A comment by Mr Shorty a while ago has got me thinking, and I’ll write a bit about what I’ve been thinking here, as a way to put some fresh content up on this site. I’m making excuses in saying that life has had me in a bad state over the past several months, so that it has been a struggle to write or find a reason to.
As I mentioned in my reply to that comment, I’m convinced that the ideal for human sexuality according to official Church practice – and I think, doctrine – is to be demi-sexual: for sexual attraction and desire to be dependent on emotional connection, intimacy and commitment. Though there is plenty of talk about the righteousness of the sexual desire implanted in us as a means to drive us to seek marriage, the way that that talk is done it sounds clear to me that it’s expected that this desire remain formless and unfocused, unengaged and undirected until by properly developing a relationship you give it a target. So when you’re a teenager or young adult it’s ok to feel the boil of hormones, but if your desires are aroused by the sight of a particular person, or take shape to point to a particular person, then you’re on very thin ice. Therefore, the best way to follow the Plan regarding sex would be to be demisexual. Of course, only a small percentage of people really are (kind of like only a small percentage of people reach adulthood with the soft hearts that prophets keep calling for).
Meanwhile, the majority of us are stuck with troubling sexualities equipped with attraction and desire which can and does find targets outside of emotional bonds. We spend our adult years having to fend off these attacks, moderating constant urges to behavior that we either can’t allow or which would be impossible. As I mentioned before, this is popularly understood to be a man thing: the Male Gaze. Male sexuality is said to be more visually-oriented, while women are said to be – well, closer to that asexual ideal: their sexuality is said to be more emotionally-driven, more about love and intimacy than crude lust.
I’ve read plenty of rebuttals of this idea, but I have a hypothesis as to one of its sources: casting women’s sexuality as passive, and working to make that a self-fulfilling prophecy, is a way of guarding against the frightening specter of an aggressive female sexual agency. For while male bodies are equipped to penetrate, female bodies are equipped to engulf. The idea of an aggressive penetrative maleness in opposition to a passive receptive femaleness is a comforting illusion engineered to stave off the fear of woman as consumer.
And to the extent that women have internalized it, maybe we could say that it has succeeded in making them more moral beings, just as to the extent that men have put aside the aggressions of their eyes it has made them more moral beings as well.