Debate Guide: The discursive nature of human sexuality

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We, as humans are highly capable of separating the act of mating from sexuality itself. With our long life cycles and complex relationships, we have often used sexual behaviour (sometimes via innuendo and suggestion) to achieve our goals, or to extract pleasure from time freed up by our productive pursuits elsewhere. Far from being reflexive and automatically driven, concerning relationships, we rely on biologically and socially appropriate variations of the same theme (love / philia) to fulfil a vast array of culturally variant human relationships, meaning that there is no innate psychological line between, for example, the love that a young couple show for each other and the love that a parent feels for their child, but rather a large, often unseen continuum of possibilities. This is an adaptive trait because over history, our relationships have always been diverse, fulfilling the diverse needs of different individuals. As a highly intelligent species, humans are capable of catering for this diversity with extreme precision and sensitivity.

However, we are totally capable of blinkering ourselves into classifying our attractions as 100% “asexual” or “erotic”, and similarly of making the fulfilment and expression of certain kinds of attraction virtually impossible, thus reinforcing the fallacy of categorisation. But in reality, a philia or attraction could only be “sexual” or “parental” because of a socially determined label that has been ascribed to it, due to its perceived purpose. Nevertheless, even in our current alternate “reality”, we can feel a large range of attractions, yet none of them fall perfectly into predetermined categories. Societal simplification has not yet found a way of totally defeating the complexity and anarchic uncertainty of sexual diversity and the threat it poses to regimentation and order in general.

So by imposing social rules for what one form of love is ’supposed to be like’, we effectively admit our innate perversity and adaptability, exposing this fundamental human nature for all of those perceptive enough to see.