Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sex and Envy In America: Are They Bedmates?

I think a good part of the American problem with sexuality is caused by good ol' envy.

Some people who aren't completely content with their own sex lives envy others theirs. And of those who envy, some seek to assuage their envy by attempting to put restrictions on the people they envy.

I think that might be why so many "moral" people eventually break down and have affairs with their secretaries, prostitutes, or the occasional goat. That is, their moral aversion to sex is not based on anything that's wrong with sex, but on envy -- so when they get a chance to grab some, they take it.

I don't think envy is the only factor that causes the American hysteria with all things sexual, but I think it plays into it in a big way. And I think it's a weak foundation on which to build one's sexual morality.


Mystic Wing said...

I suspect our hangups have something to do with a longstanding Judaic/Christian hatred of nature. We're not very comfortable with our own animal biology, and make an institutional repression of just about anything that is animal in nature.

Anything repressed severely will eventually manifest, which is why so many evangelicals seem to erupt in debauchery, if you ask me.

Susan Kuchinskas said...

I think envy might have something to do with attempts to repress others' sexual behavior. I don't quite see the connection between such envy and those spectacularly hypocritical falls from grace.

I agree with Mystic Wing that the more you try to repress something, the likelier it is to come out, and I think this is more the root of these Falls.

It can't be only envy, because sexual activity such as sex with strangers, prostitutes, etc. is fairly available to everyone. I think it's a weird brew of envy, fear and disgust.

amuirin said...

Just to play devil's advocate for a sec, 'repression' of impulses, which sounds to be a bad thing from a pop-psychology point of view, isn't that an intrinsic part of society's fabric?

Like, if you look at a different impulse of the Id, say... violence. Many people get violent urges at some point in their life, and they repress them.. This is a good thing. Or we'd have a lot more violent society. I think people tend to give in to tabboo sexual urges because there's a lot of permissiveness to do that in our culture. Self control is a good thing, and when a behavior is condemned by a society, like... shooting others... most people won't break that societal restraint no matter how many times they've repressed the urge to gun other people down.

Eryn Leigh said...

I doubt Envy is always a bad thing. Who hasn't secretly enjoyed the possessive look on their partner's face at a social event crawling with members of both genders?
Or, from another perspective, who hasn't made an effort to better themselves, in the bedroom or elsewhere, as a result of envy?
It could be my own skewed idea of sexuality, but I've accepted the idea that jealousy adds a bit of punch to passion. I think most of you can remember at least one drunken night that holds this statement true.

Guitar's Cry said...

I think it's because we wear clothes.

As soon as we donned the fig leaves, our enjoyment of sex was never the same!

Paul said...

Why I still believe envy plays a part in the American hysteria over all things sexual, I have to agree with both Mystic and Susan that it can't just be envy. It is, as Susan said, a "weird brew" of factors.

Amuirin, you're quite right to point out that societies are intrinsically repressive of certain things, many of which things vary from society to society.

Some manner of repression seems to have ever been the case, even in hunting/gathering societies. But I think repression might have spun out of control when the Sumerians invented the unholy marriage of church and state as a means of controlling people in a hierarchical society. Even today, we are still trying to seize back the human spirit and potential from that fateful decision.

Eryn, I agree with you in so far as I think some people are turned on by a bit of jealousy in their partners. I should admit though that is not one of my own turn ons. I seem to have very little envy or jealousy in me -- or at least what was once there long ago has been burned out and cauterized by my experiences.

I do agree with you that envy can motivate someone to do better, but I also think there are other motivations for doing our best which are perhaps more enduring and less likely to lead us into straying from being true to ourselves. Does any of that make sense or should I have had another cup of coffee before writing this morning?

Guitar's Cry, I believe I've noticed that nudists are on the whole more accepting of others and their sexuality than the average joe on the street. I would love to see some science on that notion, however. My impressions could be wrong -- even though they are strong impressions.

BTW, everyone has made some wonderful, thought provoking comments on this thread. Thank you!