This month SlutWalk marches, sparked by a Toronto’s cop remark about the role of provocative dressing in rape, brought sex again to the forefront of public debate. Given the importance that sex (or the lack of it) has in our daily lives, and the fact that family relationship always come top in any surveys about human happiness, we need to explain why we did not include them among the six pillars of human happiness.
The reasons for exclusion are different from those we used to exclude religion. They derive mostly from the fact that all controversial issues surrounding sex and family relationships depend on historical context and involve moral values that are better debated within the principles of liberalism, enlightenment and science.
For instance, the right to indecent exposure or promiscuous relations that is invoked by some of the feminists among the SlutWalk promoters is better discussed in the context of the limits to freedom in a society ruled by liberal principles.
Namely, such limits must be defined bearing in mind the historical experiments with free love in the 1920s and the 1960s and the attempts to eliminate the family institution in communist regimes. Both experiments ended up degrading the role of women. The first by turning into sects whose leaders abused women into coercive sex while the second degraded women turned into second class citizens or forced to prostitution.
Likewise, old debates about the use of sex for pleasure or procreation, the health consequences of masturbation, incestuous relations and other non-conventional forms of sex can now be studied scientifically. Other issues such as the age of consent, monogamy vs. polygamy, cohabitation vs. marriage, divorce, etc. should be discussed under enlightened principles and bearing in mind their impact on society cohesiveness and productive capacity.
For all these reasons, and despite the vital importance of family relationships for happiness, we did not separate them as one of the six pillars of human happiness.