17 January 2010

Sex is dirty

Here's something you ought to know, though hopefully you will never find yourself in this position. If you are 28 years old, a virgin (indeed, the entirety of your romantic relationships can be boiled down to three weeks when you were 19), unattractive, devoid of most useful skills, not very independent, and so forth, you have to come to grips with a certain set of facts, no matter how much you would like to avoid them. You are not finding a partner. You are not getting laid. The end.

I'm not saying this resembles anyone I've ever met. Just hypothesizing.

A person, we'll say a straight guy just for kicks, who finds himself here has a couple of options for how to rationalize this situation. He can, if he wants to become a bitter, narcissistic old goat from whom all discerning parents will keep their children at a healthy distance, blame the entirety of the female population for some inherent flaw in womanhood which prevents all of them from seeing what a really wonderful person you are underneath all of the signs pointing to what a terrible person you are. If you have landed at this space, do not pass go, do not collect $200. The less said, the better.

The other option, if you don't want to cordon yourself from half the human race, is to realize that women make perfectly fine companions who can provide you with fulfilling friendships even if none of them wants to spend any quality time with you naked. The notion that women are people, too has the added virtue of being something you ought to believe anyway regardless of how much action you're getting. But in my...I mean, your situation, it's absolutely essential to avoid a lonely life of bitterness.

But there is a problem here which is going to interrupt our egalitarian vision of ponies and comradeship. Eventually, biology intervenes. Or perhaps the saturation of the great majority of human culture does. The distinction is important, so maybe I should deal with it, but for now I won't*. Point is, times will come when, despite what you've convinced yourself rationally about the unnecessary luxury of romantic partnerships, you're still struck by some murky desire for a more intimate connection.

Now, I'm sure all of you are jumping out of your chairs to yell "sex!"** I do that all the time. But that brings us to the next step on our journey. Sustaining your principles about the just person-hood of the opposite sex here requires one of two mutually exclusive positions. Either a) everyone screws or b) no one does. The first is straight out. Even if it's probably healthier for everyone (and I'm not sure monogamy can be intellectually defended anyway) it's not going to solve your problem because, as we've already established, you're hideous.*** Even if people think you're kinda cool, they aren't going through that with you.

So that leaves us with the "sex is base and vile" position. At first glance this makes a certain kind of sense. After all, what kind of quantifiable meaning do you get out of it? No one talks with his mouth full, as it were. I may be imagining things, or extrapolating from limited data, but this seems to be making something of a comeback in some progressive circles as a reactionary position to the mainstreaming of more casual sex; i.e, the perversion of the masses is no substitute for our spiritual/philosophical/emotional bonding. Can't we have all of our needs for emotional connections and communication met without it?

The bonus here is that, as most people define a relationship as whomever they are physically intimate with****, shouldn't forswearing the need for sex eliminate the need for them? That's where we will have to leave it, because I don't have the answer. I don't think so, but I don't know. I cannot completely crush those periodic longings for a unique, completely uninhibited relationship with another person. That's at once baffling and frustrating. Geez, I am too old for this sort of thing.

*I'm pretty sure it's biology, but I'm aware I may be making excuses.

**In the interest of our more sensitive viewers, you can substitute "physical intimacy." Your Sunday School teacher was right, hand-holding is basically indistinguishable from the real thing. Adults have moved past this argument, though. See this great post from Roger Ebert of all people.

***"What is wrong with your FACE?" (6:00 in)

****Again, presuming one speaks to members of the other sex who are not your partner.

Too many footnotes.