>Ross Douthat’s Suggestion on Sex Ed

>I haven’t been commenting on the NY Times‘ opinion columnist Ross Douthat lately for fear of boring my readers with endless criticisms of this ignorant woman-hater. However, his suggestions for high school sex ed programs are too hilarious to be missed. For Douthat, the best kind of sex ed program – the one that will finally reduce unwanted pregnancies and STDs in teenagers – is

an abstinence-oriented program with a strong community-service requirement, and a comprehensive program that essentially provided life coaching as well as sex ed: participants were offered “academic support (e.g., tutoring); employment; self-expression through the arts; sports; and health care.”

Get it? Teenagers are interested in sex, so we should try to distract them with community service and tutoring. They will, without a doubt, get so fascinated by these super cool activities that they will immediately forget all about sex.

This idea that academic support and community service can control the raging hormones of teenagers must be some kind of a new scientific breakthrough. I wonder if Douthat has brought this discovery to the attention of the scientific community. Who knows, there might be a Nobel Prize for him in the near future.

Of course, an ugly, inarticulate, dogmatic religious fanatic like Douthat must have been incredibly unpopular in high school. While everybody around him was exultantly engaging in sexual exploration, he must have been hanging out in boring religious youth camps, hating everybody who was having a good time. Today, he is still tortured by the idea that somebody somewhere might be having a good sex life. This is why he strains his feeble intellect in a search for ways of preventing teenagers from having sex. It is obvious, however, that the best way never to get laid – whether as a teenager or as a grown-up – is to be like Douthat.

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41 comments on “>Ross Douthat’s Suggestion on Sex Ed

  1. >Have you read "Promiscuities" by Naomi Wolf? I have recently. There were many interesting points, but the most interesting for me was the following: as unexpected as it sounds, according to her in the pre-sexual-revolution times in the US many kinds of sexual activities among the teenagers were actually considered acceptable by society, as long as the teenagers abstained from intercourse per se (i.e. from the activities which actually could lead to consequences they are too young to handle). And modern-day fascination with abstinence is not even grounded in history or tradition, as advocates of abstinence-only education claim…P.S. I fully understand your emotions, but do you think that a barrage of personal insults towards Douthat adds credibility to the idea that abstinence-only sex ed is ridiculous and dangerous?

  2. >I haven't read this book. It isn't on Kindle yet. :-) But it sounds interesting, so maybe I should overcome my terror of actual books and buy it.As to the personal insults, if all the statistics and research on the uselessness of abstinence programs isn't enough to convince people, there is nothing I can say that would. I think that one of the limitations of liberals is that they are too "nice" to come out and say what they think directly, honestly and in a strong way. While the conservatives say whatever they please and get results, the progressives tiptoe around the issues for fear of offending somebody's feelings. You can see an example of that in my dialogue with tinceiri in a recent post. I don't want to follow this unproductive method of engagement.Also, a nicer and kinder writing style will do nothing to lower my blood pressure. :-)Anonymous: maybe I should bring back these posts due to popular demand. :-)

  3. >I actually have read the original Douthat's article. The guy is a third-wave feminist. :) :) Let people of Berkeley educate their kids according to their permissive cultural traditions and let people of Alabama educate their kids according to their traditions… (geographical examples as chosen by Douthat, all "Alabama is a civilized place" complaints should be directed to him)OK, fine… Is there then any statistics where teenage pregnancy and STD rates are correlated with permissiveness of cultural background at given territory, not with what kind of sex ed they have at school?

  4. >I read that teen pregnancies and STDs are the most widespread among the children of the Evangelicals. Also, infanticide and postpartum psychosis is more widespread among the same group.

  5. >I thought he was quite moderate. He is rejecting a federal abstinence only approach and is even willing to allow Planned Parenthood to get government money. Letting local communities decide on education sounds good to me.

  6. >Even in the last day of this completely failed presidency, Douthat was insisting in the NYTimes that Bush was a "good" even though not great president. He never criticized the policies of this "good" president and was his most ardent supporter when even the most naive gave up on Bush.

  7. >You have not answered the question of whether you have any hard evidence that Ross changed his view about federal government run sex education since Obama took office. I conclude from this that you do not have any such thing. So being Bush’s most ardent supporter means believing that he was good, but just not great? Ross acknowledges that Bush was not a great president. This would imply that he did think that there was at least something wrong with the administration.

  8. >You are right, I don't have any quotes from Douthat opposing his current statements. So let's agree that his position was always unwaveringly that this is the matter of local agencies.That, however, does nothing to the main point I was making in this post: anybody who suggests that you can battle teenage hormonal explosion with community work is a sex-deprived loser. The lesser or greater involvement of the federal government is not a huge concern of mine. bad journalism interests me a lot more. :-)

  9. >Many girls don't really think that they can achieve. They look around and see that every older teen and adult woman they know has had a child by age 17 or 18. Or they look around and see that the women they know work dead end jobs. The parents may not care. Many girls don't really believe that they have the right to say "no", and do believe that when girls get raped, the victims are responsible (flirted too much, wore short skirt, let the boy take her somewhere in his car, let the boy buy her dinner and thus she owes him…). Girls who envision a future for themselves are more likely to refuse to put out for boys they don't like or in order to establish status, are more likely to find identities that don't revolve solely around babies and catching a man with prospects, are more likely to use birth control, and are somewhat more likely to postpone sex to such time as they choose.The Dutch are realistic about teen sex, and have low rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. The English are puritanical, relative to the Dutch, and have the highest rate of teen pregnancy and teen STDs in Western Europe.

  10. >All three of us agree that the federal government should not be the ones setting local educational standards. All three of us agree that conventional abstinence education is a failure. Ross has this idea about civic involvement. I think it is an interesting possibility. You think he is pathological. I did not sleep with anyone as a teenager and still have not. The reason for this is simple; I was part of a society where it was not assumed that teenagers would behave in such ways. As such it sounds perfectly plausible that a civic angle may be of help. To turn this issue around on you; what pushes you to take the stance that not only is Ross wrong but that he is insane, wicked or otherwise ignorant? Are you covering for issues of your own? Government involvement affects your life, bad journalism does not.

  11. >I'm sorry but who are "the three of us"? You, Douthat and who else? because I think it is a good idea to have federal standards in a country with such a huge regional variety.The reason why I think community service as a way to battle hormones is crazy is the nature of hormones. :-) Feeding the homeless and cleaning the sidewalks somehow just doesn't satisfy one in the same manner as sex does. :-) :-)

  12. >Yes I was talking about you, me and Ross. So you do wish to have federal standards. You do realize that this sets us up for religious conservatives to start feeling paranoid about government forcing things down their throats and to strike back by using the government to stuff their values down other people’s throats. You are operating with a simple teenagers are controlled by their hormones equation. Thankfully the decision making of human beings, including teenagers, is more complicated. If people have the sense that they are part of a larger society than they are more likely to make decisions based on the concerns of this larger society and not just based on what they are feeling at the moment. I am not suggesting that Ross is right or that it is even possible to eliminate teen sex by any means. Just that Ross is not pathologically insane.

  13. >The religious fanatics will vociferate no matter what. Placating them has never worked and will never work.I don't think that if people's decision to have or not to have sex is motivated "by the good of society" that's a good thing. I think that's a horribly unhealthy thing. And it really surprises me that you, a staunch libertarian, would believe that the good of society should be more important than individual rights just on this particular issue. What if "larger society" would benefit from you and I paying 70% of our income in taxes? Would you like that too? :-)

  14. >To use the football model of American politics stretching from a liberal goal line to a conservative goal line, obviously the people at on the conservative ten or even twenty yard line might be out to push their values no matter what, but what about those conservatives on the forty yard line. Might they be convinced to back off if shown an act of good faith? Ironically enough, my beliefs about community come out, in large part, from my libertarianism. Community and society is not the same thing as the government. On of the reasons why I am a libertarian is because I want the government out of things that are better left to society. For example, getting the government out of education will mean handing education over to social organizations like the Catholic Church or People for the American way. I am placing my trust in people freely agreeing to join together in such social organizations to form a community.Keep in mind that for me sex is an ethical issue and therefore something for a community to concern itself with.

  15. >When a "community" starts concerning itself with the sexual lives of individuals, there is a name for that system: it's the Soviet Union. Seems like you are pro-Soviet in this respect. :-)If you make sex into a community business, we need to do the same to all physiological functions. How about eating? Sleeping? Breathing? :-) Let's decide collectively when or whether I should eat breakfast, huh? :-)As to the "moderate" religious fanatics, I am yet to see one. The Democrats keep constructing all their policies around this imaginary group of Conservatives who might be persuaded to listen to reason. Only nobody has really seen them as yet. :-)As for the government, I'd take the government over these community-based organizations any day of the week. At least people who get to be in government can be trusted to be semi-literate. That's better than nothing.I was born in the Soviet Union, Izgad, so any form of collectivism terrifies me.

  16. >I am talking about communities that you join out of your own free will. For example the Catholics are free to start their own community based on Catholic rules and you and I are free not to join it. What would scare you about that unless you are scared that you might lose the ability to tell Catholics how to live their lives? Ironically your defense of sex is based on the fact that sex should be treated as just another action. I agree with, except that I see sex as being ethically problematic since it involves physically taking someone else and using them as a means to your own pleasure. Of course since sex is an action just like any other it can be subject to outside censure like any other. The community I join has the power to set as its admissions price that I kept to the communities standards in terms of what I eat and wear. (The lawyers community can make me wear a suit and join a firm.) I am free to reject these standards and go seek admission into some other community. Since the community has the right to set rules on food and clothing, why not sex? I am not talking about moderate fanatics, just moderate Republicans. The electoral math suggests that there are several million Reagan voters who went for Obama. Clinton was the master of grabbing the political center. This suggests that there is something to playing the 48 to 48 yard lines. Do you understand that there are people scared of the possibility of secularist attempts to enforce their values on them enough to hold their noses and their fears of Christian theocrats to vote Republican? I am one of those people. If you are so are really so scared of Christian theocracy as you claim why would not try to protect yourself by getting the government out of all social issues? Perhaps your fear is really a cover and a justification for your own desire to have a government that gives validation to your values by pushing them on other people.

  17. >"I agree with, except that I see sex as being ethically problematic since it involves physically taking someone else and using them as a means to your own pleasure. "-I'm sorry but for me that is an extremely unhealthy version of sex. Healthy sex involves people coming together to enjoy themselves and each other. With no "taking" involved. Now, it makes sense that poeple involved in the act would discuss it among themselves. However, for a community to decide it for them is deeply wrong. Unless the whole community participates in the sex act which I in no way condemn. :-)Now, in terms of sex education for teenagers, learning to make choices and make decisons is an important part of growing up. Why create little moral cripples who cannot even be responsible for their own bodies by removing their freedom to make those choices for themselves? It's their bodies. So they should decide. And the community should go mind its own business. If we start letting communities intrude into our own bodies, how can we prevent them from intruding everywhere else?The US is a profoundly sexually repressed country and if we allow the majorities that are repressed to control the sexuality of the few sexually happy people, the future looks bleak.I do not believe there is a political center in the US. I hear about it on television but I haven't seen it in real life. Even my students are deeply and often violently polarized. Obama's administration is failing miserably right now precisely because he tries to act like there is a center. But he is speaking to a non-existent audience.For me to wait that any US government would impose MY values would mean that I'm either blind or insane. That kind of government is impossible in the US and I'm very conscious of that fact.However, I see the religious maniacs invading all public spaces. I sit in a coffee-shop, go around campus, go to a doctor's office, and they are right there, screaming at me and invading my space. I'm terrified of them because they are scary. I do believe that they should definitely have the right to live their lives as they see fit. That's why I don't go to them to proselytize. They come to me. And I want to be protected from having them in my life. And let the government protect them from having me in their lives. :-)As for the high-schoolers having a choice of wether to join a community, this is a specious argument. How can teenagers have a choice? They live with their parents, they can't move at will, they have no choice. Why should the mere fact of being born in an area overrun with fanatics condemn them to horrible sexless existences?

  18. >I agree that such sex is unhealthy. The point becomes how does one get around this obvious pitfall in human sexuality. The community only has as much power as you allow them to. If you wish you can live on a mountaintop or in your basement by yourself and not join a community. Once we decide to join a community we are going to have to face the fact that communities have rules and boundaries as to who is in and who is not. If you wish to be associated with me and my friends then you are going to have to be the sort of person that we would want to associate with. This might mean making certain changes to “fit” in. This is part of the normal negation process that goes on every day between individuals and groups. In the real world we are not going to find a perfect set of community rules so we are left having to make compromises. Teenagers have the ability to make choices about sex and other elements of their lives. Among these choices is what sort of community they wish to live in. These are all good things. Our Catholic boy has the right to decide what kind of Catholic he wants to be or if he wants to be a Catholic at all. Of course part of making choices is that you pay the consequences for them. It is part of the liberty belonging to the Catholic Church to kick out those Catholic teenagers who blatantly refuse to play by Church teachings. It is very possible to take over the government as a minority opinion and enforce your views on others. It helps if the majority is not actively opposed or if you have allies in the courts or the government bureaucracy. Of course if all else fails there are always guns and military support. Right now I am teaching about Nazi Germany so taking over the government is on my mind even more than usual. You have an interesting line as to enforcing your views on others. You have a problem with proselytizing. So a peaceful Christian verbally making his case to you on the street is crossing a line. Are you honestly willing to live by the same standard in return? How do you justify your blog? Someone might accidently come across it and feel you are trying to convert them and are thus violating their right not to be exposed to your views.

  19. >"The point becomes how does one get around this obvious pitfall in human sexuality."-I'm not sure what pitfall you are talking about here."The community only has as much power as you allow them to. If you wish you can live on a mountaintop or in your basement by yourself and not join a community."-Since we are talking about teenagers being deprived of correct information about sex, it hardly makes sense to suggest that a teenager go live on a mountaintop. You have to agree that this is a very impracticable suggestion. :-) I was raised in a very patriarchal society, in a family where the word "condom" was considered a swear word. And it would have been great to have some government-mandated educaton on the subject of sex. But there was nothing like that. Of course, I escaped that community as soon as I could. But I only acquired the capacity to make the choice to leave when I became an adult."Once we decide to join a community "-Izgad, we are talking about kids here. They don't "decide" to be born in Alabama in a puritanical family. There is no choice for them, at least until they become grown-ups. Untl they grow up, though, and have the capacity to choose to leave, they might get a host of STDs and unwanted pregnancies because their community chose for them that no such info should be available."Right now I am teaching about Nazi Germany so taking over the government is on my mind even more than usual. "-We have a lot in common. I will start teaching about the fascist Spain in a couple of weeks. :-)"So a peaceful Christian verbally making his case to you on the street is crossing a line."-Izgad, I have no problem with a peaceful Christian on the street. I'm talking about cases when I'm sitting there drinking coffee and then an individual comes up to me, leans on my table, and hisses: "You are going to die!" And then, raising his voice: "And your family is going to die!! And your friends will all die too!!!" I was convinced he was threatening to kill me then and there. Turns out, he wanted to offer me salvation. He and his friends were so insistent that I had to leave my drink unfinished and run away from the coffee-shop. And this is just one story, I have more. I don't criticize the religious people for having blogs (just like I do). But I don't come into their space to screech at them while they keep coming into mine.

  20. >"It is very possible to take over the government as a minority opinion and enforce your views on others. It helps if the majority is not actively opposed or if you have allies in the courts or the government bureaucracy. Of course if all else fails there are always guns and military support."-I can assure you that I have no such plans. :-) :-)

  21. >To be clear I do support handing out accurate information about protection and birth control to students. When I talk about supporting abstinence education what I mean is that sexuality should be taught with the encouragement to wait until marriage for sex. I am even willing to concede to reality and have protection and birth control available to students in school on the side and unofficially. Teenagers who do not have the good sense to go open a basic human health textbook and learn about safe sex for themselves should not be having sex in the first place. Those reckless enough to try having sex anyway should be locked away for their own and society’s protection. Even the most ardent free love supporters should be able to agree to this. The Alabama boy living in a puritanical family who has sex and gets STDs made a choice to have sex and is therefore responsible for the consequences. I support the right of citizens to carry concealed firearms in public places. So the next time a Christian verbally threatens you and your family you can pull out your Glock, put the safety off, point it to his forehead and ask him if he wants to repeat himself.

  22. >"To be clear I do support handing out accurate information about protection and birth control to students. "-So you don't know that in many high schools children are taught that condoms and oral contraceptives cause cancer and AIDS? Because that's what the community wants and the government supports this?"When I talk about supporting abstinence education what I mean is that sexuality should be taught with the encouragement to wait until marriage for sex."-I don't see why anybody should be encouraged to do something so potentially destructive. I don't see why sex education has to do with any kind of 'encouragement" on whether to have or not to have sex. It should be about education on objective facts of reality, not brainwashing."I am even willing to concede to reality and have protection and birth control available to students in school on the side and unofficially. "-That's a great idea. Only puritanical 'communities" believe that seeing a condom will make you want to have sex, so they ban this possibility."Teenagers who do not have the good sense to go open a basic human health textbook and learn about safe sex for themselves should not be having sex in the first place. "-What makes you think that such textbooks are available in a school library in the Bible belt?"Those reckless enough to try having sex anyway should be locked away for their own and society’s protection."-I knew you were a secret communist. :-) Would you mind if I wrote a post on how close Libertarianism comes to communism with quotes from you?"I support the right of citizens to carry concealed firearms in public places. So the next time a Christian verbally threatens you and your family you can pull out your Glock, put the safety off, point it to his forehead and ask him if he wants to repeat himself."-I'm really liking this idea. :-) :-)

  23. >Obviously I do not support the sort of abstinence education that seems to be in vogue in certain Christian Right circles. I think this is a good example of how things can go wrong when you have government authorities enforcing solution. I suspect that even most Christian fundamentalists would not object to a teacher mentioning condoms in passing. The moment, though, we have the government enforcing a rule of taking condoms use away from center stage; it turns into the absolutely ridiculous no mention of condoms. That is my attempt to give the Christian Right the benefit of the doubt. What is so destructive about not engaging in sex? How is it any different from any other decision to hold back from partaking in a physical pleasure; what about being a vegetarian? One should desire to deal with all human beings as ends in of themselves so it is reasonable for a teenager to decide to hold back from sex until he can engage in it as part of a meaningful relationship and not simply to satisfy his hormones. Let him take out his sexual frustration by reading and writing poetry.If basic high school textbooks dealing with human biology are not available in Bible belt libraries then let Planned Parenthood go door to door handing out tracts with the needed information or just put it online. I admit that I flirted with Communism when I was in high school. So yes there is a connection. The difference is that, while I am sympathetic to many Communist aims, I refuse to use government to achieve any of them. I see myself as the true opponent of big business. Communism means turning the entire state into one giant corporation.

  24. >Have you read this book: http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2010/02/on-chesil-beach-by-ian-mcewan-review.htmlI strongly recommend because it answers your question. of why waiting to have sex until marriage is destructive. You end up with a huge probability of being married to a person who has no physical desire for you whatsoever. People (especially women) from sexually repressive backgrounds very often confuse liking a man, caring about him a lot, enjoying his company with physical love. Or they think that if all these components are present, sex will somehow work out. But sexuality does not work like that. It really doesn't. And there is no way of knowing if sex with a particular person is going to click until you try. Especially if you have no experience."I suspect that even most Christian fundamentalists would not object to a teacher mentioning condoms in passing. "-Go to their websites or watch their Tv shows, and you will realize that you are really mistaken here."One should desire to deal with all human beings as ends in of themselves so it is reasonable for a teenager to decide to hold back from sex until he can engage in it as part of a meaningful relationship and not simply to satisfy his hormones. "-Meaningful for whom? From being teenager, I remember that verything felt like super meaninful. Every little experience was a total end of thw world. :-) Or do you want to decide what's meaningful for them? :-)"let Planned Parenthood go door to door handing out tracts with the needed information or just put it online"-Good! Why shouldn't the government pay for that if only to keep the population healthy?"I admit that I flirted with Communism when I was in high school."-Ah, I knew it. :-) I can sniff 'em from a distance. :-)"I see myself as the true opponent of big business. Communism means turning the entire state into one giant corporation."-I couldn't agree more!!! Big business today is run according to the Soviet system of economy.

  25. >Obviously lifestyle choices have their downsides. People acting according to your recommendation of trying things out in a relationship would be covered in terms of ethics. That being said, I do believe in divorce. So couples who delay sex until marriage and end up in this situation can and should get divorced. Your mode of thinking conceives sex as this all important thing that defines human beings and their ability to relate to one another. I am trying to push sex to a secondary or even tertiary level of importance. Instead I am interested in turning out more Kantian/Stoic philosophers. I do not believe it is the government’s business to keep people healthy unless they are in or likely to enter the United States military. People should even be allowed to commit suicide if they so please. It is only the government’s business when people do things that harm the health of other people. Of course if the government is going to be operating a public library then it is perfectly reasonable that they have books on human health and sexuality.

  26. >"That being said, I do believe in divorce. So couples who delay sex until marriage and end up in this situation can and should get divorced."-Like somebody who has been divorced, I can tell you that it only sounds like it's so easy. When you have a long-standing relationship with someone, you have your hopes and dreams invested into that person, you get used to them and their company. Seevering those links is a very painful thing to do. Marrying and then divorcing people until you find the right sexual partner, sounds like fun, but in reality it will take a huge toll. I think it makes a lot of sense to offer some basic education to teenagers – by the government, since nobody else is doing it – to help them get their bearings in this respect. that's the point of a high school education, in my opinion: to prepare kids for life."Your mode of thinking conceives sex as this all important thing that defines human beings and their ability to relate to one another. I am trying to push sex to a secondary or even tertiary level of importance."-Now the question is whether it will agree to be pushed. :-) I am absolutely convinced that a romantic relationship that is not based on a powerful physical desire is a road to disaster. you see those couples who keep bickering over small things, arguing, screaming at each other, and the reality is that this is the reason for their misery. They just don't desire each other but nobody ever told them that it's not simply important, it's actually crucial."People should even be allowed to commit suicide if they so please."-Absolutely!!!"It is only the government’s business when people do things that harm the health of other people."-I agree, but we are talking about underage people here who don't have a chance to make the choice adults make. Wouldn't you agree that children should be protected from pedophiles, for example?

  27. >—it is reasonable for a teenager to decide to hold back from sex until he can engage in it as part of a meaningful relationship and not simply to satisfy his hormones.It is reasonable as long as it is teenager's informed decision. The question is – what constitutes the "informed decision" in a situation when community in which said teenager resides decides to limit his/her access to certain kinds of information? What does your ethics tell you about that?—I am trying to push sex to a secondary or even tertiary level of importance. Instead I am interested in turning out more Kantian/Stoic philosophers.As long as you are aware that it is your personal value system and not some kind of objective truth – that's fine.But in fact, I am suspicious of government trying to push that issue in any direction. Today it may push it in a direction I like, tomorrow it may push it in the opposite direction.. As long as it has power to push anything… The US society seems to be divided about 50/50 on this issue. I'd rather wait until the society reaches the state similar to that in Holland by gradual evolution.

  28. >Divorce is certainly not easy and neither is going from sexual relationship to relationship. The advantage of both couples being inexperienced is that neither party has much to compare it with so expectations are low enough to easily be satisfied. My very Ultra-Orthodox Haredi aunt and uncle have thirteen kids. The obvious conclusion from this besides that they do not use birth control is that they were having fun well into their forties. I am not interested in having thirteen kids, but I would not say no to that kind of sex. VCreating more Stoic philosophers may be a matter of my personal taste. I would see the sexual ethics underlying it, mainly the refusal to lay a finger on another being in a sexual manner in a way that simply uses that person as a means to your own pleasure, as acting according to the universal categorical imperative to treat all rational beings as ends and not as means. http://izgad.blogspot.com/2010/01/ethical-case-against-sex-outside-of.html

  29. >—I would see the sexual ethics underlying it, mainly the refusal to lay a finger on another being in a sexual manner in a way that simply uses that person as a means to your own pleasure, as acting according to the universal categorical imperative to treat all rational beings as ends and not as means.It is a very nice philosophy and on a theoretical level I agree with it. On a practical level, however, it is difficult to apply. Unless, of course, we are talking about the cases of some very blatant sexual exploitation. In other cases, as long as we are talking about consenting adults (or teenagers) enjoying themselves, it is very difficult to separate means from ends on this issue. Speaking from my own experience: it turns me on and pleases me when my partner is experiencing pleasure and is getting more turned on. And vice versa. Is pleasing my partner means or ends then? I guess it is both and there is nothing unethical about it as long as everybody is equally pleased.And, by the way, what does it have to do with my question about ethical aspects of limiting access to information?

  30. >I think this is something that requires honest soul searching. If your partner’s pleasure can become a good in of itself regardless of whether it “turns you on” then you are probably pretty close to the sort of relationship that makes sexual intercourse ethical regardless of whether you have an official piece of paper that says you are married. In terms of information, I support giving everyone as much information as possible. I will be the sort of parent who would never shut his child off from a field of inquiry on account of it “not being for children.” I reject the whole Rousseau concept of there being such as thing as childhood as a time of protected innocence in the first place.

  31. >"Divorce is certainly not easy and neither is going from sexual relationship to relationship"-With all due respect, how do you know that? Have you tried both?"The advantage of both couples being inexperienced is that neither party has much to compare it with so expectations are low enough to easily be satisfied."-Once again, how do you know that? From people who have tried a virgin-on-virgin sex (including me), it was a total unmitigated disaster. And if in the next 30 years you manage to force yourself to suffer through it 13 more times to get 13 kids, that doesn't make for a sexually fulfilling life."If your partner’s pleasure can become a good in of itself regardless of whether it “turns you on” then you are probably pretty close to the sort of relationship that makes sexual intercourse ethical"-Do you realize how many women torture themselves with the sex they detest for the good of the partner and the relationship? Do you know what this does to their mental and physical health? Do you know what damage they do to their children as a result?I do know it first-hand. And I can tell you that there is NOTHING ethical about this perversion.

  32. >In both cases I am speaking not from personal experience, but observation. Why is sex different from dancing? You would want the advice of someone more experienced, but in terms of doing it do you actually want to feel that you are slowing the other person down? If we are both incompetent then we can laugh at our mutual incompetence together and work on getting better together. Sounds like the basis of a good relationship. I am not suggesting that people torture themselves over this. If things are not working out even simply in terms of sex then they should leave. You cannot properly show respect to others if you do not also respect yourself.

  33. >Sex is very different from dancing because dancing is just a set of skills. It is not dependent on the presence of an uncontrollable and unexplainable sexual desire. Even if you train for years or even decades, if the desire isn't there, it isn't going to work. I think it's best to find this out as soon as possible and not waste time, energy and emotions getting invested into a relationship that will fail on this very basic level.

  34. >I suspect that many professional dancers would disagree with you. It is not just about two people having a set of skills. There has to be chemistry between them. Dancing is not just about moving your body. There is also an emotional component that allows everything to click together. The same goes for being a musician and I would even argue that this applies to historians as well.

  35. >If your fellow historian who, let's say, has co-authored a book with you were to write another book with somebody else, as hurtful as that might be, it is unlikely to expose you to STDs and ultimately endanger your life.And as annoying as an absence of chemistry with a certain musician might be, it's not nearly as devastating – financially, legally, and emotionally – as having to seek a divorce shortly after a wedding.Even if you insist on your parallel between dancing and sex, would it make sense to sign a life-long binding contract to dance with a particular partner exclusively, unless you have tried dancing with them at least once? Unless you have had a chance to verify that the "chemistry" exists and it might work?

  36. >I was thinking more in terms of the emotional input that we place into our work. We do not passively study a topic. We could not spend years of our lives on something if we were not emotionally invested in a topic that meant something to us personally. Just as people are capable of engaging in casual sex, they are also capable of having one night dance stands. That being said professional dancers take on dancing partners as a full blown on commitment. The difference between dancing and sex is that dancing is not as tainted by the issue of using someone. This allows the individual to give themselves a greater benefit of the doubt in agreeing to dance with someone. Also society can be more trusting and not demand that people come out with full on marriage commitments before agreeing to dance with each other.

  37. >Douthat was actually quoting the Guttmacher Institute, a fairly progressive reproductive health think tank that collects a lot of hard data about the subject. Their point was that the most effective sex-ed programs are ones that increase kids' connection to the larger community–hence the life coaching, tutoring, etc. But the abstinence programs were measured by how long they delay sex, while the contraceptive programs were measured by reduction in teen pregnancy and STDs. You see the problem: better to start having sex at 13 than to wait until age 20 and get HIV because you didn't use a condom.The most effective program on all metrics was the second one Douthat mentioned in his quote. It included “academic support (e.g., tutoring); employment; self-expression through the arts; sports;" and "helping sexually active young women obtain long-acting contraceptives from the health clinic."

  38. Pingback: Translation: Ross “Me-me-me” Douthat | Clarissa's Blog

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