The Ramifications of Sex

Following the pattern of thinking of many fundamentalist Christians and Abstinence-only proponents, gets the  idea of “If you have sex, you deserve the consequences.”

Usually these consequences are a child, an STD, or the label of whore.

What brought this about is my re-post of a conversation I found on the Ask-Feminists subreddit about men being forced into fatherhood, without options like women have.  I for one feel sympathetic toward men who are forced into fatherhood–either by accident or by a woman lying to him, etc. Women can choose abortion, adoption, or single motherhood but men don’t have an option like that. Men can face time in prison for not paying their child support, which is problematic if the  man had no voice in the choice to become a parent. Of course a Christian friend of mine argues that the man did have a choice–he chose to have sex and therefore he should be a father. Sex is about responsibility and repercussions, after all.

The problem with this argument is that it assumes that having sex makes you morally inferior (especially if that’ sex is outside of marriage and for pleasure) and that sex cannot be about pleasure–it must be about procreation. This argument also supports homophobia, because two men and two women can not procreate in the heterosexual sense. Thusly, it’s also a heteronormative argument and in some ways it could be considered an anti-feminist argument.

I agree that people should be responsible while having sex. To me, that responsibility includes ensuring they and their partner are healthy and disease free, that they use Birth Control and/or condoms and that they are honest about what they want with one another. By no means do I feel that sex is just for procreation, though. To say so puts women (and men) back a few decades. If sex is for procreation only, then women might as well abstain completely unless they want to get knocked up.

Most people who believe sex is for procreation only also believe that women are the gatekeepers to sex and if they “give it up” they’re responsible for the “sin” just like Eve was responsible for the fall of man. Women who engage in sex are immoral, “deflowered” (implying that they’ve lost their innocence and beauty), and sluts.

Sex for pleasure is often not talked about in abstinence only circles, because the implication is that it doesn’t exist. Sex is a duty, not something you can enjoy. Sex makes a woman lose her “purity” (as if morality can be gained by refraining from sex or lost from having sex), unless it is in the confines of a marriage bed.

Women’s bodies and genitals have often been construed as being dirty. In the Old Testament of the Bible if a woman was on her period, she was considered unclean and a man couldn’t have sex with her. In her book, The Female Thing, Laura Kipnis talks about the historical context of this assumed dirtiness:

Recall the unhappy fact that throughout history there’s been a universal conviction that women are somehow dirtier than men. The male body is regarded, or is symbolically, as cleaner than the female body…Possibly it’s that outjuttings of the body, like a penis, are regarded as somehow cleaner than holes and cavities…The vagina is frequently associated with rot and decay…”

Even a woman’s emotional problems were considered to come from the uterus (Jessica Valenti talks about the term “hysteria” in her book The Purity Myth, which is where I found the Laura Kipnis quote above.)

So if sex is dirty and women’s genitals are dirty, we can only be redeemed by having sex for childbearing purposes.

And then of course, we have Michelle Bachmann crying out against the HPV vaccine, making false claims that it causes mental retardation and feeding into the whole Republican sex-hating party because god forbid girls have sex…someday.


4 thoughts on “The Ramifications of Sex”

  1. If you’re interested in historical perceptions of how women’s physiology affected their psychology, I wrote a blog post on ancient Greek and Roman medical theories about wandering wombs and how boobs made you crazy 😛

  2. Churches continuously teach that sex is primarily for procreation. I’ve attended church with you, Aaron and this is the case. This is also largely why the church is against homosexual marriage and relationships. Christians argue that gays can’t procreate.

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