Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sex Appeal

The great thing about being a free thinker is that you never have to accept anything, 'because that's the way it is.' Accepting things without reason is for children (they have to accept that you can't take toasters into the bathtub). Once we mature and develop a reasonable perspective of the world, we should begin asking some pretty difficult 'why?' questions.

And with that, I give you Richard Dawkins' article questioning, but not necessarily debunking, the value of sexual fidelity.

This is one of those areas that a) fuel the fire for theists who claim that Atheism leads to immorality (of course, so does our acceptance of homosexuality), and b) is a direct clash between reason and emotion, for most people.

While I value reason more than most people, I do not consider it to be the only factor in decision making. Whether we like it or not, our emotions play a role in everything. More often than not, sexually "cheating" on your partner is wrong simply because it hurts your partner. Where that painful jealousy comes from is an interesting topic. Is it possible to eliminate all sexual jealousy? (It would take a long time, if at all possible) If it was possible, would it lead to a better world? (I think that it would, considering how much violence and hatred is the result of sexual jealousy). The suggestion that Dawkins' article makes is that sexual jealousy is irrational.

It would be hard to argue otherwise, but some forms of irrationality are just as important to humanity as rationality; think prisoner's dilemma. Whether sexual jealousy is an irrationality that is useful or harmful is still up for debate, in my eyes.

One final point on this topic is the way that movies and TV shows can manipulate the way we feel about fidelity. We see several undesirable characters who are undesirable because they are cheating on their girlfriends, but just as often (probably more often) we see desirable characters who are desirable because they are cheating on their significant other, or because they spark a romantic relationship with someone already in a relationship. Take Wedding Crashers, just because it's a movie most people have seen. The entire love story aspect of the movie has us cheering for Owen Wilson to "steal" Rachel McAdams from her fiance. This isn't a suggestion that Hollywood is trying to brainwash us into thinking that sexual infidelity is okay, because Hollywood goes both ways. The point is that when we watch movies, we want the two people that treat each other right to end up together, regardless of who's married or committed to who.

What you will rarely see outside of low-budget indie films are desirable characters who maintain multiple loving relationships. One movie that comes to mind is "Y Tu Mama Tambien," which is (obviously) a foreign film, so maybe that says something.

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