The basics of the philosophy are now established: the inarguable size of our sexual existence, and the honesty and responsibility required for coming to functional terms with the living reality of such an existence. From here, there are a myriad of topics to work through. Each topic pivots around this core philosophy, so the seemingly insurmountable mass of confusion can gradually be distilled through a relatively simple apparatus. This is very exciting! Personally, I can’t wait to get started, so let’s jump right in with a cannonball splash.
Nothing causes waves like jealousy! But why so much of it going around? As sexual beings, why are we so possessive of one another’s bodies? This topic needs serious attention because it represents a whole sloppy quagmire of extraneous ingredients that need to be sifted, sorted and scrutinized. We can’t carry on and expect to get things straight without so doing, so let’s get on it.
Reasons for jealousy:
- insecurity and fear
- scarcity model
We are fearful and insecure around sex for many reasons. The most significant one is that we are born into a sex-negative environment, saturated with every kind of message that sexuality is shameful, secretive and off-limits, which we absorb like thirsty little sponges, so that we are pretty well educated in this before we can even speak. And of course, these messages only become intensified as we age. People naturally fear the unknown, so, because we are deliberately kept in the dark from day one (in order to spare that youthful innocence), sex becomes scary. As we grow into adults, pure fear becomes disguised in various ways so that we don’t often recognize it as such. When we eventually engage with others sexually, that fear manifests as insecurity, sending us grasping for safety in the guise of exclusivity, commitment, “love”, devotion… ownership.
Staking a proprietary claim upon someone else’s body, heart, life, is the most obvious way to secure the uncertain sexual domain. It has become second nature to stake such a claim once we have shared the pleasures and vulnerabilities of sex, but only because our first nature has been denied and distorted by the way we’ve been taught to view sex and sexual relationship. It is not the biology of being human, contrary to what many pseudo-scientific sources want us to believe. And, contrary to what we may want to call it, it is not love. Call it what it is: it is grasping at security, from a place of heedless, and needless, insecurity.
To make some handy heteronormative generalizations, a female is trained to emotionalize sex and thus cling to emotional security in addition to seeking the other “Prince Charming” qualities in a man to fulfill her life. A male is allowed to have a more sexualized sexuality, but then from this place, one cannot help noticing that sex is a highly limited commodity (mostly because of how women are trained), so he’s got to secure the woman as his property to protect his sexual outlet. So here it all is: Fear. Insecurity. Ownership. Scarcity Model. All these ingredients swirl round and round building into a self-perpetuating cyclone of destruction, because we cannot openly respond to one another in the midst of such turmoil (hence those brittle relational structures I mentioned in post #3). Under these conditions, honesty and responsibility are frivolous luxuries that cannot be afforded in this precarious sexual economy. Who in their right mind would take such a risk?
Well, it depends on what you call ‘right mind’, now, doesn’t it? Is the right mind that which plays the game grasping for its rewards, or is it that which recognizes greater, more enduring reward in the world of honesty and responsibility? This is a highly subjective question, and can only be answered individually. Intrepidly curious seekers may have to get in and experiment to find out which one is right for them… back again to the practical participatory zone.
Honesty and responsibility around jealousy leads straight into the realms of relational intimacy and emotional maturity. Both of these lead to healing the shame that underlies the fear that defines our tumultuous sexual relationships. Responsible honesty in this realm looks like exposing our jealous feelings without dumping them onto the other person. It looks like holding ourselves accountable for our own responses rather than blaming it on someone else and foisting upon them restrictive demands to accommodate our own insecurity. It means taking charge of growing out of that condition of disempowerment. It can be done. It takes fortitude, but it delivers big time… deliverance from jealousy’s hellfire!
“So is jealousy natural? It depends. Fear is certainly natural, and like any other kind of insecurity, jealousy is an expression of fear. But whether or not someone else’s sex life provokes fear depends on how sex is defined in a given society, relationship, and individual’s personality.” Christopher Ryan, Sex At Dawn, p.147-8.
“When we tell our partners that we feel jealous, we are making ourselves vulnerable in a very profound way. When our partners respond with respect, listen to us, validate our feelings, support and reassure us, we feel better taken care of than we would have if no difficulty had arisen in the first place. So we strongly recommend that you and your partners give each other the profoundly bonding experience of sharing your vulnerabilities. We are all human, we are all vulnerable, and we all need validation.”
― Dossie Easton, The Ethical Slut