Philosophy of Arousal

nospam.gif (1980 bytes)nospam.gif (1980 bytes)What I wish I had been told
about sex when I was young

Copyright 1987, 1998 by Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

(This is NOT about the mechanics of how it's done; it is about how we are, how we feel about it, and what we do about it - Arousal, Attitudes, and Ethics.)

How we are.

The most troublesome aspect of our natural sexuality is arousal.  Arousal occurs in a number of circumstances.

Different people experience different levels of arousal.  Some may be excited once or twice in a month or two.  Some may be excited several times in a single day.   Whatever happens to a person is what is normal for that person.

Attitude, or How we feel about it.

What may be an even more troublesome aspect of our natural sexuality is our attitudes about arousal. 

First, we must come to realize that each of the five types of arousal listed above is neither good nor bad.  There is nothing wrong with the way our body works naturally.   Unfortunately, our culture does not teach us about this.  The only kind of arousal which is actually talked about in the culture is type 5 arousal, the kind from emotional attraction.

If you think the other kinds are "bad" or "wrong", then you are going to be having a lot of trouble with the way your body works.

Since different people experience different levels of arousal, there is nothing wrong with how often you experience or don't experience arousal.  Hormones affect arousal; so does our own attitude about these things.  There is nothing wrong with any level of arousal.  However, because society places a premium on being not too much or not too little, we can always find examples of people who are more or less than ourselves.

Ethics, or what we do about it.

Although orgasm is the natural release for arousal, how it is achieved is a matter of ethics.  The ethics of sexual behavior is no different from the ethics of other behavior.  Right and wrong are determined by our values and by the values of our culture(s).  There are two types of sexual behavior to consider.  The behavior of two persons together - relationship behavior - and the behavior of one person alone - auto-erotic behavior.

In the case of two persons together, exploiting another human being, or making them do something they don't want to do, or taking advantage of a "weakened" condition, are all considered wrong.  But conscious behavior between consenting adults is generally permitted.

In the case of one person alone, any behavior which is not injurious is generally okay.  This may include erotic dancing, sensuous exercise, or masturbation.  There is nothing wrong with any such behavior.  On the contrary, healthy sexual development requires that we learn to understand how we respond, and that understanding requires experimentation and practice.  In some circumstances we may even engage in auto-erotic behavior in the presence of other people who are not aware of our experience.   The culture discourages excessive or explicit auto-erotic behavior.  Someone who dances "too obviously suggestively" will be criticized, but some expression of auto-erotic behavior is actually encouraged.

When it comes to type 5 arousal, we must learn to deal with our own attraction to people who our culture says are forbidden.  Attractions to people who are the wrong age, the wrong sex, or related, pose problems for growing young people.   We mustn't say that there is something wrong with us because we feel these things; that is simply not true.  Feeling these things is natural!  It's what we do about it which may or may not be wrong.  The culture says it's 'wrong' to go ahead with family members (incest) and discourages large age differences.  There is some tolerance for same-sex behavior, but it is generally not encouraged.  Unfortunately nothing is said about a perfectly good way of responding to these types of arousal.   A valid way for someone who is in an accepted relationship to respond is to "transfer" the arousal to the correct partner.  The man who is excited by his secretary goes home to make love with his wife.  The girl who is turned on by her cousin makes it with her boyfriend.  For virgins and persons who are not in a relationship, the way to achieve release is to go off to a private place and be auto-erotic - in whatever way is most satisfying.

When it comes to type 6 arousal, a great deal of cultural activities are put into both encouraging this type of arousal as well as discouraging it.  "Sex sells." is a watchword of advertising. We are inundated with sexually suggestive images and sounds in an attempt to associate the natural "feel good" factor of sex with practically every product or service ever sold. Conservative groups, on the other hand, lobby to pass laws restricting access to all kinds of sexual information and behavior in an effort to force their particular value systems onto the general population and suppress this source of stimulation. Sex, however, is a natural urge in men and women, and suppressing it, as these groups would do, magnifies the urge beyond its normal strength.  Freudian personality theory, with its strong emphasis on sex came into being during a cultural period when sexuality was strongly suppressed. As the Shaolin priest Master Po said to young Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu, "Do not deny your body's needs, or they will be magnified beyond proportion."

In summary, arousal is not wrong, nor is it wrong to seem to be aroused by anyone at all.  Our natural sexuality means we may become aroused in almost any circumstance, and with almost any person; there's nothing wrong with that by itself.  It's what we do about it which has consequences which may or may not be okay.

If you can just remember these things when you find yourself in a state of arousal, you can avoid some confusion about your sexual identity, about your relationships to the people present, and about your "goodness" as a person.  Your actions can then be more correctly guided by your own and cultural values.  Enjoy your arousal, understand what it means, and behave properly.

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This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2009/11/16 at 21:20 and has been accessed 89513 times at 338 hits per month.