Re: But, Unfortunately, It Was Written By A Woman So Scorn Will Have To Do

1

Why? Because they didn't say "from 43 to 31"?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 7:55 PM
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Is the problem grammar-related, or some sort of sexism?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:00 PM
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I'm guessing it's the difference between having 'experienced sex', and being 'sexually experienced'.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:05 PM
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Do those phrases have non-identical connotations to some people?

I still think it's a grammar problem. Unless there's sexism in some other passage that isn't quoted.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:15 PM
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One day I was just awalking down the street and this sex jumped out and got me! So I experienced it, yeah.

4: Of course they do. Though I suspect the author was trying to avoid repeating the phrase "sexually experienced" twice.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:17 PM
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Yeah, even if those phrases might have different connotations in some contexts, I think the intended meaning in the passage is clearly identical, and it's not too forced. But overall, the phrasing is awful.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:18 PM
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It sort of reads like they have a pathological fear of parallelism.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:20 PM
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I thought "have been sexually active" was the clunky, vaguely clinical sounding term of art.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:20 PM
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I'm sure they were asked "Have you ever been experienced?"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:23 PM
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30 percent of 15- to 17-year-old girls had experienced sex

As opposed to "virgin sex"?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:25 PM
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It seems that the former phrase is found less often than the latter phrase in the literature. Since it's clumsier, but also necessary in a lot of sentence structures, as well as necessary to break up the monotony of always saying "sexually experienced" and "sexually inexperienced" over and over.

"Sexually experienced" is used as the opposite of "sexually inexperienced" (or "sexually naive"). If you're ever experienced sex, by whatever definition the study uses, you have gone from sexually inexperienced to sexually experienced. This is true for humans, prairie voles, pigtailed macaques, etc.

The idea of "engaging in sex" is usually found in contexts like "had engaged in sex in the last 12 months", or "had engaged in sex more than once a week in the last 12 months". This can be used to group people into multiple categories.

Whereas if you're ever "engaged in sex", you become sexually experienced.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:27 PM
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I guess I don't quite get wherein lies the cause for outrage, though. But maybe that's because, as a regular reader of the Style section, I've developed an immunity to the possibly pernicious effects of basically irrelevant hypotheses glibly presented as socially significant certainties?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:27 PM
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As a man of the daily letters I will tell you that newspaper editors will do whatever they must to change the information you convey in accurate, parallel constructions so that the reader isn't bored by sentences that provide precise information. This does not sound sexist to me, really, so much as it sounds like newsprint.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:27 PM
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"Whereas if you're" s/b "Whereas if you've"


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:28 PM
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5 and 7 get it right. Stupid journalist fear of repeating a phrase, coupled with reflexive willingness to think of sex as an external experience that "happens" to female human beings. Bah.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:29 PM
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13: Pretty damn awkward newsprint, but sure.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:30 PM
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11: "Sexually experienced" usually seems to imply agency and perhaps some expertise. (One could describe a couple of teenagers who have only had sex a few times as "inexperienced.")

"Experienced sex" makes it sound like only one time would qualify. ("I've experienced climbing, but I'm not an experienced climber.")


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:31 PM
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Or, what Cala said in 4.2. I also imagine that the writer and editor were thinking about a workaround for the thorny problem of what constitutes sex: "experienced sex" and "sexually experienced" both sound vague enough to include oral and manual sex while "had sex" or some such denotes only penetration . . . laydeez.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:32 PM
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17: That's true when the two phrases aren't put into near-parallelism.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:32 PM
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I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart sur­gery, and I have experienced sex.

But I have not yet gone to college.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:32 PM
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Would the passage be viewed as less offensive if the girls were sexually experienced and the boys experienced sex?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:32 PM
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You can always punch her in the boobs. I get the impression that that is just as good.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:35 PM
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21: yes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:36 PM
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15: From cursory google searches it seems that the phrase "had experienced sex" is used equally often to describe males as to describe females.

Also, why is the word "happens" in quotes?

Would the passage be viewed as less offensive if the girls were sexually experienced and the boys experienced sex?

No, then it would be implying that girls are titillating sluts while boys have neutral, unremarkable "experiences". Parallel structure is the only possible way to do things.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:36 PM
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You can kick her in the clitoris.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:36 PM
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18: The unfortunate part of the stupid editing is that I wasn't sure whether they were using the same measure for boys and girls.

19: Oh, sure, I'm not arguing that it was intended that way; but that's why it sounds weird. The near-parallel structure doesn't invent the language anew.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:36 PM
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21: Are you calling the girls slutty, Brock?


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:36 PM
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21: Yes.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:36 PM
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In the social science literature the relevant technical terms are "Modestly Yielded the Flower of Womanhood" and "Made Up A Story to Tell the CDC Interviewer".


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:37 PM
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It's not the journalist's fault that the DHHS survey asked, "Are you experienced?"


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:37 PM
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This does not sound sexist to me, really, so much as it sounds like newsprint.

The medium is the message, d00d.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:37 PM
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I think they mean "age of first PIV intercourse", actually.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:38 PM
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In the social science literature the relevant technical terms are "Modestly Yielded the Flower of Womanhood"

I do believe I never posted this.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:38 PM
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You know, this whole article could be a case study in what a minefield it is to write about sex, particularly young people having sex. Take this part:

Although the data is clear, health researchers say it is often hard to convince adults that most teenagers have healthy attitudes about sex.
"I give presentations nationwide where I'm showing people that the virginity rate in college is higher than you think and the number of partners is lower than you think and hooking up more often than not does not mean intercourse," Dr. Bogle said. "But so many people think we're morally in trouble, in a downward spiral and teens are out of control. It's very difficult to convince people otherwise."

At first I thought the reporter was using "healthy" to mean "chill out, teenagers aren't indiscriminately and emotionlessly having sex with anything that moves," but it turns out that it means...they aren't having sex at all? Ugh. I get that the researcher is trying to tamp down the hysteria with empirical data, and our culture generally does perceive it as a good thing for people to have fewer sexual partners, but still.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:39 PM
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Parallel structure is not the way newspapers do things.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:39 PM
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Penis in vitrum intercourse really does not sound like fun at all.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:40 PM
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30, meet 9.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:40 PM
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29: and the pie charts look like little flowers!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:42 PM
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30% of girls took were given to hold in their awkward fists the scepter of a sexually experienced boy's passion.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:42 PM
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It seems worthy of note (as CN said up there) that the writer in this case is forced to walk a fairly narrow path, avoiding both of a pair of opposing harmful stereotypes (i.e. virgin/whore). That's quite a burden, and I wonder if it's necessary to be so sensitive about it.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:42 PM
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Nine? Pfft, 9. Nine got the lyric all wrong.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:42 PM
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15: From cursory google searches it seems that the phrase "had experienced sex" is used equally often to describe males as to describe females.

I believe you in the scientific literature, CN. Unfortunately, pop rephrasings of said literature often muffle or even completely reverse meaning, and they're very subject to social biases.

Also, why is the word "happens" in quotes?

I was trying to communicate how completely unsuitable that verb is to describe a two-person interaction. Sorry that I got lazy.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:44 PM
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There are plenty of ways to convey the information without using a dual structure. I don't really care beyond the fact that it's unbelievably badly phrased.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:44 PM
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44

So I guess this study is only counting human partners.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:46 PM
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41: If you can just get your mind together, I might suggest giving said song another listen.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:47 PM
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You know, almost everyone agrees that Montaigne was a really world-class intellect, the inventor of a form, a psychologist of the first water, and a humane soul, and all that rot, and check this:

Those who have to write against sensual pleasure like to use the following argument to show that it is entirely vicious and irrational: when its force is at its climax it overmasters us to such an extent that reason has no way to come into it [tee hee]; they go on to cite what we know of that from our experience lying with women —

cum jam præsagit gaudia corpus,
Atque in eo est venus ut muliebria conserat arva

[as when the body already anticipates its joy, and Venus is about to scatter seeds broadcast in the woman's furrows]

in which it seems to them that the delight so transports us outside ourselves that our reason could not possibly perform its duty then …

I know it is possible to master the force of that pleasure; and I am quite knowledgeable about the subject; I have never found Venus to be as imperious a goddess as several people, chaster than I am, attest her to be.

From "On Cruelty, bolding added. You see? It did him no harm at all, and he concurs with common sense in assigning the fear of sensuality to prudes who know not whereof they speak.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:47 PM
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I hate when number forms are switched to avoid repetition - first statistic as a percent, second as a fraction. Make it easy to compare when your sentence is about comparing, ok?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:52 PM
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|| Formalizing things is hard. Formal reasoning about whole classes of CFGs is quite hard. |>


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:54 PM
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49

I hate chlorofluoroganons.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:56 PM
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49: Google refutes your made-up word.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:57 PM
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51

Not to get all pop-Foucauldian or anything, but I think there's too much interest in teen sex, anyway.

The motives and agenda and prurient interest of the anti-teen-sex people are easy enough to discern, but are we really supposed to believe that the pro- crowd are therefore innocent of all ideology, just by virtue of being anti an anti that we oppose? I suspect not, frankly, and I vote we just leave those kids alone unless and until we can satisfactorily answer this question.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 8:59 PM
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So, no sex education, let 'em find birth control on their own?

I don't see what could possibly go wrong!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:02 PM
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Speaking of post-modernists, can anyone tell me if this makes any sense, or is just a rambling jumble of vague metaphor like it seems to me?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:02 PM
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53: it's ironic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:04 PM
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Haraway's awesome, PA. We're sort of past that mode of thinking, by a lot, and past her prose style by even more, but it's an important essay, yes, and it does have meaning.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:04 PM
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are we really supposed to believe that the pro- crowd are therefore innocent of all ideology, just by virtue of being anti an anti that we oppose?

Well, no, but they're presumably more likely to have an ideology compatible with our own.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:04 PM
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Yeah, I never claimed not to have an ideology. It is part of my ideology that slut-shaming and denying sex ed is bad and destructive, and that demystifying the body is an important part of growing up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:06 PM
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51: MC, in all seriousness, who are you talking about? Literally all of the people that I've come in contact with who I would characterize as "pro-teen-sex" are spending all of their energy pushing back against hateful, dangerous, or malicious anti-sex policies and philosophies.

Maybe I'm sheltered or maybe you just meant that it would be nice to live in a world where we didn't have to fight so hard to protect our fellow (younger) human beings from being given scientifically false or otherwise mental-health-jeopardizing information.

Are you thinking of something really different than I am? Do you find the Midwest Teen Sex Show objectionable?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:09 PM
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I imagine the fear of being labeled a pedophile or some other sort of pervert (or even an internalized fear of being one) keeps a lot of people from publicly advocating quite reasonable positions regarding teens and sex, making the conservative position unrepresentatively vocal.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:10 PM
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I object to the lack of prurient material on the Midwest Teen Sex Show.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:12 PM
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Sex is natural - sex is good Not everybody does it But everybody should Sex is natural - sex is fun Sex is best when it's... One on one One on one

So given that this is plainly ideological, is it fair to understand its author's later legal troubles as a partisan witch hunt? I think so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:12 PM
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Midwest Teen Sex Show's a perfect example of what would have made my younger life a lot easier, safer, and less generally fucked-up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:12 PM
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"But so many people think we're morally in trouble, in a downward spiral and teens are out of control. It's very difficult to convince people otherwise."

Once someone decides that the world is on the downward path, they maintain that belief regardless of whether or not things actually get worse from one year to the next. "Getting continually worse" becomes a well-established, static global quality which it would be foolish to question or try to measure by asking whether this year is really worse than last year, or ten years ago.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:14 PM
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Would this be better, Beckster?

A 2002 report from the Department of Health and Human Services found that the percentage of sexually active 15- to 17-year-olds had fallen to less than a third (38% vs. 30% for girls and 43% vs. 31% for boys) since 1995.

max
['That could probably be better.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:15 PM
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Once someone decides that the world is on the downward path, they maintain that belief regardless of whether or not things actually get worse from one year to the next. "Getting continually worse" becomes a well-established, static global quality which it would be foolish to question or try to measure by asking whether this year is really worse than last year, or ten years ago.

Indeed, and this has been going on for thousands of years.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:17 PM
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Indeed, and this has been going on for thousands of years.

Yes, but it's just getting worse and worse!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:19 PM
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To elaborate, if crime had really been getting continually worse ever since 1968, when the hippies and Black Panthers took over, the U.S. would be like Somalia now and almost everyone would be dead. But there are plenty of people who believe that ever since 1968 things have been getting steadily worse, and some of them have believed that ever since 1968.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:20 PM
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On the contrary. People thinking that things are getting worse is getting better; it's people thinking that people thinking that things are getting worse is getting better that's getting worse.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:21 PM
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Kinda OT I guess, but seriously, is the New York Times trolling America?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:25 PM
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The NYT is always already trolling America. The most concerning thing about that article, however, is that it seems to be evidence that the Style section is in the process of conquering the news sections.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:29 PM
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Always, jms. Always.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:30 PM
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69: wow. That's like concentrated style section, but worse.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:30 PM
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"Free from the scrutiny of feminists"? Wow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:31 PM
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teo with the double-pwn.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:32 PM
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Holy fuck that's horrible. The NYT is really good at making me wish I was not a human being.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:32 PM
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70: Is that the technical sense of "always already"? What a strange adverb.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:32 PM
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the percentage of sexually active 15- to 17-year-olds had fallen to less than a third (38% vs. 30% for girls and 43% vs. 31% for boys) since 1995.

You mean a third of them are doing it right now? Gross.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:33 PM
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What's really irritating about that article jms linked is that it's an objectively interesting question, and pretty universal. What does it mean for a relationship when external events shift the power dynamics sharply in a short period of time?

It's an eternally interesting human question, and New York alone probably has 4 million versions of the answer. I just feel bad for the poor guy who had a reporter calling him up to interrogate him about golf.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:34 PM
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Some of it does seem like parody.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:37 PM
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If I was used to a certain power dynamic in my relationship, and the power dynamic changed in her favor, I would feel a strong need to avoid her for a few days in order to adjust to this embarrassing situation.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:37 PM
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Do you find the Midwest Teen Sex Show objectionable?

No, not in the least. Or at least, not in the way that I suspect you expect me to. Do I find it didactically, not to say somewhat prissily, and self-consciously dedicated to the promulgation of a worldview that I wouldn't necessarily endorse? Hell, yes. Would I therefore attempt to interfere with the promulgation of said worldview? Jesus, no. I know what side my bread is buttered. I'm all for accurate information about birth control and such-like. I'm just not prepared to pretend that said information is "neutral" and value-free.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:38 PM
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By "it" I mean Dabagirls.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:39 PM
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83

"Hell, yes; Jesus, no." Sounds like a country song.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:39 PM
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What does it mean for a relationship when external events shift the power dynamics sharply in a short period of time?

Combine this with the Principle of Least Interest and you're off to the races.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:40 PM
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It seems that one of the editorial objectives of the NYT is trying get the rest of the world to believe that New Yorkers, in particular women, are unbearable people. As teo et al. observe above, this phenomenon used to be mostly quarantined to Style, but maybe it's becoming a paper-wide policy.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:40 PM
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It seems that one of the editorial objectives of the NYT is trying get the rest of the world to believe that New Yorkers, in particular women, are unbearable people

And people say social science grant money is wasted on establishing the obvious.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:41 PM
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"free from the scrutiny of feminists," s/b "free from the scrutiny of Gerty Farishes"


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:42 PM
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I'm all for accurate information about birth control and such-like. I'm just not prepared to pretend that said information is "neutral" and value-free.

But who's asking you to? (I think this is what Witt was getting at with her question.) No one in this thread, at least, has said anything implying that pro-sex information dissemination is value-free. People have said that they agree with the values underlying it, but that's a different matter.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:43 PM
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So, in an ideal world, what would your politics of sex look like, MC?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:47 PM
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89: buttery, it seems, based on 81.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:50 PM
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promulgation of a worldview

Okay, so I'm still not quite getting whether we agree. Sure, it promotes a worldview that sex is normal and natural and it's A-OK if you want to do it. I wasn't raised with that exact worldview and I doubt I would raise my own children that way, but earlier you said re we really supposed to believe that the pro- crowd are therefore innocent of all ideology, just by virtue of being anti an anti that we oppose? I suspect not, frankly, and I vote we just leave those kids alone unless and until we can satisfactorily answer this question.

You don't have to believe that the "pro-crowd" lacks its own ideology in order to understand that the reason the "pro" propaganda is out there is in large measure to counter the landslide of messages that say you're evil and going to hell, that contraception is murdering babies, and that anything that deviates from a very slim band of normal makes you repellant.

Either you and I have a really different notion of what "leaving those kids alone" is going to look like, or you were just expressing a general wish that it would be nice if the adults in this culture could stop obsessing about teen sexuality, secure in the knowledge that those teens who wanted to have sex could do so unmolested by lies and threats.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:50 PM
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I don't know anyone who pretends that sex ed isn't based on a particular ideology. MC, are you arguing that the issue of teen sex somehow should be free of ideology? I can't imagine what that would entail, because to ignore it seems a pretty grave (and ideologically-motivated) mistake.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:52 PM
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Witt-pwned.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 9:52 PM
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I predict that out of all current NY Times articles, this one has the potential to generate the most outrage among Unfoggeders:

They shared their sad stories the other night at an informal gathering of Dating a Banker Anonymous, a support group founded in November to help women cope with the inevitable relationship fallout from, say, the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the Dow's shedding 777 points in a single day, as it did on Sept. 29.

In addition to meeting once or twice weekly for brunch or drinks at a bar or restaurant, the group has a blog, billed as "free from the scrutiny of feminists," that invites women to join "if your monthly Bergdorf's allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life."


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:02 PM
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But who's asking you to?

Oh, nobody has asked me to at all, Teo. I'm just commenting on a weblog about such a flighty matter as sex in order to take my mind off such weightier matters as real estate.

Jaysus Murphy. Did my landlord 'Gus' just wave to me from the side shed outside our building, and with a decidedly jaunty air? Yeah, I guess he just did. Guy wants us out of here by June 1st in order to make way for his pregnant sister. Which, okay, I know we could fight, legally speaking, but then again, we're just not going to. But that little wave was a bit much, really.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:03 PM
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95: He's cockpunch-eligible. Consider all options.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:04 PM
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94: Dude, way to read the thread.

I have to say, though, that "bottle service" makes me laugh every single time. I cannot imagine how adults can say it with a straight face.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:05 PM
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I don't know how 94 predicted 69, but that doesn't mean I'm not impressed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:06 PM
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I don't understand how an adult can refer to her "allowance" with a straight face. Seriously? This isn't prostitution how?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:06 PM
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#94, 98: Oops. Still, that article deserved to be linked twice.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:09 PM
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101

Some women in the group said the men in their lives had gone from being aloof and unattainable to unattractively needy and clinging. Others complained of being ignored -- one, who called herself A.P., wrote on the blog that three weeks had passed without her boyfriend "asking a single question" about her life.

Whatever type of man you like, the financial crisis will turn him into the opposite type of man. And it's all Obama's fault.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:09 PM
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I don't know anyone who pretends that sex ed isn't based on a particular ideology. MC, are you arguing that the issue of teen sex somehow should be free of ideology? I can't imagine what that would entail, because to ignore it seems a pretty grave (and ideologically-motivated) mistake.

Sex ed should be based on information. "The issue of teen sex", viewed as an "issue", that is, a topic of political discourse, of course has to have some ideological component.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:11 PM
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100: I predict it will be linked a third time in another thread THIS VERY NIGHT.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:11 PM
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So, in an ideal world, what would your politics of sex look like, MC?

The idea of "politics of sex" by definition also must contain some sort of ideology, since it includes the word "politics".


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:12 PM
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I didn't know what bottle service was until I looked it up just now. It's like keeping your own personal shaving mug at the barber, except with bottles of Grey Goose? Why is this desirable? Is it to avoid other people's germs? But it's not like the club lets people mouth the bottles behind the bar. A puzzle.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:13 PM
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103: M/tch was second, by 16 minutes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:14 PM
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106: He'll be third to GB from GB's perspective, so nyah.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:15 PM
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It's been linked several times on standpipe's blog.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:15 PM
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the issue of teen sex somehow should be free of ideology

Heaven forbid! All teen sex must be conducted in the spirit of Juche.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:17 PM
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109: Alas, promotion of that very viewpoint led to the downfall of Jocelyn Elders.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:18 PM
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One of the things I like about that article is how the ladies color-coded the Dow's 300-point drop on October 6th as "red", or negative for spending quality time with their financial boyfriends that night, but color-coded the inauguration "green", or positive, "in honor of President Obama's hope".

In reality the Dow dropped 332 points, or 4%, on January 20th, in the worst inauguration-day drop in history.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:19 PM
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I didn't know what bottle service was until I looked it up just now. It's like keeping your own personal shaving mug at the barber, except with bottles of Grey Goose? Why is this desirable?

It's desirable because it's expensive.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:32 PM
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Oh, fer god's sake, I'm just a garden-variety Catholic, I don't pretend to have a 'politics of sex.'

All's I'm saying to my hetero female fellow-travelers is, we should take a lesson or two from our lesbian sisters, and stop caring so much what the menfolk might have to say to and about us (even though they'll snark at you and call you 'stupid' the minute they sense the slightest bit of opposition to the phallocracy: but, hey, whatever, and that's okay), and realize that much of what they have to say is at least structurally (if unintentionally) suspect, and stop trying to reassure the boyz that we're really on their side, because maybe we are or maybe we aren't, but I'm pretty sure we should arrive at an answer to that and related questions on our own terms, and not allow the anti-sex nuttery of the fundies to distract us from an honest assessment of the issues on their merits.

But mostly all I care about these days is real estate prices, so whatever.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:34 PM
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Oh, fer god's sake, I'm just a garden-variety Catholic, I don't pretend to have a 'politics of sex.'

So, wait, you aren't ideological? But everybody else is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:35 PM
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Oh, fer god's sake, I'm just a garden-variety Catholic, I don't pretend to have a 'politics of sex.'

So don't call it "politics of sex", call it something else. You seem unhappy somehow with the attitudes of the people on your side, so I'm trying to figure out what you'd prefer instead. (And unfortunately I have no idea what you're trying to say in your second paragraph.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:44 PM
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And what of the infographic at
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/01/27/health/27well650.jpg
?

Could be a reference to car dates in a country where automatic transmissions are labeled differently. Reminds me of the crazy bbc sketches that ntk.net would go on about.

Where are the studies addressing the quality, not quantity, of sex ? Rate it AAA, not XXX.



Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:46 PM
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stop trying to reassure the boyz that we're really on their side

Who, exactly, in the pro-sex-ed camp, are you accusing of this? Someone here? Or everyone everywhere who "pretends" to have the best interests of young people and their health and safety at heart?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:47 PM
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(And unfortunately I have no idea what you're trying to say in your second paragraph.)

Oh snap! I think Josh just called MC stupid! It's probably because she opposes the phallocracy.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:47 PM
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I think she's saying Cala was being too conciliatory.

|| I have meds now! No more crazy! For the next month. |>


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:47 PM
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That image is clearly an indictment of bourgeois self-satisfaction, Econolicious, and the foreign wars it underwrites.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:48 PM
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But seriously, AWB's questions in 117 are exactly what I wanted to ask.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:48 PM
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Everyone I know who works in public health seems pretty interested in, well, statistics, and health, and general welfare. That is, I don't see a lot of "tee hee but i'm wearing a THONG!" behavior among my statistician friends whose work has led them to advocate for sex-ed.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:52 PM
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That is, I don't see a lot of "tee hee but i'm wearing a THONG!" behavior among my statistician friends whose work has led them to advocate for sex-ed.

THEN UR DOING IT WRONG!!!!


Posted by: OPINIONATED PHALLOCRAT | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 10:54 PM
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As we all know, "garden-variety Catholics" are known for being the only truly anti-ideological, anti-phallocracy, totally false-consciousness-lacking people on earth. Everyone else is totally out of touch with what they think is right and wrong ('specially if they're women--can't trust 'em to find their way out of a paper bag without sucking a cock).


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:07 PM
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124: Obvi.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:08 PM
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Temper, temper, Bear. Mustn't get so riled up.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:30 PM
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Regarding the NYT article, Ravi Somaiya has got to be a pseud for Stephen Glass.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:30 PM
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126: mm, unladylike.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:33 PM
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||

The Ogged hits the big time.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:37 PM
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||

I really like Josh Ritter's "Hotel Song".

|>


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:42 PM
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126, 128: But boyz! I'm so docile! And cool! Don't call me stupid!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-27-09 11:43 PM
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122: but what about me?


Posted by: Tj | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:15 AM
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#129 is awesome. (You have to follow through to this page and scroll down.)


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:40 AM
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I'm just not prepared to pretend that said information is "neutral" and value-free

noop, it's chock chickety full! of really nice values, good, sensible liberal values that involve having pleasurable guilt-free sex! And the way that you can tell that they're good values is that Pope Benedict XVI hates them, but can't explain why without referring to his imaginary friend.

can't trust 'em to find their way out of a paper bag without sucking a cock

oh, you were on that rugby tour too?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:11 AM
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mostly all I care about these days is real estate prices

IYKWIM.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:44 AM
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135: Racist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 6:17 AM
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noop, it's chock chickety full! of really nice values, good, sensible liberal values that involve having pleasurable guilt-free sex!

I'm not seeing "yay for pleasurable guilt-free sex for teens!" in the public health concern with teen sex. This (from the article that Becks links to) seems like the default attitude:

Health researchers say parents who fret about teenage sex often fail to focus on the important lessons they can learn from the kids who aren't having sex. Teenagers with more parental supervision, who come from two-parent households and who are doing well in school are more likely to delay sex until their late teens or beyond.

The "sensible liberal" position (at least in an American context) seems to be along the lines of: accurate information, access to birth control [which I support, btw], but also (and this is at least implicit in all of the quotes by the experts and researchers in the article) a consensus that teens and sex is a problem that needs to be addressed (hence the reassurances to an imagined audience of fretful parents throughout the article). Well, fine. But my point is: when you define a group of people (in this case, teenagers) as a population whose behaviour needs to be surveyed and studied in order to make appropriate policy recommendations and interventions, you're already defining that group of people as a "problem" that needs to be solved.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 6:51 AM
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137: By that standard, we're all problems to the sociologists.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:08 AM
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Demi Moore's daughter had to stop masturbating to her Ashton Kutcher posters* when Demi brought him home with her. But she just wants her mom to be happy and isn't going to say anything judgmental about inappropriate relationships.

*So did Dan Savage, of course.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:19 AM
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a consensus that teens and sex is a problem that needs to be addressed

no, teens and the occasional adverse consequences of sex is a problem which needs to be addressed. If we're talking about teenagers making sensible contraceptive choices and then having sex without making each other unhappy, then I don't think that there is a consensus that this is a problem, not at all. In so much as there is a) include me out and b) it can be attributed to prudery and wowserism of the sort that needs to be stamped out.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:34 AM
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I mean really, the only valid reason for not regarding teenagers having sex as being on balance a good thing is that often, it interferes with their education in one way or another (if it were possible to combine education and the early stages of a career with child-rearing, teenage years would be the *best* time to get pregnant). The problem isn't fundamentally one of too much sex (very few problems are fundamentally of too much sex, apart from pseudo-problems created by imaginary friends), it's too little education.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:37 AM
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re: 140

If I recall from past conversations here, there was a surprising amount of consensus that 'teens having sex' was a bad thing.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:41 AM
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Not a consensus I share, naturally.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:43 AM
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'teens having sex' was a bad thing.

Which is insane in the abstract.

Fair enough if what you actually mean is something like "young people being socially pressured into doing things they don't really want to is a bad thing"


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:44 AM
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no, teens and the occasional adverse consequences of sex is a problem which needs to be addressed.

I'm reporting on the consensus opinion of the teen sex researchers who are cited in the article. It's pretty clear they think teen sex is not really a good thing (but that its levels are greatly exaggerated).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:44 AM
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I don't think that was the consensus.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:45 AM
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there was a surprising amount of consensus that 'teens having sex' was a bad thing.

This seems like an oversimplification. Was this the conversation about the teenage boy who wanted to pop the cherry of the dull girl who liked Wodehouse?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:45 AM
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99:This isn't prostitution how?

Prostitutes trade sex for money. These women trade money for sex. Totally different.

Less sillyly, I think there's a continuum between prostitution of the obvious and inarguable kind (crack whores, f'rex) and purely consensual relationships without any exchange of money or valuables. These women are about at about the middle of that continuum. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. The thing I dislike is the profound shallowness of the people involved.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:50 AM
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re: 147

There's been several conversations. I'm not specifically referring to that one [where there was a fair bit of disagreement].

The unfogged consensus has always been -- as far as I can tell -- much more on the 'sex is a bit scary/dangerous/open-to-abuse and should be delayed until one is a full adult' end of the spectrum.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:51 AM
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Much more than, I think, would be typical among conversations with friends I'd have here (in the UK), I mean.

Although that may just stem partly from the, also much discussed, US tendency to push adulthood into a higher age-bracket.

Also, iirc, soup (and others) have pointed out that this is all pretty class-specific.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:52 AM
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149: Right, but that's not "teen sex is bad" being considered in the abstract.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:55 AM
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re: 151

No, just that 'teen sex is bad except in this tiny minority of circumstances that bear little relationship with any teen sex that anyone is actually likely to have'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:57 AM
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152 sounds snarkier than I intended, probably.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:58 AM
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I personally believe that all teenage sex should be chaperoned and supervised.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:58 AM
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The thing I dislike is the profound shallowness of the people involved.

I think they just got stitched up by the NYT journalist who wanted to write a nice little class envy piece (not that there's much wrong with that) with a side order of woman-hating (which is frankly scarily prevalent at the NYT). If you divide through by the "Bergdorf Goodman allowance" stuff (which is almost certainly tongue in cheek), then what you've got are a group of young women who are concerned about the effects of some quite extraordinary levels of stress on their boyfriends and husbands. That's not particularly shallow. I don't think they should necessarily be blamed for the fact that everyone working on that fucking newspaper wants to pretend to be Sarah Jessica Parker.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:00 AM
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142: god yes, I forgot how frighteningly wowseristic this place gets.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:01 AM
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America isn't uniform. You have the old fashioned Puritans fighting against the tide, and you also have fuck-your-brains-out sexual Utopians. The Puritans know they're losing -- Christian kids have about the same patterns as secular kids, controlled for location, class, etc. Commercial culture tends toward the fuck your brains out side. When my son was growing up, I don't think that any of his friends had Puritan parents, though some acquaintances did. (One friend's mom was the official banana lady). Sexual freedom didn't seem to lead to reduced macho abuse and misogyny, from what I say.

I grew up in the old Puritan world and spent about 40 years in the newfree world. I know I'm supposed to think that the change has been wonderful, but it's a pretty mixed bag. I would run into a lot of wrecked people among the liberated, whereas some of the old style people I knew in HS seem to be doing wonderfully. (I haven't done any stats).

Most of the testimony about the horrible old ways seems to come from the ones who hated it most, whereas the point of comparison is often with some as-yet-unattained imaginary state of freedom.

One solution I saw seemed like a kind of temp arranged marriage -- e.g. the college physics teacher's son dated the HS physics teacher's daughter all through HS. (Girls marry up). Two kids without problems from families without problems. That seems fine to me.

Last time this came up I realized that I'd probably be saying much different things if I lived in Europe. Besides Puritanism and lack of access to birth control, America has a lot of other characteristic pathologies. Focusing primarily on teen sex is part of the problem, obviously, but the other problems do affect the consequences of teen sex.

For example, we may wish that slut-shaming and macho abuse would go away, but they haven't yet, so when thinking generally or specifically (e.g., in the case of a young relative) I'd be happy if a HS kid I knew, M or F, had habits precluding those situations, even if they were less sex-friendly habits.

I've mentioned before how overjoyed I was when my crazy niece decided she was a lesbian. In effect, I could be liberal and puritanical at the same time. Before that she'd been hanging out at odd places in odd hours flirting with losers, and I was worried that she'd end up dismembered in a garbage bag somewhere. Another niece with jerky boyfriends came moderately close to that .


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:04 AM
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155 the effects of some quite extraordinary levels of stress on their boyfriends and husbands

Yeah, unlike the perfectly ordinary, boring stress on millions of other workers in the New York metropolitan area. I guess the strain of knowing so *precisely* where every penny was finally got to them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:04 AM
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I was worried that she'd end up dismembered in a garbage bag somewhere. Another niece with jerky boyfriends came moderately close to that .

dismembered, but not in a garbage bag?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:06 AM
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In the study no one was saying "what's wrong with the 60% not having sex? What can we do to help them?" There was a definite consensus that it was good that the rate went down.

Highest teen pregnancy rates were in the 50s and early 60s. In my sister's 1968 HS class close to 15% of the girls got pregnant before graduation.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:07 AM
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In a garbage bag, but not dismembered. I believe it was somehow related to the rugby tour referenced above.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:08 AM
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I like the theory that the NYT Style Section has declared war on the rest of the paper. Presumably they're using pointy stilettos as weapons.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:08 AM
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154: I'd be willing to volunteer.

Oddly, Demi Moore got her start as jailbait. It's like the great cycle of life.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:09 AM
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really, the only valid reason for not regarding teenagers having sex as being on balance a good thing

FTR, I think teenagers having sex with each other is very, very different than teens having sex with people 10+ years older than them.

I don't want to rehash the last discussion we had, but power differentials are really significant and I get kind of irked and impatient when people seem to overlook them as a genuine reason to worry about how other people are being treated.

In general I think middle- and UMC youth in the US are way too sheltered (I just had a raging argument with someone yesterday about whether a 23-year-old could fairly be expected to know how to help his ignorant mother manage her finances after his father's sudden death). To the extent that I'm paternalistic about their sex lives, it's pretty much on par with my general beliefs that autonomy is a high priority and yet bullying and coercion should be socially and legally deterred.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:11 AM
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Yeah, unlike the perfectly ordinary, boring stress on millions of other workers in the New York metropolitan area

Don't be silly. I'd be the last to cast aspersions on the innocent pleasure of gloating about the sufferings of the rich (it's even more consequence-free than teen sex!), but of course people working in the financial sector are going to be under unusually high levels of stress at the moment. It's a financial crisis, not a light engineering crisis.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:13 AM
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It was a soccer tour, in Scotland itself, and my brother was the chaperone. He'll be hated forever by all the girls, probably including his own daughter. One of the girls, Chris/tine Sin/clair, is world class now and 2008 Canadian player of the year.

Just picking up something I started about, should we worry about the 60%+ not having sex? The idea that we should have no opinion strikes me as unrealistic in the HS context, though in other contexts I've argued for emancipation and HS graduation at 16.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:13 AM
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I don't want to rehash the last discussion we had, but power differentials are really significant and I get kind of irked and impatient when people seem to overlook them as a genuine reason to worry about how other people are being treated.

Yeah, but how much of the teen sex that people are so concerned about is happening with people ten years older and where there's a significant power differential? Not much.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:14 AM
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power differentials are really significant

What about the power differentials between teenagers and teachers, public health workers, and the army of people trying to stop them having sex. The biggest power differential you'll find is between the individual and the state and that's what we're talking about here. As I keep saying, one doesn't have to be a raving Randian to believe that there ought to be a boundary between the public and private spheres of interest, and the vagina seems like a decent place to start[1].

"Seek not the solution to your economic, social or engineering problems in someone else's pants".


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:17 AM
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I still wonder whether that Dabagirls site isn't a hoax, at least in part.

As I understand, the captain and designer of the Titanic were stressed by the event, though I think that only the designer survived. (Worst movie ever. )


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:17 AM
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should we worry about the 60%+ not having sex?

You realize that sex can often lead to relationships Emerson.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:17 AM
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152: Not going to trade snark for snark, but I think the realities of the effect of teen pregnancy on, e.g., education is not only more salient to this group in particular, but that perhaps in the U.S. overall. I also suspect that given the state of sex ed that 'teen sex' here is more likely to lead to 'teenaged mom.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:17 AM
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I think that a fair amount of the teen sex people worry about involves slightly older boys who are out of school, either graduates or dropouts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:19 AM
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There is something really broken about the American relationship with non-marital sex generally (I can't say if it's less broken elsewhere). There's a really wide split between what it's generally regarded as normal and appropriate to do, and what its generally regarded as normal and appropriate to admit that you're doing.

Becks had a post ages ago about having her parents come to visit, and having to make absolutely certain that they wouldn't accidentally find condoms or other evidence that she was having sex because they'd be upset or offended, and this when she was in her late twenties. She posted about it because it seemed insane, but it's more typical than not. But the same parents (probably, I don't know Becks' parents myself) if you asked them in the abstract if you'd expect a single woman in her late twenties to be a virgin, or if there was anything wrong with her having sex, would say that it was perfectly ordinary and appropriate.

This split really messes with the teen-sex conversation, because there's no solid baseline of 'well, of course it's okay for adults to be having sex' to rely on; people are still bizarrely queasy about even that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:20 AM
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Not going to trade snark for snark, but I think the realities of the effect of teen pregnancy on, e.g., education is not only more salient to this group in particular, but that perhaps in the U.S. overall. I

I'm not even sure what this sentence means. Which group in particular? What, in the US overall?

I also suspect that given the state of sex ed that 'teen sex' here is more likely to lead to 'teenaged mom.'

And isn't the point that sex ed is what needs improving, and that a censorious or 'sex is teh scary' attitude is counter-productive if effective sex education is the goal?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:20 AM
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In some ways the raving Randians are less annoying than the moderate Reform Randians.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:21 AM
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A study cited by the Guttenmacher Institute says 8% of female teenagers had a first sexual partner who was six or more years older than them.

I would have guessed about 12%, so I was definitely off. And 6 years is not 10 years.

Still, in absolute terms, that's thousands of people. And I'm not thrilled about another stat linked on that page:

Ten percent of young women aged 18-24 who had sex before age 20 reported that their first sex was involuntary.

That 10% are willing to label it that way to themselves and to a researcher indicates to me that the real number is at least that high and probably higher. Again, terrific that 90% of people are apparently having positive (or at least consensual) experiences, but that still leaves a lot of people who didn't.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:23 AM
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No one has spoken against sex ed or contraception here. May the banana ladies thrive!

Among the external influences impacting youth, besides the state and the church, is a powerful, actually triumphant, commercial cultural which tends to be cheesy and nasty.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:23 AM
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I also suspect that given the state of sex ed that 'teen sex' here is more likely to lead to 'teenaged mom.'

which, as I note in 141, is not a bad thing intrinsically and of itself. If the problems of fair access to education could be dealt with, we would want to promote teen pregnancy as just about the healthiest time to give birth.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:25 AM
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re: 176

Again, I'm not getting why the solution to coercive sex is the discouragement of sex, rather than the discouragement of coercion?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:25 AM
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174: Education is tied to social advancement and nice things like a job that has health insurance. This has a strong effect on one's quality of life if one is middle class or aspiring to be middle class.

And yes, that means that sex ed is what needs improving, but it does explain why the Puritanical attitude is taken more seriously here than it is in the UK.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:26 AM
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179: I don't think Witt was saying that it necessarily is.

I'd actually tend to believe that the culture of denial I was talking about above around teen and non-marital sex tends to encourage power-differential and coercive sex.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:27 AM
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re:180

What makes you think that education isn't tied to social advancement here? I'm a bit confused.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:27 AM
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It's pretty clear they think teen sex is not really a good thing (but that its levels are greatly exaggerated).

My read was that the researchers thought the occurrence rates of teen sex are exaggerated by people who are inappropriately panicked over the existence of teen sex. It's really the reporter, not the sources, who takes the alarmist view:

As for that supposed epidemic of oral sex, especially among younger teenagers: national statistics on the behavior have only recently been collected, and they are not as alarming as some reports would have you believe.

And when the sources cast this in a similar light - one says, "There's no doubt that the public perception is that things are getting worse" - I read that as framing the discussion in terms of the public's assumed point of view.

I think the reporter and the researchers are probably right in their assumption about the public's point of view.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:27 AM
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re: 181

I'd actually tend to believe that the culture of denial I was talking about above around teen and non-marital sex tends to encourage power-differential and coercive sex.

I suspect the same. Although it's not something I can ground in any 'data'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:28 AM
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178: Sure, but the reality where I grew up was that getting pregnant meant you didn't go to college and are now working a minimum wage job telling yourself you'll go back next year. And it hits the girls worse than the boys.

179: It isn't. You're misreading me (and Witt, I think) very badly if you think that I am advocating that we should combat teen pregnancy by scaring kids about sex.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:29 AM
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182: Part of it is that you have a social safety net and we don't. As I understand it, a teenage mother where you're from can spend five years or so relying on social services for support, and live in a civilized, if not lavish, fashion, and then finish her education and go on to a reasonably middleclass life. Here, it's a lot harder to pull out of an initial educational derailment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:29 AM
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I think the reporter and the researchers are probably right in their assumption about the public's point of view.

And I'm not sure anyone has to care about the perspective of hypocrites. They were collecting some basic teen-sex stats in the 60s and 70s, and I didn't think the numbers had changed too much. That's way too many parents panicking because their kids are doing the same things they did.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:31 AM
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168: Dude, I really don't want to rehash the conversation, but let me assure you that the extent of public-policy messing around I want to do is:

- Provide factually accurate reproductive health information, widely and freely
- Provide access to free or low-cost contraceptives for those who want them
- Work to ensure that young people grow up believing that they have the right be respected and to say "yes" OR "no," that they have the obligation to respect others' rights to do the same, and that they have resources (childcare, housing, food, adult emotional support) to fall back on if their families or partners kick them out, abuse them, or otherwise endanger their ability to stay alive and healthy.

That's really it. I don't want to inspect people, calculate their risks, make judgments about who and when they sleep with or anything else.*

*That's on a policy level. On a personal level I reserve the right to think whatever I want in the privacy of my own head about Celebrity Couple of the Week, and/or to speak frankly to my friends if I think they're making idiotic (or great) decisions.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:32 AM
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re: 185.1

Again, that's often the reality here.

re: 185.2

I'm not getting what you are advocating. I am saying that puritanical attitudes to sex are fucked up, and you seem to be saying that those attitudes aren't actually that fucked up -- because there are real dangers attendant with sexual behaviour, no?

To which my reply would be that for a big chunk of those dangers, they aren't really dangers at all or, where they are, the best way to deal with them isn't the puritanical way.

If we agree, we agree.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:33 AM
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And I'm not sure anyone has to care about the perspective of hypocrites.

This is easy to say, but harder to do. That type of hypocrisy is really ingrained in more people than not, and you can't just discount them all as being silly. (That is, I think they are silly, but you still have to deal with them.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:33 AM
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As part of emancipation at 16, I'd also support the option of starting college at 32 once the kid is grown. Making it routine, that is, rather than a special program for a few people. It might solve some of the grad student problems if you raised the kids first.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:34 AM
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re: 186

That social safety net can be exaggerated. It ensures minimal levels of housing -- although you may have very little choice about where you actually get to live -- and enough money to buy food. Healthcare is, naturally, free. It doesn't cover much else.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:35 AM
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78: True, in theory it's eternally interesting, but in this case it's irritating (which you note, I guess) half because they act like it's a new discovery, and half because it focuses on the situation in the class where it matters least. I started writing about how the NYT is giving an infuriating amount of attention to the troubles of the rich and famous, but you know, maybe that's unfair.

I was going to contrast it with an AP story today about how remittances to Mexico are down for the first time on record, probably because of how the recession is hitting immigrants. It would be disgusting if the trophy wives support group got better coverage than an actual economic problem. The thing is, it might not be getting better coverage. According to the NYT Web site, they ran that story on page A21, and the remittance story on page A10. Not having a paper copy I can't personally compare, but just judging by placement it seems the actual problem is getting treated as more important than this.

As for why the NYT ran it at all, yeah, some of the people featured in the article seem contemptible. But the author and some of the subjects acknowledge the lack of gravity of the situation, and editors have to fill space somehow.

I'd say that just based on content, that article would be nothing for anyone to be embarrassed about or offended by if it were on page 2 or 3 of the Style section. It's kinda frivolous for section A, but on page A21, nowhere near as bad as, say, some of the Modern Love columns that get linked here.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:37 AM
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It's still a big difference in terms of how much having a kid is going to make your life unmanageable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:37 AM
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Again, I'm not getting why the solution to coercive sex is the discouragement of sex, rather than the discouragement of coercion?

Um, what? Where on earth did I say that? Really, I think we're just talking past each other. Did you see my 164, where I said that bullying and coercion should be deterred?

Also, amen to LB's 181 and Cala's 185.

And honest question: Does the UK have the same phenomenon of kicking out/shaming teen girls who get pregnant in high school that many areas of the US have? Because in addition to everything that the Americans in this thread are saying about the differences in our social safety nets, the amount of outright push-outs (not dropouts) and teens who are redirected into low-quality "teen high school" programs is disturbing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:39 AM
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189: I think we agree. I don't think that teenage sex is a problem in and of itself; I was speculating about the source of the puritanical reaction in the U.S., and speculating that the lack of safety net is a huge part of that reaction. I certainly wasn't saying "and this is why the puritanical reaction is justified!" and why no one should have sex ever without a chaperone.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:40 AM
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Work to ensure that young people grow up believing that they have the right be respected and to say "yes" OR "no,"

Every time people say this, it seems to be in a context where it's crystal clear that they mean "you always have the right to say yes or no, as long as you say no". You actually pretty much did that yourself with capitalization.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:40 AM
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The Puritanical attitude has to be more strictly defined. In the present actual context I'd be pretty watchful for inappropriate sexual behavior, especially in a daughter. That would include a bit of other-people's-pants thinking. I wouldn't call it Puritanical. In my actual world I've run into a lot more liberation absolutism than I do Puritan absolutism, and some of the liberation absolutism was extremely creepy. I guess I wouldn't be willing to think of this whole Teen Sex controversy as entirely a one-sided problem. Madonna was marketing teen pregnancy, for god's sake ("Poppa don't preach"), even though she's raising her own kids in the prissiest possible fashion. Pimps usually don't pimp their own daughters.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:41 AM
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re: 195

We are talking past each other, definitely.

re: 195.2

I can't say for sure. Teen pregnancy is sufficiently common in a lot of areas that I'd very much doubt that much shaming goes on.

Members of my own family had babies as teenagers. There wasn't any shaming going on there. But I can't speak for everywhere in the country.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:42 AM
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Dsquared, there are actually subcultures where girls who say no are called bitches. (Of course, so are girls who say yes, but in a nicer way.) There's a whole line of liberation ideology that's been adapted for seduction.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:44 AM
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Healthcare is, naturally, free.

I'm beginning to think this is actually impossible to imagine. Impossible for Americans to really know what it feels like to be able to change jobs or freelance without agonizing about it, or for Brits to understand how totally the lack of decent care can cripple your ability to work, to raise a child, and to plan for the future.

I had a college classmate who was a nice middle-class kid who married a sailor, moved to the port city where he was stationed, got pregnant, and got divorced. By the time I knew her she was in her 30s and her daughter was in her early teens. She still had emotional and financial scars from the awful process of trying to apply for indigent coverage for her daughter (naturally she wouldn't have qualified) years earlier.

Shorter me: Healthcare is a big, big, big deal.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:44 AM
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198: In the present actual context I'd be pretty watchful for inappropriate sexual behavior, especially in a daughter. That would include a bit of other-people's-pants thinking.

This is hard to follow unless you explain what you think of as inappropriate. From what you've said above, I'd guess that a large part of what you think of as inappropriate is having sex with men who appear likely to dismember you and put you in a garbage bag, which is something I think we all agree on. Would you think of consensual, non-coercive sex as 'inappropriate' for, say, two high-school juniors?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:45 AM
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I'm beginning to think this is actually impossible to imagine. Impossible for Americans to really know what it feels like to be able to change jobs or freelance without agonizing about it, or for Brits to understand how totally the lack of decent care can cripple your ability to work, to raise a child, and to plan for the future.

Right. One of the biggest things I took away from the Peace Corps was realizing how much less frightened New Zealanders were than Americans of doing something erratic, that might involve unemployment, for a couple of years. They all had this relaxed attitude that made them sound like trust-fund babies; an American who's that calm about economic issues is an American with parents who send them regular checks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:47 AM
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200: John, since I'm arguing against hectoring and bullying by teachers and health workers, why would you think I'd be in favour of it from anyone else?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:47 AM
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197: I'm feeling pretty grouchy about how you're choosing to read me, so let's call it quits on this argument.

201: Nothing in this comment is intended to indicate that healthcare issues aren't triply difficult if you are working-class, poor, or otherwise not regarded by society and the entitlement-enforcers as a "nice middle-class kid."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:48 AM
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The wrong guy, lots of wrong guys, sex too young, recklessness, unprotected sex, obsession, sex associated with other inappropriate behaviors.

Why especially daughters? I'll leave that for the student to work out.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:50 AM
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Amen to 201. ttaM, it's hard to understand how much the lack of health insurance or worries about losing it dictate stuff here. My in-laws can't understand the American health care system and its effects on where the baseline assumptions are. (Why are Cala and shiv not having a baby? They're married! She's not a teen! Because Cala's health insurance is tied to Cala's "career." [crickets.] "Really?")


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:51 AM
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(That is, I think they are silly, but you still have to deal with them.)

Until I have to join a PTA or something, I'll revel in my right to not care about those silly people. But you're right, I will probably have to cope with their existence someday.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:52 AM
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206: None of that has all that much to do with sex, though, except for the pregnancy and disease risk. You sound more like you're worrying about who your kids associate with and whether they're getting in trouble generally. Which is a perfectly reasonable thing for a parent to worry about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:52 AM
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Some of the "just say no" stuff was specifically intended to arm people against peer coercion. I'm not a "just say no" guy and wasn't when my kid was a teenager, but you seem to be pretty militant on the one side, without any recognition that there's the other side.

Some school just hector HS students into using birth control. (My friend the banana lady). They hector the guys into not being abusive. (My friend the festival princess). You can call this The State getting into peoples' pants too, but what's wrong with it?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:55 AM
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dsquared: Any room for the argument that a (modern US or Brit) 26-year-old is likely to be more mature and therefore a better parent than a 16-year -old, or is that just prudery in disguise?


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:56 AM
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Why especially daughters? I'll leave that for the student to work out.

I will submit the answer "sexism", and if I don't get an A+ I'll be complaining vociferously and it won't be grade inflation. Statistically it's not even close; you should be much, much more worried about your sons hanging round with inappropriate male friends.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:57 AM
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Dsquared, there are actually subcultures where girls who say no are called bitches.

John, I wouldn't say that "assholes" count as a subculture. That actually makes the problem all the more pernicious, as it's not contained within any identifiable subgroup that can be specifically addressed. Guys (and especially teens) across all groups feel a combination of entitled and insecure that leads to this sort of lashing out at anyone who dares to assert sexual independence through having too much or too little sex, or through not being someone's "girl".

People just tend to be pretty fucked up about sex, and I'm not sure how to fix it, though ttaM's (and others') suggestions seem like reasonable places to start.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:57 AM
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As for why the NYT ran it at all

Ravi Somaiya writes lots of these kinds of stories for the Guardian (my favorite: "Improving your diet takes time, money and willpower"):

"Food. On the one hand, it keeps the workforce from starving to death, improves Christmas immeasurably and forms the basis of a catchy song in Oliver! On the other, it's responsible for obesity, the appalling concept of jellied eels and Ainsley Harriott's enduring TV career. Working life, with its one-hour lunchbreak and "sneak off to buy a Double Decker to get me through to hometime" opportunities, sits immovably in the unhealthy camp like Pavarotti in a beanbag."

The whole story pretty much read like a piss-take to me.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:58 AM
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"Escept for the pregnancy and disease risk". Come on, LB. "Otherwise, how did you enjoy the play".

I am a Puritan in the sense that I think that love can be a serious mental illness, which I think that I've made clear, and that desire does not improve people's judgment.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:58 AM
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What Witt said, especially 188.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:59 AM
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210: I think it's that there's not two sides, there's at least three. Part of the dynamic I see is that if teen sex is presumptively wrong and problematic, then someone who's doing anything sexual is outside social norms, and doesn't get to appeal to them for protection against coercion. It's not a simple opposition between "teen sex is bad and should always be discouraged" and "teen sex is good and there should be more of it"; "teen sex is a reasonable option for those who choose it, who should have the resources, contraceptive and social, to protect themselves while engaging in it" is a third position, and I think the one most liberals do hold.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:01 AM
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because there are real dangers attendant with sexual behaviour, no?

You know what I want to see discouraged? Teenage driving.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:01 AM
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To the hog farm with you, Dsquared. I'll mail your F to your Attila and Lucrezia.

Guys don't get pregnant. Pregnancy doesn't ruin guys' lives. In a better world you wouldn't have to think this way. And a Benthamite parent would have identical concern for his own son and some young woman he doesn't know, but there are no Benthamite parents.

I told my son many times that if he got a girl pregnant before he was 30 I would kill him, and he didn't. It's not like I wouldn't have cared if he had. But I would have worried more if he'd been a daughter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:02 AM
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"Escept for the pregnancy and disease risk". Come on, LB. "Otherwise, how did you enjoy the play".

So, contraception. I mean, pregnancy and disease risk are fairly solvable problems, and they aren't particularly different for teens and single adults. I'm not following your full argument here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:03 AM
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You know what I want to see discouraged? Teenage driving.

Damn straight. Less fun, more dangerous, and negative externalities galore. At least teen sex gets the kids exercising.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:04 AM
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218, 221: Comity!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:06 AM
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You know what I want to see discouraged? Teenage driving.

I've seen some very nice plots of risk of a fatal collision against # of teenagers in the car. See the pretty exponential curve.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:06 AM
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213: There are subcultures that are nearly 100% asshole. This is not to say that there are assholes elsewhere.

212: I was thinking fairly specifically about sex. I confess that my son grew up in a fairly peaceful environment and I didn't really worry much about him carrying a gun around, getting in fights with , etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:08 AM
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212: Statistically it's not even close; you should be much, much more worried about your sons hanging round with inappropriate male friends.

Statistically? Like, what statistics? Emerson is completely right that having a baby before completion of her education is going to have a bigger effect on a tenuously middle-class woman's life (too poor to be easily supported by her parents, but not raised in poverty; I understand that the research on early motherhood for poor women is that it doesn't have much of a negative effect, and may even have a positive effect) than anything short of incarceration is going to have on a similar man.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:09 AM
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178
If the problems of fair access to education could be dealt with, we would want to promote teen pregnancy as just about the healthiest time to give birth.

Add healthcare problems to education and as others have already pointed out, that's a big "if." But the second part jumped out to me too - we would want to promote it, really? As in, not just mid- to early-twenties but actually 19 or younger? Granted that Americans tend to push maturity off too far in some ways, and granted that it's not wholly without any benefits to have kids young, but this still seems to go too far in the opposite direction. Even with the best social safety net in the world, being a parent is still a major commitment that crowds out other stuff that's important too. Attending high school in France, teaching it in Samoa, working a demanding job if that's something you genuinely want...


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:11 AM
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220: I'm pro contraception, but it's not a cure all, especially because love and desire are bad for people's judgment.

I understand that you wish for a world where males and females are treated identically, but that's not this world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:11 AM
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224: ^not


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:12 AM
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You can call this The State getting into peoples' pants too, but what's wrong with it?

Exactly. Yeah, I do call it The State getting into people's pants. And if state (public health, that is) intervention is inevitable, which apparently it is, then I side with sex ed and birth control info (and not with "abstinence-only" programmes or active attempts to block access to information) and agree with Witt in 188. But I do see the intervention of doctors, teachers, public health nurses and various other experts as a kind of intrusion, no matter how well-intentioned. The truly liberal/libertarian position would be to refuse to constitute "teens" as a special category in need of specially tailored guidance/advice.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:13 AM
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227: But if you actually want to embrace the modern world, you need to separate the procreative and recreational purposes of sex. Otherwise, you're always going to trim the analysis down to "is that one time worth it if you end up with a kid?", and that's just a ridiculous way to look at sex in a world with reliable contraception and legal abortion.

What are you really suggesting as the alternative to a general "Consider it first, since sex is not as problem-free as you might think, but above all, protect yourself" attitude?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:19 AM
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The truly liberal/libertarian position would be to refuse to constitute "teens" as a special category in need of specially tailored guidance/advice.

Well, no. Liberals support giving kids all kinds of guidance and advice that we don't give adults. There is a huge infrastructure built around the idea that teenagers should be forced to submit to instruction.

Of course, the advice/guidance given to adults could be substantially improved, too.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:21 AM
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The truly liberal/libertarian position would be to refuse to constitute "teens" as a special category in need of specially tailored guidance/advice.

Really? We don't refuse to constitute "teens" as a special category in need of specially tailored guidance and advice in any non-sexual context. We don't let them drink, we control their driving, there are people in the schools called "guidance counselors" whose jobs have nothing to do with sex, they can't enter into binding contracts... why should the liberal position on sex be more 'libertarian' than the liberal position on anything else to do with teens?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:22 AM
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I'll raise the question again. State and public health intervention aside, should we worry about the chaste 60%? Are they, perhaps, more problematic than the 40%? I've definitely known people who completely believed that, but I thought they were nuts.

I would have been happy if my son had found a nice girlfriend, but I was also happy that he wasn't screwing randomly. From what I saw among his friends, even serious teen relationships tend to be insane.

Abolition of HS would help. It's a sort of hothouse dependency world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:23 AM
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The truly liberal/libertarian position would be to refuse to constitute "teens" as a special category in need of specially tailored guidance/advice.

Nah, teens still garner special attention due to that being the age at which these acts first become physically possible/desirable (ignoring a small proportion of cases, admittedly). The entire purpose of universal education is to make sure that our next generation of citizens possesses a common body of knowledge that will help them be better, more productive citizens.

That line of reasoning provides good support for a full course in proper technique, but I'd happily settle for a fair and comprehensive coverage of contraception and potential pitfalls.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:24 AM
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Abolition of HS would help.

Hear, hear.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:24 AM
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229: That sounds more like the conservative parody of the liberal position than the actual liberal position. The liberal position is that everyone should be treated equally, but as far as I know, that doesn't require pretending that everyone actually is equal in needs and capabilities. Teens are different from adults in lots of ways directly relevant to sex education, so I don't see any harm in acknowleding that.

And as for it being the libertarian position, well, yeah, I guess it is. This is one reason why libertarians would do a horrible job of running things.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:25 AM
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State and public health intervention aside, should we worry about the chaste 60%? Are they, perhaps, more problematic than the 40%? I've definitely known people who completely believed that, but I thought they were nuts.

Have you been associating with Billy Joel again?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:26 AM
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230: I don't embrace the modern world, but also, I recognize the actual present American world.

I think that a lot of the liberation positions I've run across since 1964 or so presuppose sensible kids from functional families, often sensible middle-class kids from educated upper middle class families with resources to fix problems. My son't neighborhood was sketchier than that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:26 AM
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229: I think state intervention is inevitable in the context of (a) public education and (b) mandatory education through the end of high school, which together mean that state employees are going to be in positions of authority over a lot of kids regardless of the kids', or their parents', views.

Do you object to sex ed (whether pro- or anti-) at private schools, or would you say that in that context it's a legitimate part of teen education?


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:27 AM
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It's been moved and seconded that 16 should be the age of majority.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:28 AM
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Guys don't get pregnant. Pregnancy doesn't ruin guys' lives.

There are lots and lots and lots of ways to ruin your education, and many of them can't be made to go away with a simple non-surgical outpatient procedure, which pregnancy can.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:30 AM
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dsquared in 155: what you've got are a group of young women who are concerned about the effects of some quite extraordinary levels of stress on their boyfriends and husbands.

I didn't think it was particularly shallow that one woman whose father had had a heart attack wanted support from her boyfriend. It's true that he needed to help his laid-off colleague, btu balance in that area would probably be good.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:30 AM
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Many kids in my son's HS who weren't having sex definitely felt that they should be. That's part of where the peer pressure comes from. I think that MC is saying that schools aren't neutral on that, and actually she and Dsquared agree. Theoretically, things that aren't forbidden aren't obligatory either, but it doesn't always work out that way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:31 AM
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A colleague told me that his student's status on Facebook is, "[Student] is mad that her tax dollars are being used to murder babies".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:32 AM
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Many kids in my son's HS who weren't having sex definitely felt that they should be.

Like, wanted to be having sex themselves, or didn't want to, but thought that the school disapproved of their not having sex? Because the first is (not universal, but fairly common) human nature, and the second is outside my experience.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:34 AM
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Re free contraceptives: I've noticed that MassHealth recipients don't have to pay a co-pay for oral contraceptives. (I'm not sure whether you can get coverage for an IUD).

Generic drugs are $1, and Brand-name drugs are $3. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, I think it's just as important for schizophrenics to get their antipsychotics as people to get access to birth control.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:37 AM
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Felt that having sex was normal, and not having sex was abnormal. Coercive social science normalization can work either way.

This was in college, but the teacher of my brother's health sex ed class had extra credit study sessions in a singles bar. Sex-positive thinking can get pretty extreme.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:38 AM
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but the teacher of my brother's health sex ed class had extra credit study sessions in a singles bar. Sex-positive thinking can get pretty extreme.

This can be under a pretty dorky, anthropological guise. I think it's a stretch to assume they were being taught how to be a pick-up artist.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:40 AM
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Do you object to sex ed (whether pro- or anti-) at private schools

No, I do not.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:40 AM
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247: I can wholeheartedly say that sexual education that pressures teenagers who don't want to have sex into having sex is a bad thing, and that I disapprove of it.

If there's a choice though, between "Having sex is bad and wrong" and "Having sex is normal and reasonable, which necessarily implies that not having sex is abnormal and deprecated"; and the third option "Each person should feel free to choose for themselves whether or not to have sex, and both possibilities are normal and acceptable" isn't available, I guess I would have have to pick the second option as preferable to the first. But I think the third option is really something that can be made to work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:43 AM
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247.2: I think we can safely assume that any sex ed course in college is considerably out of the mainstream of Unfoggedetarian opinion. Plus, Heebie's right.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:43 AM
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and the third option "Each person should feel free to choose for themselves whether or not to have sex, and both possibilities are normal and acceptable"

I think this is probably how most public school sex-ed teachers (who aren't proponents of abstinence-only) teach it, and students hear whatever they're going to hear, and so wind up with mixtures of messages 1 and 2.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:49 AM
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249: I do think the existence of public education is what makes sex ed (pro-, anti-, or none) a necessarily political choice, then. One might, of course, oppose public education on this (or other) libertarian grounds, but that's kind of outside the scope of the thread.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:50 AM
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It's hard for me to get past the feeling I thought was conventional wisdom in high school and college. That being that sexually active teenagers are awesome, popular confident and attractive people whom the rest of us all envy and wish we could emulate. Based on this, it seemed like a small price to pay, for them to also be frowned upon by their parents and occcasional other busybodies in exchange for being happier and more respected among the people who actually mattered, their peers.

This is all in the absence of the pregnancy and disease risk, of course. I never knew any examples of either, among any teenagers in my peer groups. Just groundless rumors.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:50 AM
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242: It sounded to me like a lot of people were discovering that they weren't actually in loving relationships.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:50 AM
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I am kind of curious what people think should be included in a sex-ed program. It seems like the facts should be coverable in a handful of short pamphlets.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:51 AM
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256: No one reads pamphlets besides the dorks on Unfogged. Especially not the kid who's not resourceful enough to look up online to find out how to put a condom on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:53 AM
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Could I get a definition of "wowserism"? My only associated is the Beav saying to Wally, "Wowsers" about something or other, but I have trouble connecting that with D^2's usage.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:55 AM
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I'm understanding it as pointless tsk-tsking over kids these days.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:57 AM
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258: This is more like when Wally sees his first Beav.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:58 AM
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I think a "wowser" means a big fluffy dog.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:58 AM
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The ever-useful Wikipedia:

Wowser around 1900 shifted to its present meaning: one whose sense of morality drives them to deprive others of their sinful pleasures, especially liquor. The term was particularly applied to members of temperance groups such as the antipodean branches of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:59 AM
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254: My high school was pretty good at disabusing that notion. It was a nerd school, and plenty of people were getting it on. As far as I could tell, the clique of stereotypically "popular" kids (though no one referred to them as such after the first semester) were probably getting laid the least.

Crossing campus at 6 in the morning, when everyone was going to their significant other's dorm room after the overnight security shift ended, let you know pretty quickly that having sex in high school doesn't mean you're "popular". It only means you're popular with the one person of your preferred gender. Don't normal high schools find that the weird drama kids and burnouts seem to have a lot of sex despite being low on the clique totem pole?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:00 AM
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This is the thread about survey design, right?
Can anyone tell me if the researchers in this study really did what they appear to have done and measured frequency of hallucination by self-reporting? The study is supposed to be in this journal, though I don't know if it's been published yet.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:00 AM
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No one reads pamphlets besides the dorks on Unfogged

A 2 hour lecture then.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:01 AM
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measured frequency of hallucination by self-reporting?

How else could you do it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:01 AM
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Etymology of "wowser" is very obscure, but the (probably apocryphal, as they usually are) backronym is quite succint - coming from an alleged temperance slogan "We Only Want Social Evils Remedied" - quite descriptive of the kind of person who tsks around complaining about other people having fun and then claims that they only want social evils remedied.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:01 AM
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263: This paradigm exists in a fractal way. Within the smaller group of, say, burnouts, the ones having more sex are also the ones who are more popular, awesome, confident and attractive.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:02 AM
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255: Most of them seem to have known it. They could be pretty blase, except about the $$$. "Without me on your arm you're just a computer geek".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:04 AM
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In fact, it is true in groups as small as two people. Or even one person, e.g. me when intoxicated and uninhibited, and me at all other times.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:04 AM
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A 2 hour lecture then.

For us in 8th grade, it probably lasted two weeks, and was given by our science teacher, although we were split into two groups by boys/girls. I think we probably covered basic reproductive biology, labeled all ovaries and scroti, lugged around eggs without breaking them to show how hard it is to be a parent, learned a bit about STDS and contraception, and which contraceptives protect against which STDs, and had a dollop of information about drop-out rates for teen pregnancy, peer pressure and how to say no, etc. 8th graders cover information pretty slowly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:08 AM
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The primary inputs in kids' lives are oral scuttlebutt, media, parents, and teachers and public health nurses, in about that order. So whatever the school teaches is received in terms of the rest of the package.

Abortion is cool, but a lot of times girls decide to keep the baby. Madonna and the church are united on that score, and a lot of young women follow their wisdom.

I am perfectly happy to put the nagging about sex in a package with the various other kinds of nagging about various other threats to their future.

Why are we arguing this, BTW? Has there been an epidemic of fretting about teen pregnancy? I don't notice the issue being pushed that hard any more, though maybe I've missed something.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:09 AM
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256: Well, only in the sense that most math and science classes could be covered in a few short pamphlets too. I mean, geometry is just a glossary of basic shapes, the Pythagorean Theorem and pi, right? That's one page, leaving plenty of room for algebra (factoring polynomials) and trigonometry (the sine/cosine/tangent functions). Just as simple as sex ed!


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:10 AM
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I am perfectly happy to put the nagging about sex in a package

Sex in a package can lead to asphixiation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:10 AM
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268: I suppose that's pretty symptomatic of the general adolescent tendency to look up the social structure and say "why can't that be me?" instead of realizing what they have that's pretty good. It's too easy to only notice the people who seem to have it better than you that are also having sex.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:10 AM
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HS health teaching, sex ed teaching, and personal finance teaching isn't really teaching subject matter. Usually it's just a futile, handwaving effort to get people to do fewer extremely stupid things.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:12 AM
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Madonna and the church are united on that score, and a lot of young women follow their wisdom.

You've said this before, and I still think you're wrong, and I'm having particularly a hard time squaring the idea that there are lots of young women who would never have had a baby (and been a burden on people like you and yours) but for contraception and Madonna (?) with the reports that say rates of teen pregnancy are dropping.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:13 AM
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HS health teaching, sex ed teaching, and personal finance teaching isn't really teaching subject matter. Usually it's just a futile, handwaving effort to get people to do fewer extremely stupid things.

I think this is conventional wisdom, but really is not necessarily true. It seems pointless from the point of view of people who easily pick up facts about how to get along in the world.

For the people who need to be taught this stuff, they'll need to hear it several times and put it into practice before it sticks. But that doesn't mean that the class doesn't lay down a foundation, or provide the 4th and Final time they needed to hear about condoms, or whatever.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:16 AM
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Also! I think the Most Important Thing about sex ed is to get kids used to saying "condoms" outloud, so that they're willing to stop the make-out session to pause and put one on.

This cuts two ways: if I know everyone took the same stupid sex-ed class, then I know that even if my partner has super-religious parents, he has still heard the word "condom" a million times, and hopefully we'll be able to broach the topic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:19 AM
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At some point their procedure has to involve self-reporting, it's true. But it's one thing to ask people, "How often do you hallucinate?" or "how often do you experience" x, y, and z where x, y, and z are different types of hallucinations and another entirely to keep them in a controlled situation with certain stimuli and then ask to report on what particular audio and visual experiences they had, where they know what experiences the stimuli should prompt.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:20 AM
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280: I think you're worrying about this because you're confusing hallucinations (seeing things that aren't there) and delusions (believing things that aren't true). My sense is that the bulk of hallucinations are perceived as such by the people having them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:24 AM
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I was reporting what Madonna and the Church advocates, which is keeping the baby. I wasn't saying that Madonna and the Church control everyone's mind. (IE, I'm not a complete moron. Thanks, Cala!) I was explaining why abortion isn't a neat answer to teenage pregnancy, as Dsquared implied, since not everyone chooses it, for various reasons.

Kids construct an idea of what's normal and good out of scuttlebutt, media, and various adult influences. There is a pro-teen-sex lobby out there. It's not like we live in colonial Massachusetts.

I don't know why we're having this conversation right now either. As I said, teen pregnancy is down, and as far as I know nagging about teen pregnancy is about the same as ever. There does remain the question about what our attitude should be about various things, regardless about the timeliness of the topic. Do we want teen pregnancy to be down or up? Do we want teen sex to be down or up? What role should the schools play. Etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:30 AM
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|| Jonah Goldberg was on Radio 4's Start the Week talking about Liberal Fascism. They were much too kind to him, though they did call him on his claim that vegetarianism was a fascist tendency.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:31 AM
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I think this conversation was sparked by Mary Catherine's 51 and following, in which she expressed generalized discomfort with interference with/policy directed toward influencing teen sex, and then spun into what it would mean to not have any such policy, and all the accompanying stuff. (My apologies, MC, if I've misstated your position -- I meant to point to it rather than to characterize it particularly.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:33 AM
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That should be "and then the discussion spun into..."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:36 AM
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Just a thought, but along the lines of heebie's 279 perhaps the "condom" part of the class should not be sex segregated. Or maybe the whole lecture series. everybody on the same sheet of music, as it were.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 10:38 AM
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Ours wasn't segregated. And it did have the wonderful moment where our health teacher called in the girls' basketball coach to represent the female reproductive system: his body as the uterus, and each upraised arm as a fallopian tube, palming basketball/ovaries. We were very entertained.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:09 AM
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281: You might be right, I don't know much about it.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:11 AM
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We had pretty good sex ed in high school, or at least I took a keen interest in the subject matter -- even though I was far from having sex at the time, I remembered the condom instructions and such when I finally did start gettin it on. A friend of mine, younger, who grew up in a pretty rural and pretty Mormon community, had basically no sex ed and had a really unnecessary pregnancy scare with a girlfriend because neither of them knew about Plan B. Of course, she grew up in Connecticut or some place, so who knows what her excuse was.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:14 AM
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I don't think we were taught about plan B; I was sort of vaguely aware of it in college - a roommate had used it - but not well informed on the topic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:18 AM
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We weren't. Our sex ed was very weak on the topic of contraception. We learned about reproduction, and about things like consensual sex and respect and all the STDs you could get, and about breast cancer, but the actual condom bit I don't really recall.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:21 AM
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Plan B is pretty new as a actual product, as opposed to the off-label use of normal hormonal BC, right? Not having learned about it makes more sense in that context.

Our HS sex ed wasn't segregated, except for the one personal-health aspect where they wanted to teach self-examination for breast and testicular cancer. I don't remember much else about it, except that there were a few segments where the teacher said "This material is officially controversial. I am instructed to read to you the following school board-approved statement, and then not answer questions." I think those might have been about homosexuality and abortion.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:21 AM
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Come to think of it, I don't think we got an actual condom demonstration (that is, opening the packet, rolling it onto a banana) either. I remember condoms in packets getting passed around, but not a demo. And this was an NYC school in the eighties -- it seems implausible that this was a response to pressure; I think they were just lame about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:24 AM
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Ireland is a weird mixture of the different attitudes described above. On sexual issues there's a huge generational divide and then all kinds of mixed standards in the younger generations. Becks' situation as described by LB sounds just like my life, except that my parents would have said that other people's kids should also stay virgins until they got married. On the other hand they can't have been stupid enough to think I still was one by my late 20s when I had been dating the same guy for years and years. I suppose it's been a "don't ask, don't tell" setup.

Culturually-middle-class people mostly marry late and still mostly have kids afterwards rather than before. The ones from really affluent families probably get married earlier because they don't need to be 30ish afford it. Having a kid fairly young with someone you don't see as your life partner is not wildly unusual but probably more common among culturally-working-class people. None of the socio-economic groups are particularly uniform on these life patterns, either.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:24 AM
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Oh, my single-sex convent school gave us a very detailed sex education class where they covered all the contraceptive methods and debunked various urban legends. It was maybe slightly heavy on the side effects and failure rates of contraceptive methods but a lot of the info had come from the "natural" family planning people. They didn't actually show us condoms in our year, but they brought that in a year or two later and the principal (a nun) had a run-in with the bishop over it.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:30 AM
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My sense is that the bulk of hallucinations are perceived as such by the people having them.

This is certainly true for me. I may be fooled for a moment or two, but I usually figure it out very quickly.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:34 AM
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I thought Plan B just got approved by the FDA like four years ago!

I certainly never heard about it in high school. We did learn about all the contraceptive techniques including several obscure or obsolete ones. (Depo-Provera; sponge; cervical cap; spermicide jelly...seriously, people use spermicide jelly without using any other precaution?) There was a test on like eight different types of contraception. No mention of what sorts of things happened if pregnancy were to somehow occur, that would be much more awkward.

There was also a section on what I believe was "the nine types of sexual activity", which the teacher seemed to have made up, since they were an epic catastrophe of failed parallel structure. The categories were something like intercourse, voyeurism, exhibitionism, masturbation, mutual masturbation (this included oral sex), rape, homosexuality, transsexuality, and transgenderism. Other vocab words included "double standard" and "good old boy network". In general it was a combination of startlingly feminist instincts, heteronormativity, and a lack of any frame of reference for how this material had ever been presented in the past.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:35 AM
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Not plan B, but off label use of high dose birth control pills for morning after contraception has been around for ages; you just needed to go to a doctor to get it prescribed.

The categories were something like intercourse, voyeurism, exhibitionism, masturbation, mutual masturbation (this included oral sex), rape, homosexuality, transsexuality, and transgenderism.

Anti-furryist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:38 AM
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had a run-in with the bishop over it.

Yeah, that's what I call it, too.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:44 AM
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Cervical caps and diaphragms can get holes. Sneaky holes that are not readily apparent.

I don't think hormonal birth control was mentioned at all. I really can't remember about condoms and whether they were discussed. Certainly no demonstration with bananas.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:45 AM
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297
an epic catastrophe of failed parallel structure.

And thus, we're back to the original topic. I love it when this happens.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:53 AM
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perhaps the "condom" part of the class should not be sex segregated. Or maybe the whole lecture series. everybody on the same sheet of music, as it were.

In 5th grade we had filmstrips about reproduction, segregated by gender. They taught the boys about boys' bodies, but girls about both. As I recall, we were somewhere between affronted and relieved*. Eighth grade sex ed was a subsection of phys ed - a couple weeks maybe? I actually have no recollection of that, only that it happened.

* I'm pretty sure most of us had no conception of menstruation; as far as I knew, we were all still on the same pigtail-pulling page WRT gender relations


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:56 AM
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I saw earlier on the thread D^2 mentioned that teen pregnancy makes sense biologically. But, I don't think it has been mentioned yet that teen pregnancy is actually economically *beneficial.*

a 2005 finding that former teen moms -- freed from child-raising duties by their late 20s and early 30s to pursue employment -- had, by age 35, "earned more in income, paid more in taxes, were substantially less likely to live in poverty and collected less in public assistance than similarly poor women who waited until their 20s to have babies."
This stat really changed my understanding of the issue. Like a lot of other people on this thread, I've always thought of teen pregnancy as a life-ruining event. Now I'm not sure there is anything harm in it besides the harm caused by the stigma itself. Is there evidence, for instance, that teenagers make worse parents. No I mean *evidence.*


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 11:58 AM
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303: I think that stat is only true if one controls for poverty (e.g., it's not true of the earnings of middle class girls/women.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:03 PM
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303: Isn't that finding limited to already poor teens and women? I don't have contrary stats at my fingertips, but I'd be stunned if that applied to insecurely middle-class teens; those, say, for whom college attendence was a realistic possibility but not a certainty. And 'insecurely middle class' as I'm thinking of it is probably most of the population.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:04 PM
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Cala-pwned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:05 PM
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re: 304

The danger here is that the moralistic, "Don't have sex because it threatens your immortal soul" becomes replaced by "Don't have sex because it threatens your status as a member of the bourgeoisie."

Again, probably more sarky than I really want it to be. I'm pointing to the structural similarities rather than trying to be insulting.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:07 PM
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46: I need to read that essay! Interesting that Montaigne misreads Lucretius as saying that sex as such obliterates the influence of reason.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:08 PM
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307: This gets back to the health care thing again: your status as a member of the bourgeoisie in America is a matter of avoiding pain and ill-health and early death. There's also purely social class consciousness going on, but that's not the only reason it sucks to be poor.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:11 PM
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304: That's a lot of it. I know people around here who had their first kid somewhere between age 17 and 21, and many of them did fine at their level. But again, that was 45 years ago, and the job structure has changed. More dead end part time on call no-benefit jobs, less internal advancement by training on the job, fewer entry-level jobs that don't require training, etc.

"Bourgeoisie" is a scare word, but if you translate it into concrete terms, there can be real problems with having less money.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:14 PM
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re: 309

I understand the basic argument.

The problem is this: the argument as presented is really a defense of puritanism. It's straightforwardly, "Don't have sex, because having sex has bad consequences."

Which is fine. It's an argument. One that can be disputed on its various merits, or lack thereof.*

However, the people making this argument still want to maintain their credentials as 'sex positive' liberals. So there's a whole lot of hand-waving going on.

* where I'd want to put weight is that the problem isn't sex, it's unwanted pregnancy, and there's an awful lot of equivocation going on between the two.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:15 PM
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Cala: You mean "don't control for poverty"? If you match teen mothers and teen non-mothers for income level, you should get a result that holds true at all income levels.

The proposed causal mechanism works for people at all income levels. Basically, raising children between 25 and 35 typically means starting a career and then curtailing it or putting it on hold entirely. Getting the difficult part of childrearing out of the way before you start a career gives you an uninterrupted career track.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:16 PM
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Merganser: it's online (in a different translation from the one I quoted).


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:17 PM
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311 is just another way of saying that people lack the courage of their convictions.

If you really want to say, 'teenagers shouldn't have sex because sex has bad consequences, and teenagers aren't equipped to either assess the risks ,or handle the consequences' then say it. It's a genuine position to take.

But if you are saying that, then you are someone who's against teen sex. You don't get to sort of make that argument but also claim to be 'sex positive' or whatever.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:17 PM
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A decidedly prissier translation.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:18 PM
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Reproductive health related question.

Does anyone (apo maybe?) know how one can look up the status of FDA trials and where a device or drugs is in the process? I'm not finding the FDA's own website terribly helpful.

I specifically want to find out whether any IUDs that are available abroad are being considered for approval in the US, especially teh Gyneplant.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:25 PM
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oral scuttlebutt

If my high school sex education courses were more helpful, I'd know what this is.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:25 PM
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303: Another plus to having a kid in your teens is that it forces you to grow the fuck up. There are too many people in their late twenties who have the emotional maturity of teenagers. If only they'd had kids we could be spared their irritating whiny loserness.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:26 PM
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312: But the proposed mechanism doesn't make sense for insecurely college-bound women; it appears obvious to me (that is, I don't have stats, I just have a very strong opinion about what they'd be likely to show) that a woman who might have gone to college if not a mother at eighteen, but who didn't attend college right out of high school because she had a kid is very unlikely to attend college in her mid- or late twenties. I just can't see how she could spend four years with a still-dependent kid and no earnings, let alone paying for college.

the proposed mechanism only makes any sense at the poor/non-college end of the income distribution, and while the linked article is unclear, I remembered the research as applying to poor women, rather than across income groups.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:27 PM
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303: in two cases - that is, all the teenage mothers I've known well enough while they were teenagers to have an opinion about - the one who was fucked up remained that way, AFAICT, and the one who wasn't remained that way too.

But it looks like there's at least one big problem with that Salon article (at least two, counting Cala's): the age 35 seems almost specifically cherry-picked to make teenage motherhood look better than non-teenaged motherhood. A teenager doesn't need nearly as much direct supervision as a younger kid, so a former teen mother probably has a lot more free time in her early- to mid-thirties than someone whose first kid was born in her late twenties.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:27 PM
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A lot of the students in my classes are women who say they never planned to go to college until they had a baby. Although it made it a lot more difficult to do, setting an example for their kid ended up being the difference between getting an education and not.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:28 PM
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311:
However, the people making this argument still want to maintain their credentials as 'sex positive' liberals. So there's a whole lot of hand-waving going on.

Well, 'less sex-negative than the other guys and more polite about it' may not be as snappy, but it's still a meaningful distinction.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:32 PM
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Plan B is new, but I really think we learned about the high-dosage birth control thing in h.s., and I graduated in '92. In any case, I've known about it for a while and I've never been in any danger of getting someone pregnant. The younger friend I mentioned really did have abysmal, almost nonexistent sex ed.

Of course, my parents kept me out of our 5th-grade, gender-segregated sex ed lecture because there was a brief positive mention of masturbation. But they are crazy.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:35 PM
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a woman who might have gone to college if not a mother at eighteen, but who didn't attend college right out of high school because she had a kid is very unlikely to attend college in her mid- or late twenties.

I would say that 25% of my students are women in their mid to late twenties who are just starting college and have school age children.

And don't you even *think* that community college doesn't count. The credit they get here transfers to every state college and university in Ohio automatically. For a lot of people in Elyria, we are the way the insecure middle class stays middle class.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:35 PM
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321: Well, (a) maybe I'm wrong, but (b) I don't think this contradicts my 319. I'm thinking about Laura LowerMiddleClass, who would have had a 50-50 chance of attending college if not pregnant (some of her peers do, some don't), who drops to a 5% chance after she has a kid. Your students sound like Wanda WorkingClass, who had a 5% chance of attending college in the absence of a kid, because it wasn't a expected thing to do in her social group, but where it went up to, say, 10% after motherhood because of the increased focus on the future.

But I'm completely making stuff up now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:39 PM
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And that crossed with rob, making it sound more and more like I'm just wrong. Still, do you think your students are more likely to attend college than their non-teen-mother lower middle class peers, or are going to match those peers for lifetime earnings?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:42 PM
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And don't you even *think* that community college doesn't count. The credit they get here transfers to every state college and university in Ohio automatically.

It's true. Most of my single-mom students started off with a few CC classes, then transferred to our 4-year, and many of them are headed toward MA and PhD programs. Some of them have said they know if they'd gone to college at 18, they wouldn't have cared or appreciated it. Every semester, they're the students who are the most intellectually invested in the class and material, and they have a tendency to wrinkle their noses at the bored 20-year-olds.

I'm not saying that having a kid as a teen is a "good" thing, because it makes doing all these things a lot more difficult. But people really do make their own paths out of life, and for some of them, that kid gives them hope and purpose they didn't have before. (Also, it doesn't hurt that, when you're in the 25-50 range and going to college for the first time, you're a lot more mature and settled than you would be at 18.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:43 PM
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325, 326: crossed again here.

Still, do you think your students are more likely to attend college than their non-teen-mother lower middle class peers, or are going to match those peers for lifetime earnings?

Yes. For the women, yes, definitely.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:47 PM
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316: You'd probably have more luck talking to the manufacturer themselves. FDA status of high-profile products tended to come up pretty often on quarterly conference calls if the company is public. Otherwise, there's still probably some way to ask them about the matter.

I'm not aware of anywhere that the FDA has a comprehensive list of the products in various stages of the approval process. If you're not sure that it hasn't already been approved, you can check here under Contraception and here for approvals pre-dating 2001 (though the second link is hard to deal with unless you have specific manufacturers or products you're looking for).


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:48 PM
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a few CC classes, then transferred to our 4-year,

I had a roommate like that at U of C. Flunked out of high school, waitressed for five or six years, started taking CC classes for fun, decided she actually enjoyed the academic thing, and transferred to Chicago.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:48 PM
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re: 326

I can't speak for the US. But my mother and my sister were both teenage mothers. My mother has qualified as a registered nurse AND as a social worker. Both qualifications after her kids reached school age. My sister has an HNC and an HND [college level qualifications just short of degree level]. Attained after her oldest kid reached school age.

I don't think that's particularly unusual. Neither has gone the school, university, job route. And I suspect both would tell you that they way they have gone has involved particular hardships [I wouldn't want to over-sell it].

But both have educational/vocational qualifications on a level (at least) commensurate with their peers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:50 PM
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328: I was specifically (albeit unclearly), there, intending to ask about women in a socioeconomic class making them reasonably likely to have attended college out of high school if they weren't mothers at the time. That's who I'm thinking of as likely to have their life-course changed for the economically worse by early motherhood.

I'm not sure, but I think you're still talking about women who were very unlikely to have attended college out of high school. Do I have that straight?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:51 PM
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326: Students in their late twenties are generally better all around at college than any other demographic. They're responsible, but their brains haven't ossified. They are my favorite students to teach. It is generally very clear that they are going to do well



Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:52 PM
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316: In theory you can find it here if you click the link for "Today's Federal Register." Today, for example, they're asking for public comments on regulations on a certain type of condom.

But I doubt the FDA has anything more up-to-date and intended for public information. Just for curiosity or personal use, 329 is right, it's probably far more convenient to check the company's Web site or set up a Google news alert.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:55 PM
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re: 332

I'd be very wary of that drifting into prescribing a particular middle-class lifestyle as the one true lifestyle. I know that's probably not what you intend, but it can sound awfully like that.

Social policy recommendations -- vis a vis sex education, and so on -- shouldn't be about mandating one particular set of life choices.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:56 PM
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303: But, I don't think it has been mentioned yet that teen pregnancy is actually economically *beneficial.*

Not to mention the added benefit of the shorter generational time leading to increased growth rates. More people available to buy plankton burgers. Profit!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:56 PM
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I'm not sure, but I think you're still talking about women who were very unlikely to have attended college out of high school.

Let's put it this way: I'm talking about women who were unlikely to finish college out of high school, which is a LOT of them, and includes a huge number of lower-middle-class women.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:57 PM
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More people available to buy plankton burgers

Or, indeed, to become burgers! Flame-broiling Peter to feed Paul!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 12:59 PM
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Well, not asking for public comments. Announcing that they've got permission to require a document relating to a certain type of condom to be filled out.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:00 PM
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332: LB, you're starting to slice this very thinly, no? If you mean "I'm pretty sure my high school friends and I would have been less likely to go to college if we'd had babies as teens (because there's no way we could have been more likely, since we were all going for sure)", then fine, but that might not be a representative point.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:04 PM
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335: I don't mean to be advocating "the one true lifestyle", although I can see how the insistence on college would sound that way.

Seriously, I'm thinking of a particular family I know: son went to college and is a successful professional, daughter got pregnant (married) at nineteen, didn't go to college and has been somewhere between economically insecure and grindingly poor for the rest of her life. There's a lot more individually going on there, obviously, and an anecdote isn't data.

Still, for the class where college/some kind of vocational training likely to lead to an indoor job with no heavy lifting and health benefits would be a reasonably likely expectation for most girls, I find it hard to believe that early pregnancy wouldn't make that reasonably economically secure life less likely. Whether such a life should be a goal is up to the individuals involved, of course, and possibly I'm just wrong about the outcomes, and early motherhood is likely to increase economic security across the board.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:04 PM
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Thanks, Po-Mo. I know for a fact that it's not approved. US women have only two choices when it comes to IUDS, ann European women have a lot more.

I want to find out what the status of the applications is, and I'm pretty sure that one of the companies is private, though I did e-mail them.

I wish that there were a way to advocate for better options for women. I havn't seen anything on the Planned Parenthood website.

I'll check out your link Cyrus.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:13 PM
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I find it hard to believe that early pregnancy wouldn't make that reasonably economically secure life less likely.

I do too, though admittedly I don't have any hard data to back you up. Rob's insistence that the findings of that study must apply across all income levels seems to ignore some basic class-based differences in resources, social capital, expectations/aspirations.

I don't think it's a "bad" thing to have children in one's teens, btw, and I'm willing to believe that its life-ruining tendencies are often exaggerated. But it seems a bit much to call teen pregnancy "economically beneficial," and this, apparently, on the basis of one article?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:18 PM
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Figuring out the effects of teenage motherhood is one of those classic tough problems in social science, and it's very difficult to understand it from several studies, much less a single study, much less an article in Slate reporting a study thirdhand.

You can compare teenage moms to people who weren't teenage moms, and they don't do as well, but of course they tend to be poorer to start off with, so maybe there's a common factor causing both early motherhood and worse later life outcomes.

You can compare teenage moms to their sisters who don't get pregnant as teenagers, and they don't do as well, but of course there are still personal differences between the two groups that can't be directly observed.

I think the most "scientific" study on this topic compared teenage moms with women who got pregnant as teenagers but miscarried; I believe the findings were a small adverse effect on lifetime earnings, but not terribly significant, and definitely smaller than what most studies showed. Even then, for all we know the people who would be hurt the most by teenage motherhood don't get pregnant as teenagers that often, and are underrepresented in the data sample, so we have to be cautious in drawing conclusions.

(This is what drove me up the wall about Steve Levitt's "let's have the data speak for themselves" shtick in Freakonomics; the data never speak for themselves.)


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:21 PM
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http://clinicaltrials.gov

turns up nothing under Gyneplant but many for Levonorgestrel.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:24 PM
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342.last: Well, go ahead if you want, but I'd be amazed if it was actually useful. I posted it more in a vague attempt to be funny, show off stuff a connection to my job, and/or make the point that no, if you haven't already found it from the FDA then you probably can't. The Federal Register is C-SPAN with less accountability and no personality.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:25 PM
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346: Yeah, no, it wasn't at all helpful. I've set up a google alert. We'll see what comes up.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:29 PM
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a 2005 finding that former teen moms -- freed from child-raising duties by their late 20s and early 30s to pursue employment -- had, by age 35, "earned more in income, paid more in taxes, were substantially less likely to live in poverty and collected less in public assistance than similarly poor women who waited until their 20s to have babies

You have to remember though, that ex hypothesi they were more attractive and popular people to begin with, because they were having sex.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:32 PM
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340: LB, you're starting to slice this very thinly, no? If you mean "I'm pretty sure my high school friends and I would have been less likely to go to college if we'd had babies as teens (because there's no way we could have been more likely, since we were all going for sure)", then fine, but that might not be a representative point.

Well, no. If I had somehow had a baby senior year of high school, (a) my parents would have murdered me, but (b) I would have ended up in a four year college anyway, maybe with a year's delay. College was such a strong expectation for me and my peer group that early motherhood wouldn't have derailed it. I'm thinking about someone in, say, the middle three income quintiles, so really the bulk of the population, where college out of high school is a strong possibility but not a certainty.

I can buy that early motherhood might improve the prospects of someone on the bottom end of the income scale, and not affect someone on the top end of the scale all that much -- it's the middle where I have a hard time believing it wouldn't have a negative income effect.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:32 PM
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I see that the 2005 Hotz paper cited in the LA Times op-ed cited in the Slate article cited by Rob above is actually the same as the miscarriage paper I mentioned in my last comment. Clever and useful paper, but it doesn't address the potential impact of teenage motherhood on people who rarely experience it.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:34 PM
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the potential impact of teenage motherhood on people who rarely experience it

I suspect that the statistics will show that teenage motherhood is not particularly prevalent among people who rarely experience it.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:38 PM
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348: that ex hypothesi they were more attractive and popular people to begin with, because they were having sex.

Sniffs and circles the bait. Urinates on it and moves on.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:44 PM
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You're probably right about that. Maybe I should have said "teenage pregnancy" instead of "it."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:45 PM
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Nah, that doesn't quite work either. Oh well.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:48 PM
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353: Oh, you were perfectly clear that you were talking about the impact of teen pregnancy on individuals who are members of a class where teen pregnancy is rare, which could perfectly reasonably be severe, rather than on the class as a whole. Don't beat yourself up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:49 PM
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Not checking too closely, but I'm pretty sure you should have said "... on people from socioeconomic classes which rarely experience it," or words to that effect.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 1:50 PM
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I am probably putting to much weight on a single study, especially because I have never even looked at the primary source.

The report probably had more impact on me than it should because the causal mechanism proposed makes so much sense to me. I've seen that mid career motherhood can screw things up.

Of course, this is a classic error in statistics: "There must be a correlation here, because I've got a great causal mechanism to explain it!"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:08 PM
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354,5,6: However you phrase it, there isn't a problem of teenage pregnancy among middle-class kids who go to college, so there's no particular need to have an urgent opinion about what sex education they're getting.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:10 PM
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I've seen that mid career motherhood can screw things up.

Yeah, I'd agree that for two women with the same education, training, and years in the workforce, there's a good shot that the one who had a kid either before college or between college and entering the workforce had an easier time managing motherhood and career than the one who had the kid mid-career. I think, for example, that starting my first law-firm job with a kid already made the balancing easier than for someone who went in with minimal family responsibilities and then had to adjust five years in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:12 PM
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333: I wouldn't doubt that in the least, but as far as I know the research specifically looked at low-income women (so I'm not sure it generalizes, but it could) and you're also getting those who *are* succeeding/driven enough/supported enough to return to school (so there's a good question about how well it generalizes.) It wouldn't surprise me if it does generalize fairly well; I was just saying earlier that I thought the study only looked at poorer women.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:22 PM
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there isn't a problem of teenage pregnancy among middle-class kids who go to college,

But is there a problem among middle-class (however defined) kids who don't go to college due to early pregnancy? Maybe not, but I don't think it's axiomatic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:22 PM
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358: under what circumstances is there a particular need for me to have an urgent opinion on anything? I wasn't the person who brought up middle-class teenage moms.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:37 PM
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under what circumstances is there a particular need for me to have an urgent opinion on anything?

Posting on the internet.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:50 PM
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I hear there are people who are wrong out there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:51 PM
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OT: Why isn't the Stross seminar over at Crooked Timber livelier? I'm trying to argue with people about development economics in his alternate-universe books, and while I'm probably just being annoying, there really isn't a conversation taking off.

Not enough Stross fans read Crooked Timber, or what?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 2:53 PM
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I think, for example, that starting my first law-firm job with a kid already made the balancing easier than for someone who went in with minimal family responsibilities and then had to adjust five years in.

Ex recto and all of that, but I suspect that the more significant factor was pursuing your legal career with a supportive partner who by all reports does a superb job sharing the domestic and childcare burdens. I had Rory before I started my legal career, and certainly things got off to a pretty smooth start, but the impact career-wise of now shouldering primary responsibility for weekday parenting (and sole responsibility for my sad, sad homemaking) has been considerable. To the extent early single moms do better career-wise than late single moms, I suspect it has an awful lot to do with figuring out appropriate support networks over the years.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:29 PM
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that the more significant factor was pursuing your legal career with a supportive partner who by all reports does a superb job sharing the domestic and childcare burdens.

This, absolutely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:38 PM
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314, 335: ttaM: People are just putting the sex-positive part in the mix with the rest, rather than putting it firmly at the top of the hierarchy. I've spent a bit of time with people for whom the sex-positive part plus diversity is the entirety of their politics, and they were morons. For me sex-positivism can't be an absolute value trumping everything else.

In the end, I am willing to confess to a degree of puritanism. It's always seemed odd to me that no one ever seems to remember that falling in love often enough has the destructive effects of a mental illness, on a par with severe depression at least, even though almost everyone can think of instance.
and the same can be said of pure unleashed horniness.

We seem to have done a simple 180 degree flipflop, common enough in cultural history, where what was once taboo becomes sacramental and transcendant. I'd have been happier with about 120 degrees.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:42 PM
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Not enough Stross fans read Crooked Timber, or what?

Thanks for reminding me of that. I keep seeing positive mentions of Stross and, reading the articles, there a couple of his books that look like must-reads.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:49 PM
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putting it firmly at the top of the hierarchy... the sex-positive part plus diversity is the entirety of their politics, and they were morons... sex-positivism can't be an absolute value trumping everything else... what was once taboo becomes sacramental and transcendant...

You know, it's not that I think I'm disagreeing with where you end up, I just haven't run into the people you're reacting against.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:49 PM
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365: Academic blogs tend to be less fun, because people have reputations to uphold. I tend to stay away from Crooked Timber, the Valve, EOTAW, and LGM a lot more than I would because they get all pissy about off-topic comments, trolling, profanity, and goofiness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:49 PM
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Not enough Stross fans read Crooked Timber, or what?

That is probably it. Discussions about specific books, except for something like harry potter, on the Internet are hindered by the relatively small percentage of people who have read those books. For example, 8,079 out of 607,782 members of library thing have books by Stross which is a little over 1%.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:50 PM
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369: The ones I'm arguing about (the "Merchant Princes" series) are, I think, his weakest. He has two (and more to come) really funny Lovecraft patische spy novels, the Laundry books; if that description sounds remotely appealing, you should read them.

The rest of his stuff that I've read is all worthwhile, but hard to sum up in a couple of lines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:53 PM
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BTW, it isn't only about women and pregnancy. Guys who become fathers make a big career sacrifice if they do the right thing and take responsibility for the kid. In a conventional world it's actually worse for the guy, since in a conventional world women all become stay-home moms anyway.

I've been pretty consciously distinguishing between what to say in today's world and what I would like the ideal world to be. In many ways it would be better for childraising to be finished by age 35 or so. But in today's world, I don't think so.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:55 PM
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I'm excited about Halting State.

BTW, have you read any Pat Cadigan? I try to shill for he online every couple of years. Not very prolific, but her first two novels are both great.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:59 PM
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"he" s/b "her"


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 3:59 PM
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370: Counterculturalists, cafe society, sexual ideologues. Perhaps these cohorts are dwindling with time. A career mom with two kids is not well-placed to meet these people, but if you dolled yourself up I could probably give you a bar map of Portland where you could find them. Though it would be easier if you were a bit younger.

I was actually repsonding to ttaM, though. Someone might be sex-friendly at some level and still, in a given context, send out a not completely sex friendly message.

I am not especially sex-friendly, of course. Not my cause.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:01 PM
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I haven't -- I'll look for her. Jackm mentioned some books I need to pick up as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:03 PM
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I'd recommend reading her first two novels in order: Mindplayers and then Synners (my favorite of her books) and then, if you like those, Tea From An Empty Cup.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:04 PM
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378 to 375.

Though it would be easier if you were a bit younger.

I'm crushed. You think pigtails and a lollipop would fool anyone?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:05 PM
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380: Bound volumes of color photographs of the approved types can be found in any full-service newsstand.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:08 PM
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re: 368

I'm also willing to confess to a certain degree of puritanism myself [although it pans out in areas other than sexual behaviour].

I just take a more libertarian attitude to sex and sexuality. Sex fucks some people up, and not others, and can be good and bad for them in infinitely many ways. And I'm inclined to let them be the best judge of what is good for them.

And, tied to that, I tend to see personal responsibility and freedom of choice extending into rather younger age groups than is the 'Unfogged norm'. So, I am perfectly content with 16 year olds deciding when they want to have sex and with whom.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:14 PM
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I've seen perfectly wonderful 13-year-olds of either gender go immediately downhill once they had to deal with puberty, dating, adult gender roles, the world of fashion and pop culture, etc. and this is without STDs or pregnancy. Sometimes, it seems, irreversibly. Straight-out sex-friendliness is impossible for me.

People always claim that desire and love bring out the best in people, but they often bring out the worst. I have no idea what the balance is, but if you're sex-friendly you're not looking for the balance. I only started saying these things when I decided I just didn't give a shit what people thought of me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:21 PM
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What mystifies me is the idea that a person has to have a sex-positive philosophical position order to go around pressuring people into having sex. The high school boys who made my adolescence so confusing had old-fashioned puritanical ideas about sex. It's just that each one thought an exception should be made for him.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:25 PM
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In many ways it would be better for childraising to be finished by age 35 or so.

I'm not sure why this should be so. Especially since it would seem to require child-birthing to be finished by 18.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:29 PM
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384: good point.

||
this seems like good news, but do they have to use phrases like "victory lap"? What's the chance that this amendment is actually passed into law, after both the House, and the Senate, and the reconciliation process or whatever they call it? 95%? 5%? Can we get a little bit of perspective about the reality of these things? Can I ask any more questions while implying that I don't want anyone to answer them?
|>


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:35 PM
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I thought the Merchant Princes novels were the best stuff he was writing actually.

The Laundry novels are funny, but they're not very demanding or interesting beyond a pretty simple surface level. Say. if you compare Jennifer Morgue to Absolute Friends. Absolute Friends isn't as much fun to read, but it shows far more engagement with what modern intelligence looks like, The Laundry novels just rattle on as geeky jokes -- after you've read them, there's nothing really important about the specific stuff that happens, just the funny lines along the way.

Merchant Princes, on the other hand, is properly SF. Lots of ideas presented, lots of thinking about the world in a different way, and, aside from the one dodgy assumption, they're actually pretty Hard. (Ironically, they're probably the hardest things Stross is writing at the moment.)

But that's kind of snobbish.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:37 PM
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385: The whole career or kids problem would be essentially solved. The "finding yourself" period would be in a context where a couple years fucking up wouldn't ruin your whole life. A lot of people only get one chance for college, right when they're 18 and pretty much out of control.

386: We're taking a victory lap because we only gave away 80% of the farm. We're Democrats, you know.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:40 PM
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I'm also willing to confess to a certain degree of puritanism myself [although it pans out in areas other than sexual behaviour].

Yeah, there's more than just sex to be puritanical (or not puritanical) about. Teenage drinking, for example. I guess I'm over on the laissez-faire end of things on this issue. I think 21 is absurd for a legal drinking age, and I don't really support that policy (not that I feel particularly strongly about it, I'm not about to launch a campaign to lower the drinking age or anything). I also have serious qualms/misgivings about drug education programmes in the schools (which begin with school-age children, btw: my son brought home an information sheet, at age 6, which informed he and his parents that "alcohol is a drug," which I thought was really crazy).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:41 PM
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People always claim that desire and love bring out the best in people, but they often bring out the worst. I have no idea what the balance is, but if you're sex-friendly you're not looking for the balance.

It's not that this is wrong on a case-by-case basis, and I'm not 100% sympathetic to dsquared's idea that policy initiatives directed at other people's pants are always a problem (safe sex ad campaigns, good!). But once you're outside the small group of people you're in a relationship with allowing you to give them interpersonal advice, doesn't this become none of your business?

I mean, focus on the balance interpersonally, sure, but I can't translate that into policy recommendations.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:44 PM
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387: Go over to CT and argue with me about them, please? I find them (a) a kind of dreary read (everything that happens is unpleasant) and (b) implausible in their Hard-ness. Doesn't the whole plot rely on the Gruinmarkt worldwalkers being very dim about how to make money off their abilities? Miriam's only advantage is that she's the only one, of hundreds of our-world-educated worldwalkers, to have had a couple of fairly obvious ideas.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:49 PM
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And the Laundry novels are fluff, but the sort of fluff I find very appealing.

For actual literary merit, I'd think Halting State or Glasshouse are probably his best.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:51 PM
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390: No. Why should one aspect of life be sacramental, transcendent, taboo, and off the table? The question of what's business and what isn't doesn't have a self-evident answer. This kind of question comes up with seat belts, diet, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, vaccination, spanking, child abuse, gambling, faith healing, arranged marriage, and lots of stuff, and I don't think that it can be handled with libertarian slogans.

On top of that, I'm not a government agency, and I haven't proposed government action. I'm just saying that if you ask me what I think, what I think will not be sex-friendly enough to please most people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:53 PM
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"what's OUR business and what isn't"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:54 PM
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390: I mean, focus on the balance interpersonally, sure, but I can't translate that into policy recommendations.

What I said spoke against the idea that sex-friendliness should be a primary criterion for the answer to this question.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:56 PM
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The spread of diseases is something government should be interested in.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 4:57 PM
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Who said it was sacred, taboo, transcendental and off the table? It's more that it's individually variable enough that I don't see how you set policy goals for "balance" -- an appropriate "balance" is something you need personal, individual, information to think about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:01 PM
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You said that no one can or should think about these questions except wih regard to their own personal friends and relations. Why not? That sounds pretty taboo and off the table to me. We think about obesity as a public health problem, for example.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:04 PM
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||

Obama is plying key Congresspersons with alcohol ans was photographed drinkign a glass of beer. Change I can believe in.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:06 PM
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Oh right. We haven't had a president who drinks in public for eight years. Hooray!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:08 PM
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But yes, I would absolutely approve of a massive PR campaign saying "It's not Like the Movies. Falling in Love Could Ruin Your Life". I could send several people over to do testimonials.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:08 PM
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400: You sure about that?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:10 PM
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I can see the TV spots beginning with the dreamy "he swept her into his arms" Hollywood ending and proceeding from there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:10 PM
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Or alternatively, a Gatsbyesque guy who dreams of Daisy and finally gets her.

Maybe the Pope will cough up the bucks, if it isn't too obvious that it's also an anti-marriage spot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:12 PM
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398: But, you know, obesity is medically definable and has a (complicated, but not insanely so) relationship to what you eat and how much you exercise. A public health campaign saying "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" and "Exercise some" would be at worst pretty harmless, and might do some good if anyone paid attention. I can't picture what your public health campaign would say? "Love can make you unhappy"? That's not advice anyone can take, really.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:12 PM
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Let's not confuse the promoting of contraception with the promoting of sex.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:13 PM
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405: Shouldn't it be a project? No one's been working on this. Virgin territory. They don't even collect statistics on falling-in-love disasters. It's all anecdotal because it's a taboo topic, except for Catholic priests of course, and they don't do statistics. And besides, they strongly push marriage as an antidote to eros.

Even people who are anti-marriage, anti-male, or anti-breeder still believe in LOVE. It's the last liberation frontier.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:17 PM
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Yeah, there non-sexual contraception for women who work knee deep in industrial semen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:19 PM
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No, but saying "here is a condom to use if you should have sex" is not the same as "you must have sex now." Confusion on this point leads to abstinence-only education, which has not been all that great about doing anything except leading to pregnancies.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:21 PM
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Sort of like giving out a bandaid to someone who might cut themselves.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:24 PM
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Yeah, there non-sexual contraception for women who work knee deep in industrial semen.

As opposed to nautical semen?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:25 PM
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I don't think first aid kits promote injuries, either.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:26 PM
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411: ... one in every port.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:26 PM
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I definitely agree with bob in this thread.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:26 PM
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The US is effectively sex-friendly for lots of reasons, and maybe that's a good thing, so it is now possible to give out condoms for health reasons in a sex-unfriendly or sex-neutral way. Giving out condoms to HS students in a sex-unfriendly environment would unquestionably be sex-friendly. The anti-sex puritans are confusing cause and effect though, sort of like locking the barn after the horse has escaped.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:36 PM
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Maybe the Pope will cough up the bucks, if it isn't too obvious that it's also an anti-marriage spot.


When did Xtians get so pro-marriage and family anyway. I mean "It is better to marry than to burn" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. I think the pope would be fine with your message, John.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:40 PM
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Yeah, there non-sexual contraception for women who work knee deep in industrial semen.

As opposed to nautical semen?
More like agricultural or commercial semen.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:41 PM
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No, the mass of fallen inhumanity is incapable of living virtuously. They should be forced to marry and stay married forever. Lay celibacy is not on the table, much less screwing around and having fun.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:43 PM
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415: Right... which is why I said that we shouldn't... confuse... promoting... contraception... with... promoting... sex.

It's not as though condoms in schools popped up on the Mayflower and made the Puritans change their minds on this. The culture was sex-friendly in the 80s when these programs started and teenagers have been having sex for a long, long time according to all of the data we have (and crucially, they don't seem to be having more sex now.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:45 PM
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I'm going to lobby the DSM-IV people to include Toxic Love in their manual. People then could get treatment.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:46 PM
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We're not really arguing about condom distribution here, I don't think. We're in a sex-positive era and the schools should recognize that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 5:47 PM
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People then could get treatment.

How many have suffered silently for too long?

John, you really need a pharmaceutical angle if you expect the DSM-IV to take your syndrome seriously. First lobby the drug companies. If you can convince Pfizer to rebrand one of its SSRIs as a treatment option for Toxic Love Syndrome, Pfizer will lobby the DSM-IV people for you.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:05 PM
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Honestly, you probably get more mileage out of it as a self-help book, John. "Toxic Love Syndrome: recovery through relationship-free living"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:25 PM
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It's a horror story, MC. And many of our politicians, opinion leaders, and intellectuals are slaves of the toxic love lobby. The Bavarian Illuminati and the secret Anglo-Dutch financial cabal get some resistance, but the toxic love conspiracy gets none.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:26 PM
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423: For real! Can you imagine Emerson making the rounds of the talk-show circuit? A positive review by Oprah would make his fortune. Or even a negative review, for that matter.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:29 PM
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have you ever felt.... a longing
... twitterpated....
... a stirring in your loins?

THERE IS HELP.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

ANAMOR IS THERE.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:33 PM
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Not so oddly, a lot of antidepressants work somewhat that way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:38 PM
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And many of our politicians, opinion leaders, and intellectuals are slaves of the toxic love lobby.

I see you're already working on your talking points.

"Slaves to this or that lobby" is always a winner. You also need to work in something about how you had suffered silently for many years because of the shame and the stigma, but finally got up the courage to "tell your story." As a "survivor" (never a victim, though the narrative framework must be victomological, of course), you only want to encourage others to come forward, secure in the knowledge that they are no longer alone (though being alone is, I guess, sort of the cure for this disease? so this point may require a bit of finesse). "Anglo-Dutch cabal" is rather specialized, perhaps, for the mass market audience that you intend to reach.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:41 PM
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But since desire is well-nigh uncontrollable for much of adult life, being anti-love leads pretty directly to misogyny and misandry, doesn't it? The impulse to anything like kindness or generosity towards other people is pretty frail. Love is quite nice, all too rare.

La Rochefoucauld is always good:
One forgives to the degree that one loves.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:46 PM
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"You are not alone -- but you can be!"

MC, let me send you some pamphlets explaining the Anglo-Dutch conspiracy. You really need to know about them.

The Knights of Malta, too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:51 PM
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Toxic Love Slave is not a bad band name.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:53 PM
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Sends the wrong message, Bave. Like being a TLS was edgy and transgressive, rather than toxically normal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 7:55 PM
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Emerson will have to top this


Posted by: Laura Kipnis | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:33 PM
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That is the good for which we have been forced to struggle against the Spanish Inquisition, the waves of religious warfare which that Inquisition unleashed, and against evil Venice's successor, the tradition of that Anglo-Dutch Liberal financier-oligarchical imperialism which has been the dominant influence in the world during most of the period since the February 1763 Treaty of Paris.

No one expects Anglo-Dutch Liberal financier-oligarchical imperialism!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:45 PM
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The Knights of Malta, too.

Bring it, John. I'm ready.

||

Fucking cancer. Today I learned that someone I've known online for years -- someone I've never met IRL, though I've IRL met about half a dozen people through her, and I've talked to her on the phone and corresponded with her via email ever since my son was just a gleam in his father's eye -- has probably only weeks left to live. At best case, perhaps months, but realistically speaking, probably only weeks. She has a rare, and especially virulent, form of cancer, and it's now spread to some outlying organs, and in short, the prognosis is not good. And she has two daughters, aged 6 and 9, and I'm sorry, but that's just too young for those girls to lose their mother, and it's just not fair (not that anything is, of course). I find myself unfairly and irrationally irritated by some of the "you can fight this! you can't leave us! we need you, we'll fight this with you!" comments, which seem to express a totally unrealistic denial of death and its inevitability through a weirdly combative rhetoric of battling the odds and etc. Not that I have anything better, or more useful, to say, of course, so I do realize that I'm not being fair. I guess I'm not exactly at the far end of "sex-positive" in terms of the consensus at this weblog, but then again, I can't help thinking that "fuck like crazed bunnies" has a lot to recommend it, if it means a massive, if unavoidably temporary, fuck-you to Death. Okay, sorry, I'm a bit overwrought, and probably not even making sense. I find this news quite devastating.
|>


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:54 PM
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Oh, MC, that's awful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 8:59 PM
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Sorry, MC. Is it anyone I also know?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-28-09 9:10 PM
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Not that I have anything better, or more useful, to say

When it became clear that my father's cancer was terminal, soon, I found people who said "Oh don't lose hope, you never know" very irritating. Friends who just said "That's awful, it must be hard" were much more of a comfort. So maybe if you say "X, I'm so sorry to hear that and it seems so unfair", your friend will find that a great improvement on the fight!fight! comments.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-29-09 11:11 AM
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IOW there are no magic words, so why not say what you've just said to us. I think people do appreciate an acknowledgemetn of the injustice of death.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-29-09 11:13 AM
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Here's why the Cathars were extirpated.

i: they believed that the body was evil (god made us out of spirit, which is pure love, then the devil wrapped the lovely spirit in cloaks of evil flesh)
ii: their priests went around in pairs -- usually but not always both men -- never eating meat, and referred to themselves as Perfects (which must have been aggravating)
iii: they argued -- some of them -- that since all sex was evil, sex within marriage consecrated by the catholic church was super-evil because the priesthood had persuaded everyone it was sorta kinda ok, hence if you were going to have sinful sex then better have sex outside marriage, or better still inside someone else's marriage
iv: the group i've been reading about -- in montaillou, round 1320 -- also seemed very keen on incest once-removed: sex with yr brother's wife, or yr girlfriend's sister was a good thing, massively sinful yes, but better than the bad kind of, viz lawful sex within marriage
v: they rather favoured non-procreative sex acts iykwim (tho this may be a generic slur projected onto them inherited from slurs against earlier heretic sects, like the bogomils)
vi: they were very anti-violence (tho with similar work-around to the sex thing when it came down to it)
vii: never mind the lollards

obviously i'm not pro religious extirpation or auto da fes, and bernardo gui was a very nasty man indeed, but i bet cathars were quite annoying when you had to live next door to them


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 01-29-09 3:37 PM
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