[Update: I added more postscripts at the bottom.]
So I never thought I’d get here. Intimacy, yes, but ten-year-old me was literally like, “Marriage is death.” It was not a particularly coherent position.
In any case, for the below, I am mostly eschewing ideology and scientism, as best I can, iterating on method and then applying method. This is mostly empirical, though still with a very small n count. And I am drawing on everything available, including least-shitty scientific and sociological literature.
In the below, I am not being super careful with the terms sex, gender, orientation, expression/presentation, etc.. Please read what I mean, not what I say…
So, here we go:
I’m going to start with a bold thing and back off a little bit.
Regarding the value proposition, if your life is intolerable to the point where you’re willing to burn a lot of resources and take big risks, and you meditate correctly, you will end up, if all goes well enough, here:
- wholeheartedly game for bright-line heterosexual monogamy and pregnancy* [*medical uncertainty and risks withstanding, all things equal] (provider-ish role if dude, child-rearing-ish role if woman)
- into gentle, intense, pretty vanilla-ish sex [that is, free of kinks, paraphilias, fetishes, etc.]
Or! Not done:
- in a setup that perfectly fits your chromosomes, hormones, and developmental/cellular/neural hardwiring (the latter being firmly a thing but less and different than pop-believed)
- I don’t know yet if nonheteronormativity (I’m abusing the term “heteronormativity” a bit, here in this bullet, and in the bullets below) is a fat tail or a thin tail. I guess it’ll be mostly empirical (and base rates and phenotypes may continue to evolve as we keep pumping hormone-mimics into the environment modulo older and more stable latent and nonnegligible factors).
- So, I think some gay people will get gayer and some fraction of gay people will “become” “straight.” Some straight-living people will realize that they are so gay or otherwise, as happens all the time. Some trans (or autogynephilic) people will get trans-er and some fraction will go un-trans, nondysphoric, cis, cis-presenting, gay and/or straight. Some fraction of mixed-gender feeling or no-gender-feeling people will move towards or away from a felt single gender. Some fraction of asex and aro and childfree people will go sex and ro and child-yes. Some fraction of nonbinary people will become more binary. Some fraction of demisexuals will become less, more, or differently demi. Some fraction of bisexual or pansexual people will probably head in a particular less bi or less pan direction. Currently questioning/exploring people will probably settle/stabilize faster, maybe/probably nonmonotonically, all things being equal. (And, vice versa, where I didn’t explicitly vice versa, above–everything in both directions.) (Finally, some intersex thoughts are in the postscript.)
- (Some might ask, why can things get so mixed up such that e.g. behaviorally gold star (sigh) gay people could “actually” be straight or vice versa?? The answer is extremely early (or not) trauma and ideology and no-fault confusions and doubling down on prereflective, “genuinely intrinsic feeling” compensatory/functional strategies.)
Backing off a bit on the bold statements:
- Maybe monogamy is actually (a) monogamish or (b) seven-year cycle serial monogamy. I don’t know. Maybe nonmonogamy or swinging or polyamory (and so forth) or polyfidelity or partible paternity does work better in particular cultures and times.
- Maybe heterosexuality is actually heteroflexible/”mostly straight” sometimes or always, for one or both genders, or not, and/or maybe it’s just “fun”/useful if not fundamental.
- Maybe nonnormative sex stuff is “fun”/useful, i.e. ultimately contextually functional. I would think the key is total optionality and the capacity to be emotionally/intimately/sexually fulfilled under a wide range of behaviors. For some people this stuff rules their lives and drastically cuts down on the number of compatible partners.
In any case:
- Meditation is going to do finest-grain combinatorial rearrangement, nonmonotonically, to, again, whatever most lines up with your chromosomes, hormones, and developmental/cellular/neural hardwiring (which, again is firmly a thing but less than pop-believed), and cultural milieu.
- (I’m not sure this is what Zen has in mind, because lots of old-school buddhism is so anti-sex and anti-women, but they have a whole thing, I think, of becoming normal or ordinary. I don’t know how Tantra relates excepting non-anti-sex and pro-personal power.)
Now! To clarify:
- say, monogamy, vanilla sex, child-rearing is the beginning, not the end. Once you line up your goal stack with your chromosomes, hormones, and developmental/cellular/neural hardwiring everything goes more smoothly–
- After/concurrently with family, is your local environment, your community, local and wider governance, and from there the entire world. You get personal power, competence, mastery not out of seesaw desperation but seated properly in your goal stack, naturally arising out of the cultivation of more and more goodness/awesomeness. Men and women.
- if it feels like not getting to have sex with 5,743 women or men, or not being able to get reified kinky sex fantasy subtype 96.4B76, or supporting a kid instead of becoming world famous or stopping unfriendly AI or nukes right now, is utterly terrifying, or utterly disgusting, or will utterly destroy your life, utterly tear your universe apart, yes, that’s what meditation operates on. and doing it right means the transformation won’t be suppressive, curtailing, etc.
- Finally, the meditation life ™ is not a cold-turkey thing, and it’s nonmonotonic, and there is a long tail, regarding what one should be doing on the path, as it were. Some people *should* (try to) have all the (kinky) sex (or just once in a while, or just once or twice), and some people should become famous or try to become famous. But, at the top, I said this was for people who are experiencing their lives as intolerable. And kinky sex and fame are really brittle means and ends. It just depends.
- Finally, finally, some people, of course, will not experience their lives as intolerable, but will suss out meditation as being a smart thing to do, as early in their lives as possible.
P.S. What if your chromosomes, hormones, wiring say to have kids, but it’s medically impossible (infertility, intersex , etc.) or medically unsafe (pregnancy or childbirth, vaginal or c-section for a bazillion valid reasons) or truly resource-wise infeasible or impossible to partner up to biologically have kids or it’s truly too late to have kids? (Say, if a woman didn’t have kids for “wrong” or unfortunate reasons, is now into menopause [or say a guy becomes infertile unexpectedly or realizes too late on some dimension that he wants kids] and becomes a systematic meditator, they will eventually probably grieve, possibly quite significantly, and then be fine??) I don’t know. Adoption. Pets. Nieces and nephews. For whatever it’s worth, I suspect meditation will sort all that out, too, though I can’t yet point to plausible mechanism, after I’ve implicated “natural hardwiring” above. Everything that I thought meditation couldn’t sort out, it has so far sorted out (99% contingent and flexible configuration, 1% hardwiring, and some ultimate, long-range way to make friends with the hardwiring). So is there a little bit of inconsistency in my position, some equivocation or vagueness in/around “hardwired”? Maybe. At the bottom it will probably be counting cell types and tracing axon routing that give rise to determine short-cycle and long-cycle hormone regimes, etc, . In any case, we need to learn more about hormones, smell, bonding, signs and signals, and so forth, to separate out all the things that are separable, for sufficient optionality, for all the goodness. What are the exact signs the bodymind uses to know that you’ve had the sex or the babies and there they are right there and it’s ok to chill out or only now, in the right order, take over the world, for the right reasons? We don’t know, though there’s been a bunch of exquisitely mechanistic progress on rats; still only a fraction, though. This will be straightforwardly solvable. We should. And some people will eventually cleanly hack those signs and signals, in order to have a better life. And for some people it will make sense to do so.
P.P.S. I want to emphasize that this post isn’t meditation instructions, implicitly or otherwise. Trying to push away a part of oneself or to top-down become a very specific, particular thing is usually counterproductive and will usually have to be eventually undone and then obliquely re-done, in a surprising and counterintuitive way. Also, using any particular self-feature as a feedback mechanism can be and often is problematic because of ordering, discontinuities, stepwise change, and nonmonotonicity (going back and forth or uncovering alternating layers of e.g. different gender feels). Strategic obliquity with precision.
P.P.S. I wanted to put “tokophobia” somewhere in this post [I’m like an ally of the who wouldn’t find pregnancy and childbirth initially or stably terrifying camp…, though provisionally I’m leery of e.g. a future of artificial wombs], but I didn’t end up with a good place. Anyway, this is a thing that does/would get explored in the course of meditation, too. Here are some links:
P.P.P.S. The title of this post, containing “weird sex,” in an earlier draft, jokingly-yet-respectfully (seriously), referred to kinks, fetishes, paraphilias and not “sex” as in sex, gender, orientation, presentation/expression. I took that out of the body (I changed “weird” to “nonnormative”) when the tone of the post changed a bit.