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Introduction to Gnomica.
Wednesday12 January 2013
Read gnomica 1-200 here!
Sex is hardly ever just about sex.
Shirley MacLaine (24 Apr 1934 – )
Well, I’m not sure I’d go quite that far: hardly ever? For ‘hardly ever’, how about ‘sometimes’?
Actually, first we should define two terms: ‘is about’ and ‘sex’? What does each mean? Gosh, if we go there we’ll still be on this page in 2014 something. Let’s just go with something that probably does exist: common sense, a kind of generally acceptable understanding. That too depends on point of view.
An evolutionary biologist would, I suppose, note (qua biologist, that is, and not qua lover) that sex is primarily, supposed to be a kind of transport mechanism for moving genes on to the next generation. Someone like Sappho (or Mimnermus) would have an entirely different take on the matter. And then there is an infinite scale of variations within those extremes and outside them.
And between those two consensual points on the scale I have no problems. These are aspects of the situation with which I think most people would be comfortable. Be it for love, for mutual pleasure, for some kind of advantage … yes, there are, as the famous actress notes, certainly situations in which sex is not just about sex, but about other human concerns as well. What things that any of us does is only about that one thing and not often also about some ancillary consideration as well? Not, I’d guess, all that many.
But it is the regions beyond that scale where the true darkness descends, to the lasting shame of man’s baser nature.
Needless to say there is – as in many arenas where humans are involved – a very dark side to the issue, as we have been horrifyingly reminded in the last few day by the world-wide outraged reporting (e.g., in Australia, Brazil, China, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Spain, Sweden, the United States, etc.) to call attention to the appalling violation and gang rape on a bus in New Delhi of a medical student named — that has led to her death in Singapore (where she had been transported for emergency surgical care).
As has long and often been pointed out, rape is a matter of power pathologies, individual as well as cultural and social. And although I certainly do not for a second believe this is what Shirley MacLaine had in mind with her comment, it seemed too frighteningly true that in the current climate it could possibly be taken that way.