“One of the bizarre satisfactions of rape for the sadist is that the writhings and facial expressions of pain he produces in the female are somewhat similar to the writhings and facial expressions of a female experiencing an intense orgasm.”
By Alex P. Vidal
WHEN we put a piece of food into our mouth it does not necessarily mean that we are hungry. When we take a drink it does not inevitably indicate that we are thirsty.
In the Human Zoo, wrote English zoologist Desmond Morris, eating and drinking have come to serve many functions. We may be nibbling peanuts to kill time, or we may be sucking sweets to soothe our nerves.
Like a wine-taster, we may merely savor the flavor and then spit the liquid out, or we may down 10 pins of beer to win a wager. Under certain circumstances, we may be prepared to swallow a sheep’s eyeball in order to maintain our Facebook status.
“In one of these cases is the nourishment of the body the true value of the activity,” wrote Morris. “This multi-functional utilization of basic behavior pattern is not unknown in the world of animals, but, in the human zoo, man’s ingenious opportunism extends and intensifies the process.”
Let’s examine the different functions of sexual behavior one by one. Morris reminds us that “it is important to realize at the onset that, although these functions are separate and distinct, and sometimes clash with one another, they are not all mutually exclusive. Any particular act of courtship or copulation may serve several functions simultaneously.”
These are the 10 sexual functional categories, according to Morris:
1. PROCREATION SEX. There can be argument that this is the most basic function of sexual behavior. It has sometimes been mistakenly argues that it is the only natural and therefore proper role. Paradoxically, some of the religious groups that claim this do not practice what this preach, monks, nuns and many priests denying themselves the very activity which they hold to be so uniquely natural.
2. PAIR-FORMATION SEX. The human animal is basically and biologically a pair-forming species. As the emotional relationship develops between a pair of potential mates it is aided and abetted by the sexual activities they share. The pair-formation function of sexual behavior is so important for our species that nowhere outside the pairing phase do sexual activities regularly reach such a high intensity.
3. PAIR-MAINTENANCE SEX. Once a pair-bond has been successfully formed, sexual activities still function to maintain and reinforce the bond. Although these activities may become more elaborate and extensive, they usually become less intensive than those of the pair-forming stage, because the pair-forming function is no longer operating.
4. PHYSIOLOGICAL SEX. In the healthy adult human male and female there is a basic physiological requirement for repeated sexual consummation. Without such consummation, a physiological tension builds up and eventually the body demands relief. Any sexual act that involves an orgasm provides the orgasmic individual with this relief. Even if copulation fails to fulfill any of the other nine functions of sexual behavior, it can at least satisfy this basic physiological need.
5. EXPLORATORY SEX. One of man’s greatest qualities is his inventiveness. In all probability our monkey ancestors were already endowed with a reasonably high level of curiosity; it is a characteristic of the whole primate group. However, when our early human ancestors took to hunting, they undoubtedly had to develop and strengthen this quality and magnify their basic urge to explore all the details of their environment.
6. SELF-REWARDING SEX. It is impossible to draw up a complete list of the functions of sex without including a category based on the idea that there is a thing as ‘sex for sex’s sake’; sexual behavior, the performance of which brings its own reward, regardless of any other consideration. The function is closely related to the last one, but they are nevertheless distinct.
7. OCCUPATIONAL SEX. This is sex operating as occupational therapy, or, if you prefer, as an anti-boredom device. It is closely related to the last category, but again can be clearly distinguished from it. There is difference between having spare time and being bored. Self-rewarding sex can occur as just one of many ways of constructively utilizing the spare time available.
8. TRANQUILIZING SEX. Just as the nervous system cannot tolerate gross inactivity, so it rebels against the strains of excessive over-activity. Tranquilizing sex is the other side of the coin from occupational sex. Instead of being anti-boredom, it is anti-turmoil. When faced with an overdose of strange, conflicting, unfamiliar or frightening stimuli, the individual seeks escape in the performance of friendly old familiar patterns that serve to calm his shattered nerves.
9. COMMERCIAL SEX. Prostitution has already been mentioned, but only from the point of view of the customer. For the prostitute herself the function of copulation is different. Subsidiary factors may be operating, but primarily and overwhelmingly it is straightforward and commercial transaction. Commercial sex of a kind also figures as an important function in many marriage situations, where one-sided pair-bond exists: one partner simply provides a copulatory service for the other in exchange for money and shelter. The provider who has developed a true pair-bond has to accept a mock one in return.
10. STATUS SEX. With this, the final functional category of sexual behavior, we enter a strange world, full of unexpected developments and ramifications. Status sex infiltrates and pervades our lives in many hidden and unrecognized ways. It is concerned with dominance, not with reproduction, and to understand how this link is forged we must consider the differing roles of the sexual female and the sexual male. Although a full expression of sexuality involves the active participation of both sexes, it is nevertheless true to say that, for the mammalian female, the sexual role is essentially a submissive one, and for the male it is essentially an aggressive one.