If you have body image issues, concerns about the
way you smell or anxiety about achieving orgasm,
sexual hangups can put a damper on desire and
leave your sex life less than satisfying for
yourself and your partner.
Anxiety Guilt Repression
While the agent of sexual repression is the family,
it reflects the demands of society. Our society is
systematically producing people through the family
who are incapable of love and sexual surrender because
it needs such people in order to perpetuate itself.
Parental repression in childhood, especially of sexuality,
cuts down the vital vegetative side of life – the antithesis
to the present mechanization of existence.
It’s led to the building in the individual
of an intricate character armour.
A neurosis has been created. Most of us share it.
This armour is essentially fearful and protective,
preventing us from joyful promiscuity.
It keeps repressed that which would ordinarily flow
outwards as sexual pleasure, letting us surrender.
We fear the free expression of our sexuality,
making us anxious and guilty.
The Pleasure Principle
Both Wilhelm Reich [see Bourgeois Culture Fears Sexual Anarchy and Herbert Marcuse tried to deal with the way in which the bourgeois mutilated erotic life.
Marcuse moves in the same direction. He begins with the Freudian idea that the suppression of the libido at an early age is absolutely necessary for the continuation of society.
Otherwise civilization would not continue to exist, since men must work to survive, and the libido militates against work. Eros uncontrolled is a fatal danger. Therefore the history of mankind has been a history of repression.
Freud formulates this in the opposition of the Pleasure and Reality principles. The first is geared to erotic gratification and constantly suppressed, finding relief in fantasy, art, or psychological distortions. The second, the Reality principle, is geared by the maintenance of civilization through work.
Marcuse, however, points out that all societies have been maintained according to certain systems of domination. Certain classes have been in control and have not worked.
Therefore simply to postulate scarcity of resources as the reason for sexual repression in order to make men work is not enough.
He also points out that the advances of technology now make the argument of scarcity untenable, at least in the developed countries, and yet there is still repression.
Technology would now make it possible for necessary work to be reduced to a minimum and that, if sexual repression persists, there must be some other reason for it than scarcity.
This reason according to Marcuse is the interests of domination, and he calls the repression necessary for this surplus repression.
Even though it would now be theoretically possible for men to be comparatively freed from work, they are still being suppressed to make them work.
The Reality principle does not operate independently of history. It’s not just the fact, but also the organization of scarcity, that creates repression.
As Reich also said, psychological realities are related to political needs, and men are being sexually repressed in order to exploit them.
As Reich does, Marcuse identifies the sex instincts with the life instincts, and he further postulates that the suppression of these instincts was necessary to the development of Western civilization, which defined itself in terms of reason, productivity, and the domination of nature.
With the development of a different kind of civilization with different values, made possible for the first time by advanced technology, Marcuse sees the possibility of a change in the Reality principle, which is not something inevitable and mystical, but historically determined.
With the passing away of both resource scarcity and he hopes the present systems of political and social domination and economic exploitation, he sees the Reality principle merging more and more with the repressed Pleasure principle, and a whole new form or erotically liberated life possible.
We have suggested that the prevalent instinctual repression resulted, not so much from the necessity of labour, but from the specific social organization of labour imposed by the interest in domination–that repression was largely surplus repression.
Consequently, the elimination of surplus repression would tend to eliminate, not labour, but the organization of human existence into an instrument of labour.
Once freed from surplus repression we will capable of a much more receptive relationship both with the environment and with other people. Marcuse is suggesting a new form of social organization related to a new kind of character organization.
He calls this “a total revolution in the mode of perception and feeling” and makes it clear that it is only possible in a society in which production is the means, not the end, of human activity.