They say you should never mix business with pleasure. This workplace aphorism commands the ring of near proverbial truth—business is business, pleasure is pleasure. Intermingling the too could be, at best, distracting, and at worst, compromising. In the office, the Human Resources department regulates relationships between employees, refereeing the boundaries between work and sex. But “human resources” is also explicitly defined as “the personnel of a business or organization, especially when regarded as a significant asset.” A company is liable to maintain, not just the comfort and relative safety of their workers, but also their productivity, their value as individual assets.
The suppression of sex at work is hardly limited to 20th century corporate culture. In 1925, Aron Zalkind, a Soviet psychologist, drafted a list of sexual commandments aimed to temper the sexual libido of the working masses. Zalkind, like Freud, assumed an individual contained a quantitative amount of psychic energy. Too much sex would divert such energy away from Communism’s greater cause. A new society could not be built if worker’s gave into instant gratification and spent their emotional energies on each other rather than the state. Sex, in other words, was wasteful, a hinderance to individual productivity.
But what is the relationship between pleasure and productivity? Can pleasure be galvanizing? Can it be motivating? There is this: whenever I am seeking a distraction from work, a way to “waste time” before I have to sit down and do something (like as I tried to write this) my first impulse is to masturbate. Seeking pleasure keeps me from my work, but it also refreshes me, returns me to focus. I’d guess that sexual frustration, a denial of one’s sexual tendencies, rather than sexual indulgence, is more counterproductive. And when you’re supposed to “do what you love and love what you do”—when the less you feel like you are working, the more you are willing to work—perhaps mixing business with pleasure is, regrettably, the most productive seduction of all.