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September 25, 2005

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You wrote:What's remarkable is not that some people are kinky, it's the huge percentage of people who have been conditioned by their environment to ignore every urge other than heterosexual genital sex.That's not remarkable; that's the behavior of an animal carrying a gene that selects for primarily heterosexual genital sex, and because it does so, it necessarily spreads through the population more than the gene for any other type of sexual behavior.

Also, though your comments about language are totally correct, if sexual behaviors worked like languages, you'd think we would see the same range of primary sexual behaviors that we hear in languages, i.e., an enormous diversity; and yet heterosexual genital sex is overwhelmingly -- probably ubiquitously -- the most "popular" primary sexual behavior around the world.

You wrote: Those people who do display a wider range of behavior are just those on whom the social conditioning has not worked perfectly.

I both agree and disagree with this, I think. (I realize we're all generalizing from our own experience nets here, which is always a little dangerous.) That is, it is possible for (a) social conditioning to have worked imperfectly on someone, while, simultaneously, (b) that person doesn't have a lot of kinks. Kinks are evidence that social conditioning didn't work, but they're not the only evidence, and the lack of that particular evidence doesn't mean the person has been "properly" conditioned.

I like your theory, but I'm suspicious of my very enthusiasm. After all, in addition to kinky people who cheerfully adopt new kinks, there are kinky people who stick steadfastly to a single kink and who simply cannot get turned on without it -- people for whom, say, Japanese bondage >is< sex. That's a failure of conditioning, certainly, but it doesn't fit with the delightfully polymorphosly perverse picture you paint of our originary sex. Their sexuality, if anything, reminds me of the sexuality of the steadfastly normal who simply can't get interested in wacky, non-teleological, non-genitally focused sex.

Not that I have a better theory to offer.

Nyneve-
that's the behavior of an animal carrying a gene that selects for primarily heterosexual genital sex

You're right, of course, that the drive for heterosexual genital sex is biologically based. I skipped a step there. But I think it takes more than that to prevent people, in some cases, from even thinking about other kinds of sex.

Emma-
Kinks are evidence that social conditioning didn't work, but they're not the only evidence

You're absolutely right. I was only referring to conditioning about what is normal and desireable sex, which, by the way, I also don't see as somehow intrinsically evil. Using a humanist standard, a vanilla person who finds conventional sex exciting and fulfilling is better off than a kinky person who is dissatisfied. Rejecting conventions is only important if the conventions are making one unhappy.

J-Tom:
it doesn't fit with the delightfully polymorphosly perverse picture you paint of our originary sex.

I wasn't trying to say that if one were kinky, then one had achieved escape velocity and was off to explore the whole universe of sexual activity. Culture is omnipresesent and powerful. Fixating on one kind of activity and forming one's identity around it is valued in the culture here and now, so it's not surprising that "even" the shibari person, say, also absorbs that value.

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