More Fundamentalist Myths About Sex

In response to Todd Akin’s sexual miseducation, Sierra recounts some of the myths she used to believe, thanks to her fundamentalist upbringing:

1. You can get pregnant by swimming with boys, because sperm can leak out and travel through pool water.
2. You can get a “false pregnancy” by masturbating – convincing your body that you’re having sex – and will then go through a miscarriage.
3. People can tell whether or not you have ever masturbated by the way you smell (pheromones).
4. When a woman has sex, her hips widen and her demeanor changes. You can tell if a woman has lost her virginity by the way her hips sway when she walks.
5. If you think lustful thoughts or have crushes on boys, you might also get a “false pregnancy” and your hips might widen automatically.

Read more.

And, dear moderate Christians who just might be reading this, before you just dismiss the fundies as clueless and pat yourselves on the back for not being so out of touch with reality, can you please take a moment to explain why people so regularly beseech your omnipotent and omniscient God for knowledge and wisdom wind up being so regularly among the most incorrigibly ignorant people in our culture?

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • RobMcCune

    It’s disturbing that these false hoods were being passed onto children recently enough for the people who told that to their children to possibly still be alive. For such silly and outdated myths to make it into the second half of the 20th century speaks to something seriously wrong with Christian attitudes about sex.

    I suppose fundamentalist perpetuate these myths because they paint a picture of the world that conforms to their ideas about sex, namely that it’s evil and dangerous unless safely confined within a marriage blessed by god. The worst of those listed, the ones that blame a woman’s miscarriages on her sexuality, also serve to avoid the question of how such a bad thing could happen to good people.

    • A Theist

      You forgot one huge myth…
      That there is such a thing as “safe” sex.

  • Danielle

    You know what’s also sad? I had no idea how my own body really worked until we started trying to have a baby and I did some research. The amount of information that isn’t taught is shocking and is sadly even perpetuated by some doctors! Telling girls that they ovulate on day 14 is doing them a great disservice since it’s not true for most people.

  • Laurent Weppe

    explain why people so regularly beseech your omnipotent and omniscient God for knowledge and wisdom wind up being so regularly among the most incorrigibly ignorant people in our culture?

    I’m not sure this qualify as “knowledge and wisdom“: seems more like “Shit adult made up to force kids to behave by pretending that they grownups can’t be outsmarted by younglings when it comes to sex“.

    (Testing if the blockquote tag works. Also the comment section needs a preview)

    • Kodie

      But girls’ hips widen. As if going through adolescence wasn’t enough, how can responsible adults threaten girls against sexuality by knowing what they did just because their body changed like it was due to? Since they probably don’t figure out that it’s not true because nobody tells them, they still think it’s true and warn their children. It is similar with the chest- girls who developed early in my ordinary suburban public school were assumed to be sexual, and girls who developed late or were just not that big-busted were teased for being virgins. I don’t remember the whole school being so concerned with every girl’s sexual status all the time, just that it had come up, but I was anti-social and kept to my school work (the important reason I was told I was there for, another possibly more damaging myth).

      I really do believe this comes from the parents – what the parents worry about. When your daughter doesn’t have the boobs, you can think of her like a little girl, but as soon as she needs a bra (not just because all the other girls at school wear bras), is when dads worry. Moms probably worry too. I’m being stereotypical about gendered parents’ worries. Now that means hormones are rushing through her brain and stuff, and boys are going to notice and take advantage of her, and she’s going to like that and want to do stuff. It’s not just religion, it’s patriarchy. It wasn’t purity culture, I don’t know what it was, it was 1981. The girl in 6th grades with boobs was the target of a lot of attention, what I thought was positive attention – from boys, and every girl wanted to be her. It didn’t look, from my perspective, like this affected her negatively, but I can understand why parents would warn about what happens when you grow a shape, and boys notice… now that I know what boys and girls like to do. It’s just assumed by the other kids that you’re doing it because you could get someone to notice you, and if you’re flat like I was, that of course nobody wanted to so you were teased for not doing it. Why girls stuff their bras by the way, or get those padded push-ups parents think they’re too young for. I think if a parent thinks a girl is too young for an article of clothing that emphasizes what she wishes was there, but she wants to wear it anyway, they haven’t communicated enough. It’s not a matter of forbidding it, or purifying her through baggy clothing, or teaching her to modify herself in order to police other people’s sexual arousal. What stupid things kids thinks comes from where? I didn’t get anything from my parents, I learned it all from other kids at school before any adult spoke about it. What do pre-adolescents know about sex or even care? It wasn’t just someone’s imagination that their widening hips gave them away – other kids definitely feel free to tell you what they think you’ve done. People who don’t know why the body changes, what triggers that change – it must be thoughts and behaviors, because nobody tells them what a hormone is until, like, 8th grade.

  • Eric

    I think part of #4 might have *some* truth to it….kinda. I haven’t followed up to see if this was some religious-backed study but I do remember this making the rounds a while back

  • Jeb

    “You can get pregnant by swimming with boys, because sperm can leak out and travel through pool water.”

    “If you think lustful thoughts or have crushes on boys, you might also get a “false pregnancy”

    Very interesting, somewhat terse piece of ethnography. Two fascinating and old biological myths.

    Aristotle’s masterpiece (nothing to do with Aristotle and not exactly a masterpiece; link to the text below if anyone is interested) would be the prime suspect supporting late transmission and the word of mouth spread of such things; but presumable they still form a social and cultural function.

    Would be interesting to see how much similarity or difference their is here between modern usage and the medieval period. Female reproductive control was particularly important to those who owned property most often control and inheritance of land.

    I would speculate on a seriously conservative rural society with a similar social organization and inheritance pattern being responsible for the survival of this type of stuff. But that’s a guess, things evolve and change. Would be interesting to find out more.

  • phobie70

    i felt really bad for the person who wrote this, her having the lack of information that she did as a young person. at the same time, i am one of those Christians that was referred to above, who should not pat themselves on the back for not being a “fundie”. my interpretation is this: that any loving parent, who had the correct understanding of the creation of sex and it’s proper context, who doesn’t operate in a framework of sexual hangups and false information, will tell their children the truth about their bodies, and about sexuality, and what they can expect. this is what i personally have done. my children can, and have come to me with questions about all sorts of things. i am not embarrassed or ashamed of what is a fundamental part of life. the difference between me and many other people who are not Christians is that i believe that sex is normal and natural and to be enjoyed, but that it is to be had in a certain context, and that context is between a man and a woman who are married. and that is the framework that i live from, and teach my children from. but they are going to have all the information they need because i will not absolve my responsibility as a parent to others, and i will be the first to give them the information they need about their bodies and their sexuality, not dumb friends from school or magazines. and i will pat myself on the back for this, as this is clearly not being done, even in secular homes.

  • Mel

    I believe your article is extremely biased and believe the myths you have heard growing up are due to just your elders being liars. Most parents will tell a myth, an attempt to sabatoge their daughter getting pregnant at what they feel is to early of an age. I remember my 6o yr old Mexican neighbor in my early twenties telling me her mother told her she could get pregnant from kissing. So instead she was having sex, but refused to kiss for the longest time. I grew up in a home where my mother was a devout Christian and my father more so just believed in God. When I asked him once “What’s a blow job,” because I heard it on the bus he said, “It’s when you suck a guy’s dick.” Look at Freud claiming the vaginal orgasm, a myth. It still gets taught.

  • Chris

    I am a Christian who has grown up around fundamentalists and had many fundamentalists as friends. I have to say that these myths are pretty far out there, and I certainly never heard any of these. Now I have taken a near-100% reversal on my position on sex (my “sex position,” if you will…), and you and I probably have a lot more in common than me and a conservative Christian; however, I don’t think you’re really being fair.

    For a while, I’ve been trying to pin a lot of societal problems on fundamentalists, but what I have realized is that the problem is not fundamentalists but jerks within power structures. There are jerks in ALL cross-sections of society; however, not all of them receive power or authority to exercise their jerkdom on everyone else. Atheist jerks usually aren’t organized enough to upset everyone else’s lives.

    White supremacists, Nazis, Russian Communists, corrupt businessmen, backward politicians, and so forth are just more of the same sort of thing. Fundamentalist Christians of all varieties rely on a particular set of knowledge claims which especially grate against things which atheists hold dear, but all of those other groups hold equally stupid knowledge claims which they use to preserve their power.

    One of the most ignorant people I know has nothing to do with religion. She’s a friend’s super-controlling mother — a friend who moved to the opposite side of the world, I think in part to escape her. The thing is, the only power structure she has over anyone is that of motherhood, and even that is gone. She can’t group together with like-minded jerks to get what they all want.

    The point is that yes, fundamentalists are stupid and do a lot of damage to society. They’re easy to pick on because they’re somewhat organized, visible, and numerous. The thing is, they’re not alone; they are one aspect of a problem which permeates society.