(I’ve also posted the following on the PF forums, so those who’ve already seen the corresponding thread needn’t bother with this post. This blog is read by non-forum-members too though, which is why I’m re-posting this material here.)
What follows is a pretty interesting (and occasionally pretty cute!) documentary comparing and contrasting the sex-related policies of East Germany and West Germany over the course of the Cold War (which sometimes related to broader issues of gender relations) and their real-world impact on the sex lives of the respective populations. Involved are topics like the impact of the early introduction of East German women to the paid labor force, the early introduction of sex education (and the East and West’s different approaches thereto) and reproductive rights in East Germany, policy on public nudity, and the legalization of the sex industry in West Germany. As a forewarning, since the documentary deals primarily with the topic of sexuality, one should note that it includes significant amounts of nudity and sexual content, though it’s intended for educational purposes. Anyway, as long as that doesn’t offend you, take a view:
As for me, as a Marxist and, above all, a fellow human being with impulses, I do consider myself basically a sexual liberal, but not a sexual libertarian (i.e. an absolute liberal). My thinking on this subject, though independent, is very similar to the policy prescriptions and cultural directionality exemplified by East Germany in the documentary above.
I believe the state should actively promote happy and healthy relationships, including happy and healthy sexual relationships. The pursuit of happiness is one thing, but we typically need some help to arrive. The state should foster public dialogue on the subject and promote satisfying, reciprocal relationships based on the research at its disposal at a given point. The state should also allow free experimentation with different sexual practices in order that people can discover what works for them. (Reproductive rights (rights to such options as birth control and abortion) fall in the category of women’s basic rights in my mind and accordingly, I think, should be made freely available.) Society should be basically open and permissive when it comes to sexual matters and also, for that matter, when it comes to the human body, which people (including yes ordinary people) shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of. People should be free to explore and have fun. Sex is a good and natural thing! People shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of it as in the olden days!
On the other hand, I object to the commodification of sex and to the objectification of human body. I think the main problem with our modern-day culture here in the West when it comes to sex is that it’s made into an individualistic, competitive sport like everything else in a capitalist society. (And you can’t possibly compete, by the way. One of the foremost proofs can be seen in the growing number of men who are giving up real-world relationships so they can masturbate to computer images.) I feel that this artificially makes sex too much about power and not enough about intimacy. Sex should be about mutual enjoyment. Our current culture elevates the social stature of the orgasm as the epitome of sexual power and thus the epitome of the sexual experience. We need to make sex more cooperative than competitive, I believe, and define it broadly rather than specifically around the orgasm.
There are also those who, for whatever reasons, just simply don’t have a particular interest in sex and they should be as free as possible from undo pressure. Society needs to convey that ‘no’ is a legitimate answer too, particularly for its male population. I don’t know if you saw that survey that came out of Australia not too long ago that showed a majority of its youth wished they could have less sex. That should be a legitimate option, not something that gets you stigmatized and perhaps even ostracized.
The bottom line in my mind is this: people’s sex lives, should they opt to have sex lives, should be, above all, natural, respectful, and considerate. We need to stop prescribing universal abstinence, universal indulgence, certain body types, and so forth. We need to get rid of these “alpha”, “beta”, and “omega” categorizations of people based on how many sexual options they’re believed to have as much as we can and start thinking of people as equals. I think that’s what leads to more fulfilling love lives and sex lives.