Last week there was a sudden spree of posts about premarital sex. They have inspired me to write my own post concerning the same topic.
First of all, premarital sex is extremely common and it has been for an extremely long time. “Extremely long time” does not mean since the mythical 1950s, but rather since before then. Indeed, premarital sex has been the normative behaviour for much of the past eighty years. In the 1930s, 70% of men and women had premarital sex (cite). Similarly, today 95% of Americans have had premarital sex (cite). And the 1950s are of a mythical view. In her book The Way We Never Were, Stephanie Coontz refutes the idea that the 1950s were some sort of pure “family values” period. Back then a majority of people still had premarital sex. Indeed, she sums it up succinctly: “The 1960s generation did not invent premarital and out–of–wedlock sex.”
Clearly then, the religious
right’s wrong’s promotion of abstinence ignorance–only sex (mis)education is not only an attack on women and an attack on public health, but is also an attack on reality.
A few of the posts in the recent spree mentioned supposed “negative consequences” of premarital sex. As I will show, those supposed “negative consequences” ought to be considered irrelevant and furthermore, the things tied to opposition to premarital sex have sinister and bad effects.
More discussion is after the jump.
[TW: Rape, abuse]
More than 100 reports in the scientific and professional literature, involving more than 35,000 subjects, indicate that rapists, child molesters, incestuous parents, and sexually motivated murderers are typically very conservative in their sexual and social values and sometimes more religious than average—suggesting that in many cases traditional sexual morality is a contributing factor in sexual abuse rather than a deterrent. At the First International Conference on the Treatment of Sex Offenders in 1989, there was broad agreement that Western societies with repressive sexual attitudes and traditional male/female roles are more likely to have high rates of all forms of sex crimes.
Some of what it says concerning premarital sex:
Goldstein, M. J., H. S. Kant, and J. J. Hartman. 1973. Pornography and Sexual Deviance. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Rapists reported little nudity at home in childhood; sex was never a topic of conversation; they were severely punished when found looking at erotic material. They currently have difficulty talking about sex and hold conservative views regarding premarital sex. They engage in sex more often than the controls but enjoy it less. They report that pornography in adult years does not stimulate them to desire or engage in consensual sexual activity because of their fear of sex; of all the groups, they are the least stimulated by pornography. They had no greater exposure to sadomasochistic pornography than the control group…
Male-object pedophiles reported less tolerance for nudity in their childhood home than the controls, and no discussion of sex in the home. They currently are the least comfortable talking about sex. They have conservative attitudes toward premarital sex, have generally avoided premarital sex, and most have never married. Fifty-eight percent had their first homosexual experience before the age of 14, but the age of their partners was not obtained. Female-object pedophiles had little discussion of sex in the home, but learned more about sex from clergymen than the controls. They currently are not comfortable talking about sex….
In other words, opposition to premarital sex, opposition to pornography, and acceptance of pretty much anything sexually repressive (mores, for example) causes people to become pedophiles and rapists (or at least causes an environment where rape and pedophilia et. al thrive, or are more likely to have those attitudes). This shows why the supposed “negative consequences” of premarital sex are irrelevant. Even if I grant for the sake of argument that they are real, at least in premarital sex it’s a consensual activity. And there is no way a consensual activity could possibly be worse than rape or sexual abuse.
More results (my emphasis in all cases, their bolding in second finding):
Hull, Debra B., and Jacqueline Burke. 1991. “The Religious Right, Attitudes Toward Women, and Tolerance for Sexual Abuse.” Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 17: 1–12.
This study included 57 female and 57 male college students. Sexual abuse victims and perpetrators, unlike those with less experience of abuse, believe that women and men should not deviate from traditional sex roles, that women should have fewer social, economic, and political rights than men, and that women should have primary responsibility for child rearing and housekeeping. This study suggests that inequality between men and women may lead men to perpetrate sexual assault and women to accept it.
Anderson, Kathryn B., Harris Cooper, and Linda Okamura. 1997. “Individual Differences and Attitudes Toward Rape: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin 23(3): 295.
This study quantitatively synthesized the results of 72 studies of rape attitudes, which included a total of 19,944 subjects. Factors that predicted rape acceptance included traditional gender role beliefs, adversarial sexual beliefs, needs for power and dominance, and conservative political beliefs.
Alford, Jane, Mary Grey, and C. James Kasper. 1988. “Child Molesters: Areas for Further Research.” Corrective and Social Psychiatry and Journal of Behavior Technology Methods and Therapy 34: 1–5.
This study identified three factors of child sexual abuse as having their roots in the use or misuse of Judeo/Christian tradition: (1) patriarchalism places the man as head of the family and the owner of his wife and childred; [sic] (2) boundaries between various sexual activities become confused because all sex is considered sinful; (3) sexual activity within families is hidden behind a curtain of secrecy.
In other words, the wingnut/fundy/socon view of sex leads or causes sexual abuse and rape, and the patriarchy and those who seek to maintain it are creating an environment where rape and sexual abuse thrive.