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Tabling sex

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‘Sex’ has a connotation that seems to be purely masculine, or male. Having sex is the practice of the male organ or penis, and other appendages, penetrating and moving within the female pubic orifices, front or back, and penetrating also the oral cavity, a goal being to achieve male orgasm, (mutual) satisfaction or female pregnancy.

In real practice, however, having sex takes place in plural relationships, as increasingly in female with female practice, a female with male activity and a male with male intercourse.{{more}} Our language, even in ‘law’, tends to lag behind living realities. When this incomplete and ignorant male notion of sex prevails, it restricts the dimensions and relevance of a discussion on what is the age of consent to share sex. Regrettably therefore, our sex talk takes place in a senseless bubble.

Tabling sex needs to come of age.

THE AREA OF SEXUAL AWARENESS/INTELLIGENCE

‘I am gay’, a student in grade 7 or so is reported to have told his school principal. Awareness and practice of sexual matters start early.

The 1960s consent age of 13 to 15 years may have come about because the late colonial plantation social and economic morality put girls low down on the human rights ladder. Men, black and white, toiling, peri professional and propertied, ruled the loins of maidens. The young black working class female was guarded only by a gatekeeping mother, and her own fragile sense of dignity and worth. So, in a society riddled with racism, sexism, destitution and male power, age of consent may have counted only in elite, ‘higher’ circles and cloistered, educated faith-guided families. Few, if any men would have been taken to court on sexual age of consent charges.

Today, it is a new social and political moral tone that we need to sound out on the question of ‘consent to practice sex’. Right now, we face a contrived sexual awareness, an aggressive sex industry complex, a male power elite, an ignored but thriving and articulate youth culture, a truncated concept of ‘sex’, and an abdication of insightful discourse by religious/faith sectors. Add it all together and it makes the discussion of consent, a complex, many levelled, interrogation that cannot place ‘law’ on a level above a science of ‘loins’. Sexual intelligence has to be the basis of a meaningful approach to consent, and consent has to become a product of intelligent management.

Sexual awareness is widespread, thanks, or ‘no thanks’, to the hormone therapy on chicken farms inoculating our children, the sex-aggressive industrial complex, its compliant adolescent/youth market, the explosion of the lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights platform and the relaxation of European ‘Puritan’ ideologies, among other factors. Each of these inputs in the awareness equation carries its own weight. In the end, more persons, mainly young, but also adult, know more about the anatomy, the intense compulsive drive, the dance of the loins, the discovery of erotic triggers, the physiology and the bonding potency of sex. This increase in sexual knowledge and awareness however overrides the development of sexual intelligence and an appreciation of quality relationships, power relations and a community of spirit. It is the location of this deficit between sexual awareness and sexual intelligence, not so much the age of the female’s organs and her level of educational attainment that needs examination when a community meditates on consent to share sex variously.

CONSENT IN ORDER TO PROTECT AND EMPOWER THE VULNERABLES

  • Round Table is hoping to shove the door open a little bit wider to let some more breeze into the closet of sexual discourse. In the light of real sex in our community, whom do we protect, against whom, with what objectives, and do the vulnerable ones meaningfully enter the consultation? What recourse and sanctions do we propose for those who disempower and violate the vulnerable, and what do we mean by ‘consent’? Clearly, our appeal is for an acknowledgement that sex is not the one-dimensional practice that we are focusing on. Let us commission the investigation to unveil the truth so it can form the foundation for honestly rebuilding sexuality freed from dirt, injustice, irresponsibility, sin and facile legislation/regulation. It is important especially now to affirm sexuality as creative and fulfilling and God blessed.
  • Examine briefly what the law, and common sense mean by consent. It assumes the status of a product of intellectual understanding or negotiation, suggesting that emotional, arousal, coercive and ‘hierarchical’ conditions do not unduly affect the decision to share a sexual experience. It assumes a decision or intention arrived at before arousal, it contemplates a space of equity in the balance of power between the partners, it suggests that the consent is not unshatterable, but may respond to unfavourable conditions in the course of the sexual encounter etc. Consent is an ‘internal’ and external power shared by partners, and it is sexual intelligence, that is the learned and cultivated competence that makes consent possible in the variety of real sex practices that a community provides for.

Where does our society inculcate and model sexual intelligence as an empowering skill? How far is this an age sensitive or gender sensible capability? The questions are serious and the answers troubling, but they call us to review this most precious gift and imperilled essence, our sexuality.

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