REALITY AND HOW WE DISMISS IT
||Paper presented as part of Panel: "What is Sex For?",
Annual meeting, American Association of the Advancement of Science,
S.F. State University, November, 1984.
the play Harvey, Elwood P. Dowd declares that he struggled with
reality all his life and finally overcame it. I think he was speaking
for all of us. How we overcome sexual reality is a case in point.
begin with the question facing our panel: What is sex for? The first answer
that most people give is that sex is for procreation. Now suppose that
we were to point out the unreality of this answer by suggesting that if
the purpose of sex was procreation there would be no way to account for
our experience of year 'round estrus since procreation is efficiently
accomplished in infrahuman species even when limited to one month out
of the year. (Homosexuality, if cited as an example of nonprocreative
sex, would only be dismissed as an aberration.)
would then undoubtedly go on to the next answer, that sex is an expression
of lovethe ultimate form of intimacy. Suppose that we were then
to remind them of the reality of tits and ass, inflatable dolls, spike
heels and patent leather, as well as fanny pinching and the other varieties
of rape and harassment.
cause our respondents no difficulty, of course. They would simply reply
(much as they would about homosexuality) that these are perversions
of sex, in other words, distortions of sex rather than a manifestations
of what sex really is. But perhaps realizing that this answer is a bit
too dismissive, they might then fall back on a quite different answer,
that sex is for pleasure and relief from tension.
oblige us to point out that people do not eat bull's testicles or powdered
rhinocerous horn to increase their capacity for tension release or sensual
responsiveness (much less to achieve greater intimacy). We would call
our respondent's attention to the real world in which sex is a test of
adequacy, a test of virility for men and of warmth and responsiveness
for women. The scorn expressed in the terms impotence and frigidity is
reserved for those who fail to pass these tests.
are engaging in a kind of mental trick. Without thinking about it they
are making a distinction between the imperfect world of sexual experience
and sex as a biological given that underlies and transcends this imperfect
world. This logic springs from the experience that most of us have of
struggling to control sexual impulses or even of simply witnessing the
play of our own sexual reflexes. We feel the stirrings of urges toward
sexual union, stirrings that can come upon us unbidden and that press
for release. We can keenly experience the need to decide how to gratify
them, whether with a partner, in masturbationor not at all.
we are here being affected, not by biology, but by a biological mystique,
one that replaced the earlier supernatural mystique. Where before we thought
that our wet dreams were the work of incubi and succubi who stole beneath
the bedclothes while we slept, we now experience ourselves as inhabited
by agents of a more material causality. Although this means that we are
a little closer to recognizing that we are having sexual wishes,
however reified, we are still sufficiently disconnected from them to experience
them as originating outside us, not literally outside us, as in former
times, but outside our experienced self.
as we now know that our wet dreams are caused by what we dream rather
than by night-demons, so what we experience as biological sex is caused
by our waking fantasies. What fatefully clouds our thinking about sex
is the difficulty we all have in being able to distinguish between what
is real in sex and what is fantasy. In the past our sexual fantasies were
more ego-alien and so the reality they projected for us was corrupting
and invasive. We were the victims of demoniacal possession. Although we
now are more favorably disposed toward the experience of sex, it still
is experienced as something that comes over us, even if now from an internal
source, biological rather than demoniacal possession.
the way our vision of sexual reality is shaped by our fantasies, an example
from the thinking of our forebears will be more compelling just because
their reality is now such a transparently naive projection. John Howard
Van Amringe (Maeroff, l984), a dean of Columbia College (an Ivy League
school) in the late l9th century said in defense of the all-male private
college: "If you can teach mathematics to a boy when there's a girl in
the room then there is something wrong with the boy."
Amringe sex was a biological imperative independent of the context. What
makes this kind of conception so persistent is its imperviousness to negative
instances. Even if all boys could be taught mathematics with girls in
the room this might only raise a question about the virility of all boys,
with the possible exception, of course, of those who fail mathematics.
it happened, so many boys have learned mathematics with girls in the room,
that we need to ask where Dean Amringe went wrong. The answer is that
he confused fantasy with reality. He imagined what it would be like to
be a boy in a coed college and this just seemed to him to be a highly
sobered by the reality of coed experience, our imagination is no longer
so free to play upon it. However, this is a rather small conquest in the
campaign to rescue sexual reality from sexual fantasy. Like Dean Amringe,
to many of us sex can feel like a biological imperative straining against
arbitrary sanctions. Then whenever the sanctions are removed and we do
not feel especially aroused, we do not question our fantasies or our biological
mystique, we simply think that there must be something wrong with us.
Freud who offered the most sweepingly romantic modern version of this
vision of sex. As is well known, he proposed that sex must be constrained
to make civilization possible, even to the extent that the human race
may die out as a consequence:
is not one of the ideas Freud will be remembered for, one embarrassingly
period bound. But Freud is, of course, the modern authority for the image
of sex as wild and primitive, at odds with decency, the beast with two
backs rattling the bars of its makeshift cage. Perhaps no less than St.
Paul he thought of us as daily wrestling with our animal nature. Although
Freud's conception is well known, it is not so well known that it was based
on an inferential leap.
||Thus we may perhaps be forced to become reconciled to
the idea that it is quite impossible to adjust the claims of the sexual
instinct to the demands of civilization; that in consequence of its [that
is, man's] cultural development, renunciation and suffering, as well as
the danger of extinction in the remotest future, cannot be avoided by the
human race (1912, p. l90).
here's a big surprise: the reality that Freud observed was entirely the
reverse. Freud's belief in the strength of the sex drive was based on his
observations of its weakness. The evidence that Freud adduces for
his vision of universal sexual repression is his observation of a widespread
lack of libido in both men and women that he called impotence, being careful
to say that he was using the term in the broadest possible sense. The above
citation was the conclusion he came to at the end of an essay (ibid., pp.
184f) in which he presents the following evidence:
This was the sexual
reality that Freud observed only to reject it. It is as if he observed
that all the boys were learning mathematics with girls in the room and,
fully agreeing with Dean Amringe, concluded that there must be something
wrong with all the boys. This could not be the natural state of man. Hence
Freud's inference that this lack of sexual excitement must be the wound
we bear in the service of civilized life.
||If the concept of psychical impotence is broadened
and is not restricted to failure to perform the act of coitus...we
may in the first place add all those men who are described as psychoanaesthetic:
men who never fail in the act but who carry it out without getting
any particular pleasure from ita state of affairs that is more
common than one would think.... An easily justifiable analogy takes
one from these anaesthetic men to the immense number of frigid women...
If however we turn our attention
not to an extension of the concept of psychical impotence, but to the gradations
in its symptomatology, we cannot escape the conclusion that the behavior
in love of men in the civilized world bears the stamp altogether of psychical
sure, Freud thought he saw a lot of evidence for the presence of repressed
sexuality although, of course, none of it was direct and at least some
of it suggests that Freud's biological mystique came first. A good example
was his concept of the "actual" (literally "present-day") neurosis, a condition
in which the sufferer was directly poisoned by the toxic effects of dammed-up
of this concept will repay a detailed examination since it is a striking
example of the way the biological mystique can collapse under the weight
of its reified metaphors.
(1906, p. 273) claimed that an actual neurosis, although appearing to be
a psychoneurosis was in fact not a psychological condition, but was instead
a case of toxicity (created by dammed-up libido) similar to "the phenomena
of intoxication and abstinence after the use of certain alkaloids, as well
as Graves disease and Addison's disease:"
of sex as a "load of pressure" is not widely shared by women. Not surprisingly,
therefore, regarding women Freud did not feel himself to be on equally
firm ground: "Where women are concerned, however, we are not in a position
to say what the process analogous to the relaxation of tension of the seminal
vesicles may be (ibid., p. 109)."
||Properly speaking, it [anxiety neurosis, one of the actual neuroses,
along with neurasthenia and hypochondriasis] has no psychical mechanism.
Its specific cause is the accumulation of sexual tension, produced
by abstinence or by unconsummated sexual excitation (l895a, p. 81,
italics added). In the sexually mature male...somatic excitation is
manifested as a pressure on the walls of the seminal vesicles...and
something positively must take place which will free the nerve endings
from the load of pressure on them (l895b, p. l08f).
immediately must wonder how this "load of pressure" on the vesicular nerve
endings can be sufficiently sustained to generate an anxiety neurosis,
neurasthenia, or hypochondriasis, since any such pressure would be relieved
through masturbation, a nearly universal activity or, failing that, through
nocturnal emissions. Freud (ibid.) explains that:
p. 124) argues that masturbation and spontaneous emissions are "incomplete,"
and hence the "disburdening" is "inadequate." But how incomplete
can masturbatory discharge be if the man masturbates, say, eight times daily?
True, it is probably not emotionally adequate, but then what is?
And that takes us some distance from the seminal vesicles (even though it
lurks behind Freud's impressionistic physiology).
||neurasthenia develops whenever the adequate unloading...
is replaced by a less adequate onethus, when normal coition,
carried out in the most favorable conditions, is replaced by masturbation
or spontaneous emission.
we find Freud (ibid., p. 111) speaking of "masturbators" who "have
been accustomed for so long to discharging even the smallest quantity of
excitation, faulty though that discharge is." If even the smallest quantity
of excitation is discharged and if the problem is the build up of excitation,
how can this discharge be faulty?
me pause here to explain why this exercise in exegetics. Freud's argument
is even more elliptical than was customary for him, and this may itself
be a case in point. One gets the sense that he was working intuitively,
working within a world of experience that he could assume was shared by
everyone. His readers could be counted on to know that masturbation and
spontaneous emissions are not an "adequate unloading" of sexual urges.
may even have had a hidden assumption that "excitation" must build up in
order to create an adequate discharge, and thus the "masturbator" who discharges
"the smallest quantity of excitation" may be getting a "faulty" result.
(This, at least, was how Wilhelm Reich took it in his elaboration of Freud's
actual neuroses into a whole system in which the build-up of sexual tension
is as critical for bodily well being as is the manner in which it is discharged.)
If this indeed was Freud's assumption, these vesicular nerve endings begin
to look unusually demanding. They may well want foreplay and even romance.
was as much a captive of the biological mystique as are most men. Coital
orgasms are generally the most satisfying and therefore seem to reflect
a biological imperative, especially in view of the apparently procreative
purpose of sex. Indeed, Freud even questioned whether coital orgasms
are necessarily adequately "disburdening." Thus anxiety neurosis could
even be caused by "sexual intercourse with incomplete satisfaction" (l895c,
p. 124). For example, even men who have "normal" sex lives may develop
actual neuroses if they delay orgasm in deference to the woman (1895b,
words, civilization requires men to continually defer to women by inhibiting
the urge toward sexual discharge. As a result, "libido gradually disappears."
This is the effect of unrelieved pressure on the vesicular nerve endings.
Thus we are obliged to enjoy sex to the fullest if we are to avoid being
poisoned by it and it is every man for himself.
||Coitus reservatus with consideration for the woman
operates by disturbing the man's psychical preparedness for the sexual
process in that it introduces along side of the task of mastering the sexual
affect another psychical task, one of a deflecting sort. In consequence
of this psychical deflection, once more, libido gradually disappears, and
the further course of things is then the same as in the case of abstinence.
how did Freud know that what he saw when he looked around him was not sexual
reality but a simulacrum? He responded only as everyone does. Like
protagonist, we cope with reality by rejecting it. My contention is that
this was Freud's way of accounting for the difference between his sexual
fantasies and his sexual reality (given also his early attempts to emulate
the nineteenth century physiology of Helmholtz and Brucke).
is that this was a relatively simple case of Freud's knowing that he had
all kinds of forbidden impulses during the day, but when opportunity presented
itself he was not always ready. As do most men, he concluded not that he
had learned something about sexual reality, but that his ability to respond
sexually had been impaired, and that this might even portend the eventual
extinction of the human race "in the remotest future" (an idea that has
been politely ignored, perhaps as part of the quota of such allowed a man
sex still was a simple, automatic reflex response, or it would be if people
didn't ruin it.
Freud reaffirmed his conception of the actual neuroses as late as l925 (they
"must be regarded as direct toxic consequences of disturbed sexual chemical
processes," 1925, p. 26), he radically revised his theory of anxiety in
the following year. He had come to the recognition that it is not the repression
of libido that causes anxiety, it is anxiety that causes the repression
of libido. He acknowledged this shift in a charming retraction (1926, p.
was a momentous shift in Freud's understanding of repression, it may be
accurate to say that it represented no shift in his understanding of sex.
Three years later, Civilization and its Discontents appeared, Freud's
great statement of his belief in the sexual renunciation required for civilization
to endure. He was as far as ever from conceiving of the possibility that
the "complete" sexual satisfaction that he envisioned could only
be made possible by civilization.
||It is no use denying the fact, though it is not pleasant
to recall it, that I have on many occasions asserted that in repression
the instinctual representative is distorted, displaced, and so on, while
the libido belonging to the instinctual impulse is transformed into anxiety.
nerve endings call out for satisfaction, "complete" satisfaction. "Civilization"
represented an opposing force. The irony is that it is "civilization" that
led Freud to the view that the sexual reality he saw was a simulacrum,
a pale shadow of the passionate and unfettered sexuality immanent in our
natures. It is our institutionalized otherworldliness that formed Freud's
vision. It is "civilization" that led Freud to his belief in the defectiveness
of his and all his cohorts' sexuality.
of this is to say that when people are asked what sex is for they respond
reflexively, wittingly or unwittingly making a distinction between sex
as they know it and sex as they imagine it should or could be. This is
the sex of corrupting demons, surging hormones, and heavenly choirs. If
this much is clear, I would now like to reverse this way of thinking about
sex in favor of discovering what sex is about by looking around us.
would sex look like to a Martian? My guess is that he would rather quickly
conclude that the purpose of sex is to possess another person. To
pick a seldom discussed but nevertheless highly revealing example, most
cultures are and have been fascinated with bridal virginity. This should
not be dismissed simply as a concern with property rights. A man feels
quite differently if what is stolen from him is his wife as compared with
his ox or his car, and he takes title with a good deal more gusto. Here
is how one scholar put it (Tannahill, l980, p. 37l):
This is the sex
act as a ritual of possession. "Masculine boasting over the act itself"
suggests, of course, that the sex act in this context has little to do
with sensual pleasure, much less intimacy, but is a celebration of masculine
status. Most societies throughout history and most contemporary societies
are, of course, authoritarian and sex is therefore a celebration of status
and role, much as is the rest of the pattern of human relationships.
||Bridal virginity has been a preoccupation of most
societies throughout history, but although it is usually associated
with questions of legality and legitimacy there is much to suggest
that the specifically sexual aspect was also important, particularly
in places such as Sparta, Crete, and Rome, where the wedding ceremony
incorporated a kind of formalized representation of kidnapping for
the purpose of rapewhich, psychologically, is a more extreme
version of defloration. Indian Muslims, at some stages of history,
are recorded as practicing public defloration as proof of the bride's
premarital chastity, while both they and the tribal Kurd were accustomed
to display a cloth stained with hymeneal blood for the same reason.
In both cases the avowed object helps to mask a strong element of
masculine boasting over the act itself. Muslims appear to have been
particularly fascinated by defloration. In the Islamic paradise, the
believer was promised 10,000 virgins who, deflowered each night, have
their virginity miraculously restored on the following morning.
means that the man who cannot boast over the act itself is as much
in trouble as is the woman who cannot produce hymeneal blood. Indeed, with
men's higher status comes greater vulnerability to humiliation. Thus, my
use of the term "possession" is intended to convey the way sex can be a
masculine province, but I want to stress that the prerogatives and entitlements
that thereby accrue are also duties. Just as are women, men are prisoners
of the ritual.
what of simple lust? My argument is that lust best describes the sex of
our fantasies and that although that is the sex we know best, it only clouds
our vision of sexual reality. All the people Freud observed who were sexually
apathetic were not simply, or not necessarily repressing (or otherwise
avoiding) their sexual potential, they were reacting to (or against) the
sexual reality that in fact existed. Men of Sparta, Crete, and Rome, the
Indian Muslims, and the Kurd, may have at times not looked forward to their
ritual consummations. On the other hand, the believer who is to spend his
time in paradise with 10,000 virgins may be counted on to look forward
to it since fantasy partners can be expected to be unerringly arousing,
unlike his real partner, someone chosen by his family as a good social
and/or economic investment.
it is difficult to see what there would be in it for the woman to experience
being possessed in this way. From this standpoint sexual apathy does not
look like the product of repression; it looks entirely appropriate. Consider
this picture of contemporary sexual reality (Davenport, 1977, p. 149):
distaste, and anorgasmia seem obviously appropriate once this picture of
sexual reality is presented. Of course, it rarely is presented, making
it easy to think that sexual apathy is wholly a consequence of sexual repression,
and there goes sexual reality.
||In most of the societies for which there are data, it
is reported that men take the initiative and, without extended foreplay,
proceed vigorously toward climax without much regard for achieving synchrony
with the woman's orgasm. Again and again, there are reports that coitus
is primarily completed in terms of the man's passions and pleasures, with
scant attention paid to the woman's response. If women do experience orgasm,
they do so passively. In the Ojibwa, a North American Indian group, it
is reported that women are passive during intercourse and orgasm; however,
they may take the lead in initiating coitus. In the Guinea survey of young
single adults from several African ethnic groups, the women overwhelmingly
reported passivity during coitus, embarrassment at expressing satisfaction
during intercourse, distaste for caressing and many admitted an inability
to achieve orgasm.
less obvious what the men experience. The fact that "without extended foreplay,"
they "proceed vigorously toward climax" suggests not only that the women
are sexually dispossessed (as well as possessed) but that these men who
are strangely in a hurry must not be having peak experiences either. This
haste is a good indicator of ritualization and role-enactment.
can be no question that sex from within the old paradigm represented a
requirement to demonstrate proficiency at one's role. Examples are available
as far back as recorded history takes us: Ancient Egyptian physicians signified
on their papyri that a man was impotent by writing that he was "incapable
of doing his duty" (Tannahill, 1980, p. 65). Essential to the role is the
capacity to possess the partner. Whether or not the act is enjoyed
is not a relevant question from within this paradigm.
is an almost universally shared impression among sexologists that men did
experience a kind of unfettered sexuality in Ancient (Taoist) China. However,
a closer look indicates that this was only the freedom to perform (Tannahill,
1980, p. 168):
Sultan whether a harem was as much a garden of erotic delights as Reubens
would have it, considering the schedule of sexual encounters that he was
expected to adhere to undeviatingly, with time off only for illness (ibid.,
||Just as the European of early medieval times knew, without
quite understanding why, that sex was sinful but occasionally permissible,
so his contemporary in China knew, without quite understanding why, that
sex was a sacred duty and one that he must perform frequently and conscientiously
if he was truly to achieve harmony with the Supreme Path, the Way, Tao.
quite another version of civilization and its discontents.
||It might reasonably be expected that where polygamy flourished
there would be no need for prostitution. But this was very far from the
case. The conscientious Chinese husband, in fact, frequently went to prostitutes
not for sexual intercourse but to escape from it.
then, of course, there is Polynesia. Among sexologists, this is the other
lodestone for the biological-romantic mystique. As Haeberle (1978, p. 464),
the well-known historian of sex, put it:
In Mangaia, for
example, there even is a word for the sound of moist genitalia bumping together
(Marshall, 1971, p. 118). Haeberle reports that Cook was especially impressed
to find that the Tahitians "had sexual intercourse in public and 'gratified
every appetite and passion before witnesses'." However, this should have
been a clue to the possibility that this was not the sexual freedom it appeared
to be. An additional clue in Cook's own account was his observation that
"Among the spectators were several women of superior rank who...gave instructions
to the girl [who participated in a demonstration witnessed by Cook] how
to perform her part" (Haeberle, ibid.).
||Various explorers returned home with news of sexually
uninhibited "noble savages" in distant parts of the globe. The French Captain
Bougainville and the English Captain Cook found sensuous, happy people
in Tahiti and on other Pacific islands, and this discovery cast serious
doubt on the sexual standards of Europe.
suspicions are confirmed by Marshall's (1971, pp. 118f) more systematic
ethnographic account of Polynesian sexuality:
Polynesian men have no complaints about the women's sexual
demands; they are fully prepared to meet them (ibid., pp. 124, 126):
||The Mangaian, or Polynesian girl takes an immediate demonstration
of sexual virility and masculinity as the first test of her partner's desire
for her and as the reflection of her own desirability... One virility test
used by Mangaian women is to require a lover to have sexual intercourse
without making contact with any part of the partner's body other than the
Marshall reports that "invariably, tira [impotence] is said
by informants to be 'common'." He speculates that a cause may be "the stress
upon nightly copulation." He also adds that "the shame factor in impotence
is very great" (caused by the demands of "civilization?"), and so we can
expect that Captain Cook was offered no chance to witness a public exhibition
of this feature of Polynesian sexuality.
||The Mangaian emphasis is not on upon the number of times
a night that a man can achieve climax; rather, he sets his sights on the
number of nights a week that he is capable of coitus. In his teens and
twenties, he aims at every night capability...
He also judges potency by his
ability (or that of others) to get the same woman pregnant twice in one
Mangaian men are aware that
in central Polynesia it is said that the name of an island "travels on
a man's penis." Mangaian men do not wish to let the name of their island
societies are authoritarian and in them we are not likely to find areas
of freedom, sexual or otherwise. Along with bridal virginity, the arranged
marriage is the institution that best conveys the temper of the typical
human society. Arranged marriages are only one part of the pattern of arranged
relationships. This proved to create an almost insurmountable problem
for the makers of a recent film done in the Australian Outback with an
aboriginal cast. Once one person was selected to play the lead, this automatically
projected his relationship grid onto the rest of the tribal group, the
network of kin and clan roles that determined who could talk to whom about
what, and with what degree of deference. It is only a slight exaggeration
to say that once the filmmakers chose the lead, all the other roles were
the Australian aborgines are known to represent an extreme form of ritualization.
In fact, this has somehow been to their credit. In the early days of cultural
relativism, ethnologists would almost take pride in the fact that this
technologically paleolithic people had a marvelously complex kinship system,
as if this demonstrated an unexpected gentility. The unstated message apparently
was that the aborigines, naked and unsheltered, actually were just as human
as we since in their relationships they were not indiscriminate and promiscuous.
This is not a convincing point in any case, since infrahuman species are
even more dominated by the pressures of status and role than are humans,
and "promiscuity," however bad its name, is the mark of human groups.
both man and beast share is a fear of one another that is reduced by making
all members of the group predictable, although the fear resurfaces as "fear
of the stranger" (this is the term used in the Harvard Cultural Index),
a fear of anyone who does not fit the categories. It is only after the
strange wolf has gone through a period of probationary groveling, and this
includes sexual groveling, that the pack can feel unthreatened enough to
include him. (Sexual deference and submission, although a familiar component
of infrahuman sex, has never found representation in our biological mystique,
perhaps because it plays no part in the procreational model).
progress toward developing individual egos we have reduced the fear in
a new way; we now have been able to internally locate and make sense of
much of our experience. We can even risk a little promiscuity. But fewer
arranged relationships has thus far meant fewer relationships of any kind
since our fear of the stranger is by no means eliminated and we now lack
adequately reassuring meeting-and-greeting rituals. This has even resulted
in preventing some people from having any partners, an astonishing development,
at least from a tribal perspective. We now find ourselves groping for the
lost rituals. We now write to advice columnists asking how to make or break
a date, how to refuse an invitation, or how to get our guests to leave.
non-authoritarian Western cultures individual needs and desires (feelings)
are now beginning to rival duty as socially appropriate motivations, although
the fight still goes on (e.g., the abortion controversy). With the rise
of individualism in the West came the idea of romantic love, the decline
of arranged marriages and, most significantly, the endorsement of women's
sexuality. Although much has been made of the contribution of Victorian
modes of thought to our present sexual anxieties, in fact the Victorian
period can be understood as a reaction against the changes that the anti-authoritarian
revolution had set in motion. If Victorianism represented a revival of
sex-as-duty, this was only a delay in the general Western movement away
from ancient tribal conceptions of sex and of human relations as a whole.
After all, even the grimmest of Victorian pieties are easily matched by
the possession-consciousness found in present-day China, India, Russia,
Latin America, and of course, the Islamic cultures.
the most signal accomplishments have been the appearance of the ideas of
emotional intimacy and of authenticity. As a consequence, devotion to duty
has become a much less compelling criterion of integrity. Conscientiousness,
at least as contrasted with fidelity to one's feelings, is now often a
no longer offer their wives for the night to male houseguests. Indeed they
are no longer as likely to offer their last crust of bread or any other
prized possession. A houseguest is now less likely to be responded to ritualistically,
less likely that is to be responded to on the basis of his or her status
as a house guest alone. We feel freer to respond differentially, to respond
to a guest in accordance with how we feel. This is, of course, a momentous
step in the development of the human ego. It represents the ushering in
of nothing less than a new paradigm for human relationships.
we have only begun to grasp its implications and we will need a few more
centuries to work it through. As for hospitality rituals, we still are
limited in how differentially we can respond. To the pain of many a host,
and to the profit of many an advice columnist (as I noted above), we still
have no way to get rid of houseguests or even guests for the evening without
loss of face.
as if this pain is caused by having to endure the unwanted guest, but it
actually is created by the new paradigm. From within the old paradigm it
was a point of pride to endure the unwanted guest. Dedication to duty and
the subjugation of feelings was the path of virtue. Further, without realizing
it we made a virtue of necessity: by subjugating our feelings we made ourselves
reliable to one another and this protected us from the always-imminent
encroachments of interpersonal anxiety.
from ritual means freedom to experience interpersonal anxiety. With regard
to my example of hospitality rituals, it is the freedom to risk alienating
an unwanted houseguest. Not surprisingly, in the face of such a risk we
instinctively fall back on ritual, but where before we took pride in not
acting on our feelings, now this is cause for shame. By a kind of paradigm
slippage we now lose face if we are inauthentic. We are caught in a paradox,
feeling compelled to be ritualistically nonritualistic.
is why we now feel oppressed by the unwanted guest. We are ashamed of our
inability to be "authentic" because authenticity is still understood from
within the old paradigm, which is to say that it is ritualistically defined.
continuing with my illustration: in the past we could take pride in our
ability to treat the unwanted guest as handsomely as the wanted one,
not realizing that we could not have handled any greater range of options,
that we were in effect making a virtue of necessity. This necessity to
avoid interpersonal anxiety forces itself on us when we try to act more
assertively and we then feel ashamed of having to fall back on tribal rituals.
The ultimate accomplishment in consciousness raising would be to be able
to tolerate recognition of our vulnerability to interpersonal anxiety.
to the new role definition is the capacity to make contact with the partner.
We now hear that sex is communication (a rather foreign notion to
the Indian Muslim, the Taoist Chinese, the Polynesian, the Victorian, or
for most other peoples, past or present.) This is why when asked what sex
is for, most people will now say that it is an expression of love and the
ultimate form of intimacy. This is taken ritualistically, as I have been
arguing, with the result that we now feel obliged to respond to our partners
and to make our partners respond to us. One way to put this is to say that
sex as a ritual of possession is in the process of being replaced by sex
as a ritual of mutual affirmation.
new purpose for sex has been structured in the old way, integrated in accordance
with our duty-bound habits of thought. In the past we felt ashamed of not
being able to perform in sex. We still do. Only now we also feel ashamed
of wanting to perform.
THE JOB OF SEX
are repeatedly struck by the way most people feel compelled to perform
in sex, having to respond on cue. In fact, the conception of sex as a performance
is built into the language. We say that a man is or is not able
to get an erection. If he is not able to he is
which is to say powerless. If he is not able to maintain
his erection, we say that he lost it, not that it got lost or that it went
as I discussed earlier, when people are asked what sex is for, they don't
say anything about it being a test of adequacy or a performance. They say
that sex is for procreation, release, or the expression of love and closeness.
Yet these are the same people who, when they are not being asked what sex
is for, will unapologetically speak of sexual prowess.
there is no necessary inconsistency here. When people say that sex means
release and closeness it is true that they do not think of themselves as
describing sex as a test of adequacy, but what they are in fact doing is
giving the criteria on which the test is to be graded. What sex therapists
observe is that in sex people are trying to be adequate at the new role
definitions. They are trying to be adequate in the pursuit of pleasure
partners work at being mutually reassuring. Sex talk is all encouragement
and flattery (I have at times likened it to infield chatter). Sex means
always saying yes. It is all hyperbole; no one believes or expects their
partner to believe anything said in sex. Perhaps the most telling clue
to sex-as-performance is the fact that in sex we all try to keep everything
as smooth as possible.
does keeping things smooth and always saying yes have to do with release,
pleasure, love, or closeness? What we all are doing is trying to act as
abandoned and intimate as possible. This is the test. And this is why when
asked what sex is for no one mentions the pressure to be responsive; they
just say that sex means being responsive.
the biological mystique. This responsiveness is thought of as biological,
as a reaction pattern waiting to be triggered. No matter how hard people
work at sex, they still believe that the reaction pattern they are after
is spontaneous. They see themselves as working only to trigger it.
SEXUALITY EX CATHEDRA
that this is what sex therapists observe, that most people are concerned
with performing, with proving their adequacy in sex. But when sex therapists
are asked what sex is about they give the same answers as everyone else.
Just as everyone else, and despite what they observe in their daily work,
sex therapists do not emphasize the way that our orientation toward sex
is dominated by the concern with performing and with tests of adequacy.
Indeed, they do not mention it at all. This is the most striking example
of our rejection of sexual reality.
is an example from the work of one of the best known and most widely respected
husband-and-wife sex therapy team. There is nothing unusual about this
example; I have chosen it only because of its unimpeachable representativeness.
As they note in their introduction, the Zussmans wrote a book based on
their clinical work with over 800 couples. What is of interest to us is
their statement about the nature and purpose of sex. Regarding the purpose
of sex they declare (l978, p. 12):
And regarding the nature of sex:
||If you want to get really close to another person, sharing
your sexuality is the most intense [they mean the best] form of communication
Now, I hardly
need tell you that this was not a summary of what the Zussmans found
to be the nature and purpose of sex from their work with the 800 couples.
I would be surprised if even one of these couples experienced sex in the
way the Zussmans describe it, as without goals or rules and as an unparalleled
form of communication.
|| There are no standards to meet, no goals that must
be reached, no rules except a responsibility to not hurt others or to allow
yourself to be hurt.
obvious answer to this point is that the couples that the Zussmans worked
with are deviant. But, I think we are entitled to ask, deviant from
what? The Zussmans would undoubtedly say that these couples are deviant
from the couples that they did not work with. So they worked with 800 couples
and then based their conception of the nature and purpose of sex on couples
that they did not work with.
to this point might be that there is nothing unusual about inferring normal
functioning from the study of pathological functioning. However, as you
might expect, the Zussmans offer no basis for their inference. It is as
if, from a study of the weather, one were to conclude that the normal day
is sunny and clear.
of it this way: How many couples would the Zussmans have to work with before
they began to revise their conception of the nature and purpose of sex?
Sixteen hundred? Thirty-two hundred? Thirty-two thousand?
the answer is that even if they worked with everybody, this would
have no affect on their conception of sex. If they worked with everybody
and found that everybody felt this pressure to prove their adequacy in
sex, the Zussmans would feel bad about that but it would not affect their
conception of sex. They would just think that they were witnessing an epidemic
of sexual afflictions.
we read about just such epidemics in the daily newspaper. Michael Carrera,
a prominent sex educator, made a prototypic statement in a newspaper interview
publicizing his recent and generally well-received resource book on sex
for the general reader (Stein, 1981):
so frantic about having superior orgasms, as measured against "outside
standards," that they forget why they are there. They forget the
nature and purpose of sex. They forget that there are no rules or standards
in sex and that it is not a test of adequacy. So there are no rules or
standards in sex, unless you forget that and, at least according to Carrera,
people usually do.
||People want to have an orgasm like a grand mal
seizure. In their frantic search they forget who they are with and why
they are there. Instead of following their own inclinations, they tend
to measure themselves against outside standards.
is the irony here that if it is true that people forget that sex is a test
of adequacy, therapists (of all kinds) forget that they, perhaps more than
anyone else, take the ability to fulfill sex role-demands as an ultimate
test of adequacy (maturity). Although this practice by no means began with
Freud, he gave it much of its present currency among therapists. He quite
literally adopted prevalent sex-role definitions as his measures of maturity.
Thus, impotence was explained as an inhibition of aggression and frigidity
as a resistance to surrender since it was clear who was supposed to be
aggressive and who passive.
fact that sex is so obviously treated as a test of adequacy by both laypersons
and professionals, everyone feels neurotic about experiencing it this way.
(I have, 1984, referred to this as performance-anxiety anxiety.) Carrera
is only reflecting everyone's latter-day anxiety about the role concerns
that we can no longer respect but that both laypersons and professionals
alike have yet to work their way out of.
also are no rules or standards in sex unless you count the rule that there
are no rules or standards. This is, in fact, the most oppressive of the
rules. The rule of no-rules is just the idea that sex should be spontaneous,
that people should let it happen and stop interfering with it. Just as
people think that no matter how hard they are working at sex they are simply
trying to trigger a spontaneous reaction pattern, so even sex therapists
will offer rules that are not rules because they are designed only to liberate
our spontaneous sexual selves. For example, Hartman and Fithian (1972,
p. 186), a leading West Coast sex-therapy team offer the following no-rule
rule designed only to avoid an eventuality that "often seriously inhibits...lovemaking
and Fithian precede this advice with a cautionary tale about a woman who
interrupted sex, with disastrous consquences:
|| The couples who function best are the ones who
are always saying yes to the lovemaking activites in which they are involved.
The implicit suggestion here [meaning the lesson to be learned from this
observation] is that couples encourage their partners, and engage in those
activities which they do enjoy, reaffirming by saying yes that they are
enjoying the activity. We strongly encourage all our therapeutic couples
to lead their partners into positive and pleasurable activities to which
they, with complete abandon, can say yes because they are genuinely enjoying
those particular activities. A negative response often seriously inhibits
further lovemaking efforts and should be avoided whenever possible.
of a "momentum well underway" strikingly conveys the vision of sex as an
event about which there should be no rules except for rules that will insure
that it happens right. Although I do not pretend to be able adequately
to solve this ontological conundrum, I can at least recognize that the
sex experts are, like Harvey's protagonist, struggling with reality,
but unlike him I think they are not so much overcoming it as being overcome
||Several years ago while observing a research couple
in coitus, the female in the midst of coital activities said to her
partner very loudly "stop." Needless to say, the entire lovemaking
activities halted. All the enjoyable feelings and the degree of arousal
which had been present went "down the drain," and then in a somewhat
embarrassing and uncomfortable situation, both partners attempted
to continue with their lovemaking activitiesnever fully recovering
the momentum well underway at "stop."
and Fithian's morality tale, Carrera's admonishments, and the Zussman's
propositions all represent the familiar apocalyptic vision of sex that
regularly appears in the women's pages (men read the sport pages). The
tone is consistently deploring. Sex therapists and sex educators accurately
perceive sexual reality only to reject it. We are told in the most unflattering
of terms that we do not take enough time for sex, and that when we do take
enough time for it we do it too fast, and that even when we take enough
time for it and do it slowly enough, we treat it like an Olympic event.
is to say that these are not observations of our sexuality that the experts
are using to formulate a model of our sexual reality. Such observations
cannot be developed further because their effect is to dismiss sexual
reality. Carrera's comment expresses impatience with people for forgetting
the nature and purpose of sex: people are ruining sex. Hartman and
Fithian show no interest in why the woman they observed suddenly shouted
"stop." By irresponsibly injecting a personal note into what Hartman and
Fithian like to call the "lovemaking activity," she irreparably jarred
it, this result being an object lesson for all of those who would take
liberties with sex.
more than any other branch of sexology, the professional sex-film movement
best captures the way many of those in the field dismiss sexual reality
in the name of sexual liberation. The guiding assumption is that people
have been taught to say no to sex; this makes them "sex-negative." They
must be taught to say yes to sex, to be "sex-positive." They must be taught
that sex is not dirty.
the sexologists are only purveying the general consensus. Popular wisdom
now has it that sex is not dirty. This proposition is always presented
as a counter-dogma and professional sex-films are unabashedly propagandistic.
Booklets accompanying films made by a major sex-film producer are titled
the Yes books (Multi Media Resource Center, 1972-3). The actors
in these films are unfailingly
nice and the tone is upbeat and cheerful.
the goals of "permission" and "desensitization," the image of sex presented
in these films is one of hearty good fellowship, an image far removed from
the threat to civilization that Freud envisioned. Whatever you want to
do is OK (the only exception being that you should not impose your
demands on your partner and should not allow your partner to impose his
or her demands on you).
As I put
it (Apfelbaum, 1984b, p. 332):
they always say yes. This is not presented as an ideal; it is presented
as the way sex is, or would be if only people would allow it. There
is no evidence of any thought being given to why sex may be considered
dirty. The idea is that our guilt about sex and our sexual inhibitions
are a historical accident, a vestige of our Puritan and Victorian heritage
that has no basis in reality.
||The sexual reality found in professional sex films is a far
cry from the sexual reality we all know... What it actually represents
is a denial of sexual reality.
The people in professional sex films
rarely have sex problems and those they do have are easily solved. They
always know what they want and they always ask for it with a smile. They
are understanding and patient and never want more than their fair share.
thinking here is slipshod to the point of capriciousness. Sex guilt and
sexual inhibitions are world-wide. The sexual restrictions found in China,
India, and Russia can hardly be traced to the Puritans and the Victorians.
Even the Church Fathers did not originate sex guilt. Indeed, Augustine,
in his City of God (Book XIV, Chapter 18), argued that he saw evidence
of sexual shame all around him (he at least did not dismiss sexual reality,
even if he took it too much at face value), and that it was this rather
than some purely supernal vision that led him to conclude that sex is inherently
has yet offered a way to reasonably comprehend the idea that sex is dirty.
It seems to me that the best way to comprehend it is to think of it as
a reaction to the exploitive side of sex, a not inconsiderable side of
sexual reality. In this light the counter-dogma that sex is OK (not dirty)
represents a laundering of sexual reality.
side of sex is disposed of rather ingenuously in the codicil to the proposition
that sex is OK. Recall that it is OK as long as you do not impose your demands
on your partner and do not allow your partner to impose his or her demands
on you, that is, as long as it is not exploitive. Implicit in this guideline
is the assumption that sexual exploitation and the imposition of sexual
demands is obvious, conscious, and avoidablerather than difficult
to detect and universal. In other words, sex is clean as long as it is not
this proposition is nonsense on the face of it, it represents a real position.
It represents a flat-out dismissal of sexual reality. It means treating
rape, harrassment, and other forms of sexual exploitation as distortions
of sex rather than as part of what sex really is. This means blaming the
victim, especially in the case of the institutionalized soft-rape that
is universally part of marital contracts. Thus, a woman in the past was
duty-bound to allow herself to be possessed even if the most it could mean
to her was thinking of England. Sex was a dirty duty, literally a favor
women did for men. Now that sex is to be thought of as not dirty, this
woman is expected to enjoy what still is a duty, and if she does not she
is found wanting (by herself as well as others). She had no right to complain
then and she has no right to complain now.
moral perspective of the pre-modern era the unpatriotic Englishwoman (or
the one who recognized that this exhortation misrepresented the object
of her charity) was considered simply to be mean-spirited. Now (with Freud)
we think she is afraid of sex, that she is afraid of closeness or
of letting go. What gives this conception so much plausibility is the fact
that it is descriptively correct.
is that such a woman, to continue with our example, is not literally afraid
of sex, however convincingly this may appear to be the case. She is afraid
of being inadequate. This is easy to miss because both laypersons and professionals
ignore the way that sex is a test of adequacy.
underlying fear of inadequacy is also easy to miss because there are, of
course, always reasons why such a woman is unable or unwilling to fulfill
the required role demands. She may have been raised as a strict Catholic,
she may have suffered incest, or she may be turned off by her husband.
It never is difficult to find such influences and such a woman and any
therapist she goes to is quite likely to believe that these influences
are the cause of her problem, rather than that they prevent her from being
automatically responsive and hence create feelings of inadequacy by making
it hard for her to enact her role.
this woman and her therapist can be expected to believe: (1) that there
is no good reason for sexual antipathies, (2) that there is no good reason
to experience sex as a test of adequacy, even though (3) they both take
it for granted that one's capacity and willingness to fulfill one's sex
role is, in actuality, an ultimate test of one's adequacy (maturity). They
both think that she should not experience sex as a test, and this is the
new test. (Feeling tested may be the most spontaneous of sexual responses,
even if it does not fit our fantasy of sexual spontaneity, since it appears
to be the most difficult to extinguish.)
performing in sex means always saying yes, at least as I have proposed,
it should be clear that the Yes books and the yes-films must intensify
the pressure to perform, just as sex educators and sex therapists decry
the concern with sexual performance while giving rules about how to perform
better. Professional sex films are, in effect, training films for the new
out sexologists not only because they are in the best position to observe
sexual reality, but also because more than anyone else they are expected
to be able to look at sexual reality without being put off by it. However,
I also have been suggesting that everyone dismisses sexual reality.
SEX IS COMMUNICATION
example of how we dismiss sexual reality is our new (barely a century
old) idea that sex is the best form of communication. Recall that the
Zussmans called it the most "intense" form, which presumably means the
same thing. Now, what is the reality being dismissed here?
is well aware of the fact that sex talk is all encouragement and flattery,
as I noted above. Outside of that, people can't talk in sex. For example,
sex as we know it usually happens in bed just before going to sleep, with
the man on top. As likely as not, the woman's head gets pushed up against
the headboard or the wall, but she dares not say anything about this because
it might interrupt sex, the best form of communication. (With regard to
my earlier parallel with infield chatter, it would be as if a ballplayer
were to shout to his teammates that it was getting awfully hot in the
may object on the ground that sexual communication is nonverbal and so
this woman would not be expected to say anything; she should communicate
her discomfort with body language. So she squirms uncomfortably and her
partner, perceiving her as writhing with pleasure, gives her a few extra
in the best representation of sexual reality available in the professional
literature, Masters and Johnson (1979, pp. 64-81), reporting on their
observations of volunteer couples in the laboratory, found that discomfort
was ritualistically concealed. Their sample was composed of 307 committed
heterosexual couples, chosen for their freedom from sexual difficulties.
The women were often made uncomfortable by the rather abrupt and vigorous
way their partners fondled their breasts, especially during their menstrual
periods. Although the women admitted their discomfort to Masters and Johnson,
on only three occasions (out of thousands of observations) did a woman
ask her husband to be more gentle and no woman ever asked her husband
to stop. The same problem arose over early and deep digital penetration
of the vagina by their husbands, as well as overly vigorous clitoral manipulation.
were, if anything, even less likely than their wives to communicate dissatisfaction.
The most frequent complaint made to Masters and Johnson by the husbands
was that their wives did not grasp the shaft of the penis tightly enough.
Not one of the men had ever mentioned this to his wife either during the
period of observation or at any other time.
of communication is perhaps best conveyed by the report that although
it invariably was the man who decided when to penetrate, all the men were
under the impression that it was in some sense a mutual decision since,
as the investigators learned from interviewing them, they only went ahead
"when she was wet." In their discussion of this finding, Masters and Johnson
point out that lubrication signifies only the capacity for penetration,
not the desire.
the husbands were conspicuously unable accurately to perceive their wives'
states of mind, what was most revealing was the husbands' belief that
their perceptions were accurate despite the obvious ambiguity they
were faced with. They asked no questions. Yet they were consistently oblivious
to their wives' discomfort even though the women's pained grimaces were
plainly visible to the observers. The men assumed their wives were enjoying
it and few of the women punctured this illusion. When the men were interviewed
afterward they expressed surprise to learn of their wives' discomfort
and the unanimous reaction was, "Why didn't she tell me?" The answer to
this should have been, "She didn't tell you because sex
is the best form of communication."
to say, the question "Why didn't she tell me?" was asked with some asperity
rather than with genuine curiousity. The men acted as if they had never
heard that sex is communication. They were no more interested in discovering
what the women were actually experiencing than Hartman and Fithian were
interested in discovering why the woman they were observing shouted "stop."
The show must go on.
just wanted to know how to make the women satisfyingly responsive. This
is the sex-as-duty paradigm. The idea is that the women owe them
the response they need. It is not a matter of simple suzerainty since
the men feel bound to meet the women's needs, as I have already noted.
Perhaps what has happened is that the new mutuality is still understood
from within the old paradigm, meaning that sex is now organized as a ritual
of mutual possession.
seem that these findings and impressions concerning heterosexuality are
not applicable to homosexuality and especially not to the paraphilias
(perversions) in which there is no partner. To adequately treat this potential
objection I should first point out that these forms of sexuality have
typically been treated as irrelevant to any consideration of what sex
is. They are treated as inconsequential aberrations (or worse) partly
because they do not fit the procreational model, but primarily because
they are threatening departures from the roles everyone relies on (to
pick examples at random, the pre-Columbian Peruvians dragged homosexuals
through the streets at the end of a rope, hanged, and burned them; the
Aztecs disemboweled them, Tannahill, 1980, pp. 293f).
in his influential Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), only mirrored
everyone's gothic imaginings about "degenerates" (the perversions were
the breakdown products of neural-moral degeneration). In view of this,
it was quite remarkable for Freud (1905) to look at Psychopathia Sexualis
and, rather than being repelled by it, to even be able to see himself
in Krafft-Ebing's gallery of grotesques, the result being his conception
that each of the paraphilias represents a component of normal sexuality,
rather than a perverse or distorted form of normal sexuality. Freud postulated
that these components then work together in most of us to create an ensemble
that represents a balancing off of all the component impulses. Thus, we
can learn about the components of our own sexuality from these specialists.
we learn? Freud thought we could learn about components of the sexual
instinct, but in Freud's time the search was on for biological causes,
a reaction to the reckless purposivism of the earlier "Nature-philosophy,"
a vitalistic, mystical movement in which both organismic and cosmic events
were seen as governed by supra-organic influences. In those more innocent
times, biology appeared to offer a safe refuge from such irresponsible
we need not be dependent on Freud's answers to use his insight that the
paraphilias offer clues to the components of everyone's sexuality. They
can be understood as ways both to meet sexual-role pressures (to perform)
as well as to escape these pressures. Thus in S&M or B&D sex the
roles are clearly set out in advance, as is the whole scenario, a scenario
that escapes the requirement to be mutually affirmative. The compulsion
to act appreciative is entirely disposed of.
other of the paraphilias appear to lack an object, they can be seen as
versions of sex-as-possession. Exhibitionists, voyeurs, and fetishists
are all men (as are almost all child molesters) and their sex pattern
is essentially an exaggeration of this essential component of male sexuality.
It is as if they possess what they can.
this element of male sexuality is exaggerated in homosexual men. Here
I refer to cruising, to the bath and toilet scene (with its glory holes),
and to contacts with large numbers of partners (in a 1982 study of AIDS
victims, the centers for Disease Control in Atlanta found that the median
number of sexual partners these men had in their lifetimes was 1100; a
few of the men reported as many as 20,000).
lesbians typically engage in romantic and tender sex. When compared with
gay men, the contrast exaggerates that found between straight men and
women. Thus it is possible to lay some claim to generality for the proposition
that what we now find in sex is people who either play out a ritual of
mutual possession or who are refugees from it.
the new paradigm has been understood in terms of the old is best captured
by Hartman and Fithian's recommendations (above) regarding proper sexual
conduct. Had they been writing in the pre-modern era they would not have
been at all hesitant about offering rules of conduct. There was no other
approach; all problems in relationships were solved by proposing rules
of conduct and the experts never tired of telling us how to behave. Hartman
and Fithian would simply have said that a lady just does not express unseemly
sentiments during sex since this can be highly vexatious for the gentleman
concerned. No one would have wondered what feelings she had to suppress
and at what cost. Self-actualization, authenticity, and mutuality, in
whatever rudimentary forms they existed were taken simply as self-indulgences
that one should have the strength of character to restrain.
things are not so easy for arbiters of sexual conduct. Now we worry, in
a word, that the lady will be uptight. So Hartman and Fithian recommend
"Accentuating the PositiveAlways Saying Yes" (this is the heading
under which their cautionary tale is presented), but only by saying yes
to "activities which they [sex partners] do enjoy" and "to which they,
with complete abandon, can say yes because they are genuinely enjoying
those activities." In other words, sex is communication, but only if what
you want to communicate is unconditional acceptance.
and Fithian risk redundancy (complete abandon implies genuine enjoyment)
to make it clear that they do not intend to offer rules of conduct. They
want people to follow their recommendations spontaneously. In other
words, what this ontological struggle represents is the new paradigm caught
in the death grip of the old. We are being admonished for treating sex
as a test of adequacy, thereby instituting a new criterion of sexual adequacy,
the ability to treat sex as if, in the Zussman's words, "there are no
rules or standards," and in Carrera's words, to follow our "own inclinations"
rather than to measure ourselves "against outside standards." And, it
is to be hoped, Hartman and Fithian's woman who shouted stop will in the
future follow the rules with complete abandon.
being accused of is inadequacyin meeting the new performance criteria.
If this were not so, the experts wouldn't be dismissing reality;
they would be interested in it. They would be thinking less about "momentum"
and more about what those who would interrupt sex need to say. This is
to say that they would be less dominated by the biological mystique, with
its assumptions of fixed patterns and roles, a conception that much better
fit a time when all our patterns and roles were divinely inspired.
their present mode sex therapists and sex educators do no more then purvey
the popular consensus. They preserve the paradox created by the possession-consciousness
on the one hand and the insistence on mutuyality that characterize contemporary
verities. Ideally, sexologists will soon begin to entertain sexual reality
rather than to dismiss it, with the exciting consequence that we might
then begin to apporach the genuine mutuality made possible by our democratic
institutions, and to reclain another bit of our natures from the ausland.
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