Fine image of a bra with its contents as a motif for the John Money pages    

The Psychology of Sex

John Money

ALLOSEX-AVOIDANCY: TALK. The foregoing two avoidancy rules of erotic sexualism, namely, age-avoidancy and intimacy-avoidancy, are not sex disparate, but are applied equally to boys and girls in the course of their development. A third rule, allosex-avoidancy is, by contrast, sex disparate. This rule puts constraints on what males may do or say erotically and sexually in the presence of females, and vice versa. Though it is more rigidly enforced after puberty than in childhood, children are acculturated to obey the rule of allosex-avoidancy from infancy onward.

The rule of allosex-avoidancy regulates how much of one’s body may be exposed to members of the other sex. In infancy, it is acceptable for boys and girls to appear naked before one another and other people, under such circumstances as bathing or showering. By school age, genital exposure is forbidden, except maybe at home, and girls are already required to keep their nipples covered when boys are not. The conventions of modesty, clothed or unclothed, commonly are adhered to in the presence of one’s own sex as well as in mixed company; but with one’s own sex, it is allowable to be more relaxed. Even so, a sex divergency prevails. Boys, for example, are by convention permitted to swim naked and shower in communal shower rooms, whereas girls are trained to wear swim suits and shower alone in cubicles. All told, more constraints are imposed on girls than on boys to hide their bodies. A parallel is the partial incapacitation of locomotion by wearing high-heeled shoes – or, in pre-1949 China, of having the feet deformed by binding.

In conservative Moslem culture, women are forbidden to show their mouths naked in the presence of adult males, other than their husbands. Elsewhere on earth, for example, in aboriginal Australia, men and women used to wear no clothing. They saw each other’s nudity in toto. For the Australians, the unclad appearance of any part of the body was not, per se, an erotic signal. Eye talk and finger talk, to use the translation of their own terms, and not the uncovering of the body, were the medium of erotic communication.

The rule of allosex-avoidancy regulates not only bodily exposure, but applies also to conversation between the sexes. The language of sex that is stigmatized as crude, vulgar, and impolite (and to a large extent Anglo-Saxon rather than Latin in origin) is actually the erotic/sexual language of males among themselves. When small boys use this language in the hearing of females, with or without other males present, they are punished. They are not actually instructed that such talk is acceptable in exclusively male company, but they soon learn this lesson for themselves.

There is no counterpart of an erotic/sexual language exclusively for females, but there is a tradition among some females to use the forbidden language of males, but only when no males are listening. Thus, whether or not they endorse the doctrine of the double standard, men and women are trapped in it conversationally.

John Money, Love and Love Sickness: The Science of Sex, Gender Difference and Pair-bonding, pp. 48-49. John Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, London) 1980.

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