There is too much emphasis on "comparison, competition and performance" in modern sex, Harvey Cox, associate professor of Church and Society, told a symposium on fraternity morality at M.I.T. last night.
"In a society where we're pressed from morning to night to compete," Cox said, "we need places in our lives where that competition is excluded.
Sex has to be understood as part of the "search for intimacy," Cox explained. He attacked what he called the "Playmate theory of sex." "One finds," he said, "that women don't fold as easily as the Playmate."
But, he added, "we have unduly played down and even denied . . . the fun aspects of sex."
He also lambasted the "bladder theory"--that sex is simply a release of pressure--and the idea that the entire object of sex is having children.
The effects of sexual decisions, he said, "used to be symbolized by pregnancy." Now because of such things as the pill, "the responsibility takes a much more personal, sociological, social turn. To enter into a relationship like this with another person is to begin a mutual history that is inextricable."
But these decisions, Cox said, cannot be made on the basis of "right or wrong." Sexuality has meaning in itself, he insisted, and unless a person can deal with it, "the little question of right or wrong can't be dealt with at all."