Sexworkers Could Help Make Less Violent and Teach Intimacy Skills

More options for healthy physical sex would reduce violence.

Sexworkers could teach and let men learn more intimate sexuality which would benefit their future partners.  Many men once they have been introduced to more intimate sexuality find it much more fulfilling than “just” sex.

We get men all excited with so much sexuality in ads, movies and TV. Tease and titillation is all over making many men desire more sexual options and sexual variety – both in sexual techniques and partners.  Yet the safest, most practical choice of going to a private sexworker is illegal and not tolerated in the U.S. unlike in most all of the rest of the world.

People who are sexually repressed are angry, and angry people tend to be violent. People who are not touched, loved, made love to, feel outside of the human race and have an easier time hurting other humans.  I think the sex-negativity of most Christian sects is a contributing factor to the violence of the western world.

Common sense would suggest there is much less unwanted sexual aggression against women, if there are legal means to be sexually fulfilled.  Probably not violent rape which is more of a crime of control, but date rape, sexual harassment etc, which while terrible, is often simply due to sexual frustration with no legal outlet.

Attempts to close down massage parlors and arrest private (not on the street but private none of the governments business) prostitutes are examples of our anti-pleasure attitudes. Apparently, sex with pleasure is immoral and unacceptable, but sex with violence and pain such as in movies about rape is moral and acceptable. 

Men can kill each other with all sorts of violence on TV, but an intimate scene of loving humans can’t be seen on TV and has to exclude children at the movies.  I happen to think this is a very sick attitude.

Being with a wonderful warm women, a sexworker, her beautiful warm body caressing a man, is  "an act of prostitution" in the U.S.  She faces a felony prostitution charge for offering the tender warmth of her body to a man!  We must protect society against this terrible act says the religious right.

Rape is more about control than sex.  But how much does the lack of intimacy and sexual frustration of so many in our culture protect neighborhood and children as is the theme song of the religious right group behind the new laws across America to stamp out good intimacy, even non-sexual interactions between consenting adults.

A neuropsychologist contends that the greatest threat to world peace comes from those nations which are most repressive of sexual affection and female sexuality.

 By James W. Prescott Highlights from:

The original article is much longer and also discusses childhood issues and has many tables and sources of outside data.

James W. Prescott, a neuropsychologist, is a health scientist administrator at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the National Institutes of Health.  

Human violence is fast becoming a global epidemic. All over the world, police face angry mobs, terrorists disrupt the Olympics, hijackers seize airplanes, and bombs wreck buildings. During the past year, wars raged in the Middle East, Cyprus, and Southeast Asia, and guerrilla fighting continued to escalate in Ireland. Meanwhile, crime in the United States grew even faster than inflation.

Unless the causes of violence are isolated and treated, we will continue to live in a world of fear and apprehension. Unfortunately, violence is often offered as a solution to violence. Many law enforcement officials advocate 'get tough' policies as the best method to reduce crime. Imprisoning people, our usual way of dealing with crime, will not solve the problem, because the causes of violence lie in our basic values and the way in which we bring up our children and youth. Physical punishment, violent films and TV programs teach our children that physical violence is normal. But these early life experiences are not the only or even the main source of violent behavior. Recent research supports the point of view that the deprivation of physical pleasure is a major ingredient in the expression of physical violence. The common association of sex with violence provides a clue to understanding physical violence in terms of deprivation of physical pleasure.

Unlike violence, pleasure seems to be something the world can't get enough of. People are constantly in search of new forms of pleasure, yet most of our 'pleasure' activities appear to be substitutes for the natural sensory pleasures of touching. We touch for pleasure or for pain or we don't touch at all. Although physical pleasure and physical violence seem worlds apart, there seems to be a subtle and intimate connection between the two. Until the relationship between pleasure and violence is understood, violence will continue to escalate.

As a developmental neuropsychologist I have devoted a great deal of study to the peculiar relationship between violence and pleasure. I am now convinced that the deprivation of physical sensory pleasure is the principal root cause of violence. Laboratory experiments with animals show that pleasure and violence have a reciprocal relationship, that is, the presence of one inhibits the other. A raging, violent animal will abruptly calm down when electrodes stimulate the pleasure centers of its brain. Likewise, stimulating the violence centers in the brain can terminate the animal's sensual pleasure and peaceful behavior. When the brain's pleasure circuits are 'on,' the violence circuits are 'off,' and vice versa. Among human beings, a pleasure-prone personality rarely displays violence or aggressive behaviors, and a violent personality has little ability to tolerate, experience, or enjoy sensuously pleasing activities. As either violence or pleasure goes up, the other goes down.

Sensory Deprivation
The reciprocal relationship of pleasure and violence is highly significant because certain sensory experiences during the formative periods of development will create a neuropsychological predisposition for either violence-seeking or pleasure-seeking behaviors later in life. I am convinced that various abnormal social and emotional behaviors resulting from what psychologists call 'maternal-social' deprivation, that is, a lack of tender, loving care, are caused by a unique type of sensory deprivation, somatosensory deprivation. Derived from the Greek word for 'body,' the term refers to the sensations of touch and body movement which differ from the senses of light, hearing, smell and taste. I believe that the deprivation of body touch, contact, and movement are the basic causes of a number of emotional disturbances which include depressive and autistic behaviors, hyperactivity, sexual aberration, drug abuse, violence, and aggression.

These insights were derived chiefly from the controlled laboratory studies of Harry F. and Margaret K. Harlow at the University of Wisconsin. The Harlows and their students separated infant monkeys from their mothers at birth. The monkeys were raised in single cages in an animal colony room, where they could develop social relationships with the other animals through seeing, hearing, and smelling, but not through touching or movement. These and other studies indicate that it is the deprivation of body contact and body movement -- not deprivation of the other senses -- that produces the wide variety of abnormal emotional behaviors in these isolation-reared animals. It is well known that human infants and children who are hospitalized or institutionalized for extended periods with little physical touching and holding develop almost identical abnormal behaviors, such as rocking and head banging.

Although the pathological violence observed in isolation-reared monkeys is well documented, the linking of early somatosensory deprivation with physical violence in humans is less well established. Numerous studies of juvenile delinquents and adult criminals have shown a family background of broken homes and/or physically abusive parents. These studies have rarely mentioned, let alone measured, the degree of deprivation of physical affection, although this is often inferred from the degree of neglect and abuse. One exceptional study in this respect is that of Brandt F. Steele and C. B. Pollock, psychiatrists at the University of Colorado, who studied child abuse in three generations of families who physically abused their children. They found that parents who abused their children were invariably deprived of physical affection themselves during childhood and that their adult sex life was extremely poor. Steele noted that almost without exception the women who abused their children had never experienced orgasm. The degree of sexual pleasure experienced by the men who abused their children was not ascertained, but their sex life, in general, was unsatisfactory. The hypothesis that physical pleasure actively inhibits physical violence can be appreciated from our own sexual experiences. How many of us feel like assaulting someone after we have just experienced orgasm?

The contributions of Freud to the effects of early experiences upon later behaviors and the consequences of repressed sexuality have been well established. Unfortunately time and space do not permit a discussion here of his differences with Wilhelm Reich concerning his Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

The hypothesis that deprivation of physical pleasure results in physical violence requires a formal systematic evaluation. We can test this hypothesis by examining cross-cultural studies of child-rearing practices, sexual behaviors, and physical violence. We would expect to find that human societies which provide their infants and children with a great deal of physical affection (touching, holding, carrying) would be less physically violent than human societies which give very little physical affection to their infants and children. Similarly, human societies which tolerate and accept premarital and extramarital sex would be less physically violent than societies which prohibit and punish premarital and extramarital sex.

Cultural anthropologists have gathered exactly the data required to examine this hypothesis for human societies -- and their findings are conveniently arranged in R. B. Textor's A Cross-Cultural Summary [1]. Textor's book is basically a research tool for cross-cultural statistical inquiry. The survey provides some 20,000 statistically significant correlations from 400 culture samples of primitive societies.

Physically affectionate human societies are highly unlikely to be physically violent.
When physical affection and pleasure during adolescence as well as infancy are related to measures of violence, we find direct evidence of a significant relationship between the punishment of premarital sex behaviors and various measures of crime and violence. As Table 4 shows, additional clusters of relationships link the punishment and repression of premarital sex to large community size, high social complexity and class stratification, small extended families, purchase of wives, practice of slavery, and a high god present in human morality. The relationship between small extended families and punitive premarital sex attitudes deserves emphasis, for it suggests that the nuclear Western cultures may be a contributing factor to our repressive attitudes toward sexual expression.

The same can be suggested for community size, social complexity, and class stratification.

Not surprisingly, when high self-needs are combined with the deprivation of physical affection, the result is self-interest and high rates of narcissism. Likewise, exhibitionistic dancing and pornography may be interpreted as a substitute for normal sexual expression. Some nations which are most repressive of female sexuality have rich pornographic art forms.

Extramarital Sex
I also examined the influence of extramarital sex taboos upon crime and violence. The data clearly indicates that punitive-repressive attitudes toward extramarital sex are also linked with physical violence, personal crime, and the practice of slavery. Societies which value monogamy emphasize military glory and worship aggressive gods.

These cross-cultural data support the view of psychologists and sociologists who feel that sexual and psychological needs not being fulfilled within a marriage should be met outside of it, without destroying the primacy of the marriage relationship.

Premarital Sex, Physical Violence and Other Adult Behaviors
Premarital sexual freedom for young people can help reduce violence in a society, and the physical pleasure that youth obtains from sex can offset a lack of physical affection during infancy. Other research also indicates that societies which punish premarital sex are likely to engage in wife purchasing, to worship a high god in human morality, and to practice slavery.

These figures again raise the question of the special relationship between sexuality and violence. In addition to our rape statistics, there is other evidence that points to preference for sexual violence over sexual pleasure in the United States. This is reflected in our acceptance of sexually explicit films that involve violence and rape, and our rejection of sexually explicit films for pleasure only (pornography). Neighborhood movie theaters show such sexually violent films as Straw Dogs, Clockwork Orange, and The Klansman, while banning films which portray sexual pleasure (Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones). Attempts to close down massage parlors are another example of our anti-pleasure attitudes. Apparently, sex with pleasure is immoral and unacceptable, but sex with violence and pain is moral and acceptable.

A questionnaire I developed to explore this question was administered to 96 college students whose average age was 19 years. The results of the questionnaire support the connection between rejection of physical pleasure (and particularly of premarital and extramarital sex) with expression of physical violence. Respondents who reject abortion, responsible premarital sex, and nudity within the family were likely to approve of harsh physical punishment for children and to believe that pain helps build strong moral character. These respondents were likely to find alcohol and drugs more satisfying than sex. The data obtained from the questionnaire provide strong statistical support for the basic inverse relationship between physical violence and physical pleasure. If violence is high, pleasure is low, and conversely, if pleasure is high, violence is low. The questionnaire bears out the theory that the pleasure-violence relationship found in primitive cultures also holds true for a modern industrial nation.

The Attitudes of College Students
The reciprocal relationship of violence and pleasure holds true in modern industrial nations as well as primitive societies. This theory was tested by means of a questionnaire given to 96 college students (average age: 19). The results showed that students who have relatively negative attitudes toward sexual pleasure tend to favor harsh punishment for children and to believe that violence is necessary to solve problems.

Religious Roots
The origins of the fundamental reciprocal relationship between physical violence and physical pleasure can be traced to philosophical dualism and to the theology of body/soul relationships. In Western philosophical thought man was not a unitary being but was divided into two parts, body and soul. The Greek philosophical conception of the relationship between body and soul was quite different than the Judeo-Christian concept which posited a state of war between the body and soul. Within Judeo-Christian thought the purpose of human life was to save the soul, and the body was seen as an impediment to achieving this objective. Consequently, the body must be punished and deprived. In St. Paul's words: "Put to death the base pursuits of the body -- for if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live" (Romans 8:13). St. Paul clearly advocated somatosensory pleasure deprivation and enhancement of painful somatosensory stimulation as essential prerequisites for saving the soul.

"Now concerning the things whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (1 Corinthians, 7:1).

Aristotle did not view a state of war between the body and soul, but rather envisioned a complimentary relationship in which the state of the soul or mind was dependent on the state of the body. In fact he stated that "the care of the body ought to precede that of the soul." (Politica)

Aristotle also appreciated the reciprocal relationship between pleasure and pain, and recognized that a compulsive search for bodily pleasure originates from a state of bodily discomfort and pain:

Now, excess is possible in the case of the goods of the body, and it is the pursuit of excess, but not the pursuit of necessary pleasures, that makes a man bad. For all men get some kind of enjoyment from good food, wine, and sexual relations, but not everyone enjoys these things in the proper way. The reverse is true of pain: a bad person does not avoid an excess of it, but he avoids it altogether. For the opposite of an excess is pain only for the man who pursues the excess. . . .

Accordingly, we must now explain why the pleasures of the body appear to be more desirable. The first reason, then, is that pleasure drives out pain. When men experience an excess of pain, they pursue excessive pleasure and bodily pleasure in general, in the belief that it will remedy the pain. These remedial (pleasures) become very intense -- and that is the very reason why they are pursued because they are experienced in contrast with their opposite. (Nichomachean Ethics, Book 7)

It is evident that the Judeo-Christian concept of body pleasure is quite the opposite of that outlined by Aristotle, particularly, the relief of body pain and discomfort through somatosensory pleasure. This denial of somatosensory pleasure in Pauline Christian doctrine has led to alternative forms of 'relief' through such painful stimulations as hair-shirts, self-scourgings, self-mutilations, physical violence against others, and in the non-sensory pleasures of drugs.

Why do men rape women?
Researchers report that most rapists have a family background of paternal punishment and hostility and loss of maternal affection. I interpret rape as man's revenge against woman for the early loss of physical affection. A man can express his hostility toward his mother for not giving him enough physical attention by sexually violating another woman.

Another explanation may be that the increasing sexual freedom of women is threatening to man's position of power and dominance over women which he often maintains through sexual aggression. Rape destroys sensual pleasure in woman and enhances sadistic pleasure in man. Through rape, man defends himself from the sensual pleasures of women which threaten his position of power and dominance.

It is my belief that rape has its origins in the deprivation of physical affection in parent-child relationships and adult sexual relationships; and in a religious value system that considers pain and body deprivation moral and physical pleasure immoral. Rape maintains man's dominance over woman and supports the perpetuation of patriarchal values in our society.

Available data clearly indicate that the rigid values of monogamy, chastity, and virginity help produce physical violence. The denial of female sexuality must give way to an acceptance and respect for it, and men must share with women the responsibility for giving affection and care to infants and children. As the father assumes a more equal role with the mother in child-rearing and becomes more affectionate toward his children, certain changes must follow in our socioeconomic system. A corporate structure which tends to separate either parent from the family by travel, extended meetings, or overtime work weakens the parent-child relationship and harms family stability. To develop a peaceful society, we must put more emphasis on human relationships.

Openness About the Body
No matter what type of family structure is chosen, it will be important to encourage openness about the body and its functions. From this standpoint, we could benefit from redesigning our homes along the Japanese format, separating the toilet from the bathing facilities. The family bath should be used for socialization and relaxation, and should provide a natural situation for children to learn about male-female differences. Nudity, like sex, can be misused and abused, and this fear often prevents us from accepting the honesty of our own bodies.

The beneficial stimulation of whirlpool baths should not be limited to hospitals or health club spas, but brought into the home. The family bath should be large enough to accommodate parents and children, and be equipped with a whirlpool to maximize relaxation and pleasure. Nudity, openness, and affection within the family can teach children and adults that the body is not shameful and inferior, but rather is a source of beauty and sensuality through which we emotionally relate to one another. Physical affection involving touching, holding, and caressing should not be equated with sexual stimulation, which is a special type of physical affection.

To Love, not Compete
The competitive ethic, which teaches children that they must advance at the expense of others, should be replaced by values of cooperation and a pursuit of excellence for its own sake. We must raise children to be emotionally capable of giving love and affection, rather than to exploit others. We should recognize that sexuality in teenagers is not only natural, but desirable, and accept premarital sexuality as a positive moral good. Parents should help teenagers realize their own sexual selfhood by allowing them to use the family home for sexual fulfillment. Such honesty would encourage a more mature attitude toward sexual relationships and provide a private supportive environment that is far better for their development than the back seat of a car or other undesirable locations outside the home. Early sexual experiences are too often an attempt to prove one's adulthood and maleness or femaleness rather than a joyful sharing of affection and pleasure.

Above all, male sexuality must recognize the equality of female sexuality. The traditional right of men to multiple sexual relationships must be extended to women. The great barrier between man and woman is man's fear of the depth and intensity of female sensuality. Because power and aggression are neutralized through sensual pleasure, man's primary defense against a loss of dominance has been the historic denial, repression, and control of the sensual pleasure of women. The use of sex to provide mere release from physiological tension (apparent pleasure) should not be confused with a state of sensual pleasure which is incompatible with dominance, power, aggression, violence, and pain. It is through the mutual sharing of sensual pleasure that sexual equality between women and men will be realized.

 If we strive to increase the pleasure in our lives this will also affect the ways we express aggression and hostility. The reciprocal relationship between pleasure and violence is such that one inhibits the other; when physical pleasure is high, physical violence is low. When violence is high, pleasure is low. This basic premise of the somatosensory pleasure deprivation theory provides us with the tools necessary to fashion a world of peaceful, affectionate, cooperative individuals.

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