, uninhibited sexual gratification.
Porn acts as a convergence point for all the culturally promoted sexual rot that exists. Genres such as incest, rape, and teen/child to name a few are promoted by the industry. I can dare to label it as part of the collective unconscious of societies view of sexual expression and experience. Porn is broadcasted as being healthy together with masturbation that promotes sexual fantasies with at times non-consenting individuals. It is a poison that has blurred lines of consent and boundaries. The promotion of an industry that has capitalized on group rot affirms the rot is in the group.
It is important to note that standards existed before, but there was an acceleration of the expression of the problem in society. Changing one’s appearance has now been accepted as normal in certain parts of the world. It has been incorporated into hierarchical systems, where one’s physical appearance affects where one stands in society. It, however, kills self-image and self-esteem as people in the modern age are always trying to change how they look.
The consequences were also felt in the 1980s when HIV/AIDS came into the picture. The virus mutated and took advantage of any sexual promiscuous behaviour spreading like wildfire, killing millions. The virus deterred sexual promiscuous behaviour for a while until science again came to the rescue. With the discovery of drugs to manage the illness, people “freely” continued to dictate their expression and experience of sexuality.
There are issues with the culture of modern sexuality, but people are not talking about it deeply as such talks would eventually mean giving up self-seeking habits. The cost has fallen heavily on the family unit, one of the most affected social structures. Many people ceased seeing the value of marriage, and if they did, it was distorted, losing its ultimate purpose and meaning. Children got hurt, divorce rates soared, as the sexual revolution merged with women's liberation.
One of the ideas included in the women's liberation movement (2nd wave of Feminism) was the sexual liberation of women, to be as “free” as their male counterparts. In this process of liberating themselves from traditional roles that included their sexuality, children were ignored. Women wanted what they called equal rights and greater personal freedom to choose. They believed that men were not trapped in their roles and were free to do what they want, at the cost of women. Sadly, there was no challenge for men to change their behaviours and review social norms but instead were fuelled by anger towards their male counterparts.
The women's liberation movement was a very good way to review the roles given by society, but it should have eventually included men and children. There was contempt on either side of the gender spectrum, in this societal shift. In all this, the children were ignored as they grew not only in jumbled-up homes but also found a jumbled-up society. The men were already in the “free” train, and women boarded it.
After this, women freed themselves from gender biases that were infringing on their human rights but also sought to free themselves from the responsibility of their actions, just like their male counterparts. This culture spread across the world through westernization.
The message today is that people should be “free” to look the way they want, do what they want, however they want, with whomever they want. The message today is also that you should not infringe your views and values on others. This poses a huge problem for people born after the era of the sexual revolution that was set in motion a long time ago. How am I to act in a culture that promotes two conflicting ideologies?
Sexuality has a social aspect to it, society includes culture, and culture has social norms that affect your interaction with others. There is a sexual culture that predates us, that we do not fully understand but practice as it found its way into social norms. However, it still boils down to a choice.
What guides your sexuality, the current culture, or love?
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way (not self-seeking); it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing (evil), but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.