Monday, April 11, 2005

EOTM: Sexual Psychology - Part 2 - Puberty to 40

Part 1 Part 3

We now move into act II of this tragedy in 3 acts.

Unfortunately for young men, they are utterly incapable of understanding the reasons why the culture finds it so necessary to prevent them from gratifying the raging hunger they are experiencing. There is a small bit of biological timing that makes it impossible for average teenagers to fully grasp the implications of their actions, so appealing to their reason was abandoned long ago. The physical maturation of the onset of puberty roughly corresponds with a stage of mental maturation called "Formal Operations" which, in lay terms, is the ability to deal with abstract concepts and conceptual reasoning. Parents who have suffered through this stage may remember the time when "what if" became their child's favorite passtime.

Prior to entering this stage, the child's mental processes are dominated by "Concrete Operations". Children in the concrete operations stage are simply incapable of grasping anything outside of their own immediate experience and tend to deny that it even can exist. Parents who have tried to warn their children of the dangers of tobacco and other addictive drugs are quite familiar with the denial of "It won't happen to me".

The common ages at which children are allowed to engage in adult activites reflects a cultural understanding of this phenomenon at the intuitive level, even when specific knowledge of the mechanics is missing. Children generally are granted the priviledge to drive an automobile, which is a very concrete skill, at age 16. However the ability to vote and affect public policy is delayed until age 18, giving the child more time to develop reasoning ability, while the right to purchase and consume the powerful mind and mood altering drug alcohol is delayed until age 21 in most states, reflecting the common wisdom and understanding of the potential harm of each activity if engaged in without proper ability to assess the potential consequences and make enlightened choices based on that understanding.

Given the extended period of dependency of young humans before they can become self-supporting in an urbanized, industrialized, agriculturally-based society, and the generalized conditions of scarcity which prevailed in the desert regions of the middle east which surrounded the so-called "birthplace of civilization", it is generally accepted that human civilizations must prevent their children from starting to produce offspring as soon as they are biologically capable. (see the Socio-cultural context page for a more thorough exposition of this) The extremely powerful biological forces which are driving the sexual urge make this far easier said than done.

Historically, physical separation was often used. Adolescent men and women were simply prevented from being together unsupervised by an adult who understood the probable consequences to the young woman of a pregnancy before she had secured the commitment of a man to be her lifelong protector and provider. Neither young men nor young women were capable of fully understanding the long term costs and burdens of raising a child from infancy to self-sufficiency. Only a relatively mature and financially secure man would be able to take on such a burden, precisely the type of man who had the greatest bargaining power in choosing a wife and thus the most unlikely to assume the financial and emotional burdens of raising another man's child. Rather than attempting to explain the complex reasons underlying this to children incapable of grasping it, the last recourse of the exasperated parent often came into play: "Just because". It is usually far easier to transmit what must be done than why it must be done.

The simplest method of communicating this to a child incapable of understanding abstract concepts was to get them to view the act of sex as destructive to some concrete object. This they could understand. Thus a mythical concept called "virginity" was conceived and children were told that it was very real and very important. Not WHY it was important, just that it was. As is often the case with folk wisdom communicated in this manner, eventually the controls became effective enough and entrenched enough in tradition that the "why" no longer mattered. Another example of this is the jewish tradition of adhering to dietary laws which prevented food poisoning in a desert climate lacking refrigeration, and often adequate cooking facilities, but which serve no useful purpose today.

By the time that effective means of fertility control other than abstinence had been developed, most people had forgotten why abstinence had been important and simply continued to believe that it was. In fact tradition had done its job so well, that fertility control was itself viewed as evil because it allowed breaking the prohibition against non-marital sex. Sex itself had become the evil, not just sex which produced unsupported children who either died or became a burden and drain on society.

Unfortunately for men and women alike, both of them were not able to make the transition instantly on their wedding night from the belief that sex itself was bad to the belief that it was something positive to be shared between them. Some people have the prohibition so deeply ingrained in them that they are never able to make the transition. This is particularly true of women since they, bearing disproportionately the consequences of unrestrained fertility and being the more effective locus of social control of the sexual urge, are most often the target of the internalized controls and prohibitions.

A young man who honored the need of his object of affection to retain her mythical "virtue" until the wedding night might be rewarded for his courtesy and chivalry by being locked into a marriage to a woman incapable of responding with passion and warmth, one perhaps whose mother advised her to "lie back and think of England", thus depriving him of the emotional contact and intimacy which was one of his primary reasons for commiting in the first place. Every young man has heard tales of loveless sexless marriages, and every one of them has sworn "not me". All the more reason to test the waters before signing on as a lifer.

However, this was decidedly NOT in the best interests of the female anxious to snare a mate. In fact the less giving the female was capable of being, the less likely it was that a free sample would inspire the young man to return. The relatively rare woman whose sexuality remains intact has no difficulty attracting male companionship. Men invariably respond to the underlying warmth and emotional health of such a woman by valuing her highly as a whole person and returning frequently to enjoy the pleasure of her company which may or may not include having sex with her, but in either case is not dependant on it. On the other hand, a woman who is so emotionally damaged as to be incapable of giving and relating to a man must rely on his powerful sexual urges to lure him within the reach of her clutches. The mother's dictum of "why would he buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?" struck fear deep into the hearts of many a young woman and created a firm resolve to not be left in the lurch. They, too, swore "not me".

However, the drive to survive is not so easily contained or destroyed. Pubescent women are just as susceptible to the biological imperative to help the species survive by reproducing as young males are. Physical separation required enforcement and constant vigilance by an adult with some vested interest in keeping the girl-child as marriageable as possible. This became progressively more difficult as the physical mobility of the population increased. The fictitious concept of virginity required constant social reinforcement to keep the young peoples' rapidly developing mental abilities from allowing them to see through it. Another means of control, which was more internalized and required less maintenance, was required. Enter ROMANCE.

Romance was the perfect means for co-opting the sexual drive of the female into a socially acceptable form. First, it thoroughly sanitized all that nasty sex out of the picture and replaced it with the universally positively regarded emotion of love. Second, it bundled the social requirements for (barely) acceptable sex into a single unified whole which followed the form - if a then b (then c, then d, etc.). It was ok to sleep with a man if romance was in the picture because you were "in love", and if you were "in love" then he would WANT to marry you and provide for you and protect you and give you expensive gifts and support you in the manner in which you wanted to become accustomed and so on ad nauseum. Even better, you didn't have to sleep with him because romantic love was SO pure, that he only wanted what you wanted and if you didn't want to sleep with him then he didn't want you to.

Romance was a potent and heady drug because it tied directly into the teenage tendency toward grandiosity and desire for personal power. It wasn't that nasty dirty shameful sex he was after, it was her pure and beautiful soul. And it was so powerful that he would risk anything, suffer any hardship, climb any mountain, slay any dragon, wait any length of time necessary to be able to prostrate himself at her feet and bask in the glow of their mutual love for each other. Retch, puke, vomit.

Unfortunately pubescent males are just as grandiose as pubescent females, so this tied directly into the hero mythology that hooks so many young men. What could be better to prove himself and secure the affection and love he craves for all time with the same act of bravery, devotion, and self-sacrifice. And what better way to sanitize his own impulses which have been so deeply shamed than to perform some great heroic act, thus atoning for all his evilness and proving himself worthy of her love, her soul, and her body which she would gleefully share with him in deep and fulfilling passion. Retch, puke, vomit.

There were only a few small flies in the ointment.
  • There is a reason these are called "fairy" tales, they don't exist. This is not reality, it is fantasy. Real men do not act this way, only adolescents.
  • Few men these days have the financial, power, and status resources to be able to take time off from making a living to go slay dragons.
  • Besides real dragons are in pretty short supply these days, so the dragons must be created from circumstance. The modern substitute is risk-taking. Teenage males demonstrate their "bravery" in order to impress their would-be princesses by taking useless and needless risks. Frequently their reward is not the eternal and undying love they were seeking, but a nice casket and graveside service.
  • Everything hinges on her attractive power. She has only a passive role in the process, no active role. She is a helpless victim of the circumstances which create the opportunity for him to be a hero and his own willingness to do so. If she is an enterprising young woman, she will create the circumstances by becoming a "damsel in distress" or her modern counterpart "the woman in jeopardy".
  • The drug rush that young women get from such power is addictive. Men soon learn that there is an endless supply of dragons for them to slay. Women have so fallen "in love" with the victim role that they refuse to pass up any opportunity for a repeat performance, even when men have tired of "proving" themselves over and over and have moved on to better ways to spend their time, after having realized that the promise of love was a lie constucted to manipulate them into confirming the woman's sexual power over them. Women find themselves playing to an audience made up exclusively of other women, which is fine with most of them because men find the whole thing rather boring and do not fully appreciate the creativity and skill required to continually deliver such a finely honed victim performance.
  • Feminism has beaten men to death for the role they play in this grand melodrama, so men have become much less willing to play their designated part even the first time, knowing that instead of receiving the adulation they expect for their grand gesture that they will be bashed, sneered at, and humiliated.

Thus we deliver our pubescent children to the threshold of adulthood with diametrically opposed agendas, in a cultural context which gives them no realistic and practical guidance for how to proceed, in a society which simultaneously glorifies and vilifies sex, and expect the results to be something other than the carnage which has resulted. Sometimes I have to wonder if there is intelligent life on Earth.

The stage is now set for the exposition of the tragedy. It would probably be far better for all concerned if males and females were still separated during this stage of their lives because it will take years for them to unlearn all the nonsense of the patterns of interaction established during this entirely unnatural period of their lives. Many unfortunates will fail to do so, and will find themselves alone at middle age and beyond wondering what the hell went wrong.

Developmentally, it is inevitable that adolescent males and females will regard each other as objects since they are just beginning the stage of neurological development which will allow them to be able to view anything any other way. Just as we do not expect infants to walk, talk, or control their bladders and bowels until they reach the stage of physical and neurological maturity which is the prerequisite for doing so, we cannot expect adolescents to exhibit fully developed adult reasoning and social skills until they have reached the stage of physical and neurological maturity which allows them to do so.

What is not inevitable is that they become arrested in this stage and never develop the ability to see beyond their own ego and self-importance. Children normally progress very smoothly through the normal developmental stages based on physical and neurological maturation. (In the view of all except their parents whose need to live vicariously through their children is symptomatic of their own arrested development and who tend to view the child's developmental rate as an achievement of the parents, so attempt to force the child's development to conform to some arbitrary timetable which fits their own ego needs but not the needs of the child.) However there are certain critical periods for the development of each skill. If a skill is not mastered during the critical period, it is difficult or impossible for the child to develop it later. For example, a child who does not develop language skills by puberty will likely never develop them.

There are certain social skills, like language, which require social interaction with those who have already developed them. The ability to have mature adult relationships and assume mature adult responsibilities is a social skill which normally develops beginning with the onset of puberty and proceeds rapidly for the next 5 to 8 years. The commonality of the ages of 18 and 21 as transitional ages in many cultures is no accident, nor is it arbitrary. The process slows down after that, but basically will continue throughout life with another peak or transition somewhere around the age of 40. Now referred to as "mid-life", this is the age that has marked the end of the normal human life span for most of the history of our species. Again it is neither accidental nor arbitrary that the "founding fathers" specified age 35 as the minimum for election to the presidency. Empirical observation over thousands of years of human history demonstrated that it was necessary to attain that age before a sense of social responsibility and the largeness of things had developed to the point where someone could demonstrate wise leadership on that scale. Again this is reflected in the folk wisdom of referring to someone of that age as "mature".

By isolating our adolescents in a separate "youth culture" of extended education and indolence, we effectively prevent them from developing these mature social skills by depriving them of contact with those who possess them. Like language, without this social interaction children simply cannot develop these skills. They become arrested at the stage where everything is an object - people, relationships, love - and their life becomes dedicated to the pursuit and acquisition of objects - clothes, expensive athletic shoes, cars, houses, boats, jewelry, etc. This of course fits in very nicely with our consumer/merchantile culture. Their only social interaction comes from other adolescents who have not mastered adult social skills and from their parents who are themselves arrested and generally lack those skills. In fact, many parents tend to regard their children as objects, providing the most potent lesson of all and shaping the children into thinking of themselves as objects.

Then, one day, the children's hour is over and these arrested adolescents are dumped out into the so called "real" world with a script for "success" and a head full of unrealistic expectations. The next few years tend to be very painful as they try to master the environment of the work world, a social environment largely based on their success in that world, and an intimate relationship with another equally self-centered arrested adolescent. Almost no one succeeds in all three.

Men have been trained to regard women as beauty and sex objects and their self-esteem is all tied up in how much beauty they have been able to purchase with their success and financial power. Women have been trained to regard men as success and source-of-new-objects objects and their self-esteem is all tied up in how much success they have been able to purchase with their beauty and sexual power. A wonderful example of this was shown in the movie which came out several years ago starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, entitled "The Jerk". Having met when they were both poor and could appreciate each other as human beings, they became rich by accident. Then, in the true tradition of Greek tragedy, they became poor again as a result of the same event that made them rich. In one scene Bernadette Peters's character was sitting in the middle of the floor crying over the loss of all their wealth and delivered this incredibly insightful line: "It's not the money I'll miss, it's all the stuff."

In this one brief scene, the disease of the 20th century is revealed. She is incapable of seeing that the stuff is a direct result of the money, which in turn is a direct result of the work expended to acquire the money. She only sees the stuff. He sees that her happiness depends on the stuff and has nothing to do with him except to the extent that he can provide her with stuff. People have ceased to be human beings to each other and are pursued as trophies, objects which commemorate their accomplishments: his accomplishments in the area of being successful in providing her with stuff, her accomplishments in being beautiful enough to attract a man successful enough to provide her with stuff.

The old saying that life begins at 40 is again folk wisdom which reconizes that the process of maturation proceeds as the human ages regardless of whether they think or do anything about it. The mythology of "stuff" has failed to provide the promised happiness and people begin to undertake the process of doing the work that their parents screwed up: teaching themselves to be a mature adult able to have mature adult relationships.

Now is where the cruelty of nature reverses itself. The man looks over at the arrested adolescent woman who he has been carrying around for years, working long hours at a high stress job so he can make the money to provide her with stuff, listening to her bitch him out and whine that he isn't providing her with the emotional stuff she needs or even enough of the material stuff, tolerating vicious emotional abuse because she sees THE BITCH as the only model of female strength and has to keep up appearances of not knuckling under to a man to please her feminist sisters, living without the emotional support which was the reason that he commited to the bitch in the first place, putting up with her endless manipulations to control and remodel him into exactly the object she wants him to be, realizes that hold her beauty power once had on him is gone, and says "enough".

If he has truly matured he looks for a woman who herself has grown up, given up the cinderella fairy tale, claimed her own power instead of indulging her addiction to her beauty power, decided not to rest on her sense of entitlement and expect to be given to the rest of her life and instead has actually realized that she has to give instead of just receive and consume, and wants to be a partner. Sadly not all men do this and settle on trading their worn out 40 for two 20s. Even more sadly, if he has grown up he will likely have to spend a long time alone and looking for a woman who has, because women in the 90s tend to demand the right to not have to.

The poisoned legacy of feminism is that it considers even arrested adolescence to be too much to ask of most women and demands the right to claim a state of infancy as the natural state for women. Just as the female infant is picked up and comforted more quickly than the male infant who must cry longer and more aggressively, ie. perform, for attention, females now feel entitled to the best of everything without having to DO anything to get it except look cute. And when they outgrow their infantile cuteness and are expected to purchase the success and money they want with either hard work like men do, or with sex in the time honored arrested-adolescent tradition, they cry "foul, oppression, backlash, glass ceiling, RAPE!!!!!!!"

I seriously doubt that there is much which can be done for most women who are now aged 18 to 35. The feminist nightmare of the more power women get, the louder they scream about not having any power is too seductive for these arrested adolescents. Every once in a while I see a hopeful sign [of a few women] who are willing to claim their own power and sexuality, but for every one of those I see 10 or 20 who are so addicted to the power of victimhood, so enthralled by the tyranny of the weak, so in love with THE BITCH, or so successful in making money off their sexuality (none dare call it prostitution) that they are absolutely unwilling to grow up.

The real "Beauty Myth" is that women have to be beautiful in order to find a mate. Open your eyes and look around you. You will see women of all sizes and shapes, beautiful and ugly as a mud fence, wearing wedding rings. Women who are not and never have been beautiful still have been able to find a man willing to make a commitment to them. These are the women who did grow up and realized that they had to offer a man some substance instead of relying on tight buns and a painted-on Kabuki mask or dishonest manipulation to trap a man into making a commitment.

Age 40+


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