Thursday, March 24, 2011

Positive, Realistic Reform of the Sexual Revolution

Ross Douthat has a couple of interesting articles recently on the sexual revolution and what recovering some restraint in this area does to society (e.g., it makes people happier). I'm too busy to comment much, so I'll mostly reproduce some extended quotes that capture some of the more salient points.

"Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.

When social conservatives talk about restoring the link between sex, monogamy and marriage, they often have these kinds of realities in mind...

This is what’s at stake, for instance, in debates over abstinence-based sex education. Successful abstinence-based programs (yes, they do exist) don’t necessarily make their teenage participants more likely to save themselves for marriage. But they make them more likely to save themselves for somebody, which in turn increases the odds that their adult sexual lives will be a source of joy rather than sorrow.

It’s also what’s at stake in the ongoing battle over whether the federal government should be subsidizing Planned Parenthood. Obviously, social conservatives don’t like seeing their tax dollars flow to an organization that performs roughly 300,000 abortions every year. But they also see Planned Parenthood’s larger worldview — in which teen sexual activity is taken for granted, and the most important judgment to be made about a sexual encounter is whether it’s clinically “safe” — as the enemy of the kind of sexual idealism they’re trying to restore."

The treatment abstinence only programs get in the news media has always struck me as insincere. I've seen headlines that read "No Difference Between Abstinence Only and Regular Sex Ed Programs" that struck me as incredibly disingenuous. When you dig down, there were big differences. Besides, if there weren't differences in outcomes, why would the left be trying so hard to kill them when they account for such small portions of federal spending in this area? The STD incidence rates may be the same among both groups, but the number of sexual partners that the abstinence only ed groups have is measurably lower, and that makes a big difference in the quality of people's future relationships.

"Yes, an ethic of sexual restraint can be turned to patriarchal ends, but so can an ethic of sexual permissiveness, as anyone who’s hung out in a frat house for any length of time can attest. And the fact that smart feminists like Goldstein feel compelled to act all blasé about the pornography industry, lest they give an inch to the forces of reaction, seems like one of the more regrettable aspects of the contemporary cultural debate."

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Nanny State Meets the Kid Bicyclist

Last week I shared a laugh with a friend over a visit his wife received from the police. Apparently, a neighbor had called to report that his kids were riding their bikes in the street unsupervised. Oh the horror! Though the police couldn't actually ticket the family, they did show up to check on the situation and to warn the mother to make sure her kids were careful in their neighborhood wanderings. My friend and I had a good laugh, but I seriously wonder sometimes what has happened to our culture. As Anthony Esolen said, "you can deprive your child of a father and be cheered for it, but God help you if you let him ride a bike without a helmet"

Is it any wonder that obesity levels are rising in kids when the police show up over their riding their bikes in a rural neighborhood? Why the inordinate concern for suburban kids when ghetto kids walk can home from school surrounded by violence, drugs and prostitutes? We live in a society full of ludicrous dichotomies.