Rules for Christian sex and rules about rules

Rules are a lousy way to get people to follow rules.

Just at the most basic level, giving rules and expecting them to be followed doesn’t work unless those rules are explained, understood and owned by the people you expect to follow them. No one will, or can, respect a rule that hasn’t been explained and understood.

So if you’re big on rules, or if you’re trying to make a career or a hobby out of scolding people for not following your rules, then it might be good to step back and consider whether you might be the source of this problem. If you haven’t explained your rules, or if you’re not able to explain your rules, then it’s pretty silly to expect anyone else to treat them with respect.

This is why our Christian Rules for Sex and our Rules for Christian Sex are a dead end. It’s not so much that these rules are widely disobeyed, but that they are largely irrelevant. We don’t bother explaining most of them. We aren’t able to explain many of them. So it shouldn’t be surprising that others don’t understand them either.

Part of the reason we don’t bother explaining these rules is that they seem so simple. The Christian Rules for Sex/Rules for Christian Sex seem to boil down to a single, binary question: Yes or no? Are we talking about sex between a married straight couple? If yes, the rules say, then everything is fine. If no, the rules say, then it is an abomination and a vile stench in the nostrils of God.

Libby Anne summarized this nicely in her “Tale of Two Boxes,” from which I’ve borrowed the illustration used here.

When the church teaches this binary question and the set of rules it provides as the whole of Christian teaching about sex it’s basically inviting people to ignore what it has to say. As long as such rules are asserted without being explained, explored and defended, then no one should ever expect them to be followed, honored or otherwise taken seriously. (And, no, citing chapter-and-verse is not a way of defending the rules, just of reasserting them.)

Now, I think that part of the reason this binary question and its collection of rules haven’t been explained and defended is because these rules, as usually asserted, can’t be explained or defended. I think our usual assumptions about the CRS/RCS are, in many ways, wrong.

This is where my more conservative evangelical critics accuse me of wanting to “do away with the rules” and of arguing that “anything goes.” That’s not true, but such accusations are to be expected from folks who have asserted and embraced a set of rules without exploring or explaining them, even to themselves.

My response to such accusations is always the same: I’m not saying anything goes, I simply want you to treat your “biblical rules about sex” exactly the same way that you’re already treating the biblical rules about money. I want you to take the exact same hermeneutical approach that you are already taking to every biblical teaching on wealth and possessions and apply that to biblical teaching on sexuality. Then treat both sets of teachings — and other people — with more respect than your current practice seems to do with regard to either subject.

My point here, though, is not to argue about the substance of the CRS/RCS, but to note that this rule-based approach is fundamentally misguided — that rules are just about the worst possible method for getting people to obey the rules.

Asserting  and reasserting a list of rules rather than offering a functional sexual ethics won’t ever produce ethical behavior. All you’ll get from asserting a list of rules is a long list of people who break them.

This rules-based approach also has all kinds of disastrous unintended consequences. (At least, I hope these consequences are unintended.) Rod at Political Jesus outlines many of them in a righteous rant titled “India, Ohio, John Piper, Religion and the Triumph of Rape Culture.”

His focus there is on how the “purity culture” of American Christianity feeds and fosters the rape culture of American Christianity. (Yes, the rape culture of American Christianity. When the church is noticeably different from the rest of American culture on this point, then we can start talking about “the rape culture of American society surrounding the church.” But we’re nowhere near that yet.)

Rod says, bluntly, that it’s time for America’s Christian subculture to “kiss purity culture goodbye”:

In the Old and New Testament, purity and religion are never separate from seeking justice from others. Religious purity according to James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” shows an understanding of purification that is not limited to sexual purity.

What complementarians (church going men who see women as 2nd class citizens) cling to is exactly what is impure: the power that men have over women.

He also links to several other excellent posts elsewhere on this same subject of purity culture as a way of enforcing men’s power over women, including Sarah Moon on the Orwellian logic of “complementarianism,” E.J. Graff’s powerful, disturbing essay, “Purity Culture Is Rape Culture,” and a killer post from Wartburg Watch on John Piper and Domestic Violence (about which, see also the latest from Dianna Anderson).

I want to highlight in particular a post from Julia at Women in Theology on “Sexual violence and the church: talking to teens.” After some wise words on what needs to be taught to teens, and how to teach it, Julia concludes with an important explanation of why sexual ethics is better than sexual rules — and the cruel consequences of the rules-based teaching that predominates in our churches:

The reality of sexual violence is important to discuss and teens, like the rest of us, need to hear that it is a very serious sin. Yes, sin. The churches have language to bring to this discussion that secular society does not. We can talk about gravely harmful behavior without having to resort to legal definitions  and loopholes. We can claim that sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for oneself and the other. The language of sexual activities as an expression of love and respect clearly exposes the misstep that a rape victim could ever be “asking for it” and the mistake of defining consent exclusively in terms of its minimum requirements. It is important that we keep talking about sexual violence in church.

Julia sees theological language as an asset in teaching sexual ethics, and she employs such language forcefully.

Yet she also shows how the mere assertion of rules — X is sin, don’t do X — isn’t just unhelpful, but harmful. It contributes to the victim-blaming that allows the triumph of rape culture Rod discusses.

  • Carstonio

    While I’m nodding my head in agreement, I also see that as integral to personal boundaries, instead of being a separate ethical concept. Consent must be informed to have any meaning, and what you describe is simply an aspect of the ethical principle behind consent. It’s very possible that the daughter in that horrid story never learned to respect other people’s boundaries either, and I can imagine a son in that situation growing up to be a rapist for the same reason. 

  • The_L1985

    Well, considering that power differentials make non-coerced consent with kids really, really iffy at BEST, and coerced consent may as well be no consent at all, I’d say “don’t boink children/teens if you are an adult” would be a pretty safe rule of thumb for anybody.

  • The_L1985

    Frankly, sir, knowing that Christians in general, and Christian pastors in general, are Not All Like That helps a lot with coping.  I’m a bit too scarred to go back to church any time in the near future (possibly ever), but just knowing that folks like you would welcome me back if I did, and not care whether I was some arbitrary value of Good Enough, kind of helps to undo what was done a wee bit. :)

  • The_L1985

     I’ve heard of that side of things too, but I’m one of the lucky ones who never experienced the communities that practiced “an abusive husband is better than divorce” or dared to speak such a thing.  *major hugs*  It still boggles me that that is allowed to fly, anywhere, especially when it’s stated nearly that baldly as abuse.  The idea that saving your life and (if you have them) your children’s lives should come second to trying to “fix” someone who’s constantly hurting you is both deeply cruel and utterly nonsensical, but I suppose if you attach the word “God” to it, you can make even the cruelest nonsense sound good.

  • Makabit

    A friend of mine, raised Southern Baptist, encountered an extremely strange (at least I thought it was strange) version of this in her former church. 

    She had dated a young man for about a year, and then they broke up. He did not take this well, and continued to harass her in various small ways–touching her, not backing off when she said she didn’t want a backrub, arranging for her to ‘accidentally’ end up reading sexually explicit passages during Bible study, making inappropriate comments in front of others in the church. Nasty behavior. She asked their pastor to speak to him about his behavior, and the pastor treated it as an opportunity to get them back together, and did a lot of foolish talk about forgiving one another, and repairing the relationship.

    She hadn’t been married to this guy, she dated him for a while. It baffled me. The relationship was clearly dead as a doornail, and yet, instead of ‘knock it off, and stop sexually harassing girls because they won’t date you any more’, the message seemed to be ‘this abuse is just a sign that the two of you aren’t in a godly place with your relationship’.

  • Random_Lurker

    The nature of the problem with a rules based approach is exemplified (though not limited to, by any means) in one term:

    Technical Virgin.

  • Random_Lurker

     I believe this is good example of exactly this attitude, besides it’s high time it got posted here again:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/tag/created-to-be-his-help-meet

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    The nature of the problem with a rules based approach is exemplified (though not limited to, by any means) in one term:
    Technical Virgin.

    Oh, deary me. I think you’re dead on here.Even if I have been guilty of the term myself (more as semi-non-explicit factual descriptor than moral judgment, though)

  • arcseconds

     A friend of mine reported staying with a family for a little while where it became clear that the father was more-or-less outright encouraging his boys to go out and sow their wild oats.

    Of course, his daughters on the other hand were virtually in a cloister, because he knows what men are like.  Not some vague ‘there are plenty of men out there, possibly living on the wrong side of the tracks or belonging to some wrong cultural group, who will take advantage of you’ kind of ‘knowledge’, but real, actual, first-hand knowledge of what he himself is turning out with his sons.

  • KevinC

    Fred:

    My response to such accusations is always the same: I’m not saying
    anything goes, I simply want you to treat your “biblical rules about
    sex” exactly the same way that you’re already treating the biblical
    rules about money. I want you to take the exact same
    hermeneutical approach that you are already taking to every biblical
    teaching on wealth and possessions and apply that to biblical teaching
    on sexuality.

    So, “anything goes” then?  Seriously, that is how these guys (and they are pretty much all guys) treat the Biblical rules about money.  They ignore every single thing Jesus and the Prophets ever have to say about money except “Hey, the Parable of the Talents says it’s good to get rich off of investments!”  Then they go and get their actual monetary “ethics” from the Satanic Bible and the Gospel According to John Galt.

  • spinetingler

     “Technical Virgin.”

    You mean like prog-rock fans?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Still bringing the ends together: http://newevangelizers.com/blog/2013/01/09/homosexuality-and-marriage/
    Forewarned is forearmed.

  • Turcano

    Dude, a lot of these people think murder isn’t as bad as divorce.

  • Another Matt

    I’m seeing a lot of good posts which all say, in effect, “does it cause harm? How?” Conservatives I’ve known have tended to mock liberals for basing moral questions on harm. In fact for them, it seems the arrow of causation goes in exactly the opposite direction.

    (Utterly Simplified)Liberal: it’s immoral because it causes harm.
    Conservative: it causes harm because it’s immoral.Even in this simplistic form I think the implications for most of the current ethical/political disputes is pretty clear.

  • Another Matt

    (Hopefully better formatting)

    I’m seeing a lot of good posts which all say, in effect, “does it cause harm? How?” Conservatives I’ve known have tended to mock liberals for basing moral questions on harm. In fact for them, it seems the arrow of causation goes in exactly the opposite direction.

    (Utterly Simplified)Liberal: it’s immoral because it causes harm.
    Conservative: it causes harm because it’s immoral.Even in this simplistic form I think the implications for most of the current ethical/political disputes is pretty clear.

  • christopher_y

    That’s some comment thread you’ve got going on over there, Dave.

  • Carstonio

    In my experience, the men who joke about buying shotguns before their daughters mature are the same ones who talk about women as meat.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That’s gonna depend a lot on which progressive Christian you ask.

  • The_L1985

    I’m guessing that’s the point at which it became her former church?  Because dating =/= marriage, by any measure.

  • The_L1985

     Ew, I know!  I had Tab-A-In-Slot-B sex for the first time about half an hour after I’d first been touched in that area by a guy.  Mainly because I wasn’t sure if I was a virgin anymore or not, and couldn’t stand not knowing, and at least if we had sex, even if I didn’t want it all that much, I would know again.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Richard Beck (of the experimental theology blog) has written about some interesting work by Jonathan Haidt on moral foundations.

    Haidt identifies 5 foundations people use to make moral judgement: harm/care; fairness/reciprocity; ingroup/loyalty; authority/respect; purity/sanctity. He finds that liberals (in the American sense) tend to refer to the first two foundations when making moral judgements, while conservatives use all five.

    If your conservative acquaintences mock liberals for refering to harm, they’re either unrepresentative or what they’re actually mocking is what they see as an overemphasis on harm at the expense of other foundations, like authority.

    Haidt’s research finds that conservatives *do* refer to the fairness and harm foundations, but they weigh up those considerations alongside factors that a lot of liberals pay no attention to. A conservative might decide, on balance, that a judgement call should go a particular way based on their assessment against a moral foundation that liberals have no regard for.

    One of our big problems as a society is that it’s hard to reason each other into valuing one of the moral foundations that we don’t value–especially purity/sanctity. Someone says that wearing casual clothes and swearing inside a church is an offense to the sacredness of God; I say it’s not. Someone says burning a flag is desecration of a sacred object that people died for. I say no, it’s a just piece of cloth and the point the protestor was making is important enough for the symbolic act. Our arguments are strongly based in emotion. You can’t get me to feel offended about the flag; the germ of the emotion just isn’t there. So we have situations where one person feels something is terribly wrong and the other doesn’t. So we face off, unable to reach agreement because we don’t even share the same foundations.

    Beck’s full post is here: http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com.au/2007/10/purity-as-harm.html

  • Carstonio

    When Bill Cosby’s oldest two daughters were very young, his material had some of the same sexist attitudes. He went from wanting sons to deeming boys as basically nasty, saying “pretty soon they’ll be coming after me.” Notice he didn’t say they’ll be coming after his daughters. Years later when his children were teenagers, the material still implied his and his father’s disappointment that his first child wasn’t a son.

  • Carstonio

    While moral arguments do rely strongly on emotion, only harm and fairness could reasonably articulated on their own into ethical principles. I admit I might be confusing morality and ethics. I mean that I perceive the central question of ethics as whether a principle would benefit society and as many people as possible in it if the principle were followed. I don’t know of ways to establish the ethical merit of loyalty and authority without resorting to the consequentialist principle behind harm and fairness.

    Ethics seems to be a matter of shoulds. If one is going to argue that no one should burn flag, than the argument requires more than just personal offense. That’s different from simply asserting a belief that flag-burning is wrong. The same would be true if one insists that everyone should burn flags, or if one argues that flag-burning should be left as personal preference.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    even if I didn’t want it all that much, I would know again.

    Egads. I mean, I realize we already established this is a terrible sensibility to raise people with, but…crap!

  • Jake Litteral

     Thank you for the reply, and yes I guess I was looking for some sort of “rule.” It’s hard though at the same time for me to grasp this conversation because of my former Calvinist, conservative, penal-substitution, rules-based mindset.

  • The_L1985

    I was maybe slightly aroused–if I’d been against the idea of sex I wouldn’t have let it get to the touching phase to begin with.  But it wasn’t the sex itself that I wanted as much as the knowing where I stood.

    There wasn’t a classification for women-who-have-been-touched-but-haven’t-had-a-penis-in-there.  There were Virgins and Not-Virgins, and this classification was, apparently, important.  So I had to know where I stood, because that was the big issue. A really huge deal had been made of this.

    The real problem was finding out that the particular individual I picked for this was probably the last person on Earth I should have chosen. Things very quickly went downhill once we realized we were NOT reacting the same way to that experience.

  • The_L1985

     It took me a while to get used to the idea of reasons vs. rules, too.  I still get tripped up and it’s been years. :)

  • histrogeek

    I think it’s important not to blame the arbitrary rules as the only source of pain around sexuality.  I know the rules were a big source of fear and trembling for me too, but alas they weren’t the only source. Fear of loss, anxiety over how the other person viewed me, low self-esteem, etc. were at least as big a source of neurotic relationships.
     Not that the arbitrary rules help at all mind you. Just for many, maybe even most, people, just dropping religious or social norms is not going to remove all problems. I don’t know if that what you meant to imply, but some people inevitably jump to that conclusion.

  • histrogeek

     Consent is the foundation of all legitimate sexual ethics. Built on that though is respect, responsibility, and consequences (by which I mean more than just pregnancy and STDs).
    Just as a basic scenario, if consent is the only benchmark, then an eighteen-year old who seduces a fifteen-year old into having sex, then dumps him or her, could be seen as ethical (or at least not unethical), even if the younger person is predictably left an emotional train wreck. Still  I doubt most people would see that sort of behavior as ethnic, even if it’s not the sort of thing we’d want to make illegal.

  • glendanowakowsk

    Like this?

    http://xkcd.com/592/

    Maybe the rules need to be changed gradually.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    Yeah, I mean, I thought as I was typing that, “This may seem a bit of an overreaction, I suppose, or like I’m making a bigger deal out of every first sexual experience than I mean to.” I certainly don’t like the purity-related emphasis on “first times”, but recognize that not liking it and its relational existence doesn’t have any effect on how it affects other people. Just because that purity-based nonsense is horrific and wrong doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause self-loathing and such, I guess.

    The idea only bugs me in the sense that, as much as I chose the worst person I could have myself, I definitely chose it because that was where I wanted to go at that time and thankfully feel no regret (even as many of my friends have, ah, less than kind words for her for other things…). I don’t like the fact that societal influence can have such a great effect on a decision a lot of people see as important–rightly or wrongly. I’m not pitying you of course, I just think it’s crap that society gets to have that kind of influence on something that is clearly personal.

    I had a conversation go into a weird place when a woman I loved said that sex education should really include emphasizing to women the emotional response involved and such, and how that should be acknowledged in deciding one is “ready.”  I had no idea what to say, as I certainly didn’t see it that way, and was pretty sure plenty of my female friends (as she noted this specifically as a sex-based difference) didn’t either. Heck, the woman to whom I lost my “technical virginity” was told I wasn’t getting over her because she was my “first.” When she repeated that to me, on the one hand it felt like an insult (as did a lot of things she said…) as I knew that event did not feel “important” enough to have any relevance, and on the other hand suggested she thought the idea of clinging to “your first” was weird as a woman.

    But I don’t like making assumptions and allowed that anything I’d heard could have been “brave face” stuff to avoid social reprisal/shame/etc. That that conversation-to-weird-place was in the most important relationship in my life and her perspective on sex was distinctly unique in an extraordinarily negative direction as compared to everyone I knew at the time only left me even more unsure of being able to say anything at all with any hope of validity or relevance.

    Then again, sometimes I think I’ve just always hung around strange, strange people. One of my best friends refused to talk about his sex life for fear he would sound like he was bragging, so lost was he in the notion that talking about it at all meant you were discussing “conquests” (when we’d all been around for him nervously playing a song over a broken phone connection to his distant girlfriend, the one that later cheated on and dumped him, leaving him miserable for ages–hardly signs of callous disposal on his part).

    In the end: I just don’t like (or, really, understand) how any of this whole politics of sex works, and live in mortal fear of screwing up the balance between recognizing autonomy and allowing someone space to escape external pressures (or ones mistakenly believed to come from me personally). So I mostly just live like a hermit now anyway. I recently moved quite deliberately into an area of unpleasant politics (the district of the unfortunate Virginia Foxx, for whom this district should feel rightly ashamed, but instead keeps re-electing her) and mostly married (or still home-bound and young) people so that I could just forget the entire idea of sex and relationships. Well, participating in either, anyway–obviously the ideas linger….There’s probably something intensely unhealthy in that. For who I am, anyway.

  • Original Lee

     I think that church used the “courtship” model for relationships between young singles.  The church a friend of mine used to attend uses that model, too, recently described in detail by the book “Waiting for Prince Charming” (IIRC).  Apparently, the girl is supposed to maintain her purity under her father’s wing by not even dating until she’s met someone she’s reasonably sure she wants to marry.  Dating encourages emotional involvement with the other person, and if a young woman has had emotional involvement with someone, she’s no longer capable of pure love for anybody else afterwards. (See, the purity thing again.)  She would bring emotional baggage into subsequent relationships, and that’s not fair to the young man, apparently.

    So I think your friend, by dating this guy, was announcing that she thought he was husband material, and without a really really good reason for rejecting his suit, breaking up with him was not actually considered terminating their marriage relationship – she was just announcing that their relationship needed work.  She needed to be able to say to the pastor that her ex-date had been unfaithful, or was gay, or something else of moment, for the pastor to accept that she had used good judgment instead of being all female and whimsical.  (snark intentional)

  • Carstonio

     (nods) That’s what I was expressing as well. Consent as not the sole benchmark but the foundational one.

  • CoolHandLNC

    I can sympathize. For some years now, I have been in a process of deconstructing my faith to get to the essentials and what I really believe. It has been painful, but also liberating and exciting. I expect it to be a journey of a lifetime.

    I try not to criticize other people’s religion but religions that damage people suck. Calvinism, from what I know of it and IMHO, is a piece of work.

    We are trained from youth to think of good things as scarce. God’s love and grace are bountiful beyond measure. 

    Let’s see, rules:
    * Love God. Seek God: a journey of infinite discovery.
    * Love others. Don’t be a jerk. Give freely of yourself, what you are an what you have. (Our baptismal vows include a promise to respect the dignity of every human being, and to seek and serve Christ in all persons. I love that last bit. I think in a different tradition that might be namaste.)
    * Love yourself. Don’t tear yourself down. You aren’t more important than other people, but neither are you less. (Seek and serve Christ [the divine] in yourself too.)

    Isn’t that enough?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    In reply to here and there: Mutual consent implies mutual lack of harm (except as agreed upon by both parties), at least as I see it, since the element of consent includes an implicit agreement not to hurt the other person.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think it comes down to the idea that women are the initiators of male sexual aggression (“I couldn’t help myself, did you see that ass in those yoga pants?”) and the protectors of the male sexual response (“Why did you get drunk at that dance club with that boy”? You should have known better!”)

    In short, victim-blaming rape culture. (>_<)

  • histrogeek

    Pretty much. I think the area below the line is fixed after the rule change. Change the rules gradually and you get less extreme drama spread over a lot longer.

  • Carstonio

    On another board, I had someone try to convince me of the existence of “rapes of lust and excitement.” As if men were mindless from the waist down. Just a slight variation on victim-blaming like Glenn Beck’s “Don’t tease the panther.”

  • http://twitter.com/WayofCats WayofCats

    I understand there is a growing therapy category of “Christian sexual problems” and that is probably all you need to know about the damage these rigid and joyless rules can wreak.

  • The_L1985

    No, and you’re absolutely right, it wasn’t the rules alone, by any means.  (After all, my brother was raised in the exact same environment and is totally fine.)  It was more the sense, all the time, that I was somehow a grave disappointment to my earthly father, and that a lot of suggestions for going Above And Beyond were actually Rules You Mustn’t Break.  CCD sort of went from very stark, black-and-white, Do This, Not That sort of morality, into mentioning other things it’s good to do, but which aren’t absolutely necessary–and didn’t make this clear enough for the non-neurotypical girl to realize it was happening.

    So I felt like I had to do a lot of things that I just wasn’t managing, per mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, and clearly I was just a horrible person and everyone else was doing all these things just fine.  Or at least that’s what it seemed like at the time.  Now I realize nobody can do everything, but we can all do something, and they were just trying to suggest some nice Somethings for us to do.

  • The_L1985

    The main problem was, there were warning signs there, long before the sex happened, and I didn’t see them for what they were because I was too badly sheltered to have any real means of recognizing them.  The only signs of a bad relationship that I could identify right off were things like the other person hitting you or calling you nasty things or having a shouting match.  The warning signs in my case were all little things before the sex (that rapidly mushroomed into Great Big Nasty Things), so I didn’t see that something was very wrong.

    It’s not really the sex I regret, although I’m also disappointed in the ridiculous level of importance that is attached to the “virgin” label, as if anyone could tell at a glance.  It’s the whole stupid relationship, which did me no good and quite a bit of emotional harm.

    The other guys I’ve dated who turned out to be Not The One aren’t people I regret dating.  Our personalities clashed, we both moved on and learned from it.  This fellow–was not like that at all.

  • AnonaMiss

    But… but a seasoned witch could call me from the depths of my disgrace :(

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I suppose. In the heydey of LJ, it would have been a lot more active for this much of a hotbutton topic; most of my commenters have since gone elsewhere.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I tentatively agree that given a clearly-enough-specified notion of “consent” that is shared by everyone involved, “don’t violate consent” is the only rule we need to follow to avoid doing things we ought not do.

  • AnonaMiss

    That was a reply to the “Prog rock fans are technical virgins” post. Stupid Disqus messing up my in-jokes.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    On another board, I had someone try to convince me of the existence of “rapes of lust and excitement.” As if men were mindless from the waist down.

    I often find myself wary of discounting lust or actual sex-based motivators for rape. I have always had strong (occasionally excessive–when the other person is half naked in your home by their own hand and you’re still saying, “But it’s okay if you aren’t interested,” I tend to think you might be taking it too far, though it tended not to stop me from still being super duper sure) lines about this myself, but I have a libido and am aware how strong a motivator sexual drive is. If someone is not properly educated, then lust+not understanding consent could easily=non-malicious-in-intent, lust/excitement based rape. It wouldn’t be mindless, then. It would fit perfectly logically in that mind. It also wouldn’t be not-rape.Mostly this just always worries me as a way of drawing the kind of lines that lead to idiot phrases like “legitimate rape”. I know that’s not even remotely what you mean, but when society seems to be failing pretty hard at making clear what consent is, some people could easily not understand they are not receiving it and think their actions are just “having sex”. Whether it’s bullshit or sincere, plenty of people already proclaim this to be the case. I’d rather not have anything discounted on the base of motivation.

  • histrogeek

    Oh do I know that song all too well. I’ve got two decades of anti-depressants to almost be able to deal with that.

  • Launcifer

    At least there’s a Donovan song to go with that ;).

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    That makes sense and is way more healthy–I feel, at least–than specifically regretting the sex (same thing for me I suppose: I regret the relationship, not the sex–except that it taught me very, very clearly not to get sucked into someone else’s depression, which was valuable at least).

    And that just tells me how much I hate trying to understand other people, as I feel like an idiot for gauging the relative importance based on how you originally phrased it and not realizing it was not mentioned for importance but relevance. And then makes me think I look like some condescending ass that assumes female=takes it as emotionally important. I think I’m going to stick with my hermit idea.

  • Carstonio

    My use of “mindless” was probably confusing. I was describing the longstanding myth that men lose control of themselves once aroused.

    Not sure what you mean by society failing to make clear what constitutes consent. I would think that someone who respects personal boundaries would assume lack of consent unless the other person makes it explicit in some way. Perhaps understanding content should be a prerequisite for initiating sex with another person. As I mentioned elsewhere, that lack of understanding could also make the person vulnerable to being raped. This issue isn’t about motivations.


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