Thursday, July 14, 2011

On not taking the bait.

On the anti-fun (er, I mean, pro-"meaningful relationships," but in a way that excludes most of the actually meaningful relationships in my life) blog Hooking Up Smart, Susan Walsh posted the following chart on the economic costs of promiscuity:


(Click to embiggify)

My reactions, in no particular order:
-"EVENTUAL ECONOMIC STAGNATION!!!!!!!!!!"
-"That's not even a real flowchart."
-"That's not even like a flowchart."
-"Rape is just another kind of casual sex?!?!?" (I could write a whole post about this. But Manboobz already did.)
-"Wait, so a declining birthrate is bad for the economy, but having babies is bad for the economy?"
-"Gosh, prosecuting rape sure is hard on the economy."
-"Having kids with a father present leads to substance abuse, violence, crime, and prison?"
-"Wait, you can't list 'promiscuity' as a drawback of promiscuity. That's a feature."
-"So having consensual sex with a condom and not getting an STD or getting pregnant leads you to 'whew'? Since that's actually not rare at all, that's kind of an endorsement, isn't it?"
-"Y'know, not everyone who has casual sex is on welfare. If I have a job, and I pay those $$$$$ out of my own pocket, am I still ruining the economy?"
-"EVENTUAL ECONOMIC STAGNATION!!!!!!!!!!"

And then I made a chart of my own. I made a chart of reasons why promiscuity is good for the economy!



I mean, I don't know. Maybe it is good. Maybe it's actually bad? I'm guessing it doesn't really make a difference, but I don't know that. Like Susan Walsh, I'm no economist. Unlike her, I'm not going to pretend I am. And exactly like Susan Walsh, I'm not in this for the economics anyway.

Is sex good or bad for the economy? I don't give a shit. It's a personal freedom.

You know what else is an extremely fucking important personal freedom to me? Not having sex. Saving it for marriage, or saving it for a meaningful relationship, or saving it for when you're "ready," or saving it for never if that's what you want to do.

Reading someone rip into sluttiness and promote prudishness (to put it crudely on both sides, but you get my gist), it's easy to be tempted to take that bait, to make yourself a mirror image of their assholery, to say "sluts rule, prudes drool!"

But that's what the assholes expect (and maybe what they want). And most of the time it kinda makes you an asshole too. The right answer is "sluts rule, prudes rule, and anyone who has a problem with either of them... drools."



This comes up a lot when facing misogyny. When reading someone saying "women commit all the abuse, women have all the advantages, women are trained to be unreasonable to men," there's a certain temptation, in the heat of the argument, to point out that men commit all the abuse, etc. And whether you're statistically/sociologically right or not, ultimately, it doesn't prove that much. What I really want to say is:

Abuse, unfair advantages, and unreasonableness suck. Let's get rid of them.

Because this feminism stuff isn't supposed to be about "sides." It's about envisioning a better world. And the people on the other side just never seem to understand that!

53 comments:

  1. Wait...this chart isn't a joke?

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  2. Lisette - If it's a joke, Susan Walsh never breaks character. Her whole blog is like this.

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  3. HOLLY IS A WICKED BUTT SLUTTzzzz... sorry, I was just overcome by nostalgia for some of the trolls you used to get on your blog.

    I'm kinda surprised by Walsh's stance here (and elsewhere on her blog), after her roles in various John Waters flicks.

    Oh -- wait -- wrong Susan Walsh. Well, that explains a lot.

    Unless she came back as Uptight Zombie SexHater, which is also a possibility.

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  4. Jack - I kinda miss "Butt-Slut" dude.

    Kinda.

    He never said "wicked" though. I think that's your hilarious "vodker and coke" accent acting up again...

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  5. The economy may be stagnant. The same could not be said of my vagina. *BOOM TISH*

    Also, nice linking of sexual assault with casual sexual relationships there. ( =/= )

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  6. Even as a quasi-flowchart, and not getting to the actual content, this thing is atrociously executed.

    * "Did you use a condom?" has no other significance in the chart.

    * What's with the but thou must looping line at STD symptoms?

    * Are dollar signs supposed to be personal costs or social costs? Things like "declining birth rate" might have social economic costs, but they are not costing the individual childfree person very much, if anything.

    * If the dollar amounts are anything to go by, this chart advocates abortion on the grounds that it's a lesser economic cost.

    * Oh, and promiscuity has negative cost. PROFIT!

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  7. You know I was talking to my friend recently about the problem of making dates in a poly household (she lives with her partner and have a not when I am home rule) and the unmeet need of cheap hourly rate hotels where she or her partner could hookup when the house isn't free.

    Poly, funding motels!

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  8. Wow, promiscuity looks like a really good way to stimulate private-sector spending!

    But seriously, this would make a lot more sense if you took out the dollar signs and the triangle at the end just said "Susan Walsh judges you!"

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  9. Developers! Developers! Developers!July 14, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    'Because this feminism stuff isn't supposed to be about "sides." It's about envisioning a better world. And the people on the other side just never seem to understand that! '
    Sure we do... We just disagree about what the better would should look like.

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  10. I think the second promiscuity box represents 2nd generation promiscuity.

    I'm a little confused as to what would constitute "non-habitual" promiscuity. Is there some magic number of people you have to sleep with, without being betrothed to, before it becomes habitual? (Whew, good thing I stopped after 8 partners, otherwise I'd be HABITUAL.)

    I think the chart does contain several anti-sex myths in a succinct form:
    1) Contraception does nothing.
    2) The only acceptable reproductive option is babies in wedlock. No babies, or babies out of wedlock, are not OK.
    3) Babies out of wedlock cost money. Babies in wedlock are free.
    4) Pre-marital sex damages an eventual marriage [and marriage with babies is the only acceptable option].
    5) Rape is just another type of out-of-wedlock sex.

    After writing it so many times, "wedlock" is sounding less and less pleasant.

    Also the ManBoobz Venn diagram made me very happy.

    Also also, I think the final triangle needs more bangs. As it is, it took me a while to absorb just how eventual the economic stagnation would be.

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  11. Developers! Developers! Developers!July 15, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    Okay, I'll bite.

    @Dolbia
    Yes, yes... "Eventual Economic Stagnation!!!!!" is a bit of a leap of faith. However, I'm not sure that ll of those are myths.

    Okay, one by one:
    1) Contraception does nothing. - Okay, I'll just give you this one.

    2) The only acceptable reproductive option is babies in wedlock. No babies, or babies out of wedlock, are not OK. - I'll give you the "no babies" point. However, I think that out of wedlock births do have real harmful consequences for most of the children involved. Some put out of wedlock births as a leading cause of poverty in the United States

    3) Babies out of wedlock cost money. Babies in wedlock are free. - That's somewhat fair. Babies in wedlock cost the state some money. But not nearly as to the extent that out of wedlock births do.


    4) Pre-marital sex damages an eventual marriage [and marriage with babies is the only acceptable option]. -
    It sure does. I havedata.

    5) Rape is just another type of out-of-wedlock sex. - I know where you are coming from, but that is just a cheap shot. That is not the intended message and you know it. The intended message is that having lots of casual sex statically increases your chances of being raped.

    Of course, Mrs. Walsh doesn't bring any evidence to support that claim. Sure it has some level of truthyness to it, but data is king. Which I think is the biggest problem with the flowchart.

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  12. Anybody else notice that in the "Was it consensual?" flow, you can go from "No" to "Yes, I was drunk" and there's a dotted arrow pointing to "Habitual Promiscuity"? Because all girls who get raped when they're drunk are raped because they're habitually promiscuous. Can we talk about how fucked up that is?

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  13. And here you'd think promiscuity (done safely) would actually be a benefit for the economy. Think of all the money we would save on frivolous entertainment if we were just having tons of enjoyable casual sex?

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  14. "I have data."

    And boy are they weak! Or rather, while the data itself is fairly robust, the analysis of it presumes the conclusion rather than looking at the confounding factors.

    Consider, for example, the second link. It shows that people who are 1) married and 2) have had one (1) lifetime sexual partner are very unlikely to be divorced. Even leaving aside the confounding factor of culture (which, uh, is the entire subject of study), all that this data tells us is that people who have only had sex with their spouses[1] are unlikely to have been divorced yet!

    In other words, all this dataset establishes is that once people are divorced, they tend to then have sex with people other than their current spouse. Which isn't really a meaningful result. The data didn't examine whether having *sex partners before marriage* led to an increased likelihood of divorce.

    There's also this step "Then I proportionately distributed the remarriages amongst the the greater-than-two-sexual-partner cohorts" which I find extremely suspect.

    And, again, there's the source for your data--certainly not an unbiased parsing of the subject (a socially conservative blogger). Which, to be fair, is no guarantee of failure. But when we combine the ambiguous methodology with the failure to disclose other conclusions the data might suggest, the possibility of bias in the eventual interpreted results seems high.

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  15. Similarly, your other source is a dissertation at Brigham Young University, an institution with a notable slant in views on marriage. That doesn't mean the dissertation is wrong, but it does render it suspect.

    The document itself spends some time talking about the correlation between early sexual activity and drug use, etc., which seems marginally relevant but does support the concern that sex is seen by the author as bad.

    Furthermore, the data itself shows only a correlation between a small but statistically significant decrease in sexual satisfaction and the number of prior partners. Fair enough, and even a small decrease is unfortunate; but again the conclusion that *the decision to have premarital sex weakens marriage* is not in evidence. The countertheory that, for example, a person who expects high levels of sexual novelty is likely to both have numerous premarital partners and be unsatisfied within marriage is equally supported by the data. Granted, an experiment to parse this difference would be difficult to construct. But without it, all you've shown is that the population of those with more premarital partners and the population that's sexually semisatisfied[2] in marriage has some overlap.

    Notably, the data show a *weaker* relationship between premarital sex and marital sexual satisfaction for women, one that is only barely statistically significant. This is worthwhile due to the fact that "Hooking Up Smart" is directed at women; the accusation is that generally *female* premarital sexual activity will harm marriage, but in fact the data--if they can be taken to suggest anything at all on the matter--suggest that it is male prior sexual activity that harms marriage more. (Of course, this dataset, from ten years ago, considers only opposite-sex marriages.)

    Finally, and casting doubt on the whole enterprise, the introduction notes that the 300-person dataset used in the study found that "The mean number of partners was 11.35 (SD 19.77) for men and 4.25 (SD 6.3) for women." Given the famous "it takes two to tango" principle, we can conclude that either the male and female populations in the study were radically different (for whatever reason), or that there was statistically significant dishonesty about prior sexual partners by study respondents. This, in turn, renders the self-reporting data fairly dubious: all that we've shown is that men who *tend to say* they've had premarital sexual partners also *tend to say* that they're somewhat rather than very satisfied by marital sex.

    All of this is a bit thick, I admit, and it's probably true that not all of my criticisms of the two studies you cited are valid. But given my reading of them, I'm fairly unimpressed in each case.

    [1] I'm assuming the population of married people with one sexual partner, where that sex partner is not their spouse, is statistically insignificant.

    [2]the data breaks down the difference between "very" and "somewhat" satisfied, rather than other criteria, though apparently the entire dataset did not include any other responses.

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  16. Sorry for the huge post above: I just . . . I know that when someone claims to have data, it's fairly rare that it's examined even to the (relatively minor) depth that I did. So I kinda wanted to take my time with that.

    "Some put out of wedlock births as a leading cause of poverty in the United States"

    If that's so, the problem is not out of wedlock births, alone, but rather whatever overall system connects out of wedlock births with poverty. It might be best to address this overall system by promoting birth within wedlock, or ameliorating whatever forces tend to lead to the risky sorts of out of wedlock birth.

    (I'd be interested to know, for example, whether sperm donor single mothers contribute to the correlation between out of wedlock birth and poverty. If they don't, as I suspect, then the problem is clearly more than simply the absence of marriage.)

    However, it might also be the case that the best way to deal with the situation is to reallocate social resources to break the link between out of wedlock births and poverty. In fact, as long as there are people born out of wedlock, I'd argue we have the moral obligation to concentrate on that goal.

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  17. @Developers... if you're going to claim that data is king (or queen, or jack for that matter) you might want to support your argument with more than a blog post and student work from an academic institution with a clear bias on the issue.

    I'm not sure what the intended message of linking rape with casual sex was, but the message "promiscuity increases one's odds of being sexually assaulted" looks a whole lot to me like "sluts get raped" which seems all too often, in these arguments, to bring us to "sluts deserve to be raped." And even if none of that was intended, it's still promulgation of an exceedingly offensive myth.

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  18. Erl... I think I love you.

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  19. My take on it?

    "EVENTUAL ECONOMIC STAGNATION!!!!!!!!!!"

    Is to go with the words of a very wise man, which says that multiple exclamation marks is a sure sign of a diseased min.

    As soon as people start doing that, writing them off as "not worth taking their bait" is probably the best bet.

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  20. Erl - way to follow links and read them!

    (Do you/did you post on Slactivist under the same name? Or am I thinking of someone else?)

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  21. Aww, Emma, thanks!

    I dunno, I've just had a big ol bee in my bonnet on the internet lately. It tends to come out in the form of footnotes.

    And Dolbia, I do! (In fact, look for me to have a bit more of a presence on the slacktiverse soonish) I'm really flattered that you remembered me.

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  22. Dear God, that's the worst excuse for a chart of any kind I've ever seen.

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  23. and finally, if I had to choose between economical stagnation + a life or slaving away all my waking hours for The Economy [whose idea of continuous exponential growth on a finite planet is absurd anyway] or STAGNATION!!!!! and love and pleasure, I would choose to have a life.

    I really wonder (from my corner of europe) how on earth can these right-wing americans simultaneously believe that having a national health care system is raping people's freedom, but women still shouldn't be allowed to have consensual sex, because that would be, like, too much freedom for the sluts, or what. If they believe that individual freedom is what guarantees the nice working of the FREE FREE FREE market (nevermind monopolies etc), then it's just not very logical to want to take away an even more personal freedom at the next minute just because.

    8/

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  24. That blog is the worst ever. I didn't get past that first guest post, what with all the "A man will be happier, more content, and more at peace with a 5 who loves him than with an 8 who does not" ...

    Oh god, women are numbers now. Numbers based on their attractiveness. Oh god.

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  25. Developers:

    Googling until you find a vaguely academic-looking piece that agrees with your worldview and has numbers in it (which you clearly didn't bother to read or analyze in any particular depth yourself) does not constitute 'research'. Just fyi.

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  26. Please...just because you put your personal opinions in a colorful and "businessy-looking" flowchart form doesn't automatically make them authoritative and conclusive. I think an average junior high kid could see through that, as would any adult with a modicum of critical thinking skills.

    WTF is so hard to grasp about "let each person decide for him-or herself about the who, what, when, where, and how to have sex"...some will decide that lots of casual sex works for them, some will decide to wait till marriage, most will float around in the vast area in between at different periods in their lives. People like Walsh who insist that "MY way is the one right and good way and anyone who thinks otherwise is WRONG and stupid" make me wonder just what they have invested in making deeply personal decisions for everyone in every place at any time.

    Sorry, Susan...there is no way to take the uncertainty, risks, and bruises to the ego that come with dating and mating in the human world, but most people decide the benefits are worth it. Keep trying to find that perfect formula for finding the Perfect One Twoo Luv 4-Ever (as if) without any pain or trial and error or human fallibility in a world that will soon have a trillion people in it...I'm sure that's a great use of your time and energy. Just don't expect me to give a shit.

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  27. "take OUT of the uncertainty, risks..." Yeesh. I need more coffee.

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  28. Developers - I don't know what the data are on casual sex.

    I also don't know what the economic impacts are of letting people practice the religion of their choice.

    And I don't think it matters. If it turns out that, I don't know, Jainism is the economically optimal religion, that doesn't mean everyone should convert right now. In some things personal freedom matters more than economics.

    I also am bothered by the disingenousness of people claiming to have an economic argument when what they really have is a moral or ideological argument, and then they found economic justifications to back up what they already believed. Unless "I analyzed the economic consequences and then came to this conclusion" is your actual thought process, it's not honest to pretend it was.

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  29. "I really wonder (from my corner of europe) how on earth can these right-wing americans simultaneously believe that having a national health care system is raping people's freedom, but women still shouldn't be allowed to have consensual sex, because that would be, like, too much freedom for the sluts, or what."


    I've often wondered that myself. It makes no sense to me that so many people in this country seem to define personal freedom as "the ability to deny the rights of those deemed unworthy".

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  30. He never said "wicked" though. I think that's your hilarious "vodker and coke" accent acting up again...

    'Vodker' and 'watuh' are my eastun mass accent pahking its cah in the linguistic yahd again. 'Wicked' isn't accent, it's the propuh way to superlatize something when you're east of Woostuh.

    I also am bothered by the disingenousness of people claiming to have an economic argument when what they really have is a moral or ideological argument, and then they found economic justifications to back up what they already believed.

    That's the problem with zealots, though... many of them KNOW that they're being disingenuous, and they don't care. In their minds it's okay to lie and give false information, even if doing so causes harm to people in the real world... because they absolutely believe that they're saving everyone's immortal souls for the next world (or implementing the best free-market/socialist/communist economy, or cheering for the best sports team, insert extremist ideology here), so anything goes and the ends justify the means. I think that's ultimately more of a problem than the falsehoods people like that choose to wield as the weapons.

    My solution to that larger issue is currently nonexistent. :(

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  31. The reason promiscuity is good for the economy: moar condoms needed, more needed to be made, more used, rinse and repeat.
    :P
    bleh. I'm not sure that promiscuity actually affects fertility (but I wouldn't know)
    as far as I'm aware it's a person by person thing in terms of fertility.

    But I do acknowledge that this chart is icky.
    And people should have their own levels of want of sexual activity and be allowed to them. ¬¬
    grumble.
    snarl.
    etc

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  32. My personal childless sluttery means that I have lots of disposable income to spend on travel, parties, booze and lingerie - thus BOOSTING THE ECONOMY!!!!!!!!!!!11

    flightless

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  33. Flightless - But if you had children, you'd spend your income on childcare, education, and kids' clothing and food and toys--thus BOOSTING THE ECONOMY!!!!!!!!!!!11

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  34. Sarcasticgrrl - Oh god, please don't rinse and repeat! :p

    ewwwww

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  35. Hershele OstropolerJuly 15, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Science or research or whatever name you want to give to "an endeavor of which the end result is a flowchart" exists to avoid or correct the errors relying on common sense may lead us into. "Here's a flowchart based on my 'common sense reasoning' but not backed up with any data" is not even wrong.

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  36. Anon from Europe -

    From what I've seen in my corner(s) of America, I would say that the issue is that many Americans, especially conservative ones, use freedom to mean "life unfolding naturally, without interference." Interference is usually assumed to be from the government, and almost never from corporations or local people or organizations, because business, family, social norms etc. are considered natural, whereas the federal government is an imposition from outside society. It's sort of a freedom for society as a whole unit (and powerful people), rather than individuals. So when the government does things like mandate environmental regulations, that isn't seen as a clash of two powerful forces within society, but one natural one (businesses) and one unnatural one (federal government) manipulating other people. This is also why when bad things happen without reference to the government, that's "the market restructuring itself" or something, and when bad things happen related to the government, that's "the government can never get anything right." Also why all politicians have to claim to be outsiders to politics.

    Symptoms include economics-related smugness and "those ____ want special rights!"

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  37. No, if I had children, I'd be trying to save for their college 'n' stuff. That would be BAD for the economy. I think putting money in savings actually means the terrorists have won!

    flightless

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  38. Hershele OstropolerJuly 15, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Emma: college coursework in political science -- for that matter, 25+ years following politics in some way or other (yes, since before I turned 8, what of it?) -- I never thought of that. It's brilliant. People holding the belief that government is somehow "artificial" actually explains a lot.

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  39. Emma: I agree with Hershele; that makes perfect sense.

    -Anon from 9:40

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  40. In (attempting) to read that so-called flow chart all I could think was "does not compute". That's horribly organized and doesn't make sense.

    And there's far too much that I do in this life that isn't necessarily going to perk up the economy. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing them if I enjoy it. Some things up my quality of life and this is one of them.

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  41. Augh. I needed a marginally better chart to wash my eyes out. I think this chart of milk products does the job nicely.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Milkproducts_v2.svg

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  42. ...now I'm thirsty.

    I like this one. Simple, but eloquent.

    Repair Flowchart

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  43. Hershele OstropolerJuly 16, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    5) Rape is just another type of out-of-wedlock sex. - I know where you are coming from, but that is just a cheap shot. That is not the intended message and you know it.

    I don't know it, having only as much access to Susan Walsh's head as she is willing to grant and having only skimmed her post. I certainly don't count the outrageousness of the interpretation as evidence that's not what she meant.

    The intended message is that having lots of casual sex statically increases your chances of being raped.

    I don't think this is the case, since if something is static it isn't increasing.

    If you meant "statistically," what, specifically, are these statistics? What is the source? How reliable are the underlying numbers, and how sound is the model? What mechanisms are proposed to explain the apparent link between casual consensual sex and nonconsensual sex -- and how are we defining "casual sex" in this context? Do we even have reason to believe there is a cause-and-effect relationship here?

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  44. Developers! Developers! Developers!July 16, 2011 at 1:51 AM


    I'm not sure what the intended message of linking rape with casual sex was, but the message "promiscuity increases one's odds of being sexually assaulted" looks a whole lot to me like "sluts get raped" which seems all too often, in these arguments, to bring us to "sluts deserve to be raped." And even if none of that was intended, it's still promulgation of an exceedingly offensive myth.

    That's exactly why I think that line of reasoning is a a retorical cheap shot. Pointing out a possible correlation between casual sex and rape is not the same thing as supporting rape.

    However, you may very well be right to attack Susan's reasoning here, as Hershele Ostropoler has done:
    If you meant "statistically," what, specifically, are these statistics? What is the source? How reliable are the underlying numbers, and how sound is the model? What mechanisms are proposed to explain the apparent link between casual consensual sex and nonconsensual sex -- and how are we defining "casual sex" in this context? Do we even have reason to believe there is a cause-and-effect relationship here?
    Which is exactly why I'm not defending Susan's claim. I have no information either way, so I am in no place to judge Susan's claims beyond saying "well, that sounds vaguely possible".

    @Holly
    I also don't know what the economic impacts are of letting people practice the religion of their choice.

    Does the presence of LDS Missionaries, Evangelical priests or Muslim imams infringe on your right to practice your region (or lack thereof)? Do their attempts to convert you to their brand of Christianity or Islam prevent you from practicing your region?

    Goodness knows, I do not want a want a government office of sexual relations. That doesn't mean that people like Susan Walsh aren't allowed to put forward their ideas. Social pressure does not violate individual freedom in my mind.



    I also am bothered by the disingenousness of people claiming to have an economic argument when what they really have is a moral or ideological argument, and then they found economic justifications to back up what they already believed. Unless "I analyzed the economic consequences and then came to this conclusion" is your actual thought process, it's not honest to pretend it was.

    If you approach ethics form a Utilitarian viewpoint, nearly all decisions involve some economics. Yes, there's a whole heck of a lot more to life (and economics) than money, but that doesn't mean that all economic arguments are invalid. Moreover, making an economic argument isn't the same thing as pretending that economics is the only reason you hold a particular viewpoint.

    @Erl
    Well, you aren't going to let me get away with shooting from the hip, are you? You make some valid points, I'll get back to you soon with some attempt at a rebuttal.

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  45. I love the implication that rape exists primarily as date rape within the context of casual relationships. Date rape within serious relationships, marital rape, stranger rape, child sexual abuse, rape by people you sort of know but are not dating, these things are all imaginary. I feel safer already!
    I also love the idea that being promiscuous makes you more likely to have an std or become pregnant. With regards to stds - well, someone you slept with had to pick it up some time, but I think condoms and testing are better protectors than "feeling like you aren't a slut," especially because you can get an std from a partner who has lied about his sexual history or cheated. With regards to pregnancy - you only need one partner to get pregnant. Are women with a single sexual partner sluts now?

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  46. I also really love the implication that rape is bad... because trials cost money.

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  47. Developers, 'pointing out a possible correlation between casual sex and rape is not the same thing as supporting rape' is what people say when they want to victim-blame but don't want to do so explicitly enough to be called on it. It gets peoples' hackles up, and for good reason; the argument has been made before, and it's very rarely been made in good faith. Expecting people to behave as though there's no history to it is unrealistic and unhelpful. It's already a loaded topic, and you can't divorce a statistical analysis of the characteristics of rape victims from a long (LONG) history of society bending over backwards to find a way to shift the responsibility of rape to the victim.

    I'm not saying that you can't present a statistical analysis that suggests exactly that, but you damn well better have something more compelling than 'eh, this seems about right, let me just throw it out there.'

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  48. Hershele OstropolerJuly 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Pointing out a possible correlation between casual sex and rape is not the same thing as supporting rape.

    No, but it is the same thing as saying "well, if she wasn't such a slut ..." with a side of "I'm not judging, statistics! Rational, objective, uncaring statistics!"

    Which is exactly why I'm not defending Susan's claim. I have no information either way, so I am in no place to judge Susan's claims beyond saying "well, that sounds vaguely possible".

    So "statically" wasn't a typo. "Statistically" means "backed up by actual data, and not just my intuitions." Since you say here it is just your intuitions, just as the chart is only Walsh's intuitions, it's just as well you didn't say "statistically."

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  49. "a possible correlation between casual sex and rape"

    I'd like to note that there is, in fact, a very simple explanation for such a correlation.

    If you count rape in your numbers for casual sex, then rape victims, all other things being equal, will have had more casual sex. This is because they will have had sex with as many partners on average as anyone else, and also you're counting the time(s) they were raped. That will bump up the numbers, either in an intuitive or systematic analysis of the situation. You have to remember to ask the question on its head, or in a Bayesian sense.

    Put it another way: if you count rape as sex (and you shouldn't, without very, very clear crosstabs, but many do), then the population of people who do not have sex contains zero rape victims! So of course the population of those who do have sex contains disproportionately many rape victims. It contains ALL of them. You'd have to control for that insight before you could establish previous promiscuity as a risk factor.

    Now, if there is such a correlation, and it holds even eliminating the problem of misreporting, there are plenty of other explanations one could proffer. And it's important to remember that the actions of rape victims are risk factors rather than causal agents; they make them more attractive to rapists who are selecting targets and deciding whether or not to rape. "Sluttiness" does not somehow summon the Rape Demon from the pits of the netherworld.

    As for those possible mechanisms, here's one. Rapists are known to select targets who will be disbelieved or discredited; women with more sex partners will be disbelieved or discredited; therefore they are tempting targets for rapists.

    But since disbelieving or discrediting claimed rape victims on any sort of collective basis is wrong, we should work to disconnect promiscuity from assault, rather than working to discourage promiscuity--particularly as discouraging promiscuity tends to condemn, Other, and vilify the promiscuous, actually increasing their vulnerability.

    So there's that. But as Hershele points out, without any evidence of a connection, there's no point in any of that argument.

    Thanks for taking my earlier comments in stride, and I look forward to what you have to say about them!

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  50. Of course, hanging around, eating food out of our garden, lending each other books and playing music is bad for the economy, but taking a quarter of your population, implanting guns into their arms and replacing their brains with robotics would be a huge boost to the electronics and munitions industry. I like to think of Economies as a giant race of beings that insist humans work to feed them else they rampage across the world stepping on houses. Fee Fi Fo Feng, the Nasdaq is weak against the Hang Seng.

    Oh, and the proof that cancer causes cell phones
    http://xkcd.com/925/

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  51. Susan Walsh is an upper-middle class WASP. In her mindset, casual sex="OhGawdimsodrnuk!"clamoring gals grabbing the first decent looking guy and dragging him into an open room. Unlike the non-collegiate/Frat boy world in which mature adults have sex with (purportedly) willing/sober participants. Context, in this case, is everything (unless of course, no one else in this thread knows a person who uses alcohol as a social lubricant.) IME, as someone who's walked the hallowed halls of academe and served a decade in Uncle Sam's Exchange Program, I've lost count of the amount of "Someone's going to be pissed in the morning" couples who I've seen walking out of a local bar/pub. And yes, I've seen some, "I'm gonna rock this geek's world stop talking to me and tellin' me what to do!!!", couples in that mix.

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  52. Hey Holly,
    So I decided to take your advice regarding doing hobbies instead of masturbation. I decided to build a house of cards ala Brady Bunch style. Surprisingly, the house still seems to stay up. The only problem is the cards keep sticking to my palms. I guess I still have some issues. JUS KEEDING! Keep up the good work Holly. Your column's great.- jonny5

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  53. Best thing about the post is that she describes the chart as "really more of an exercise in common sense"

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