|XK: That's an interesting one - and one could extend the question to, for example, somebody in a monogamous relationship behaving in such a way that gives the impression of sexual availability. Is this about the actions of the individual, or the expectations of the individual's society?|
What does it mean to say "I am celibate"? I think this thread is throwing up some interesting answers to that. For Nick, celibacy suggests surrender and retreat from the world, involving as it does sexual intercourse. For Medulla Oblongata, it is quite the opposite - a means of interacting more richly and more successfully with the world:
Taking focus off "needing sex" or "wanting sex" and having a neutral reaction to notions of sexual intercourse is liberating. It is not just the not having sex, but the mental and physical resources that are freed up as well. No looking for sex, or even wondering about sexual prospects. Which, incidentally leaves one to focus on an amazing range of fine details of relationships.
Ex identifies that celibacy is nuanced by gender, much as sexual activity is:
For a straight bloke who's been lucky enough to be brought up with a sense of control and agency over his body to say 'I'm not doing sex' is a different thing for a woman who has not had that sense of control and agency (obviously, there will be people from both genders experiencing more or less of that, and it'll be cut across by considerations such as sexuality and class).
There is the question of what constitutes a sexual interaction - Cline has it that celibacy opposes _genital_ interaction, but not necessarily sexual interaction, but in doing so, i think, supposes a model of sexual activity at general variance with traditional understanding.
Which, I think, dovetails back into XK's question:
If one ceases to look as if one is advertizing one's sexuality does that accomplish the same public political function regardless of if one is practicing celibacy privately?Or conversely if one is practicing celibacy but retaining the public signifiers of being sexually available how does that impact the practice? If people assume the incorrect status how does this impact the experience of the practice?
I think I'd like to understand better how one is portrayed as advertising one's sexuality in this question - I mean, Cline would, again, probably be happy to accept that celibate people could and would advertise their sexuality, or radiate it or similar, but would not be available for two-person genital-based sexual acts. Which raises other interesting questions about whether that distinction of sex is relevant - there are certainly sexualities the primary expression of which is not genital.
So, I think that "advertising sexuality" might mean "advertising status as a sexual being" or "advertising availability for (genital) sex", and that those two forms of advertisement, or, to use a word I am more comfortable employing in this context, those two forms of display are different things. In your example, XK, whether you present as sexually available affects how you are treated (although, as you say, signifiers vary), but presumably it does not affect whether you are in a very broad sense having sex (not right at that minute, but as a general principle), and likewise whether you present as advertising your sexuality might actually not communicate information, except by implication, about whether you are sexually available.
Perhaps there's a case not just for comparing monogamy (or indeed polyfidelity in some strains of the unlovely neologism) to celibacy, but for likening the one to the other, in the sense that they are ways of locating a self in a fixed relation to sexual activity. Is one of those, then, a retreat, and another an engagement?