Opinions

Sex vs Violence

Buckley, Canadian commentator who runs the YouTube channel A Dose of Buckley, has pointed out something which I hadn’t really noticed until now. In his video Miley vs Taylor and Sex vs Violence he asks why we tolerate violence more than we do sex. It is not like someone has died from someone walking into a movie theater and flashing their tits, he says. A family is completely comfortable watching movies where a person is killing over a hundred people or maybe more but when a sex scene comes up everyone tenses up and acts weird. Why is that? What is it about sex that makes it so intolerable as opposed to violence, while violence is far more harmful than sex?

He makes a good point. Logic would have it that we make something more harmful the least tolerable in our society but it isn’t the case at all, in fact we have even made sports out of it. I’m not saying there should be sex in the Olympics, you have to admit it is strange that this is the case? How can we make sense of this?

The evolutionist in me is quick to say it is good for our survival, but it seems if that is the case we should be more accepting of sex, perhaps as much as we are of violence. So clearly, an argument from survival can’t answer this question. You can take a historical perspective, to say that religion has often vilified sex and that has filtered into our cultures and societies even if we aren’t religious, it is a relic of a very theocratic past. But there are plenty of tribes who simply don’t share the same history we have and feel the same way about sex. Invoking history isn’t enough either. It seems wherever you go, no matter the history, sex is the least tolerated, even in African communities where women walk bare breasted. So what is it?

I think the answer is that sex is something which we have learned, like our bodies when we were young, that it is private and intimate. That is why we can’t tolerate sex in public and on the screen when we are with others. Sure we can watch people have sex alone and not feel uncomfortable as we do when we are with other people, because as soon as other people are present it becomes public. This is why we wear clothes all around in public and when we are around others, except for nudist or weirdos. Bodies are private. Even a stripper understands to put her clothes on, nudity is for occasions under set conditions and mostly in private, alone or with a person or people with an understanding or an arrangement. It really comes down to that, privacy. Violence is different, nobody thinks violence should be private, although violence has perhaps equal evolutionary necessity.

Why is sex private in the first place, you ask. In evolutionary and pragmatic terms you might say that having sex somewhere safe is important for survival. Usually safe places are those that are concealed, somewhere an enemy, competitor or a predator won’t see you and attack you unaware or with ease. So behind the bushes, inside a cave, in the house and so on are perfect places. It just happens that those concealed places tend to be private. So sex became private.

This has led me to a certain insight about sex. Perhaps the reason why our societies are so curious about sex, why sex sells, and why articles about sex are amongst the most read. It is because of the “gossip factor”. The fact that something which is generally private is being made public and suggested in the public makes it thrilling and exciting like juicy gossip. Because we don’t see much sex, from regular people we know (instead of actresses and porn stars), we are intrigued as to how other people experience it and  what they think of it and more, our friend circle is too small to be absolutely certain that we know all there is to know about sex from them. This is why sex in the news, the internet and the movies is always a crowd magnet. The private nature of sex shrouds it in a type of an interesting mystery, so it remains interesting because it is talked about too little, too shallowly, too vaguely and too narrowly. We simply want to know more about what is a very important part of our lives, we want to know how we compare to others or if we are all one in the same in that aspect, because a part of understanding ourselves is also perceiving others as they are in relation to us.

This is why sex is and always will be a scandal.

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Taken from my book Plug Your Ears of Tape My Mouth. Get your free copy here.

 

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25 thoughts on “Sex vs Violence

  1. I assume you are based in the US, you should come here to England, there is sex and sex. One does not want to see drunken girls pulling at fellows on the street and having sex there and then in full view of anyone and everyone. Girls lifting up what dresses or whatever they have on, up exposing themselves and saying “come on” thats not sex thats filth. I do not mean to offend you, but this is the behaviour every Friday night to Sunday night here in the UK. I live around 17 miles from Britain’s oldest recorded Town, Colchester in Essex, the Parachute Regiment are based here. Every weekend there are drunken s…s on the streets offering sex grabbing boys, people going by some with young children. The Police don’t care, the ambulances have to come out and waste valuable time with these drunks, other organisations are out handing out condoms. I know people who live in Colchester and they say they no longer can go to the cinema or Theatre or even a drink at the weekend because of what is going on. The British and sex, one always assumed different?

    I am not a prude, I brought my two Sons up not to be ashamed of their bodies, or mine or their late Fathers. We didn’t go around naked but if my Sons saw me coming out of the bathroom they were never embarrassed. I have a very open relationship with my Sons, we are never embarrassed about anything. Saying that, the behaviour of drunken girls offering sex, no respect for themselves, in the gutters, thats not sex – not what you mean. No offence intended to you. Take care Anna.

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    1. I think my of focus was more on sex in the media. Also I find it hard to believe that people would just have sex while others are clearly watching, not from an obscured distance or in the dark or while they also having sex. It would still count as private although it happens in a public place. The word private here meaning concealed or obscured even vaguely.
      I am not offended at all. I like this piece of information makes the whole issues even more interesting. Brings certain things to start considering.

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  2. Good point.
    You know, there are a few big name actors who have done the actual deed on screen, and most of those movies turned out to be flops. Sure the majority weren’t that impressive to begin with, but it makes the audience so uncomfortable that one scene can ruin the entire movie. Though I haven’t seen it personally, there is an independent film (wish I could remember the name) that I’ve heard is reminiscent of the journeys of Jack Kerouac in which one measley oral scene–including release–turned the audience off (or on) completely. So much for tearing down walls. I’d give it another five years.

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    1. Yeah. Even play or portrayals of intercourse are weird to watch together with strangers or with like I put it the essay in public, public meaning is without prior agreement as someone other person other than you is there who isn’t clear about their leanings or you have no access to. When people go to an porn theater everybody is pretty much on the same page but I don’t think it makes it not awkward at all, even a little of it does linger.

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  3. There are even some who are so conservative they can’t even watch a faked sex scene when by themselves. Although those are usually the type who don’t take their movies with a slice of violence either.

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    1. Very conservative folks. Sounds prude and stifling. Reminds me of Nietzsche writing about how some sacrosanct moral values sifle human flourishing. I feel completely closing yourself so central to human life, even on pure pragmatic terms, to be ill-advised. Art, one of he things it does, is provide us with insights into human nature, sense what we mostly do is deal with people it is health to keep a wide diet of media, within some limits and considerations obviously.

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      1. Agreed. Though it seems the 65+ generation would have a slightly differing opinion. They believe as elders they have wisdom to share, and sometimes they do, but is wisdom not also the willingness to have an open mind; realizing you still don’t know it all and never will until you transcend the human mind?
        And it’s nice to meet another Nietzsche fan. Takes balls to overthrow all of human philosophy.

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        1. It does indeed.
          I agree with you on the 65+ plus generation attitude, at least most of them. There is certain sense in which they have such rigid views about time and situation influenced things. Wisdom always evolves, at a crawl though, despite popular opinion people think. Richard Ashcroft laments in God In the Numbers that whenever he learns about history the more he hates it because we are repeating things from a thousand years ago. Even if one does carry this sentiment it is unwise to be too sure in your own understanding or perspective, you have to aways teat it and challenge it and slows it to be refined or deconstruction. Growing is a merciless process, why should it be different for our intellect.

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  4. I enjoyed reading this very much. How you broughy up sex as a private act made me think about how sex was/is presieved as a sacred act. In many cultures in the past and present it’s more than just something done privately. This article made me think, and that’s something I always appreciate.

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  5. Hi, just stumbled across your blog, and makes for an interesting read. I guess, as you say in certain societies, it may be that curiousity about sex which makes it such a “thing.” It is a massive part of us, our sense of self and fufillment, love and ecstasy and everything which is positive and good.. and perhaps we are all longing to bring it out of the shadows and into the light. Obviously we are all much more open about sex than we were 5o years ago etc.. but then again there are arguments to be made on the other side of the debate, that celebrities like Miley Cyrus etc are making it too overt, too obvious and splashed in our faces all the time. Perhaps an element of privacy should be held onto.. Anyway, really interesting thank you for sharing!

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      1. Yes.. it is special, but at the same time it’s so much fun so we want to talk about it, or focus upon it more. All the time being aware of what it means.. although it’s interesting to consider what it means to different people. I have a friend who is a christian, and so has never had sex. Her view that it is literally a sacred act made my fairly neutral views seem scandalous.. I couldn’t believe how strongly she felt that once you have slept with someone you are connected to them- it was scary on a level but also very interesting. People have a lot of very differing opinions on sex I think, and what it should be about and how it should be practised.

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        1. Exactly. I am interesting in what is the commoñ thing in a Ll these views maybe not somethin explicit or they themselves are readily aware of. The universal so to speak. All these views hold a certain social insight into the phenomena itself. As it is such a huge part of our society understanding sex at its very basic moral/spiritual (using the term broadly to mean fundamental belief where from experience or religious et) is essential. So far I don’t think we have uncovered that yet. My evolutionary privacy theory might explain a lot but I suspect there is more that needs digging.

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          1. Yes I think so.. because I’m not sure how universal they are, I’ve met a lot of different people who have very differing views of sex.. although that could only be the outter appearance of certain views- I don’t know. Moral/spiritual views are still very strong within religious communities, but then the opposite is just as strong in non-religious groups. I don’t know how far you can generalise.. you’d need to do research!

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            1. I’m trying to draw universals from all the different views I knows of. So in that sense I think I can cast a pretty wide net. Anyway, there research I have to do would be pretty difficult for me to do, financially. I don’t have the kind of money but I do have the access to same academic papers, archives where people talk about sex anonymously and what I see in documentaries and anthropology textbooks. It no an uninformed idea or theory.

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            2. Yep.. i would also think about media etc portrayals. I’m sure i read somewhere that they exploit our curiousities but also our insecurities. We’re all, apparently, a bit paranoid about sex as well- are we having enough, in the best positions, in the best places etc etc.. it could be said that our curiousity also holds an amount of uncertainty, which emphasises the strangeness of our reactions to sex.

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  6. I think you’ve put your finger on the pulse here. The forbidden nature of sex makes it both titillating and fascinating to most people. A lot of that has to do with our conditioning, that sex is something to not be displayed or discussed, and then curiosity becomes an added feature. Where I live, the strongest of taboos still flourish in this regard, so you can actually be friends with people for years and years without the sparest of mentions of sex coming up. It’s just not even named, let alone discussed.

    At the same time though, sex refuses to be ignored. The media, movies, and music put a lot of it in our faces quite blatantly. The dynamic is pretty interesting, as are the larger scale effects.

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