The more I think about it, the more I’ve come to realize that our lives are defined by the clear dichotomies existing within it, the level of cognitive dissonance needed to, well, do the things we want to do, and the ongoing internal battle when “doing what’s right” and “doing what feels good” don’t match up.
To wit, in the last four days alone, I…
1. Watched a full Sunday of NFL football despite being disgusted at the way the NFL treats its employees.
2. Began to write a Chief Keef-inspired article decrying the increasingly nihilistic nature of our culture, and, on my way to the grocery store, listened to music made by artists celebrating and profiting from said nihilism.
3. Ate a dozen fried chicken wings, supplemented them with a bucket of cheese fries, and downed them with two Jack and Cokes. I happily did this, despite the fact that I’d like to live past 43.
I could list a dozen more examples of this, of my making conscious choices despite being fully aware of the fact that they’re not the best choices. This is part of the human struggle, and, as you (hopefully) mature and (hopefully) grow a bit wiser, your understanding of what these choices mean makes intentionally making the “wrong” decision an increasingly angst-ridden process. And, while dichotomies similar to the ones mentioned earlier definitely matter, none are more important than the ones present when deciding who to have sex and/or procreate with.
Now, when speaking about sex and dating and marriage and pregnancy, the obvious opportunity to exhibit cognitive dissonance occurs when what someone wants to do sexually doesn’t exactly fit with what’s'”right” and “smart.” (i.e.: You sleep with your mail lady even though your wife probably wouldn’t approve of it)
More interesting to me, though, is the dichotomy many of us face when…
1. Wanting and working to allow people the freedom to make whichever (legal) sexual choice they want to make, but also…
2. Realizing that who you have sex with is far too important of a decision to be made frivolously. This point is made even clearer after reading “Why Father’s Really Matter” — a NY Times piece showing that everything from a man’s eating habits to his level of income has an effect on his sperm. Basically, when it comes to sex, everything we do matters.
This phenomenon tends to create an internal ambivalence where your belief in the value of sexual autonomy makes you not want to “shame” or scold — or, in some cases, just not want to deal with being accused of shaming or scolding — while simultaneously thinking to yourself “That just isn’t smart. At all. She needs to be careful.”
To be honest, I do occasionally wonder if, when discussing and debating sexual activity, a need to be “progressive” and politically correct is ultimately more harmful than helpful. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that who we sleep with and who we decide to mate with are the most important decisions most of us will make in our lives, and perhaps it’s for the greater good for us (in a personal sense) to make sure we (in a collective sense) are more sexually discerning. But, taking that to the extreme — as we’re wont to do — would ultimately open a Pandora’s Box of sexual rules and restrictions that would rob us of choice, of a chunk of our humanity.
Perhaps, as is the case with most life-affecting dichotomic choices, there’s a clear distinction between the two, but no clear choice between right and wrong. I’m willing to accept that, and I just wish more of us (and “us” is referring to people clearly entrenched in the “no judgment” camp) would realize that the want for people to be more careful about their sexual choices isn’t always rooted in fear and/or intolerance. Sometimes “Hey, that’s not very smart” is only said because what’s being done isn’t, well, very smart.
(Now, if I could just find a way to intellectually justify listening to Rick Ross, I’ll be set)
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