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SILAS OLA ABAYOM]

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 10/15/2016 |



“Some things never change, but sex isn’t one of them.” Marcus Field
“Sex with love is the greatest pleasure in the world; it is repressed because it is the greatest pleasure.” A.S. Neil.

Introduction:

Sex-the three-letter word is perhaps, most talk about, issue-sensitive, focal point discussion between a man and a woman, or among humans. Nothing dominates human affairs more than sex; nothing connects a man to a woman more than sex; in fact, in every day conversation, sex accounts for more than half of individual and collective talks. In a sex poll conducted by Gary Langer, Cherry Arnedt, and Dalia Sussman in October 2004, the pollsters found that “there is more sex in America in 2004 than that of 1950s”; in fact, whatever the findings were twelve years ago, today’s sex in America will significantly dwarf 2004 findings. Regardless of culture, notwithstanding religious affiliations, despite locations and geography, sex occupies a special place in all humans’ affairs. Nevertheless, as pleasurable as sex may be, as delightful as sex could be, even, as gratifying and enjoyable sex may be among lovers in coquetry; correspondingly, sex may be sordid, sleazy, dirty, seedy, dishonorable, more so, ignominious and shameful. From time immemorial, sex is treated as secret and private affairs, but not without society’s supreme control.

Sex has always been under society’s binoculars; placed under religious doctrines, creeds, and tenets, watched by laws, policed by crafted morals, condemned or commended by ethics, but left to individual conscience to take a decision on which sexual route to go base on aggregate knowledge with outcome.

Yesterday in Africa:

In pre-Christian Africa, sex was the backbone of society’s continued existence; because of its socio-cultural and religious values, sex was jealously guarded. In ancient times, society built multiple myths, fear, fence, do-not-do, restrictions, stop-there, and hold-on around sex. Interestingly, some of these restrictions later formed body of religious rules and laws that dictated how sexual roles could be played. From age restrictions, to who, when, where, why, and how sex should be conducted in both private and public make up more of detailed dossier on sexual relation in the society. In many cases, society set sexual standard and behavior, limiting relations to couple, including polygamous relationship, outlawed and condemned rape, incest, sodomy, pederasty, lesbianism, bestiality. Punishment on infractions according to history was usually, severe; at times, sexual misconduct carried death penalty.

However, these restrictions, repression, and taboos did not prevent or stop sexual relations among sexually inclined lovers; neither did restrictions not stop the deviant behavior. In fact, the moral force, religious fence, and legal noose only succeeded in making sex more popular. Despite pleasure and joy it sex brings, ancient society made sex look dirty, private, and secret; nonetheless, sex perception set the tone for society’s unlimited power to control sexual behavior.

Welcome Christianity, As-salamu-alaykum Islam:

Post Christian and Islam Africa did not change the concept and attitude of Africans about sex, rather, the two religions confirmed and created more fear, myths, and taboos to scare their new converts from this human activity, which concept is partially known. Christianity stands on monogamy-one man, one wife; it preaches socially acceptable behaviors among members. It creates rules and laws that cover biological aspect of sexual organs, steps toward matrimony and solemnization, marriage legality, legal and illegitimate child, and inheritance after death in a Christian home. Regardless of Christian denomination-perception on sex was similar. On the other hand, Islam allows polygamy-one man to four wives; nonetheless, more restrictions, more taboos, and more repression. In what appeared to be a new law, Islam placed sexual related activities on Sharia-“the Islamic legal system derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith.” Under a new dispensation, a Muslim woman marries only a Muslim man, a Muslim man is free to marry a Muslim woman or “Ahl-al-Kitab” a non-Muslim; but not an atheist, agonist, or polytheist. Marriage and sexuality dynamics changed with these two religions, just as some practices-child marriage favored by Islam introduced into Africa concept of marriage.

Sex in Europe: From Pre-Christian To Constantine Through Middle Ages

Just like other human societies, Pre-Christian Europe regulated and placed sex under society strich watch, Faramerz Dabhoiwala, Oxford University historian of note, said: History of sex is usually treated as part of the history of private life, or of bodily experience, yet that is itself a consequence of enlightenment’s conception of it as an essentially personal matter. My concern….is to recover the history of sex as a central public preoccupation and to demonstrate that how people in the past thought about and dealt with, it was shaped by most profound intellectual and social currents of their time. All European nations of ancient times from west to central, through Caucasian, Balkans, to Dardallenes, believed sex was a private affair, but not without regulations from the society. Illicit sex was a public crime; from record of the oldest surviving legal codes, the Hammurabi’s Codes of Kings of Babylon (c.2100-1700), the code made adultery punishable by death.

Near East and classical culture, Greco-Roman treated adultery as a serious offence. Nations in Mesopotamia such as Assyria, Babylon, Media and Persia did same thing. Ancient Egypt, and the Jews, created myths and taboos around sex-in order to “uphold the honor and property rights of fathers, husbands…” From Common Era/Christian onward, sex law assumed a new dimension Catholic Europe; Ethelbert (c.602) the Anglo-Saxon king of Kent stipulated fine, “if a man takes widow, not belonging to him, lying with servants, slaves, women of different classes.” Alfred the Great (c.893) made murder of an adulterous man lawful; “kill another [man]” he said, “if he found ‘with wedded wife, within closed doors, or under the same blanket or with his legitimate daughter or his legitimate sister, or with his mother.’” King of Cnut forbade married man from fornicating with their slaves, “adulteresses be put to public shame and disgrace, lose goods, have ears and noses cut off.”

In fact, these views plus the seventh commandment, and the teaching of Church in the first century gave sex a new point of view that graduated to the new laws of Christianity. From 400-1000 A.D., there seemed to be moral revival in Catholic Europe, “Christian Moral Code” rooted in “Hebrew Laws of Old Testament” seemed in ascendant. The Greek word: Porneia or Pornea often translated fornication and “Akatharsia” or uncleanness became two major terms used by early Christians to define or describe sexual behavior from pre-marital sex to orgy, violent, sadistic, bestiality, out-of-human, sexual relation common in Catholic Europe. Also, incest, masturbation, sodomy (oral and anal sex), pederasty (man and boy sexual encounter), lesbianism (female to female), polyandry, inclusive. However, the only recognized sex engagement is within marriage confines for procreation and pleasure-without contraception and birth control therapies- punishment, very severe, even in some cases, carried death penalty.

Conclusion:

Sex will continue to generate more debate in both private life and public domain. Form liberal to conservative, from legal, social, cultural, religious, and political camps and fronts, opinions on what constitute proper or improper sexual activities will continue to be polemical. More important, to what extent can society go on this private and behind-the-curtain human affairs will remain unsolved; inasmuch as sex has become part of commercial activities of demand and supply, a great marketing tools, social and cultural issues, and a global menace.Human society through social duties will always have pretext to regulate what happens among intimate lovers or sex-for-money behind the closed door under the curtain.



[SILAS OLA ABAYOM]I

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