Comprehensions begin when a baby is born: "It's a Boy" or "It's a Girl," and the stage is set, the die is cast, the battle joined. All living things are drawn up in two camps: Male and Female -fractions that only union can make whole. Plumbers and mechanics talk of male and female threads and fittings.
[quoteright'/>More so in Homo Sapiens than other species, the parents' recognitions of a baby's sex sets the course and flavor of behavioral training for sexual role playing. Later we add in society's expectations plus the inevitable harvest of puberty and the result is propagation of the species in spite of conflict.
"Blue for a boy, pink for a girl" names the tune. The chorus is joined by all as the boy-child is taught the "manly arts": guns and war, sports and conflicts, commerce and business. One wonders if the primordial brain remembers the savage forefather standing off the sabretoothed tiger at the cave's mouth.
The girl-child is taught "Woman's Place": dolls and babies, cooking and cleaning, enticement and denial. One wonders if this is instinctive insurance for a future existence. Observation proves that the mother is the future of the species. It was once thought that aggression was a male trait. Now we can be sure that the female's aggression is curbed by her culture. Woman is not allowed to war because she is ruthless.
Man has a compulsion to taunt danger and play games. Since woman is the most dangerous game of all, training must start early. With the amused toleration of puppy-playing she encourages his games until the tender trap is sprung.
Baby-teeth are traded for boy-girl knowledge and casting for roles begins with playing "Doctor," which may be confused with differences in training and sex education. What has been variously called "evolution," "selective breeding," or "survival of the fittest" comes into play about then and becomes more evident with time.
The chase begins early with quarry and outcome both shrouded in misty illusion. God must have had a reason for giving us physical maturity. Perhaps that reason is too obvious for mankind to discover.
Parents arrange social functions, birthday parties, school dances and the like, in hopes of guiding and controlling the youngster's flowering sex drive. Generally, the main result is passing on their own hang-ups and complexes; a boy must sow his wild cats and a girl must save herself for the man she loves. After hearing their elders extoll monogamy and their heroes brag of notches in the bedpost, it is a wonder that so many survive.
Lyndon Johnson once said, "Politics is the art of the possible." So too is sex partner selection. Each person starts out in the marketplace with a high degree of surety that the epitome of his or her dream of masculinity or femininity is just around the corner. Their approach is marked by a tender vulnerability: heads full of romantic love notions, and an inordinate emphasis on orgasm.
Few know and almost none understand that the coin-of-the-realm is themselves. That they must be both buyer and seller, hunter and hunted. My grandmother showed a depth of wisdom and human insight when she said "...fly over the fairest of flowers and land on a pile of cow dung." Many high hopes and potentials are shattered on the shoals of bad judgment and misplaced values. Since love is rare and slow growing, they find a form of hysteria born of anxiety; call it love, and become fakers, liars, and actors playing out the game, not knowing their own actions have stacked the deck against them.
As the players graduate from the minor leagues to the majors, an observer will note that the ranks are thinned of those with the least to offer. For most of these, loneliness, desperation, or parental and peer group pressure forced an early settlement on price. The survivors are the true practitioners of selective breeding. This is when the young men and women of talent or appearance or materially successful parents begin to acquire each other and produce progeny of a like kind.
In the conquest of conjugation, jubilation reigns. Each contestant has won: What? Lifelong happiness or lifelong strife? Will regrets rise with the sun at dawn? If so, then the hope is that experience will transform into knowledge. Since she was born sex-wise and gets smarter while he was born sex-dumb and stays that way, it follows that the female has always known, and the male never learns; she controls consummation as surely as day follows night.
Having gained the reward of concentrated effort, and remembering the barren time spent in pursuit of scattered targets, security becomes very important. Fleeting trysts become less palatable. Long term "meaningful relationships" are then the better life.
Quoting my grandmother on that subject, "The reason most folks have trouble after they're married is because they was on their best behavior while they was courting." I find that to be one of the world's greatest truisms. Traditionally, courting always plants seeds of dissatisfaction. If possessiveness does not foul the nest, then chances are less that hope will fly away.
However, danger is always near; that which is desired is never again as greatly desired once it is attained. The fires of passion will dim; fortunate are they who learn to like each other by then. Middle-aged parents alone in the nest with children-inhibited sex habits are headed for trouble if those habits are not changed; their repressed fantasies seek expression.
What has always been will always be. People will go on breeding, birthing, crying, and dying. All the while groping through the dark, dismal mire of tangled emotions, searching for the elusive happiness that is always somewhere else. While he trades love for sex, and she sex for love, intellectual and emotional intimacy lose the race to sexual intimacy. The seeds for the next crop of discontent are sown. But one must not be blind to the love that does eternally bloom in the arid desert of cynicism.
Allen J. Pettit
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