Advice on Life and Sex: Moving Beyond Reductionist Mottos

“Growing up, my dad often told me that life is like chess. I suck at chess and my life sucks. Now, I know this might sound crazy, and that is exactly why I’m asking you in an anonymous capacity, but what does he mean? The way I see it, chess is simple,life is not. In chess you have only one simple goal,checkmate the enemy. Life’s goals are more complicated, you can’t checkmate your enemy. Or can you?He also said sex is similar to war.What do you think? How is life like chess? How is sex like war?”

I’ve never played chess. And I’m not inclined to play life, either. Perhaps your dad was being defensive. His attempt to defend against the very fact that life is complicated by trying to minimize and simplify things probably speaks to his inability to manage these complications more than anything. We all wish to control the mess and chaos of life and sometimes believe that if we have simple adages or mottos to live by then we will be half way there.

But if pushed to answer the questions you’re asking I would say this. I think when people refer to life being like chess, they mean that if you are shrewd and strategic, then you can manipulate your way to your goals. Of course, the goals are not as simple or laid out as in chess, but ultimately one can achieve one’s goals via smart defensive play and calculated moves. I think this is why people love TV shows and movies about bad guys who plot and plan to take over the world. There is something extremely attractive about a malevolent power that can outsmart and outthink the opponent. And to a degree, our capitalist world also values this kind of behaviour and these characters, which is why people like Gordon Gekko actually exist and thrive in businesses around the world.

The question you have to ask yourself is: do I want to treat life, relationships and the people I interact with as if they are just pawns in a game? I for one do not. I hope that you realise that life is not solely about achieving one’s goals, and especially not at the expense of others. Unless the goal is more egalitarian, then I’m just not interested. What ever happened to the goal being about finding connection and sharing with other human beings in a mutually beneficially way? That’s the kind of person I want to be and it’s the kind of world I want to live in.

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Additionally, the question about sex being like war also has rather unfortunate connotations. This is most likely indicative of a very sexist and misogynistic view towards sex in which a woman’s body is seen to be like territory that can be conquered by a victorious man. You just have to watch Game of Thrones to understand that this kind of thinking is old and archaic and yet stitched into the very fabric of our social lives, which unfortunately are still stained from years of patriarchy. I don’t believe sex is like war unless your intention is to dominate and rule, which sounds more like rape to me. I don’t think I need to go into why rape is not what sex should be like. Try sex as a passionate, sharing, physical connection rather please.

If you have further questions or you would like to respond to this, please use the comments section.

Good luck out there!

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