The purity movement: birth of sex-positivity

We all have our hot-button issues, and one of mine is the movement — usually linked to conservative religious groups — advocating feminine “modesty” and “purity.” (They usually stand for male “purity” as well, but the bulk of the talk is directed at women.) It’s hard for me to engage this issue directly, because aside from my philosophical problems with it, I have a very visceral response to its rhetoric: the same kind of response a former alcoholic sometimes has to scenes of people drinking. The modesty/purity movement once owned me, and it damaged me, and I hate it for reasons that have nothing to do with its philosophical or political merit. When I try to write about it, I can’t decide whether to write about my personal experiences, and the anger I feel about them and the fear I feel for people I love who still buy into it, or to try to put that aside and write objectively about the problems it has.

My anger comes mainly from this: there is a huge lie embedded in the conservative Christian culture I grew up in (though by no means exclusive to that culture.) The lie is that there is one context — lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual commitment — where sex is healthy and creative and life-bringing, and that in any other context sex is unhealthy and damaging. The lie is that sexuality outside of marriage is a dangerous, destructive force that needs to be controlled and subverted, but marriage transforms it into a beautiful affirmation of life and love and joy.

This lie was taught to me by people who loved me very much and genuinely wanted the best for my life. They taught it to me because they believed it, and their sincere belief and sincere caring for me made it almost impossible for me to question their teaching. So I spent the first twelve years of my sexual maturity fearing and avoiding sexuality, distrusting my body and my heart, feeling both resentful and guilty toward male sexual desire, and casting my own desires into ludicrous forms of romanticism instead of acknowledging them for what they were. I avoided making myself sexually attractive, because that’s what I was supposed to do, and I waited patiently for God to reward my obedience with a husband with whom I could live happily ever after.

Now, on the other side of my sexual renaissance, I see the world so differently that I can hardly articulate it. I know so much now that I didn’t see then. I know that lifelong heterosexual monogamy is not for everybody. I know that sexuality is not a pollutant of art, but probably its point of origin. I know that the sexual undercurrents that run beneath even “platonic” relationships are better acknowledged and enjoyed than denied. But foundationally, I know this: that the difference between destructive and life-giving sexuality is not made by what kind of relationship it occurs in. It is made by the presence or absence of joy and caring.

Whether there are one, or two, or several participants, a sex act is healthy if it is characterized by joy in the giving and receiving of pleasure, and by caring for the physical and emotional health of each person involved. That’s all. It’s not any more complicated than that. All other rules are created because somebody somewhere found a particular sexual relation damaging, and blamed the social circumstances rather than the individual ones. (Example: a woman who at 16 consented to sex she didn’t want because she craved closeness and affirmation, and concludes that teenage sex is always unhealthy.)

On a broader, systemic level, sex-negativity is based on fear and distrust of the body and human nature. But I’ve always been a staunch humanist, so the rhetoric of dirt and cleanliness never made a lot of sense to me. I never believed my sexuality was dirty or impure, just that it was dangerous.

Now, I don’t know how my life would have developed if I’d grown up without believing those lies. Plenty of people have sexual experiences, or even whole phases of life, that they regret, and I might have been one of those people. We can’t know how an alternative life path would have turned out. But I know for damn sure that I regret the twelve years of sexual repression that I subjected myself to, with the approval and encouragement of adults I trusted. I regret the experiences and relationships I missed out on, I regret relationships that were stunted or aborted because of my fear of sexuality, and I especially regret the disconnection with my own sexuality that my denial created, a disconnection I am still trying to repair.

In case anybody’s in doubt, it’s these experiences that make me passionate about becoming a sex educator. The abstinence-only message is founded on a false understanding of sex, its consequences, and its appropriate role in human life. Young people do need to be taught — indiscriminate sexual activity is often unhealthy too, and making smart, healthy sexual decisions in our culture does not come naturally. But they need to be taught about joy and caring, they need to be taught to discern their own needs and wants, they need to be taught communication and respect, they need to be taught what sex does and what it doesn’t do. They need to be taught about the varieties of sexual experience (apologies to William James) and given tools for creating a fulfilling sexual life, whatever that means for them. I’m grateful that I learned these things eventually; I want to help others learn them sooner.

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15 thoughts on “The purity movement: birth of sex-positivity

  1. Nothing you were taught was a lie, lady. The purpose of traditional standards (whittled down over thousands of years) is to ensure that human beings find companionship, have children and live in something approaching a blissful union, with loneliness extinguished and one’s mental health greatly assuaged. Your reaction to being constrained takes an emotional quality because a woman’s immense sexual power is stymied by such a traditional system; set it loose, and this loveless, broken world of implacably angry children chasing dreams and bed mates is what results.

    You can kick and scream at Daddy all you like, but in the end you’ll regret it. Age catches up with all women, and a life spent futilely titillating one’s genitals, giving it up for men who weren’t willing to commit, is one which quickly coagulates into a millstone around one’s neck. Things will both get simpler and more melancholy as you grow older.

    Children do not need your misplaced ‘education’ on how to make ‘healthy sexual decisions’: there is no way to ‘educate’ a child on how to do such a thing, and sexual freedom just leaves them confused. The cumulative sexual experiences acquired during adolescence gestate first at the hips and then into the heart of a growing human being; he or she loses the innocence required for love. ‘Sex educators’ are essentially peddlers of cynicism, and it’s no small irony that you’d accuse ‘sex-negative’ types of being cynical about sex’s place in the cosmos.

    Free love is a myth. Sexual freedom is a deleterious destroyer of human beings.

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    • – Love and companionship do not exclude the possibility of sexual freedom and enjoyment, and vice versa.

      – A lot of lifelong “blissful unions” are more characterized by misery, resentment, and resignation. (NOT ALL. Good lord, no. My parents and paternal grandparents are both excellent examples of happy, fulfilled couples who bought into and stuck with the traditional ideals of marriage. But to imply that that’s the best and only recipe for happiness for all human beings… look around you, and try to say it again with a straight face.)

      – “Titillating one’s genitals” is hardly futile if one’s goal is to experience sexual pleasure.

      – “Giving it up for men who aren’t willing to commit” contains so many false assumptions it needs it’s own sub-list.
      * When I have sex with somebody, I am not “giving up” something. I am sharing a mutually pleasurable experience.
      * I have sex with women, too. Which of us is “giving it up” then?
      * One of my sex partners is more than willing to commit. We plan to spend our lives together. I don’t want commitment from my others, I want a short-term relationship characterized by affection, enjoyment, and the aforementioned mutually pleasurable experiences.
      * Per the above point, I’ve had more luck finding a man willing to commit in two years of sexual freedom than I did in ten years of abstinence. If my primary relationship ever does end, I promise you I’ll be going back to the sex-positive pool to look for a man or woman to spend my life with.

      – Your scare quotes are disguising a shocking lack of content in that sentence about education. Your claim seems to be, “There can be no healthy sexual decisions, because sexual activity (outside of marriage, I presume?) is by its nature unhealthy.” Sorry, I don’t buy it.

      – Innocence is not required for love, except for the juvenile, starry-eyed, fairy-tale love that can’t survive the realities of our world in any case. Real, adult love comes from experience, from sacrifice, from hurting others and being hurt, and forgiving and trying to do better. It requires honesty, wisdom, and a willingness to grapple with pain and difficulty. This applies equally whether that love lives in an open relationship, a group marriage, or a traditional marriage between two people who have never seen anyone else naked.

      – If the “free” in “free love” means “doing whatever you want without regard to anyone else’s needs and feelings, then “free love” is not only a myth but an oxymoron. Love means being attentive to your lover’s needs, and sometimes adjusting your own actions in order to tend said needs. The kind of freedom I am talking about is freedom to consider what you really want out of a relationship, as opposed to what those weighty thousands of years say you should want. Freedom to express your needs and wants to your partner without feeling that you’re breaking the rules. Freedom to work out a lifestyle that, as best as possible, meets the needs of everybody involved.

      – I’ve spent over a decade living your way. I am happier now than I was then, and I am more loved than I dared to imagine.

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  2. Unfortunately the data doesn’t back up your claims. Lesbians are at a massively disproportionate risk of suffering from domestic violence, and that’s when you can even find a co-domestic homosexual couple. Homosexual activity in general is a marker for all kinds of disorders, proclivities and diseases, far beyond rates common to heterosexual couples. While you may find contentment in your homosexual relationship, few others are likely to end up in the same boat.

    As I’ve said before, “freedom” is utterly meaningless. One side is always more loved, weaker, more eager to give than the other, even when the recipient of that love is of the same sex or even entirely fictional. That’s just the real world. Giving children a false “freedom” in lieu of proper parenting and protection is not only dangerous but contemptible. Whatever happened in your personal life is up to your discretion to classify, but were it that I had a daughter, I would not permit her to be used and tossed off by enterprising “sex-positives”. Both her and the men themselves deserve better.

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    • – The link you posted explicitly states that incidence of lesbian partner violence appears to be the same as heterosexual partner violence.

      – There’s a chicken-and-egg problem with citing higher rates of psychological problems among gays as evidence that being gay is unhealthy and/or wrong. Growing up in a homophobic world does tremendous damage to LGBT kids, especially when their own parents and teachers join in on shaming and rejecting them for their sexuality. Even healthy, well-adjusted LGBT folks have to carry around a lot more baggage than the average hetero. So if the LGBT population is at higher risk for psychological problems (I’m not aware of any solid data supporting this), there’s a straightforward explanation that has nothing to do with the inherent rightness or wrongness of being queer.

      – Your view of love and relationships is sad to me. Your overall worldview seems both cynical and naive. I’m glad I’ve moved beyond it.

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  3. – There’s a chicken-and-egg problem with citing higher rates of psychological problems among gays as evidence that being gay is unhealthy and/or wrong. Growing up in a homophobic world does tremendous damage to LGBT kids, especially when their own parents and teachers join in on shaming and rejecting them for their sexuality. Even healthy, well-adjusted LGBT folks have to carry around a lot more baggage than the average hetero. So if the LGBT population is at higher risk for psychological problems (I’m not aware of any solid data supporting this), there’s a straightforward explanation that has nothing to do with the inherent rightness or wrongness of being queer.

    “LGBT” people will always suffer from some measure of social censure because normally adjusted human beings have an instinctive recoil against them, for very material reasons. Because homosexuality is a strong marker for going on to produce no children, heterosexuals hoping for progeny naturally consider it an evolutionary dead end and make moves to keep their own children from being exposed to it (exposure to homosexual adults is a correlative indicator for future homosexual behavior).

    But this is to digress from my original point, which is that widespread homosexuality is a product of acute social dysfunction. If you’re familiar with Calhoun’s rat experiments, his findings showed that even when a large population is not ‘technically’ overpopulated (i.e. it has sufficient food, water and space to survive) widespread social pathologies, of which homosexuality is one of them, began to emerge:

    Initially the population grew rapidly, doubling every 55 days. The population reached 620 by day 315, after which the population growth dropped markedly. The last surviving birth was on day 600. This period between day 315 and day 600 saw a breakdown in social structure and in normal social behavior. Among the aberrations in behavior were the following: expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young, inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males with increased attacks on each other which were not defended against. After day 600 the social breakdown continued and the population declined toward extinction. During this period females ceased to reproduce. Their male counterparts withdrew completely, never engaging in courtship or fighting. They ate, drank, slept, and groomed themselves – all solitary pursuits. Sleek, healthy coats and an absence of scars characterized these males. They were dubbed “the beautiful ones”.

    The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in complex social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population.

    Homosexuality as a generally regressive behavior is not amenable to “marriage”, or other bourgeois attempts to normalize them into proper society. This is because marriage is not simply a durable relationship but one that reflects a whole world of values that speak to the complementary nature of the sexes; without these, marriage has no more productive meaning to a society than does an online love calculator.

    There is a reason homosexuality has been so easily lumped in with “LGBT” persons, as well as whatever’s been added to the acronym by now. Almost all can be reasonably said to be mentally ill or suffering from some loss of community stricture. That the wider social world vilifies them is far less damaging than telling these people that hacking off their genitals will turn them into women, or that sodomy is some kind of virtue akin to a loving relationship. Again, while your personal experiences with both the “purity movement” (I’m of the opinion that this phenomenon is an overly-energetic defense against the overwhelming moral decline in the urban world; our grandparents did not need to take chastity pledges because chastity, chaperoning and good behavior was already expected) and homosexuals may paint a pretty picture in favor of the latter, one experience is not enough to make social policy.

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    • Jesse Bering is a textbook example of everything that’s wrong with evolutionary psychology (assuming that because a trait or attitude exists, it must be a product of an adaptive genetic mutation, and glibly trotting out just-so stories as if they’re Science.) I read the article you cite when it came out, and I was as unimpressed then as I am now. Jeremy Yoder takes down its premises here; I will only point out in addition that Bering’s second-to-last paragraph contains a ludicrous contradiction. He warns that Gallup’s surveys, if done today, might yield different results, and says that this should be taken as evidence, not that homophobia is a primarily cultural phenomenon that changes when the culture changes, but that people have begun to hide their homophobia. In other words, he posits an “implicit bias” against gays, uses an attitude survey as evidence for this bias, and then says that any future attitude surveys, or surveys of a different culture, are probably just masking the implicit bias. Attitude surveys are only reliable, you see, when they support the conclusion we’ve already decided on. The man is a hack.

      But that’s all tangential to the argument you and I have. You posted that as evidence that exposure to homosexual adults is correlated to developing homosexual tendencies, but, as the rebuttal article I linked to points out, the authors of those studies have not found reasons to conclude that exposure to homosexual adults causes children to grow up gay.

      I’m glad you brought up Calhoun. The popular notion of his work focuses exclusively on the negative and pessimistic aspects of his 1968 rodent study. It omits that his later work focused on finding solutions to the problems of overpopulation, solutions that were often based in giving the rodents space for developing their own adaptive behaviors. One example:

      In his early experiments in the outdoor pens, Calhoun had witnessed a creative act by his rats that he likened to the discovery of the wheel by man: when building a new burrow they did not simply dig out the dirt as they went, as any normal rat would do, instead they packed it into a large ball which they then rolled out. (Calhoun 1973b). This innovation had not come from socially dominant animals but from a highly disorganized and predominantly homosexual group of subordinates, partially withdrawn from the larger social organization. As Calhoun saw it, the repression they had suffered at the hands of their superiors had resulted in deviant, creative, and therefore adaptive behavior. (Calhoun 1977: 30).

      So, while your interpretation is that homosexuality (among other things) is negative by its association with cannibalism and increased aggression in overcrowded rodents, a more balanced interpretation is that some responses to overcrowding accelerate the death of a society, while others provide solutions and means for a society to adapt to its new conditions. It seems patently obvious to me that, whatever the evolutionary roots of homosexuality, when a society is faced with overpopulation a higher percentage of homosexuals is an overall social benefit.

      Setting aside the question of how neatly we can apply observations of other species to human situations, Calhoun’s rodent experiments seem to show that “deviant” sections of the population are often the source of social innovations that alleviate the problems of overpopulation, and accelerate the cultural evolution of the population on the whole. One could even argue that it’s the “traditionally-minded” members of the society, the conservative and hierarchical rodents, that are exacerbating the social problems. A species’ survival depends on its ability to adapt to its current environment, not on its clinging to ways that served it in a different setting. You can wish all you want for us to go back to a different time, but the facts on the ground are that this urbanized, globalized, overpopulated world is the one we live in, and if we’re going to survive we have to adapt to those conditions, not cling to an idealized past.

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  4. As an aside, I would make a distinction between male and female homosexualities, which do not have identical etiologies and which manifest themselves sexually in different ways. As for avowed or matured lesbianism, I’ve always been fond of Houellebecq’s take on it, which he got while reading Coetzee:

    Houellebecq: [One of the characters in a Coetzee novel] suspects that the only thing that really interests his lesbian daughter in life is prickly-pear jam. Lesbianism is a pretext. She and her partner don’t have sex anymore, they dedicate themselves to decoration and cooking.

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  5. So, while your interpretation is that homosexuality (among other things) is negative by its association with cannibalism and increased aggression in overcrowded rodents, a more balanced interpretation is that some responses to overcrowding accelerate the death of a society, while others provide solutions and means for a society to adapt to its new conditions. It seems patently obvious to me that, whatever the evolutionary roots of homosexuality, when a society is faced with overpopulation a higher percentage of homosexuals is an overall social benefit.

    This is an absolutely bizarre argument to make: it is an “overall […] benefit” for the victors of an overpopulated society, but it certainly is not for either the homosexuals themselves, their families or their support networks. If I’m reading you correctly (you’re being very vague here), your argument is that homosexuality provides a beneficial outlet for excess persons of both sexes because the negative effects of mate competition are assuaged. For someone so quick to deride evolutionary psychology, this is a coldly Darwinian, individualist tack on said affairs.

    If your argument is rather (as Calhoun’s eventually became) that homosexuals are super creative and therefore a prudent natural resource to develop for any society worth its salt, you have a long row to hoe. Innovation, after all, is in large part what got us into this mess; innovation has no intrinsic moral quotient, just like dynamite can be used to topple a skyscraper or to clear an avalanche. One could very easily argue that submissive, homosocial persons’ innovations are often used against them, i.e. offshoring, increased mechanization, uncredited technical work, etc. The greater the gains produced in such a winner-takes-all system, the more likelihood we’ll see a growing population of ill, defeated homo- or asexuals, terminally submissive to more sociopathic authorities, and incestuous in behavior (c.f. Japan’s grass-eaters).

    It’s also worth noting that not all homosexual inclinations are equivalent. The kind I’m discussing, which is usually the product of romantic or social failure early in life, and the kind observed by Calhoun, is the same kind demanding mandatory public screenings of its venality. There is no reason to believe such people are particularly creative. Turing, for example, or Diogenes or Euripides, did not wear his sexual identity on his sleeve, and — here I draw on my own experiences, a tactic you’re fond of professionalizing — this was not because of outer repression but because of the impossibility of consummating his own sexual ideation. Here is where, as I said before, the sexes’ respective homosexualities depart: certain men cannot content themselves with the family life of a Gentile, or even with the love of a woman, who will always follow him intellectually and never match his own level, incapable of sublimating himself into her flawed being and her finite love, while certain women grow jilted with their own sexual currency and prefer to abstain from the game altogether. Such homosexualities may correlate to increased creativity, but they also correlate to a greater risk of suicide, depression and a passive attitude towards life’s material trappings. Coddling such people insults them, and their societies have little if anything to do with their psychosocial conditions. Some people are simply an accident of the universe, who are, as sweet Nietzsche opined, destined to drift alone.

    As the paper you quoted goes on to state, Calhoun began to identify his own intellectual life with that of the creative rats:

    If employing fiction in this way was unlikely to impress the scientific community, Calhoun only compounded the breach by increasingly writing in an autobiographical mode. As he charted his alternative and optimistic future for humanity, the parallel between his
    own life and those of his “creative deviants” seems to have become more and more compelling.

    This was his most crucial mistake, and for all I appreciate his illuminating work on overscaling, he was far too green behind the ears to wax with any authority about the nature of man’s innovative drives. If the situation is arranged that we must suffer hypersexuality, social drug abuse, aggressive violence, family breakdowns and a disintegration of society’s trust-bearing fabric so that we may blog harder in the future, even an ear as sympathetic as mine can see no just cause to back the homosexual banner.

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    • If I’m reading you correctly (you’re being very vague here), your argument is that homosexuality provides a beneficial outlet for excess persons of both sexes because the negative effects of mate competition are assuaged. For someone so quick to deride evolutionary psychology, this is a coldly Darwinian, individualist tack on said affairs.

      This is closer to the point I was suggesting than your second option. If it’s true that a higher incidence of homosexuality is correlated with population densities over a certain threshhold (which I don’t know to be the case; if there are studies to that effect, I’d love to see them), then the simplest explanation I can see is that it’s a socially beneficial mechanism that provides a self-limiting factor on population growth. Like many altruistic behaviors, it might be perpetuated because, while limiting the individual’s genetic legacy, it provides a proportionally greater benefit to the kin or species as a whole.

      It’s odd to me that you call this “cold,” because from a humanistic standpoint it really doesn’t matter whether a homosexual individual gets to pass on their genes. Their own sense of happiness and fulfillment in life is only distantly related to evolutionary processes. If they get to experience joy, love, companionship, and productivity (and contrary to your assertions, all these things are available and prevalent within gay and other alternative-sexual communities), do they really care whether their individual genes are passed on? Nobody I know measures their success or failure in life based on Darwinian advantage.

      And this, I think, is where the whole foundation of your argument is flawed. I don’t judge whether an inclination or behavior is good or bad based on its causes; I judge based on its effects. There’s a lot we don’t know about the various causes of homosexuality (although you talk as though it’s well understood), but ultimately the question of etiology is irrelevant to the question whether it’s healthy or unhealthy, either for an individual or for society. I am a pragmatist, so my first question about any human quality is “What effects does this have, and are those overall beneficial or overall detrimental?” (With respect to my personal goals and values, naturally.)

      Fundamentally this is the same mistake people make when they try to develop a moral philosophy out of evolutionary theory. Our drives and instincts, including our sense of morality, ultimately derive back to evolutionary pressures: granted. But it in no way follows that evolutionary advantage should be our touchstone of morality. The two just aren’t related. Evolution is a blind, amoral force. Human morality was created by it, but is not answerable to it in any way.

      The only further contact evolutionary pressures and human morality have comes into play when one of your goals is the continued survival of the human species (or some subset of it.) Then, indeed, it’s worthwhile to consider what behaviors will help us survive current and future conditions. But to say that homosexuality is somehow innately “wrong” because it makes a person less likely to pass on their genes? That’s nonsensical.

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      • Once again, you’re completely misconstruing my argument, and what you’re saying is, if anything, far closer to your own than me: I’m advocating a strict morality because of the real effects of reckless promiscuity, homosexuality, et al., while you’re essentially claiming that if homosexuals have some biologically-rooted quotient for creativity, encouraging homosexuality is justified by that quotient; that if, in your own words, “sex-negativity is based on fear and distrust of the body and human nature”, there is no reason to aspire to ideals of how sex might be morally channeled: rather, we should simply resign ourselves to our animal instincts. These are your arguments, not mine.

        Evolutionary theory is not a sufficient basis for any morality, but this is largely because one does not need to consult evolutionary primers to understand the negative effects of permitting or prohibiting certain behaviors. In over ~6,000 years of civilization, humanity has had enough time to gauge the relative merits of same-sex relations, of sex without commitment, of dedicating significant portions of a society’s resources to titillating our sex instincts. It is supremely arrogant to think that only in our time have we somehow come out of the dark, that traditions were meaningless or even malicious in intent.

        By the same token, one can make too much of morality being man’s marker between himself and the animals. Again, morality exists to minimize real, physical and emotional disasters occurring to our loved ones, our siblings, our communities and so on: it is not idle speculation. It’s not that I doubt gay people can experience happiness or moments of love, it’s that I’m extremely skeptical of their ability to sustain mature, morally upright communities on any kind of mass scale.

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  6. Andros,
    You know we are animals right? You know that any behavior we exhibit is “animal behavior?” I see no reason to argue that homosexual relationships have detrimental effects on society as a whole, or even in part. You can be skeptical all you want, but your argument boils down to an argument from ignorance. You admit that you are skeptical. Fine, the burden of proof is on you, and I have not seen to meet that burden.

    Your arguments seem, to me, to be elaborate rationalizations for some fear of homosexuality or possibly even a fear of your own sexuality. But that’s enough armchair psychology. You simply have not made your case, and it does not matter why it is your case.

    The bottom line is that people really are homosexual they really do love people of the same gender, and that if this does have any detrimental effect of society, that may mean society may need to change. Many aspects of our culture are detrimental to human happiness. When that happens, then I grieve not for the death of culture as we know it. Our society has already changed, and I hope that some conservative propensity in us shall not affect some nostalgic atavism.

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    • As I’ve said before, the gay ‘culture’ or community is not simply a homosexual analog to your average sample of heterosexuals; gays are by far more debased, depressive, oriented towards consumptive hedonism, etc. Homosexuality, no matter what the modern APA might say to the contrary, is almost definitely an expression of mental illness, and while this carries no value judgment on its own, it does imply a great deal about how we should approach homosexuality on a societal level.

      The deleterious effects of accepting or venerating homosexuality (in the former sense, this means ‘pretending’ it’s unremarkable, even though this poses immense logistical problems from the acceptor’s perspective; in the latter sense, this means lauding stereotypically gay activities on a large scale) are more onerous in where they come from rather than what they are: that is to say, accepting homosexuality opens the door for all manner of other deviant behaviors, encourages a culture afraid to legislate based on morality, cripples the socializing aspect behind marriage at its knees, and so on. Thus a group that represents barely ~2% of the population at best has an influence massively out of proportion to its numbers, and the habits, pathologies and attitudes towards life that group possesses come to wash away the fabric of normalcy like acid rain. Arguments in favor of rampant promiscuity are extremely flimsy and myopic, let alone those in favor of dressing up domestic sodomy.

      An aside: I’ve never been impressed with arguments that supposed homophobes are latent homosexuals themselves, are suppressing some unforeseen sexuality, etc. I take your arguments on their own merits rather than your merits as a person, so I’d expect you to extend me the same courtesy.

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      • Once again, you are linking to articles which barely, if at all, support your claims. The narrative of the young gay man attending the “gay sex event” suggests that the bacchanalian sexual free-for-all is becoming a less and less prominent part of the gay scene: “This was what I’d come for: a bacchanal of shamelessness and free sexual expression. It embodied the radical gay politics I thought were lacking in my generation of gay men, so concerned with marriage and adoption and fitting in.” Your view of the gay community seems based on articles such as these and cultural stereotypes. Undoubtedly there is a segment of the gay culture that is hedonistic, promiscuous, and often unsafe in their sexual practices, and these are the ones that get all the attention, because they’re shocking and titillating. The majority of gay people want what the majority of hetero people want out of life and love: a period of exploration and experimentation in youth, and then to find someone to settle into a long-term relationship and have a family with.

        The second link you post admits that “only a minority of a nonclinical sample of homosexuals has any diagnosable mental problems,” and fails to make the case that the higher rate of mental problems are due to some core mental illness associated with homosexuality. If gays do have a higher rate of mental health problems, even when they suffer very little social and religious hostility, that’s certainly worth studying, but to conclude that attraction to someone of the same sex is inherently dysfunctional — when a majority of homosexuals are as functional as heterosexuals — is ridiculous and unsupported.

        If gays as a whole are irresponsibly hedonistic and bent on destroying the stability of the family, why are they fighting so hard for the right to marry? I promise you it’s not some guerrilla tactic to take down marriage from within: allowing gays to marry will have zero effect on hetero marriages. They’re fighting for the right to marry because, just like hetero people, most gay people eventually meet someone they love and want to spend their lives with. And the only study that’s yet been done on same-sex couples’ ability to raise children suggests that children of lesbian parents fare even better than children of hetero parents.

        I’m not sure what your mention of “domestic sodomy” is meant to suggest, except perhaps that the act of anal sex (which is practiced by many, many more hetero couples than gay couples) is somehow problematic. I don’t know how you even begin drawing that conclusion.

        You seem to have a knee-jerk preference for “tradition” and “normalcy,” and an unwillingness to consider where those traditions and norms come from, what their effects are, and whether a world without them could be better. You seem to assume that our culture’s traditions come out of a steady growth of cumulative cultural wisdom, instead of the rise and fall of various movements. “Traditional” monogamous marriage is actually a very new idea, and in many ways a failed one. Sex is a tremendously important part of human life: some individuals can take it or leave it, but for the majority of us it underlies, consciously or unconsciously, nearly everything we do. I simply fail to see any reason why it should be belittled and suppressed, rather than accepted and integrated into a healthy human life.

        It seems clear to me that your criteria for judging human actions and ideas are so different from mine as to make debate useless. I will never accept “tradition” as a good reason for accepting some behaviors and rejecting others, and I suspect you will never accept “because it makes me happy and does no harm to the people around me.” I can only say what I said at the beginning: I’ve lived the way you recommend; since rejecting it, I have been both happier and healthier.

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