The Sanctity of Sex, Politics, and Culture

As a person speaking to another person, I want to start off saying that it is absolutely wrong to violate someone’s personal boundaries, particularly physical boundaries, and more particularly in a sexual way. This seems obvious, but it occurs very frequently. Rape*, sexual abuse*, or taking advantage of someone through sexual experience, seems like the most horrific violation against another human being, if you compare them all. This is because it has to do with a person’s dignity, one of the few things that can truly be owned. We know that slavery is wrong because it infringes on bodily autonomy, the vehicle one uses to shape their destiny. It is hard to describe exactly why sexual assault is so egregious, but these two violations share the same root: using someone else and going against their personal will. Rape is an extreme version of this, and there are other kinds of violation of coercion and power. Other than physical force, two people who are not meeting as equals can make the mental affirmation of consent clear, although it certainly does not remove the agency or personal responsibility of both parties. It is also wrong to be accused of committing such a serious act if you did not do it or for others to exaggerate normal human interaction in order to create victims. A person can decide how they feel about another and whether or not they want to have anything to do with another personally, but they should be careful when it comes to the political arena.


The #MeToo Movement is not just about external politics

That being said, there should be a greater focus on the self and the role that each person plays in their own lives rather than pretending that these issues only happen to people on TV. This is not to ask for perfection, but I think the question should really turn back to the individual because, as with everything, what happens on a larger scale also tends to be close to home. Each person plays a part in their communities, work, and family, but it is too easy to put evil in some distant group far away.


On the Sanctity of Sex and Sexuality

To get into the meat of the topic, I first want to talk about the sanctity of sex. Why is it so sacred? Why is it so wrong not to have personal control over sexual interactions? What are the messages about sex that run counter to the fear of abuse? As I stated earlier, the act of violating someone through their sexual experiences carries more weight than pretty much any other circumstance. I think this weight comes from its link to creation, the fact that body and mind belong only to that individual and nobody else. This notion of autonomy has been established in many societies, thanks to abolition movements, yet is still being fought for in many places around the world. Sexuality is very personal, generally explored in a state of vulnerability, and it can have serious consequences like the conception of a child. It is almost a violation of our reason for being, the source of the bringing of new life into the world, and how we recreate ourselves. This description isn’t universal, but for most, sexual parts are a sacred place of the body that the individual alone should be the gatekeeper of. It is obviously not just physical, but a strong psychological access point into one’s psyche. There is a metaphysical aspect to sex.


The Culture Around Sex

However, after stating all this, I think there are some conflicting messages in modern culture regarding exposure to sex. If it is something to be so cherished, why is there such a casual relationship to it? How would this attitude not influence others, especially those who may not have the same control as an upstanding citizen, due to psychological issues, or simply predatory behavior. One could argue that those individuals would do it anyway, but I strongly believe culture influences how people behave in society, and whether or not they take out some urge in a particular way. I’m thinking of movies like American Pie and music like dance-hall or hip-hop (not all) that show an irreverence for sex. These can be good for countering sexual repression, but it is oftentimes downright degrading.

During college, there was a performer at a concert rapping “suck my d***, b***h” over and over into the mic. It seemed that everyone continued bobbing their heads along. I was so horrified I considered going up there and telling him to stop. I think there is something weird going on in society. I don’t consider myself socially conservative, and this is not about repression or what people choose to do in their private lives. However, most people understand that the fully expressed human being contains intellectual and creative elements and isn’t purely sexual.

Sexually repressive cultures often have issues with sexuality manifesting itself in other ways, but I definitely notice a relationship to sex that is very casual in the modern West. There is outrage for transactional sex, like when a woman trades her body for status, but isn’t the West reinforcing this view in other ways? There seems to be a correlation between the casual narratives Western society entertains itself with, and people thinking they can get away with sexual predation. The internal relationship to sex affects a person’s actions. That may sound obvious, but it’s easy to observe in much of the West’s entertainment. Maybe it won’t make every person  do certain things, but there are people out there who have psycho-sexual issues or are not stable. And perhaps it’s great not to repress people from exploring sex and sharing their explorations when it’s natural, but certain social boundaries are important. So, if this current attitude to sex is all wrong, but Western culture  says something different, how are individuals promoting, partaking in, or discouraging this culture?


#MeToo and Sexual Assault Affects Both Men and Women, Boys and Girls

There’s also the issue of making sexual assault a conflict between men and women. But men and boys, as in children, are also victims of sexual abuse. In general, men are physically stronger and oftentimes powerful in the corporate world. This isn’t to deny the great correlation of gender being linked to instances where someone is likely to be coerced, but all human suffering is valid. It should not be weighed and measured against another’s. Each person’s suffering should be acknowledged and encouraged to be processed so that the individual doesn’t continue the cycle. Both men and women are involved in this process. This is why rape or sexual assault should not be framed as a man violating a woman but a person violating another person. Additionally, the positive aspect of a man’s strength is to be a protector. They cannot do that without the same traits that allow them to abuse that difference. People cannot and should not throw all men under the bus. Men, and especially boys, are not immune to the psychological effects of assault or coercion. Evil is a line in every single human being that can be crossed, though people may be inclined to do certain things due to categories that they belong to.


Women Take Part in Sexual Assault Too

Women are often aggressors against their children, and women outside the family too have power over both younger genders. Those negative experiences don’t just disappear but last into adulthood. Regardless of the plethora of powerful men being exposed for using their status to commit varying degrees of sexual abuse against women, women are just as capable, involved, and complicit in creating an environment that makes these abuses possible. Western society has an interesting ability to only point out wrongdoing when the person comes from a certain group.


Dealing with Sexual Abuse as a Society

I think these issues are very personal. I wish there was more of a focus on addressing the psychological issues behind abusive behavior, where applicable, rather than on punishment and retribution. I think people should be removed from having the ability to violate personal boundaries (through a form of separation from society once having committed a crime). However, shame is ultimately a counterproductive way to build a better society. Nothing goes away by being buried; issues go away by being brought into the light and processed. This is true for all people from all walks of life, regardless of gender. Focusing on punishment, prison, and  locking people away does not help anybody heal. Isolation from the rest of society is important, but offenders should be going to actual “correctional institutions”, not just in title.

Maybe this perspective is too optimistic. Maybe some people cannot be helped. However, I still think that rehabilitation should be the focus. Maybe abusers should all do the exercises I mentioned in another video, especially Jordan Peterson’s. Just a thought! As a very intelligent species on the planet, if people want to put their focus and efforts on rehabilitation, the solution will come. People won’t have sympathy for others if they don’t have sympathy for themselves, and from what I see, most deny and avoid any difficult feelings. So, of course people will continue to shame, deny, and avoid the mirror image seen in others. The outcome of society rests on everyone’s shoulders.


Edited by Em Solis


*Definitions of Rape and Sexual Abuse

The definition of rape changes depending on the context, including with or without penetration, with a focus on coercion, threat of coercion or force to engage in sexual intercourse of various types. See some relevant articles below:


The definition of sexual abuse is more clear, but to clarify, here are some relevant articles below



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