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March 10, 2012 11:56 AM   Subscribe

When life imitates The Onion: Hooking Kids on Sex II.

Just as the goal of a drug dealer is to make drug addicts, Planned Parenthood's goal is to make sex addicts. And they follow the same business model. For instance, Planned Parenthood's gateway drug is masturbation. [...] This is what Planned Parenthood is all about. Get the kids addicted to sex so it can sell them birth control. When teens catch a sexually-transmitted disease, it sells them testing services. And when a young girl gets pregnant, it sells her an abortion. This isn't education; it's indoctrination intended to drum up Planned Parenthood's abortion business.
posted by troll (141 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Vulnerable teens told stimulating things about sex... being told that sex is pleasurable... OMFG we have to keep this from them!
posted by Meatbomb at 12:06 PM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Congressman Falls for The Onion's Planned Parenthood 'Abortionplex' Story
posted by Blasdelb at 12:07 PM on March 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


That was funny until I realized it wasn't actually satire.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 12:12 PM on March 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


It's our duty to our youth to keep them as ignorant as possible, for as long as possible. How else will they become ready to shoulder the responsibilities of adulthood? Only by remaining totally unaware of the consequences of their actions can they avoid falling into any of the pitfalls ahead of them.
posted by scalefree at 12:14 PM on March 10, 2012 [18 favorites]


Brb off to watch the planned parenthood videos. I can't get over how so many people seem to think that if no one is told about sex they won't think about it or discover it on their own, like it exists in a vacuum and not something done by almost all living things ever.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 12:14 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Get the kids addicted to sex so it can sell them birth control.

Yes. At the outrageously exorbitant price of $0.

Really. Some people...
posted by Sys Rq at 12:17 PM on March 10, 2012 [26 favorites]


Where can I get some of this masturbation?
posted by srboisvert at 12:17 PM on March 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


STD rates didn't start droping DRAMATICALLY in the late seventies* because kids were exposed to less sex, knew less about sex, or became somehow more Christian. They started dropping because of organizations exactly like planned parenthood.

*Trends in Reportable Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the United States (CDC)
posted by Blasdelb at 12:19 PM on March 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


Do they sell fleshlights? I gave my old one to the Goodwill.
posted by orme at 12:19 PM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


You could just as easily claim that the goal of 'abstinence only sex ed' is to make children so ashamed of sex that they'll never report it when an adult molests them. But wait... that IS how many child molesters work.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:20 PM on March 10, 2012 [36 favorites]


srboisvert: “Where can I get some of this masturbation?”

Screw the masturbation – I would like some penis cupcakes and vagina macaroons, please. Thank you, Planned Parenthood, for making the world awesome again.
posted by koeselitz at 12:21 PM on March 10, 2012


I learned about sex from watching YOU, Dad!

... What?
posted by kyrademon at 12:21 PM on March 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Whoa, I'm watching a live SXSW keynote in another window as I loaded this thread. The keynote was by Baratunde Thurston, who is from the Onion and mentioned the "abortionplex" story the moment I opened the thread, which I just had to screenshot.
posted by mathowie at 12:24 PM on March 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have never seen a man more desperately in need of a good pegging and less aware of it.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:25 PM on March 10, 2012 [22 favorites]


Ironically, I only learned about masturbation from the story of Onan. Thanks, Priestly Source!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:28 PM on March 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


This video convinced me.
posted by found missing at 12:30 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I kind of think that the guy in the video just learned about sex, just now, from the Planned Parenthood materials.
posted by gurple at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Correlation vs. causation and all that.
posted by michaelh at 12:34 PM on March 10, 2012


The Bible has prostitution, incest, and masturbation.
posted by furtive at 12:37 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


This isn't satire?
posted by Malice at 12:40 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait! Kids are reaching puberty "when they're entering high school"?! Really!? HIGH SCHOOL is when they're "just reaching puberty"?
posted by vitabellosi at 12:42 PM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was enjoying the first couple min of this video, until I realized it wasnt satire. Then I was reminded of the insane drunk guy on the bus telling everyone they needed to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven was Upon Us. In retrospect the funniest and saddest part of that video is that a huge number of people out there are afraid of sex and think that having regular fantastic sex is strange and unnatural. Why are ugly old people who cant get laid so upset that their hot 18 year old kids are getting some?
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 12:43 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


In retrospect the funniest and saddest part of that video is that a huge number of people out there are afraid of sex and think that having regular fantastic sex is strange and unnatural.

You should make a video about that.
posted by michaelh at 12:46 PM on March 10, 2012


And, like, the logic is that birth control leads to more abortions?

Do these people have any brain function at all?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:46 PM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


We should answer this by creating an organization that actually advocates for young people to engage in sex with one another, perhaps called "No Teen Left Behind". It'd produce humorous promotional material that :

- helped shy teenagers broach the subject of sexual relations with their school friends,
- offered tips on not scaring away their love interests by being weird,
- advocated the importance of clear communication for a healthy sex life,
- advocated casual romantic entanglements during youth as a route to healthier relationships during adulthood,
- offer tips on masturbation, obtaining sex toys, condoms, etc.

In particular, all these promotional materials should be funny enough that students show them to one another on facebook, smartphones, etc. And high school students seeking an easy school prank could simply post them around the school.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:47 PM on March 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


EVEN PLASTIC WRAP?!
posted by Flunkie at 12:49 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why are ugly old people who cant get laid so upset that their hot 18 year old kids are getting some?

That question kind of answers itself. And, it is a funny caricature of the situation. But, as someone of a certain age said in a recent MeTa thread--you kids think you invented sex.
posted by found missing at 12:50 PM on March 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


If any of your relatives or facebook friends need help in not taking these guys seriously, ask them to compare these guys' understanding of the IPPF's Declaration of Sexual Rights to the actual IPPF's Declaration of Sexual Rights (PDF)
posted by Blasdelb at 12:50 PM on March 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why are there so many angry, uptight, white guys?
posted by freakazoid at 12:56 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why, if only we could go back to the good old days— when kids grew up on the farm, with no examples of sexual behavior to lead them astray!
posted by hattifattener at 12:57 PM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hey, I had that book! Those were some of my favorite pages, too, and I studied them very intently at age 11 or so. Of course, this was before I realized the true potential of the internet.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 1:02 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd like to fuck the shit out of those massive pleated pants.
posted by Think_Long at 1:05 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


> This isn't education; it's indoctrination intended to drum up Planned Parenthood's abortion business.

What a brilliant business model! I'm calling my stockbroker first thing Monday morning to buy some Planned Parenthood shares.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:10 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whew - for a minute there I thought your username was OverFappingElvis.
posted by symbioid at 1:15 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


"But another side to Planned Parenthood, which should be equally considered, is its obsession with sex."

Yes. It's clearly Planned Parenthood that is obsessed with sex here...
posted by Rangeboy at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


What a brilliant business model! I'm calling my stockbroker first thing Monday morning to buy some Planned Parenthood shares.

I cut out the middleman and bought a thousand shares of Amalgamated Sex.
posted by Copronymus at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I want my username changed to fisting kit.
posted by alphanerd at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Planned Parenthood made me a sex addict but didn't make me remotely fuckable. Do I have a case?
posted by planet at 1:25 PM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


> I cut out the middleman and bought a thousand shares of Amalgamated Sex.

It would have been kinkier if you'd kept the middleman.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:26 PM on March 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hopefully this will start new expressions such as:

"How was the meeting? Anything productive get done?"

"No, it was just a vagina puppet show."
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 1:26 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The interesting thing is that the old fogies are increasingly people who grew up during the sexual revolution.

I'll bet they're *really* bitter that they missed out on that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:29 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Someone should set up a project and public database to calculate how much money various corporations make off of the porn industry, considering that it's a multi-billion dollar revenue stream not even counting things like the IT infrastructure and payment processing parts of the business... I'm sure it would be of interest to both progressives and conservatives. I bet that Planned Parenthood are rank amateurs at profiting from sex next to organizations like Fox News / News Corp.
posted by XMLicious at 1:30 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I'll bet they're *really* bitter that they missed out on that.

Yes, hence this rear guard action as they withdraw.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:33 PM on March 10, 2012


My mom bought that It's Perfectly Normal book for me when I was younger, and I'm really glad she did. It had funny pictures, I learned everything I needed to know, and avoided "the talk" (which I'm not sure actually exists outside TV shows, but, to young me, it seemed crushingly awkward). So they don't like the book because it has explicit pictures? How do these people plan on teaching their children about sex without bringing up sex.
posted by Pope Xanax IV at 1:36 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to planned parenthood for an HIV test and nobody offered me a vagina macaroon.

I want my money back.
posted by clarknova at 1:42 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


is it true that some of these programs require highschoolers to attend pride parades? While I'm all for consensual lewdness, I don't think it's right to force it on ppl.
posted by spacediver at 1:50 PM on March 10, 2012


I love how the video twisted making a dental dam from a glove, to a manual for fisting.
posted by Revort at 1:50 PM on March 10, 2012


Brb off to watch the planned parenthood videos.

OK, thanks for breaking the ice. I, too, brb off to them.
posted by dhartung at 1:53 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm let down by the American Life League's casual introduction of "fisting." Please, tell us more! You know you want to. If you don't, I may have to go to my local Planned Parenthood and get a pamphlet about this teenage epidemic.

I'm trying to imagine a True Christian who doesn't watch porn (I'm sure there are some) viewing this. Are they shocked, titillated...?
posted by kozad at 1:53 PM on March 10, 2012


I wonder how many presenters they went through before they found one who can call penis balloons and vagina macaroni 'stimulating' and still keep a straight face.

The impression I got was that sex ed was designed to do its best to make sex seem boring.
posted by Anything at 1:57 PM on March 10, 2012


jeffburdges

Unless those materials you envision are very well-disclaimed, and tailored to the statutory rape laws specific to each state, producing them *might* make you vulnerable to a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
posted by The Confessor at 2:01 PM on March 10, 2012


I find myself to be aroused and titillated by all this.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 2:14 PM on March 10, 2012


Why are ugly old people who cant get laid so upset that their hot 18 year old kids are getting some?
Involuntary celibacy really fucks with your head. You get angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed and suicidal. You lose empathy for others as your mind is eaten away by your unsatisfiable biological urges. After long enough, and once it becomes clear your involuntary celibacy will never end, you develop a deep and unshakable hatred for everyone who can live a normal happy life.
posted by planet at 2:21 PM on March 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'll bet they're *really* bitter that they missed out on that.

Don't get me started. Oh wait, you did.

My preteen years were a hell of anticipation that I would probably get drafted and sent to Vietnam to die. I knew I would be a crappy soldier and the idea that people were picked at random and just sent there like slaves to be slaughtered horrified me. Even a ten year old could notice that there didn't seem to be a goddamn reason for the war, or for a lot of shit. Sure there were protesters and hippies but they were marginalized and obviously ineffective.

Then the war ended when I was 10, and through my teens I saw an increasingly hopeful world; women and minorities and handicapped people were all making advances. Hippie culture was semi-mainstream for awhile. We went to the Moon, the world was full of cool new tech like computers and lasers and ham radio repeaters with phone patches, we were going to end poverty de-stigmatize sex and I was going to be privileged to live in the best civilization mankind had ever managed to create, free to create and feel and love and secure against those past evils of starvation and violence and tyranny.

Then, just before I graduated high school, just before I was eligible to vote myself, my countrymen elected Ronald Reagan to be their "leader." The rest, as they say, is rather miserable history.
posted by localroger at 2:26 PM on March 10, 2012 [44 favorites]


I just got my daughter one of "those" books for sex ed in a couple years from an AskMe recommendation. The great thing about the "It's Perfectly Normal" and "It's So Amazing" books is that they make sex seem so normal and boring rather than something taboo, mysterious, and exciting (unless you think a "For Better or Worse"-style drawing of a naked flaccid octogenarian is hot).

Most teenagers would have better luck jacking off to the Bible, at least it has lots of mentions of donkey cock.
posted by benzenedream at 2:27 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the best possible advertisement for Planned Parenthood. Seriously, I wish I'd had a book like that one, that tells you masturbation is okay. Or that people in high school had actually told me sex was a normal thing that people do and not something you had to hide. Or that people in college had taught me how to have good sex.

Having grown up in (a) an abusive home and (b) a fundamentalist Christian home, I was completely wrecked by the shame of being interested in sex. Like I was this dirty, evil, unrepentant slut who, in spite of knowing the dire consequences of touching myself down there, did it anyway, because there was something intrinsically wrong with me and my character. Being Sexy was a sign that I wasn't Saved.

I didn't get over that until I was thirty, long after I had left the church. The effects of all that shaming are still with me. To this day, I'm constantly judging myself in ways I would never judge another person.

So, yeah. If Planned Parenthood is teaching kids about how to have safe, consensual, fun sex -- awesome! As soon as I have a few bucks, I'll kick them in PP's direction.

Thanks for the reminder, fundies.
posted by brina at 2:30 PM on March 10, 2012 [26 favorites]


Oh look, it's like a beautiful tapestry of shame and body hating! Pull on one thread and the whole thing just becomes a tangled mess of abuse and power fantasies!
posted by The Whelk at 2:37 PM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Involuntary celibacy really fucks with your head. You get angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed and suicidal. You lose empathy for others as your mind is eaten away by your unsatisfiable biological urges. After long enough, and once it becomes clear your involuntary celibacy will never end, you develop a deep and unshakable hatred for everyone who can live a normal happy life.

This comes up in gay histories a few times, a lot of behaviors don't make sense until you internalize the " oh god even thinking about sex is so risky and dangerous your brain melts and you end up with huge, scary complexes"
posted by The Whelk at 2:41 PM on March 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I cut out the middleman and bought a thousand shares of Amalgamated Sex

Man, that really burns my nads! That no-good broker of mine told me Amalgamated Sex was purely a private equity venture.
posted by gompa at 2:49 PM on March 10, 2012


Sometimes I wonder...are these people just not aware that kids that grow up out in the sticks with nary a Planned Parenthood or anything else other than church and family to influence their impressionable young minds still fuck like rabbits when they're in high school?
posted by wierdo at 2:54 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


clarknova: "I went to planned parenthood for an HIV test and nobody offered me a vagina macaroon. I want my money back"

They're reserved for consoling those who get positive results back.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:11 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's anything special about involuntary celibacy that makes its, er, victims into antisexualists. They're just projecting. It's a common response to problems that are within you and need addressing, but which you can't see in yourself for whatever reason. Perhaps you're egotistical enough that admitting that your celibacy bothers you is unthinkable, so you put your problems on something else and deal with that. Perhaps you're in a social environment where honest discussion of your repressed sexuality can't happen, so you have a dishonest discussion of others' irrepressible sexuality instead.

These behaviors can actually result in people dealing with their problems, in a roundabout way. They do provide a model for the problem, though a bad model, and in their failure to get everyone to stop fucking around, the moral crusaders might see what happens to those they actually manage to repress, and recognize themselves.

It's a ruinous way of dealing with your problems, but it's a way. Its startup cost is lower than the more honest approaches, and it can work eventually for even those who can never, ever admit that they have a problem. It makes sense as a Darwinian adaptation to those conditions.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:12 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favorite part was when they showed pictures from Pride parades with the most leathered-up dudes they could find, and then cut back to Mr. Married Missionary.

MMM: [Makes a WTF face] "Is it any wonder that 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD?"

I do not believe it is those men you just showed me who are out there STDing our teenage girls, sir.
posted by lauranesson at 3:13 PM on March 10, 2012 [42 favorites]


And, like, the logic is that birth control leads to more abortions?

It's called the contraceptive mentality thesis, and it's quite common in far-right Catholic circles. I'm also certain that Santorum subscribes to it. It's probably a hidden intellectual influence on the recent Republican crusade against contraception, even among non-Catholic Republicans. The basic logic behind the idea is that birth control legitimizes non-procreative sex, which in turn creates a demand for more abortions. It's the favorite slippery slope argument of sexual conservatives.
posted by jonp72 at 3:14 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Involuntary celibacy really fucks with your head. You get angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed and suicidal. You lose empathy for others as your mind is eaten away by your unsatisfiable biological urges. After long enough, and once it becomes clear your involuntary celibacy will never end, you develop a deep and unshakable hatred for everyone who can live a normal happy life."

What a huge load of bullshit. There are all kinds of people who are involuntarily celibate. The elderly, the chronically ill, those who are thought to be very sexually unattractive by prevailing standards, and many other kinds of people who live without sex for reasons beyond their control. Blithely asserting that all of these people are "angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed, and suicidal" and are lacking "empathy for others" and have a "deep and unshakable hatred for everyone who can live a normal happy life" is itself deeply hateful and you should be ashamed that you wrote this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:41 PM on March 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


someone tell this guy: we're biologically programmed to do it. very soon after puberty. teenagers are obsessed with it because they can't yet, because they're not yet adults in the community. and really most people can't do it the religiously approved way, and get married to start a stable family, until they're well into their 20's.

i can tell you, there was no PP in my home town, and every boy i remember from the 8th grade on was pretty eager to have sex, and pretty impressed with those who had already done so. there was no outside influence involved there, it was just teenage boys doing what they were pre-programmed to do.

I read this Atlantic article from 1939 today, about the spread of birth control through North Carolina, and the good it did people. The rural doctor encountered case after case of these girls that got married at 16 or 17, had ten kids by the time they were 30, and really couldn't afford to feed one mouth more. the only 'natural' solution was celibacy or death. death is likely to come before people stop doing it.

this anti-birth control campaign reminds me quite a lot of the campaign against violent video games in the 80's-90's, because god knows there were no crimes or wars before video games. and whatever happened to that movement? oh yes, it died out when religion glorified war again, in order to support the oil industry, and be prepared for the glorious battles that will accompany the 2nd coming of christ.
posted by camdan at 3:49 PM on March 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


We should answer this by creating an organization that actually advocates for young people to engage in sex with one another, perhaps called "No Teen Left Behind". It'd produce humorous promotional material that :

- helped shy teenagers broach the subject of sexual relations with their school friends,
- offered tips on not scaring away their love interests by being weird,
- advocated the importance of clear communication for a healthy sex life,
- advocated casual romantic entanglements during youth as a route to healthier relationships during adulthood,
- offer tips on masturbation, obtaining sex toys, condoms, etc.

In particular, all these promotional materials should be funny enough that students show them to one another on facebook, smartphones, etc. And high school students seeking an easy school prank could simply post them around the school.



Check out most British or European sex ed and you'll see most of this. In fact, our own Peter McDermott wrote one such teen sex ed publication, which won some kind of award, as I recall.

Except, the casual sex emphasis probably actually doesn't make sense. You don't learn to have serious relationships by not having them. And the countries that deal with sexuality better than we do, most notably Holland, believe that "puppy love" is real love and they very much don't trivialize teenage relationships the way we do. They know that actually being in love when you lose your virginity is better than not and that teenage boys are actually secretly far more romantic than anyone gives them credit for. If you want a world of casual, market-based, empty relationships, you couldn't really get a better recipe than telling people that teenagers all want meaningless sex, can't actually be in love and should, if not wait for sex, wait for love. It makes no sense.

More on the Dutch approach here and here. [btw, those were two of my most popular articles ever].
posted by Maias at 3:55 PM on March 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


What a huge load of bullshit. There are all kinds of people who are involuntarily celibate. The elderly, the chronically ill, those who are thought to be very sexually unattractive by prevailing standards, and many other kinds of people who live without sex for reasons beyond their control. Blithely asserting that all of these people are "angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed, and suicidal" and are lacking "empathy for others" and have a "deep and unshakable hatred for everyone who can live a normal happy life" is itself deeply hateful and you should be ashamed that you wrote this.

You should consider dialing it back. I think that was personal experience talking, not judgment of others.
posted by adamdschneider at 4:01 PM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


planet might have been better served by using "I" instead of "you" in his comment.
posted by rtha at 4:13 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


neat, now i can write off alternative sexualities that i think are weird by pathologizing their practitioners as deprived losers, and avoid developing an understanding of people that might prove problematic or make me uncomfortable plus i can justify treating the Other poorly and interpret any backlash as proof that i am right. everything makes sense now. look at all this sense

this is paying off better than that time i took evo psych
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:16 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


this is paying off better than that time i took evo psych

Cue Peter Griffin flashback.
posted by found missing at 4:24 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


adamdschneider: "You should consider dialing it back. I think that was personal experience talking, not judgment of others."

Dial it back? Give me a break. planet announced above that anybody who doesn't happen to have a sexual partner at any given moment is "angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed and suicidal," and you're asking Ivan to "dial it back" because he objects to the idea that not having sex makes you a deranged lunatic likely to make horrible anti-Planned Parenthood videos and strangle puppies?
posted by koeselitz at 4:32 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


anybody who doesn't happen to have a sexual partner at any given moment is "angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed and suicidal,"
...wait, you said "doesn't"?

now i don't know what the fuck is going on
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:40 PM on March 10, 2012


>The Bible has prostitution, incest, and masturbation.

Yeah, who hasn't whipped their little Jesus?
posted by Catblack at 4:41 PM on March 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, hence this rear guard action as they withdraw.

I... see what you did there!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:48 PM on March 10, 2012


Yeah heaven forbid you'd learn about that stuff from the evangelical preacher down the road. What the hell is wrong with these people?
posted by sneebler at 4:50 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Blithely asserting that all of these people are "angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed, and suicidal" and are lacking "empathy for others" and have a "deep and unshakable hatred for everyone who can live a normal happy life" is itself deeply hateful and you should be ashamed that you wrote this.
I was just speaking from experience, friend.

And involuntarily celibacy isn't something that happens in a "moment", koeselitz.
posted by planet at 5:25 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was involuntarily celibate from age 19 to 24. And I'm reasonably attractive, in shape, and not especially creepy. What it taught me was that maybe I shouldn't be such a judgmental Republican prick.
posted by notsnot at 5:34 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I was just speaking from experience, friend."

Okay, but what you wrote described a cause-and-effect relationship that would apply to people other than yourself. And you are obviously attributing this to other people; i.e., the subject of this post.

Lots and lots of people live without sex, not by choice, and it's just wrong to imply that this means they are psychologically damaged as a result. Especially something as extreme as saying they necessarily hate everyone who has a life that includes sex.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:37 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


that guy is trying very hard not to smirk - and almost succeeding
posted by pyramid termite at 5:44 PM on March 10, 2012


Lots and lots of people live without sex, not by choice, and it's just wrong to imply that this means they are psychologically damaged as a result. Especially something as extreme as saying they necessarily hate everyone who has a life that includes sex.
OK, if that's what you want to think. I'm not going to try to retract what I said, and I don't feel the least bit bad about it.
posted by planet at 5:59 PM on March 10, 2012


I don't feel the least bit bad about it.

Right, because you're making this topic of involuntary celibacy all about you.
posted by sweetkid at 6:04 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why are there so many angry, uptight, white guys?

It's the result of the overall change in society. Up until the mid-60s or so, white guys like this called all the shots. Patriarch, father knows best, and all that. The women's movement, the opening of sexuality brought about at least in part because of the AIDS crisis of the 80s, the gradual acceptance of gays; all of these steps (in the right direction) have taken that power from those angry white guys--and not a few angry white women as well.

Even young-ish guys like this weren't alive in the 60s (or earlier), but they grew up expecting to live the same lifestyle as Dad, where the man rules over all. And in some families, some communities, some parts of the country, this lifestyle still stands. But the changes in society are set, the ball is rolling, and these folks feel powerless to stop it. Videos like this are a cry of pain: "Why is the rest of the country not like my enclave at church? Why!?!?!?!"
posted by zardoz at 6:06 PM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


One of the suggested videos next to this one on youtube is "Strapped Gay Movie Clip." Awesome.
posted by entropyiswinning at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I learned about sex by reading books mom hid under her bed. And now that I've written this sentence, I am completely grossed out by it.
posted by angrycat at 6:34 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironically, I only learned about masturbation from the story of Onan.

I have never quite understood this, exactly. Onan's sin was withdrawal, not masturbation--he didn't want to get his brother's widow, whom he had married according to the religious law, pregnant, so he "spilled his seed upon the ground." Do clergypeople just riff from there as to why Touching Yourself Is Wrong, and that's why Onan and masturbation are linked?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:41 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminder that the church I was raised in teaches kids to be sexually-literate and that's why I know better than to wear pleated pants and fear macaroons. Thanks, Unitarian Universalism!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:56 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


But what if I'm both promiscuous AND liked pleated pants? What then?!

They're COMFORTABLE, dammit.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:28 PM on March 10, 2012


Masturbation will distort the energy body of a human being
posted by eddydamascene at 7:40 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminder that the church I was raised in teaches kids to be sexually-literate and that's why I know better than to wear pleated pants and fear macaroons. Thanks, Unitarian Universalism!

A friend of mine recently started attending the UU church here in town just to get her kids the sex ed curriculum.

I just got It's Perfectly Normal for my own 10-year-old. I love the picture of the girl masturbating; she's got such a sweet look on her face. And I love the multiple nudie pics of people of various ages and sizes. I haven't given it to the kid yet; don't know what he'll think of it.
posted by not that girl at 7:53 PM on March 10, 2012


koeselitz: " planet announced above that anybody who doesn't happen to have a sexual partner at any given moment is "angry, bitter, paranoid, depressed and suicidal," and you're asking Ivan to "dial it back" because he objects to the idea that not having sex makes you a deranged lunatic likely to make horrible anti-Planned Parenthood videos and strangle puppies?"

You need to dial it back, bucko. Then you need to reread planet's comment, more slowly this time. Then, after you've compared it to what you claimed was written, feel free to dial up the outrage again if you still find something to take exception with. As it is, you've made shit up and gotten mad about it.
posted by wierdo at 8:11 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I paused and zoomed in (by shouting "Enhance! Enhance!" at my laptop) on the document they show at the point they claim there's a seekrit Planned Parenthood plot to spread teh gay as a "sick form of population control" and was barely able to make out the phrase "fertility control agents in water supply". After some googlings I found that this is a recurring tin foil hat theory that in the past decade has been attached to Planned Parenthood and there have been a couple of AskMes.
posted by XMLicious at 8:47 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, if that's what you want to think. I'm not going to try to retract what I said, and I don't feel the least bit bad about it.

You've nothing to feel bad about.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 9:05 PM on March 10, 2012


That fake shock facial expression looks difficult to maintain.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:31 PM on March 10, 2012


Yes, the Unitarian-Universalist sex ed program - "Our Whole Lives" - is excellent. Kids (boys and girls together) see sex in B&W illustrations, and learn about sex and love as well as STDs, birth control, etc.

Your public school probably did a better job fifty years ago than they do today, contrary to what most of the younger denizens of MeFi might think. But not good enough.

My child's first question after her 5th grade sex ed class was: "How does the sperm get to the egg?" Heh. You'd think that question would have been addressed, but here's how it was 50 years ago in the USA:

-Sex was more accurately and graphically explained.
-Religion was more widespread (Christianity especially).
-Christians did not broadcast their religion as bombastically and relentlessly as they do today, and, God forbid, they did not conflate religiosity with electability.

That said, racism, sexism, and homophobia were rampant. There never have been "the good old days."

Oh, this thread was about the risible video attacking Planned Parenthood? Oh, please. We all have our illusions, but the idea that kids don't think about sex until PP tells them about it is...well, unfortunately, believed by a lot of people.
posted by kozad at 9:42 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't even know where or how I learned about sex. I grew up in conservative Northern Virginia in the 1980s and my parents did not discuss sex ever ever ever or ask or talk to us about it. I still think they'd like to assume that I've never had sex since I'm not married, despite being in my thirties.

However, I have a vivid memory of being six years old and the slightly older kids having a heated, secret discussion that they wouldn't let me listen to because I was too young, they said. I got upset and they said, "Fine, ok, this is what sex is" and explained the whole deal to me. I was like, "OH, I knew that already." How? Where?

I did have pretty comprehensive sex education though once I got to 5th grade and beyond, despite the aforementioned conservatism of the area. It's like all the parents as a whole just agreed not to let their beliefs interfere much with what we learned in school, and I'm thankful for that.
posted by sweetkid at 9:57 PM on March 10, 2012


These idiots never look outward. It takes a teen-pregnancy in the family to even crack their armor, let alone bring in crumbling down.

God damn ignorance will be the end of us.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:14 PM on March 10, 2012


neat, now i can write off alternative sexualities that i think are weird by pathologizing their practitioners as deprived losers

Well, in the case of those furries...

In fact, our own Peter McDermott wrote one such teen sex ed publication, which won some kind of award, as I recall.


The Big Blue Book of Sex, baby. Health Promotion publication of the year.

Wait, it says no swearing? That doesn't sound like me...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:46 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


brina: I wish I'd had a book like that one, that tells you masturbation is okay.

I heard about sex from classmates in elementary school. I went home and looked up "sex" in the children's encyclopedia (World Book, I think), which said something like, "The man places his penis in the woman's vagina..." I read the whole entry a few times. A year or two later I heard or read the phrase "the birds and the bees." I didn't know what it meant, so I asked mom.

Mom: Well, do you know what sex is?
Me [thinking, but not saying, because I was mortified at the idea of saying it out loud and to my mother no less]: The man places his penis in the woman's vagina. I don't want to say this out loud. Sure you can. No I can't. [crickets] My face is really really hot. How the hell am I going to get out of this conversation? Think, think, think. Aaargh. [crickets] How the hell did I get into it in the first place? How? How? ................... OH YEAH it's cuz I asked "What does 'the birds and the bees' mean?"
Me: What [editing out "the hell"] does this have to do with "the birds and the bees?"
Mom: That's just a phrase people use to talk about sex. If you think about bees going into flowers to get pollen, see...
Me: OH! Ooohhh.
Mom: If you know what sex is, why couldn't you say it?
Me [still blushing]: ...
Mom: You shouldn't feel embarrassed to talk about sex. It's natural. There's nothing wrong with it.
Me: Okay, okay, Mom. Can we talk about something else now?

When at age 19 I started dating my first serious bf, a cassette tape about sex was left lying around among the usual magazines and books (I was still living at home to save money while going to college). Mom and I had had that talk over a decade earlier and several subsequent ones since, about birth control, pregnancy, STDs, condoms, etc. So I knew she knew I was well versed in the subject. Theoretically, anyway. So it had to be dad who left it there. I gave it a listen in case there was anything surprising in it. There wasn't. I put it back. It vanished. Years later, I said to him, "Hey, you remember leaving that cassette tape about sex around when I was dating my first serious bf? Thanks, Dad, that was really cool of you." "No problem," he said, and changed the subject.

But anyway, about masturbation. The mother of my oldest friend was a very conservative Christian. When I was 18 we got into a political discussion.
Her: Planned Parenthood is evil!
Me: What?
Her: They promote masturbation and sex!
Me [flabbergasted]: Uh...what's wrong with masturbation?
Her [indignant]: Masturbation leads straight to sex!
Me: No it doesn't!
Her: Yes it does!
Me: No, it really doesn't.
Her: Do you seriously think people who masturbate have the self-control to avoid leaping into sex every chance they get?

I just glared at her. Social taboos against revealing way-too-personal information were too strong. Now, I wish I had said what I was thinking: "Yes, Mrs. V, I do think that. You know why? Because I'VE been masturbating for YEARS and I'm still a virgin, that's why!" Not that I had had tons of opportunities, thanks to acne and nerdliness. But I had had a few, which I had declined because I wasn't interested in the guys who offered.

Come to think of it, her eldest daughter had gotten pregnant in high school. I suppose Mrs V dealt with it by concluding that she, Mrs V, had not made sex shameful enough.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:14 AM on March 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you search YouTube you'll see that this dude and his group have been obsessed with that 'it's perfectly normal' book for years. Dude has put on a lot of weight since 2008 -- all those church bake sales add up I guess.

I couldn't watch all the way through. It's ridiculous, and yet deeply disturbing. It boggles my mind that whackjobs like this are controlling school boards and being voted into power.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:38 AM on March 11, 2012


this is paying off better than that time i took evo psych

Cue Peter Griffin flashback.


What? No clip?
posted by vitabellosi at 6:00 AM on March 11, 2012


I'll never understand why those on the right seem to be against sex. Sex is FUN, people LOVE sex.
posted by splatta at 6:43 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting, I'm often shocked by the European ability to be reasonable and sane, thanks Maias.

There is however a point that young people should be told that they've plenty of time and don't worry if stuff doesn't work out the first couple time around. In particular, I'd certainly agree that teenage boys are quite romantic, but they dump that after a few failures, only restarting after a relationship goes well.

There is infinitely more legitimacy to be had when talking about love if you also talk about experimenting with homosexuality, polyamory, or whatever floats your boat. And teenagers certainly do want objectively correct advice on broaching the subject of sexual relations with others.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:50 AM on March 11, 2012


The rural doctor encountered case after case of these girls that got married at 16 or 17, had ten kids by the time they were 30, and really couldn't afford to feed one mouth more. the only 'natural' solution was celibacy or death. death is likely to come before people stop doing it.

It's great that they got birth control and all, but if you're correct that the citizens of rural America 1939 could not bring themselves to be celibate even when it was obvious that their lives depended on it--that's really ugly. If sex actually controls people that way, I can really sympathize with the fundamentalist urge to control sex instead, however misguided.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:37 AM on March 11, 2012


Jeff, yeah of course... wasn't saying that teens should marry the first person they fall for. only that the feelings of adolescence (and love at any age) are intense and this notion we have that it's bad to "catch feelings" (as if they're a disease!) when you have sex, is just plain silly.

in fact, if you think about it for more than five minutes, it's way more distracting to try to juggle multiple people and avoid "feelings" than it is to be in a stable relationship so it's really insane, at least to me, to think that it's mature to wait for some imagined convenient time to fall in love and reject the possibility of being with someone you fall for "too early." (I'm talking here about college kids who reject the possibility of a serious relationship, not high school).
posted by Maias at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2012


It's great that they got birth control and all, but if you're correct that the citizens of rural America 1939 could not bring themselves to be celibate even when it was obvious that their lives depended on it--that's really ugly. If sex actually controls people that way, I can really sympathize with the fundamentalist urge to control sex instead, however misguided.

Um, you ever hear of biology?
posted by Maias at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2012


"Um, you ever hear of biology?"

Right. Any fool understands that we're automatons. Sheesh.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:21 PM on March 11, 2012


Ok, wait a minute.

A fun montage showing gay men being super gay ----> followed with, "Is it any wonder 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD?" Um, I don't actually think THOSE are the particular guys they're catching STDs from.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 3:31 PM on March 11, 2012


Oops, LauraNesson said the same exact thing. Preview failure. But that was definitely the most hilarious part of the video!
posted by GastrocNemesis at 3:37 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Um, you ever hear of biology?

If by "biology," you mean "husbands were allowed to rape their wives and work their children like slaves," bingo.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:39 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm old, ugly, bitter, and don't have sex (well, with other people anyway). I don't get angry at the young folks who do get laid though. I just wish once one of them would say "Someone should screw the old guy peeking in the window."
posted by evilDoug at 4:01 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll never understand why those on the right seem to be against sex. Sex is FUN, people LOVE sex.

Fun? Love? You just answered your own question.
posted by nath at 5:23 PM on March 11, 2012


Right. Any fool understands that we're automatons.

Of course, sexual desire is really plastic and malleable. Which is precisely why conversion therapy works as well as it does for gay men. And prior to gay liberation and widespread acceptance, nobody would risk lifelong shame and imprisonment for a quick fumble in the public toilets with a stranger if we were all the masters of our sexual domain, would they?

Oh, wait...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:18 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't there some middle ground in this argument between "sexuality is completely plastic and malleable" and "we are automatons unable to control our urge to have sex even if it kills us?" I don't think I really agree with either.
posted by koeselitz at 6:22 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't there some middle ground in this argument between "sexuality is completely plastic and malleable" and "we are automatons unable to control our urge to have sex even if it kills us?" I don't think I really agree with either.

Maybe not, but it sure seems like reality is closer to the latter than the former.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:27 AM on March 12, 2012


I disagree pretty strongly – although I acknowledge that this is the received wisdom these days. For instance, I really like Dan Savage, but one of his unspoken assumptions about sexuality is that it simply is not plastic at all; we are born with sexual predilections, and we bear those out, with no choice in the matter and no ability to avoid them. I understand why this is an attractive and politically expedient doctrine. If we say "a person can't avoid their desires – they're born that way!" then we can completely dodge any discussions about whether this or that form of sexuality is moral or immoral, or whether we have some responsibility to ourselves to control our sexual appetites. If we're simply born with sexual predilections, the issue of choice doesn't enter into it at all.

But I see a lot of evidence that this isn't true, and that sexuality is more fluid than the popular enlightened liberal idea of it. For example, I know several women who have confessed that they first became lesbians in large part because of their bad experiences with men. These were women in long-term, loving, stable, happy, plenty-of-sex-having relationships with other women; it seemed to me that their lesbianism was nothing if not genuine, and I didn't question the validity of their identification as lesbians. It was wholly genuine. I also know gay men and women who have fallen happily in love with members of the opposite sex, and whose sexualities have shifted (often jarringly) with their new relationships. And though we don't talk about them much, I do think there are people who enter marriages as perfectly straight and who come to realize they're not. And, though the notion is distinctly unpopular these days, I know people who have happily chosen celibacy, and believe it's their ideal sexual way of being.

I think sexuality ebbs and flows, and that's part of what makes us who we are. I think there are some things we're born with, but there are plenty of other things that were inspired by a fragile moment when we were children, or that terrible or wonderful thing that happened in high school, or that past partner who sparked something in us. I agree that very few of us are of a spiritual caliber to have complete control over our own sexuality. However, I think it's much more of a changing thing than many of us are willing to admit.

It's convenient to believe that sexuality is concrete and unchanging, because it provides an easy dodge for any questions of responsibility or morality; I think a lot of us are afraid to apply morality or responsibility to sex, considering the incredible violence that has been done to the human soul in the past in the application of responsibility and morality to sexuality. But I think this is taking the easy way out, and moreover it simply doesn't seem true to me that sexuality is simply a force entirely external to our volition.

Sorry if this is a derail; I guess it's something I've been thinking about a lot.
posted by koeselitz at 8:07 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone is arguing that sexuality is an unchanging absolute. Hormone levels fluctuate all the time. The argument was that people probably can't just up and say, "I'm not going to have sex anymore" without psychological consequences if they still feel like having sex, and I don't think your example of people happily choosing celibacy contradicts that. People might be able to choose to stop having sex if the alternative is death, on average, but I don't think they will be, on the whole, as happy as they would be both living an dhaving sex.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:21 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's broad agreement on what a "sexuality" is. We can establish that, in response to certain experiences, a person gets physically aroused and/or experiences cravings for whatever their particular kink is. It's the same way with food, really, and as with food, some people are more inclined to act on those cravings than others. Yeah, you've got to eat if you don't want to starve, but if you've got the patience to keep up a strenuous diet long enough for your metabolism to adapt, you can. People have.

Now, perhaps it's a bit much to expect any large population of people to be celibate for as long as children would be hazardous to their lifestyle. It's for much the same reason that we can't stop people from using weird drugs, really. Sure, you can get pretty fucked up without actually using illegal substances, and that's entirely sufficient for most people's psychotropic needs. But a lot of people do the hard stuff anyway, not because they need any particular drug, any particular trip, but because novelty is just that important to them. Never mind whether cocaine is better than alcohol in some sense.

But even supposing that it were reasonable to expect celibacy from everyone, all of the efforts at enforcing it have been executed terribly. They usually forbid masturbation, though the theological basis for this is tenuous, as noted upthread. Other physical activities might be given as alternatives, but not as outlets for whatever type of feeling a sexual feeling is, and taking that kind of pleasure in, say, football will probably get you called "fag" a lot, at least.

This leads to a sort of arms race. Horny kids find a variety of ways to express their sexuality without exchanging bodily fluids: freakdancing, aforementioned contact sports, scandalous fashion, whatever. Fundamentalists rage against those too. They'll rage against anything more intense than their devotion, I think. So even in the case where this works, and kids channel their frustrated sexuality into their religion, said religion will have to be at maximum intensity in order to serve as the outlet it's being made to function as.

So they channel the ache into videos like this one.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:36 AM on March 12, 2012


This thread is a good example of how mefites, as a group, can be very parochial without realizing it. The two assumptions which are virtually unchallenged in this thread, that it's essentially not possible for people to be voluntarily celibate and that celibacy, especially involuntary celibacy, is necessarily psychologically damaging, are both assumptions that a great many people would contest—the latter mostly likely including people who are friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers of these very mefites. There is a whole lot of ethnocentricism and personal projection going on in this thread.

And it's also grimly amusing that a group that normally (rightly) shies away from biological determinism would embrace it so wholeheartedly in this case.

You don't have to take these positions to support what we probably mostly all agree are the correct political and policy positions. Is sex a good thing? Absolutely. I'm passionately and outspokenly sex-positive. Is abstinence education an effective means of controlling teen pregnancy and STD transmission? Absolutely not. The empirical evidence is unambiguous.

And I think the very same folk who are arguing from a biologically determinist position would be especially inclined to agree that adolescence is arguably the peak period when humans are most ruled by their sexual desire, because of the combination of sexual development and psychological immaturity. You don't need to take a hard biological determinism stance to allow that teens are unusually resistant to abstinence.

The centrality of sexuality in an individual's psyche is not some universally fixed value. It varies greatly between individuals and people who are asexual, people who are relatively less sexual and sexually inactive, people who are sexually average and sexually active, people are who are sexually average and more than sexually active, people who are extremely sexual and more than sexually active...or less—all this is within the range of normal human experience and it is narrow-minded and also not very nice to pathologize any of these variations.

In my very strongly, even passionately, held opinion, being sex-positive is to be tolerant and encouraging of the full range of human sexual expression (barring nonconsensual violence). Because history teaches nothing if not that there is an enormous range of human sexual experience and desire. Including levels of desire.

Biological determinist arguments about sexual desire and activity tend to very predictably rationalize prevailing sexual norms, for whatever subcultural environment they are utilized. The history of all such arguments should frighten every progressive into being deeply reluctant to embrace such arguments—the history of thought in the US for the last hundred years about the biological nature of female sexual desire and response should alarm anyone who wishes to justify public policy on the basis of "how people really are, sexually".

One big reason that abstinence education is a huge failure is precisely that one size does not fit all. Even among teenagers, it's simply not the case that all boys are thinking about sex every minute, or masturbate twice a day, or whatever. Different people are different, even teenagers. Starting from the premise that all people, including teenagers, show a wide variety of sexuality, and that this is okay, would go a long way toward ensuring the success of sex education and limiting teen pregnancy and STDs.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:26 PM on March 12, 2012


This thread is a good example of how mefites, as a group, can be very parochial without realizing it. The two assumptions which are virtually unchallenged in this thread, that it's essentially not possible for people to be voluntarily celibate and that celibacy, especially involuntary celibacy, is necessarily psychologically damaging, are both assumptions that a great many people would contest—the latter mostly likely including people who are friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers of these very mefites. There is a whole lot of ethnocentricism and personal projection going on in this thread.

The above doesn't describe most participants of this thread, let alone "mefites as a group."

Talk about personal projection.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:45 PM on March 12, 2012


Yeah, like most attempts at "grand scope" comments, it falls a little flat in its lack of specifics. This whole thing started with planet's comment, in which he was perhaps unadvisedly generalizing his personal experience, but it was his personal experience, which I mistakenly thought was obvious. I don't see why it's parochial to acknowledge that, biologically speaking, human beings exist primarily to have sex (although the other stuff is great, too!), and to posit that on the whole people will probably be unhappier if they cannot have sex despite wanting to, though of course there will be much variation in degree. People who, for whatever reason, do not want to have sex or can take it or leave it aren't involuntarily celibate.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:11 PM on March 12, 2012


I don't see why it's parochial to acknowledge that, biologically speaking, human beings exist primarily to have sex

Because it isn't true.

For one thing, you're attributing purpose to our, uh, biologies. Purposes are not things that scientists concern themselves with, although you might be led to assume as much by the use of terms like "evolutionary strategy". There's no word for "thing that turned out to work well enough in this environment to get passed on". So biologists have to use vaguely anthropomorphic language, and compensate by qualifying it with "evolutionary".

Now, perhaps what you meant to say here is that evolution tends to select for sex-crazed phenotypes because they end up producing more children. That's true to an extent, but nymphomania is not the only way to achieve this. Humans have some parenting instincts--pretty simple ones compared to most animals, I think, but parents have been known to get totally addicted to providing for their children. Sometimes before they actually have children. Sometimes when they never have or want children of their own! But that's a perfectly sensible adaptation, really. If some members of our population devote more resources to caring for others than for passing on their own genes, that means the species as a whole will have an easier time getting the next generation to survive in good health long enough to reproduce.

This kind of trait persists in our species, sometimes overtaking such things as the sex drive, because of kin selection: genes that help a species thrive tend to get passed on, even when they don't help the individual pass on their genes, because those genes are still present (probably inactive) in the genotype for the whole species. Every generation gets some people like this, and therefore, the species is happier, healthier, and more likely to live long enough to reproduce. Kin selection is why we have our obsessive engineers who care more for making civilization work than for living in it or interacting with people, our crazed ideologues who can make an audience of millions cooperate on a project that none of them understand, and our quasi-suicidal warriors who take stupid risks that needed to be taken by someone or other.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:23 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's a specific: "The argument was that people probably can't just up and say, 'I'm not going to have sex anymore' without psychological consequences if they still feel like having sex..."

"Psychological consequences"? This is parochial. Do you know any single (widowed, whatever) people over 60? Probably half of them are involuntarily celibate. Is it your contention that they're all psychologically damaged? People who are very ill or disabled? People working in extended isolation? Just regular people who, for whatever reasons, haven't had sex in more than a year or two?

Last year, at a gathering of old friends, I had a private conversation with one of our group. We're all four middle-aged white guys. But this one friend who I was talking to, he was always the best looking and most sexually active of all of us. So much so, the rest of us ended up joking about how he always, one way or another, without actually having ill-intent, would end up sleeping with our girlfriends. I'd guess he's had sex with somewhere around a hundred women, or more.

But he'd been separated from his second wife for over two years and while he'd right about then been angling for a reconciliation, she'd told him that she was seeing someone else and asked to go through with the divorce. And he told me how he wasn't even really sure whether he wanted to start again in a relationship. And that it was weird because this was the longest he'd gone without sex—two years at that point. I told him that I'd gone longer than that myself, had gone much longer than they before the relationship I'd been in in 2010. And our other friends came into the room. Someone asked what we were talking about. And this one friend turned to one of the guys who'd just came into the room, one of the four of us who you'd expect would have had less sex over the years than the rest of us, and asked him, "so, how long have you ever gone without sex?" And the other guy says, oh, I don't know, about six months? And he clearly thought that was a really long time. Both me and the friend I had been talking to didn't say anything.

I'm not holding this guy up as an example of great mental health—though I'd say that his issues have a lot more to do with his failed marriage than not having sex. The not having sex is the least of it.

But my point is that there is a much greater variety in sexual activity than many, probably most, people think. And the people who are sexually active, especially the people who haven't gone without sex more than a few weeks in adulthood, tend to have really narrow views of what is normal and regular and, particularly, what it would mean for someone to go much longer without sex than they have.

Do most of these people I'm mentioning, including myself, want to have sex? Sure. And some of them want to be having sex much more than others. Some of them would prefer it, but it's not really that high on their list of priorities. And none of those people are necessarily psychologically damaged (as your "psychological consequences" wording carefully implies). For that matter, neither are the people who really would like a lot of sex and are going without it.

A much larger portion of our society, and other societies, are people who go involuntarily without sex for months and years than many people in this thread, including you, seem to think. They're not all living in misery that is damaging their mental health. To think so is excessively reductive of the great variety of needs, desires, coping strategies, choices, and temperaments of human beings.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:38 PM on March 12, 2012


You are both misstating my position to an absurd degree. I am saying no more and no less than this: most people like to have sex; of those people, most of them would be unhappier (to whatever degree) if they could not have sex. I don't know how old people deal with it. Perhaps the sex drive gradually diminishes. Let me get back to you if I make it that long.

Please do not think you are telling me something I don't know about the purposelessness of biology. Kin selection would be nothing wihout sex, as there would be no kin to select. By the way, as long as we are accusing each other of making rookie mistakes, I don't think gene selection has anything to do with the health of the species as a whole.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:27 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll never understand why those on the right seem to be against sex. Sex is FUN, people LOVE sex.

that's why people on the right are against it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:39 PM on March 12, 2012


I don't think gene selection has anything to do with the health of the species as a whole.

Seriously? You don't think that there are any evolutionary pressures to do with the health of the species as a whole?

Kin selection would be nothing wihout sex, as there would be no kin to select.

Sure. But you said: biologically speaking, human beings exist primarily to have sex--human beings. Individuals. What's true of the species isn't true of all its members.

You are both misstating my position to an absurd degree.

Granting for the moment that you didn't really mean that everyone exists primarily to pass on their own genes, you're communicating badly and blaming us for it.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:54 AM on March 13, 2012


Seriously? You don't think that there are any evolutionary pressures to do with the health of the species as a whole?

Seriously? I do not. Selection works at the level of the gene (not the organism, not the species), as far as my reading has suggested, and it makes sense to me. Does the evidence contradict this (if so, what evidence)? I'm not a biologist and therefore not up on the literature as it stands at present.

I have already clarified my position, but I will do so again. Insofar as people can, on the whole, be said to have a purpose (i.e. general function) it is to propagate the genes which gave them rise. For most (but not all) people, this purpose makes itself known in the desire for sex. Obviously this does not apply to each and every single individual person on the planet, but on the whole it does apply, which is pretty self-evident, from the near-ubiquity of sex and the fact that the human population continues to grow. What has always been interesting to me, personally, is the sort of self-sabotage of this process that makes the indirect thing (sex) appealing to some people (like myself) who otherwise have no actual desire for children, but that's an aside. So, of course there is plenty of individual variation in the desire for sex and the degree of unhappiness when wanted sex is not available, and I have acknowledged as much several times during this discussion. Taken in the aggregate, however, humans clearly want sex. Also taken in the aggregate, humans are unhappier than they might be when they can't get what they want. I don't think I can make this any clearer than I have.

I also think relating engineering to kin selection is a bit of a stretch.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:27 AM on March 13, 2012


Selection works at the level of the gene

I bet you're misspeaking again, but it sounds like you believe that natural selection occurs during the exchange of chromosomes, and selects which ones get passed on.

Nope. Those are selected at random. If the random selection produces an organism that survives to reproduce, then you can point to whatever genes helped it do that and say that those have been selected. Though there's still a fair chance they won't get passed on, just 'cause they were unlucky. Evolution is trial and error, mostly error.

Any given organism ends up with a bunch of genes it can't actually use. Some of these are random noise, but some of them are potentially useful stuff that happens not to have been turned on by some other combination of genes. That type of "carrier gene" persists in whole enormous populations, even when it's only expressed in a select few, because the populations that couldn't rely on having a few members with the gene, in every generation, died out. That's an evolutionary pressure to do with the health of the population.

I guess I shouldn't have said "species".
posted by LogicalDash at 8:46 AM on March 13, 2012


I don't think I'm misspeaking; Dawkins used that exact phrase. I mean by it what he meant, that selection pressures act to change the frequency of alleles in a population, and the "health of the species" or anything above the gene level is ephemeral. I am skeptical of these "carrier genes". Do you have any examples?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:11 AM on March 13, 2012


Hemophilia. If you have two X chromosomes, only one with the gene for hemophilia, then your blood will clot like normal. Have it on both chromosomes? Or, only got one X chromosome? Your blood will flow til you're dry.

That's one kind, called a recessive trait. Another kind is the genetic switch. There are many kinds of those.

Selection pressures do in fact act to change the frequency of alleles in the population, and the pressure to reproduce is omnipresent, so it will remain in effect while others come and go--the other pressures might be "ephemeral" relative to that. That doesn't make them trivial.

Asexual organisms have an easier time reproducing than sexual ones, but sexual organisms get more genetic diversity, and that turns out to be useful enough that most multicellular organisms are sexual. So as long as we're anthropomorphizing evolution, let's say that it's willing to give up some amount of reproductive potential for some amount of genetic diversity. If you accept that much, it should be easy to imagine that certain kinds of genetic diversity are more helpful than others, and evolution should select for those, even if--like sex itself--they make gene propagation a more arduous process.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:20 AM on March 13, 2012


You're using hemophilia as an example of a a trait that needs to be kept around or a population will die out?
posted by adamdschneider at 2:57 PM on March 13, 2012


Nope. You asked for an example of carrier genes and I gave you one. Then I linked you to more.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:08 PM on March 13, 2012


"Seriously? You don't think that there are any evolutionary pressures to do with the health of the species as a whole?"

No. Absolutely not. You're asserting a naive and extreme version of group selection that I'm sure no evolutionary biologist would defend. And arguments of group selection, in general, should be treated with suspicion.

Both of you, I'm sorry to say, are making absurdly ambitious pop-evolution arguments to support your pre-existing conclusions.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:14 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh, why not respond to my argument while you're at it?
posted by LogicalDash at 8:09 PM on March 13, 2012


Both of you, I'm sorry to say, are making absurdly ambitious pop-evolution arguments to support your pre-existing conclusions.

Which part of my argument do you consider absurdly ambitious?
posted by adamdschneider at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2012


"Eh, why not respond to my argument while you're at it?"

Just do some research on "group selection". And try to imagine how selecting for "the health of a species as a whole" could possibly work.

"I guess I shouldn't have said 'species'."

Well, yeah. And, re-reading what you wrote, I see that you have some familiarity with ideas about group selection. But, again, you should be aware that group selection has a rocky and sorry history in evolutionary science. The adaptationists, of whom Dawkins is numbered, will deny it altogether, pretty much. And the adaptationists, for better or worse, are much closer to the consensus and have been for thirty years. However, there's still room in the consensus for some group selection, and there is some. But history has shown that a) hypothesis that use group selection as a mechanism can usually do without it to explain data, and b) favoring group selection as a model for evolution in general is an egregious error and leads people down wrong paths. Therefore, you should think twice and three and four times before using group selection in an argument. And that's especially true if you're doing armchair evolutionary theorizing about, of all things, human behavior.

"Which part of my argument do you consider absurdly ambitious?"

Basically your aim. You're pretty much doing EP without even the dubious credibility of being an evolutionary psychologist or, you know, data and rigor.

You're not just arguing that the desire for sex is a biological imperative in humans in general, which goes without saying. You're taking that entirely non-controversial assumption and attempting to construct an argument about the sexual behavior and psychology of individual humans, and you're using that assumption's credibility in evolutionary theory as your argument's credibility.

And this is all very silly. If you both want to make an appeal to SCIENCE! for credibility for your positions, then I have little doubt that there are legitimate studies about happiness and the psychological impact on populations of people who are denied opportunities for sex. Use those, not make up vague armchair arguments appealing to poorly understood and pop versions of evolutionary theory.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:31 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's great that they got birth control and all, but if you're correct that the citizens of rural America 1939 could not bring themselves to be celibate even when it was obvious that their lives depended on it--that's really ugly. If sex actually controls people that way, I can really sympathize with the fundamentalist urge to control sex instead, however misguided.

Um, you ever hear of biology?


Someone took a massive leap from my comment about biology here to suggesting that we're all automatons. That's certainly not what I meant. But what I did mean is that, as Peter pointed it, sexuality is a hugely strong force, probably the strongest one we face, and it's absurd to think that involuntarily celibacy—even when life itself is at risk— can be achieved by most, or even many, people. Those who *want* to achieve celibacy (aside from asexual people) have a massively hard time of it. Why would we think that those who are forced would do any better?

The other thing that people fail to consider in these discussions is the value of pleasure. If your life completely sucks and sex is the only pleasure in it, why wouldn't you choose to have sex and risk death in the process? Presumably, if you manage to stay alive, you're doing well and getting more sex— and if you die, well, you'd prefer to be dead than not to have sex. This choice is mind-boggling for people who value health and longevity above all else—and they refuse to see it as a choice, let alone a potentially rational one— but that's a failure of empathy, not a failure of the people who feel that a pleasureless live isn't worth living.
posted by Maias at 3:16 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're taking that entirely non-controversial assumption and attempting to construct an argument about the sexual behavior and psychology of individual humans

No, I never did. I have continually used phrases like "on the whole" and "in the aggregate" because I know that arguments such as these can never be used to predict the behavior of specific people. This whole thing, in fact, started because you excoriated planet for talking about his personal experience because you erroneously thought he was speaking on behalf of others. I am not doing so. To be honest, I don't think you've done a very good job of refutation because while quite aggressive and very much in the vein of "I know more about this subject than you can possibly imagine," your argument thus far basically boils down to "you're doing it wrong," which I find less than convincing. Maybe you can tell me exactly where you think I am taking a wrong turn:

1.) Most people want to have sex. (Do you disagree? If so, why?)

2.) Most people are unhappier when they don't get what they want than when they do. (Do you disagree? If so, why?)

3.) Therefore most people will be unhappier without sex than they would be with it. (Do you disagree? If so, why?)

You will note that I have not stated that any particular, specific person must therefore be unhappy with his or her lot in life of no sex.

I don't think any of this is particularly controversial. I don't recall any controversy when the "angry young man" problem has been previously discussed in several different contexts, such as polygynous marriage in Mormon Utah, the potential marriage timebomb in China due to selective abortion/infanticide or whatever is causing the problem in the Middle East (I don't recall). For individuals, it's dependent on many factors, which I have repeatedly acknowledged.

Perhaps you instead take exception to my statement that "human being exist primarily to have sex". It's a bit reductive, true, but I don't think that makes it fundamentally wrong, and you haven't convinced me so far that I should. Those genes survive best which result in their own propagation. Genes create organisms. Organisms exist to propagate their genes. Human genes propagate themselves via sex. How is this at all controversial? What other "purpose" would say organisms in general and humans in particular have?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:18 PM on March 14, 2012


Well, with regard to the defense of planet's comment, I think that people don't use the second-person pronoun that way without intending to universalize. I thought of numerous examples and ways to explain this the other night, but I realized then that if someone doesn't see that this is true, there's no point in arguing it. But, just for the heck of it, take something extremely specific to your own experience and describe it using "you".

The whole point of not speaking specifically in the first person is to project your own experience onto other people. When it's describing one's own experience but with third-person or, especially, second-person pronouns, it changes the meaning to something like "this is an experience that people in general have, that I've (possibly/probably) had".

Let's try that again:

The whole point of not speaking specifically in the first person is to project my own experience onto other people. When it's describing my own experience but with third-person or second-person pronouns, it changes the meaning to something like "this is an experience that people in general have, that I've (possibly/probably) had".

You see? Those two paragraphs are not equivalent. I would have written the latter only if I were very specifically describing only my own personal experience, without implying that others share it.

Furthermore, I think it's disingenuous to claim that planet's comment wasn't intended as commentary on the subject of this post and people like the subject of this post. Otherwise, it's a non sequitor.

"You will note that I have not stated that any particular, specific person must therefore be unhappy with his or her lot in life of no sex."

Yes, that's true. I still felt (more about the past tense in a moment) that you were overgeneralizing because this particular assertion dominated my attention:

"The argument was that people probably can't just up and say, 'I'm not going to have sex anymore' without psychological consequences if they still feel like having sex..."

However, after looking over all of your comments again just now, I think that the one above is the solitary exception. You've qualified the rest of them.

Still, here's the problem: if, among people who want to have sex, the desire to have sex varies widely by individual, and also if the amount of lessened happiness or increased unhappiness caused by not having sex also varies widely by individual, and additionally some other arguments that I've not made and you've not considered (such as people might trade having sex for something else that they value more), then there's so much ambiguity in how much this can be explanatory of actual individual's people's behavior and mental states that it's hard to see why you would be pursuing the argument in the first place.

In other words, I think you're throwing an evolution argument at the wall, hoping it will stick, as a validation of the general claim that "being deprived of sex screws up peoples' heads" and, possibly, "makes them into angry, hateful people". Why else are you arguing this?

I can think of a bunch of desires which are biologically determined in humans and, because of that, I could make arguments similar to yours to the effect that thwarting those desires necessarily makes people less, rather than more, happy. I would never make such an argument because I don't think that happiness or psychological health is simply determined by those things alone. I don't think you would make those arguments, either, in many cases where the specific isn't sexual desire/activity because I strongly suspect that you would be suspicious of being that reductionist about human psychology and behavior.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:16 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can think of a bunch of desires which are biologically determined in humans and, because of that, I could make arguments similar to yours to the effect that thwarting those desires necessarily makes people less, rather than more, happy. I would never make such an argument because I don't think that happiness or psychological health is simply determined by those things alone.

I suppose, but it's not as though all desires are created equal. You could say with reasonable certainty that being deprived of oxygen for any length of time is going to make most people pretty unhappy most of the time. I am simply arguing that sex is more akin to, say, eating than, I don't know, riding bikes in its scope of applicability, but I think this is where we are going to have to agree to disagree.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:30 AM on March 16, 2012


(I know a lot of people who are happy to have nonreproductive sex the majority of the time --and not because they're using birth control. Orgasm is mostly not reproductive)
posted by vitabellosi at 7:32 AM on March 20, 2012


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