26 April 2009

Doings of It

I meant to write a solemn post about the state of my life, and I still will, but who wants to write about the state of their life when they could write about...sex?  But I'm off out to lunch in a short while, so we'll have to make this a quickie.  Hahahahahahahahahaha!

I've been musing about sex quite a bit lately.  I've been writing a paper about Lord Byron's sexuality, which is the prompt for the most recent extended bout of musing and for this entry - sorry, post - but I was musing about it before, in any case.

Sex is a weird thing, no doubt about it (don't worry:  the intellectual level of this post will rise). I don't mean the actual act, although that's weird, too, if you view it objectively - someone, I can't remember who, said that if you stop and think about what you're doing while you're having sex, you're doomed.  But I mean that the desire for sex, and the workings of that desire, are very strange.

Attraction and desire would seem to be pretty straightforward feelings:  you find someone attractive, or you find them sexually desirable (not necessarily the same thing), 

attractive but not sexually desirable (not IN THIS PICTURE)

extremely sexually desirable (in this role)

and because you find them either attractive or sexually desirable, or both, you wish to engage in sex with them.  And that's certainly how it happens quite a lot of the time. But not all the time.  In addition to the positive reasons to participate in what my university friend K. used to call "doings of it," there are many negative ones (I'm not telling you anything new here, I know):  boredom, compulsion, insecurity, unhappiness, and rage.   It's the last two I find most surprising.  When Mr. Fallen let me go, and I was so angry and so sad, for a number of weeks I would find myself thinking, Who cares?  If this person I loved didn't want me, why should I care what I do with myself and my body?  If I can't have someone I want, why not just give it to whoever - the act won't matter if it's not with him, so why not have it be with just...anyone? Who gives a shit?

Of course I didn't give in to that feeling, because I'm a sensible girl (serial killers, yucky diseases, lack of conversation in the morning, embarrassment in front of yourself), and because, less practically and more emotionally, I don't want to have sex with "anyone."  But I was surprised to discover how strong that "Who cares?" feeling was, and how strong its potential to propel me into sex was, if I hadn't also been a sensible girl who knew her own emotions.

But I guess I find sex puzzling in other ways, too.  The sexual drive is so utterly divorced, in many ways, from the intellectual or emotional drive.  I know why that is, physiologically and evolutionarily, and because I believe people are basically animals, it doesn't distress me, or exactly surprise me, but it does fascinate me.  It's wonderful to be in love, and it's wonderful to have sex (well, it can be), but the desire to have sex does not hold itself in abeyance waiting for love.  Nor, indeed, purely on the level of physiological release, does level of love and knowledge of the other participant necessarily improve sex - particularly if you're a man, I think.  Which is why, when I stand outside of myself and humanity more generally, I find the concept of waiting to have sex until you're sure you love - or even like - the person somewhat odd.  In those cases, my thinking goes like this:  

You find the person attractive, and you know you want to have sex.  If you become attached to them and they to you, and you have sex with them, and the sex is bad, it's going to be quite painful, for both of you, to disengage from the relationship. If you wait to have sex until you know you like them, but it turns out you don't like them, you don't get to have sex at all. Whereas if you have sex with them before you're emotionally attached, and the sex is bad, at least you've gotten to have sex.  And if you have sex with them before you're emotionally attached, and turns out you don't like them enough to get emotionally attached...at least you've gotten to have sex.

And yet we do wait.  Logically, and in terms of instinctive drives, it would seem to make no sense, but in terms of emotions it certainly does.  I don't know...

This is what makes people so very interesting to me.  Yes, we are animals, but we've also got this magnificent phenomenon, the brain, that makes us something more than just animals.  But it also complicates everything, including things that might work more satisfactorily, at a purely animal level, if they were not so complicated.  It's fascinating.  Except for the times when it's just irritating.

Sex:  it's  weird thing, no doubt about it.

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