Superstitious sex

30 03 2010

As we have all discussed on this blog so often and as we all know, Sri Lankan society is deeply conservative and superstitious, and matters of sex and sex education have always been taboo subjects, mostly viewed with suspicion, shame and fear. There is also the belief that sex education leads to more sex.

As a result and as we have also ranted here, there are widespread problems of inappropriate, predatory and ignorant male behaviour both in public and private situations which every Sri Lankan woman would have experienced to some degree.

It is very clear that we need massive changes in attitudes towards sex and reproduction, starting from the top – through government policy, educators and parents. And one very important factor of change would obviously be educating young people about desire, sex and sexual health so that they can be comfortable with these concepts and reach a more liberal and informed position from which to deal with these issues in their lives. This would help empower people by teaching them to manage their own desires and not resort to masturbating in public, for example!

Part of my work allows me to advocate for this. It is a very complex and controversial field to work in and very challenging as well, but I do have a passion for it.

Recently I conducted a workshop with some young people from Anuradhapura and Vavuniya. Initially the boys were very forthcoming and open while the girls were much more reserved. But on the second day things changed and the girls started talking more freely. One of the activities that helped us break through the silence was this: we asked the group to each make a list of all the myths they knew regarding the subject of sexual desire and function. We then analysed and discussed each one. What we discovered was that almost all of them were designed to increase people’s fear and caution around matters of sexual interaction. Here are some of the things I learned:

Masturbation makes you thin.
Masturbation gives you acne.
Fat women cannot give a man satisfaction.
If you have pre-marital sex you will faint away upon entering the marriage poruwa.
Eating pineapple can induce an abortion.
How to increase penis size (1): Watch the sun set into the sea very intently. At the exact moment the last rays fade into the ocean, quickly throw sand in your mouth.
How to increase penis size (2): Tie a rock to it, using string.

Feel free to comment and add to this list if you can!

The strategies of sex

15 01 2010

Some time back we ran a post by Vak, titled ‘Words of wisdom on sex’ which posed some interesting questions about the problems associated with sustaining sexual interest in a monogamous relationship. We know that generally accepted evolutionary theory shows that the reasons for and levels of interest in sex with the same person over a long period of time are very different for men and women:

“Because reproduction is the key to survival of the human species, men appear to have developed a short-term sexual strategy, as men who pursue multiple partners are more likely to out-reproduce men with one partner. Therefore, men’s mating strategies includes a desire for sexual variety making the chances higher that if reproduction is not successful with one female, it will be with another.

According to the journal article Sex Differences in Sexual Psychology Produce Sex-Similar Preferences for a Short-Term Mate: Men desire nearly five times as many sexual partners than do women over a lifetime. Men’s sexual fantasies also reveal a psychology attuned to sexual variety. Men’s sexual fantasies more than women’s sexual fantasies include multiple and unfamiliar partners.

This modern day psychology of the human male is no doubt an offshoot from his male ancestors who were physiologically prompted to over-reproduce to insure survival of the species.

Women, on the other hand, do not appear to have such a physiological need to procreate with multiple males, as women do not compete with other females in terms of reproduction during sexual encounters. Therefore, short-term sexual partners for women may function only to evaluate possible long-term mates, and serve more of a social function whether than a sexual or reproductive one.”

So women are not so much interested in quantity as in quality. While men seek to mate with the maximum number of partners, women seek to locate the best possible partner – one who will father strong, healthy children and also stick around to help look after them.

When it comes to homosexuality, the above equation must change a lot. Since this type of sexual encounter does not result in offspring, natural selection cannot operate as usual. So I guess gay men and lesbians are more likely to be more interested in sex for the sake of pleasure!

Interestingly, in his book, Straight Science? Homosexuality, Evolution and Adaptation, Jim McKnight writes, “Homosexuality is a major puzzle for evolutionary theory, for if evolution has a purpose it is reproductive fitness, the passing of genes to our children.” Natural selection should weed out the less fit of the species and those who carry genes for a certain genetic anomaly breed less and diminish their genetic representation in the population.” McKnight indicates this should gradually flush out the “gay” gene since over several generations, homosexual men would produce less offspring and their genes would eventually fade from the gene pool. Biologically, this would mean that homosexuality has some function in nature, since well-adapted genes adapt and survive, and clearly, the genetic predisposition for homosexuality has done so… (See above link for more.)

We can draw our own conclusions from all this. Either way, the issues surrounding long term sexual relationships in a contemporary context do seem to be more complex than one would think!