As already said, I claim that the biggest problem of social interactions of Western society – including most of its alternative subcultures – is the mix-up of sex and love. I have already described how this confusion can be resolved in practise by a precise use of differentiating language. Next I will look at the system which intentionally maintains, promotes and uses this confusion: the patriarchy.
Patriarchy is defined in Wikipedia as follows:
Patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. In the domain of the family, fathers (or father figures) hold authority over the women and children. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage and descent is reckoned exclusively through the male line, sometimes to the point where significantly more distant male relatives take precedence over female relatives […]
I complement this definition with a bit of background information: The social roles of “woman” and “man” are instilled into all individuals who grow up in patriarchal societies from birth. Every role contains certain behavioural patterns concerning gender identity and sexual attraction. As children learn mainly by example and imitation, not only their parents, but the entire environment of a child (relatives, neighbours, education system, popular culture, advertisements, consumer behaviour, etc.) influence their social role. The behavioural patterns learnt emerge when their sexuality awakens – and subconsciously influence the thoughts, attitudes and activities of all adult individuals.
It is common that the respective social roles are confused with biological sexes – the claim is that there are not two social roles, but rather two absolute genders – woman and man. This way of thinking is a patriarchal construct called the gender binary which erases other existent genders, such as intersex people. In reality, the two social roles are not a biological or genetic constant, but only a set of behaviours which is forced onto the specific sexes by education: Individuals with a vulva are raised in the social role “woman”, and individuals with a penis are raised in the social role “man”. This is why the majority of adults with a vulva will assume the social role “woman” most of the time while most adults with a penis will act on the social role “man” most of the time. Minorities such as transgender individuals and non-binary genders equally participate in patriarchal role allocations in exactly the same way: They, too, were once raised in a certain role, and they will subconsciously take either the social role “woman” or “man”. Who, however, begins to notice these conditioned patterns can – subconsciously or intentionally – change their role independently of their gender.
As a consequence, all combinations of gender and social role are possible: Apart from women in the social role “woman” and men in the social role “man”, there are women in the social role “man” as well as men in the social role “woman”. Many transgender individuals experience a shift in their social role some time into transition, particularly when their social environment starts assuming the corrected gender (woman or man) and treats them in the associated social role (role “woman” or role “man”). Some, however, continue to assume the social role they were raised in, despite their transition to another gender. Intersex individuals and non-binary genders either adopt the social role with which they grew up, or the social role pertaining to the binary gender to which they feel closer. Switching between social roles is also possible: While most adults subconsciously “prefer” one social role, some situations can trigger a temporary “switch”, causing the respective person – suddenly or gradually – to show behaviour that is typical for the other role.
Sexual orientation has nothing to do at all with the social role: Any lesbian woman can take up the social role “woman” in the same way as a heterosexual woman, only their erotic and romantic desires are addressed to different sexes. For all genders, the patriarchy can be summed up by two simple denials:
Women do not want sex, only love.
Men do not want love, only sex.
That is the great patriarchal falsehood, which is packed into the social roles “woman” and “man” in Western society (and diverse others, also and specifically in Muslim society) as some truth of nature. This falsehood may, if it is formulated that bluntly, seem to be a well-known absurdity. Since it is, however, firmly embedded in most individuals’ subconscious mind, a lot of education will be necessary to remove this false and destructive idea.
Once activated, the patriarchal falsehood causes women to suppress their sexuality, since they are allegedly only interested in love. Only during preparation or right in the middle of a romantic relationship are sexual impulses acted out. Any sexual attraction towards other people which only exists at the erotic level is rejected before oneself and others, in order to maintain the wrong idea that sex is exclusively wanted in combination with love.
The erotic level, however, is the dedicated line to one’s own life energy. The suppression of this causes women to exhibit a certain social inertia when compared with men: On average women, more than men, tend to adapt to the values of others and maintain rigid and conservative systems; also, there are much fewer female artists than male ones.
Men manifest the patriarchal falsehood the other way around. They suppress their desire for empathy and love, in order to exhibit toxic masculinity with characteristics such as “indestructable, brave, emotionally distant, always ready sexually”, in order to fit into the social role “man”. They actively live the erotic level, but reject the romantic level before themselves and others in order to maintain their wrong picture of masculinity. As a consequence of the suppression of the romantic level, perceptions and activities related to topics that are not concerned with romantic relationships are also muted or missing completely. A typical example for that are men, who have suppressed their romantic level so much that they cannot authentically hug their best male friend in a way pertaining to the level friendship on the intimacy scale. The ability to feel and show empathy towards others suffers on all levels, from colleagues at work to the preparation or realisation of a sexual interest.
A small reminder:
The romantic level includes the sexual level.
The sexual level, though, also exists independently without the romantic level.
For sex we need basic hygiene, mutual sympathy, mutual consent and a respectful handling of one another. For a romantic relationship we need everything necessary for sex, plus mutual interests, being deeply acquainted with one another, trust, falling in love, and the desire to share as much as possible of ones’ lives with one another. A romantic relationship thus has much more demanding prerequisites than casual sex. To find someone hot is rather simple in comparison to an honest attraction to the whole personality of a significant other that goes deep enough that falling in love and wishing for a romantic relationship becomes possible. Therefore the wish for activities at the romantic level occurs much more rarely than the wish for erotic activities – simply because, at the romantic level, much fewer individuals match than at the sexual level.
When the social roles of “woman” and “man” with their respective suppression mechanisms and wrong ideas encounter each other, their differences become obvious: Women seem to be more passive in the preparation of social contacts: Their wish for love, which may pass their internal censor unhindered, will simply find much fewer resonating individuals than their wish for sex, which is routinely repressed. Due to this suppression, individuals resonating on a sexual level are often not even noticed. Therefore, women have great difficulties to recognise individuals they are resonating with at a sexual level or, if such a resonance has managed to pass the subconscious censor, to take the initiative and get into contact with them. Sometimes, such a detection of an erotic wish takes a detour via the patriarchal falsehood: In this case, individuals resonating on the sexual level are falsely allocated as resonating at the romantic level (a “crush”). Men however, seem to have no problem to occupy and hold social spaces: Their wish for sex may pass their internal censor unhindered, their wish for love, however, is suppressed. They can constantly detect and address individuals resonating with them at a sexual level. The number of resonating people is – compared to the apparent selection of women – much higher, because the sexual level contains many more possible candidates than the romantic level. Men, however, due to their suppression of the romantic level, have difficulties to recognise people resonating at that level, or to communicate all of their interests in an empathic way.
In this system, men have higher chances of success to realise their sexual wishes if they interact with their potential sex partners through romantic activities like kissing, caressing or cuddling, thereby activating the romantic level. Because for the social role “woman”, the romantic level must have been switched to “on” to unlock the erotic level. Thus, on the highscore list of the patriarchal falsehood, individuals who have taken on the social role “woman”, generally get the short end of the stick: If a woman agrees to a sexual interaction, the man at least gets the fulfilment of his wish for sex. The woman gets neither one nor the other, since her focus lies on the fulfilment of her emotional wishes at the romantic level, which was never on the table, due to the “empty” activities of the man.
If we take a step back, however, both social roles lose:
Because of course, women desire love and sex.
And of course men desire sex and love.
In reality, both have wishes for a combined romantic and sexual level (= falling in love/romantic relationship), and for a purely erotic level (= casual sex). Played like this, in the end nobody gets what they wanted. And so the patriarchal falsehood chronifies itself.
In the heteronormative mainstream, many men are of the opinion that most women would fancy assholes. Unfortunately, they are correct; and the reason is the patriarchal falsehood of the role “woman”.
The patriarchal falsehood claims:
Women do not want sex, only love.
Men do not want love, only sex.
When the two social roles meet, there is a man who directly addresses his desire for sex to a woman – and a woman who angrily rejects, as sex should only happen at a romantic level – and that is not part of the package. That sets the following chain reaction into motion: Any initially honest communication between the sexes is cut off. In its place communication fills up with powergames, secondary motivations and mutual manipulation attempts – by both men and women.
In order to satisfy their wishes for sex, most men in this situation, when they have understood the dynamics of these interactions, intentionally start to deceive women by mimicking a romantic interest in order to arrive at a sexual encounter. Thereby he procures an advantage among all prospective men at the sexual level: Now his manipulation one-ups all men who honestly communicate their interest in a purely sexual level, since the desired woman will only respond sexually to those men who (seem to!) offer her the romantic level. Since the social role “man”, due to its suppression of the romantic level, mutes the ability to show empathy and respect towards other human beings, the deceptive trick to exhibit an artificial romantic level comes more easily to men who do not question the patriarchal construct of the social role “man” and thus their part of the patriarchal falsehood. Because, the less strong authentic impulses of their own romantic level disturb their deceptive display, the better for its success.
Since women repress their own sexual impulses, while men act them out, from the point of view of a woman the male world looks like an endless queue of sexual interessents: It seems that whenever one of them is told off, the next prospects are already waiting. This can easily be seen in any online forum, where women are firmly bombarded by messages from men, while they themselves hardly ever take the initiative to actively write to men. If women would not suppress their sexual desires, but admit them and, as a consequence, show initiative at the erotic level themselves, the number and frequency of interessents would be approximately the same for all sexes.
Any man who has learnt how to invest all his energy into the deceptive display of an artificial romantic level in order to arrive at sexual encounters therefore stands out from this almost endless queue of interessents. The trick is to fake the romantic level so perfectly that, compared with interessents who authentically show their whole personality with all of its attendant flaws, only an artificial person can be seen instead, apparently without any flaws and marketing himself to be “Prince Charming”. And that is precisely the definition of an asshole. Interestingly, the mask of such a “Prince Charming” is not a carefully enacted new personality, it is even the complete absence of one – basically an empty canvas, on which a woman projects and then mistakenly believes to see the possible fulfilment of the desires she craves most: An empathic, respectful man who will fulfill her romantic desire, and, simultanously, a wild, interesting man who will seduce and satisfy her – “At last, a truly interesting man!”
Against the artificial personality of “Prince Charming” not only honest interessents at the sexual level, even honest men interested in an actual romantic relationship compare unfavourably, at least at first view, because they exhibit, like all real people, all kinds of flaws, while “Prince Charming” has worked on his talent as an actor to show a slick and polished surface without blemish. That dynamic creates the impression that women would fancy and even favor assholes, sexually and even amorously: These are much “better” at getting into sexual encounters and even romantic relationships with women than men who communicate honestly.
Now the chain reaction accelerates exponentially: As more and more men who understand this dynamic resignate and assume that only assholes have success with women, many of them learn to behave like assholes in order to cheat their way into sexual encounters.
Why do I call people in the social role “man” who exhibit such behaviour “an asshole”? That is because we will always find one, behind the slick and polished mask of “Prince Charming”. Beneath the mask there is a man who has been so frustrated by the constant refusal of his honest attempts at communication at the sexual or the romantic level, that he now tries to realise his sexual wishes with a due portion of misogyny and a deeply-felt “give it up already, you slut”. When the asshole dons his “Prince Charming”- mask, we see a man who seems to promise romantic and sexual fulfilment. In reality, however, he is simply faking the exact words and activities which the addressed woman wanted to hear. After consenting to a sexual act by the woman who has been the target of this whole ruse, she will not get what she wanted of course. She does not even get an inkling of fulfilment at the romantic level (which was, from the beginning onwards, never included). In addition, there will usually also be no fulfilment at the sexual level – because no asshole cares to give anything meaningful to a targeted woman, or to waste a lot of empathy on her erotic satisfaction. The asshole actually despises the seduced woman – representative for all women who rejected or did not even notice him in former interactions, when he still attempted honest communication – because an (other) asshole outshone him. People in the social role “woman”, who fall for these asshole tactics of people in the social role “man”, assemble lots of negative emotional and sexual experiences – and suppress their own sexual wishes even more afterwards, since their realisation always ends badly. That drives off further men who are attempting to communicate honestly, who become the next assholes, who manipulate further women, etc. etc.
And thus we have arrived at the emergence of Rape Culture.
Globally, various alternative scenes, for example parts of the political left or the queer community, like to claim that they successfully fight the patriarchy within their communities. While a few promising concepts actually exist that are at least weakening some patriarchal introjects, I have to add that the idea that the patriarchy is held at bay within any of these subcultures is only wishful thinking. The social roles of “woman” and “man” are exactly the same as in the heteronormative mainstream. One’s sexual orientation also has nothing to do with the social role, at all: A lesbian woman can assume the exact same social role of “woman” as a straight woman; only the erotic and romantic wishes are addressed to a different sex.
In the queer community, the social role “woman” is usually taken by lesbian (= homoromantic) or biromantic women. Bi-transgender men, lesbian transgender women or panromantic individuals of a non-binary gender can all adopt the exact same social role “woman”, too. In the social role “woman”, all these people suppress their erotic desires, as sex is only permitted in combination with the romantic level. The sexual level, however, is a direct connection to one’s own life-force. The suppression of these erotic impulses therefore produces LGBT spaces which are frequented by many passive women without a lot of meaningful social interaction. A handful of couples who satisfy their erotic desires – at least amongst themselves – make up exceptions to the rule, due to them the sexual level and thus, life-force and creativity, is not entirely gone from such spaces. The result is: The women usually also don’t have casual sex with each other, just like straight women with men in the heteronormative mainstream. As a consequence, a typical subconscious behaviour pattern has evolved in most of the lesbian communities of the Eurocentric/Western society: Since the social role “woman” permits having sex only in combination with a crush or romantic relationship – and with two women, this happens on both sides! – secondarily motivated lesbian crushes are so common among women and individuals of a non-binary gender in the queer community that the amount and frequency of short-term romantic relationships, serial monogamy and the following emotional drama has become a real-life cliché in lesbian communities. Moreover, people who are familiar with the trope and are using it for jokes are recognized as “part of the tribe”.
In the heteronormative mainstream, this absence of erotic seduction and interaction is usually filled by straight men in the social role “man”, which is, of course, missing in a lesbian/biromantic space. As a result, a few women shift into the social role “man”. A classic example are dykes or butches, who, compared to the rest of the lesbian community, initiate erotic contact in a very active way. Since these women have assumed the social role “man”, they suppress their own romantic level. That mutes their ability to empathise with their fellow women and their feelings which makes it easier to don the slick and polished mask of “Prince(ss) Charming”: By faking interest in the romantic level they “unlock” the suppression of sexual desires of their targets, which have usually assumed the social role “woman”, and thereby arrive at sexual encounters with them. Exactly like the male version, a female Prince(ss) Charming simply says what her target wants to hear. Often she does nothing at all, simply not negating any wishes directed at her. After a sexual encounter – which has been the goal of the whole ruse – her target will find out that she did not want to realise any of these wishes, but simply allowed events to take their course as long as she got an advantage out of that.
Certainly, not all dykes or butches use the social role “man” like that. But the tendency to behave in this way is much higher with dykes or butches than with femmes who usually assume the social role “woman”. In case of individuals whose attribution to “femme” or “butch” is difficult due to their ambiguous appearance and/or behaviour, the social roles that can be expected from them are much more difficult to predict.
If the assumption of both social roles happens often enough to set an exponential social chain reaction into motion, forms of Rape Culture with abusive behaviours up to sexual assault will also happen in LGBT “safe” spaces.
In the gay community, however, a contrary picture emerges. Here, the social role “man” is usually taken by gay (= homoromantic) or biromantic men. Biromantic transgender men or panromantic individuals of a non-binary gender can also adopt the exact same social role “man”. These individuals will then experience their sexual desires without repression – their needs for empathy in general, and love at the romantic level, however, will be repressed before themselves and others. That creates a sexually open space in which reports about one-night-stands, seduction, allusions or jokes with genital content are standard components of small talk. If the majority of the group reaches a certain level of intoxication that behaviour is amplified even further. People living in romantic relationships, however, often react with distance and scepticism to this bold display of sexual openness and promiscuity. If they are in such a gay group as a couple, they will consciously hold their distance and be more focussed on themselves than on the community. Meanwhile, the singles bemoan that it is so difficult to find a suitable partner for a romantic relationship and to hold long-term romantic relationships stable. Including joint browsing of online dating sites and discussion of the respective (failed) past romantic relationship experiences. Those are direct consequences of the suppression of the romantic level: If, in a romantic relationship, both sides repress their romantic level, there are no empathic connections deep enough for a successful romantic relationship. Since empathic connections are not only needed to stabilize a romantic relationship, but also to hold a social group together, some gays or biromantic men shift towards the social role “woman”. They then exhibit very “womanlike” personalities and dismiss the sexual allusions of their fellow gays in a displeased way.
This triggers negative attention from certain individuals in the social role “man” who have stunted empathy and respect for their fellow men. They treat men with feminine appearance and/or behaviour as “killjoys”, and fail to recognise the sort of nonverbal signals which would have marked the line between seduction and transgression – or even intentionally ignore the boundary such signals would have communicated. In this way, forms of Rape Culture with abusive behaviours up to sexual assault will also happen in gay “safe” spaces.
In conclusion, the queer community – compared to the heteronormative mainstream – is not a place where the patriarchy is less at work; it is more akin to a particularly precise filter. This happens by the stronger segregation of genders than in the heteronormative mainstream and gives a good view of the application of the patriarchal falsehood: The lesbian community reinforces the behaviours of the social role “woman” ad absurdum, while the gay community does the same with the behaviours of the social role “man”.
An interesting case in point for that are the recommendations regarding the LGBT culture of Vienna of a Viennese tourism organisation. For lesbians and biromantic women, a list of cafés and clubbings is offered. Their typical activities are: Smalltalk, networking for the queer community, reading (if the café has books) and dancing at clubbings. For gays and biromantic men, however, there is a list of gay saunas. Their typical activities are: Swinging (= casual sex) and bathing in the nude. A gay man told me once: “If you are looking for a woman for casual sex in such a sauna, you will have to bring her along with you for that!”
Why are there no “lesbian saunas” where women and non-binary individuals with a pussy can enjoy casual sex with one another, exclusively? And no nice book cafés just for gays, where they can sit in peace, smalltalk, network, and read, exclusively? Exactly: Because the patriarchal falsehood is active. Women only want friendship and love and men want only sex – right?
Rape Culture is an integral part of the patriarchal falsehood.
The Wikipedia definition is as follows:
Rape Culture is a term for social environments or societies in which sexual violence and rape are common and even tolerated to a large extent.” Rape Culture transfers the responsibility for taking precautions against and prevention of rape to the victims (victim blaming): Women are advised to be careful about their choice of clothes, where they go, and the kind of undertakings and contacts they engage in. That is accompanied by a belittling of rape and the reduction of potential victims to sex objects.
In its manifestation, Rape Culture means that individuals in the social role “woman” are seen and addressed as sex objects without a will of their own by individuals in the social role “man”. Self-determination over one’s own body, a human right, is questioned or blatantly ignored. As this is about social roles again, a man can harass a woman (the most frequent case), just as a lesbian woman in the social role “man” might stalk a biromantic transgender man in the social role “woman”, etc. The behaviours which express Rape Culture range from an insulting initiation of contact up to the creation of threatening situations such as being pursued on the street, or the victim being groped against their will, or being grappled. The worst form of Rape Culture is forced sexual contact in whatever form, in other words rape itself. All genders who live the patriarchal falsehood are equally involved in the emergence of Rape Culture: Those, which take on the social role “woman” as well as those which take on the social role “man”.
When the “Prince Charming” mask becomes too wearisome for an asshole in the social role “man”, he simply drops it. A deeply misogynistic person who is openly living their women-despising personality parts remains. These people are offensive and disrespectful individuals, who will not accept a “no” or “stop” from women, regard sexual compulsion as normal social behaviour and who will, in the worst case, even resort to rape. Such misogynist and disrespectful behaviours of men (“give it up already, you slut!”) teaches women to suspect any attempt at seduction by a man as a hostile action: “Fuck off, you rapist!” In a situation like this, the following thoughts will emerge in the potential victim:
How do I know that he stops, if I say stop?
How far do I have to escalate the situation until he listens (and stops)?
Where is the nearest escape route?
Do friends of mine know where I am?
In case of emergency, what could I use as weapon?
Can I defend myself?
Should the person in the social role “man” who asked for sex be an offensive, disrespectful asshole who continues unwanted activities after a “no” or “stop” it is a good idea to have these options ready, pre-emptively! Should, however, the man who asked for sex be a consent-respecting, respectful and friendly person, who would immediately accept a “no”, he will still receive an overly aggressive “No!!” as answer to his polite request, perhaps in combination with emotional violence (slut shaming) or even a physical attack (giving him a push or a slap) – in lieu of all offending men who have treated the addressed woman disrespectfully in the past. With the latter reaction the addressed woman has contributed her portion to the emergence of Rape Culture – a friendly and respectful interessent has been turned away with unearned aggression, who has experienced another disappointment of the sort which can contribute to him becoming an asshole with or without a mask over time.
Individuals in the social role “woman” often get into a victim role in Rape Culture. A familiar reaction is to declare individuals in the social role “woman” guilty for offences committed against them. This behaviour is called victim blaming, which is a central part of Rape Culture. A typical trope of victim blaming is the alleged connection between the length of her skirt and her sexual availability. The artist Rosea Posey beautifully captures the absurdity of this connection in the following picture:
Rosea Posey (2012) Judgements [Online]. Available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/roseaposey/7173294256 (Accessed 26 May 2018). I do not own this picture.
“Asking for it” in the sense of “provoking an offence” is the most obvious of all victim blaming formulations, designations as “prudish” in this context simply ignore women’s rights for self-determination over their own bodies. While the length of her skirt might be a hint whether a woman is feeling more or less sexy that day, it does not constitute any form of “sexual availability”. Mutual consent of all individuals involved is compellingly necessary in any and all sexual activities (actually, in all human activities that involve more than one person). The person who breaks consent is committing a criminal offence!
A woman walks alone, at night, and in a mini skirt, through the streets of a large city. Time and again, police officers have issued warnings to not exhibit this behaviour as a woman and to dress less revealing. This advice is, however, quite the double-edged sword:
From a purely ethical point of view this advice is wrong: Because no matter how a woman dresses, self- determination over one’s own body is a basic human right. The responsibility for any form of assault always lies with the perpetrator, never with the victim. To blame the behaviour of a woman as a reason for a transgression against her is always an excuse of an offender, nothing else.
From a purely pragmatic view this advice is correct: Because in a patriarchal society women, who dress revealingly, are harassed more often than a women who dresses modestly. A woman who, due to such a warning, choses to wear modest clothing reduces the danger of disrespectful treatment and sexual assault.
The last point amplifies why I am of course not arguing that all people would suddenly become good and respectful, if only women would unblock their sexuality. Mankind will always contain stupid people and assholes. That is, for example, deducible from the fact that 80% of all crimes are committed by 20% of the population (repeat offenders). People can already be part of the 20% when their sexuality awakens, or become assholes due to frustration with the asshole dynamic over the course of their lives. As soon as people have become assholes, however, their personal history is ethically irrelevant, because all individuals, as soon as they are of age, are 100% responsible to treat their fellow human beings respectfully and do their part for a good and holistically functioning society.
Assholes, no matter how they became thus, will become offenders if and when an occasion presents itself. An occasion is any situation with one or more vulnerable individuals in range. That is, by the way, valid for all psychological and physical acts of violence, not only for offenses from the categories of Rape Culture. If no vulnerable individuals are present, offenders tend to project the social role “woman” on everything which is not clearly attributable to the social role “man”. This is why that projection can also affect people who have never assumed the social role “woman” or are intentionally working against the patriarchal falsehood. If most women fully lived their sexuality with all suitable, respectful, consent-adhering resonance people, there would notwithstandingly still be enough assholes, psychopaths and rapists in the world. And it would still be absolutely necessary for women to reject them and bring charges against this sort of individuals. But it might be possible to break the vicious cycle of these group dynamics which produce new assholes from originally respectful and consent- honouring people by disappointment if female sexuality was lived in an active and honest way. In the long term, the population would settle down on a constant subset of assholes (probably the 20% plus standard deviation), which problem would still have to be solved by the constitutional state.
In order to answer this question we need a little human history: Because mankind went through an agrarian revolution approximately ten thousand years ago – the social transformation from nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures to resident agrarian cultures. From the nomadic hunter- gatherer cultures still in existence which survived in solitary places on earth until a few decades ago, social anthropology could deduce how the majority of mankind might have lived before the agrarian revolution. The following facts can be safely assumed to be characteristic of typical nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures:
Individuals living in groups of several dozen individuals at most
Hierarchies in the group were relatively flat: All adults individuals could – in an emergency – survive alone in the wilderness
Children and seniors were supported by the whole group
Then the agrarian revolution came. The organised cultivation of staple foods at a fixed place made more food available than before. That enabled population growth and a faster rate of innovations as far as progress of technologies and tools was concerned. In order to guaranty the new food supply people needed a stricter social system with several (also new) hierarchical levels, in order to be able to manage the tasks required for agricultural food production.
The classical characteristics of an agrarian culture are:
It consists of individuals in groups of several dozen or more; but population size can be de facto open-ended
Steep hierarchies: Each social class delivers some tasks which the other classes could not – or not adequately – manage (e.g. farmers, officials, leaders).
Only a few adults individuals could – in an emergency – survive alone in the wilderness.
Children and seniors are only supported by the respective social class from which they originate.
Today, mainstream societies are still following this principle. A few substantial changes, e.g. universal health and/or old age insurances only entered some Eurocentric/Western societies’ mainstreams in the second half of the 20th Century. However, there is something very few people know about the agrarian revolution: It led to an extreme change in the way human sexuality was lived. In nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures, all the resources necessary for survival belonged to the whole group – and were inherited by the entire group after the death of one of its members. In an agrarian society, however, fair re-distribution to all members of the group was impossible due to the grown group size, and with less resources-per-person than in the old hunter-gatherer situation. Therefore the distribution system changed. Possessions necessary for survival were now passed on within the smallest unit of the group – the family. The big question became: Who gets the farm? Now possessions were handed down from the father to the children: “patrilinear” inheritance. A farm might belong to a couple – a woman and a man – at the same time, who shared the leading position with equal standing. As far as the inheritance was concerned, however, the children still had to be direct descendants from this specific man.
In hunter- gatherer cultures, it was a negligible criterion who the biological father of the children was. For an agrarian society, however, who fathered which children became essential information for the question of their inheritance. The price for that, however, was the total repression of female sexuality: Because in a time without reliable methods of contraception, abortion or paternity tests there was only one secure possibility of determining one’s paternity without doubt: The biological mother of the child must have, without any exceptions whatsoever, only ever had sex with the biological father of the child. Originally, the concept of inheritance simply replaced the old survival strategy of passing on the resources necessary for survival, and just transferred the old strategy to the family unit. When the inheritance cycle had repeated often enough, however, the inherited possessions obtained an extent far beyond that needed for mere survival. That way, dynasties with enormous properties and wealth and, as a consequence, unproportional political power and influence developed automatically. These elites have no interest to lose that special status again, of course. This is why it becomes extremely important for the members of such a dynasty that their possessions remain within the family and that the family is holding together. Now the criterion who fathered which children becomes even more important. The issue is no longer just survival; now the issue is to stay in power. Now it is no longer enough to control the sexuality of the women within the dominant elite; the women of any competing or even lower social class must also be controlled. Because the people of the lower classes must be kept from achieving a foundational social solidarity via a healthy realisation of their sexuality; otherwise, they might attempt to overthrow the dominant elite and redistribute those parts of their wealth not nescessary for survival amongst the public. The women of that elite must exemplify the suppression of sexuality through their own lives (at least seemingly), so that the women from the lower social classes, which are needed to enable the high status of the elites, do not develop any ideas “above their station”. These processes evolved, over the course of millenia, into a perfidious system spread by the dominant elite via religion, propaganda, legislation, and national institutions. Meanwhile, this system has been internalised and is passed on from generation to generation by education. In this way, most individuals – who never question, let alone remove these patriarchal introjects – subconsciously collaborate to keep the respective elites in power and themselves – quite literally – impotent.
As already mentioned in Why do women in the patriarchy get the bad end of the deal?, it was essential for all elites, at all points in history, that their possessions remain in the family or dynasty. This is why they had to be absolutely sure that the heirs genetically belong to the family. Without contraception, abortion or paternity tests there is only one secure possibility of determining one’s paternity without doubt: The biological mother of the child must have, without any exceptions whatsoever, only ever had sex with the biological father of the child.
The doubtful “success” of this method over the course of millenia shows in modern DNA tests done with a wide variation of human populations from different cultures and continents: These tests showed that approximately every 10th child was not sired by the presumed biological father as named by the biological mother. As safe contraception, abortion and paternity tests exist in the 21th century, the original problem of the ancient agrarian societies could be solved in a different way: Today, even if their mother is sexually active with more than one man at a time, her children will always have a clearly allocatable father.
Since the aim of survival, however, was replaced by the preservation of power for a few dominant elites millenia ago, the argument is all the same: The aim is the suppression of the mainstream populations’ sexuality by various strategies – to effectively prevent societal solidarity against these elites. Unprotected straight sex leads to pregnancies and as a result, children. At this point all global mainstream societies (Eurocentric/Western, Russian, Muslim and Asian) have developed sophisticated strategies in order to prevent women from living their sexuality with more than one man – or person – in a healthy way.
Strategy 1: Restriction or prohibition of contraceptives or abortion.
Thus women will experience unplanned pregnancies and have to involuntarily stay pregnant, too.
Strategy 2: Elevation of the mother-role of women and simultaneous degradation of those women who do not follow this ideology.
The French Revolution of 1789 demanded equal rights for women as part of the slogan “liberté, egalité, fraternité”. In opposition to that, 19th century societies developed the indirect suppression strategy to elevate the mother-role of women. In case of childless women or women who assign their biological child for adoption, the entire social environment tries to divert them from the idea and often patronises them into an unwanted mother-role. Expectant women or those who are already mothers are urged by their social environment to be the exclusive attachment figure for their child or children and to put all other tasks or life projects on hold. If the targeted woman resists, other people will shame her for not being “a good mother”. If she then resists further, she falls victim to the moral hammer: The mainstream society ostracises her to the point where she receives less or even not any support by her community (family, neighbourhood, employer, public institutions).
Casual sex is therefore linked with the following problems:
the danger of an unplanned pregnancy
the enormous difficulty to terminate an unplanned pregnancy
and the reduction or even termination of support and solidarity from most people in her social environment.
This creates a situation in which casual sex is associated with fear and vilification, and, as a consequence, women pursue it more rarely. If a woman accepts the demanded mother-role including the rearing of her child(ren) with as few attachment figures as possible, that lifestyle will consume all of her time and energy resources, further reducing her options for a fulfilled sex life.
All of these strategies produce families with many children, in which their parents exemplify these twisted sexual morals from a very young age on. Their descendents are even more susceptible to manipulation than the previous generation; they maintain the system by their weight in numbers and conservative moral values. Compare the described images to typical catholic or muslim families with many children.
Strategy 3: Restriction, degradation or prohibition of sexuality which cannot lead to the conception of children.
The repression of straight sexuality causes people to change their sex life to alternate forms of sexual endeavours, which cannot cause pregnancy. Thus women and men might shift more towards oral sex, handjobs and – in case they are bisexual – homosexual encounters. Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive countries on earth as far as sexuality is concerned, has – compared to its total population – one of the highest estimated numbers of unreported cases of same-sex couples.
From the perspective of the aforementioned elites, loopholes like these must be shut down, too, of course.
Therefore, all sexual variations except those forms of straight sex which can cause pregnancy get the moral hammer or are made illegal, see criminal persecution of homosexuals or diverse “victimless crime” sex laws directed at the same ideological aim in many countries.
It is an interesting fact, that today’s substantial discrimination against and persecution of homoromantic people as well as biromantic individuals living a homoromantic lifestyle was not the actual aim at all, but is rather a side effect. Originally, said patriarchal strategies were directed at heteroromantic, but bisexual individuals to prevent them from shifting to a sex life that wouldn’t result in pregnancy. For exclusively homoromantic and homosexual people, the sheer extent of this discrimination would not even be necessary – they constitute a portion of the total population which is much too small to pose a serious threat for the established system.
A powerful tool to spread this strategy is insufficient sex education at schools and in mainstream society which gives the impression that the vaginal sexual intercourse of a straight couple is the only form of sexuality worth talking about. Variations such as oral sex, handjobs, mutual masturbation or homosexual encounters are simply omitted or represented as “petting” which is considered inferior – or at best, foreplay – to vaginal sexual intercourse.
A loophole for this strategy are pornos. Here, the oppression strategy is to produce porn films with a script which displays unwanted sex variations in an unrealistic (and often disrespectful) manner that they lose their attractiveness for all sexes. The elevated depictions of sexuality produce pressure to “succeed” in the same way in sexual encounters in real life. If the way sex is depicted in most pornos is not questioned, people will get disappointed with their sexuality and might give up the variations whose impossibly high standards they cannot reach. A solution for this problem – providing a real loophole against suppression by idealisation – might be amateur pornos which were filmed without a script, that simply show average people having fun with all variants of their sexuality.
Strategy 4: The strategies from 1 to 3 packaged as religious teachings
Many global mainstream religions have issued pointless limitations for the sex life of their believers:
Sex is only permitted with one single person and only in a marriage
Contraceptives and/or abortion are sins
Homosexuality is “against nature”
Masturbation is a sin
and many more
These ideas are prevalent in Islam, early Christianity, the Catholic Church, the protestant church in milder form, as well as in various evangelical free churches. Presently, all of these religious communities still encourage some of those values! In the 21st century, however, the biggest influence in this direction is probably Islam.
There is a group of people in the Eurocentric/Western society whose values, beliefs and activities are the main source for the continued suppression of female sexuality and, as a consequence, everyone’s sexuality. By adjustment and attachment to norms, they generate, maintain, facilitate and accelerate typical patriarchal oppression strategies. Usually, they are the majority of the total population. Terms like subculture (Latin sub = under) or alternative community (Latin alter = different) originate in the comparison of their respective characteristics to this majority culture. People in subcultures who live an alternative sexual lifestyle (e.g. swinging, BDSM) and/or alternative models of romantic relationships (e.g. polyamory) often use certain terms as conscious demarcation to this majority culture. Mostly, these are used pejoratively. In order to write neutrally, I will use “heteronormative mainstream”, a term already implemented in feminist discourse.
Hetero, since the preferred sexual and romantic orientation in this majority culture is straight (German hetero = straight). The queer community has originated from struggle against this principle and has been the largest opposition group until today. That’s why the most famous characteristic of the queer community is their equal rights movement for same-sex ways of life. Their demands include the legalisation of same-sex marriage, adoption of children and reproductive medicine – to name only the issues most widely known for now.
Normative since I describe a set of norms which don’t need to be healthy conditions by definition.
Mainstream, since the majority of the population believes in or at least acts on these norms.
Within the heteronormative mainstream, the term “monogamous” is a crucial recognition feature. It is usually used as statement about one’s own identity: I am monogamous. However, monogamy or being monogamous can have different meanings depending on which person is asked about their personal definition:
The desire to have sex with only one person
To desire a romantic relationship with only one other person
When already in a romantic relationship, the desire to have sex only with this one significant other person
Etymologically, mono is Ancient Greek for one and gam means mating partner. The term gametes in cell biology is derived from the last; it is the umbrella term for egg and sperm cells. In the actual sense of the word, monogamous therefore means “having only one other person who I have sex with”. But this is not applied correctly even to the animal realm. Some birds that keep the same nesting partner for life, for example, and have sex with other birds during mating season (males and females!). But despite this mating behaviour, they are still called monogamous animals and are sometimes used as a role model for sexually closed romantic relationships between humans.
Most people use the term monogamy nowadays in the sense of the third point: They desire a romantic relationship with only one person who will then be the only person they have sex with. This does, however, not correspond to the nature of most people, but is a completely false idea defended by the heteronormative mainstream. Whether an idea is false can be determined by comparing the respective idea to its usage in reality: If contradictions can be found, the idea is most certainly false. In this case, heavy contradictions can be easily found: Secret affairs or separations due to “cheating” ( = having sex with someone else than one’s romantic partner) are deeply entrenched into the collective memory of any patriarchal society: In Eurocentric/Western society, mouth-by-mouth stories, written stories, media and popular culture keep narrating these observations to such an extent that they have been considered “common knowledge”.
From this fact, the following conclusion is obvious: Most people, be it women, men or other genders, wish to have sex not only within a romantic relationship, but also with other people who are not their romantic partners.
Example: A straight couple, who identifies as monogamous, is on a holiday with their best straight male friend. All three sit at the beach and the best friend puts sunscreen on the woman’s back. At which point can this situation be considered “cheating”?
If he gives her a nice backrub with sunscreen, and that arouses both of them?
If there is not only talking, but mutual compliments and flirting as well?
If she takes off her bikini top and the best friend puts sunscreen on her breasts as well?
If they take off their clothes and allow to see each other naked, so that a brief erotic situation arises and the best friend gets an erection?
Each couple has their own opinion and philosophy on these options, and ideally, some rules and boundaries: For some, flirting with someone who could be interesting at the sexual level is already a deadly sin, whereas others allow everything except genital activities or penetration-by-penis intercourse. The term monogamous therefore makes no sense in everyday life:
It is not clearly defined: Each couple creates its own meaning. As a consequence, different couples do not really understand each other if they use the term monogamy.
It is simply false: Because the definition which is widely agreed upon nowadays – that, when in a romantic relationship, people only desire sex with their romantic partner – is a generally false idea about mankind.
I have renamed this false idea to the patriarchal construct of monogamy.
The patriarchal construct of monogamy is essentially a derivate from the patriarchal construct of the social role “woman”. The only difference is that a complementary social role (like the social role “man”) is not necessary any more. This patriarchal construct can be maintained and reinforced by people regardless of their gender, be it women, men or other genders. The patriarchal construct of monogamy consists of four individual lies:
Desires and wishes at the sexual level and the romantic level are the same thing.
If someone is sexually attracted to another person, a desire for intimacy at the romantic level will always be a part of this attraction.
As long as the romantic relationship is healthy for both individuals involved, it is not possible to fall in love with someone else.
As long as the romantic relationship is healthy for both individuals involved, it is not possible to desire another person sexually.
The heteronormative mainstream is represented by the majority of the total population of every patriarchal society. The majority of this group either believes in the patriarchal construct of monogamy or at least displays it publicly while acting out the opposite privately. The desire for sexuality is one of the strongest internal forces of each person. Therefore, suppressing it always leads to significant consequences. If desire at the sexual level is only acted out in unison with the romantic level, thus according to the patriarchal construct of monogamy with only one person, a significant part of one’s own sexual desire will always remain unsatisfied. The suppressed energy will go somewhere; that’s why the pressure in one’s unconscious increases, until desire breaks its course.
In the short term, an obvious sign for this claim are sexual activities that are pursued “spontaneously”, after all individuals involved have consumed enough alcohol or other drugs, so that they are less inhibited and their suppressed wishes don’t have to overcome so many obstacles on their way out. In order not to question the existing false idea and thus to act against the majority of people, these eruptions usually happen secretly, or are concealed as well as possible afterwards. In the medium term, secret sexual affairs will be pursued which are carried out beside sexual activities with one’s romantic partner. If someone pokes into the topic, the individual who has an affair will be quick to offer weak justifications, such as:
Going after sexual practices which they believe their romantic partner dislikes / doesn’t accept
A wellness session or little treat they somehow “deserve”
A get-back for lack of emotional attention or fair treatment from the romantic partner
The funny thing is that these justifications are never about the person with whom the secret sexual encounter(s) took place, but that they always allow a glimpse into the emotional issues within the romantic relationship: The unwillingness to listen to their partner, to ask for needs and wishes properly, or to initiate a talk about their own needs and wishes. This shows that the necessity for secrecy is not rooted in the reasons the justifications contain, but in the wish to avoid conflicts – mostly with one’s romantic partner, but also with one’s (patriarchal) social environment since most of its members will have the same issues and the same unwillingness to confront them. This is the true origin of the word “cheating” for having secret sexual encounters while in a sexually closed relationship: The individual who has an affair gets their desire at the sexual level more satisfied in a way that would raise conflicts while the same person continues to act sexually closed in public and thus receives a fake sense of peace and tolerance in their romantic relationship and social environment.
To whom this might look like a clever strategy: Don’t be fooled. While it may seem that one can circumvent the conflicts, the individuals involved only repress them. Since the purpose of a romantic partner is to love and care for each other, meaning to share each other’s life to the maximum extent, this person has a right to participate in all decisions that influence the shared time, energy and space – including sexuality. This is why hiding fundamental wishes such as one’s own sexuality and sexual fantasies from one’s romantic partner can be considered unethical without question. The “cheat” even makes the situation worse than before: It fuels additional conflicts due to its unethical, unfair nature which creates the potential for explosive uncovering of the secret sexual encounter(s) or affair(s).
The Belgian-Jewish psychotherapist Esther Perel gave a comprehensive TED Talk on secret affairs, and I agree with it in every aspect. It discusses what drives people in a closed relationship to pursue secret sexual acitivities, and how affected couples have a chance to reunite after an uncovered affair.
The conclusion, however, that those who secretly pursue their sexual desires are “the evil-doers” and those, who don’t, are “the good ones”, is just as false as the whole patriarchal construct. In reality, both individuals involved within a romantic relationship under the patriarchal construct of monogamy play their part in its perpetuation. The person who suppresses his/her own sexual wishes towards other people also expects this from his/her romantic partner: This is the first 50%-portion of responsibility for the situation, as expecting one’s romantic partner to ignore his/her own sexuality, which, due to its internal force, is quite identity-shaping, is not love, but just egocentric possession thinking. One’s romantic partner is actually treated like a sex toy, which can be put back into the drawer after usage, not like an individual person with feelings. The person who does not suppress his/her sexual wishes expects from his/her romantic partner to not put any limitations to the pursuit of his/her sexual wishes. This behaviour originates in the psychological principle that in order to overthrow something standing in one’s way, one must use the exact opposite as a weapon. If one side constantly sets up pointless limitations in accordance with the patriarchal construct of monogamy, the other side tries to terminate this suppression mechanism by an allergic reaction against all limitations whatsoever. These are the missing 50% of responsibility.
The two courses of action described above then reinforce each other: The person who wishes to act on his/her sexual desires gets more and more annoyed because of the constant pointless limitations by the person who suppresses his/her own sexual desires, and ignores the sexual wishes of his/her romantic partner. Depending upon duration and the way the conflict is expressed, the active person can develop a lot of anger, which later unleashes in unilateral actions: “If you deny me my right to be an individual and instead keep treating me like your personal sex toy, I will pursue my sexual desires without asking or telling you!” Naturally, this behaviour is usually noticed by the suppressing person in some way, but instead of questioning his/her principles, the anger is vented towards the romantic partner and the ignorance increases: “You have to desire sex only with me, and you have acted against this law, so now I will put up more barricades!” Both parties are convinced to have the “right” strategy and try to persuade the other one of the correct strategy. However, in fact, both individuals carry out a 50%-portion of a patriarchal construct which has been false from the beginning. This destructive dynamic can go on until the patriarchal construct of monogamy shoots itself in the foot:
Desires and wishes at the sexual level and the romantic level are the same thing.
One person within a romantic relationship is sexually attracted to another person and would like to pursue sexual fantasies with him/her – the respective person is recognized as sexy, hot or very beautiful.
If someone is sexually attracted to another person, a desire for intimacy at the romantic level will always be a part of this attraction.
Now this person confuses – subconsciously (!) – his/her own wishes due to the above patriarchal construct: “Just sex” cannot be the case since a sexual attraction to another person will automatically be linked to a desire for romantic intimacy with this respective person. In addition, the constant necessity for secrecy gets more and more annoying. Why can’t we just “do it”? Openly and honestly, not worrying about how to sneak past one’s romantic partner and tell a convincing bundle of lies afterwards?
After that, the person starts to develop a crush on the person, who he/she is sexually attracted to at the time. But this is not about being an asshole and faking romantic desire in order to get sex. The person who has a crush on someone else actually feels like they are in love and desires a romantic relationship with this new person.
If the crush is reciprocated, the suppressing person is defeated with his/her own weapons: Since there is also a new sexual level included in the new romantic level, the active person can finally act on sexual desires to another person than his/her romantic partner – openly and officially. But because of the third and fourth points within the patriarchal construct of monogamy, the romantic level with the pre-existing romantic partner is now in question:
As long as the romantic relationship is healthy for both individuals involved, it is not possible to desire another person sexually.
As long as the romantic relationship is healthy for both individuals involved, it is not possible to fall in love with someone else.
From the perspective of the patriarchal construct of monogamy, the fact that oneself or one’s romantic partner fell in love with a new person indicates that the current romantic relationship and/or mutual sexuality were not working for both individuals involved. If they had been working, one would not have fallen in love and/or pursued sexual activities with another person. This conflict results in emotional pain for both sides and usually leads to the pre-existing couple’s separation.
This is already a well-known phenomenon in the heteronormative mainstream (and the queer community as well!): The term is serial monogamy.