Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chicago papers are shocked: first kiss post-marriage

The Chicago papers seem surprised that a couple waits until marriage to kiss. The couple are abstinence educators, and the story seems completely unremarkable to me: while adherence among Orthodox Jews to modesty laws is far from 100% especially post-engagement, many do wait until marriage even to touch or hold hands. Personally I find the weirdest part of the situation that the couple would kiss for the first time in public.

On a related note, a Huffington Post columnist recommends that people avoid situations that require self-control because self-control is finite. She's not talking about sex in this situation, though.

The sex columnist in the Swarthmore College paper (my almost alma mater) has some good questions including some related to abstinence:

You know the old joke about the cobbler’s children having no shoes, the priest’s kids getting knocked up, and the sex columnist’s partners not getting off?
I’m a Swattie and this week all I’ve got for you is questions, a lot of which get to the heart of everything I’ve been writing about this semester, but none of which I have answers to.

Why is asking for what you really want so damn hard sometimes? Why is it that nearly every time I do ask for what I want, I get a good response, and I’m still scared of it? Why do I have a hard time, sometimes, even when I’m asked point-blank what I want? Where did I learn that it’s a bad thing to express desire?

Why do we think of sexual assault as only something that evil people do in evil moments, rather than as something that belongs on a behavioral continuum? Similarly, why do I still sometimes find myself on the brink of sexual activity which I don’t really want, and having a hard time saying no?

Why do I have an easier time talking about safe sex in a “fluids” sense than in an emotional sense? Why do so many of us have an easier time being vulnerable physically than emotionally, for that matter?

Why do people get surprised when I say that you should probably only engage in activities that could get you pregnant with somebody who agrees with you about what to do if your birth control fails?

Why do the people who get so upset about being judged for not being abstinent sometimes get so upset when somebody else chooses abstinence freely? How the hell does anyone still think abstinence-only education is a good idea in view of the piles of evidence that says it’s not?

Why do we focus on giving and getting sex rather than sharing sex? Is it that hard to carry over certain lessons from kindergarten? Wouldn’t this sort of model really help the whole sexual assault thing?..
And my whole sexual ethic has grown up around the idea of self-care. So recently I’ve found myself, when asked what makes for a good partner, talking about the three Cs a lot—careful, caring, and communicative.

I've never seen this column before, but any sex columnist that regularly mentions a sexual ethic must be great. I'm not a regular reader of the genre (other than Dan Savage), but I've never seen the phrase "sex ethic" in any sex column.

1 comment:

Hal said...

Their surprise doesn't shock me. That sort of behavior isn't exactly common anymore. It's really the sort of thing that requires a lot of community and cultural support. Since you don't find a lot of people who even think that's reasonable behavior, finding that kind of support is not easy.

I've got a lot of admiration for people who can pull it off.