Friday, May 27, 2016

Pornosophy: Full Stop at the Intersection of Sexuality and Ambition

"Nymphs and Satyr" by Bouguereau (1873)
Women with nymphomania or men with the corresponding state of satyriasis or satyromania suffer from uncontrollable sexual desire. But are such compulsions tantamount to a kind of outsized ambition? Does the drive to constantly seek out new partners, with the notion that nothing and no one is enough, derive from a feeling of discomfort with the status quo? For instance, it’s said about a business that it won’t survive unless it expands. That‘s one of central tenets of capitalism. But sexuality is also intrinsically bound up with the idea of success. A human being can be viewed as a commodity whose worth is constantly being evaluated by the marketplace. Judith Rosner’s Looking for Mr. Goodbar presented a kind of Upton Sinclair view of bar life in which searching for love in nightspots was equated to a meat market and eventually slaughterhouse. Today sites like Tinder facilitate the commodification of sexuality and at the core of this sexual agora lies a Darwinian survival of the fittest. The powerful and attractive male who can gain the attention of all the females (the peacock with the most colorful and dramatic plumage) or males (depending on his orientation) and conversely the females who can attract the most men or women is also the one who will occupy the top of the food chain, leaving those who lack these abilities to be bottom feeders. Of course, one can return to the idea that nymphomania or satyromania are just addictions, predicated on the manipulation and abuse of serotonin levels. But on an existential level sexual ambition is often inextricably tied to the desire for success. You get the job to get the girl or the guy to get the job. Sometimes this process becomes the equivalent of one of the those nuclear chain reactions that gets out of control and leads to a meltdown.

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