The tyranny of sex: Just imagine what you could be doing without it

A recent study of Korean eunuchs showed they lived longer on average, but would you sacrifice sex for a longer stay on Earth?

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The Independent Online


It’s the ultimate dilemma: would you rather live a long life without any sex or die young and have it off till you drop?

It sounds like one of those pointless conundrums you pose to your mates down the pub but the predicament is closer to reality than you might think.

According to a recent study into the lifespans of Korean eunuchs who were castrated in boyhood, the eunuchs lived, on average, a lot longer than their less testicularly-challenged compatriots.

The study compared the lives of 81 eunuchs who served the Korean royal family between the 14th and 20th centuries with those of three families of testicle-endowed males living in similar social conditions. The results showed that the eunuchs lived an average of 70 years whereas the sexually active men only managed an average of 56 years, a huge 14-year difference.

The sample of eunuchs also contained a disproportionately large number of men living to over a hundred – at least 30 times greater than the modern day percentage of men who become centenarians. All of which, though scientifically inclusive, supports the idea that being sexless prolongs life.

That’s the science out of the way, now we can get back to the pointless pub conundrums. So here’s one for the men: would you prefer to be castrated now and be guaranteed a fit, healthy and active life to over a hundred, or die in ten years time but get to sow your wild oats like Ghengis Khan on a Viagra drip feed?

When I thought about this myself my initial response was instant and, I’m guessing, typical: live fast and die young baby!... rock n roll!... shagging!...yeah!... etc etc.

But when I actually started to consider the issue in a little more depth, the advantages of being freed from sex started to become more apparent. Foremost among them was the amazing amount of time it would free up to do more constructive things, a lot more time than you might initially think. It wouldn’t just involve all the time spent actually having sex but also the time spent thinking about having sex, planning how next to have sex, reminiscing (either fondly or ruefully) on the last time you had sex or generally regretting the fact that you’re not having sex. That’s a lot of time and a lot of cogitating.

Which reminds me of the famous statistic that men think about sex every seven seconds. We are like goldfish swimming around in a bowl, constantly on the brink of doing something positive like repainting the living room but then thinking “ooh, breasts”. Imagine how much decorating we would get done without those seven-second brain resets.

And that’s not all. Apart from vast swathes of time we spend thinking about sex there’s also the time we spend doing things that are secondarily related to sex, like going out for example. We may tell ourselves that going out is all about “the craic” or seeing our mates, or letting off steam or having a laugh but let’s really face the music on this one, no matter what we tell ourselves, the main reason single men go out is sex. Why else would we spend all our wages on double-priced, half-quality beer in order to not hear what anyone is saying in an overcrowded, over-heated, smelly environment with a latent threat of violence hanging over proceedings?

And it’s not just in our social lives that we waste time on sex. Our day-to-day existences are filled with seconds, minutes and hours of nonsensical, sex-related baggage that, over a lifetime, adds up to days and weeks and months. Thousands of minutes spent on mindless, ‘flirty’ conversations, on trying to decode enigmatic looks or comments, on hopelessly replaying scenarios in our minds. Hundreds of hours spent cooking over-ambitious and ultimately insipid meals, on deciphering baffling menus, on choosing flowers that don’t symbolically mean you want an immediate break up. Millions of wasted micro-seconds glancing at women while walking down the street, at work, eating lunch, on the bus. All that wasted time that could have been spent taking in the surroundings or thinking about something really profound or useful like how the living room needs... ooh, breasts.

Okay, I’ve made my point, men spend a lot of time doing sex-related activities. So what if you decided to reclaim all those lost hours, to take the plunge and lose the danglies? What would you actually do with all that time suddenly on your hands -  resort to philately? (that’s stamp-collecting by the way, not an attempt to self-administer oral sex).

Well, you might write a book. It wouldn’t exactly be Fifty Shades of Grey and would actually have no appeal whatsoever because of your inability to write love scenes or romantic plot lines, but at least you could tick the whole book-writing thing off the list.

You could go back to university and study a subject that really interests you, secure in the knowledge that you would actually get a good mark because you would spend more than four hours a week in lectures and tutorials.

You could become a black belt at an exotic martial art or a sword master, then you could craft your own blade, and gain comfort from the fact that the combination of celibacy and homemade weaponry in some ways qualifies you as a Jedi.

You could invent something new, something simple and revolutionary like the zip or the tetri-pack and make millions while knowing that every day someone somewhere was being annoyed and/or injured by your device.

Most useful of all, you could spend hour upon hour surfing the internet, doing valuable research without once looking at porn.

The list goes on and on. There is literally no end to the amount of positive things that you could do with your life if you were emancipated from the tyranny of sex. When I think about it this way it almost makes me want to do something about it, not actually chop my own gonads off, of course, but in some way to try to be less pre-occupied with sex. I imagine it would lead to an incredibly relaxed state of mind not to have to think about sex every seven... ooh, breasts.