The Happy Sexless Marriage

September 8, 2008

Paul Cox and wife
Paul Cox has found his asexual soulmate

Our liberal society has no hesitation in pointing out that sexual relations is central to mature relationships, especially marriage. In much of the western world, a marriage contract is not binding until the act of consummation occurs. Failure to do so in the Roman Catholic faith is grounds for an annulment. So tied up in the idea of marriage is sex that the thought of no sex within a marriage automatically leads to the idea that the relationship has failed.

Can a sexless marriage be a happy marriage? Paul Cox emphatically replies that “yes, it can!”, especially when both individuals are asexuals. Read about his happy relationship in We’re Married, We Just Don’t Have Sex”:

One day I got an email from Amanda. She was asexual, living close by, and offered to show me around the neighbourhood. In case she was cruising for an asexual boyfriend, I responded with a warning that I was “vehemently anti-romantic”. But we met up anyway, for tea and ice-skating, and we took to meeting a lot.

I loved Amanda’s attitude to life and enjoyed hanging out with her. And she was pretty. At first I tried to treat it like any other friendship. Then I found myself travelling four miles downtown to deliver sandwiches when she told me she was hungry. Two months in, we were at a gig and it seemed like a good idea to hold her hand. I felt cautious about it but just wanted to. I wondered if I could. Then I found I couldn’t let go.

That evening ended with us agreeing that our friendship was an important thing. We wanted to commit for life. In the asexual community we don’t form relationships lightly. If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with a person, there’s no reason to make such a special commitment.

read the rest of the article here

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Sports Fandom Is More Positive Than We Once Thought

September 8, 2008

Fans of the legendary English soccer team Liverpool FC display their support

Fans of professional sports are a derided bunch. Usually associated with belonging to the lowest common denominator intellectually and culturally, others have gone as far as to claim that they represent the most prevalent form of social conditioning present in our modern society.

An observer in first century Rome coined the phrase bread and circuses to describe how Romans of that era chose food and fun over freedom, thus giving up their civic duty in favour of decadence. To people like Noam Chomsky, little has changed. In Manufacturing Consent Chomsky explains the role of sports in social conditioning:

Take, say, sports — that’s another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it — you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance. [audience laughs] That keeps them from worrying about — [applause] keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it’s striking to see the intelligence that’s used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in — they have the most exotic information [more laughter] and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.

You know, I remember in high school, already I was pretty old. I suddenly asked myself at one point, why do I care if my high school team wins the football game? [laughter] I mean, I don’t know anybody on the team, you know? [audience roars] I mean, they have nothing to do with me, I mean, why I am cheering for my team? It doesn’t mean any — it doesn’t make sense. But the point is, it does make sense: it’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements — in fact, it’s training in irrational jingoism. That’s also a feature of competitive sports. I think if you look closely at these things, I think, typically, they do have functions, and that’s why energy is devoted to supporting them and creating a basis for them and advertisers are willing to pay for them and so on.

Is being a fan of professional sports all that bad? New research by economists and psychologists suggests that sports fandom actually has some benefits.

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All Your Eggs in One Basket – China’s One Child Policy

August 12, 2008

Chinese boys

High expectations are placed on Chinese children

China’s One Child Policy was introduced in 1979 to alleviate social and environmental problems that the country was facing. Unfortunately, a whole new series of issues have arisen from this policy, not least amongst them are those that are psychological in nature:

Youth Research Centre, a branch under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences conducted a research, wherein they visited nearly 3,000 families in few localities. The main target behind the survey was to know the educational expectations that the parents have from their children.

Almost ninety percent of the parents said that they want their children to go for higher education – a university graduate.

Many believe that without being a university graduate, life will be a total failure. Among the interviewees, almost 45% of them wanted their child to get a masters degree.

However, the pressure is more on the boys and the girls are spared, because they are not expected to have a successful career.

Experts say that too much pressure on the child may lead to unnecessary hassle such as depression and mental trauma.

These children are showered with attention and are expected to become academic dynamos, but the competition is fierce and the psychological impact of the pressure is even worse.

Taylor Clark takes a look at this issue in the excellent article Plight of the Little Emperors.

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