Good Essay About Sex Since 1776
1. During the period Kimmel describes there was a distinctly hydraulic aspect to the popular conception of American masculine sexuality. Sexual powers were conceived of as limited and drawing from the same well of energy that allowed young men to put in the hard work needed to ‘make something of themselves’ economically in the professions or other endeavors. Because of this it was considered vital that men, especially young men, practice strict discipline in avoiding sexual activity such as masturbation or even marital sex to avoid diminishing the vitality they needed to succeed in other areas in life.
2. With the increased separation of society into male and female spheres American men became less involved in the internal running and activities of their family household and more focused on the world outside. More than ever a man’s duty was to go out and be the proverbial breadwinner for his family. A man must work and provide, and work was something done outside the home. This contributed to men being estranged from others in multiple ways, both from the families they saw less and less of and from their peers, who were no longer friends but coworkers, clients and professionals.
3. Self-Made Manhood led to a generation of men under constant social pressures to remain rigorously controlled, or to use a less neutral term repressed. Then as now much of the burden of preventing male sexual misbehavior was placed on women. Women were either put on pedestals as chaste and angelic beings in need of constant protection and difference or derided as vile she-whores spreading temptation as freely and widely as they spread their legs. And much like today any individual woman could go from one extreme to the other in the community’s regard in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t terribly healthy for the men involved either.
4. A host of physical and psychological maladies, ranging from poor digestion to illness and effeminate character to death. Sexual indulgence in this case was not just limited to sex and masturbation but included fantasies, arousal and unrestricted interaction between the sexes in general.
5. Illness, immoral character and loss of manly characteristics and virtue were all associated with sexual indulgence and masturbation. If allowed to continue unchecked such unchaste behaviors could led to a man’s sex drive overwhelming his rational mind and becoming the ruling impulse that controlled his life. In particular, sexual indulgence excited both the genitals and the nervous system. The former urged the masturbator to engage in more in the same while the strain to the latter caused all sorts of physical and mental aliments.
6. Graham described sex for reasons of pleasure rather than reproduction as disruptive to the rational and moral powers that should otherwise guide and control one’s behavior. This, in his opinion, led to a man becoming debased and animalistic. Sex, to Graham, was part of the two fundamental functions of the human species: reproduction and nutrition. The latter ultimately existed to enable the former, but they were alike in that humans were uniquely capable of ignoring their healthy instincts to the point where they could abuse these otherwise good and natural functions. True manhood and rationality required strict control and the limiting of sexual expression to the marital bed, and even then only in moderation.