Slave to Love

A much-publicised trial in Falun, Sweden is giving me a funny feeling. The man on the stand has confessed to the murder of a woman and a small girl, and is also charged with the violent rape of both and of a second woman. The case makes me feel queasy in more ways than one.

Anybody half sane will of course feel incomprehending revulsion when faced with the fact of men with the drive to beat, rape and murder. But there’s something more to it for me. And I think I know what it is. This insane sadistic sex murderer was just following his strongest urges. And so have I done for all my adult life.

I’ll make no bones about it: since my lower teens, I have had a strong irrational urge to have hot, tender, consensual sex with women, preferably several times a week. This has been an important factor in the style of both of my marriages, and the ladies in question will be able to testify that I am indeed quite possessed by that urge. [Comments indicate that I should clarify that what I am confessing to here is randiness, not promiscuity.] In the interval between my marriages, I did little but pursue the fulfilment of my inclinations, and they led me to perform remarkably silly stunts for someone who calls himself a rationalist.

As luck has it, my urges are socially acceptable. Indeed, a number of people even seem to have found them charming. But the thing is, I didn’t choose my orientation. I just did whatever felt right. And so, when I read about the crimes of this unfeeling, twisted child-killer, I feel sick to the stomach. Because the main reason that I’m not committing rape and murder is that I have no inclination to do so. I don’t know if I would have been able to abstain if I had been built the same way as him.

Comments

  1. #1 DrugMonkey
    July 19, 2008

    that was…um…honest, dude.

  2. #2 Patrick
    July 19, 2008

    This is pretty brave of you. This sort of statement so easily lends itself to being misunderstood.

    I agree with you: I’m fortunate that my urges fit well with what is socially acceptable.

    I don’t condemn, for example, pedophiles for their urges, but it must be understood that they CANNOT act on those urges because doing so would harm other people.

    So to me, incarcerating a child rapist, or a rapist, or a murderer, or the simply violent, or even repeated drunken drivers is not about punishment, but simply about protecting society.

    We have to say to these people, “You are tragically broken and we don’t know how to fix you, but we can’t let you hurt anyone else”, and leave it at that.

    We can’t be blamed for our chemistry, but if we can’t control it, society needs to. No moral judgment there — it is simply a matter of practicality.

    But most of us never question our good fortune that we are not troubled by unacceptable impulses in the first place.

  3. #3 Marcus
    July 19, 2008

    A good and honest post Martin. I liked it.

    Niclas Bergren talks about a related issue in this blogpost.

  4. #4 barbara huffert
    July 19, 2008

    Patrick, tragically broken and unfixable seems to imply some action at some point in life caused certain people to be how they are.

    How much do circumstances influence pre-programmed chemistry? If violent tendancies were recognized early enough could something have been done to make such individuals contain themselves and prevent instinctual behavior?

    Courageous blog Martin.

  5. #5 Martin R
    July 19, 2008

    Thanks everybody! I didn’t anticipate that coming out as an enthusiastic heterophile would be seen as so courageous.

    Patrick, I agree.

  6. #6 CCBC
    July 20, 2008

    Do you think this is less a metter of Urge and more one of visualizing Consequence? No matter how hetero your urge, could you deal with broken women? Crushed victims? Would you murder someone to silence them about your Urge? Is it your lack of Urge or your lack of sociopathic personality that is the question here?
    Back in olden times, when feminism first arose, there was this concept that women were by nature, Good, and men, well… But we’re past that, aren’t we?

  7. #7 Martin R
    July 20, 2008

    I suppose it’s possible for a man to have an urge to hurt women, yet at the same time to have enough empathy that he never acts upon that urge. Personally, I’m the kind of guy who, when confronted with a stray little girl, feels an urge to give her something to eat and call her parents.

  8. #8 Your former wife
    July 20, 2008

    Well said! As I remember you also sometimes feel an urge to feed your woman!

  9. #9 jp
    July 23, 2008

    Is there a relationship between suppression of drives and their later expression in deformed ways? Put differently could there actually be a relation between ample fulfillment of drives and such drives staying within healthy bounds (bearing in mind that such bounds have nothing to do with choice of orientation or harmless consensual kinks and everything to do with not assaulting torturing or killing someone, no matter how much fleeting pleasure it gives you)?

    I don’t have a theory, only these questions. Clarifications are welcome. Intriguing post, thanks.

  10. #10 Martin R
    July 23, 2008

    I have anecdotal reason to believe that an unfulfilled urge actually tends to quieten down. A friend of mine has a fairly low-key sex drive. Every few years he has an affair with some woman, and between these liaisons he doesn’t think much about sex or make any concerted attempts to get some. When these mating periods with their heightened testosterone level occur, he actually develops pubertal symptoms with pimples and aching nipples, despite being thirty-something.

  11. #11 True Bob
    July 25, 2008

    Hi Martin,

    I saw this while perusing sciblogs this AM (USA). Thank PZ @ pharyngula, he’s what drew me here. Intro over.

    The desires you (and oh so many of us) have are not the same drivers that rapists have. As I understand it (I’m no profiler of criminals) rape is a crime of power and victimisation, not of sexual desire. So a more equivalent comparison might be between a megalomaniacal despot (Stalin? Pol Pot?) and a rapist.