The Canadian military community is all abuzz with the news that Canada’s top commander in Afghanistan has been pulled from his duties for…..allegedly having sex.
Canadian military law provides that while on a tour of duty Canadian soldiers are prohibited from having sex, even if they are with their spouse. Canadians typically serve six month tours in Afghanistan.
That means six months without any sexual contact.
Most soldiers and military experts support the sex ban. They see it as necessary to prevent abuse of subordinate females, to prevent jealousies in partners at home, and to maintain strict chains of command without romantic interference.
Society often imposes on powerful people punitive sexual rules that the average person never has to face.
Think President Clinton. He almost lost his job because of a sexual dalliance that millions of people play out every day. Or think of the Pope. A Pontiff caught masturbating, or performing a partnered sex act, would suffer a mighty fall.
Just for having sex.
But punishing the powerful for having consensual sex has a social cost; it helps stigmatize sex itself.
When the powerful can lose their thrones just for having sex, eroticism itself gets tarnished. If the thing that pulls the pain lever is a simple act of sex – then sex gets associated with the pain, not only in the minds of the person suffering the pain, but everyone else who observes the event.
I argue in The Politics of Lust that power hierarchies like military and police forces and senior executive government tend to be much more fearful of sex than average people. One reason (and there are others) is because the members of those hierarchies, like the solider in Canada, face special and probably necessary punitive sexual restrictions.
The result is that the very people who are the most powerful in a society are the people most likely to fear sex. And that has implications for everyone.