"New York Philosophy" Message Board › Sex Brainstorming

Sex Brainstorming

John
broughton
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 182
For the philosophy of sex party, I'd like to solicit questions from the group. Below are the questions from last year's event, but this year's event will be run differently. The discussion rounds will be shorter, the groups more fluid, and the crowd much larger. I'd like the questions to be more terse, while remaining as provocative and thought-provoking as possible.

We are planning on a philosophy of love event in February as a companion party to this one, so the questions for this event can be focused on the theme. I'll say no more - suggest questions or party ideas for the event. Feel free to be creative :-).

Last year's questions:

General

Robert Gray is one philosopher who has argued that "sexual activity" should be analyzed in terms of the production of sexual pleasure. He asserts that "any activity might become a sexual activity" if sexual pleasure is derived from it, and "no activity is a sexual activity unless sexual pleasure is derived from it" ("Sex and Sexual Perversion," p. 61). [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

? What is sex? What constitutes sexual activity?
? Are sexual identities rooted in some fundamental biological difference?
? What is the nature of the sexual impulse or of sexual desire?
? What is love? How is love related to our sexuality? Can there be love without desire?
? How do humans differ from other living creatures in their approach to sex?
? Is homosexuality as natural as heterosexuality? What are its origins?

Philosophy

The pessimists in the philosophy of sexuality, such as St. Augustine , Immanuel Kant, and, sometimes, Sigmund Freud , perceive the sexual impulse and acting on it to be something nearly always, if not necessarily, unbefitting the dignity of the human person; they see the essence and the results of the drive to be incompatible with more significant and lofty goals and aspirations of human existence; they fear that the power and demands of the sexual impulse make it a danger to harmonious civilized life; and they find in sexuality a severe threat not only to our proper relations with, and our moral treatment of, other persons, but also equally a threat to our own humanity...

Metaphysical sexual optimists suppose that sexuality is a bonding mechanism that naturally and happily joins people together both sexually and nonsexually. Sexual activity involves pleasing the self and the other at the same time, and these exchanges of pleasure generate both gratitude and affection, which in turn are bound to deepen human relationships and make them more emotionally substantial. Further, and this is the most important point, sexual pleasure is, for a metaphysical optimist, a valuable thing in its own right, something to be cherished and promoted because it has intrinsic and not merely instrumental value. [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

? Is sex an optimistic act? In addition to bonding and reproduction, does it have any other value?
? Is sex a pessimistic act? Is making a person an object of desire degrading? Does it adversely impact our relations?
? When seeking a sexual partner, whether consciously or not, it is common to go out of our way to make ourselves look more attractive and desirable to the other person than we really are, and we go to great lengths to conceal our defects. Is this part of the nature of human sexual experience?
? Sexual interest differs from other appetites in that it is an interpersonal sensitivity, enabling us to delight in the mind and character of the other person as well as their flesh. Is this enough to give sexual acts intrinsic value?

Society and Culture

Men who have had a lot of sexual partners are not called sluts. They're called very good kissers. [Carrie Bradshaw, Sex in the City]

? Is there a gender double standard for dating and engaging in sexual activities? How many partners are too many? For men? For women? Is it okay to lie to your partner about your past?
? What constitutes a sexual partner? What counts as "having sex"? For instance, is oral sex considered sex?
? What role does our need for social inclusion play in our sexuality? Our gender identity?
? Does our entertainment industry lead to a debasing of our culture? Is the hip-hop culture degrading to women?
? How do the major religions treat sexuality? Are their views optimistic or pessimistic? Can sexual practices lead to higher spiritual development?
? Some religions promote polygamy. Is this good?
? What is (or should be) the function of the government regarding gender and sexuality? Whose responsibility is it to define gender, ethical sexual activity, marriage, and reproductive rights?
John
broughton
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 183
(continued...)

Ethics

We can also evaluate sexual activity (again, either a particular occurrence of a sexual act or a specific type of sexual activity) nonmorally: nonmorally "good" sex is sexual activity that provides pleasure to the participants or is physically or emotionally satisfying, while nonmorally "bad" sex is unexciting, tedious, boring, unenjoyable, or even unpleasant. ? (A) sexual activity can be nonmorally good if it provides for us what we expect sexual activity to provide, which is usually sexual pleasure, and this fact has no necessary moral implications. [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

? What are the moral implications of sexuality? Are some sexual acts morally good and others morally bad? Is there a moral obligation to refrain from performing certain sexual acts?
? Under what circumstances are sex acts harmful to the couple? Is S&M degrading? Do threesomes build or degrade relationships?
? Can bad sex be good? Can good sex be bad?
? What contribution does sexuality make to the good and virtuous life? Can someone have a full life without sex?
? Between couples, does the sexual attraction eventually diminish? Does the jelly bean jar really never get emptied?

Consent

Thomas Mappes writes that "respect for persons entails that each of us recognize the rightful authority of other persons (as rational beings) to conduct their individual lives as they see fit" ("Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using Another Person," p. 204). Allowing the other person's consent to control when the other may engage in sexual activity with me is to respect that person by taking his or her autonomy, his or her ability to reason and make choices, seriously, while not to allow the other to make the decision about when to engage in sexual activity with me is disrespectfully paternalistic. If the other person's consent is taken as sufficient, that shows that I respect his or her choice of ends, or that even if I do not approve of his or her particular choice of ends, at least I show respect for his or her ends-making capability. According to such a view of the power of consent, there can be no moral objection in principle to casual sexual activity, to sexual activity with strangers, or to promiscuity, as long as the persons involved in the activity genuinely agree to engage in their chosen sexual activities. [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

? What is consent? Does ?no? always mean ?no??
? Where does seduction end and harassment begin? When is male aggression welcome, and unwelcome? Do men like aggressive women?
? Do women like jerks? Do nice guys finish last? Are nice guys boring in bed?
? What is the proper age of consent? Is the scenario of a 23 year old man with a 14 year old girl the same as a 23 year old woman with a 14 year old boy? Should the punishment in both cases be the same?

Pleasure

It is reported that on the small Irish island of Inis Baeg, the female climax is virtually unknown, or considered abnormal. On the other end of the spectrum, on Mangaia, a small island in Polynesia, virtually one hundred percent of women achieve orgasm. [Steintrager, James A. ""Are You There Yet?"]

? Is female orgasm, or lack thereof, a cultural construct? How much does female orgasm during sexual activities depend on the other partner?s proficiency? How much does it depend on the woman's knowledge of her own body and her own arousal?
? Why do women fake orgasm? Under what circumstances (if any) is it acceptable for a woman to fake it?
? Does penis size matter? When? Is it just a matter of ego and societal expectations? Is it physically more pleasurable? What matters to women, physically?
? Does breast size matter? What matters to men, physically?
? Can the practice and mastery of sexual technique to more satisfying and fulfilling relationships, or does it just lead to a mechanization of sex?
? Can you have intimate sex with a person you are not in a relationship with? What makes sex intimate?
? What comprises ?good sex? for a man? For a woman?
? How often is the line ?this has never happened to me before? used? Does it really not matter?
? How can you tell if someone will be good in bed?
A former member
Post #: 1
OK, John.. you're on. And I'll tell you right now, I haven't read any of your comments or reply material above. All I let myself read, was your comment: "I'd like to hear your ideas for questions for the evening - the more thought-provoking the better!" and I ignored everything after that, in order to not be influenced by any outside thought.

So.. that said, below, is a conversation & debate topic, that I often get into with as many friends and contacts as possible, because, frankly, it's a hot topic and one that always seems to bring heated tempers to the table.


It's an ongoing topic for me, but I'll copy/paste a recent example of the Q/A below, as it was presented in another (non Meetup) forum.

Bring it on, folks. The idea is: Do Men "Seek Friendship" with Women?

---

---------- Original Question ----------
According to my very good friend Steve H, men do not seek friendship from women. They will accept it if a relationship is not in the cards, but beneath it there will always run a current of attraction and a desire for more.

Agree or Disagree?

---------- Steve H wrote ----------

I'm going to take heat for this, but oh well..

I realize I'm taking it all the way down to the biological basics, but that's where it begins. So, that said.. The idea of friendship between opposite sexes, is a social construct.

If we break it down to our biological drives, the only reason a male approaches a female, is for mating purposes.

Of course, we no longer live in caves, and we've added social graces and civility to our interactions. However, this does *not* override our biological drives.

Now.. I need to draw a critical distinction here. The comment is: Men do not SEEK women as friends. Meaning, this is not our initial objective.

This does not mean we don't WANT women as friends.. or we won't ACCEPT women as friends.. or we CAN'T be friends with women, as some have tried to suggest I'm saying. I'm not at all saying that.

Simply, that, our initial biological instinct, is to determine if there is a mating possibility between women that we meet. Especially those that WE INITIATE contact with. The ONLY reason we are going to initiate an approach to a woman, is to determine mating potential.

When is the last time you've ever heard of a man saying.. "Hey, there's a woman I find attractive. I bet she'd be a good friend."

Not going to happen.. unless the guy is gay.

The fact is, there IS an underlying attraction there, that brings him to approach the woman.

Now.. we also know, chemistry doesn't occur between everyone. So sometimes, we approach a woman, and.. it's just not there. But we are STILL attracted to her. That's why we approached in the 1st place. Because something about her.. her appearance, her personality, her style.. something.. caused attraction in us.

There's no chemistry.. but we still think she's a great person, and even though our initial desire was mating, we recognize her as a quality person that we'd enjoy having in our life.

But we should also agree, that Chemistry, is the thing that separates male/female friends from male/female lovers.

I have several platonic lady friends, and I can tell you right now, that they would agree with that statement I just made. In fact, the closer I am to these friends, the more that it's true. My very closest lady friend, very nearly became a love interest, years ago, but we recognized a lack of chemistry, and knew that we were meant for nothing more than friendship. I cherish that, and also consider her to be my closest of all my friends. That period where we almost found a love connection, gave us a tremendous trust and respect factor. Enough so, that rather than hurt our frienship, it made it stronger.

In fact.. I can think of another friend, that had the potential to be more, but we too, found reason to see, that friendship was the correct path for us.

But this does not mean there is not an underlying current of attraction.

Now.. "a desire for more?". Well.. I don't know if I'd say that. Nor would I necessarily say "a hope for more.". I think that's unrealistic, and deceptive. You should be willing to accept the friendship as it is. You sought the chemistry/mating connection, and it wasn't there. So there's no reason to be unhappy with, or not respect, the friendship AS friendship FOR friendship. So I don't want this to be a misunderstanding in my statement about men not seeking friendship.

BUT.. and there's always going to be a but.. IF, something changed, that the chemistry did develop, I think it highly likely, that 2 friends COULD become great lovers.

Let's think about this.. in another statement that I've made.

Women typically say, that they want their love partners, to be their best friends, also. And that's fine. We want that too. Really, we do (at least from my perspective).

However, women say: Friends 1st, lovers 2nd.

But for men.. we know this is the kiss of death. Because approaching from the frienship angle, we're put into the friend zone.

To avoid that, men must not hide their sexual interest in a woman. We need to assert our sexual desire. Then we can become friends with our made.

So for men, it's the opposite. Lovers 1st, friends 2nd.

Now.. let's take a look at WHY men don't SEEK friendship.. and WHY that underlying attraction is the basis of our initial approach.. and WHY we'll welcome a friendship with a woman that we didn't find initial chemistry with.

Ely's post, pop'd the following post comment: " My best friend is a male,,, but I want more, and if I do, I am afraid to loss my friend.... "

And now, look at the replies by nearly everyone.. women included:

>> I would say u have a great start ot a great relationship. Friendship is a major foundation. (woman)

>> If you don't take a chance, you know what happens??? NOTHING! (woman)

>> Go for it.. never let things go unanswered. You will always wonder that "what if" trust me i know. (man)

>> BETTER TO LOVE AND NOT LOVE AT ALL..:) GOOD LUCK (man)

>> ..Better to have a best friend in bed then a best friend holding your hand...take a chance women... (man)

>>Have you told him what you wrote here? You know how they say Honesty is the best policy, well here it literally is! (woman)

Every single person.. said GO FOR IT!

----- END PART 1 -----
A former member
Post #: 2
----- BEGIN PART 2 -----

So.. what does this potentially suggest?
That friendship is a backup? Sometimes. But again, I don't think that should be the basis for the frienship. But the fact is.. it does happen. Sometimes.. chemistry occurs when we didn't have it at another time. People change, after all.

Now let's look at the direct replies to your post, Ely:

>>I have a few female friends where there is no attraction on my part for them.<<
Ok.. 'attraction' is the key. As I'd said, there was no chemistry. My question is.. when this man initially met these women, what was his very 1st, initial consideration? My bet would be: "Am I attracted to them?" Well, he saw them, assessed them, found no attraction, but considered them cool people. Thus.. they go into the friend zone.

This is no different, than how a woman assesses a man. We do the same thing. Meet each other.. quick assesment.. if we (men) don't sexually assert our interest, women put us in the friend zone.

I think that Moonlit, perfectly gets what I am saying. I've never said that men and women can't be friends. Merely that this is not our initial desire toward women.

>>Disgree. While it's true that most of my close friendships with men had a certain degree of sexual tension or whatever...most of those friendships never crossed that line, or never really had reason to go further, and there was a sense of peace with our being friends only.<<
Ok.. this poster disagrees, but yet admits, most of her friendships DO have underlying sexual tension. So guess what.. this is in full agreement with what I've stated. Those men were not seeking friendship with her, but they accepted friendship, because there was not an opportunity for more. The fact that they never 'crossed that line' or 'had reason to', is a conscious choice. A decision was made, that more than friendship, would not work, and thus, they're at peace with the friendship. Again.. I never said that men can't control themselves around their female friends.

>>I think we need to define "friendship" because men and women obviously have a very different definition.<<
That's absolutely correct. Because men and women think differently. We can't make each other think like each other.

>>Human nature is not set up for a man and a woman to be "friends" per se, and that is God's arrangement. Being that HE created Eve as a helper for Adam as a marriage mate, the purpose of the adult custom of dating is not to make friends of men and women but to find a prospective marriage mate. Therefore, no, men do not seek frienship from women; they seek friendship from other men while wanting women for marriage and the privilege of sex;<<
I also feel, this is very well stated from Thedaimler2006.

>> disagree. not all men are attracted to all women and not all women are attracted to all men in a sexual way. <<
And once again.. the key here, was attraction. Chemistry and attraction go hand in hand.

Ok, I won't quote every single post, but as you can see, the underlying theme.. is attraction/chemistry.

If you read the posts which disagree.. nearly all of them are from women. And nearly all of them, seem to think I'm saying that men and women CANNOT be friends. This is NOT what I stated. So those women that disagreed with me, are doing what most women do. They INTERPRET and ANALYZE what I said, until they came up with a non-existant meaning that made sense to them.

When you break it down as I did.. I think everyone would be hard-pressed to disagree, that the base reason that men seek women, is for mating purposes.. not friendship.

All I'm trying to demonstrate here.. is an example of how men and women think differently.

We can not have a 'battle of the sexes' because there is no battle. Instead, it behooves us to learn how each other thinks. Rather than this constant bickering of "why can't you men think more like women" and "why can't you women think more like men".

This is never.. NEVER going to happen. We're not biologically meant to think like each other. We're meant to complement each other. And rather than argue these points, it's time we started to stop.. and learn how each other think.. and how our thinking can come together to give each of us what we really want.

----- END PART 2 of 2 -----

Opinions & discussion, welcome. - Steve H
A former member
Post #: 3
If anyone would like the link to the original discussion post, please contact me directly, and I'll send it to you. I won't post it directly here, because it's a non-Meetup site, but still, it's a public link, and you can view the entire thread and discussion if you'd like.

- Steve
michael f.
user 3786404
New York, NY
Post #: 1
Friends, Colleagues and Gentlewomen of the press,

I believe sex has evolved from a procreational event, to a spiritual event to its present place in American society as a material one. It's gone from something for the soul and to peretuate the species to a commodity to be bought, sold, negotiated and traded.

Those existing spiritual unions are lovely to see, however, they appear scarce among the consumers. And with little evidence of spirutual union, it is relegated to a form of prostitution, whether for career advancement, status enhancement or basic financial gain.

Of course, the concept of materialism is a fondation for consumer society. There must be such intangible components as hope autonomy and dignity, for the homo sapien to survive, and thrive.
And sex is not just a good idea, it's the law of evolution.

So I suggest that the sexual event be broken down into its components to assist in understanding the whys (missing from last year's list) wherefors.

So help me Dog.
A former member
Post #: 1,844
I think the questions should be conducive to the format of the discussion. You're talking about having 3-4 "speed rounds" of discussion. Considering that this is a very provocative topic, and considering that many people (if not most) will require time to get comfortable and feel as though they can reveal their opinions, maybe it's best to taylor the agenda/questions appropriately. Keep in mind that they will be meeting new people every 30 minutes and having to rebuild that sense of comfort and trust every time. Are people going to feel comfortable revealing aspects of their sexuality (by discussing their opinions) or speaking out about something to people they don't know or at least have a sense of?

The concern I have about this event, especially with the new format (I RSVPd several months back when I thought it would be done on a smaller scale) is that conversations will be clipped and will constantly be disrupted because of the need to move from location to location. Topics like this can really get people going and encourage some passionate exchanges. Maybe keep it to three 45 minute rounds? The best discussions come when the group feels comfortable to reveal - reveal themselves, reveal their opinions. Can that atmosphere be built in this format?
fabian
advNturz
New York, NY
Post #: 1
What, if any, is the distinction between sex and romance?

Is romance a necessary part of sex? Is sex, a necessary part of romance?

What, if any, are the consequences of sex without romance? Romance without sex?

Is it possible to have a wonderful (i.e., fulfilling, joyful), romance filled life, without sex?

Is it possible to have a wonderful life, void of romance, yet saturated with sex?
A former member
Post #: 1
Let me throw out a few suggestions that I'd like to see/hear contemplated:

1. "Player vs. Playee": To what extent do we deceive a would-be sex/love partner as a means to an end? In other words, does one sex "give love to get sex" and the other "give sex to get love"? Is this morally sound? If so/not, why? Can we rationalize our behaviors merely under the guise of social norms? At what point then does sexual harassment slip into the equation? How do expectations and communications factor into this theme?

2. How many of you (be honest now...if not with each other, at least with yourself) are interested/attracted to this topic merely as a process of stimulation? Is this something you're "truly" interested in from a philosophical standpoint...or are you just looking for a bit of fantasy? Somewhat a sexual encounter without the mess?! Are you looking to "hook up" at this live event? Make that rare, alluring connection with a possible mate, "Mr./Ms. Right" (or perhaps "Mr./Ms. Right-Now")? If so, is it anyone's right to criticize you for it?

3. To what extent does the sexual dynamic in our society promote sexism, objectification, and the perpetuation of archaeic ideals? How are we (as a society) responding to this, either consciously or otherwise? How are YOU (as an individual) responding to it? Do you even care? Do you understand what the implications of the proliferation of sexism within our society (and different cultures thereof) are -- rape, incest, child abuse? How are these related to other cultural traditions, such as religion, nationalism, racism, and others?

Sex Brainstorming? Not tonight...I have a headache! ;)

CCC
Simon K.
user 4240572
New York, NY
Post #: 4
I like CCC's second question - a direct examination of the event itself and its participants.
I think the evening would not be as useful if that question wasn't addressed.

Also, assuming that a good portion of the evening will inevitably be dedicated to discussion of the social/biological/ethical aspects of sex, I would like there to be some discussion of the spiritual and creative aspects of sex. If for no better reason than, personally, not having a good understanding of that aspect (at least consciously). This curiosity was inspired by the first question on the list under the Philosophy section of last year?s discussion:

Is sex an optimistic act? In addition to bonding and reproduction, does it have any other value?

This made me think of the emotional aspects of sexuality (possibly beyond the extent to which they are biological adaptations or even gender specific) as having a fundamental reflection of our existence. I am thinking of the emotional aspects that are analogous to the longing to have children as extensions of our own existence (possibly above the biologically programmed desire that is expressed in the whole spectrum of behavior). Even if these emotions are entirely biologically based and are adaptations to ?fool? us (just like a deception is perpetrated more effectively if the perpetrator is subject to self-deception), the questions of how they are a reflection of (as well as reflect on) our view of our existence and how that view is expressed are important to address. Put another way: are the aspects to our sexuality which are creative in nature (besides the pro-creative) consequences of our evolution that go beyond serving the reproductive function (a consequence similar to the desire to create art in order to express our individual existence). This question challenges the assertion that everything we do (including expressing our sexuality) is a means to our reproduction.
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