Sexual repression

Consider the possibility that lowering libido might be beneficial to society.

The traditional form of sexual repression (of spreading misinformation and fear, mutilation, etc.) is very unlikely to have been a net benefit. However, one could still argue that sexual liberation has not been wholly helpful either.

Some general points (with low epistemic confidence):

  • For people capable of having sufficient impact in the world, the impact they can make can easily swamp any sexual or romantic pleasures they can derive personally. Therefore voluntarily suppressing sexual or romantic urges might lead to greater productivity (by having less distractions) and thus greater impact. Of course there is also the counterpoint that lust can be a useful motivator for work, or that being romantically or sexually fulfilled provides energy to keep working. But why privilege sexual and romantic desire? The promise of food, social interaction, video games, learning more math, etc.—essentially anything that one desires—also act as motivators. And if someone is interested in making the greatest positive impact they can have on the world, they may be interested in curbing these other desires as well. (Of course, again, sexual and romantic desire could be special.)
  • Romantic and sexual urges often are unrequited or unconsummated, which can lead to varying degrees of misery. If such concerns became a nonproblem, the world might be better off.
  • Another way to put it: like everything else pure obsession with sex is unlikely to be optimal (how would anything get done?); if the optimal amount of thinking about sex is lower than how much people currently think about it, then finding ways to lower it seems reasonable.
  • Romance and sex (perhaps not the act, but its surrounding actions) often require a lot of time, effort, and money. As stated in “Activities Following A Breakup”, “After a breakup, everyone experiences a massive void. It’s not just an emotional void, a hole in your heart… it’s also literally a hole in your schedule: you have a huge amount of extra free time.” In other words, even if romance can provide a lot of unique benefits, its opportunity cost is high.

Also see Geoff Marcy, Walter Lewin

Interesting quote by Robin Hanson, from “Cities As Harems”:

Sometimes people fear today that low status men unhappy from being unable to find women will cause havoc. But in the past men avoided such feelings successfully by just avoiding women. By rarely seeing women they less often felt the envy that might cause havoc. If there’s a bigger problem today it might be because low status men more often come into contact with attractive but unavailable women. From this perspective, maybe low status men avoiding women via male-oriented video games isn’t such a bad thing?

See also

External links

  • Sexual repression
  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
  • List of federal political sex scandals in the United States
  • “Comment #171”:

    Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. And furthermore, that the people who did these things to me would somehow be morally right to do them—even if I couldn’t understand how.

    You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.

  • See also quotes like the following from “Onanism, or self pollution”: Timothy Pickering on Masturbation:

    Pickering agreed with that assessment, reporting that his own sons died early because of their predisposition to onanism. He reported that the only cure for the “derangement” would be regular sex inside marriage or hard work. These types of views mirror the Federalist notion of control – it starts with the individual body and translates its way up to the body politic. This might be one reason why Pickering expressed curiosity about vegetarianism at the beginning of the letter. If people show restraint in their lives, either through eliminating meat or sexual urges from their lives, a republic based on virtue emerges.

  • Also quotes like the following from John Harvey Kellogg’s views on sexuality:

    As an advocate of sexual abstinence, Kellogg devoted large amounts of his educational and medical work to discouraging sexual activity on the basis of dangers both scientifically understood at the time—as in sexually transmissible diseases—and those taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He set out his views on such matters in one of his larger books, published in various editions around the start of the 20th century under the title Plain Facts about Sexual Life and later Plain Facts for Old and Young. Some of his work on diet was influenced by his belief that a plain and healthy diet, with only two meals a day, among other things, would reduce sexual feelings. Those experiencing temptation were to avoid stimulating food and drinks, and eat very little meat, if any. Kellogg also advocated hydrotherapy and stressed the importance of keeping the colon clean through yogurt enemas.

  • Nefarious Nefazodone And Flashy Rare Side Effects”:

    SSRIs, the class which includes most currently used antidepressants, are very safe in the traditional sense of “unlikely to kill you”. Suicidal people take massive overdoses of SSRIs all the time, and usually end up with little more than a stomachache for their troubles. On the other hand, there’s increasing awareness of very common side effects which, while not disabling, can be pretty unpleasant. About 50% of users report decreased sexual abilities, sometimes to the point of total loss of libido or anorgasmia. And something like 25% of users experience “emotional blunting” and the loss of ability to feel feelings normally.

  • Why No Science Of Nerds?”:

    Nerds are traditionally viewed as having high libido – think watching pornography. But of course high testosterone is associated with higher libido. I don’t know if there’s a cultural thing going on where nerds have normal-to-low libido but are stereotyped as having high libido to make fun of their lack of romantic success – or even whether the pornography connection is just that nerds are better with computers. I also note with interest that testosterone is said to affect sexual libido but not desire for “sensual touch”, and a lot of people have mentioned how anomalously some of the nerd communities I’m in tend to value cuddling compared to sex relative to the general population.