Monday, March 9, 2009

A Brothel on Mars?

I'm a geek, and I watch the History and Science Channel frequently. With that said, over the past few years, and as recently as about three weeks ago, I've seen programs discussing this whole issue of long term space flight and the need for intimacy.

It is a psychological fact that people need personal contact. They crave it. It is a biological function that you just cannot simply repress. In fact, studies have shown that repression leads to increases in violent tendencies and depression. I'm sure someone could look up professional articles on all of this, but I remember these points the most.

My point is, an all male or all female trip to Mars is a bad idea. Suggestions have been made to send only married couples, but the pool to choose from is quite limited if you're looking for the "best of the best" for the mission. What are the odds that two of the "best" are also married and that you can find enough married couples to fill all of the roles required for the mission?

Then there's the option that you just have a 50/50 split, where everyone has an understanding that personal contact is more of a survival requirement than some deep seeded emotional connection.

The sticky part is when you introduce religious beliefs and societal morals into the equation. America is a very sexually repressed nation publicly. Behind closed doors is a different thing all together though. Just look at how many sex scandals there are, especially amongst political figures and "famous" people. However, publicly we never come out and embrace sexuality.

My kudos to Europe on this. Their commercials are quite risque and show nudity for crying out loud. No one cares. They aren't as sexually repressed and don't view nudity as some vile or OMG thing that should be covered and never spoken of again. If they see a billboard with a naked woman selling a cologne, they're like, "Hey, have you tried that cologne?"

Biologically, we're just advanced animals. We just happen to be the most advanced animals on the planet and dominate. The root of our being though is primal, sexual and protective. Survival. Religion and Societal Norms serve to quell and/or focus the animal. Could the crew accept that sex, or any intimate contact, is not a product of marriage, love or religious upbringing, but that it's a physical and psychological requirement for stability?

I apologize in advance if you don't know this show, but this reminds me of Red Dwarf, a hilarious British comedy show, where Rimmer and the crew of Red Dwarf find a Holoship for Rimmer to join. On this ship, they actually have scheduled sexual encounters amongst each other, like scheduling lunch. Everyone is with everyone, because it's known that open sexual interaction leads to a more stimulated mind with reduced mental and physical drawbacks. It is understood that sex in this unique environment is a mental and physical release, and nothing more.

If we are going to go to Mars, or anywhere else away from Earth for that matter, we must address this and other difficult topics. Everyone is always so focused on the scientific and engineering challenges, but their heads are in the sand with respect to the human emotional, sexual and psychological aspect to this very important step in human exploration. It's time to pull our head out and look at this, before something bad happens as a result of our reluctance and shameful inability to address it.


Monsal Varga said...

Besides myself - and in 3 seconds you - my novel is about trips to Mars and a bit more :)

Precisely one of the themes I'm starting to deal is the couples thing, sex in space, procriation, the whole deal.

As you put it, there are lots of issues that MUST be dealt, hopefully a long way before we really are confronted by them.

People always mention the obvious: propulsion systems, radiation sheltering, etc, etc.

I think that along with bone loss in long term space activities, sex should have been addressed already.

+he WYZ^RD projec+ said...

Interesting subject Doug.

Never really considered that (in depth). I just assumed rocket scientists had psychological control over their sex drives or had discovered how to 'trick' their bodies into believing they are fulfilling the sexual procreation urge via masturbation.

Hmmm...well, since such hypothetical missions are so far ahead in our future technologically anyway, maybe there is time to hook-up "the best of the best" now, and by the time we make it to required, confined co-inhabited space, our perception of what is considered acceptable/appropriate interaction can be reprogrammed as necessary.

Humans are advanced animals that can be programmed just like computers to an extent, and I personally believe the entire social structure of society needs to be re-evaluated from the ground up instead of running on 2,000 year-old "the end justifies the means" rhetorical fairytales.


Anonymous said...

I see you tried to "demean" mankind by calling us "just advanced animals", but I would go further and just say animals. Saying advanced gives me flashbacks of the woefully common misconception that evolution is a ladder.

Anyways, interesting topic. NASA's current policy on the topic of human sexuality beyond Earth is 'if we can't see it then it isn't happening'. Who knows if a few crew members have already got caught up in their own hormones.

For the inevitable mission to Mars the crews sexual dynamic will no doubt be dependent on the size of the crew. It would be hard to satisfy sexual urges if we are only talking about 2 or 3 people.

If there were maybe 6 or more people I can't imagine the crew going the entire 2 year mission without having a few "events". NASA can't risk having a pregnant astronaut on mankind's greatest space voyage and they can't exactly say "don't do it" and leave it at that. No doubt they will offer some forms of birth control and either leave it at that or perhaps even institute a "sexual code" as you were elaborating on. Should that be the case I would expect NASA to kick it under the rug. A government agency condoning sex among its employees isn't good publicity and I can't imagine NASA's embarrassment should a Newspaper get their hands on a NASA "sex code" and print an article titled 'A Brothel on Mars?'.

Well, that's my rant.

Douglas Mallette said...

First, thanks for visiting my blog Spazzy.

I wouldn't call it demeaning mankind, but rather just stating the obvious that many people seem to forget.

I think NASA's head in the sand approach to sex in space might come back to bite them, because as you said, if word gets out that there is some secret "sex code", or that the astronauts were given birth control as a precaution, the media would jump all over it.

"NASA, you got some splanin to do!"

Norman Copeland said...

Well, you say NASA has some explaining to do? Simplistically saying, if women's menstrual period's are controlled by the moon, how will will a woman's body react when it isn't subject of the moon's tide's? Serious thought needs a really thorough look at this because it is perhaps the most serious and obvious question that need be resolved.

Will women have longer periods before menopause? Will women produce more eggs?
Will the period between menstruation increase, thus adding longer periods of pregnancy sensitivity? Will women stop menstruating? Will women continue menstruating until death?

Will men produce different quotients of sperm according to planetary pressures?

The question of intergalactic sex, reproduction and cognitive evolution is a very valid consideration.

I personally don't believe it will be NASA solving these questions or delivering the answers.

Hey!!! Cruising around in the convertible car... Beep, beep... Hello darling, fancy a drink?


Jerry M. Weikle said...

Another aspect that really should be consider when sending people, we are going to have to get use to the potential of 'expendable'.
It isn't that I personally, don't value a human life, all humans have a purpose even if contributing to 'off world' establishment of colonies or habitat on the Moon or Mars.
It is sad when there is a loss of life, regarding sending people in space. Those scientist, cannot be replaced because of the training they have.
However, when European's were sailing the 'ocean blue' to the America's or the Asians migrating out to the Pacific islands--there was loss of life. Yet, others continued with determination despite the hardships. Some relied on "Faith" and others on "survival luck"...yet they built the foundations of a society in the New Worlds and lands.
Where is that desire, where is that spirit of discovery, the sense of adventure. Are humans so compliacent that the discovery has to occur on TV?
Yeah, like a Chimpanzee who put their footprint on a small sandbar...."Giant Leap" become fossilized as "Lucy" in a few million years hence.
Humanity has the choice to stay in comfort of its 'tropical Earth domain' with its population reaching 9 Billion...with all those problems and issues. Or it has the choice to invest in the development of Space with the goals of establishing habitat on the Moon or Mars.
Whatever the choice humanity decides, what path is eventually choosen....there will be those that survive and there will be those "Lost aboard ship".

Douglas Mallette said...

Jerry - At this stage of the game, and until space travel becomes as mundane as driving your car, those who embark in space travel know full well the risks involved. It is saying, "Screw it!" to those risks that will drive humanity to the stars.

Yes, people will die and be lost to space, but that's no different than people dying today. Cycle of life...born, live, die. What you do with that life is what's the most important aspect of humanity. I choose to propel the species to space. :)