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Gay Sex and the
Missionary Position

The Nature of
Human Impulse
and
the Ignorance
of Religious Reaction

By Punkerslut

By Punkerslut, Made with Graphics by Petersuent, Thelmadatter, and Nicholas
Image: By Punkerslut,
Made with Graphics by Petersent, Thelmadatter, and Nicholas,
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"Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported"

Start Date: September 21, 2010
Finish Date: September 22, 2010

"...the ethical law cannot lay claim to more consideration and validity than is warranted by its material basis."
          --Joseph Dietzgen, 1875
          "Ethics of Social-Democracy"

     In Western culture today, gays and lesbians have faced intolerance built up from many sources, including traditionalism and nationalism. But one of the deepest sources, behind both tradition and nation, is religion. With Christianity being one of the dominant religious influences, this draws back to one specific sect: Roman Catholicism. The creeds, ideas, practices, and codes of morality held by the Catholic Church were adopted by the emerging Protestants. The split was like the much earlier one between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic -- it was not over beliefs, but rather, who was allowed to dictate those beliefs. A split between the ambitions of two authorities, though the conflict is draped in religious and spiritual terms.

     One of these attitudes that has been adopted by many of the Protestants is Homophobia, or intolerance and fear of gays and lesbians. According to the website of the Vatican, the political domain of the church, in regards to Homosexuality, "The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved." [*1] The emphasis here is not simply that gay sex violates spiritual or religious law as set forth by the church, but that it also violates "natural law."

     According to the Catholic Answers website, the church "opposes homosexual activity because it is intrinsically disordered, an abuse of our human nature." [*2] Or, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly describes gay sex as "disorder," further noting "They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." [*3]

     Another belief that has been intermittently accepted by Protestants, borrowed from their Catholic friends, is that of Missionary Position sex. This is a sexual position where the partners are facing each other, with one partner laying down and the other on top. It differs from "doggy-style" or other types of sex. The religious missionaries, carrying gun and bible, forced many natives to change to this sex position -- both Protestant and Catholic missionaries without much distinction between the two. [*4] According to Philip S. Keane, "The traditional or 'missionary' position (husband on top of the wife) was held by some theologians in former centuries to be the only moral position in which to have intercourse." [*5] Or, according to Colombia University's Go-Ask-Alice project...

"Though Christian missionaries didn't invent this position (evidence of it exists in art that long predates the Christian era), they were the inspiration for the name. Early Christian teachings said women needed to be subordinate to men (even during sex), and that other positions were sinful and unclean." [*6]

     According to the Catholic saint Thomas Aquinas, to have sex using a position other than missionary is worse than having sex with your own mother. [*7] To Aquinas, the missionary position was the only "natural" way to have sex. [*8] The historian Benjamin Shepard writes, "...for Aquinas, any sexual act other than missionary position intercourse man on top of woman was assumed to be a sin of irrational gratification, of lust." [*9] Other sexual positions were considered "lustful" because Aquinas, inspired by god, had the idea that one could not reproduce by having sex doggy-style -- or at least, believed that reproduction was significantly hampered by non-missionary sex. [*10] (That's not true.)

     Both of these morals, for straight sex and missionary position sex, have a religious and spiritual basis. But underneath this, there is the idea of what is "natural" or "unnatural." What do those words even mean, though? By natural, one might think of something that appears by the regular and organic processes of the environment. Gay sex is considered "unnatural" because it does not happen in the wilds, in the jungles, or in the depths of the oceans. It is considered the sin of "corrupted men and women." But, doggy style is considered "unnatural," even though it is the near-universal form of copulation in the animal world.

"In order to perpetuate the species, nature has endowed all animals with sexual instinct, and man is the only animal who is ashamed of this instinct."
          --Margaret Sanger, 1911
          "How Six Little Children Were Taught the Truth," Part I

     Gay sex is not a regular occurence of nature, but missionary sex, on the other hand, is even less regular. Why is it that gay sex is "unnatural" because animals don't do it often, but missionary position is "natural" when animals don't do it often? This is the contradiction. In the context of what other animals do, gay sex is as "natural" as straight, missionary position sex. In the United States, until very recently, laws prohibited not only gay sex -- they also prohibited any sex act outside "sexual intercourse, in the missionary position, between husband and wife." [*11] In one law, "unnatural" sex is mandatory. In another, it becomes prohibited.

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     The defenders of missionary-position-sex-only will often rush up with the examples of many primates who also use this position. Chimpanzees, for instance, have also been known to engage in the face-to-face position. However, the more one investigates this, the more difficult it is to consider "missionary position" as natural and anything else as unnatural. The Pygmy Chimpanzee, or "Bonobo," is known for having a particularly curious sexuality. It is certainly true that this animal engages is heterosexual, missionary-position sex, but its other sexual behavior is more interesting. For instance, the Bonobo is known to have both homoerotic tendencies and a natural inclination toward missionary sex. Quoting an article by Frans B. M. de Waal published in Scientific American...

"Perhaps the bonobo's most typical sexual pattern, undocumented in any other primate, is genito-genital rubbing (or GG rubbing) between adult females. One female facing another clings with arms and legs to a partner that, standing on both hands and feet, lifts her off the ground. The two females then rub their genital swellings laterally together, emitting grins and squeals that probably reflect orgasmic experiences. (Laboratory experiments on stump-tailed macaques have demonstrated that women are not the only female primates capable of physiological orgasm.)

"Male bonobos, too, may engage in pseudocopulation but generally perform a variation. Standing back to back, one male briefly rubs his scrotum against the buttocks of another. They also practice so-called penis-fencing, in which two males hang face to face from a branch while rubbing their erect penises together.

"The diversity of erotic contacts in bonobos includes sporadic oral sex, massage of another individual's genitals and intense tongue-kissing. Lest this leave the impression of a pathologically oversexed species, I must add, based on hundreds of hours of watching bonobos, that their sexual activity is rather casual and relaxed. It appears to be a completely natural part of their group life." [*12]

     The Bonobos are a curious example. One of the very few species that has tried missionary position sex also apparently has implemented gay sex, oral sex, and a wide array of sexual contacts, made casual in society. According to another researcher on Bonobos, "The bond between female bonobos is facilitated by sexual contact and grooming behavior..." and "...tension reduction occurs before an activity when aggression could be present between individuals. Tension reduction activities consist of sexual contact, usually when food is present..." [*13] That is to say, sexual activity in general was used to reduce conflict, and that it widely serves this purpose in the public sphere of bonobo life. Quoting the above-mentioned Scientific American article again...

"First, anything, not just food, that arouses the interest of more than one bonobo at a time tends to result in sexual contact. If two bonobos approach a cardboard box thrown into their enclosure, they will briefly mount each other before playing with the box. Such situations lead to squabbles in most other species. But bonobos are quite tolerant, perhaps because they use sex to divert attention and to diffuse tension." [*14]

     Such sexual contact facilitates very important social functions: "If a male bonobo tried to harass a female, all females would band together to chase him off. Because females appeared more successful in dominating males when they were together than on their own, their close association and frequent genital rubbing may represent an alliance." [*15] (Anthropological evidence that women may turn to lesbianism because of the genuine lack of being appreciation by the male community.) In one study that compared the sexual behavior of the Bonobo with another primate, the Capuchin monkey, researchers found "...bonobos engaged in sexual behavior 65 times as frequently as capuchins." [*16] They also noted that Bonobos, unlike the Capuchin's, engaged in many positions besides "ventrodorsal mounting." (The clinical phrase for doggy-style.)

     Gay sex and homoerotic behavior in nature may not be very common. The same is true with the missionary position of "face-to-face" sex. But in the case of one primate who engages in missionary style sex, they also engage in homosexual activity. It seems like if a species is intelligent enough to do one unusual act of sex, like the missionary position, it is intelligent enough to explore all other types of unusual acts. In seeing how this developed in the community of Bonobos, missionary position sex was treated just like the rubbing of genitalia between pairs of males or pairs of females.

     More importantly, sexual activity began to represent a form of communal bonding between the participants of society. It wasn't used in a way that might imply domination, coercion, or control, as one may see within monogamy. Rather, it was used as a free, voluntary method of expression. Even in the above-quoted study, showing that Bonobos were far more sexually active than Capuchin monkeys, both species were observed in using sex as a form of communication. [*17] However, the Bonobos seem to be a bit more unique than the Capuchins, treating sexual activity as a common, regular occurrence, which unites them together while at the same time resolving aggression entirely.

     These primates have a healthier view of sex than humans. They are not bound to the contradiction that unnatural, missionary sex is "good" and that equally-unnatural, gay sex is "bad." In fact, these phrases "natural" and "unnatural" are completely beyond them. They have not defined either of these ideas nor do they play any meaningful role in their society. More important things like bonding, the elimination of aggression, and food sharing have become the dominant trends of their social organization.

     Let's look at our definition of natural. Does it not mean what occurs normally in nature? This would appear to be the general basis. Well, what occurs in nature is this: when a species is smart enough to engage in missionary position, it is smart enough to engage in a diversity of all types of sexual contact, both heteroerotic and homoerotic. The natural and healthy thing, which contributes to social cohesiveness and affectionate bonding, is an attitude that wholly accepts all sexualities. Gay sex for humanity must be natural. Other species that have tried changing its normal sex position have also tried sexual stimulation between pairs of males and pairs of females. Given this understanding, it would be unnatural for humanity to try the missionary position without giving a slight thought of homoerotic tendencies altogether.

     The Amazon River dolphin has been reported to have broken free from the natural position that it should have sex with, using snout and flippers to engage in non-reproductive sexual activity. [*18] Another book on the subject has reported that the blow hole has been used as part of the sexual activity of dolphins. [*19] Again, another species that uses unusual sex positions and engages in homoerotic behavior. Pigeons, which have been noted to exhibit homosexual behavior, [*20] have also been observed in soliciting sexual activity from chickens. [*21] Central Park Zoo has an interesting exhibit that shows non-reproductive activity coupled with homoerotic in one species: "...they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins." [*22]

     The rule of nature does not seem to be that homosexual behavior is indecent while non-reproductive, heterosexual behavior is good. It seems to be just the opposite. When an animal becomes wise enough to start engaging in sex for its own pleasure, it can have the effect of lifting up the entire species toward greater civilization -- as seen in both the dolphins and the bonobos. If we are going to judge from nature, it seems that fostering and encouraging all voluntary, sexual activity leads toward a society with more bonding, affection, community, and happiness.

By Punkerslut
Image: By Punkerslut

"But why do I apply to you, proud and ignorant sages, to show me the road to happiness? Let me consult my own passions and inclinations. In them must I read the dictates of nature; not in your frivolous discourses."
          --David Hume, 1777
          "The Essays," Part I, Essay XV

Punkerslut,

Resources

*1. "Congregation for Catholic Education: Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders," by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, 4 November 2005, Section 2: "Homosexuality and the Ordained Ministry," published by the Vatican, Vatican.va.
*2. "Special Report: Gay Marriage," by Catholic Answers, Inc., 2004, Part I: Introduction, Section: "How do you answer the charge that the Catholic Church or opposition to same-sex marriage is 'homophobic'?", Catholic.com.
*3. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," Second Edition, Author Unknown ("by the U.S. Catholic Church" -- Amazon), Part 3: Life in Christ, Section 2: the Ten Commandments, Chapter 2: "You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself," Article II: "The Vocation of Chastity," Sub-Article "Chastity and homosexuality," published by the Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, SCBorromeo.org.
*4. "Wherever Green Is Worn: The Story of the Irish Diaspora," by Tim Pat Coogan, page 565, Oct 18, 2002, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN-10: 1403960143, ISBN-13: 978-1403960146.
*5. "Sexual morality: a Catholic perspective," by Philip S. Keane, 1977.
*6. Go Ask Alice!, "Dear Alice, What exactly is the missionary position?"; GoAskAlice.com. *7. "Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic Church," by Uta Ranke-Heinemann, published by Penguin, 1990, page 197.
*8. "Human Sexuality and Its Problems," by John Bancroft, page 306.
*9. "Masturbating Madness," by Benjamin Shepard, 2004, published in Sexualities.
*10. "Sex from Plato to Paglia," by Alan Soble.
*11. "Sex Laws and Alternative Life Styles," by Noel Myricks and Roger H. Rubin, October, 1977, published by the Family Coordinator and the National Council on Family Relations, Jstor.org.
*12. "Bonobo Sex and Society: The behavior of a close relative challenges assumptions about male supremacy in human evolution," by Frans B. M. de Waal, originally published in the March 1995 issue of Scientific American, pp. 82-88, SongWeaver.com.
*13. "Bonobo Pan paniscus: Social Organization," by Courtney Laird, Part: Social Organization, Section: Tension Reduction, Bio.Davidson.Edu.
*14. "Bonobo Sex and Society: The behavior of a close relative challenges assumptions about male supremacy in human evolution," by Frans B. M. de Waal, originally published in the March 1995 issue of Scientific American, pages 82-88, SongWeaver.com.
*15. Ibidem.
*16. "Nonconceptive Sexual Behavior in Bonobos and Capuchins," by Joseph H. Manson, Susan Perry and Amy R. Parish, From the issue entitled "Cebus Meets Pan," from the International Journal of Primatology, Volume 18, Number 5, 767-786, DOI: 10.1023/A:1026395829818, SpringerLink.com.
*17. "Nonconceptive Sexual Behavior in Bonobos and Capuchins," by Joseph H. Manson, Susan Perry and Amy R. Parish, From the issue entitled "Cebus Meets Pan," Volume 18, Number 5, 767-786, DOI: 10.1023/A:1026395829818, International Journal of Primatology, SpringerLink.com.
*18. Bruce Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, St. Martin's Press, 1999; ISBN 0312192398; pages 339-348.
*19. "Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex," by Olivia Judson, published by Metropolitan Books, ISBN-10: 0805063315, ISBN-13: 978-0805063318.
*20. "Homosexual Behaviour in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective," Edited by Volker Sommer (of University College London) and Paul L. Vasey (of University of Lethbridge, Alberta), ISBN: 9780521864466, Cambridge.org.
*21. "Observations on Interspecific Sexual Behavior between a Chicken," by HH Vogel, The Auk, Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 637-639, 1944.
*22. "Central Park Zoo's gay penguins ignite debate," by Dinitia Smith, New York Times, Saturday, February 7, 2004, published by the San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate.com.


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