Bad Ideas Equal Boring Sex

by | Feb 16, 1999

A recently released University of Chicago survey suggests that sex is among the last things on the minds of too many American couples. The study concluded that 31 percent of men and 43 percent of women regularly have no interest in sex–with boredom ranking as the leading cause. Medical conditions as a cause for sexual […]

A recently released University of Chicago survey suggests that sex is among the last things on the minds of too many American couples. The study concluded that 31 percent of men and 43 percent of women regularly have no interest in sex–with boredom ranking as the leading cause.

Medical conditions as a cause for sexual dysfunction aside, why have so many Americans reported that they are bored with sex? That they receive no pleasure from it, that they have no interest in sex, that orgasms are nonexistent or not worthwhile, and even that sex hurts?

Thirty years ago it was claimed that Puritan attitudes led to guilt, frustration and boredom in the bedroom, and a “sexual liberation” was launched. This assault on Puritan attitudes produced a sex-saturated culture: Sex is taught in grade school; it is plastered across the covers of magazines and in MTV music clips; how-to sex manuals abound; promiscuity is rampant among teenagers and considered by many as a legitimate “lifestyle.”

So why are people still yawning in the bedroom?

Could Americans’ deepest ideas about sex–both Puritan and libertine–be the cause of the dysfunction? Is the problem philosophic?

Moralists from Plato to Mother Theresa have told us that the body is vulgar, and that purity consists in denying earthly pleasures. Real love is “spiritual” and sex for anything other than procreation is “dirty,” they preach. Practicing this mandates suppressing sexual desire. Thus, an obedient couple condemns themselves to suffer a life of frustration. “Yet this discipline is proper to the purity” of their bond and “confers on it a higher value,” says one papal encyclical.

Those who succumb to this viewpoint bear a lifetime of guilt, if they are fulfilling their sexual desires, or of boredom, if they are not. Of course, most people don’t take morality–or anything–that seriously today, so they mix a little “virtue” with a little sex. Church no longer produces exaltation on Sunday, but neither does sex on Wednesday.

A long line of libertines–from Bacchus to Woodstock hippies–urge us to reject the “spiritual” approach of the Puritans. Instead, the advocates of “free love” have long been telling us that physical pleasure is the beginning, end, and all of sex. Romantic love is a farce, and fidelity to your ideal romantic partner is a prison. Stop wasting time seeking your ideal lover, they say, go forth and have sex with multiple partners.

With shadows of the Virgin Mary or Don Juan coloring nearly every image, article and opinion about sex, should we still wonder why Americans don’t enjoy it? Should we be shocked by the sexual boredom of those who think sexual pleasure is perverted? And should we be surprised that those who advocate a non-spiritual, “animalistic” approach find in the end that they are no more stimulated by sex than by chocolate bars, roller coasters or other purely sensory delights.

Both the “sexual liberationists” and the advocates of self-denial are wrong. We are not mere animals, and we are not disembodied souls–we are human. We have both mind and body, and sexual pleasure depends on them both–it is through the body that lovers’ souls meet.

Romantic love, which can only derive from a serious relationship based on values, includes and unites spirit and body. When a romantic couple makes love, it is not just to another body but also to the values and virtues–the spirit–of the other person. Romantic love, wrote novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, is “an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire.” This is true for the millions of Americans in happy, romantic relationships who have not separated spiritual values and sexual desires.

The sexual dysfunction of many Americans is a genuine crisis, and solving it requires a genuine sexual revolution that begins with overthrowing the anti-sex ideas that still dominate so many Americans.

Larry Salzman is a  writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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