…or “Sex on the Brain”
Can ritual and custom become dangerous obsession?
By Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D.
Something went wrong in the Israeli town of Ramat Bet Shemesh. A crowd of ultra-orthodox men, offended by what they deemed the immodest dress of an 8-year-old girl walking to school, shouted at her that she was a prostitute. And then they spat on her. They spat on a child. Can you imagine? Clearly, something went very, very wrong. As a psychologist and member of the observant Jewish community, I am trying to understand what.
Condemnation is easy. It’s kind of like spitting with words. In contrast, understanding is hard, but worthwhile. So, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these very religious men and try to understand their reaction to the young girl’s “immodesty.”
A preoccupation with modesty is usually a way to protect against sexual thoughts. Such appears to be the case with this community of Ultra Orthodox Jewish men alarmingly preoccupied with female modesty, even when the female in question is a pre-pubescent child. Read more . . .
Could a disturbing attitude toward sex and modesty develop from misrepresentations of the basic principles of biology and levels of biological organization used in animal models for the development of sexual behavior? For example, no animal model links visual input directly to the evolution of the gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ system pathway that links olfactory/pheromonal input directly to the intracellular signaling, gene activation, and gene expression, common to all species from microbes to man. Without this direct epigenetic link from the environment to genetically predisposed intracellular signaling, it is not possible to correctly link what we see to sex on the brain, which makes any preoccupation with “modesty” a perversion of its biological underpinnings. Isn’t the problem more likely to be the onset of adrenarche in the 8 y/o, which is associated with her production of social odors and species-specific pheromones? Food odors and pheromones are responsible for appetite and sexual arousal in all mammals. In this context, the behavior of abusive males offended by the display of skin, which contains glands for pheromone production, is behavior that might best be attributed to a fear of pheromones.