Monday, December 10, 2007

"Instant Sex"
Or: David Gelernter Needs to Get Laid

Oh, man, is this ever crap. Crappity-crap-crap. Craaaaap.

Conservatives just keep finding new ways to complain about other people getting laid more than they do. Bad conservatives! Bad! Cut it the #&*$ out you guys! (Thank God for these guys in a way--they keep making us liberals look smart and well-adjusted. And sometimes that's a full-time job, yo...)

Gelernter's point is, basically (though he includes the obligatory denial that this is what he is saying) that if you have too much casual sex (which, we find out, basically means: more than he has) you can't fall in love. Or at least it's prohibitively difficult. So--more-or-less--to make people fall in love more, we should discourage them from having sex. This picture of how love and sex work make me think, once again, that very much of the conservative view about sex really doesn't rise much above the cow/milk analogy...

Look, I do think that one should try to approach the golden mean in such matters. Too much overly-casual sex can make one unhappy. But so can too little sex, or too much commitment. There are lots of ways to go wrong, though for most of us there's a fairly wide margin for error, so there's no sense fretting over fine-tuning. Anyway, something interesting might be written about this. Gelernter, however, has not written it. I might go through and shred what he has written in detail...though, really, why bother? Is there any chance of that doing any good? No, there is not.

And anyway, let me assert that this is an issue on which conservatives have basically lost all credibility. What we know is that there will always be an anti-sex drumbeat (or at least I think that's drums...) coming from the right. However much sex we are having is always too much and its always too much fun according to our friends across the aisle. The dopey, strained, implausible arguments against sex just keep piling up, and, after awhile, one learns not even to waste one's time on them. Which is too bad, because the wanton is no better as an ideal than the puritan. Someone who, ya know, isn't actually a puritan ought to make that case sometime.


Blogger Tracie said...

Gelernter is wrong in more ways than one. My term paper in my Biopsych of Human Sexuality class this semester was basically what happens in your brain when you feel lust, romantic love, and companionate love. What I learned from this paper basically says that this guy's argument is patently false.

After people have sex, women's brains release oxytocin and men's brains release vasopressin. Both of these neuropeptides act in ways that facilitate bonding between that couple. So having sex might HELP you feel love for a person, instead of the opposite like he suggests.

The other aspect of my paper was based on a monogamous vole and how their behavior related to humans. If anyone is really interested in animal behavior, the following link is pretty much the gist of things:

7:48 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

But could you get used to that sensation produced by those neuropeptides and be affected less, thereby bonding less with those with whom you are active sexually?

9:17 PM  
Blogger Tracie said...

I think most people, when they are with their partner for a long period of time, start to feel acclimated to that person. That doesn't necessarily mean that those chemicals aren't being produced anymore, but perhaps that one doesn't notice them so much anymore. Does that mean you bond less? Not necessarily.

I think it's also important to realize that neuropeptides aren't the only reason people stay together. The circumstances, at that point, come into play. Are you having sex with this person for an extended period of time just casually or are you in some sort of committed relationship? The whole love/commitment thing is more complicated than just neuropeptides themselves, since we have the free will to chose who we want to be and stay with. Human relationships are (most of the time) based on more than just sex. You can love a person for their personality as well as physically. Is sex required for a loving relationship? No, of course not. Does it help? I'd say yes.

This guy's argument seems to say that abstaining from sex assists in the formation of love. He goes so far to say that having sex prevents the development of love completely. Based on the above, this is not true. This makes sense evolutionarily: why would abstaining from procreating create feelings designed to keep couples together to raise offspring? Those goals are diametrically opposed.

Like Winston said, this issue is not as cut and dry at the writer of this article seems to think. There's a lot of wiggle room and a lot of differences as far as what people prefer. Some like a longer period of sexual tension leading up to consummation, some like it shorter. But I don't think the latter group is less likely to feel love for their partner, which is what Gelernter is saying.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Tracie said...

I'd like to amend what I said above. I wrote that the writer said that having sex prevents the development of love completely. What I meant to say was that he believes that having sex BEFORE the development of love prevents it completely.

Nonetheless, my argument stands.

10:02 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

"neuropeptides aren't the only reason people stay together"

That should be the title of a movie.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Such a brave new world.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Great points, Tracie. Gotta love those actual facts...

I'm a little worried about the growing tendency to suppose that there's nothing more to us, and to love, than chemicals. But nothing you say here entails that.

12:01 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home