Sex is an organic reality, with two natural purposes written on the human body. The first is procreation. The second is not so obvious but equally important. Sex builds up and solidifies the relationship between the members of the couple. We know now that sexual activity physiologically creates a bond between the partners.
Women connect to their sex partners, and to their children, due to a hormone called oxytocin. Women secrete this hormone during orgasm, and while breast feeding. Oxytocin creates a response of “attach and connect.” It promotes attachment between a mother and her newborn infant, so that she will enjoy taking care of the helpless infant’s needs. Oxytocin promotes her connection with her sex partner, who after all, may become the father of her child. All this is nature’s way of keeping the woman bonded to her child and to her child’s father.
These natural purposes build the community of the family. Procreation brings new life into the family. Because sex supports the relationship between the parents, it helps them work together long enough to raise their children to adulthood. The fact that sex is fun is along for the ride. The fun is nature’s way of getting us to keep the species going.
But the modern world has completely lost sight of the social purposes of sex. We now regard sex as a private recreational activity, with no moral or social significance. Unlimited sexual activity without a live baby resulting is the quintessential modern entitlement.
I call this modern view, consumer sex. Sex is a consumer good and our sex partners are objects that please us more or less well. When I am speaking at college campuses, and feeling particularly mischievous, I call it Wal-Mart sex. (I myself have no problem with Wal-Mart, but I can always count on finding Wal-Mart haters on college campuses.) The modern sexual ethos provides us with large amounts of low-cost sex, without ever taking into account the spill-over costs associated with our behavior.
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love In A Hook-up World. She blogs at jennifer-roback-morse.blogspot.com
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