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Archive for the ‘Sex’ Category

Sex is a tricky subject for the reason that any discussion of sex almost automatically involves relationships and it could likely involve moral arguments — in short: ripe ground for subjectivity. Subjectivity is not necessarily the enemy of critical thinking, in fact it is the battleground of critical thinkers since subjective arguments are rarely completely decided by scientific evidence but by (ideally) rational debate. And by that I mean–it’s usually easier said than done.

A relatively recent piece by Charlie Glickman illustrates how sex and subjectivity can be a tricky path for critical thinking. Glickman gives his interesting critique of a NY Times article by Ross Douthat that deals with monogamy:

He (Douthat) seems to think that there are only two paths worth mentioning. There’s sex that’s part of a path that takes you towards marriage and there’s sex that’s promiscuous. Now, he seems to try to soften that by saying that it might be promiscuous or it might be ill-considered, but given that the definition of promiscuous is indiscriminate, or lacking standards of selection, this is another case of someone projecting a false dichotomy onto sexuality.

This is a problem for at least three reasons. First, it not only continues to place “matrimony” on a pedestal (something which is especially fraught with challenges in a political climate that restricts marriage to heterosexuality in most jurisdictions), it also requires that any and all relationships need to be a trial run for marriage. There’s no room to have a relationship for any other purpose- if it’s not going to lead you down the path to marriage, it’s no good.

You can see how the piece heats up in the first few paragraphs (see the rest of the article here). Apart from subjectivity, the other tricky thing about discussing sex is that we are all as human beings seemingly wired to want to talk about it, occasionally at the expense of reason.

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Popular science-fiction author of the critically-acclaimed Dune series of novels, and his thoughts on:

Power:

Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely. Absolute power attracts the corruptible.

 Fiction:

 The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.

Over-population

Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. …The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.

Making Sense

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Managing Fear

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Law

Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit

Religion

These are illusions of popular history which a successful religion must promote:

  • Evil men never prosper;
  • only the brave deserve the fair;
  • honesty is the best policy;
  • actions speak louder than words;
  • virtue always triumphs;
  • a good deed is its own reward;
  • any bad human can be reformed;
  • religious talismans protect one from demon possession;
  • only females understand the ancient mysteries;
  • the rich are doomed to unhappiness

Authoritarianism

A large populace held in check by a small but powerful force is quite a common situation in our universe. And we know the major conditions wherein this large populace may turn upon its keepers:

  • When they find a leader. This is the most volatile threat to the powerful; they must retain control of leaders.
  • When the populace recognizes its chains. Keep the populace blind and unquestioning.
  • When the populace perceives a hope of escape from bondage. They must never even believe that escape is possible!

Sex

You could drag humankind almost anywhere by manipulating the enormous energies of procreation. You could goad humans into actions they would never have believed possible. One of his teachers had said it directly: “This energy must have an outlet. Bottle it up and it becomes monstrously dangerous. Redirect it and it will sweep over anything in its path. This is an ultimate secret of all religions.”

Intelligence

Education is no substitute for intelligence. That elusive quality is defined only in part by puzzle-solving ability. It is in the creation of new puzzles reflecting what your senses report that you round out the definition.

 

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If you agree that Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, well, it seems that common Martian mental problems may differ from Venusians.

From our previous (light) discussion on how fictional characters in Watchmen and Batman may indicate various personality disorders and traits, notes from the World Health Organization indicate that even amongst Men and Women there are unique predispositions:

Some of the findings are intuitively easy to accept, such as alcoholism in men:

The lifetime prevalence rate for alcohol dependence, another common disorder, is more than twice as high in men than women. In developed countries, approximately 1 in 5 men and 1 in 12 women develop alcohol dependence during their lives.

And post-traumatic stress from sexual violence in women:

The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed and the correspondingly high rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following such violence, renders women the largest single group of people affected by this disorder.

Why would this be the case? (more…)

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Just following the story of the Latin beauty who was allegedly fired from her job due to excessive attractiveness.

Citibank the lady’s ex-employer, is calling Debrahlee a publicity hound, much to her anguish.

Corporate sexism and peer pressure gone absurd. On the other hand, it could be a late function of the last recession.

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“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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Medieval Sex Ed

Cape Town’s latest fad on negative reinforcement for rapists.

Evolutionary remedy or revolutionary digression?

Thanks to Filipino Free Thinkers for bringing this to my curiosity.

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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Correlation or causation:

While childlessness has risen for all racial and ethnic groups, and most education levels, it has fallen over the past decade for women with advanced degrees. In 2008, 24 percent of women ages 40-44 with a master’s, doctoral or professional degree had not had children, a decline from 31 percent in 1994.

Read here.

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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These have come up since the Health Department started the campaign in February this year. First, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reacts to it, calling for a ban on advertisements and the whole campaign in general.

 

“The condom cannot really put a stop to Aids. Moreover, by creating a false sense of security, it condones and encourages promiscuity outside of marriage, and hence contributes to the further spread of Aids,” the statement added.

The Health department started initiating the free condom drive last Valentine’s Day in Metro Manila due to the increasing cases of HIV-Aids in the country.

DOH Secretary Esperanza Cabral earlier said the drive was made as the dreaded disease continues its “silent” onslaught on the Filipinos.

In Western Visayas alone, there are already several cases of HIV-Aids and more victims of the disease are coming out in the open to seek help and understanding from the public, said DOH Center for Health Development-Western Visayas Regional Director Ariel Valencia.

He also said that the advertisements are a timely reminder to the public on the importance of responsible sexual behavior, and not meant to promote artificial contraception.

The CBCP, however, sees the condom drive as immoral.

 

Source: please click here for the full article(1).

 

I don’t think these are grounds enough for the ban of the condom. The church may ban it in its own territories, but not as a whole, as some government officials have expressed. Ban its flock from watching television, staring at ads and buying a condom. But why deny the rest of the Filipino population the choice? Does the church realize that it does not ban more debilitating products in the market that are not only useless but are part and parcel of the pains and joys of having more to choose from? It doesn’t ban violent acts to be shown on television, or a boxing match with Manny Pacquaio to be shown nationwide. Because it really has no right to do that. So if the church were confident in its own, why worry about the condom?

 

In line with the May 2010 elections, reproductive health issues have been the consideration of some voters. Moreover, in the following article by Kara Santos of the Inter Press Fund, the church has not yet realized the pro-life values of the condom nor the reproductive health bill.  The political issues:

 

The election guidelines for Catholics state that contraception is “morally wrong… endangers the spiritual health of the marriage” and “impedes the process or possible fruit of conception”, which the Church says should be the point of conjugal union. Voters who elect pro-reproductive health candidates in the May poll would become willing accomplices to “evil”, they added.

But advocates say that the failure to pass the reproductive health bill has been detrimental to women’s health.

“Eleven women die every day due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended and one-third of unintended pregnancies end in abortion,” says lawyer Clara Rita Padilla, executive director of EngendeRights Inc, a non-government organisation promoting women’s rights through legal advocacy.

Asks Padilla: “Will the next president turn a blind eye and not provide for the proper budget for wide access to reproductive health
information, supplies and services simply because such a stance would take the ire of the CBCP?”

Already, PLCPD’s San Pascual notes, candidates for the 2010 polls have been careful not to make their statements on reproductive health issues too strong because of the perceived weight of the Church’s position among many voters. But he says, “By trying to balance their agenda so that they will not face the ire of their bishop or parish, they end up not helping their constituents or giving justice to their job as a public servant.”

 

Source: please click here for the full article (2).

 

I would like to thank Ms. Irina Otmakhova, Membership and Networking officer of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights , for providing the second article.

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French Virologist Luc Montagnier is credited with having co-discovered the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and was co-recepient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2008.

In an uncut interview for the documentary House of Numbers, Dr. Montagnier shares some insights that may surprise those with common knowledge of HIV and AIDS.

My main takeaways from Montagnier’s interview is how global awareness and solutions are influenced by profitability rather than human welfare. Too much funding is devoted towards vaccines and treatment of diseases but not enough on basic nutrition, education, and healthcare.

Like the Global Warming debate that doesn’t seem to die, the AIDS debate is an interesting deja vu with new (or old) twists finally seeing public scrutiny.

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An excerpt from: “The Master Game” by Robert de Ropp


An important part of the study of the instinctive center has to do with sex.  This function, so deeply embedded in the machinery of life, has been described by some investigators as a center in its own right.  We can, if we choose, speak of a sex center or a “sexual brain” located predominantly in the hypothalamus but with many ramifications both cortical and subcortical and with a hormonal feedback mechanism linking it both to the pituitary and to the gonads.  Or we can think of the sexual function as a part of the instinctive center which, in man at least, is no longer really instinctive but dominated by the “higher brain,” hedged in by all manner of artificial taboos.

 

The interference of the roof brain with the sexual function is peculiar to man and a source, as Freud never wearied of proclaiming, of much of what passes for “mental” illness.  It seems to be characteristic of the human animal that it cannot accept its sexual function in the same uncritical way as it accepts its need for food and air.  Both the intellectual and the emotional centers interfere with this function, and their interference, in many cases, is disastrous in its effects.  Indeed, some of the most horrendous doings in the history of the “bloodstained hominid”  (the witch hysteria of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for example) were the direct outcome of the interference of these centers with the sexual function.

 

The student of Creative Psychology, raised in a culture which still tends to put sex in a big black box and hide it under the bed, is liable to encounter difficulties when he approaches a study of this function.  His confusion is apt to be increased by the pontifications of various so-called authorities, especially those affiliated with the Judeo-Christian Guilt Cult, who declare that celibacy is a condition of the “higher life” and that there is some special virtue in continence.  The view is not confined to the Christian tradition; it occurs in Buddhist and Hindu teachings, also.

 

Actually, there is no evidence to suggest that abstaining from sexual experience enhances a person’s capacity for attaining either the fourth or the fifth state of consciousness.  Indeed, there is much evidence to the contrary.  The “struggle with the flesh” that engaged that engaged such a large proportion of the energies of hermits, monks and “holy men” produced, in many cases, mere cripples and neurotics or devil-obsessed psychopaths whose ingrown lusts, transformed into cruelty and religious intolerance, compelled them to project their deformed fantasies onto the minds of their fellowmen, whom they proceeded to burn alive for such fancied offences as having sexual intercourse with devils.  These people would have been healthier, happier, better adjusted and more filled with the milk of human kindness if they had accepted Eros intead of denying him.

 

The Christian tradition has long tried to put love into two compartments, one labeled “sacred” and the other, “profane.”  This has no biological justification.  The sexual function can be used as a means of experiencing higher states of consciousness, a fact well known to the ancient world, from which orgiastic rites had not been banished.  However, such an experience is possible only when the sexual function has been trained to operate without interference from the intellectual brain.  In  our culture sex has become more and more cerebral.  We think about it, write about it, talk about it, cold-eyed sexologists gather statistics about it, so that the whole sexual mechanism becomes permeated with verbalizing.  This, plus the residue of guilt and shame that, despite more enlightened attitudes, continues to haunt us, puts pure sexual experience out of the reach of many people.  They simply cannot let the sex center alone and allow themselves to be carried along on the flood of direct erotic awareness, a powerful primeval force and one which is essentially benign.

 

If left to itself, the sexual center can teach us much.  It is wise, profound, ancient and very powerful.  It can operate at different levels of consciousness.  In the second state, the Room of Dreams, it can conjure up the entire sexual act, providing a dream partner and inducing, in the male at least, both erection of the penis and seminal discharge.  Its operation, in the third state of consciousness, may range from a mere transient relief of tension to a profound, insight-giving experience which, by its orgiastic power can force even scattered disharmonized human beings to become aware, if only for a moment, of its wordless wisdom and its primordial magic.  Operating in the fourth state of consciousness, it puts a man or a woman directly into contact with the enormous generative force working all through nature once worshipped in the form of Eros and Aphrodite.  In this state sex can reveal to a man or a woman certain secrets concerning the energies of the body that are difficult to attain by other means.

 

Some of the secrets are hinted at in various Tantras, in which the use of maithuna is described.  These practices appeared most improper to the authorities during the days of the British raj and the view became widespread that there was something very obscene and wicked about the Tantras in general.  Actually, all talk of morality in this connection are irrelevant.  There is an aspect of physiological yoga in which sexual energy is utilized to awaken certain powers within the body.  There is nothing particularly perilous about the practice, but it involves mastery over nervous pathways which, in both male and female, are associated with the training in sexual awareness, conscious control of processes that are normally autonomic.  Intentional placing of awareness picks up and amplifies certain faint signals from within the depths of the organism.  The practitioner is brought into contact with deep biological levels of his own being and with the being of his opposite, his shakti, the female element.  What he learns is beyond the reach of words.  He cannot describe it.  If he tries to do so, he merely spoils the experience.  The symbols of the intellectual brain can never fully express the quality of Dionysian experience.

 

[A cute video done by BBC on babies and the instinctive reaction to food:  “Human Instinct”]

To view the video, please click here: http://sandrasorayaalzona.wordpress.com/

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Orgasm Deconstructed

Quoting decades of research, from Kinsey to Masters and Johnson, Mary Roach provides a very funny yet straightforward look at sexual climaxes. She cites 10 amazing claims about orgasms and shares a few surprising insights on human sexuality.

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