It’s a great luxury to think about sex in the way I did on the last post, from the point of view of a person with enough resources and freedom to make choices and worry about whether they can find the kind of “fun” partner they want for the weekend. The real place where sex matters is in a place like Somalia, gripped by drought, where sex means a gaunt mother carrying a baby the size of a cat while she staggers slowly over the miles to a refugee camp. The most recent image of a careless world is a temporary camp that is ringed by the bodies of babies dead of starvation that no one has the strength to collect and bury. This sort of thing has happened for millennia but we never had to look at it before or what it means to be human animals dying en masse as though we were elephants or polar bears. We.
The world is pressing on the boundaries of our cultures, our institutions, our consciences. But just wanting to do the right thing is not enough. We must rethink the moral rules of behavior to accommodate the new realities. It’s not just about managing one’s own life and pleasures, but about planetary survival. I’m not talking about sacks of beans and rice. I’m talking about mind maps.
Many of our assumptions and moral premises are meant to keep the babies coming in the face of discouragements like war, plague, poverty. Thus, abortion is wrong, babies out of wedlock are wrong because marriage is the economic system to support them, death of the aged and marginally living must be resisted at all costs -- very high costs that might otherwise go to needy babies. The biological imperative is about one’s own tribe so marriage to an out-group should be resisted. Birth control is wrong because if the sentimentalization of motherhood breaks down, no one will have babies. If the economic systems that can support families breaks down, no one will have babies. If the world is always at war and the risks of young death are high, no one will have babies. Let the other mothers be the ones who leave their dead babies on the ground when they stagger off for food. Our tribe must grow. The pill, condoms, are just genocides trying to diminish us. Let our warriors force their women to have our babies so THEY will have to raise them. The fact that fathers can now be identified and in some cases forced to pay for their babies has been good birth control.
People will turn away from talk like this that is realistic but then go to horror films where the same issues can be safely faced by making “others” into the aliens we think they are: giant ants or robots. “Alien” is the bitch who performs the ultimate face-rape right into the viscera so that her larva bursts from the heart of us.
There’s been quite a bit of attention for women who were forcibly sterilized without their consent or knowledge. They mourn. Poor powerless women from minorities except in China where the minority was the hidden fewer rich. The final consequences are still unknown, esp. in a population now very short of women. But in the US women who become men via surgery and chemicals still want to have babies. Of their own. Despite the many many babies and older children who need nurturing. Among them are little girls who are part of families but who breach their own safety by going online to show off their sexy charms, by dressing like sex bombs when they are still primary school students, by celebrating promiscuity. Emotionally and physiologically they are not capable of producing a healthy child nor supporting it economically.
I’m going to write a sci-fi story in which a third sex has been invented. This kind of person is either both sexes or neither, but augmented with wisdom. Once the ovum has been fertilized, this third sex must add (haven’t decided how yet -- possibly by injecting something through the ear, but they’ll need a new organ for that) his/her own “magic cell” that will allow the fertilized egg to grow. The third sex contributor has full power to decide on emotional stability, physiological maturity and robustness, and economic sufficiency. Imagine the plot lines that develop when people want babies for sentimental reasons that the third sex contributor won’t approve: the blackmail, the lies, the social pressure. So let’s add a little something: the ultimate orgasm, a three-way ecstasy only possible if the wise contributor is in true agreement that a baby is a good thing. The wise contributor cannot fake this “orgasm” or the whole thing will unravel.
Then the plot gimmick would shift to a jealous maladjusted person who hates change and wants bliss without babies but refuses to be surgically interdicted to prevent fertility because he or she has a “right” to be fertile, so begins to stalk the world with a high-powered rifle, systematically murdering wise contributors. People who have been doing studies on the characteristics of wise contributors find their papers rifled.
Or how about there starts to be a jealous movement saying that all wise contributors should be forbidden to have babies themselves because it will distort their judgment and they’ll begin to automatically fertilize each other’s pregnancies. Or maybe the population of the world shrinks so far that the wise contributors must have conventions to discuss among themselves whether it’s necessary to lower their standards. What if there is another movement among non-wise contributors, an ascetic sect that says it is wrong to enjoy conception because it is a holy duty and holy duties should be costly and onerous, not a joyful practice. Or some lab advertises a new drug, ear drops that will validate a pregnancy so it will grow without a wise contributor but there’s some terrible side-effect, like Viagra headaches.
In short, human politics would continue. After all, we used to have “wise contributors” in reality. They were called ministers, judges, counselors, parents. They simply had no power except persuasion. When I tried to talk to people who wanted to get married and mentioned sex, they got very angry. But Mother Nature is the ultimate counselor. She’s far more harsh than I am. Talk about a bitch.