But It IS All About Sex, Isn’t It?

If you roam in feminist circles, you’ll inevitably be involved in a discussion about the sexualization of women. I constantly consume commentary about the “consumption of Black women’s bodies” and patriarchal equation of women’s worth with their sexual prowess or body image. These arguments are a vital part of the gender discussion and achieving true parity between women and men. But methinks the totality of the arguments against representing women’s bodies as sexual bodies dodges the fact that we are all sexual beings.

The human body is tuned for species survival. To do that in a fashion wholly unassisted by modern technology (or an old-fashioned turkey baster), sex usually has to be involved. Therefore, it stands to reason that the human body is hard-wired for sex. And there is some of scientific evidence to support this statement. The sexual differences between men and women are exactly what makes our species so biologically successful.

Though many of life’s exploits can be detached completely from human sexuality, there is personal value in asserting ones sexual identity. Notwithstanding the potential for exploitation, sex workers use sex or sexual prowess to make their living. People with satisfying sex lives tend to also have healthier personal relationships, higher self esteem, and assertiveness as well.

The totality of personal identity and self worth should not solely be based on sexual identity. But sexuality is a vital part of human identity. It seems to me the efforts to reject the inherent sexuality of the human species for an asexual sociological model is fallacious at best.

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Author: NuclearGrrl

Nuclear engineer, afro queen, black mamba, feminist, clinic escort, beer aficionado and all around spectacular human being.

10 thoughts on “But It IS All About Sex, Isn’t It?”

  1. Wow, I’ve never heard that one before. All humans are inherently sexual? That’s pretty much an asexual bingo card all in one post.

    What are you actually meaning to say in this post? It seems to me that you’re actually helping the trend of sexualisation of women (and people in general) in the media by denying the idea that people have diverse forms of sexuality and sexual orientation, including people who identify as asexual. Isn’t that what’s so damaging about sexualisation? That everyone is painted with the same brush of sexual orientation and level of desire, regardless of what their personal feelings actually are? If you’re sticking by the “we are all intrinsically sexual for the purpose of continuing the human line” argument, where does that put queer people as well? You say that “there is personal value in asserting ones sexual identity,” but you seem to be refusing to accept any identities other than straight, because only straight people can procreate through sex.

    Likewise I’m not sure what your “asexual sociological model” is, but mine consists of realising that people are different, and thus, sexual orientations and levels of sexuality are different, from none to a lot. Clearly not everyone is asexual. But a number of people are. And this whole post reads as one long “your identity is invalid because I say so” speech.

      1. I did not deny diverse forms of sexuality. Omission is not the same as denial. I said the body is hard wired for sex as a tool of species survival. If you can find a person who has reproduced asexually, I would quit my job and take up that line of research. (It would be epic!) The purpose of this essay is not to present an exhaustive list demonstrating every facet of human sexuality. It is presumptuous to expect that one writer could represent every facet of human sexual identity. I am, after all, heterosexual; and have no experience with which to form a credible assumption about such an identity. So if you are looking for someone who incorporates intelligent information about LGBTQ life into his or her thoughts, you may be looking in the wrong place.
        I believe we are all intrinsically sexual. There may be a population of people that is asexual; and, if that is the case, that person’s sexual identity may be no sex at all.
        I am not opposed to sexualization of the human body. I actually enjoy taking in body forms for their pure excellence. My main point is that there is personal value in personal sexual identity. Pointing out gender differences is not always detrimental. Flaunting the body for it’s purely aesthetic features is perfectly acceptable when we realize the composition of identity and value is not a product of sex alone.

  2. Afraid I have to chime in with Jo here. I see where you’re coming from, and I think the basic idea could be good, if where you’re starting from is “why is sexualisation shameful when we shouldn’t be ashamed of being sexual”, but I think your conclusions are off base. You’re erasing the experiences of an awful lot of people, including people who are straight and sexual with no desire to procreate.

    Your final sentence seems dangerously ignorant. Where exactly are you seeing this effort to “reject the inherent sexuality of the human species for an asexual sociological model”? Because honestly I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    1. I think you are getting exactly where I am coming from. I am atheist, so I have no negative preconceptions about sex. There is no shame in sex. It is, after all, what maintains our species and is a source of pleasure for many. I am using the term “asexual sociological model” as the best descriptor I have for the attempts to eliminate gender-specific observation and biology from media and social commentary. For example, I disagree with the many complaints I’ve heard about media outlets taking about Hilary Clinton’s appearance. I’m not saying it’s okay to ignore Hilary Clinton’s substantive contributions to society for banter about her looks. I’m saying it’s okay to talk about her looks when you honor her vast body of work advancing international women’s rights as well.

  3. NuclearGrrl, I’m honestly not sure what point you’re trying to make, here. Jo’s right– it does come across as biased against asexuals, possibly because I can’t really grasp your overall point. What stance are you trying to reject with this?

    1. I’m rejecting the arguments against viewing women’s breasts as a sex object. Yes, breasts provide food for our children! But we don’t have to reject the sexual nature of breasts to embrace the nurturing nature of breasts.

      I am rejecting objection to using women’s or mens’ bodies to sell products. I’m promoting exploitation of the body as an art form. We are, after all, artfully crafted from millions of years of evolutionary transformation.

      I’m even rejecting objections to gender-specific commentary (to a point).

      I’m also (in an indirect way) rejecting the idea that women should be thought of just like men in the workplace. Mens’ and women’s brains are wired differently. That is a scientifically proven fact. The neurological differences between men and women (and anyone else you want to include) do not make one gender superior to, more assertive than or smarter than another. It just makes us different. Women and men problem solve with equal cunning. Women are great multi-taskers. Women are better communicators. (Those are generalizations, mind you.) The gender-fueled neurology of our brains activates different processing centers leading to these differences. These differences bring wide-ranging qualities to the table that smart companies embrace. That can be a powerful identity if you embrace it rather than oppress it.

  4. There is a lot of really problematic things in what you’re saying here, NuclearGrrl. Seeing a person as a sexual being, and celebrating sexuality is all well and good, but it is dependent on the context in which we are seeing the individual. I find the media circus around Hillary Clinton to be utterly shameful because of this – she is a politician, and should be evaluated and treated as such. Contextualizing her as sexual when it is not how she presents herself, and given that her sexuality is completely irrelevant to the social context of who she is and what she does, it comes off as insulting and demeaning that she is so commonly evaluated in sexual or gendered terms – especially when you consider that male politicians are rarely evaluated in the same way.
    Now you say that you have not considered LGBTQ or Asexual positions in this piece – and of course, it is your decision to do so. But the issue you are trying to discuss is one which involves us LGBTQA people, and your writing is not going to hold any weight, validity or applicability unless it accounts for the variety of human experience.
    Lastly, you have some really fucked up gender essentialist thinking going on here. “Men’s and women’s brains are wired differently” – Citation needed. What is to say that this difference is not a result of the socialization of women and men, instead of a biological fact? I know you’ll probably defend yourself by saying it’s a generalization, but by claiming a biological basis for gender you’re also erasing trans*, agender and genderqueer identities. A persons body is not necessarily related to their gender; someone with a typical ‘male mind’ (whatever that is) can be a woman.

    1. You’ve missed my point. I am contextualizing everyone as sexual!

      Hilary Clinton is a great example. Here is a woman whose accomplishments make regular humans blush with their own ineptitude – accomplished partnered lawyer, First Lady (twice), U.S. Senator, Secretary of State. Clinton’s speech before the World Conference on Women ignited the mantra, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.” Hils is a fearless leader who often steps outside the box of mainstream behavior that the media is accustomed to covering. So while the world media talks about her hand-shaking influence as the most traveled Secretary of State in U.S. history, they also find the time to talk about her general disuse of makeup or her evening dance outings. These items are news because hardly any other highly accomplished female politician (let alone typical American women in the case of makeup) is doing these things. These are part of the personality that makes Hilary Clinton a beloved figure by so many Americans.
      I would be remiss to assume I can relay the positions or feelings of LGBTQ people with any credibility. I will leave that to them. As a straight ally, I can only defend LGBTQ peoples’s equal right to make meaningful contributions to society. I cannot speak for them because I’ve never been them.
      Lastly, the differences between male and female brain structure have been realized in clinical neurological research (Nabizadeh, Neurology April 24, 2012; 78(Meeting Abstracts 1): P03.107, for example), though differences between individuals can be markedly more significant. Hard wired may be the wrong word since no two brains are identical; but there are gender differences. Gender-specific variations in the structure and size of the hypothalamus are well documented. How these differences contribute to behavior is a much more complicated answer. Men and women may process data differently to come to the same conclusion (similar to how a Mac works versus a PC). Thus my wiring analogy.
      Just because a finding makes one uncomfortable doesn’t mean it is incredible. Claiming a biological (neurological) basis for gender does not “erase” other identities. (In my opinion, to think so is incredibly close minded.) Rather, to a scientific mind, each discovery raises even more questions.

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