Saturday, April 13, 2024

OFF CENTRE: Let’s talk about sex – fuh real


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No, not about how you, Mista Man, mek she bawl and call ’pon the Creator and scratch you up – according to you.
Or how you, Miss T’ing, say that when you put “it” pun he, he talk in tongues – and how you din even, as the Queen might say, arrive.
No “spiritual” dimension. No sense of genuine intimacy. No relational aspect. No broader view. Just animalistic ins and outs.  
Even so, they might both have been faking. Some do. Recent studies indicate that in the region of 75 per cent of women and about 25 per cent of men have faked orgasms, with performances that in many cases are apparently deserving of Academy Awards.
But I really en dealing with sex in that kinda way. The ongoing discussion about the human papilloma virus vaccine set me thinking about some of our blind spots concerning sex.
Now, it is obvious that by mounting earnest youth-targeting, contraception-urging campaign after campaign the powers that be are concerned about young people’s sexual involvement.
They also – unwittingly? – give the impression that multitudes of the young are doing it or will do it.
As if the stories from movies, sitcoms, novels and friends (the latter not infrequently fictions too) needed any help, the promoters of “sexual responsibility” thereby increase the likelihood of youth involvement.
Social psychologists and influence experts talk about something called “social proof”: “The more others seem to be doing something, the more likely people are to think that thing is right or normal and what they should be doing as well.” (Contagious – Jonah Berger).
When the campaigners broadly hint to the young that many of their peers are having sex, negative social proof kicks in and more join the ling.
Alas, the advocates do not invoke the positive side of this key principle of social influence.
The experts recommend that rather than suggesting that many are engaging in the negative behaviour, you draw attention to how many people are doing the right thing. Then positive social proof is likely to do its work.
The failure to use that approach, allied with the occasional, feeble nod in the direction of waiting (with vague talk about sex belonging in a “committed relationship”), sends our youngsters up the creek without so much as a paddle of restraint.
Look, human beings, to lesser or great degree, have prior internal restraints. But these internal tendencies often weaken unless there is external reinforcement.
All the same, I am not coming at you with any naïve, preachy abstinence line – which, like telling children to just say no to drugs, is another misguided belief in obeah. This requires planning involvements and using character-building methodologies aimed at delaying sexual involvement.
The use of willpower, for instance. Don’t laugh! Loads of research has debunked the idea that it is an either-you-have-it-or-you-don’t quality or a grit-your-teeth-and-dig-in pursuit. As a result, interventions are being crafted that are, in fact, developing willpower in people.
The research is showing, too, that practising willpower in one area creates life benefits in other areas: punctuality, savings, academic success, reduced absenteeism, less television viewing, more emotional poise, to name a few.
“Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for success,” says Charles Duhigg in The Power Of Habit.
But with “they will do it anyway” and “avoid pregnancy and STDs” tunnel vision, the contraception evangelists evidence no serious contemplation of restraint-related interventions.
These would also include non-willpower approaches, such as widespread volunteer programmes, at least one of which has been shown to delay the age at which teens have their first sexual experience and also to reduce the frequency of sex two years after their involvement in the programme has ended.
Unfortunately, too, the public appeals fail to major on the profound non-physical (personal, social, relational, psychological, mental, emotional) ramifications of sex – understandings that might lend themselves not only to the exercise of restraint now but also to mature engagement later on..
’Cause even if ill-timed sex does not lead to offspring or STDs, that does not mean the participants have come to terms with critical things such as relational maturity, healthy intimacy, gender respect, male/female communication, a proper view of family, mental and psychological maturation, the “spiritual” and emotional dimensions of connecting with another, social responsibility.
So, even if all youngsters were doing it, but you were really seized of the specialness of sex to human beings, wouldn’t you make a big effort to help some get themselves out of the pool?
Sex is about more than avoiding unwanted children and sexually transmitted diseases. About more than (oh) God (real or pretended).
Yuh cahn just focus on contraception and (now) vaccines. Unless, goodness gracious, you believe that, sex-wise, humans are no more than animals in heat.
Do our “sexual health” advocates, like many others, have too low a view of sex – and humans?


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