Unnatural Acts

Switching TV channels the other night I heard an evangelist ranting about unnatural acts and crimes against nature and paused to give the matter some thought. Genocide seemed to me an unnatural act and fracking a crime against nature but I knew the preacher wasn’t speaking about politics. Of course he was speaking about sex.

Unnatural sex is a religious term covering any sexual act that is considered sinful or immoral because the participants aren’t married to each other, because it does not lead to procreation, or because it is not in accordance with a particular religion’s laws.

USLegal.com defines unnatural sex, or an unnatural act, as a legal term for certain sexual acts including oral and anal sex, incest, procreative sex in the wrong position, sodomy, bestiality and necrophilia. Notice that puts sexual acts in the wrong position (as defined by whom?) and necrophilia in the same moral and/or legal boat. Sodomy, defined by most dictionaries as anal sex (with another male is also usually implied) is so bad that it gets mentioned twice. Yet The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated that 38 percent of men ages 18 to 59 had engaged in anal sex with a female partner.

Then there is the term “crimes against nature” which can mean any of the above interpretations the user cares to give it. It is most often used to mean homosexual behavior. Yet far from being unnatural or against nature, same sex behavior occurs among birds and beasts in about the same population percentage as it does among humans.

So legally or morally, many popular sexual acts done by legally married and morally upstanding individuals and couples are considered unnatural sex acts somewhere and liable to dire punishment by some legal or religious courts. It would be laughable unless you or someone you love are one of the morally upstanding individuals caught up in the net of such pernicious definitions.

When a praying mantis bites the head off her mate during the act of copulation it is a natural act for praying mantises. As a human you can and must define for yourself what is natural for you and your sexual partner/s. If some act does not come naturally but seems to appeal you can stretch your own limits to include it in your sexual repertoire. If it doesn’t then it doesn’t.

If I had to define an unnatural sex act for myself I suppose this would be it: Years ago when I was writing my syndicated “Ask Isadora” column I answered a reader’s question by stating that autofellatio, performing oral sex upon oneself, was physically impossible. I had to print a retraction when I received in the mail a videotape of a young (and limber!) man doing just that. That came as close to an unnatural act as I’ve ever heard of.

One of the best definitions of an unnatural sex act I ever heard was “one that’s physically impossible”. That puts the “unnaturalness” of homosexuality, oral or anal sex, and other behaviors on that preacher’s list on par with kissing one’s own elbow. Anything else is just so much moralistic flim-flam.