Continuing the discussion about modesty, gender, gender roles, and sexuality

In the interest of management, I’ve closed the discussion below the “Dear Dwight” post – not because the discussion should stop but because it’s about to be pushed off the front page and the thread has gotten rather long and quite frankly I’m feeling pretty lazy.

Each of us brings a set of assumptions, experiences, ideas, and values to both discussions and experiences of sexuality – which are as often as not unspoken.  For instance, many people are taught that men and women are radically and irreconcilably different.  That women want emotion men want sex; girls are often taught “boys only want one thing” and they must have a whole set of strategies they can employ to resist, boys that they must woo girls in the hopes of exciting their passion.  Boys are taught they have to wheedle, connive and conspire to make girls kiss them and to have sex they have to go even further and be even more skilled.  Both boys and girls are set at odds with one another.

These values find expression in more subtle ways.  For instance, the idea that women’s sexual needs and abilities are different than men’s.  I think emphasizing such distinctions serves to alienate men from women and vice versa.

The tendency to see the genders as irreconcilably different seems to me to feed a great deal into male sexual anxiety.  Boys learn that girls are “alien” and “other” and they can’t develop comfortable friendships with them.  The same goes for girls – taught that boys only want one thing, they don’t let their guard down and they feel tension.  The outcomes becomes the sort of tongue-tied awkwardness compouned by desire that has no healthy outlet.  Rather than seeing one another as allies and partners in a dance, they see one another as opponents at cross purposes.  They come to see each other not as persons but as objects, as potential threats, as someone who must be fooled or tricked, not someone with whom one can communicate honestly and openly.  In the greatest of ironies, once one gets married, all that is supposed to change but a lifetime of habits doesn’t change like that.

Dwight for instance wrote:   

Women have a much greater capacity for prolonged sexual activity than men; women are capable of having many more orgasms than men are; women’s arousal takes many times longer to achieve than men’s; men are more likely to be affected by and are more strongly affected by psychological sexual factors than women are; the elements necessary to achieve complete arousal are different in men than in women; women have more and different erogenous zones than men

This list is all about seeing the differences between men and women as huge and dramatically significant.  The statement about the capacity for prolonged lovemaking assumes sexuality is all about intercourse leading to orgasm; as a general rule men reach orgasm faster than women so it’s true enough, but if sexual activity is not limited to intercourse then there’s no difference between men’s and women’s capacity or desire for lengthy and enjoyable lovemaking.  The inverse is true as well – a great many women enjoy a matinee on their lunch hour.  The idea that it takes many times longer for women to achieve orgasm is in the broadest sense true but arousal is as much a psychological phenomenon as a physical one; both men and women fantasize and imagine and both can be turned on entirely by their thoughts.  The notion that women have more and different erogenous zones than men is a matter of putting the emphasis in the wrong place; just because women’s nipples are more sensitive than men’s doesn’t mean that men’s nipples are not erogenous.   Our largest sex organ is our skin, our most powerful is the brain.  I once read (I think it was in Sex on the Brain that the differences between two males is as or two females is as large as the difference between the genders. 

I think seeing such distinctions is counterproductive because it supposes a very narrow view of sexuality.  I prefer a more expansive view – one that sees sexual behaviors as occurring along continuum of intimacy.

In Our Whole Lives, we teach a series of classes on intimacy – essentially asking where on the range of intimate behaviors are you comfortable with a particular person.  So a couple might choose to engage in sexual behaviors such lying together in bed, or engaging in a make out session, or mutual massage without penetration, while another couple might choose to engage in intercourse.  Among graduates of abstinence only education programs, it’s a common practice to engage in oral sex, mutual masturbation, and sometimes anal sex and argue that because there was no penile-vaginal intercourse, the participants are still virgins.  But it seems an argument that is difficult to make with a straight face unless you define sex as narrowly as possible – penile-vaginal intercourse.  But are two people who have engaged in mutual oral sex really virgins in any meaningful way?

Seeing sexual behaviors along a continuum of intimacy allows us to see the the behaviors in which we engage as reflective of the nature of our emotional relationship.  As we grow more emotionally intimate with someone, we can choose to engage in more physically intimate acts.  In the intimacy workshops, we talk about different behaviors -things such as watching a movie together, changing clothes in front of one another, skinny dipping, kissing, massage, and so forth.  We might be comfortable changing clothes in front of a good friend but not a recent acquaintance.  Intimacy, like sexual behaviors, is negotiated and dependent on the relationship in which it occurs. 

Interestingly, Dwight recounted what I think is a veyr common experience among people who have been rasied to believe they must be virgins on their wedding night:

I have personally experienced the detrimental effects of two consenting adults going farther than we should have. And it was not strictly religious. It created emotional problems and divides that we had not anticipated, as well as jealousy and disappointment when I moved on to my current fiance . . . Regrettably, too many Mormons are constrained and controlled by a sense of guilt. I have chosen reasonable responsibility. In the above error, I felt little guilt for my actions after I had committed to not repeat them. I did, however, feel responsibility and sadness for the pain it caused my fiance.

Among the most common experiences faced by people who are raised to believe they must be virgins on their wedding night is the experience of engaging in a more intimate sexual behavior than they had originally intended.  I believe that experience is a common one for persons raised to believe in a sacred silence about sexuality.  That sacred silence creates a space in which people aren’t given permission to have sexual conversations without sensation, shame and taboo.  That silence doesn’t teach persons how to negotiate sexual intimacy.  It encourages a double standard in which women and girls are led to believe it’s wrong for them to want sex.  It creates conflict between the genders and within persons.  So when faced with a situation, people aren’t prepared to make decisions.

By contrast, from my own experience with graduates of AYS (Our Whole Lives‘ predecessor program), those persons were the most likely to be prepared before they arrived at a situation – in some sense, they found themselves in bed with someone already knowing what they were comfortable doing and having the skills and comfort level to talk about it.  In good sexuality education classes, people of both genders are able to interact in a safe place, to ask and have their questions answered, to see up close that boys and girls really aren’t all that different. 

In recent years, emerging research has shown that feminist couples actually have better, more rewarding sex lives and healthier relationships than do their more peers who adopt traditionalist gender roles.

  1. #1 by Ken Bingham on March 17, 2008 - 4:43 pm

    here is the discussion:
    1) You should be modest
    2) There are two genders, male and female.
    3) Each gender has unique rolls
    4) Sexuality should only be between a man and a woman lawfully married.
    End of discussion.

    Function to determine if sex is ok.

    bool sex(string gender1,string gender2)
    if(gender1 == ‘male’ && gender2 == ‘male’)
    return false;
    if(gender1 == ‘female’ && gender2 == ‘female’)
    return false;
    if(gender1 == ‘male’ && gender2 == ‘female’ && !married)
    return false;
    if((gender1 == ‘male’ && gender2 == ‘female’) && married)
    return true;

  2. #2 by caveat on March 17, 2008 - 5:13 pm

    Dwight’s pretty good, really. We should invite him to comment on the FISA rulings, or the Sub-prime pile. We may very well mark the beginning of his inputs here. What do you say, D. any thoulghts on the ‘Winter Soldier’ testimony?

  3. #3 by Cliff Lyon on March 17, 2008 - 6:58 pm

    So. How many people want to live in “Ken’s World”?

    Or, how many people prefer a world where really smart and nice but “know-it-all” white guys leave everyone else ALONE — under a constitution that says you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone.

    Ken’s world or your world?

  4. #4 by Cliff Lyon on March 17, 2008 - 7:00 pm

    Who wants to live in a world that is described and at the end it says, “End of discussion.”?

    vs a world where there is discussion always?

  5. #5 by Ken Bingham on March 17, 2008 - 7:14 pm


    I’m taking my cue from Algore who says “End of discussion, there can be no debate.”

    you are free to take a little tongue-in-cheek into my post.

    I thought you programmers would appreciate my sex code example.

  6. #6 by Rodney on March 17, 2008 - 8:05 pm

    Can’t we all just get along?

  7. #7 by caveat on March 17, 2008 - 8:18 pm

    F*ck it (on topic). Surprizingly!

    Now how about the economy? Or is it …How about that Middle East policy (they’re hand in hand you know) Is it unfair to suggest that the Oil sought in the ME is being used as a lubricant for the reaming we’re all being given through economic ‘mischief”? My god, I’ve never seen anything like the Bear-Stearns melt-out. 12 Months ago $300.00 a share…Yesterday $2.00 or not even. And we still get to torture!

    At this rate, there may very well be an end to debate, and a few other things we hold dear.

  8. #8 by The Jester on March 17, 2008 - 10:28 pm

    It is all over but the cryin’, this is back barker side show…step right up!!

  9. #9 by Cliff Lyon on March 18, 2008 - 9:17 am


    Thanks for calibrating the debate. Indeed, our right-wing friends have taken up safer quarter with social engineering directives, albeit with a bit more humor than in the heady days when Bush was their poster child.

  10. #10 by The Jester on March 18, 2008 - 9:41 am

    As if it is all the right wings fault. If progressives are puzzled, you can’t have yin without yang. The more extreme the right appears to one, the more their own values are extreme in the other direction. The two ends are mirrors of one another, and unethical, just in ways each doesn’t see. The ends justify the means to both sides when it comes to power.

    Long live the rational middle, if the two ends don’t kill it first to get at each other.

  11. #11 by Albert O. on March 18, 2008 - 10:31 am

    Ken is not worth listening to, period.

    Any man who supports a religion disposed to “white and delightsome” is a redneck bigot, whose words are akin to devil worship.

  12. #12 by Obi wan liberali on March 18, 2008 - 11:12 am

    Now Albert, you are painting with a pretty broad brush. Ken is unique among Mormons. I think Yaweh speaks to him at a different volume than he does to the rest of the congregation. Mormonism isn’t devil worship, though if there was a devil, I’m pretty sure he’s a conservative Republican.

  13. #13 by Larry Bergan on March 18, 2008 - 1:06 pm

    The Jester Says:

    They’re all the same, give up hope…
    They’re all the same, give up hope…
    They’re all the same, give up hope…

    glenn, glenn, glenn. Why can’t we believe a thing you say? I’ve shown you that every single Republican – every single Republican – wants to illegally wiretap your phone. Only twelve Democrats want to illegally tap your phone – only twelve -!

    I guess Libertarians want their phone tapped in 2008. Is that what you’re trying to say?

    Maybe this will do it:

    Republicans want to tape you having sex in your bedroom and arrest you.

  14. #14 by caveat on March 18, 2008 - 3:50 pm

    This may seem cryptic, but we all have positions in a great circle. Maybe the circle is contorted or even knotted (GO complexity). In any event, we each have a place and no two are alike.

    So…if a right requires a left (or wrong) and day is only day for the night that follows and preceeds it, then the rational center could not exist without the lunatic fringes.

    I guess when all is said and done, there’s really nothing at all to worry our precious little minds. I confess, I killed democracy with my extremism. Sorry.

  15. #15 by Ken Bingham on March 18, 2008 - 5:31 pm

    “Pure and delightsome” is the proper interpretation. The Church officially changed the line in the Book of Mormon so rubes like Little Albert, might understand it better. unfortunately, unless the Book has very small words, pictures and even Pop-ups, I doubt Albert would understand.

  16. #16 by The Jester on March 18, 2008 - 5:45 pm

    Until those of you on the left can see your own reflection in the nuts on the right, there isn’t much hope.

    The vote was unfortunate Larry, I suggest you get rid of your phone. Perhaps have sex in the shower.

    The rational middle is really just common sense Cav, you are right, without the whacked true believers on the ends of the spectrum, we wouldn’t know how good it is to be even handed. Do you think there is a gene for busybodyness? The gene that leaves to self aggrandizing behavior and a pushy moral center that believes without equivocation that everyone must accept the views they hold on a host of life issues are correct, and should be followed by all, even by force if necessary. For their own good.

    It would be good to remember that in the last century the greatest horror shows were begun by those that had a fixed view of the way society should develop. Communism and socialism as represented by Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, all have the betterment of society as the the goal of their ideology…somehow, somewhere, the inability to let those that disagree live, gets in the way. There lies the danger.

    That the phone tapping went the way it did is unfortunate, how then do we explain the 12 democrats that voted with the “bad guys”? How do we end up with this same legislation despite the “baddies” being the minority? Pretty clear Larry, you don’t approve of our republican democracy, not that I am that thrilled with it these days.

    Starting to look like the tyranny of the stupid, and if dem leadership cannot guide and control its own party towards what you would believe to be our benefit, what the hell good is it? You would be better off becoming a republican and try to undermine their party from within, since even in the minority, they are getting their own way.

  17. #17 by popcornholio on March 18, 2008 - 9:00 pm

    Is there any reason I’m being moderated?

  18. #18 by Obi wan liberali on March 18, 2008 - 11:16 pm

    To Ken:

    It’s always nice when the most perfect book ever written needs to be revised to be more “politically correct.”

  19. #19 by Albert O. on March 19, 2008 - 12:01 am

    Well, fact-o-matter is, Obi, that the Book of Mo is not perfect, never was perfect and never will be perfect. And yes, Ken, I had read versions of the Book of Mo with the popups and still find it to be a stupid, unintelligible fable.

  20. #20 by Nephi on March 19, 2008 - 10:21 am


    Ken, while watching from afar, I cannot help but notice how you continue to pile heaps of shit on yourself everytime you address book of moron issues. This time, you go so far as to equate “pure” with “white.” Tell me, then, Elder Bingham, how does “dark” fit into the picture? Oh yeah, I remember, something about a “curse.”

    Stick with making apologies for the Bush administration. At least 29% of Americans will take you seriously!

  21. #21 by Larry Bergan on March 19, 2008 - 11:01 am

    When did you start moving towards the center jester/glenn, I thought you were the one who was locked and loaded for Libertarianism. Have I moved you that far in just a couple of months? Or is it true?

  22. #22 by The Jester on March 19, 2008 - 11:38 am

    There is no glenn until his name appears Larry. The Jester writes from what strikes the moment.

    Jester could just as easily write a far left or right justification or condemnation of the Iraq War or gender issues. I am not writing from any opinion, it is simple stream of consciousness, based on an outlook of the moment. It is usually contra some silly “true believer” diatribe, that is why my response to Ken seems center to you. In the case of responding to you, the the jester takes your mirror on the far right.

    The Jester has no true belief, he is paid only to well, Jest. The renumeration, amusement. There is no real opinion you can pin to anyone. Sorry if these leaves you dissatisfied. It is like attributing you know what a politician is all about by what he says.

    In obamas’ recent wright problem, he first denounces wright, and then in a calculated manner embraces him. Very skilled, but hardly great. Looks like what it is to many, plain old pandering. All have revealed their true character by now. All that is left is grandstanding.

    The irony is Larry that the busybodyness gene was meant to describe both left and right, but I’m not sure you caught that. I am amused now.

  23. #23 by Larry Bergan on March 19, 2008 - 12:50 pm

    As the country moves into absolute fascism, pop jester the blessed glenn panders to everybody and nobody.

    Ah, but takes up a lot of time in the process.

    It IS true!

  24. #24 by The Jester on March 19, 2008 - 1:43 pm

    Larry, some family history and just history in general commands being a chameleon, and less than identifiable, until the moment suits. As this process began I wrote long loving diatribes to many right wing organizations and the requisite lefties. I am known to everyone, and no one. The effort has led me to some conclusions you won’t like. Once intellectually inside the fold, the facade comes down, the agendas and sentiments of “true believers” make themselves known. It is pretty ugly really, and in Machiavellian fashion the left differs from the right only in style. The goals are control.

    The Jester has known we were headed here long ago from a long observation of history. The more of it known along with gut instinct, works well for seeing no matter ones belief, where things are headed. Ask Cliff. Globalization, a thing he once promoted with glee, has returned to destroy us. That bush has played his part is obvious, what isn’t is what factions he represents, simple unrestrained corporatism the very thing Cliff once promoted, and in fact, engaged in. Well long ago the personas engaged Cliff and found his gauge. Not just my puppets either.

    The depths that are plumbed as a nations Freedom and Liberty fade, know no dimension but what comes forth. We can hope obama saves us from ourselves, but for the time being, he has to save himself. Those organized to rule us know this, and he will conform, or be swept aside.

    Larry, it takes less time than you think, now more than ever. If you really like to know, this form of information transfer has been around forever. Used by “intelligence” agencies since about forever. Cliff has used it plenty, and in fact, was in part the reason I use it here, nothing like fairplay.

  25. #25 by Larry Bergan on March 19, 2008 - 2:35 pm

    If your posts were less esoteric, maybe more people could understand what you’re talking about. I know you can do it because this one from yesterday is very understandable and brings some good facts to light, but just read your last paragraph in the above post. What is this “form of information” that you and Cliff use for unfair play?

    Globalization isn’t a bad thing if everybody gets a fair shake and the environment is taken into account. Corporations aren’t bad unless they use their money and influence unfairly for favors from politicians. The people I want in “control” are those who would give everybody a chance to participate in their own futures and keep their own actions available to the public. Don’t tell me the Democrats are more secretive then the Republicans and are out for nothing but control, because you know that’s a bunch of bull. There’s just no real comparison there.

  26. #26 by The Jester on March 19, 2008 - 3:22 pm

    Using alias to draw reponses for the purpose of revealing your adversaries less than admirable opinions or traits. Or their simple prejudices, if they are pretending to be even handed.
    Before the internet took over completely, he conducted it with fellows in the form of letter writing campaigns. He elaborately explained to me with pride then, what it was he was doing and its intent. Read Machiavelli, it is why any nation worth its salt has disinformation campaigns, and spy networks. Works for politics or anything you wish to promote. Call it advertizing. It slices, dices, makes julian fries! Just the way things go.

    Oh please Larry, are you forgetting Vietnam? We went through this crap with the democrats in charge for years, and we got nothing but false information before the body counts and truth could no longer be hidden. You are old enough to have lived through it. I have absolutely no faith in the integrity of either party.

    I wish I didn’t have to explain it to you. I wish you were a little more realistic.

    Globalization and the big IF. Problem is corporations DON’T. America was the richest country on Earth when we had tariffs, and protected markets, it is indisputable, the globalization bs is one big con job. If you have a job. War is the direct result of broken economy, once your ability to maintain economy through domestic trade goes, what’s left is empire and war if you have the means and idiotic people to pull it off. It is entirely related.

    Obviously that post appealed to you, are you beginning to understand, how easily you can be twisted around someones finger? Read Hegel and the concept of thesis anti=thesis = synthesis. The Hegelian dialectic, how elites manipulate silly populations is to create the divisions, once things become unmanageable and the populace is about going crazy, they then provide solutions which consolidate their power at the expense of the Peoples’ liberty, freedoms, and economy. Been going on since the days Methusalah. The funny part is that each generation never catches on, and in their ego bound way, insist on what it is they believe is “right”. Keep it up, we’ll be enslaved in no time.

  27. #27 by glenn on March 19, 2008 - 7:01 pm

    Here is ann telling you all about how it looks to those not lalaland.

  28. #28 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on March 19, 2008 - 7:38 pm

    Regarding LDS Beliefs: If you read the Book of Mormon, you will find that skin color was a way of dividing the people from each other, and was not a definition of who was evil. At one time the dark-skinned people were the more righteous, the light-skinned people the sinners.

    As to the “curse” concept: MOST Christian faiths that existed in colonial and post-colonial America had the belief that black skin was the mark of Cain, and was a curse. This changed in each faith at different times throughout American history. Any of you who are Christian: Get off our back about it. You changed your policy, we changed ours.

    And the Book of Mormon is the “most correct,” not the “most perfect.” There’s no such thing as “most perfect.” “Perfect” is a terminal adjective; you are either perfect or you’re not, and there are no modifiers or intensifiers associated with its use. “Most correct” allows for alterations, and the church has always stood on the principle that God reveals more and greater truths as time passes. Come to think of it, weren’t there thousands of alterations to the King James Bible when it was translated from previous manuscripts? And just how many manuscripts were used to translate, with how many thousands of variations, which the translators had to select from? Hmm…your complaints sound like a load of hypocrisy to me. Don’t get into the argument about the accuracy of the Book of Mormon in comparison to the Bible. You’ll lose.

    Regarding Jester–This “true believer” argument of Jester’s is tripe. Everyone must be a true believer of some type. Such is the nature of existence. Jester is a true believer in professing nothing, yet exploring everything. Some (such as myself) see this as originating in one of two deplorable traits: Fear that one won’t be accepted; or a superiority complex.

    Either way, Jester has no conviction. That is his true belief: A lack of conviction. And he’s hiding that even from himself, behind a stylistic attempt at the esoteric and a boast of the eclectic.

    Remember, “Jester,” that a king is only a fool while the jester is fooling him. The jester remains a fool forever. As Mark Twain said, “Naked people have little or no influence on society.” You try to hide your nakedness in deceit and nonchalance, but only reveal your own form to be more twisted and debauched than the rest–for deceit IS your true form, and it is will be forgotten the moment it is recognized and sorted out. Some of us choose to reveal ourselves honestly and accurately. Yet as much as we reveal of ourselves, we retain dignity. “Jester” fooling the “king?” Who are you kidding? You are the emperor, and yours are the clothes that are the most revealing; only you just won’t see it.

    Caveat–thanks for your support. I won’t be able to post for a while. Even this post is eating into my study time. I’m just too busy, but I’ll try to find time.

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  29. #29 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on March 20, 2008 - 1:34 am

    Glenden–it occurred to me that we really can’t know for sure how socialization of sexuality works, nor how it affects people. This leaves us with an ethical predicament in an area that is most certainly (at least in the immediacy of our current society) an ethical imperative.

    Would you agree that socialization can create physiological and psychological responses to sexuality where none would normally exist? If so, wouldn’t it then follow that socialization can also remove such responses which normally do exist?

    On this basis, it is possible to describe the sexuality of a particular culture, and of genders and individuals within that culture. It becomes significantly more difficult, however, to prescribe what sexuality traits and behaviors should exist in terms of natural prerogative.

    I guess that means that it falls upon us to prescribe on a basis different than that of natural tendency entirely. We can’t accurately speak in terms of what nature intended. We are so radically different a species than other animals that such assumptions based on animal behavior would of a necessity be inaccurate. Observation of humans (even in multiple cultures) would likewise falter the accuracy of the discussion, as all humans are inherently socialized (animals are as well, but arguably to a much lesser degree). Furthermore, crime rates are hardly an indicator (except those in vastly similar cultures, with vastly different rates), due to the innaccuracy of reporting methods, variations in law, and differing social standards for sexual behavior–not to mention all of the other factors within a culture that could have minute or pronounced effects on crime.

    “The Human Zoo” is a useful concept (and book) to consider in this discussion. Animal behavior in captivity begins to mimic human behavior in striking (and quite disturbing) ways. Are we the slaves of our own chosen captivity?

    I also find it difficult to rely on tradition as a means of establishing rules. While tradition (social, religious, legal, or any combination of the three) can serve as a starting point for maintaining a relatively secure society in the here and now, it shouldn’t be used as a model for an end point, unless it is particularly efficaceous.

    How do we develop an ethical imperative for sexuality? What basis can we use for discussion and progress? Any and all ideas are welcome and desired.

    Thank you,
    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  30. #30 by Glenden Brown on March 20, 2008 - 7:06 am

    Dwight – so I’ve been thinking about your questions about faith and it led me off into other directions which you can read about in the other posts I’ve done. Here’s the thing: The bible may not be an accurate factual record of what happened but that doesn’t mean it is a worthless record. It was not written to be history as we read history, but it was written to tell a story from a very particular perspective. In reading the gospels, for instance, one is reading four separate accounts, written by people in four separate communities. Each of those communities contained within itself a different take on the Christian tradition as it was emerging and taking shape. I had a pastor who liked to say that Christianity was the native tongue of her spirituality. I think the reason the UCC is Christian is precisely that we as individuals and a church find meaning within Christianity. Robert Funk wrote that the resurrection had nothing to do with the rescucitation of a corpse (I think that’s random spelling). The resurrection is about the awareness of God’s presence in the world – not as wonder worker, not as as a force intervening, but real and powerful and potentially transforming. John Shelby Spong theorizes that the resurrection took place in the minds and hearts of Jesus’ followers in the months after his death – they realized in Jesus touching their lives, they had been touched by god. In some sense, that seems to me an accurate summation of how many UCCers see their Christianity. It speaks to a truth that is not limited to facts but that is a kind of ultimate truth – unknowable as a total, but which we as persons can touch.

    About sexuality: I think it’s important to look to tradition – what has tradition taught, why has it taught that? But tradition isn’t a straigth jacket into which we must fit ourselves. Tradition tells us what worked for those who came before us, not what will work for us today. As one part of how we make our choices, tradition has value. But it’s also important to remind ourselves that tradition is fluid – it changes over time, from generation to generation parts of allowed to disappear, other parts emphasized, new parts added. I think we agree about the role of tradition but we’re stating it differently.

    I think socialization at its best can restrain certain impulses, not squash them completely. Freud talked about polymorphously perverse sexuality – the idea that an infant makes no distinctions between physical sensations and experiences and the role of socialization is to help that infant make those distinctions (that may be oversimplifying Freud, it’s been years since I read this stuff). Anyway, socialization as often as not is about channeling impulses into less destruction avenues, but also about teaching us to live together. I think socialization can warp and change basic impulses and deeply influences basic ideas. Women’s sexuailty isn’t any less strong than men’s, yet women are often socialized to not acknowledge their sexuality, generally our culture stigmatizes openly sexual women – Sex in the City was and remains radical because it shows women who are not ashamed of their sexuality.

    I don’t think we’re all that different than other animals. Sure we have cars and computers, but those are nothing more than really cool tools. Primate behavior can teach us about ourselves.

  31. #31 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on March 20, 2008 - 2:09 pm

    Glenden–I like your take on Christianity. I would prefer that my own incorporate a literal appreciation of certain Biblical principles as well as a figurative one of others. Faith that is merely factual isn’t faith, anyway. I would like to keep what I have, and add onto it with the principles you have stated. Truly, many of your ideals already exist within my own religious framework.

    Yeah, we agree on tradition. It is an indicator, but not a value in and of itself, nor an end. unto itself. Tradition has to be judged the same way anything else is–based on its merits.

    I’m not clear on the socialization thing. It seems that, in one instance, men can be socialized into having a serious (if not utter) lack of control, while on the other hand, they can’t be socialized into ignoring their urges. Is this what you are trying to say?

    One problem with judging sexuality is that it’s all a matter of perception and individual socialization. It’s so hard to accurately judge what is “normal” or “acceptable” and what is not. Part of what I was trying to say in my last post was that, following the assumption that sexual normalcy cannot be judged without some kind of rubric (typically tradition, religion, law, etc.), determining sexual norms is a difficult ethical problem, with much to consider. I’m curious as to how this problem should be approached. I have my own opinions on the matter, and reasons for most of my beliefs, but I’m interested in what opinions and reasons others might have. As much as possible, I would like to avoid the standard argument; that is “It’s only affecting me and my partner, so it doesn’t matter what we do as long we’re consensual.” That argument, while occasionally valid, is short-sighted and irresponsible when regarding most human behaviors.

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  32. #32 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on March 20, 2008 - 2:46 pm

    Glenden–I’m also interested in your take on the “Christian” vs. “a Christian” distinction. What does it mean to be “Christian” and what does it mean to be “a Christian” to you? Which of the two are you? Or are you both? Or neither?

  33. #33 by Astrodon on March 28, 2008 - 1:48 pm

    Never in a million years did I imagine that you and I would be teaching the same sex ed curriculum.

    Curious your take on the Girls Gone Wild culture, e.g. “Raunch Rebranded as Confidence”,0,6849050.column

  34. #34 by Glenden Brown on March 28, 2008 - 2:51 pm

    AD – life turns on a dime. Very little surprises me anymore.

    I’m of two minds about the Girls Gone Wild culture – I believe everyone should be taught to feel empowered and confident about their sexuality. The “gone wild” phenemenon seems to be the primary way our culture does that for adolescent girls. I think we need to avoid the tendency to get overly concerned about the ways adolescence express their sexuality. It’s easy for adults to get all concerned about those wild out of control teens and forget that our own parents were wildly concerned about US when we were that age.

    I hope that people are encouraged to explore their sexuality in healthy ways – and I’m relatively convinced that drunken encounters on spring break aren’t necessarily healthy. At the same time, going on vacation and having great sex is a wonderful experience, so I guess if I had any concerns they wouldn’t be the sex so much as the general atmosphere where sex seems to become an expectation rather than an option.

    But the whole hangwringing “I’ve got the vapors over this behavior” tone of the article you linked kind of bothers me. It’s the sort of adult posture of “Oh these kids today” that really sells young people short.

  35. #35 by Anonymous on March 28, 2008 - 3:40 pm

    I’ll not forget seeing a Babe I knew in college, that we often drooled over, getting banged on a stage in front of thousands of adoring fans at a Florida spring break function. Shock and Awe!

    When we saw her again on campus, she was pure legend. Hey, it was the 80’s.

    Is that healthy?

  36. #36 by Cliff Lyon on March 28, 2008 - 5:38 pm

    What were you doing at “Spring Break” Glenn, Flowers, etc. (its an IP thing Glenn)

    I didn’t take you for a frat boy type. Live and learn.

  37. #37 by Anonymous on March 28, 2008 - 7:39 pm

    Duh, like a person wouldn’t know. IP addresses are an only one thing, it isn’t knowledge. Is the whole neighborhood still using yours, or is that your neighbors?

    Guess you never went, sure wasn’t a frat thing, she was beautiful, most of the frat boys were “tipping” cows blind drunk back on campus.

    Though as for the question, there is so much you don’t about Ms. Anonymous.

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