By Rachel Puryear
With reproductive rights under major attack in the United States, the age-old debate about sex rages on.
Most Americans support free reproductive choice, access to contraception, and minding one’s own business about what goes on in other people’s bedrooms – but you wouldn’t know it from many of our policies.
One of the many ridiculous arguments posed by a minority of extreme, anti-sex/anti-family-planning fundamentalist fanatics; is that in order to address the problem of unwanted pregnancies, people should not have sex unless they intend to procreate.
According to them: Just say no to sex – problem solved. Right? It worked for drugs, after all. Oh, no…wait.
Actually, wrong. So very, very wrong.
Let’s unpack this some more.
The notion that the only valuable, valid, and acceptable purpose of sexual activities should be for procreation purposes only; is terribly and appallingly reductionist. Such a view reflects a bankrupt understanding of the role of sexuality in human life.
Note: This just-say-no-to-sex mentality also does not account for situations where abortions are medically necessary, or pregnancies resulting from sexual abuse and assault. These issues, while also important, are beyond the focus of this post.
Sex, Financial Dependency, and Social Expectations
In this day and age, you might think that the notion of a woman being financially dependent on a man is a quaint, old-fashioned one.
If you’re from a relatively wealthy, well-educated community; most women you know are likely capable of earning enough to support themselves – even if the men, on the whole, tend to earn more.
It’s a different story, though, for people with low educational levels, and low job skills – especially for women so situated.
Women who have children, and also low levels of education and job skills; are at high risk of poverty.
Therefore, if they have partners who help provide for the family, they often depend on their partners financially – even if they themselves work full-time, with multiple jobs.
When that’s the case, sex is something these women/people with uteruses can offer to a partner, to help ensure continued financial support.
If they announce one day that they won’t have sex anymore; whether it’s to avoid pregnancy, or another reason, they might not keep that relationship much longer – or at the very least, it’s a reasonable fear that they won’t. (Even an affair threatens the stability of a relationship.)
If that happens, they and their children could sink into poverty.
That’s a reality. Anti-sex ragers who’ve never considered that reality could stand to check some privilege.
Note: This is not to say that sex in relationships where there is financial dependency is never pleasurable for both partners, consensual, or mutually satisfying. It certainly can be all of those things. The point is that for someone in this situation, their priority may be survival over their own pleasure.
Furthermore, many religions as well as cultural mores specifically direct wives to satisfy their husbands sexually.
Interestingly, these sets of mores are often the same ones which denounce abortion, birth control, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and family planning or sexual education of any kind. This creates some real binds, to say the least.
Are these anti-sex, anti-reproductive rights folks going to financially support all those families, if they don’t want women having non-procreative sex anymore?
I think not – their track record on supporting policy that helps needy children and families is pretty poor, even when such policies incentivize having the children they insist people have.
I don’t think these anti-sexers think much at all about the complex relationship between sexuality, social expectations, and finances. Even if if they could understand the complexity of these subjects, they probably still wouldn’t care.
Sex, and Deepening Intimacy and Connection
There are (despite the efforts of the anti-sexers) plenty of relationships out there which are built upon foundations of free will, compatibility, deep emotional connection, and shared life goals.
In these relationships, sex is a key part of intimacy, and deep emotional and physical connection between the partners. For many people, sex can even be a spiritual experience that lovers share together.
It’s totally okay, and in fact great, for people to have this kind of connection; and for sex to be a very important part of that.
Certainly, partners in such relationships may also have sex in order to procreate, if they want to have children together.
But most of the sex they have is for mutual pleasure, and to connect with one another.
Otherwise, romantic partners might as well just be close friends, or roommates.
And, no, it’s absolutely not reasonable to expect that people will have another child – or a child they don’t want to have – every time they want to connect sexually with their partner.
Nor should they expect to have a child any time they want to have more casual sex than that, for that matter. That’s also something people enjoy, and that’s okay, too.
People are hard-wired to pursue sex, sexual relationships, and to desire physical intimacy. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have taboos and laws against it.
I have to think that people who think of children as a punishment for sex – and want to rigidly control other people’s sexuality – don’t like or care about children very much. Of course, that’s plenty evident in their general actions, and in the policies they support.
I also cannot help but think that they probably haven’t experienced connecting deeply with someone else through sex. Perhaps that’s because they’re incapable of such a deep connection due to low levels of empathy, and because they repel others with their cruelty and rigidness.
Nonetheless, all of this goes to show the complex and very powerful role that sexuality plays in human life – whether a person ever procreates, or not. To pretend otherwise is a fundamental denial of the true nature of humanity, relationships, and sex. And, certainly, life is far too complicated for simplistic answers from those who claim to be the moral gatekeepers for everyone else.
Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to better appreciating the multifaceted role that sexuality plays in human lives, and also to minding one’s own business about other people’s sexual matters. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo