Fri, 9 March 2012

Phallus. Penis. Prick, Dong. Wang. Winkie. Cheesy Pork Sword. One Eyed Spitting Cobra. Schlong. Cock. Willy. Little Captain. Moisture Missile. *

So many names for such a little thing. And before you say anything, size is subjective. It's interesting how much power this thing has.

Oh, you're probably wondering why I'm going all Freud on your asses. I'm not, really, it's just that at 3am when you can't sleep and even the foxes and cats have called it a night, there's only really three things to think about. Sex, death and money. Normally in my head all three end up with the "what do we really need them for" question. So I thought I would publicise my craziness.

Sex has a power over us all, doesn't it? Us men especially. As some comedy bloke (probably American) noted, "we spend nine months trying to get OUT of the womb then we spend the rest of our lives trying to get back in!"  No matter how civilised humanity tries to become, we are NEVER going to get away from the fact that we're just animals, and that ultimately everything we do is geared towards the base concept of fathering kids and protecting them from harm. I am man. I am hunter. Why do I hunt? So I eat. Do I have kids? Ug. Who eats first? Kids. So why do I hunt? Urrr so kids eat.

Kids always want to be spacemen, pilots, scientists, secret agents, soldiers, blah blah. Then puberty hits, and all that focus and determination goes into finding somewhere to put their winkies (a few manage to avoid some of the more animalistic urges and can still channel some control to the head rather than the groin - society calls them "nerds"). From there begins the drive to mate and reproduce. That innate instinct to carry on the genetic line underscores every aspect of our being. Women apparently get this too, but in a different way. I'm not qualified to discuss that side of things due to my lack of vagina so I won't go there. All I will say on it is that I've heard the primary female criteria is quality of offspring possibly based on survivability and toughness. For men, though, it's not about quality of offspring, it's about quantity of offspring - the more kids we can have, the more likely it is that one of them will survive.

The above concept, to me, supplements the "nature versus nurture" debate. It doesn't negate it, but it adds to it. I firmly believe that there is no argument between nature and nurture - both are important and both are relevant. Put it this way: "everyone is an individual (nature) and needs to be treated differently (nurture). A lot of people seem to observe the nature/nurture argument but forget about the subconscious drives that all animals have, including humans. The general rule of thumb is that no two individuals, even when exposed to exactly the same external influences, will turn out exactly the same. Everyone will react in their own way to events they encounter, as the brain and personality will make its own "pathways" towards a decision or reaction. As a result, everyone's way of calculating an action or reaction is different, but always influenced in part by the base instincts I mentioned before.

It's interesting to watch this process at work, now that I have adults of various ages (young and old) around me. The comparison of temperament is interesting too, both between girl and boy and between the two boys and particularly with an autistic person in the mix. I say that because one of the psychologists that we know often states that autism allows more of the base instincts to be played out, making an autistic person more honest and forthright about their own feelings and how they manifest them.

Yes, I know this is a very subjective essay. This is, after all, my own opinion here. I can be objective, but this is primarily about what I've learned from my environment and what my experiences tell me. Don't worry though, my insightful pop-psychology mind will be turned inwards too. Anyway, it's my blog so I can say what I like. And I can ramble if I want.

Growing up is hard, because puberty is the time when the base instincts really kick in. That's when the one-eyed brain (or, indeed, the female version) starts to wake up and try and dictate how we live our lives. That's when the 11-13 year olds stop chasing girls around playgrounds to hit them but start trying to wrestle them instead. Kiss-chase becomes more a game where the boys run a lot slower all of a sudden. It's not about getting away from the slobbery girls any more. Then when there are semi clad ladies on telly, the eyes aren't getting averted as quickly, and there are less frequent protests about people kissing on telly. Suddenly the question "why are they doing that?" becomes a question that has to be answered really really carefully. The "man to man talk" is getting closer.

My personal belief system has always been that sex is something that should come (ha ha) after a relationship has developed beyond the first flush of "going out with someone". Jumping straight into bed with someone is something that should only be done after you know a bit about her and have a good idea what she's really like. Part of that is the way my parents brought me up and part of it is the whole "AIDS WILL KILL YOU IF YOU GET YOUR TACKLE OUT" campaign of the 80s and 90s. All sensible stuff, I think, and a value I have consistently promoted to all the children that I've been responsible for the last 8 years. "Friends first" is the ultimate expression of that, because I think that if you aren't friends with someone then you won't be able to develop anything further than that.

Slight aside. In my opinion, and borne out by my personal experience, there is no such thing as the "friend zone". If someone you fancy rejects your amorous advance and states "I value your friendship too much to jeapordise it by taking it any further," then she probably won't even stay a friend for very long. Yes, I've used the line myself, but only when I was a know-nothing teenager. The older I've got the more obvious it has been to me that if your lover isn't your best friend then you're shagging the wrong person. Someone who loves you and isn't your friend is your mother. Think about that the next time you're in bed, Oedipus...

The "friends first" concept is one that plays along with the female "quality of offspring" concept in a way. If a female is not attracted to you intellectually as a partner then she won't want to follow the societal (not instinctual) demands of a relationship: monogamy, loyalty etc. She'll be looking for the next person to come along who can satisfy those demands.  The "you'll do until something better comes along" attitude isn't a big secret any more, and people are getting more and more honest about it nowadays. Men do it too, but I don't think women learned it from men - I think that it's always been there, and probably stronger in women than in men. Most draw the line at unprotected sex with the "ok until someone better" bloke because they don't want to breed with them. And there are a LOT of reasons not to want to mate with someone, again coming back to the instinctual elements. Wouldn't be a good father, wouldn't be a good mate, wouldn't be a good protector or hunter/gatherer (which is why nerds get bugger all).

Oddly, though, "wouldn't be a good role model" doesn't seem to be one of the criteria. Many women seem drawn to the bad boy type over the well-educated, well-spoken, well-dressed man in gainful employment. Gang members, druggies, fighters, criminals. All of those people seem to attract the attention of the hotties. I'm not sure if that's an instinct (those people are more likely to be good protectors) or if it's cultural (dramatisation of anti-heroes).

Anyway. I've been consistent in how I explain the "right way" to approach a budding relationship to all the children I have any responsibility for. Build a relationship for a while, then if it feels like it could go somewhere, broach the subject then go for it. Always making sure that events are age-appropriate, legal and safe. The brainworks of the members of my family spread that concept over a wide area.

One response, at age 12, is to act gentlemanly. This is the part that inspired this post today, really. Derri stated to me yesterday that "you should treat a lady like a diamond". Fine words. His other beliefs are that ladies should be treated with respect and that their feelings are always to be considered in everything done as a couple. He believes in marriage and would be be kind, caring and considerate. He would even, if he had one, lay down his coat over a puddle for his companion to walk on.

OK he seems to live in Victorian times but still, ladies, wouldn't he be the perfect date?

If only this attitude would last. Already I see the beginnings of his fall to the dark side. He sneaks glances at underwear adverts on telly. He doesn't avert his eyes during kissing scenes on telly. He jokingly professes a penchant for Victorian porn ("oooh, those ankles"). I honestly don't think he would objectify women, though. He has too high a regard for them to fall that far during his transition from boy to man. He has a good balance so far and I think he will have a fair degree of control over his instincts.

An alternative response is the "every hole's a goal" approach. Not one I personally favour, but a very popular one nonetheless. I knew people at university who were like this, and it's the approach that is currently in favour with David. Some people call it "sowing their oats". In context of the discussion at hand (not related to the ongoing issues with David for a change) my opinion is that this approach is borne from stronger base instincts (or less control over those instincts) and that this is the manifestation of the quantitative approach to breeding (more is best!). In relation to David himself, there's strong evidence that his autism contributes to that, as his drives and goals are more tuned to his animalistic instincts. As a result, he lives a far more free life, unfettered by the need to conform to "moral or society standards". The fact that his approach could end up with him being a father at 18 (a father with autism and learning difficulties, no less) has no impact on his desire or wants. As long as he's free to do these things then he'll do them, exploring his own sensuality, his own masculinity and the femininity of his partners in a far more direct manner as he goes. In its own way it's as much of a journey as any other way and, to be honest, he'll probably have a lot more fun along the way. The main negative aspect to it, I suppose, is that there are far worse consequences to this approach than to the other way. Society plays it safe (and with good reason) and puts standards and morals in place to protect people from themselves and from the actions of others. Anne frets about David's situation here because she became pregnant young and she regretted losing the ability to be a young adult with no real responsibility. To be clear, she never regrets having Amy. Never. If David ends up with kids then he'll lose a vital part of growing up - the chance to be free and independent and live for yourself. That, to Anne, is the biggest possible consequence of letting your winkie dictate your actions.

Then there's me. I've kind of walked down both paths. I have never really been into one-night stands (as the values above would point out) but then I haven't really been put into many situations where this would be possible. Unfortunately I'm more of a nerd than a hunter-gatherer. I'd be the one left in the cave telling everyone where the buffalo were by using grass reeds and animal entrails to read the signs. I did things badly and I did things well. I made the wrong decisions and I made the right decisions. I treat women with respect but have trampled over people (male and female) to get to some of them (Huw knows what I'm talking about). I broke a family apart once too, a long time ago. Time doesn't make the regrets go away, no matter what philosophers say about time being a great healer. A betrayal is a betrayal, and I lost some good friends over the whole thing. People I still miss today.  That, to me, is a consequence of being led by the One-Eyed General (he got promoted). Friends lost, enemies made.

I suppose, though, that it was this incident that taught me to value friendships and to base them on trust. Can you trust them and can they trust you. My base instincts are quite strong, I think. I don't think twice about saying something or doing something if I think it's the right thing to do or say. I am an angry person but try not to be a needlessly violent person. I'd say that I have good self control and have managed to stick a thick veneer of "civilisation" over the dark parts of my personality but some of that has only come with age and maturity.

That's the common end to the acts of our base instincts. Maturity only begins once puberty ends. Learning never stops because the world outside and our being inside are constantly changing. As we get older the drive to mate lessens gradually, eventually changing into a drive to nurture and to have someone with us as we get older. Death holds no fears for me, but dying alone isn't something I think I would like. Worse, for me, is the thought that Anne would die alone because I know that I would really want someone to hold as I died. This may be down to the way my Nana died. When she died her body was shutting down with old age, MS and various bits failing. She must have been terrified, but in loads of pain too. She had her family around her and with her when she passed and I like to think that this would have taken some of the fear away, to at least have company in those final moments.

We're not immortal. Our mating instincts are about continuing our genetic line and carrying our values and experiences on. We live on through our children and their children and, if we're lucky enough, we'll be remembered for things we did and how we lived our lives. Our children are our immortality and our instincts make sure that they are safe and that they survive long enough for their base instincts to kick in and be tempered by experience. Human childhoods are amongst the longest (if not THE longest) in the animal kingdom. I wonder if there's a reason for that. Is it because our brains need longer to adjust to the demands of the body and the world? Nearly all animals can walk in the first days after birth. Humans take nearly a year to get it right. Why? Is it to allow the mind to develop enough to be able to understand appropriate places TO walk? To allow the brain to develop to be able to recognise that pain is bad so that a fire won't get walked into twice?

In summary. Puberty sucks.


* by this point Derri will be ON THE FLOOR DEAD FROM LAUGHING. Just in case he isn't.... BUM.

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