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I wish to write about sex. Of course, being British I’d rather not, but some years ago I had what seemed to me a bit of an insight, so i’d like to see if there’s anything in it. 

 It is more pleasurable to think of an attractive person than someone ugly, and even more so to be in their company. With advancing years one’s interest in sex diminishes, declining from obsession to indifference. For a woman, the menopause marks this decline biologically. After all, once ovulation ceases, why need one bother? And for the male, a more gradual loss of interest is marked by \a similar loss of appetite. So the following observations are those of a young man, of more vigorous sexuality. 

The imagination is essential, both during and before the act of sex. Whole industries have evolved around the build-up to sex. Romance, love, the pining and the courting … not just in modern times but throughout history. It dominates the arts like no other human activity; it subsumes even war, religion, the urge to power and acts of heroism; the language of love is used in the most un-sexy situations, but even the carnal urge to ‘crack one off’ is helped by the visual aid of porn. That the most sublime passions might be born of no more than sexual desire is well attested, and barely worth mentioning. What I wish to examine is what the mind is up to during the act of love itself. What are we really thinking of? I had best state my contention, and work back from there:

While fucking, the mind is actually imagining being fucked. I state this as being a man, engaged in the fucking, but I’d guess that the same works for the woman: she too is imagining the opposite of what we would presume, that is, being the perpetrator of the act rather than the recipient. It is not just generosity that makes the male attentive of what the woman might want. He is actually excited by the prospect of being fucked, and does his best to persuade the woman of this, for his own satisfaction … likewise the woman: she too gets off on pretending to be the man.

How can I know that this is not just me, a peculiarity of my own? I can’t be sure, but when I consider how easily we fool ourselves about most things (a recurring theme of mine, I admit) I can at least suspect; that at the moment when we are most distracted we are most vulnerable to our presumptions. I suspect as well that we exaggerate the differences between the sexes, both benefiting  from the differentiation. But Nature, in her economy uses the same romantic impulses for both men and women. Our love songs are interchangeable; boys and girls can sing each other’s songs, the yearnings and sensualities completely understood by all. Knowing, or at least suspecting what the other wants puts us in a much better position to supply it

Is this inversion particular to our species, or is it a general phenomenon? It is difficult to imagine most animals engaging in such complex imaginative behaviour. Perhaps it is unique to us, that the ability to empathise makes this act of imagination possible; to put one’s self in the position (even literally?) of the other is just a human form of behaviour. The successful seducer or seductress is usually seen as having developed powers of persuasion, even more so than chiselled cheek bones. Was it Voltaire who claimed he only needed a half hour start to make up for his ugliness, that after that half hour no woman’s chastity was safe?I’m sure that I speak for all those not blessed with chiselled looks in urging on the ugly suitor. “Come my dear, let us explore the unknown together” … ah yes, if only the eyes alone could convey such a message! … and plenty of material for comic misunderstanding.