Friday, 15 May 2009
How is Sexual Arousal Similar to Color Arousal?
Sexual arousal is similar to skin color arousal in that with sexual arousal the sight or even smell of the desired sexual partner catalyzes physiological reactions within the person becoming aroused, such as engorgement of the penis or nipples, rapid heart rate, and the "fuck or flight" reaction.
In color arousal, the perception of the skin color of another catalyzes sometimes a torrent of ideation, emotions and even behaviors of which the individual may be only slightly if at all, or extremely aware. Many people of various skin colors have acknowledged that when the see a Black person (or a policeman) their immediate response is to think (ideation) they are in danger; to fear that they may be harmed; hate; experience revulsion; love; or even sexual attraction (emotion); and in response to fight or flee (behavior) the danger or respond to the attraction.
(Yes, some peope experience more attraction to women with brown skin than to women with white, red or yellow skin, or the contrary may also occur.)
In both color arousal and sexual arousal, there are reactions that may occur both consciously and unconsciously. However, a fundamental difference between color arousal and sexual arousal is that sexual arousal is an innate inborn instinct necessary for the continuation of the human species, while color-arousal is a learned instinct that is more stereotypical (less selective) than sexual arousal.
For example, most men are attracted to women their age or somewhat older or younger, but few 20 year old men find themselves attracted to 80 year-old women. Although the attraction is to women, it is somewhat selective, based on the perceived appropriateness of the object for sexual relations. With color-arousal, however, the reaction of revulsion and deprecation sometimes is far less selective, with feelings of revulsion and hate aroused by skin color regardless of the sex or age of the perceiver and the perceived.
Precisely because color arousal is often so unspecific and stereotypical, it has widespread influence within individuals and society, even when everyone present is of the same color. We are taught by the media, politics and even our own families to have certain ideation, emotions and behavior in response to brown skin, regardless of what color skin we, ourselves, have.
So, having heard that we have a right to "beautiful hair" and that's why hot combs are available to those who have "ugly hair," therefore we come to regard Blacks' curly hair as ugly regardless of whether we have brown or white skin ourselves. Just as Black and white and Latino children are equally credulous when their elementary school teacher tells them that "two and two are four", so they may have similar responses when television tells them that curly hair is ugly hair: they may come to prefer straight hair regardless of whether they themselves were born with straight or curly hair.
Both color arousal and sexual arousal have a learned component. In the United States, we are taught that skinny women are more beautiful while obese women are repulsive, and we may experience sexual arousal or not based simply upon our socialization. In addition to whatever may be innate about sexual attraction, we are taught that to be aroused by members of our same sex is dirty and nasty, and so we may feel revulsion towards ourselves and others if such attraction occurs in spite of what we have been taught.
Some people believe that revulsion or fear in the presence of people of another color is "natural" and "innate". These people need only go to a supermarket frequented by toddlers of different skin colors to realize that toddlers are curious about and attracted to each other without regard to skin color. And yet they do not show the same attraction and curiousity about people who are significantly bigger than they are. Which means that, to a toddler, the size and age of another person is more important than that person's skin color.
Sexual arousal is innate to some degree as well as the result of socialization ("Blondes are more beautiful), while color arousal is, quite simply, the result of socialization. It is far more logical to fear people who are significantly larger than us, and therefore can do us more harm, than it is to fear people who are smaller than us, or of a different skin color. Again, just look at the behavior of toddlers in a polychromatic supermarket and you can see for yourself that this is both logically true and empirically true.