Food and Sex: A (Non-Kinky) Precedent?

Loosen your pants and untuck your shirt because I’m going to talk about food and sex. No, this isn’t going to be that kind of discussion. I know there’s an entire sub-genre that mixes food and sex in a way that is bound to confuse multiple body parts. I’ll save that topic for another day. For now, I want to have a different kind of discussion.

Like it or not, knowing that some will like it a bit too much, food and sex are intrinsically related. They are both vital components in our two primary drives as living beings, survival and reproduction. We need food to survive. We need sex to reproduce. These are as basic a drives as any animal can have.

As such, it’s also fitting that both topics have their fair share of taboos and I’m not just talking about create ways to use whipped cream. Even our old, uptight friends at the Catholic Church have linked food to one of their moral sins. In the same way they condemn excessive sex through lust, they also condemn excessive eating through gluttony.

Granted, the Catholic Church doesn’t make a big deal about gluttony anymore. I figure they know that too many of their adherents have grown fond of buffets, McDonalds, and ice cream. They can still get away with condemning sex because the basic functions of sex still apply today as much as they did 2,000 years ago. However, that may not be the case for much longer.

As I discussed in an earlier post, science is rapidly progressing to a point where we won’t even need sex to reproduce. There will be far safer, less strenuous options that don’t result in stretch marks and mood swings. The most promising is the artificial womb. This technology is the ultimate endgame in terms of decoupling sex from reproduction entirely.

If that term sounds familiar, it should and not just because Gweneth Paltrow used something similar in a way to make herself even less likable. It’s actually a term that I’ve referenced before because it was used frequently in Ray Kurzweil’s book, “The Singularity Is Near.” I’ve lauded this book many times before on this blog and parts of this issue are closely tied to the topics he explores.

In his book, he cites advances in contraception as the catalyst for this growing disconnect between sex and reproduction. He’s not wrong to cite such advances because we’ve spent the last 60 years or so adjusting to a world that contraception has created. It’s a world where women and men have more control than ever in when and how they have children. Such control was truly unprecedented.

Considering how birth control in the past involved pulling out, crocodile poop, and condoms made of animal entrails, we’re still in uncharted territory as a species. We humans have never lived in an age where we had this much control over our facility. The rise of the birth control pill was ground-breaking in terms of its effects on society. We’re still struggling to build a new foundation with those effects.

There’s no question that contraception technology will continue to improve, as Kurzweil discussed. It may get to a point where we have a perfect form of contraception for men and women alike, one that’s as easy to get as aspirin and just as easy to take. Such a time would truly be the Catholic Church’s worst nightmare.

However, despite Kurzweils’ many discussions on contraception and fertility, he never mentioned artificial wombs. To be fair, it’s still an emerging technology with a lot of hurdles. Contraception technology is likely to take priority over the next couple of decades, if only because it has so much momentum. At some point, though, artificial wombs will enter the equation.

This technology will do much more than make it easier for women to avoid getting pregnant when they don’t want to, thereby freeing them up to just enjoy the toe-curling pleasure of sex. It will give society an entirely new way grow. For some, it’ll be strange, sterile, and cold. For others, it offers a bold new vision for the future of the human race.

It’s hard to imagine. As such, it’s easy for writers like Aldous Huxley to have overly-dystopian visions of it in his book, “Brave New World.” Even radical feminists and ardent traditionalists, most of whom are men, worry that this technology will render the other gender completely obsolete. It’s scary, I know, but there is a precedent for this sort of thing. Society can adapt to these kinds of dramatic upheavals. It’s done so before.

This brings me back to food. Here’s a quick question for everyone to contemplate. When was the last time you had to worry about a harvest going bad or not having any animals to hunt? Take as much time as you need. I’ll wait.

Are you done rolling your eyes? Good, because the answer to that question, at least in first-world industrial societies, is pretty clear. They stopped worrying about famine, harvests, and hunting a long time ago. Today, food is cheap, plentiful, and so easy to get that our primary problem is that we eat too much of it.

Compare this with 99 percent of human history. From hunter/gatherer societies to early agricultural societies, the most pressing concern from kings to peasants was having enough food. Every year, societies all over the world lived with the constant dread that a harvest would go bad and they would all starve to death. Famine was like a bad blizzard. It was just a fact of life that you had to endure, accept, and dig out of.

A lot of that changed over the past 150 years. Going all the way back to the 1800s, advances in agriculture technology and farming techniques allowed fewer people to grow more food, so much so that there was time and land to grow cash crops like tobacco, cotton, and weed. It happened slowly, but it picked up steam thank to someone others have called, “The greatest human being who ever lived.”

His name is Norman Borlaug. He’s the father of the so-called green revolution. He’s also the primary reason why billions of people aren’t starving to death. He worked tirelessly to advance agricultural science to a point where even non-industrial societies can grow abundant food, so much so that famine isn’t just rare. It’s an aberration that warrants big budget fundraisers.

As a result, the act of growing, procuring, and preserving food is basically an afterthought in our society. We’re at a point in human civilization where we don’t eat to survive. Hell, we sometimes eat when we’re not even hungry, sometimes for a holiday, sometimes for social purposes, and sometimes just because we damn well fell like it.

Technology gave us this luxury. Technology will continue to improve, ensuring that our growing population will never have to till a field, pick fruit, or kill a deer for anything other than sport. Food is no longer as vital to survival as having a job or knowing where the dumpster behind a fast food restaurant is located.

With this in mind, apply the same concept to sex. Try to keep your pants on, but still try to imagine the world that would emerge. Sex is no longer quite as complex in the sense that people have to worry about the physical, social, and biological implications. In the same way they no longer worry about harvesting food, they don’t have to worry about any major consequences from sex.

In this world, sex isn’t linked to reproduction anymore. It’s just a physical act that two people do for whatever reason they want. It can be romantic. It can be social. It can just be for the hell of it. That’s really all there is to it. There’s no constant worry that it will lead to pregnancy, thanks to improved contraception. There’s also no worry that the population will stagnate because artificial wombs will take care of that.

As a result, the very concept of reproduction is very different from the concept of sex. Society may get to a point where the idea of making someone endure nine-months of pregnancy, and all the physical hell that comes with it, downright inhumane.

Now there will be those who contemplate this world and faint. I imagine many of them are affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, or the Duggars. However, like food production before it, science will change the way we think about sex, reproduction, and intimacy. It’s a matter of when and not if. I do hope it comes in my lifetime because that means the market for erotica/romance is sure to grow.

2 Comments

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights

2 responses to “Food and Sex: A (Non-Kinky) Precedent?

  1. Pingback: Sexy Sunday Thoughts: Mother’s Day Edition | Jack Fisher's Official Publishing Blog

  2. Pingback: (Possible) Taboos Of The Future | Jack Fisher's Official Publishing Blog

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