posted on Feb, 24 2015 @ 12:53 AM
Right now in Ontario Canada conservatives and liberals are battling it out on new sex education legislation that mandates teaching about anal sex,
oral sex, and sexting, to 12 year olds.
I don't want to get into the rightness of wrongness of the issue. Rather, I want to talk about what actually matters: what people feel as they think
about these subjects, and what they do psychologically - in terms of concepts emphasized and likewise concepts ignored - in order, ultimately, to
evade the inevitable conflict in their position.
One could say conservatives are making too big of a deal - catastrophizing as they usually do something that is smaller than it looks. One could also
say that liberals have gone overboard, become far too obsessed with sexuality and the importance of sex education, and perhaps, may have a larger
social goal of 'de-gendering' gender differences and 'denormalizing heterosexuality.
Both sides, to me, encounter problems in their thinking and how they choose to think about their respective subjects. The conservative, taken away by
his (most likely) religious fervor, will say whatever he or she will need to say to complete their point, to come to a point where they can feel "i
have defended MYSELF". The liberal as well, equally convinced, will make abstract what is more concrete: will treat normative gender differences and
normative sexual orientation, as if they were nothing more than socially malleable preferences elaborated by patriachal culture, and not, as in the
mammalian kingdom, basic mainstays of mammalian reproduction.
This is a crucial thing to remember as it inflicts all of our arguments. Whenever we push a point we oftentimes go too far, exclude the subtly and
complexity that actually exists. One could have a metaphysical attachment to the image of man + woman = reproduction, and, in truth, this is an
intuitively plausible picture that liberals of the "radical" persuasion have great trouble acknowledging.
Likewise, conservatives refuse to think of what motivates their positions. Is it homophobia? Perhaps. But I think beneath every homophobia is a
misogynistic set of feelings which evacuates all awareness of sensitivity, receptivity, empathy, and vulnerability, such as in the experience of
shame, from their conscious awareness.
Why does one side so easily ignore - dissociate - the plausibility of natures male-female complementarity as an enduring ontology, while the other
side clings wildly to their views without demonstrating much in the way of self awareness?
This is a big can of beans that is much larger than I can open. But even exposing it, I think, allows us to become more mindful of how we cast our
position relative to opposite positions. In presenting our views, especially in feeling ourselves as "right", we inevitably split away all views
incompatible with the "brilliance" of our cognitive position. In doing so we unconsciously exaggerate and embellish, ignore, and misrepresent if
need be, and all the while we do this we are unconscious of the secret affective motives which generate our attentional orientations.
A very important - and true - concept from contemporary psychoanalysis is "unformulated experience". Unformulated experiences are subtle - so subtle
that they usually go unnoticed, and hence, "unformulated". Unformulated experiences are feelings we have that usually go with certain cognitive
ideas; if they are raised to consciousness and reflected upon, we can see how the idea gives the feeling meaning.
Oftentimes we have feelings which have meanings but we can't quite say what it is: this is an unformulated experience. Oftentimes, when we talk to
one another, unformulated experiences pass by and through one another without reaching conscious awareness, but nevertheless they influence our
consciousness by organizing the way we feel at the moment of our thinking (and speaking). For instance, in thinking about homosexuality, I am
befuddled by the claim of queer theorists to the effect that privileging heterosexuality contributes to the social marginalization of homosexuals.
The idea doesn't make sense to me, but I know, as I read it, that a part of me is feeling threatened: why do they want to deconstruct everything for?
I usually overlook this experience and proceed to my argument, but now, I'd like to probe it to see whats there.
We each have our views about the world. We carry them from many different quarters. From our childhoods. From our peers. From the affiliations we
establish and which make life more meaningful for us. We may think, as we are wont to do, that because we don't know something than it probably
isn't real. When you feel something, the modern habit happens to be: this is how I EXPRESS myself. The modern obsession with feeling and expression
of feeling, paradoxically, assumes the opposite pole from the one they were trying to get away from i.e. dogmatic puritanism.
The truth is, our consciousness is brain bound, and our brain never forgets the meanings that certain 'relational objects', whether abstract or
real, have for us. Unformulated experiences, felt in the body, are signposts to the presence of a potential meaningful insight into WHY you are acting
as you are acting, and how, given patient self reflection, you can better organize your feelings in a manner where you can accept conflict, instead of
discharging it by the automatic act of 'splitting' the good from the bad.
Only a mind trained in mindfulness can tolerate the conflict of not having the absolute truth: only a partial truth; the truth, for example, can both
1) that it is vitally important to protect minorities from discrimination or dehumanization, and it is also important to recognize how our behavior
towards others becomes organized alone gender lines: for males, this often means disowning typically feminine affects like empathy, sensitivity,
receptivity, vulnerability. Notice also that females nowadays struggle with the same issues: as opposed to liberating woman from male domination,
modern culture still privileges cool 'masculine' 'rationality' over empathic depth, and recognition of another persons subjectivity (which would
be more indicative of the mother-infant attachment)
2) Nature does IMPLY, very strongly, that heterosexuality is "normal" and homosexuality, however prevalent in the animal kingdom, is for the most
part done for very different reasons (oftentimes out of necessity, or force of habit in an unusual context) and in the cases of pleasure, it is still
a smaller number.
So where does this leave us?
Should sex be taught in schools?
Of course there's a place for sex education, but it boggles the imagination of anyone psychoanalytically inclined why sex-education continues to take
precedence to more vital "bridge-building" initiatives like mindfulness programs which augment self-awareness and empathic sensitivities of
Conflict, in the end, is basic to being human. I am me, a person different from you. Yet, you are enough like me, that I need to pay attention to
your needs when I am communicating with you.
A mature mind straddles both positions, "standing in the spaces", as it were, being oneself without needing approval from others, but also attentive
and true to what the other persons needs are: based on an honest reflection of ones own needs; ones own vulnerabilities, weaknesses and fears.
When people avoid conflict in themselves, they tend to find it with one anothe