• Joshs
    199

    I'm a therapist who deals with sexual issues, and while I don't deny the value of psychoanalytic tools,
    I find the core sexual problems clients deal with arent a matter of needing to act more appropriately such as to conform better to social mores, and I dont see their issues in terms of a failure to be in touch with reality, but rather a need to understand themselves and others in their own terms more effectively.
    I take a primarily constructivist approach, which sees the individual as constructing his or her own world via their intersubjective interactions in culture. There is no one way causal relation between self and world(the culture behaviorally determining personal belief, or the individual projecting their construals onto the world) .Gender roles arent simply imposed by culture onto individuals in a top-down fashion but also make sense to many of them relative to their own larger worldviews(female Trump supporters dont understand what the fuss is over harassment, since in their view men will be men. This patriarchal notion makes sense to them not simply because they were blindly, unconsciously inculcated with this idea, but because limited, rigid assignment of behavioral gender roles is a necessary starting point for the evolution of understanding of gender in general.

    This movement from relatively less differentiated, and at the same time less integral, concepts of self and other to to progressively richer and more adaptive constructions is I think a general trajectory in cultural and personal development.

    My parents' era, dominated by the messages of Hefner's Playboy, showed men how to enjoy sexual pleasure without religious guilt, but didnt provide any tools for how to engage intimately. The woman had to be an object, not because of simple patriarchy(the gay community shared this objectification of the sexual other), but because the intensely personal feelings of sexual pleasure were impossible to sort out such as to know how to achieve a more effective relationality with another.
    This isnt a pathology except when viewed through the blinkers of historical hindsight. labeling it such, or as a psychodynamic issue of social maladjustment misses the crucial cognitive component.
    Harassment is a symptom of limitations in mens' ability to read women, and themselves. This skill is a historically developing achievement alongside all other cultural achievements.

    Slogans proscribing violence against women, using a voabulary of social appropriateness and norms, tend to essentialize an issue which needs a more relativistic approaches understanding. Such legalistic, moralistic approaches run the risk of being complcit in what they oppose, and may only perpetuate the problem by failing to grasp underlying causes.


    A social constructionist psychologst by the name of Ken Gergen wrote about this issue 25 years ago. I think he captures some of what I'm trying to say.


    "By and large identity politics has depended on a rhetoric of blame, the illocutionary effects of which are designed to chastise the target (for being unjust, prejudiced, inhumane, selfish,
    oppressive, and/or violent). In western culture we essentially inherit two
    conversational responses to such forms of chastisement - incorporation or
    antagonism. The incorporative mode ("Yes, now I see the error of my ways.")
    requires an extended forestructure of understandings (i.e. a history which legitimates
    the critic's authority and judgment, and which renders the target of critique
    answerable). However, because in the case of identity politics, there is no pre-established
    context to situate the target in just these ways, the invited response to
    critique is more typically one of hostility, defense and counter-charge."

    "Constructionist thought militates against the claims to ethical
    foundations implicit in much identity politics - that higher ground from which others
    can so confidently be condemned as inhumane, self-serving, prejudiced, and unjust.
    Constructionist thought painfully reminds us that we have no transcendent rationale
    upon which to rest such accusations, and that our sense of moral indignation is itself
    a product of historically and culturally situated traditions. And the constructionist
    intones, is it not possible that those we excoriate are but living also within traditions
    that are, for them, suffused with a sense of ethical primacy? As we find, then, social
    constructionism is a two edged sword in the political arena, potentially as damaging
    to the wielding hand as to the opposition."
  • TimeLine
    2.4k
    Gender roles arent simply imposed by culture onto individuals in a top-down fashion but also make sense to many of them relative to their own larger worldviewsJoshs

    I must disagree with this. I should first like to say, though, that it is good to have you here and a well-written post that I thoroughly enjoyed. I am quite keen on having more interaction with those that may possibly have some experience or interest in the philosophy of psychology. From personal experience, however, with regard to the above mentioned, I am confident that there certainly is an imposition from culture and/or social and familial environments that largely can - depending on the extremity of this environment - impact on a person' sexual development.

    I grew up in a culturally paternalistic environment and it was reinforced rather violently that women were inferior for which all the women in my life accepted that thus normalised bad behaviour from men. There was always this conflict, so to speak, within me that resulted in my complete avoidance of intimacy and relationships with men because - while not conscious of it - I did not like this behaviour both from men and women that my environment reinforced. I unconsciously believed it was wrong, but since it was unconscious, I found myself having refused intimacy. My highly selective expectations were consistently not being met so that I could justify something was wrong with the men that I met and avoid relationships by remaining chaste, rather than acknowledging that something was wrong with me. Polar opposite to me was my sister who had a very promiscuous attitude and was attracted to bad men - likely because of this familiarity with bad behaviour - and believed that sex was a form of empowerment and already has had two (violent) husbands and children from each of them. She refuses to accept that something was wrong with our culture.

    Several years ago, I was bullied at work by an aggressive man who presented all the qualities of this bad behaviour that was normalised during my childhood. I started to get ill, would find myself crying in the bathroom and not really knowing why, lost a lot of weight and told myself continuously that he 'had a chance' in that I believed he would become a better man and actually made an effort to do this or work with him as though my hope for him to be a good man would help me heal and recover. Wrong. When I concluded that he had no chance and that he was stuck and would never progress, I started to heal and when I saw him shopping or at the gym I became angrier and stronger because I started to consciously see the facts that what I was culturally taught to be 'normal' was not. That contrast enabled me to see what was actually normal and healthy. I am now open to men and the prospect of love because I now understand my sexuality, but it took a considerable amount of work to reach that.

    So, how did this unconscious "protest" within me form and was it a signal of my own individuality? Australia is a multicultural society and so I was raised in a schism between my family' culture and the broader Australian culture where paternalism is not as strong as it was with my Mediterranean background. As a first generation migrant, the conflict was generated because I had two voices, the one that was reinforced so fervently by people that I loved and the one that educated me at school and through friends but was distant from me and not so emotional; one I knew was wrong but it just was, and the other I knew was right but it just wasn't enough. My identity was in conflict until I decided to face the facts; there was something wrong with my culture and my family and I left it completely to become 'Australian' or adopt that objective approach.

    Slogans proscribing violence against women, using a voabulary of social appropriateness and norms, tend to essentialize an issue which needs a more relativistic approaches understanding. Such legalistic, moralistic approaches run the risk of being complcit in what they oppose, and may only perpetuate the problem by failing to grasp underlying causes.Joshs

    I am not keen on relativism, but I do understand the necessity to think about cultural diversity; again, here in Australia, any legislation passed through parliament must be aligned with our human rights charter to avoid the potential controversy of being complicit to perpetuating problems. While each culture has a unique freedom to define their identity as they see fit, there are universal norms - such as the wrongness of violence against women - we we need to strike a balance and say that some of what one may view as culturally appropriate behaviour actually is not. If society largely influences behavioural norms then it is vital for us to ensure that these norms are aligned to these universal, righteous views of good behaviour.

    I dont see their issues in terms of a failure to be in touch with reality, but rather a need to understand themselves and others in their own terms more effectively.Joshs

    Wonderfully said! Erich Fromm stated that while Freud and others focused on serious pathological concerns, his endeavour - particularly in relation to love and sexuality as well as depression and anxiety - was really about 'normal' people with problems and who make up a vast majority.
  • gurugeorge
    248
    No, "sexual liberation" increases the likelihood of sexual harassment. As you can see today, "liberals" are more frequent sexual harassers than conservatives. Many of the people being accused of harassment now are people who grew up with the "sexual liberation" ideas of the Boomers that were fashionable when they were growing up. They learned to treat sex casually and to treat women casually as objects of personal gratification.

    The idea that sexual repression leads to sexual harassment comes from Frankfurt School twaddle, which in turn is partly based on Freudian twaddle (the school was generally speaking a fusion of Marx and Freud). All that stuff about "the authoritarian personality," the nuclear family leading to sexual repression and closet fascism, etc., etc,. is bunk. Generally, the "liberal" idea of the conservative is a complete fantasy (and partly a projection too).

    At bottom, the idea is based on a sort of "hydraulic" model of sexual "pressure." (The notion that sexual energy can be "pent up", etc.) But in reality, the more you do of a thing the more you want to do it. The more people treat sex like a toy instead of the nuclear bomb it is, the more opportunities you'll create for mishaps, and for unwanted sexual encounters. It's rather analogous to the sugar problem: we're designed to want it, a lot, so if we're put in an environment where we have a lot of it, we overdo it.

    If you want less sexual harassment, then you encourage males to treat females with respect - i.e. traditionally. You respect the things that follow from the relative rarity of eggs and the relative abundance of sperm, facts that are encoded in the rules that human societies developed over the course of thousands of years, in terms of religious ideas and mores. (Teenage celibacy, courtship rituals, limited opportunities for encounters that might turn sexual, avoidance of inebriation, etc.) How tight or how loose these mores should be is open to question of course (not too tight, not too loose is the ideal), but you can't get rid of them entirely without inviting problems.
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