I agreed with much of this editorial by Emba (posted much farther below) and don’t have a problem with it.
I’m a right winger. Imagine my surprise a while back when I was visiting a right wing political blog on which one of the blog owners criticized this editorial by Emba.
From what I can recall, the conservative author found Emba’s cry for the public to take sex more seriously and not sleep around so much, to be unrealistic or too stuffy, too… whatever.
I was appalled that a conservative author on a conservative site (the same author has claimed in previous blog posts on other topics to be a Christian) would be attacking a well-reasoned editorial pointing out that perhaps the avalanche of sexual harassment stories we’ve all been seeing in the media in the realms of Hollywood, sports, politics and more, can be due to people having an “anything goes” mentality towards sex. I agree with her.
Before seeing this editorial a few weeks ago, I was thinking of writing one similar to it myself (and still may).
I would fully expect the majority of liberals out there – especially the feminists – to mock the notion of being chaste or more deliberate about when, if, where, and with whom to have sex, but a conservative? (Liberal feminists (Link): have already done so before, as a matter of fact.)
Maybe I should not be surprised.
I’ve been posting stories to this blog off and on for around the last seven years, and I’ve seen several instances of conservative Christians who have a “meh, who cares, it’s just fornication, go ahead and do it, sex is no biggie” attitude that one would expect to see from some Non-Christians or from liberal feminists.
But the conservatives and Christians go along with this sort of thinking as well.
I disagree with Emba on a point or two, however. I am not concerned that the “Me Too” movement will get “out of hand” or accusations will become “baseless.”
Unlike Emba and several conservatives I’ve seen over weeks past, I don’t see a problem with women (or men, for the most part) using the “Me Too” Twitter trend in order to call attention to sexual harassment (such as groping), not just full out assault (such as rape).
I agree with some of her other premises. It does appear that the conservative guy I saw on another site who was picking this piece apart could not even fathom that there is any one out there in American society who can or should control their sexual impulses, or who may be celibate, or a virgin past the age of 25.
From what I recall of his editorial, he seemed to feel as though having sex is INEVITABLE for EVERYONE and cannot imagine ANYONE living without sex into their 30s or older.
And yet, I’m in my mid 40s and am still a virgin. Over my time on this blog, I’ve been contacted (sometimes privately, sometimes publicly) by other individuals who are age 30 (or older) and who are also virgins.
I’ve seen numerous stories (and have shared them on this blog) that contain interviews with adult virgins and with adult celibates – and adult asexuals. There are more people out there NOT having sex than the nay-sayers against editorials such as Emba’s might first assume.
I for one am sick and tired of living in a sex-obsessed, sex-saturated society that worships, worships, worships sex and acts as though sex is as necessary for human survival on the individual level as is drinking water and eating food.
I’m sick of living in a culture that assumes that someone who is a virgin past 25 must lack a libido, or be repressed or be disinterested in sex. I’m sick of living in a culture where there is this attitude that NOT having sex for YEARS takes a “herculean” effort (it does not).
If conservatives are going to find it unrealistic or bizarre that women past the age of 25 are celibate, and they are encouraging us to become sexually active just as much as secular liberals are and have been, that would mean I expect them to be fair about things which means they really should support the American tax payer in subsidizing birth control for women and to keep abortion legal.
I’m pro-life, but-
If conservatives are not going to support women in remaining chaste but encourage us to become sexually active, pressure us to give up our virginity, because they think being chaste is impossible, or too repressive or “too weird,” and that pregnancy and STDs are possible outcomes of being sexually active for women –
I would think right wingers would take it upon themselves to lessen the possible consequences of sexual activity for women by helping women defray costs and hazards of sexual activity.
I should probably repeat at this point that I am right wing: I am not a liberal.
But if other right wingers are going to start sounding more and more like liberal feminists regarding sexual mores and not encourage women (and men) in being virgins until marriage, and if right wingers are not going to champion celibacy (sexual self control) as a virtue, then they need to step up to the plate and make risks associated with sex (having babies and diseases) easier for women to mitigate.
This editorial made a lot of sense to me, so I am aghast that another conservative on another site would criticize this:
(Link): Let’s Rethink Sex by C Emba
The backlash to the #MeToo movement has begun. As the parade of post-Weinstein exposés marches on, so do the (Link): unhappy reactions to a sexual landscape suddenly turned on its head.
There’s the skittish colleague (“If I ask a woman out at work, am I going to be reported for harassment?”). The nervous cad (“Will one unfortunate hookup land me on (Link): a public list of ‘sh*tty men’?”). And the vexing question underneath it all: “If we get so worked up about sexual harassment and assault, what will happen to sex?”
This #MeToo paranoia isn’t all baseless. While some worries should rate only an eye roll, others highlight the precariously gray continuum from annoyance to harassment to assault.
But it’s also true that these questions hold something in common. They gesture toward America’s prevailing and problematic sexual ethic — one that is in no small part responsible for getting us into this sexual misconduct mess in the first place.
At the bottom of all this confusion sits a fundamental misframing: that there’s some baseline amount of sex that we should be getting or at least should be allowed to pursue.
Following from that is the assumption that the ability to pursue and satisfy our sexual desires — whether by hitting on that co-worker even if we’re at a professional lunch, or by pursuing a sexual encounter even when reciprocity is unclear — is paramount.
At best, our sexual freedom should be circumscribed only by the boundary of consent. Any other obstacle is not to be borne.
(Link): A recent article by Masha Gessen in the New Yorker illustrates just how pear-shaped our understanding has gone. Cautioning against a “sex panic” after the watershed of abuse revelations, it reported in solemn yet horrified tones: “The policing of sex seems to assume that it’s better to have ten times less sex than to risk having a nonconsensual sexual experience.”
Er . . . Is it . . . not? Is this no longer an assumption we can agree upon? If so, it’s time to acknowledge that there might be something wrong with how we’re thinking about sex.
It’s not that sex in and of itself is the problem. But the idea that pursuing one’s sexual imperatives should take precedence over workplace rules, lines of power or even just appropriate social behavior is what allows predators to justify sexual harassment and assault. And it encourages the not-predators to value their desires above those of others.
A sex-above-all ethic, combined with a power structure that protects and enables men (alas, it’s almost always men) is what allows the (Link): Charlie Roses of the world to think that it’s fine to grope and proposition their subordinates: After all, Rose thought he was pursuing “shared feelings.” It’s what makes comedian Louis C.K. think that (Link): as long as he “asked first” and women didn’t say no, it was acceptable to make them watch him masturbate.
So what to do?
It’s unlikely that we’ll return to a society in which sexual encounters outside of marriage are disallowed or even discouraged — that sex train has already left the fornication station, if it was ever properly there to begin with. But now could be the time to reintroduce virtues such as prudence, temperance, respect and even love.
We might pursue the theory that sex possibly has a (Link): deeper significance than just recreation and that “consent” — (Link): that thin and gameable boundary — might not be the only moral sensibility we need respect.
But in the meantime, now that the excesses of our current sexual ethic are coming up against their consequences, some uncomfortable readjustment will need to occur.
Perhaps the skittish colleague will have to build a rapport with his co-worker before engaging in romantic pursuit, and then do so after hours. Maybe the nervous cad will have to give up a few borderline sexual encounters to make sure he’s on the right side of the line.
Adjusting to this new understanding may well mean less sex for some, in the short term, and more anxiety for several. Too bad. If we value access to sex over other people’s consent or comfort or basic ability to exist unmolested in their workplace, then we as a society are in the wrong. And in the long term, as norms resettle, it will mean a healthier sexual ethic — and a better society — for us all.
Because here’s the thing. We won’t die of having less sex (indeed, no one ever has). Somehow, people will still find ways to meet, mate and propagate the species. If you are a decent person, the prospect of a clearer, more boundaried sexual ethic should not frighten you. If not, have you considered that you might be part of the problem?
I agree with about 99% of the above. I’m amazed that there’s a conservative or two out there who found fault with this well-reasoned piece. I should’t be, though.
As I said, in my last several years of blogging on topics such as this one, I have discovered that the majority of secular AND Christian conservatives hold the SAME ATTITUDES about sex as do secular AND liberal Christians, which amount to, sex prior to marriage is not bad, sinful, shameful, and anyone wanting to espouse celibacy or sexual self control is a fuddy duddy, a weirdo, or too old-fashioned.
It is my view that one of several things that led to all the sexual harassment in the workplace that’s been discussed in the media the past two months is due precisely to the very things Emba mentioned – sex has been divorced from love; people place Libido above any thing and anyone else, to the point they feel it’s acceptable to “hit on” people at their jobs (which is highly unprofessional behavior), and so on.
There is a lack of self control in culture, a culture which glorifies sex and doesn’t like to hear about delayed gratification.
It’s as though most adults are impatient two year old toddlers: if they want sex, they want sex and they want it NOW, and not matter if it involves hitting on women who aren’t interested at their places of employment or not.
All of that and other factors are involved. But other conservatives don’t want to hear about it. They don’t like to hear discussion about limits, self control, or delayed gratification anymore than your average horn dog, horny, “anything goes” secular, liberal feminist does.
Many Conservatives are just as bad on these sex related issues as are most liberals.
(Link): Secular, Left Wing Feminist Writer Marcotte on Anyone Choosing To Be a Virgin Until Marriage: “It’s a Silly Idea” – What Progressive Christians, Conservative Christians, Non Christians, and Salon’s Amanda Marcotte Gets Wrong About Christian Views on Virginity
(Link): Male Christian Researcher Mark Regnerus Believes Single Christian Women Should Marry Male Christian Porn Addicts – another Christian betrayal of sexual ethics and more evidence of Christians who do make an idol out of marriage
(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): God’s gifting of singleness is rare – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage and God gifts only the rare with the gift of Marriage
(Link): Christian Blogger Tim Challies Teaches Heresy, that All Fornicators are Virgins and – Now Do Hurt / Shame Feelings or Sexual Abuse Mean Christians Should Cease Supporting Virginity or Teaching About Sexual Purity
(Link): Typical Erroneous Teaching About Adult Celibacy Rears Its Head Again: To Paraphrase Speaker at Ethics and Public Policy Center: Lifelong Celibacy is “heroic ethical standard that is not expected of heteros, so it should not be expected of homosexuals”
(Link): How Christians Have Failed on Teaching Maturity and Morality Vis A Vis Marriage / Parenthood – Used as Markers of Maturity Or Assumed to be Sanctifiers – Also: More Hypocrisy – Christians Teach You Need A Spouse to Be Purified, But Also Teach God Won’t Send You a Spouse Until You Become Purified