Reading about sex isn’t my favourite way to experience it, so no matter how pleasurable it may be, I don’t often do it. But I do often read about psychology, patriarchal structures and behavioural economics. So when one book captures all of them, it intrigues and challenges.
Welcome to “Sex 3.0″ by JJ Roberts.
If there’s anybody who would support the plain talking about what men and women want without society’s patriarchal bullshit, it would be me. And as it turns out, also this author. Sex 3.0 is a book which explains how socio-economic forces drove (and continue to drive) the evolution of human sexuality. From tribal togetherness, through the coming of property, possession and necessity of women to sell their sexuality in exchange for security (marriage). For anyone who hasn’t started to question the tenets that hold our modern day society together and yet which at the same time breed guilt, shame and unhappiness, this book holds some illuminating truths. For anyone who has, it’s great to see them validated and clarified in JJ Robert’s easy-to-read style.
But the success of the book and adoption of its theories is unlikely in its current state. Why?
Readers will necessarily fall into two camps –
- Those who haven’t (yet) questioned how society operates
- Those who already have
Readers in group 1 will acknowledge the author’s analysis of how sexuality evolved in tribal times – sex 1.0. After all it’s a nice hypothesis – if not lacking in scientific analysis and documented/displayed research – and doesn’t threaten the status quo. They may even find themselves nodding along to how property forced men and women into playing games which prioritized concerns around paternity and made virginity a prized possession, but how even this didn’t stop our roving eye (paradigm sex 2.0 or ‘fenced’ relationships). And readers in group 2 will also nod in acknowledgement of the truths set out by JJ Roberts. But the leap to unfenced relationships in sex 3.0 is a tough one. And that’s where – for both sets of readers – this book lets itself down.
Like most polyamorists who have had to challenge society norms, I belong to group 2. And group 2 is made up of individuals who don’t accept ‘given’ truths (even if they are published
in the gospel on the internet). There are several ‘given’ truths in Sex 3.0 which are open to debate and which when unravelled, risk undermining the readers’ acceptance of the whole.
Why jealousy is not natural and not needed as posited in Sex 3.0
Argument 1: Jealousy is exclusively concerned with feelings of insecurity about something you had presumed was your property. [in this case sexual property]
Argument 2: The notion of sexual property is unnecessary because we have technology in modern society that can determine paternity. Since the concept of sexual property is the source of jealousy, jealousy is not needed.
Argument 3: Children today, even though we have had the concept of property for many thousands of years, are not born with any concept of property. They are born with no innate or natural concept of ownership.
The True Nature of Jealousy
Jealousy is one of the biggest hurdles for anyone who opens their relationship, and eradicating it necessitates an indepth study of its foundations. Jealousy is certainly the flip side of insecurity, but insecurity manifests itself not only around [sexual] property but also (and more predominantly) about fear of abandonment. In fact, I would hypothesize that what JJ Roberts proposes as the definition of jealousy being insecurity about sexual property, is not jealousy. It is simply possessiveness and/or entitlement (an emotion often felt at the same time).
So what is jealousy? Jealousy is a feeling generated by the mind to support the survival theory
I am incomplete and require this particular person to complete me; incomplete people do not survive; therefore I must have this particular person to survive.
For many of that, that ‘incompleteness’ has manifested itself simply by birth, i.e. by the separation of us as individuals from our mothers (and later perhaps reinforced by lack of childhood love from primary caregivers). It is a necessity of the human condition that in some measure, great (an unacknowledged and unhealed wound from preverbal experience) or small (generated through the general course of life and easily overcome by persistent rational thought) we will experience this type of insecurity… which in turn drives a need and desire for love. Without close scrutiny, we continue to think as adults that this need can be satisfied externally (it cannot). Only – of course – self-love can make you secure.
Thus it is only when you love and trust in yourself enough, that you can deal better with ‘possessiveness’ and ‘entitlement’ or the ‘sexual property’ aspect which contributes to the monogamous paradigm of Sex 2.0 (although nevermind that many women – from a sexual aspect – don’t particularly care who the father of their children is after the fact and have on the whole far less concept of sexual property than men).
What is ‘natural’ and does unnatural equate to unnecessary?
What JJ Roberts defines as ‘natural’ is something ‘innate’ – that with which you were born – versus ‘normal’ – that which you were taught. I don’t dispute the definition. The question concerns whether ‘normal’ can or should be ‘unlearned’. And if so, at what point it should be unlearned.
Because it is inconceivable and impossible that children can be raised only to act in line with their ‘nature’ and survive to adulthood. It is one of man’s greatest accomplishments to put in place survival mechanisms which help us cope with living on this earth. To that end of course when we are adults, jealousy no longer serves its purpose and I agree that it is freeing to discard it. But as children, the need and desire for external love (which can obtained where lacking by using the mechanism of jealousy) is necessary for their survival. This is embedded in the deepest subconscious of the reptilian mind and is part of what we call instinct. And as we are all the sum total of our experiences as they intersect with our genes so without adequate nurture of our nature, we would die.
Whilst group 2 readers may question the definitions, arguments and tenets set out, what about group 1? Well they have an even bigger hurdle. They will need to be convinced not only it is unnatural and unecessary (which I believe is a premise containing holes as outlined above), but also that it is ‘unlearnable’. That’s a hard sell in one out of 47 chapters.
What I want for this book is to be a missive; a beacon of enlightenment for group 1 readers. But section 3.0 doesn’t adequately give substance to the unfenced relationship map and so fails in convincing readers of its plausibility as a whole.
The goal of the book – as outlined by the author at the beginning – is to provide a new map for relationships. But no book can persuade readers through only emotionless hard analysis, psychological half truths and noticeably ‘masculine oriented’ sweeping assumptions about women and their motivations no matter how groundbreaking much of the analysis is …and it is.
Buy or No Buy?
Verdict: Buy it, you will be challenged.
But I give it 4/5 stars on the understanding that the remaining 20% will require not only 80% of the work, but also a new edition with a woman co-author. (NB. the praise of his book and his following is predominantly male – it’s not surprising).
Need An Ear? Book Some time to sort through your head with the Polyamory Advice Line.
If you want…
- Third-person perspective on your situation
- Advice on which resources might help you figure out a knotty problem
- A non-judgmental chat on what the hell you’re doing (and reassurance about why you are not crazy, self destructive or a sinner)
…Then Talk To Me.