"To love is a right higher than Constitutions or laws. It is a right which Constitutions and laws can neither give nor take, and with which they have nothing whatever to do, since in its very nature it is forever independent of both Constitutions and laws, and exists – comes and goes – in spite of them. Governments might just as well assume to determine how people shall exercise their right to think or to say that they shall not think at all, as to assume to determine that they shall not love, or how they may love, or that they shall love." --Victoria C. Woodhull, with Stephen Pearl Andrews, 1871 "And the Truth Shall Make You Free: A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom," Delivered in Steinway Hall
In every culture, in every era and every continent, there are morals about sex. Predefined and expected behaviors are provided by the traditional sources, the elders and religious institutions, as a guidance on how people should treat their own sexuality. There is no question that has been avoided by these prophets of "moral purity." Everything, from our thoughts to our desires to every personal activity, falls under the scrutiny of such standards. What we want, why we want, and how we express our want -- all of these fall within some commandments or principles that have been expressed by an ancient religion. Tradition is based on what was practiced thousands of years ago; it is not based on our immediate needs or desires.
The Old Testament of the Bible even regulates the proper behavior of women who are menstruating; or, for the most part, it condemns them and everything they touch as "unclean." (Leviticus 15:19-30) The Qur'an is equally damning of what is a completely natural, healthy part of life: "Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed." (Qur'an 2:222)
This morality may not be preached, because of its absurdity, but its attitude and tone are in full force within the religious community. No longer do we hear that menstruation is an inherently unclean, blasphemous act, no matter what the Bible or its prophets teach. We do not hear it anymore, because the light of science has blinded the religious beast -- having grown so accustomed to the darkness of ignorance, it was rendered powerless by the brightness of truth.
Why is it that priests and bishops no longer talk of a woman's period as a sign of evil? Because it is a natural part of healthy existence. But these same priests and bishops still talk of the sexual urge as a sign of evil -- even though it, too, is just a good part of healthy life. The desire for multiple partners, for same-sex relationships, for oral sex, and for something more interesting than missionary-style sex -- all of these are forbidden by the churches, the higher institutions, and even within universities and schools. All of these desires are the natural production of our impulse towards sex. They are just as natural as menstruation, nocturnal emissions, or sexual arousal.
These sex morals are not simply opposed to "deviances" or "unclean sexuality." They are, overall, completely opposed to the sex attitude on the whole; they are grounded in a philosophy that attached taboos and sanctions to every part of the human body, to everything that has proven natural, good, and whole through science over the centuries. Many of today's anti-sex advocates are attacking homosexuality, multiple partner relationships, or sex education. They claim their enemy is something "impure and unnatural." But in reality, they are only attacking something that is the natural production of our desires as living beings.
These missionaries against the sexual attitude are not solely religious, but they are an embedded part of many overlapping cultures. In Nationalist cultures, which value traditional ways of their ancestors, they find new expressions of sexuality to be a threat. In Chauvinist and Sexist cultures, heavily populated throughout the world, sex is treated as a form of domination and control; and its use for pleasure, happiness, and feelings of freedom are always prohibited. The largest contribution to this anti-sex attitude have been from religions, notably Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
These are the three forces that have pushed for an anti-sex morality: the Nationalists, the Conservatives, and the Religionists.
The Pro-Sex Attitude
"Here we arrive at the most important of all facts relating to human needs and experiences: That while every human being has a distinct individuality, and is entitled to all the rights of a sovereign over it, it is not taken into the consideration that no two of these individualities are made up of the self-same powers and experiences, and therefore cannot be governed by the same law to the same purposes." --Victoria C. Woodhull, with Stephen Pearl Andrews, 1871 "And the Truth Shall Make You Free: A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom," Delivered in Steinway Hall
If we are scientific in our investigations, and if our aim is the happiness of society, then we are always drawn towards the pro-sex attitude. We will be compelled towards the idea of abolishing sex morals. What is right and wrong is not defined on how people express or interact with each other sexually; what is right and wrong is defined in how people treat each other and their willingness to be altruistic and just. Our morality is not defined in terms of sexual encounters, lust, or orgies. It is defined in terms of whether our actions hurt others -- it is defined in terms of whether we are contributing to the happiness of the world, or subtracting from it.
The sex act provides a person with an opportunity to reach a heightened state of ecstasy and pleasure; and this is accomplished by cooperating with someone else who is also reaching toward the same happiness. There are few other experiences provided to us that will allow us to feel such bliss and joy. It is a rush that excites all of our passions and emotions; a moment worthy of being remembered, worthy of use as a thought that brings comfort and hope. Sex can be a very good thing in the life of the individual. It is a fact that few of the traditionalists are willing to admit.
But even sex can be used negatively. Even the greatness of this single act can be constricted and suffocated. There are attitudes, often among the Conservatives and Traditionalists, that view sex as a means of dominating others. This reaction is based on the belief that sex in inherently wrong, "indecent," or "immoral." In its most common forms, it expresses itself as gender roles within the bedroom, and its most dangerous manifestations, it can be violent, coercive, or abusive. These attitudes generally dominate the religious, since they are torn within the contradiction of god's order to multiply and also his condemnation of the sex act -- on top of assigning a gender to an unknown, unknowable being.
A real morality is based on maximizing happiness and reducing suffering. It does not make judgments about sex -- it does not advocate abstinence or promiscuity. It does not indict any sexuality, nor does it endorse any sexuality. Real justice is not about how people choose to express themselves voluntarily to one another. Real justice is about creating a world where people are not in a position to exploit or oppress one another; real morality is about maintaining a situation where no one can hurt anyone else.
True justice does not speak of what sexual practices we engage in, any more than it concerns itself with our choice of hobbies, language, or custom. Justice only seeks the advancement of liberty and happiness for all -- it has no concern of our personal preferences.
This is the alternative to the anti-sex philosophy: to treat the sex act as morally neutral, neither nor bad. If we abandon our sex morals and accept the science of the real world, we inevitably realize that sex can be an unbelievable, passionate act. Those who argue against free sexuality, because of venereal diseases, are at least on the right path: don't argue against sexuality, because it is "impure" or "wrong." Don't present fantastic ideas on why we should behave one way or another. Give only practical, real, definite reasons on why we one act or another would provide us the greatest possible happiness.
Our ethics should be based on the value of conscious life. They should not be based on these unrealistic concepts that do not relate to us as individuals.
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