New Sexual Morality

Wow, this is actually worse than 19th-century sexual morality. This is a suggestion legally to punish not even false offers of marriage but simply allowing somebody to make an assumption that a marriage offer might be forthcoming.

And look at how blatantly the language of consumerism is incorporated into this way of thinking:

This legal standard is modeled on how we treat misleading commercial branding through statutes like the Lanham Act. In both the world of brands and the world of dating, there’s an incentive for sellers to misrepresent what they are peddling to gain an advantage

P.S. The comments are really scary. I obviously didn’t see all of them but way too many people enthusiastically agree with this ridiculousness.

12 thoughts on “New Sexual Morality”

  1. It reminds me of the Meat Loaf song “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” He wants sex, she wants a commitment, so he swears that he will love her until the end of time. Then he sings:
    “So now I’m praying for the end of time
    To hurry up and arrive,
    Cuz if I have to spend another minute with you
    I don’t think that I can really survive,
    I’ll never break my promise or forsake my vow,
    But God only knows what I could do right now!”


  2. I guess that divorce would have to be a crime. “Your Honor, this man lied and promised to love me until death do us part. On the basis of that lie I entered into a marital relationship that included sex. Since I consented to that sex on the basis of a fraudulent promise he should go to prison.”

    Also, I am 99% certain that the author of this proposal sees it as a tool to wield against men. But I can assure you that men will use it against women as well.

    “She said she was single.”
    “She said she was on the pill.”
    “She said she had been tested for STDs.”
    “She said her roommates would be gone all weekend.”
    “She said her parents were out of town.”
    “She said she didn’t have any kids.”
    “She said she would do a threesome one of these days.”

    Pass that law, use it against men, and men will respond predictably.


  3. I feel very uneasy about the attempts to regulate human relationships with consumer protection-style laws, but I am equally uneasy about the arguments of the other side…

    Do we really want to make an argument that lying is some sort of a natural human condition and therefore speaking up against lying is akin to advocating for communism (which is allegedly against the human nature too)?

    I do not like the extent of victim-blaming that is present in the counter-arguments (in the comments). Seems everyone learned that victim-blaming in the context of rape or sexual assault is not OK, but the need to victim-blame somebody (essentially the need to say “I am better than you, therefore THIS would not happen to me, therefore THIS is your own fault) got canalized into other topic.

    I also have a a problem with calling initiatives like that (however poorly they are introduced or justified ) “victorianism”, “puritanism” or “anti sexual revolution”. As one datapoint, I have no problem with any numbers of consenting adults engaging in any sexual acts as long as they are honest with everyone involved. And yes, this includes being honest with the partners to whom they promised to be sexually exclusive. If that makes me a “puritan”, then perhaps I should just be a proud “puritan” and appropriate that word the same way the word “slut” got appropriated in some circles.
    Seriously, does everyone feel that the anti-consumerist argument alone is so weak that one should support it by accusations of “puritanism”?


    1. Honesty can only be expected in response to honesty. I haven’t been on dating sites for a very long time, but when I was, I never saw a single ad saying, “I’m a 37-year-old woman, the clock is ticking, I want to get married within the next two years and start getting pregnant immediately, I’m looking for a man with an income of over 100,000 to provide for me and the future children.” Nobody is saying this, true as it may be, because it doesn’t look cute and it’s extremely likely to repel the intended target. So people are supposed to make assumptions and read minds. She’s 37, so she has to want marriage. She’s educated, so she must want a high earner. But can you imagine the poor bastard who arrives at a first date and verbalizes these assumptions? He won’t do well, to put it very mildly. So he’s supposed to guess but then keep the results of this guessing to himself and hope he got it right. If he’s that highly desirable high earner eager to get married, why will he do all this truly insane shit, though? He has no shortage of prospects already. The only kind of guy who’ll play this game is a desperate one who can’t get laid on the strength of who he really is. So the result is two desperate folks who try to manipulate each other with lies. Since sex is more easily granted than marriage, the one who seeks sex will win every single time.

      In my own experience, I found that men are actually a lot better at saying honestly, “I’m looking for marriage and children because I’m too old / conservative / religious to waste time on anything else” than women. Women seem to believe they need to pretend to be uninterested in anything but fun and dating and then are upset at being taken literally.


      1. // The only kind of guy who’ll play this game is a desperate one who can’t get laid on the strength of who he really is.

        May I ask you to clarify what “this game” consists of? If I do not write “I want to get married within the next two-three years and start getting pregnant immediately,” does it mean I am playing a game?

        Are older women restricted to desparate losers?


        1. The game of pretending he’s not who he is to seduce a woman who’s pretending she’s not what she is.

          In terms of dating, it’s actually easier to find a suitable partner for both men and women after the age of 40. I see many divorced friends go online and end up with somebody great pretty much immediately.

          Everything gets easier with age. Except for pregnancy and childbirth, obviously. But dating even past 30 is so much better than dating past 20. Although admittedly I didn’t do much dating past 30 because I met my husband at 31. But I remember it getting massively better once I turned 30.

          And also, for people past 30, it’s easier to date once they have a child. For real. The fear and the hunger are gone and people get calmer.


  4. How many people accuse ex-lovers of dishonesty? A law like this would put courts in judgment over most break-ups. Even if the courts ultimately declined to punish, it could potentially involve them in a disturbingly large fraction of break-ups. I don’t want a law like that.


  5. This is a very neoliberal strain of thinking except for the fact that legal marriage is basically a skeleton key contract and engagement rings arose as a form of virginity insurance well before neoliberalism became a paradigm. Also legal marriage was a property and wealth transfer vehicle well before neoliberalism.

    Of course in those days, the ability to use your extended family/connections to vet someone was greater than it is now.


    1. And also, in terms of honesty, people who want to play the pre-20-century game of marriage mores must be ready to to declare what it is that they are bringing to the contract. A declining fertility? An endocrine system undermined by decades of oral contraceptives? Probably a couple of abortions? A dozen failures at creating a lasting relationship? If we are into honesty, let’s put all this in the dating profiles and see who bites. Or alternatively go to court for failure to disclose.


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