yes, Meredith, the frame is broken–we’ve been dancing around the kemmer topic for six chapters and now, finally, we’re focused explicitly on sex. chapter 7, Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.
in Karhide, sex only happens when two individuals (sometimes two+, seems like orgy is a minority even but still occurs) are both in kemmer. a hormonal change that initiates sexual drive, coitus, conception, et cetera. like animals, who mate when in heat. in rut.
in the back folds of my brain, i am remembering reading St Thomas Aquinas for some introductory philosophy course at university. i love this quote of old Aquinas on the matter:
Man has free will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain.St. Thomas Aquinas — Summa Theologicae (Source)
ah, speech acts! no advice, no cajoling, no control, no self-control. somehow this memory of free will reminds me of sex: humans have free will, humans also choose (or force upon others the choice) when, where, and how to have sex. how close are the two, really, free will and sex-whenever-we-please? not even god’s angels get to have free will, not in the way humans do. and don’t we pay a dear price for it? we use it and abuse it. you don’t need sex-whenever-we-please to enjoy, to have pleasure–animals certainly enjoy their coupling. the very young and the very old don’t seem to be able to exercise free will, they are taken care of, guided, by forces and family (corporeal and otherwise) greater than themselves.
i’m not saying that Karhiders do not have free will, they exist in a different logic, a different god. the impact of sex-only-when-the-time-is-ripe has, among other things, reduced mass violence, supported gender parity, influenced labor laws and community sizes; in sum: shaped their culture deeply. at the root. what the Karhiders have is potential. potential to be male or female. father or mother. both/and. does this gift of free will limit the potential of humans? we don’t make the best choices. why not? why don’t we choose in accordance to harmony of all that is? why can’t we listen to this tune? something to ponder. maybe not while having sex.