Friday, February 26, 2010

Rationalized Sexism: The Crutch of Sex Addiction

Why is it whenever a celebrity gets busted for something, it is always an addiction, necessitating an apology, public repentance for the evil sin they have committed, and public humiliation in some rehab clinic that will no doubt treat their newly-titled affliction for a handsome fee? Enter the newest victim, I mean hell-bound sinner, Tiger Woods. I have avoided writing about Tiger simply because I do not care who some golfer or any professional athlete sleeps with, on the condition they are adults and it is consenting. In fact, I have no likeness for professional athletes or athletics in general, since sports in our culture is just filling for the drying opiate of religion to keep otherwise informed citizens dull, dumb, and collectively only worried about how many points Kobe Bryant scored the night before last.

Still, we live in a culture influenced by the idiocy of these dream machines, and this is a debate that I had in my class last week when it came up as a subject to discuss in current events. Yes, college students in political science classes who so hate reading the news, or much of anything else, want to talk about Tiger, to which I asked my Bible Belt audience. "Why is this an issue? Why do any of you want to talk about Tiger Woods, other than to avoid talking about political news?" To my students' credit, they came prepared with excuses for using this story as a cover for not studying. "He owes this to his fans." "Tiger violated his marital vows." And my personal favorite, "Because Tiger is going to burn in hell."

But really, why should we care? I am not married to the man, do not know him, do not care for what he does for a living, and when I last checked whatever he did with the mountainous number of ladies coming forward their dalliances are not illegal or a matter of criminal law. Ah, but he is a creep, the phony public moralists will harangue, which is certainly true. And while I do not want to disappoint anyone during their denunciation parade they should read through Jim Bouton's book Ball Four, which was written four decades ago and chronicles the extramarital shenanigans of most all of his teammates when he was a major league pitcher. Look at what happened to Steve McNair at the hands of his mistress. Look at the mess that is ex-ESPN analyst Steve Phillips, who has the distinction to losing two jobs in the past decade for going through workplace interns. For that matter, just look at the number of professional athletes who are running around with a generation of love children sprinkled throughout the US (ex-NBA player Travis Henry has busily started his own country by having eleven children with ten different women [with the extra being a twin]). At this point, I would be surprised if any of them are monogamous in their marriages and I do not make that assumption with any multimillionaire athlete who is young, usually attractive, and a magnet for those looking for either a thrill or a payday.

Whether the commentators and fans who expect this self-infliction like it, Tiger's marriage is not my domain. If I do not know or care to know the man, and only know of him because he hits a ball with a club, why should he apologize to me for dynamiting his marriage? If it is not a matter of the law, why should I expect anyone to apologize to me for something they emotionally did to someone else? Because he is a "role model"? Does anyone still honestly live the illusion that professional athletes are role models? Even back when I played sports and pursued baseball professionally as a young man, I never looked up to my favorite players as role models or demi-gods (just the opposite, once I realized they were all on steroids by the mid '90s). Anyone who is that foolish probably does not deserve consideration for any hurt feelings over what an athlete emotionally did to his/her spouse anyway.

In addition, and the part that bothers me about this manufactured saga the most, since when was doing what biologically comes naturally to human animals become an addiction? According to Dr. Drew and many other members of the psychiatric community, anything can be considered addictive (for an hourly fee in need of revisits and drugs, of course). It is not natural for a person to put poisons into their bodies (like drugs or fatty foods). It is not a part of our nature to want to drink alcohol. These are external objects with negative side effects that are addictive and people ingest to numb our existence and unresolved issues (maladies that can be used as an excuse for anything because we all have unresolved issues in our lives).

Sex, on the other hand, is not heroin or napalm (as John Mayer called it). I have yet to see anyone get pregnant from heroin or napalm. To put this another way, without sex I would not be writing this blog and none of the readers would be frequenting it. Sex has always been a part of our nature, and dare I say (remembering my science classes) the human animal biologically exists to perpetuate our seed. Yes, we can control those urges. Yes, we can discipline ourselves and we can develop institutions like marriage and monogamous pair bondings to mature and control our inclinations (the ultimate goal of every civilization, if it is worth anything).

Nevertheless, I remember well what I was like when I was 16, and it was not pretty. Basically, I lived, ate, and drank sex. When I dated as a teenager, it was my overwhelming obsession, something that I did not have or feel when I was 10 or 11 years of age. And I was the nice guy who never stood anyone up, always called back, and made sure to be as respectful as possible with the people that I dated. It was not because I was addicted to sex (I did not have that many dates and I have not had sex with most of the people I even dated over the years). It was because of my hormones.

The problem with men, and I suspect this is one of the big differences between the sexes, we mature at different stages in life. For men, some of us grow up quickly, as I did by my late teens (when I realized that I did not have to obsess over my previous memories of Daisy Duke to get through the day, and that something like a relationship with the female species was not all that bad). It probably helped that I was working two jobs by the time I was out of high school and enjoyed reading more than partying by my 20s. Other men grow up much later, mostly by our 20s and 30s, and many never do. I surmise that most young professional athletes have never been in want of sexually available partners, something that probably distorts his reality and perception and how to view members of the opposite sex (holding back that maturation process and likely feeding on our biological nature at its most base without constraints in a society that puts such athletes on pedestals). That is not an excuse for the behavior, but it is a much better explanation than comparing his appetites to smoking crack cocaine.

If sex was an addiction, you would have to at some point paint all of us at a stage in our lives as addicts, unless you never have sex or only have "acceptable" sex (i.e., with one person in a marriage or relationship [depending on your ideology and religious affiliations, since many consider sex before/outside of marriage a sin]). So, if you have casual sex, especially more than once, you can be seen as an addict. If you have sex just for pleasure, according to the closet case priests of my old church, you are an addict. If you have several mistresses or cads, you are an addict. If you frequently have sex with multiple partners, you are addicted. If you like porn, according to some shrinks and moral types, you are an addict. If you masturbate too much (however one defines 'too much'), you are an addict.

In this world, we are all dysfunctional addicts who should be in therapy. Well, that is not entirely true. Only in America, such is our Puritanical nature, can we be told that anything deemed objectionable is now an addiction in need of treatment (or prayer, for the home-schooled). And addictions can be treated if you go to an office, confess your sins, preferably in front of others (to drive home the point that you are an addict [further brainwashing you into believing in the necessity of your 'treatment']), and of course in dire need of some drug that will calm your nerves and maybe even your libido (and cost you a sizable chunk of your disposable income, to the delight of stockholders everywhere).

At the end of the day, no matter how much you treat it (like the manner in which these same members of the psychiatric community used to "treat" people who were gay) you cannot take away the biological desires of our species. I know of no other society that treats uncontrolled biological functions as a moral/psychological character flaw.

The quandary here is that marriage and monogamous pair bondings are artificial inventions (with humans being one of the few species who can detach sex from reproduction and the only ones as far as I know who have something like marriage contracts). In essence, the divergence is between our biological nature and what society tells us to do. Yes, we are a part of that society, and as noted society needs some rules and constraints, but we should not treat everything as a product of addiction as a means to browbeat practitioners of behavior that may be legal but objectionable. I am not 17 years old anymore. I do not want to have sex 24 hours a day. And unlike some of our esteemed athletes, I choose not to try. It is not that hard of a thing to do, so long as you can see those who you would otherwise be attracted to as full human beings deserving respect. And we know that is something no one likes to address with our athletes or men in general.

Addictions are easier to treat than telling men that we need to start reassessing how we perceive and treat people, not the least members of the opposite sex. They are 'whores.' We are mere 'cheats' and 'creeps' but treatable animals, waiting for the redemption of some skygod or the next victory at a major. That is the real crutch of sex addiction, which we do not address or seemingly care to address in all of this. Could you imagine the per hour charge for telling the polity to stop squandering its time and resources on individual consenting adults but doing something more productive like ceasing to objectify half of the population as playthings and the other half as untreated addicts? That the point of controlling your consenting choices is not to keep the tax exempt god squad happy but that maybe it could be a byproduct of a reoriented mindset that sees others as people and not conquerable material from a late night commercial?

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