Monday, June 17, 2013
Sex In The Future Will Be Boring
Three items, assembled here for your interest:
1. Unexcited? There May Be a Pill for That
It sounds like the opposite of boring: a pill to enhance women's sexual desire.
But as all things to do with women and sex, it's complicated. Daniel Bergner's article in The Times last month puts the matter into a medico-sociological context. Contrary to longstanding myths that men want sex and women want love, hugs, and kittens, Bergner says, recent evidence suggests that women do want sex.
At least -- and here's the kicker -- they do when there's novelty.
The article is interesting if you can get past the ridiculous photos of women making sexxxy-time faces. Basically, the research Bergner presents says that women's desire dampens when they're in long-term monogamous relationships. He describes the hopeful participants in the study of potential drugs as fitting a pattern: middle-aged women in otherwise happy marriages, who enjoy sex with their husbands, but no longer feel the desire for it. They're all asking,"Am I going to get my freak back?"
You can't help but think: wait, so this whole thing is a buttress to convention?
And indeed, there's a fascinating passage toward the end where one researcher is quoted as saying, "You want your effects to be good but not too good," because, as he discovered, people are afraid of creating "a sexually aggressive woman" -- a "nymphomaniac."
Oh I see. We're aiming for a woman that wants sex, but just with one guy, and not too much. Haven't I heard that somewhere before?
2. Natural Selection, Childrearing, and the Ethics of Marriage (and Divorce): Building a Case for the Neuroenhancement of Human Relationships
Speaking of monogamy, this scholarly paper argues that if, in the future, "love drugs" were to become available that would make you love a particular person, some married couples would not only be free to take those drugs, but might also be obligated to take those drugs.
Because we evolved to spread our genes around and lifelong monogamy serves no particular adaptive end, we're a mess: we value loving, exclusive, relationships that last forever but we want to screw around. Love drugs, the authors say, can bring our values and our desires into coherence.
Actually, we've encountered the idea of love drugs on this blog before, in response to George Saunders' incredibly creepy story "Escape from Spiderhead." Among other things, that story uses the disturbing image of a human guinea pig lurching from one love target to the next to make you feel how awful the whole thing would be.
But these authors aren't thinking "lurching." They're thinking the Holy Grail of Matrimony: 2gether, 4ever, U and only U.
But if it's really an obligation, your refusal to become not only faithful in practice but also faithful in your dreams, your fantasies, the recesses of your mind, would become a moral failing.
Call me crazy, call me a sinner, but Sorry, No, Do Not Want.
3. Book review: Ethics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about Children
Here's a review of a book that asks, if a treatment were available that could be administered prenatally, to fetuses who would otherwise grow up into homosexual adults, should parents be free to use it?
The book answers "Yes."
Potential implications for the boringness of sex in the future are obvious.