Types of Celibacy
Biologists have found that 1% of members of several animal species, humans included, are asexual, never having any interest in sex ALL their life. However, the percentage is much higher among humans when adding the temporary phases of asexuality, whether voluntary, as in celibacy and systematic abstinence, or involuntary, as when caused by a disease or physical disability. We all become asexual at different periods of our life; actually, we are asexual most of our life (otherwise genitals should be more evolved than brains, and the former take place of the latter, that is, resting between our shoulders)!
• An example of temporary asexuality is pregnancy and giving birth, that decrease a woman's libido and trigger instead a postpartum depression, a technique by Nature to focus the mother's attention on protecting the newborn. Mourning, bereavement and preoccupation with any activity can also lower sex drive. Not only stressful times and overwork, but happy times too: we lose interest in sex when we take pleasure or displeasure in many non-sexual activities.
• Some people are asexual all their lives because their libido was never fixated on a certain type of humans (men, women, etc.), like the majority of people's libido. However, they can still experience sexual pleasure when they want, not necessarily in the presence of somebody else. For this they are better called autosexual, than asexual. They are only socially asexual, and many of them report complete satisfaction with the autonomous sex they have alone that does not even include "others" in their fantasies.
• There is another category, of those who are biologically asexual by reason of genome, brain chemistry or physiology: they have neither desire nor ability to have sex; they are, kind of, naturally castrated or de-sexualized by Mother Nature's scalpel. This is the strictest form of asexuality and these people are 100% asexual from birth to death. They are not necessarily frigid or asocial as some may think. (Else we should consider our children also frigid and asocial, although they are not, just because their libido is low!)
• Many people who are not asexual by nature or because of environment still decide to be so by choice and through regular abstinence, whatever their motives are, secular or not secular: health, beliefs, traditions, principles, safety, other priorities, etc. Those are the celibates where the word "celibate" mostly fits. History is full of many such people who chose a celibate lifestyle for life: ascetics, philosophers, scientists, statesmen, etc.
• Those, however, are different from people whose involuntary celibacy was forced on them, who want to but cannot have sex. In repressive societies, some may spend their entire youth or even life in complete celibacy if they can't get married, where traditions and laws prohibit sex out of wedlock. Other than social pressure, they may also not have the courage, finances or ability to have sex (physically, or mentally if they don't know where to find and how to seduce a partner).
• Narcissism is another form of celibacy commonly discussed from a social perspective only, not a sexual one, because sexual narcissism is less known and narcissists are either afraid or uninterested in coming out. Narcissists can have and fantasize full sex with themselves to the point of deep, passionate romance. Narcissism simply occurs when a person finds sex with others harmful or less satisfying, while finding himself/herself more worthy of such affection. It's more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals, and among those whose looks are similar to the ones they are sexually attracted to. However this is not necessary, because it's willingness and flexibility that matter, of the person who wants to explore their body, and self, as if it belongs to someone else, till they eventually prefer it to that of anyone else.
• Finally, there are those who choose a middle-ground of voluntary autosexuality, cherishing the pleasure of sex, yet avoiding its physical, psychological and mental harms, caused sometimes by sharing one's libido with another person. It gives the same endorphin rush, independently of anyone else's presence, not even in their thoughts, while being in full control over their likes, dislikes, fantasies, movements, speed, rhythm, etc. This is the purest form of sex: it's sex for sex's sake, not for someone or something else, and not even for one's "self," as is the case with narcissists.
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There are more types of celibacy than the above that would fall under sub-types, because they combine two or more, happening simultaneously, consecutively, or irregularly, even in combination sometimes with non-celibacy types. The variations can be endless because that's the nature of sexuality: it differs from one creature to the other.
I did not mention zoophilia, which is not celibacy at all, where you still have a partner except from another species. I did not list objectophilia either, because objectophiles are dependent on an object outside of them they take pleasure in, and they feel miserable when they can't find it. (Auto-sexuals, or car-lovers, are in fact not autosexual, because they are not sexually self-sufficient!) The line between celibacy and non-celibacy gets even finer, when the object of arousal is someone's teddy bear, sex toy, or even sex organs. Libido is a fuel added to any emotion to fire it up! It can be directed to a human as well as a stone, as Sartre believes. Complete freedom from sex can only be achieved when you don't need any form of sex WHATSOEVER.
Challenges of Celibacy
• Your decision to abstain from sex will always be socially challenged by those you live with: their acceptance, mindset, interference and mere physical presence. Choosing celibacy in a highly-sexed society is like swimming against the current; people will instantly wonder: "What's wrong with you? What kind of fool who doesn't want to be happy?"
• Although having sex is the fastest way to be happy, it's the least likely to last, just like food, as both are the most vital instincts related to any animal's survival, and when obtained both cause the release of a high dose of natural endorphins, with an immediate analgesic effect Nature rewards us with. However, sex is more distracting; it's more complex, timeless and ubiquitous. Although our chemistry goes down immediately after sex, a few minutes pass then we are easily aroused anew, restlessly moving, insatiably searching for more. Whereas with food, once the stomach is full, it takes hours to feel hungry again.
Food addicts are addicted to objects; whereas sex addicts are addicted to humans and human-related objects. When you decide to abstain from food, food won't make you change your decision; it won't be angered, ridiculed, hurt or deserted. It's difficult to escape a human but easy to escape a dish. The latter won't try to make you think twice; nor will it take revenge on you for letting "it" down (even a sweet revenge in love's name: the uniquely human love of finding a company in somebody else's misery). In sexual relationships, you give more of your "self" because your addiction is mostly to humans, not objects. And to get sober again, free again, you pay as much as you had given.
• If you know the harms of sex, you may think twice before having it (I won't say "never have it," unless you're strong enough not to do so). This is an attempt to reason with the unreasonable, that could end up in failure to change a lifelong mindset the majority of people have, however strong the argument is. After all, it's not about logic, because HAPPINESS is above all reasoning, when such reasoning isn't serving our main goal in life, that is, to enjoy ourselves, and to constantly find new alternative pleasures, equally if not more exciting, thrilling and ecstatic. There are many reasons to re-consider our views of an instinct that has shaped and directed human history for ages. It won't hurt much to stop and think a little. You may still keep your "friendship" with sex, that's been a great solace to many in their hard times, or else seek happiness elsewhere, with someone or something worthy of your only-lived-once life.
Whether one chooses to be celibate or not, the question is, how to abandon an ever-handy pleasure such as sex, where pleasure is what gives meaning to life (the only good, as Bentham put it); or to find alternative pleasures, less addictive and consuming than sex—which is after all a basic animal extinct operated by the lower brain that cannot handle higher brain functions or deep thoughts, which are sadly slowed down, if not paralyzed, when one is sleepy, hungry, angry ... or in heat.
With the advances in artificial insemination, the prime function of sex, i.e. reproduction, to most humans is becoming obsolete. Nevertheless people still have sex, for pleasure's sake. Sex is not like any pleasure; it's the shortest cut to the highest brain reward our body can offer, that most humans—poor, rich, old, young, smart, dumb …—can have, provided they are willing to have it.
How much happiness can sex really offer, as opposed to the price we pay for it? Logically enough, if the price is higher than the value of what you buy, leave, don't buy it, or buy (enjoy) something else ... and be a celibate!
Such unreasonable price affects all aspects of life. Unlike other animals, humans have other priorities, different needs and sophisticated pleasures to keep them happy and busy. Mating and finding a sex partner for a short or long term is not enough to make one happy. The kind of happiness an intercourse offers is short-lived, compared to the higher, more enduring sense of achievement and well being we get from other pleasurable activities. Most of the time, the pleasure of sex is as short as the coitus itself, ending immediately thereafter. For this sad truth, unfortunately, many people compensate for their post-sexual frustration by over-sex, increasing the quantity of an act intrinsically low in quality, at the expense of their life's purpose and meaning.
Some surveys taken in the UK and the US have shown that many people rank sex low in their scale of happiness, taking more pleasure in other avenues of life, such as helping others, learning, creativity, and self-actualization.
Just like addiction to drugs, alcohol or nicotine, the downside of sex is almost known by its addicts, yet they still have it, for the thrill they get from it. Brain scans have shown the chemistry taking place in our brain and bloodstream before, during and after sex is very similar to that happening in drug addicts'. Dopamine, the natural body hormone causing our addiction to sex, food, people, habits, ideas, etc., is also a mood-boosting drug that can be artificially manufactured. It's an on-demand pill in our body's drugstore, always available and never expiring, that we'd better be careful how and when to use.
Benefits of Celibacy
• Focus: You avoid distraction or the inability to do your work properly while thinking of, or being with those who bring out the animal in you, unleashing the lower brain while restraining the functions, and muffling the voice of the wiser, higher brain. This can be very hazardous if one is doing a job where concentration is vital, such as driving a car while watching the "hotties" outside, if not sitting next to one already; performing a surgery with a sexy nurse, if not on a helplessly attractive patient; or just crossing the street while "eying up" someone on the other side. Mating, eating and fighting (sex, food and anger) are three animal instincts similar in many ways; most importantly they make us easily lose our self-control to achieve that monumental nature's goal: survival. So, if there was no escape from temptation, we'd better lose control then with the right person, in the right place—or, if possible, not lose it at all, anywhere with anyone; in other words, become a celibate! Why let your sex-drive "drive" your life and decide your fate, when your brain is better qualified for that driver's job?
• Safety: You avoid risk, that results from volatility and hazards of short affairs. You like someone, who likes someone else, more than they like you, while, before or after they like you—then it's all finished, just like that, before it had even started: purely animal. We can't stop Nature from accomplishing its main mission, that is constantly urging us to juggle with partners and spread our "genes" from one to the other—and coincidently diseases too.
• Freedom: You avoid attachment, or emotional dependence in long relationships. Although monogamy is safer, more rewarding and more enduring than promiscuous sex, curbing some of our bed-hopping nature; yet, like other human bonds, attachment develops and pain increases at the inescapable moment of separation, from those we loved but have to leave, temporarily or permanently, by death or otherwise. The fetters of monogamy differ from those of promiscuity, as one tries to adjust every action they take in life to suit that of the person they are bonded to: whatever one does, one always has to consider the age, gender, location, schedule, job, friends, family, acquaintances, likes and dislikes, hobbies, etc., of their beloved. (Not to mention adjusting preferences, in and out of bed: positions, fantasies, turn-ons, turn-offs, etc.)
• Equality: We avoid discrimination against others, caused by irrational bias and favoritism toward those we are sexually attracted to, which inevitably affects the whole fabric of society, egregiously putting the wrong people in all the wrong places. Even our judgment of our surroundings and other people becomes flawed by such bias. Some would go as far as to choose their career, study, friends, and environment, sometimes making life-changing decisions, merely based on the presence of those they are physically attracted to. It's not unusual or illegitimate to doubt sometimes the motives of a priest, teacher, gynecologist, soldier, actor, care-giver, etc., who happens to be aroused by those they work with or for, when such motives interfere with or negatively affect their job. Following our sex drive blindly is almost like drug-abuse, affecting every aspect of our life.
However we shouldn't let suspicions lead us to rushed, false accusations, otherwise we end up with sexual paranoia—another harm of sex—permanently looking at life and people with Freudian sex binoculars. This can turn life into real hell, as in cultures with severe sex segregation, obsession and tyranny, paralyzing and slowing down society, if not sending it backwards. Tolerance is a must for civilization. Only crimes and those who incite them shouldn't be tolerated. This means real criminals, not people we may dislike or disagree with. It's sad to see many gifted individuals losing jobs they perfectly do, only because of someone else's personal attitude toward their race, beliefs, likes or dislikes, that only concern them and do not in any way affect their work.
That mindless tribal instinct is no different from sexual instinct itself, causing prejudice against those we consider sexually uninteresting, and affecting the way we perceive, treat and classify others. Many times we lose innocent asexual relationships, with treasured friends, acquaintances or dear family members, merely to another obsessive, sexual or romantic attachment to someone else we wrongly gave more value to. We lose many, many good people along the way whom we couldn't get to "know" enough and see the good in them, because of our few encounters together and hurried judgments based on looks, myths and mindless physiognomy many still amazingly value. Those people's only crime is their different looks, age or gender, or just their difference from those who "excite" us.
• Life Quality: You save your time, money, energy, privacy, dignity … from being wasted on sex. This is the case with any object of addiction we become reliant on, that we will do whatever it takes to have it. I'm amazed by the number of contexts and expressions where the word affection can be perfectly replaced with addiction, without changing the meaning, even leading to a more sound logical sense. It seems philosophers were right about the perpetual struggle between Passion and Reason that we are helplessly caught in; which struggle doesn't mean at all to give up and stop reasoning with our emotions (else our egos become like lawless anarchistic states).
When you let yourself be driven by your sex drive, you sacrifice the meaning and quality of your life. Above all, like with other addictions, you "lose your mind" and self-control. Why become "crazy about someone," even sing about it—to that extent you hate your brain?
We have A BETTER SOCIETY, avoiding the greater "collective harms" of sex: unwanted pregnancies, rapes, crimes of passion, divorces, broken families, abandoned children, STDs, overpopulation … (Is this little?)
Consider the absurd media obsession with sex and relationships: wherever you turn your eyes you will find it—in arts, songs, drama and fiction; on TV, and on the internet. Pornography alone used to consume billions every year of the US budget (old Uncle Sam can't keep his sanity!). And when you add to that the other less explicit material (or G-rated), in romantic films, comedies, songs, tabloids, lifestyle magazines, etc., the financial loss will be in trillions, to say nothing of the social and psychological damage. Doesn't humanity deserve better, to spend all these resources on different causes, other than just the right to f***?!
Had Karl Marx been still alive, he would have been shocked to see how sex toppled religion, as the rightful opium of the people. It only takes a pill to make humans happy, whatever it costs, however it humiliates and degrades them to the lowest rank of animals. That handy pill, from the Primitive Brain's drugstore, is not without a price: the decline of civilization, as is the fate of every decadent society.
Montaigne, the father of modern essay, once said: "Kings and philosophers defecate, and so do ladies." He said nothing new we didn't know, only reminding us of a simple biological fact we intentionally forget, especially those in prudish hypocritical societies. Had he lived in our present-day open society, he would've had the freedom to remind us of another equally simple fact we purposely ignore: Kings and philosophers have sex, and so do ladies ... and most people.
If only you see through their walls—not that you'll be surprised, or voyeuristically excited—you will find them assuming the most undignified of positions, with their solemn faces contorted, and familiar ice-cold features ridiculously transformed. Their well-educated brains are temporarily paralyzed, as their entangled limbs convulsively shake like in death throes. You'll see their mouths drooling, while sharing the very body secretions they would hate to smell or taste, were they to belong to one they deem un-sexy, unworthy of their fantasy. I'm not talking pheromones here; I bluntly mean the saliva, urine and stool in the immediate vicinity of those sacred parts, where Everyman's low ends are, and Everyman's with another's low ends meet, to ram and slam in a vacuous big bang. Any of these fluids is repulsive enough if detected in this old pervert or that ugly crone, while it's suddenly okayed, valued, nay, savored when it's oozing from one they find worthy of their squeezes and sighs, one to be their object of affection, or addiction.
You look at a dog or bitch, and laugh at the sight of his dangling testicles or her swinging breasts. Then you find that we are not so different from them, not at all, carrying the same animal fetters, hampering our movement, distracting our thought, and wasting our energy. We only have clothes to hide it, then reveal it, then hide it again, in an endlessly dull tease-and-give game to keep us busy until our death.
We even manipulate our mind, using great thoughts to serve our low instincts. When we lose interest in sex, finding it absurd and unworthy of our time, we evoke sex memories to keep the flame alive; we watch porn, read fiction, and devote TV shows and whole channels to gender-roles, sex-appeal, and carnal delights, to relate to rather than feel alone in our rational celibacy, and find a motive to continue playing the game. When sex fails to make sense, we force it on our minds by seeking others' views to give company to our ignorance, recalling adolescence (while strangely avoiding the more powerful memories of asexually innocent childhood pleasures), and time-traveling to early stages of our evolution, of humans and primitive life forms, to find a meaning in something persistently meaningless, such as sex.
Sometimes we are repulsed by the very sexy people we painstakingly found and selected. Yet to no avail, we play our role to the end, and nothing could deter us from fulfilling Nature's mission. This happens when our mind slips, just slips, innocently and helplessly, noticing how similar they look to their wrinkly parents or opposite sex siblings (whom we give no f*** about). We notice how similar they are to ordinary people we meet everyday without stirring the slightest desire in us. And to think how terrible they will look, when our skilled Photoshop brain gives them a slight aging test or a metamorphosis trip, under Time's haggard eyes and Gravity's heavy fist, picturing them years from now, and wishing in spite of us to separate or die, before that ominous day arrives!
Last but not least, we intentionally forget how all humans, sexy or not, look without that hide-all elastic cover of skin they live under, hiding their deathly ugliness beneath, if that sexy skin they spend fortunes on is, well, skinned. But you don't need to wait until they age or die; for even while they are alive, you can peek at them eating, walking and sashaying, and with some imagination or x-rays' help, it dawns on you that you've lusted after a skeleton, or a skeleton to be. We forget how our sweethearts' figures look few days after we bury them, when we can't stop Nature from butchering them; or while they are still on fire, yards away from us, barbecued in a crematory.
How fragile the human body is, whose parts we still worship and idolize, in fiction, poetry and art! How quickly, shapelessly it changes, when it's fallen off a building or smashed under a car or burnt in fire! Why are we then so obsessed about an object so feeble and ephemeral, a physical burden we carry around like turtles, a prison we never free ourselves from, except too late, when we no longer have eyes to witness our freedom?
He who seeks freedom from carnal fetters must find a new master first, worth losing one's freedom to. And those who long for celibacy must love and treasure another passion, equally powerful and more exulting than the love of human flesh. However, if they can't, it's not a shame or sin to enjoy life the way other creatures did, for millions of years cherishing such instinct, that kept them alive as well as happy. One needs no guru or guide, to learn how to enjoy oneself. It needs no books to learn how to have fun. Fun, what else is life about?!