The Daily Evergreen

Sex sells, it doesn’t sell happiness

Michelle Chan | Evergreen columnist

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In search for the dream of love and happiness, we’ve forgone intimate love-making in place of commoditized sex.

We replaced the passionate embrace with an insatiable appetite for pleasure. We have been tricked by the ideology that sex somehow promises a better life, but we fail to recognize the deeper aspect to what it means to make love.

Our premature exposure to sexually explicit material may have affected our perceptions of how we view the intimate act. Adolescents who viewed pornographic media through the internet were more likely to uphold recreational attitudes toward sexual activity, according to a study in the Journal of Communication.

The perception of sex as a recreational activity suggests that the act is done solely out of pleasure, perhaps enjoyed with a partner, but otherwise done on a whim and maybe for the sake of passing the time.

The commodification of sexuality as a source of pleasure creates the false notion that disregards the importance of establishing mutual relationships. Although sexual activity positively correlates to reported happiness, according to a study cited in the Scandinavian Journal of Economics, one must recognize that a noted trend between two variables is not a causal statement: sex does not necessarily induce happiness.

We have fallen into the illusion that pleasure equates to well-being.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant warned of the dangers of objectifying our lovers for the sake of sexual desire. In his piece, “Lectures on Ethics,” Kant wrote, “Sexual love makes of the loved person an Object of appetite; as soon as that appetite has been stilled, the person is cast aside as one casts away a lemon that has been sucked dry.”

His words, albeit caustic, appeal to the empathetic nature of the human being. If we indulge in the act of sex for selfish purposes or for the sake of personal gratification, we ignore a sentimental but important part of building human relationships. By succumbing to self-serving desires of the flesh, we start to view one another as objects or sources of pleasure rather than individual people.

All too often, the media encourage the sexual objectification of both men and women. Media endeavors such as “Magic Mike,” Playboy Magazine, or “50 Shades of Grey” all tout sexuality as a marketable trait or a commodity to sell—something that must be acquired for the sake of happiness.

We all search for the yellow brick road that leads to meaningful relationships, but we often tumble into the fairy tale of love based on the hollow idea of ‘modern’ intimacy. We augment the importance of sexuality, physical attractiveness, and superficial traits in our search for the ready-made prince or princess of cheesy romance flicks and trashy drug-store novels.

Our emphasis on fleeting moments of ecstasy involving an act of the flesh appeals to the promise of short-term fulfillment but fails to fulfill a deeper longing. In a way, we have become like children craving a sugar rush. We are in search of a way to still a hunger through superficial indulgences, and in a sense we have developed a sense of entitlement. We have accepted the misguided notion that we deserve the right to engage in the intimate act when our hearts desire for the sake of attaining personal satisfaction.

Sexuality shared between individuals has evolved into a tragic farce, one intended to entertain selfish pursuits and the corrupted perceptions of well-being.

By returning to the root of intimacy, we may begin to view romance and love-making as a way to establish a nurturing connection between individuals based on trust and voluntary vulnerability rather than a means to an end or a search for self-seeking pleasure.

The consummation of love through an act of physical intimacy should be revered as an act of giving one’s self into the hands of another in an act of unity and not as a way to uncover happiness, to pass the time, or simply just to find gratification. When we recognize our lovers and intimate partners as individuals in search of a common goal—personal contentment and a communal sense of well-being—we may begin to see that the fantasy of romantic love is real after all.

It just takes more than a skin-deep effort.

Michelle Chan is a sophomore animal science major from Phoenix, Ariz. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.

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Sex sells, it doesn’t sell happiness