The reading of “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (my thoughts follow)

YT user ChristophDollis recommended I watch the following video titled “Abusers, Orgasms, Pain and Pleasure…” uploaded by Stefan Molyneux:

Pausing at the 34 min. mark, let me first say thanks for suggesting this clip of the reading of a piece titled “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (from “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” — Nov. 1975). Interesting hearing what people have been putting out into the universe and how much of the public has overlooked it. The rest of my comments below aren’t directed at anyone in particular and are simply thoughts stimulated by the video.

One reason I believe the public tends to glance right past material such as that (besides not finding it entertaining) is because we’re all affected by exactly that which Dr. Prescott is discussing. While 1975 was before my time, not much has changed in the way of improvement in our social relations since then most certainly, yet our heads remain firmly planted in the sand. Not many of us are out here actively seeking information and answers, partly because many people lack time and/or energy, but also because we are a socially and sexually fucked up lot. lol That’s not putting it delicately, but I doubt many would disagree if they really stopped and thought about it.

We’re a society of sado-masochists basically, and plenty of folks are attached to being that way. They see it as normal or even healthy. It affects so many of us that it indeed appears to be the norm. Pressing pleasure and pain boundaries is all the rage these days, whether that be on the softer or harder ends of the spectrum. And arguably on the less extreme end it’s difficult to argue that such behavior is terribly detrimental when it can be quite enjoyable play for both involved. Furthermore, I do believe sex has become a balm of sorts to pacify us as we struggle through modern times. Sex can have drug-like qualities of its own, particularly in how it allows a mental escape. I’ve been particularly skeptical of these claims circling about “sexual addiction,” but I do get how sex has for many an obsessive allurement. It’s where pleasure-seeking meets sexual dysfunction brought about in a wide assortment of ways. People do need touch and I’d agree many lacked enough of it and go on seeking it however which way. This easily can lead into the topic of prostitution and pornography, which then necessarily runs into economic bullshittery, but I’d prefer to keep it relatively brief right now.

Pornography must be mentioned, because it reflects just how sado-masochistic we’ve become. Americans may argue that many of us don’t truly engage in the cruelties exhibited on common pornos, but it’s enough that we use them for masturbatory material. How many of us don’t? It gets into our psyches through viewing, and we don’t resist it and demand more affectionate sexual displays because why? Because we are lazy and will take whatever is put before us? Because we grow conditioned to viewing this sort of material since many of us were exposed by our teen years? Because some have grown to genuinely like it? Men and women genuinely are turned on watching a woman be gagged by cock, making choking sounds, looking pathetic, while the man has hold of her hair and is calling her a “stupid whore”? That is truly exciting, is it? And all this anal sex, is that really what everyone wants? Many have told me no, but I also know that plenty are curious.

The trouble is that people tend to imitate pornography, this is my observation. Everyone has their own experience to pull from, but this is my view of it. Especially younger males. Older males over the age of 45 approach sex differently, though it’s difficult to put into words. Less formulaic approach to sex, perhaps. The younger man is oftentimes re-acting a routine, one that apparently is supposed to include oral sex performed on him and involves a lot of banging, not much kissing, not much caressing. That’s a weird thing to me and it turned me off on much of my own age group in my 20s. I’ve watched my share of porn and still do occasionally, so I do know where they’re getting this stuff from. It’s not just the way of men — it’s the training of young men and women to be bad lovers. That is my take.

The lesson of porn is one too often of aggression and intimate distance. Because a penis is inserted into a vagina, we call that intimacy. That is not intimacy. That is mere function. Calling the purely physical act itself intimacy is so completely detached from considerations of realness, genuine attraction, mutual respect and feelings of exhilaration. This mindset is robbing sex of the sanctity it rightfully deserves.

Whether money is exchanged or two lovers find one another in a bar or sex is filmed and distributed for others to view, it is not my concern. None of that automatically desacralizes sex in my eyes. What does is the negative, resentful and/or apathetic attitude that so often accompanies sexuality, at least as practiced in the U.S today. The lack of respect for the act is apparent to me, and it sickens me, even as I’ve been caught up in just such a lifestyle myself. Extricated myself from it, by and large, but I am still affected by it, and my body responds to it, even as my mind knows better. That is the result of conditioning, of youthful exposure, of porn increasingly influencing the mainstream media (which I term as “porn culture”), of widespread acceptance (especially within my age group), and undoubtedly upbringing factors in. We live in a social climate of value anomie where everything is up for experimentation, especially if money or attention can be attained off of it.

Sexual displays garner attention. People respond to that, as is natural, especially for those who feel deprived of enough attention. Sexuality, therefore, isn’t so much addictive as it is magnetic. We’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. Social and intimate dysfunction opens people up to drawing toward sexual dysfunctionality. This I do believe.

Yet people defend it. Tooth and nail. They tend to argue from a libertarian legal perspective (which, to an extent, I share), stating whatever adults are involved in voluntarily should be allowable. While I’m not an advocate for censorship or bringing in new laws to attempt to control our behaviors, I have come to take issue with the hard-line attitude in support of virtually all pornography and violent displays, because it leaves off the table the moral, social, and psychological dimensions to this ordeal. It’s as if legality is all people want to see in any of this; all other concerns are reduced and dismissed as mere personal preferences.

Having now finished watching the entire video clip, I basically agree with what that man said. However, I worry about his strategies being employed someday in a “Brave New World” kind of way, which would create a host of problems all unto itself. Call me a Luddite of sorts, which is probably accurate to an extent, but I have trouble with comprehending how modern life as Westerners experience it is healthy for humans in terms of its push toward “experts”micromanaging everything and economics ultimately determining our collective fate. Much more could be said in response to this clip, which I am glad to have listened to, but it’s approaching dinner time.

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4 Responses to The reading of “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (my thoughts follow)

  1. Christoph Dollis says:

    While I don’t disagree with much of what you said, it’s interesting how we watched the same video and read the same article and got something quite different out of it.

    The main thing I got out of it was that affection, physical affection, is very important especially for children but really for everyone. And for the most part I mean nonsexual affection.

    However, sexual touch in a appropriate relationship (and people are going to vary on what they deem a proper relationship for themselves) is also beneficial to a person’s development.

    In short, we’re physical beings and meant to touch and be touched. The lack of same is very detrimental to a person’s brain’s development. It also tends to lead to increased aggression, depression, dysfunction generally, and even much greater rates of promiscuity — perhaps out of an attempt to fill the hole left behind because of a lack of affection when younger.

    As for porn, I think it’s effects are mixed. Probably can be damaging to relationships as, among other things, it raises expectations of physical perfections beyond what most people are going to obtain. Also, it’s changed culture in some ways such as most people’s obsession with shaving everything, which while they tend to think they do it “to be clean”, pretty much became popular with the rise of Internet pornography in the 1990s. And then there is the fact that some, but hardly all, pornography treats people in degrading ways.

    On the other hand, pleasure itself is good and beneficial so there’s that. For males at least, there’s probably a physical benefit in having orgasms regularly (it lowers prostrate cancer rates, the leading cause of cancer in men). And there’s some evidence that it leads indirectly to lowering incidences of rape, presumably by acting as sort of a pressure release valve on sexual tensions for those small percentages of people who would be tempted to rape.

    If I had to offer my best opinion, less porn is better than more, but people should certainly be free to choose for themselves; and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing; some of its effects can be good.

    But whereever one comes down on the issue of a certain sexual practice that you mentioned, I think the research and experience shows that hugs … etc. .. are crucially important to a person’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, and that this definitely includes children. It’s important for children to bond with their parents/caregivers in appropriate, loving ways.

  2. Byenia says:

    I think our thoughts pretty much coincided, because I nodded along with everything you wrote up to your paragraph going into pornography. As the document read in the video discussed, there appears to be tiers to development, the initial stage during infancy being primary and able to stunt development moving forward. But a very important stage too is that of adolescence when sexuality enters the scene. I find that particular developmental stage very interesting and have paid it a lot of thought over time. But I grant it as given that the primary and initial phase of development will play into and color all stages to follow, that being something I realize acutely.

    And from what I see looking around and interacting with people over time is that a surprisingly high number of people haven’t deeply pondered their sexual selves and why it is they like what they claim to like. Many seem to assume without much thought given that their likes are quite natural products of evolution, nothing to be worried over, saying little about how our culture and media have shaped those tastes. It’s a fascinating topic because for as much talk as there is about sex in our society, there are still these blinders up keeping us from taking in the whole picture. Introspection is needed, but then what do we have to compare ourselves with? People have been messed up as far back as generations remain alive, and then long before that. Our Western understanding of sexuality is undeniably impacted by Judeo-Christian influence, so right there we’re operating within an inherited mental framework that skews our appreciation of female sexuality in particular (that applying to both men and women’s views of it). Acknowledging that the Abrahamic framework has diminished significantly within the last 50 years especially, this leaves us with what I refer to as value anomie, which is to say there is ceasing to be value norms in relation to governing our sexual expressiveness and moral compass. Many of us disagree with the old way, yet there exists no new narrative to guide us. We’re each very much contending with this aspect of modern life, yet the only language we seem comfortable speaking about it in is legality talk — whether something should be legally permissible or not.

    In this state of confusion our disagreements tend to revolve down into dismissals on the basis of moral relativism because we will never all see eye to eye. Or people start freaking out (perhaps due to their own childhood or teenage sexual trauma) and start seeing everyone else as potential sexual threats whose conduct must be controlled through laws and regulations (as witnessed within feminism). One thing many of us can agree on is that we don’t want to go back in time to ways that no longer work for people. We relish this individual freedom, as we should. But it becomes a question of what we’re going to do with this freedom, what we’re going to use it for, and that part of the discussion always gets bogged down. People throw off the morality of others, wishing to be free, yet we’re not listening to one another and we’re not thinking deeply enough about where some of these modern-day rabbit holes may lead.

    The problem is made evermore complex exactly because of how we’re being raised and also how our culture has grown so toxic. It’s a one-two punch we’re serving to all Americans born in the last several decades, and the problem’s only getting worse. This brings me right back to why I think it’s important for people to pause on breeding and take time to understand more deeply the nation and world we’re living in. Because we need adults with time and energy to make sense of so many things and to communicate with one another far and wide. Because what is the point of having children when the future appears so bleak? Besides that, overpopulation diminishes each person’s individual value — the more there are of us, the more disposable and replaceable we become economically, leading back to us venting that frustration in our interpersonal affairs and treating one another with less respect. It all goes right back around when you really sit and think about it, everything being connected. Through sexuality we open up some of the most hurtful ways we can disrespect one another, and that’s a travesty most especially at a time when so many people need to play and caress and rebond and explore love and trust.

    But that’s enough jabbering out of me for now. Take care.

    • Christoph Dollis says:

      To be fair, I’m just saying that pornography’s effects are mixed. It follows logically from that that I think it can also be negative.

      Humans evolved sexually, not mainly through pornography — undoubtedly we’re receiving more visual stimulation and less touch. Prescott’s work was largely about the importance of touch in a person’s development … with which I agree.

      Touch also can and should include affection, and in many relationships, be limited to that.

  3. Byenia says:

    Sure. I’m not anti-pornography. I just tend to take issue with how we go about it and what is being presented to the public. It’s not as if we vote on what we want to see, and as someone more interested in erotica, I can tell ya that the pickin’s tend to be slim and hard to find.

    Yeah, Prescott spoke about touch, I heard that. I turned toward pornography because young people watch it and then attempt to imitate it because they have nothing else to base their experiences on, that being my concern. Because what most porn shows isn’t loving attention demonstrated between lovers, and I think that’s evident. It was just one example that came to me of how our personal and intimate relations are being negatively impacted, with focus paid to our primary stage of development playing into why we may be so open to these forms of pseudo-intimacy.

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