Many traditionalists believe that monogamous marriage and the nuclear family are best for human beings, and even necessary for the survival of modern civilization as we know it. Hence, alternatives to monogamy – such as polyamory (multiple wives/multiple husbands) – must not be tolerated. In contrast, some other people believe that polyamory may be more conducive to human satisfaction and may ultimately produce children who are better adapted to survive and enjoy life.
In 2010 Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethà published “Sex at Dawn,” which presented some evidence for our multi-mating past, with the implication that monogamy isn’t inevitable for modern humans so we may consider alternatives like polyamory (1). The book was a best-seller, in part thanks to the glowing praise of syndicated columnist Dan Savage. But that thesis provoked some strong criticism in a later book “Sex at Dusk” by the apparently pseudonymous author Lynn Saxon, which claimed Ryan’s evidence was distorted, and presented counterevidence that suggests our ancestors were monogamous or polygynous (one male with multiple wives), and also claiming that monogamy offers more advantages than multi-mating – especially for women (2).
One problem neither book confronts adequately is that regardless of our past, modern human females are living in a unique environment. Saxon does say: “Most of the situations modern females find themselves in today are ones that our ancestors never knew.” True, but she says that in the context of disputing evidence of women’s apparent sexual fluidity, rather than acknowledging that women today have more and better opportunities for sexual enjoyment.
Saxon says she is not advocating evolutionary psychology, but claims natural selection results in the passing on of certain “traits.” That slippery term is not specifically defined but seems to refer not only to such things as eye color, but also sexual behavior patterns which in simpler species seem to be inherited instincts rather than the result of learning. However, there is some evidence that young monkeys deprived of social interaction in early development become sexually dysfunctional, so there may be a need or benefit of early sexual learning even in non-human primates. There is no evidence that human sexual behavior is strictly determined by genes, and calling “traits” tendencies or inclinations rather than instincts or compulsions merely changes the terms of the problem, but does not avoid the pesky lack of clear evidence.
After Saxon argues that the rosy view of multiple mating in the past presented in “Sex at Dawn” is misrepresented and unrealistic from a deterministic biological standpoint, she then seems to contradict herself by saying: “Whatever people choose to do in the modern world is up to them.” Despite Saxon’s apparently feminist agenda, she seems to arrive at the odd conclusion that young women today should not choose to be sexually uninhibited; girls should save their precious virginity until they find romantic love in a traditional monogamous marriage to Prince Charming.
Another problem neither book confronts adequately is that the important influence of hormones on human behavior is widely acknowledged, but few realize this is the first time in the history of our species that women go through hundreds of useless menstrual cycles without getting pregnant. This is also the first time that most women don’t spend most of their reproductive lives breastfeeding (excluding occasional periods of famine in the past). The hormonal state during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding (or their absence) may profoundly impact not only the individual woman but the whole family, group or community. We have no idea what impact this radically different modern environment may have on men and women’s sexual desires, feelings, and behavior compared to the past.
The new availability of effective contraception and safe abortion (safe for the mother, at least) means whatever was natural or best in the past is not necessarily relevant today. Unlike other species or our own ancestors, people today can separate sex from reproduction. In simpler species, sex or mating means reproduction, but that is not the case for modern humans. It seems incredible that anyone today can simply ignore that fact and believe women and men will (must?) go on behaving the same way our ancestors did.
Regardless of the historical debate, evolutionary theory offers arguments for monogamy as the best way to ensure the survival of certain (selfish) genes through natural selection. That theory purports to explain why most men and women tend to be jealous and attempt to be sexually exclusive. However, evolutionary theory is based on observations of many species – including insects, worms, fish, and birds, in which mechanistic explanations for behavior are more appropriate than in complex human beings. In simpler species living in environments with extremely limited food resources and even limited space, the mere number of individuals reproduced translates into successful survival; but in complex human society the quality of offspring is just as important or more important than quantity in survival.
Although such inherited “traits” are claimed to be principles that “potentially apply” (Saxon’s careful wording) to humans, there are some unusual species in which the females are sexually aggressive and/or the males take care of the offspring. Even when certain kinds of behavior are widespread across species including mammals, there is no real way to verify if they are inevitable for human beings. Giving high doses of sex hormones to rats doesn’t have the same effects as humans taking high doses of sex hormones. Assumptions about what occurs in other species are often based on sparse observations or even a single study. Other forms of possible bias should weaken our faith in reported findings, such as ideological (e.g. feminist) prejudice and academia’s “publish or perish” rule, both of which give researchers an incentive to selectively report, exaggerate, or even lie about their findings (3).
While discussing Angus Bateman’s early genetic research on fruit flies, Saxon declares: “The sex – male or female – which has the greatest variance in numbers of offspring is the sex most eager to mate.” When females invest more in parenting they are more selective about mates. In sex role-reversed species where males do the parenting, females are more eager to mate. What does that have to do with humans? In human pair contacts the individual more eager to “mate” is the one who values the other individual more, based on real or imaginary qualities or momentary whim, regardless of who (either parent or some third party) might do the parenting, what gender category that individual belongs to, and what the reproductive variance might be. I’m not doubting the “principles” of evolutionary theory, but human beings don’t behave like fruit flies.
Although human mothers traditionally devote more time to babysitting (it would be an exaggeration to call what some mothers do parenting), men often provide the essential material resources. In modern humans throughout child development girls are the gender more eager to “mate.” Traditionally, little boys are notoriously unenthusiastic about girls. Only around puberty when there is massive neural pruning and most girls discover they have been mentally castrated and are sexually dysfunctional, do boys become the gender more eager to “mate.” It’s my frequent observation that when most people talk about feminine desires, feelings, and behavior, they conveniently point to mature women after cultural indoctrination, rather than the more natural or less indoctrinated behavior of girls in early childhood. As one mother and colleague of mine intimated, the behavior of little girls doesn’t count because they are “sluts.”
The males of many species are observed to be less adverse to “indiscriminate” mating than females, but in humans the supposedly selective females are often careless about mate choice or extremely poor judges of a potential mate’s qualities as a provider or co-parent. That is apparently due to poor education rather than any genetic “traits.” I think most people would agree that we should not rely on our sexual or reproductive “traits.” Better parent education for both men and women is the best way to prevent poor mate choice or indiscriminate mating – a luxury that is not available to most other species and was not available to us throughout most human history or prehistory.
Saxon admits that true sexual monogamy is rare; many species are socially monogamous but the partners try to cheat if they think they can get away with it. The law of the jungle is: cheat but discourage your mate from cheating. Is that strategy inevitable for humans? Is jealousy inherited? Jealousy is sometimes an expression of insecurity. A major advantage of monogamy that Saxon missed is that if you turn out to be incompetent as a spouse or parent (or both), you need not worry about possible competition since – by definition – monogamy officially disallows other possible spouses or parents. Another attraction of monogamy is that it’s a relatively simple formula with simple rules (compared to the alternatives), which doesn’t require juggling multiple relationships. Hence, monogamy appeals to individuals with simple minds who would rather not complicate their lives with “too many” variables.
Saxon argues that a male often tries to appear interested in parenting in order to persuade females to have sex with him (his only real interest). But that “principle” is disproven in humans by high-status adoptive fathers (e.g. a doctor I know personally) who devote themselves to their infertile wives and unrelated adopted children, instead of looking for other mating opportunities (abundant if you’re a doctor or other high-status male). After continuing to disparage males as single-minded sex fiends, Saxon claims that females are only interested in trading sex for resources, i.e. females are ascetic saints forced by their genes into prostitution. Incredibly, she suggests if women had free access to resources, they would have no incentive to engage in sex! Or females are receptive to sex when not ovulating primarily to avoid male aggression. Such claims are precisely what we would expect if the speaker is sexually dysfunctional and can’t imagine any women enjoying sex for its own sake.
Saxon also suggests that men are only eager to have sex with highly desirable females (young and healthy), so in shared polyamory men would need “plenty of Viagra” to perform with the least attractive women. This again suggests an assumption of sexual dysfunction. As I described in a previous post on mental castration I didn’t need any Viagra recently when an older woman who was obese and mildly handicapped took a liking to me. Spending too much time studying other species seems to distort Saxon’s perception of our own species. Do female fruit flies experience clitoral erections? Do insects even have a clitoris?
Since sexually functional women are relatively rare in modern Western culture, we don’t expect a woman to experience clitoral erections when stimulated, let alone spontaneous clitoral erections. Some women have no memory of ever feeling or seeing a clitoral erection even though there is good reason to believe that all little girls experience spontaneous clitoral erections in early childhood, although many individuals appear to lose that function around puberty, probably due to sexual neglect during development and consequent neural pruning. We may hypothesize the existence of some form of mental block that women who are sexually dysfunctional suffer when considering the topic of clitoral erection and female orgasm.
In a later chapter Saxon includes a section titled “The female orgasm,” but the section is mostly about immune-compatibility and sperm competition and only includes a few sentences that barely mention female orgasm. She does say: “Human females do tend to be more sexually proceptive, more spontaneously aroused, and can more easily achieve orgasm when ovulating.” Nonetheless, women are only interested in exchanging sex for resources or avoiding male aggression? Saxon doesn’t seem to think that glaring contradiction merits any extensive discussion, possibly because healthy women’s capacity for sexual pleasure contradicts much of what Saxon says about female sexuality throughout the book.
Some other species exhibit some incredibly bizarre mating behavior, so it is unreasonable to say polyamory in humans is unlikely to be successful because it seems bizarre compared to other species. An important difference between humans and many other species (including our closest relatives: chimps and bonobos) is that in many other species fertility lasts until death, while in humans fertility declines significantly in old age in the male, and disappears completely in the female after menopause. Knowledge and education may take precedence over supposed genetic predispositions in human behavior especially in advanced age, even if such precedence is not observed in most other species that lack culture. Even some young humans (e.g. who are permanently infertile) are often eager to become step-parents or adopt and become dedicated, loving caregivers for unrelated children. What do we care if that never happens in worms or even bonobos? In many areas the demand for children available for adoption far exceeds the supply.
Sexual preference, mate choice, and preoccupation with paternity in humans are strongly influenced by values learned through early education and reinforced by culture. Choices and preferences may even vary between different families in the same culture, and even between different generations of the same family. Evolutionary “traits” are not overwhelming to humans as in other, simpler species. Although genes may predispose us to suffer certain diseases, in many cases those effects may be avoided by learning about and avoiding environmental triggers. No individual is forced to behave in such a way as to promote the passing on of his or her genes. We may decide to seek the survival of somebody else’s genes, because we like another person’s genes better than our own.
Such behavior may not result in the individuals passing on their genes to the next generation, but that doesn’t matter if the choice is cultural rather than genetic. If a culture promotes love of beautiful and healthy children, such a culture may thrive and flourish (produce many high-quality children) regardless of which individual genes are being passed on – assuming that the individuals who are born are then culturally educated to promote the successful survival of children. Someday when we are able to design beautiful, healthy children, we must ask: Who (other than a chimpanzee) would be so self-centered as to want his “own” ugly or disease-prone genes reproduced anyway? If children could have chosen who their parents would be, would they have chosen you?
Both “Sex at Dawn” and “Sex at Dusk” are worth reading. They are informative and thought-provoking books, even if the authors disagree with each other. Science progresses through debate, and neither Ryan/ Jethà nor Saxon has written the final word on monogamy vs. polyamory. The scientific spirit is to be humble and experiment, and evolutionary biology is hardly an exact science. I think we should be suspicious of anyone who claims that observations of fruit flies, shorebirds, and other species have revealed certain reproductive “traits,” and evolutionary “principles” that suggest polyamory would be great for primitive male sex fiends but not for pure-minded women. In my next post I will argue that although monogamy may be best for a selfish adult and his or her selfish genes, polyamory as multiple parenting may be better for the health and safety of children.
- Ryan, Christopher and Jethà, Cacilda. Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships. Harper, 2010. See my review at: https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/sex-at-dawn-challenging-prudish-dogma/
- Saxon, Lynn. Sex at Dusk: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn. (No publisher, 2012)
- Ioannidis JP (2005) Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Med 2: e124.
Please read the first part of the topic Pedophobia before reading this new post.
Make-shift memorial to a live-born baby dumped in the trash.
Although infant mortality in the developed world has decreased dramatically since the beginning of the 20th Century, that decrease is largely due to treatment (neonatal intensive care) rather than prevention. In the developed world the leading cause of infant death is congenital anomalies, but the second leading cause of infant death (a close second) is prematurity and other disorders related to gestation. Of those preterm babies who do survive the first weeks of life many eventually die of sequelae. Despite the known risks of premature birth (even late preterm birth), some parents smoke, drink alcohol, or schedule a C-section up to two weeks before term for the parents’ convenience. Despite the known benefits of human breast milk, especially for preterm infants, many mothers choose not to breastfeed – even for preterms.
In the year 2000 the international community established some Millennium Development Goals, one of which was to reduce global under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. That goal has not been achieved even in the developed world. Globally, the proportion of deaths under one month of age has actually increased significantly since 1990. It is estimated that every year up to 100,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals (among the world’s best) due to preventable medical errors (1), so the best solution is not more and more improvements in treating preterm births but rather prevention.
Consistent with the modern focus on preventive pediatric health care, the best solution is to get people to become concerned about the risks of provoking infant death. Although abandonment (“exposure”) of unwanted newborns is not as common as it used to be, that shameful tragedy still occurs. Even in states and nations where the laws allow a mother to give up a newborn with no strings attached, some mothers still prefer dumping healthy, full-term, live-born babies in the trash. The statistics on infant mortality don’t include induced abortions.
Western culture’s widespread pedophobia is most clearly expressed in current attitudes toward abortion. In 2011, there were 730,322 legal abortions reported to the CDC. That is 219 abortions for every 1,000 live births in the U.S.: for every 5 children born alive, 1 child is aborted. Parents should certainly have the right to decide whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term (rather than government employees or somebody else deciding for them). But many adults are not satisfied with the mere right to abort; they advocate exercising that right for any reason. There is no need to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term while choosing an appropriate family to adopt the child. Just kill it before it grows too big. A human embryo is like a tumor, a popular image used by writer Camille Paglia (2).
The justice of having a right is not the same thing as the sanity of exercising that right. An analogy is that everyone should have the right to commit suicide, but that doesn’t mean everyone should exercise that right for any superficial reason. If assisted suicide becomes legal, should we advocate suicide assistance counseling centers in every community? Regardless of whether suicide is legal or illegal, there should be a focus on suicide prevention counseling, just as there should be a focus on abortion prevention counseling (3).
Aborting an unborn child is understandable under some conditions, e.g. if there is evidence that it will be severely disabled. How many adults are mentally and physically able (have adequate resources to provide a satisfying life) to adopt a severely disabled child? Raising a severely disabled child yourself is likely to discourage you from having future pregnancies and healthy children. That is a very different scenario from a parent with a healthy fetus deciding to abort as quickly as possible without bothering to find a good family willing and able to adopt the child.
Some of our biological cousins (monkeys and apes) will guard over sick offspring even after they are dead. But some modern parents have the distinction of deliberately killing even their healthy offspring, because they can’t afford a luxury apartment or larger home, or they have more important priorities like shopping or watching soap operas without annoying distractions. How dare anyone question your superficial reasons for killing a fetus?
We need not call abortion murder, but defining “life” as the period after birth is purely arbitrary. The first nine months after birth are reasonably considered a period of external gestation. If abortion of a fetus to satisfy a parent’s selfish whims is justified, then so is infanticide of babies up to nine months old if the parent doesn’t feel like taking care of the child or finding an adoptive family. That is exactly what many proponents of abortion-not-adoption probably have in mind.
Pedophobia is also expressed in the widespread cavalier attitude toward contraception. Don’t bother with contraception because you can always abort if necessary. You can throw away a fetus just as easily as throwing away a condom. If you’re pedophobic, what’s the difference? Educated adults tend to have a lower birth rate, while religious adults tend to have a higher birth rate, but as I said in my previous post the statistics need to specifically address the healthy trend in smaller families vs. the questionable trend of many adults choosing to have no child at all.
After one year of age “accidents” are the leading cause of child death, with no close second. Using the phrase “injury control” is now preferred to “accident prevention,” since the word “accident” actually implies something random and unpredictable. In reality, most childhood injuries involve well-known risk factors and preventive factors, requiring active measures to prevent injuries in childhood, such as proper restraint while riding in a motor vehicle.
In the U.S. there were 25,325 child deaths (age 1-19) from all causes in 2005, and nearly half (11,132) of which were due to “accidents.” Note that “accidents” do not officially include assault/physical abuse: +2,638 deaths. The ages of highest risk for injuries are 1-4 and 15-19, and risk is correlated with socioeconomic level: poverty, parents’ low educational level, and hazardous environment. Odd that most adult efforts at “protecting” children focus on usually non-fatal dangers (sexual abuse) rather than the most frequent cause of child death and serious injury: physical abuse and neglect euphemistically called “accidents.”
Child homicides are almost always due to physical abuse by parents. Some parents exploit the mass hysteria over “stranger danger” to try to get away with murdering their child. The parent claims the child disappeared and was probably abducted by a stranger for sex, until the police find evidence that points to homicide by the parent. Although abduction by strangers is extremely rare, whenever a parent reports a “missing” child, stranger abduction is commonly the first suspected cause. The massive media coverage dedicated to child murders (especially rare homicides by strangers) is considered appropriate to express outrage about the crimes, but there is also the possibility that many pedophobic adults (on both sides of the tube) get some macabre enjoyment from headline reports and repeated descriptions of children murdered by strangers.
Nobody enjoys hearing about more frequent child murders by parents, but both parents and non-parents seem to love hearing about relatively rare child murders by strangers. Think about that. One of the more popular videos on YouTube is of a child crying for no apparent reason: 30 million views in six months. A gruesome novel tells the story of a mother who saw the danger of extremely rare kidnapping by strangers as a good reason (perfect excuse) to put her child in a cage.
Organized religions and political parties promote population growth for ulterior motives: to maintain or increase their power; but that doesn’t mean all citizens should likewise view children as primarily an instrument to other goals. If pedophobia were not endemic, Western governments would be concerned about excessive population growth, but that is clearly not the problem in the modern West. Healthy, empathic adults should love children and want children to live and enjoy life, even if that means living with adoptive families.
Our culture should promote love of all children, whoever they “belong” to, not shame and suspicion of love for “somebody else’s” children, or the supposed “wisdom” of preventing births of healthy human beings. Pedophobia should not be considered healthy, normal, or politically correct.
- Kliegman, Robert M. et al. (eds.) Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th Ed. (Elsevier, 2011).
- Paglia, Camille. “Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson.” (Vintage Books, 1991.)
- Planned Parenthood: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-info/pregnancy/pregnant-now-what/adoption
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
“I’d rather have a good book than a child.” – Montaigne
Contrary to the mass hysteria over child sex abuse, the most shameful problem facing modern Western culture today is not excessive love for children, but its opposite: fear, indifference or dislike of children – a condition that medical texts used to call pedophobia. This post describes some of the published evidence that pedophobia is actually so widespread it is now considered normative and even socially acceptable to joke about it.
In 2007 French author Corinne Maier wrote a book called “No Kid: 40 Reasons to Not Have Children” (1). Ignoring the occasional newborn discarded in a trash bin, the book was primarily intended for humor, and its publication and favorable reception by critics throughout Europe are evidence that pedophobia is far from politically incorrect. Such discourse would be called bigotry if it were directed against Jews, Blacks, Gays or any other group of human beings. In an era when racial lynching occasionally occurred, imagine someone joking about racism. In Western culture today admitting you don’t like children is just considered good entertainment.
The author begins by reporting that France has the highest birth rate in Europe, while Italy has the lowest, which supposedly shows that the French are very confused but Italians know what they’re doing. That would be hilarious except that the average birth rate in France is only slightly more than two children per woman (less than 2.1), which is hardly high, while in Italy and most other European countries the birth rate is slightly less than two children per woman (1.4 to 1.9). The important thing is the punch line: the fewer kids you have, the more intelligent you are.
Although birth rates have recently declined significantly in most Western countries, statistics on average birth rates are not the whole story. Individuals who choose to have children today are understandably planning reproduction carefully (smaller families and not too soon), but what is revealing is that the number of adults who choose to not have any children at all has doubled in recent years.
Why? Corinne Maier tells us women shouldn’t have a baby because childbirth hurts, so let immigrants repopulate the country. Children impose predictable daily schedules on parents so adults can no longer be “spontaneous.” Children are ungrateful for the sacrifices parents make – those brats – and kids need basic education – how boring. The author even uses the term: deadly boredom. Kids interfere with a parent’s sex life because they are jealous. Why don’t kids just enjoy being deprived of sex education and prohibited from experiencing sex play with each other?
After claiming that breastfeeding is unpleasant and more trouble than it is worth (she doesn’t bother to mention the significant health benefits and practical advantages of breast milk), the author complains about the trouble and expense of the equipment you need for bottle-feeding. She seems unaware that breastfeeding is a pleasure for women who take the time to learn how to do it right. The author doesn’t even imagine allowing a baby to share the parents’ bed, and instead complains about the expense of buying a crib and eventually other special furniture for the child, not to mention a car safety seat and stroller, and even a bigger car to carry all the stuff, as well as a bigger home to keep the kid out of the parents’ bedroom. Hard-earned money thrown away and time wasted.
On trains there used to be Smoking Cars where some adults could go to avoid children, but since Smoking Cars no longer exist, the author suggests creating “No Children Cars,” even if passengers have to pay extra for the privilege. The French government contributes more money for childcare than many other countries, but in a book review on Amazon, another mother described her negative experiences of parenting in “high birth-rate” France: “…the pediatrician made me feel inappropriate, and I had a dreadful experience in giving birth in a French public hospital. Plus children are unwelcome wherever you go!”
Much attention is devoted to the stress of deciding who the real “parent” is in cases where there has been an ovum or sperm donated, or when a surrogate womb was involved. I beg your pardon? Ideally, it doesn’t matter to a healthy adult who a child “belongs” to; we should love children because they are children, not because they “belong” to us. But if you’re a pedophobe, paternity (ownership) is the most relevant and most important factor, if not the only thing that matters.
The author also complains that when kids get older they become hopeless conformists to their peer group or media heroes in order to avoid criticism from their companions if they dare to be different. Now I wonder what models kids learn that kind of behavior from? The world is not overpopulated, the author claims, just some parts. Our governments should provide economic incentives for couples to NOT have any children, and people in India and Asia should move to North America to balance population density.
Statistics show that successful men tend to have many children, while successful (career) women tend to have few if any children. Hence, the author concludes, children contribute to men’s success, but are an obstacle to women’s success in a career. Is that very sloppy logic supposed to be funny? In reality, there may be many other reasons why successful men tend to have many children, and other reasons why career women tend to have few or no kids. We need to know how many career women choose to have few or no kids because they are indifferent, afraid, or simply dislike children before they decide on a “more interesting” career.
To her credit the author does have the courage to attack the mass hysteria over child sex abuse, which in France (like the U.S. and other countries) has led to false accusations and the mistaken arrests/prosecutions of innocent people – including at least one suicide. This is despite the fact that according to French law making a false accusation renders you eligible for the same punishment that the falsely accused risked suffering.
Nobody can deny the author’s observation that many people become parents for the wrong reasons: fear of exclusion if you don’t become a parent, and the base desire to be somebody’s boss. Many adults become parents by accident. Few adults become parents because they actually love children. The author is also right when she criticizes traditional schools for still following the ancient belief that all kids are the same, so everybody has to learn the same things, at the same time, and through the same instructional methods. But what is the explanation for the widespread lack of interest in updating the outdated curriculum and one-size-fits-all timetable and teaching methods? Might it be that most people really don’t care about kids?
In her book “Perfect Madness,” author Judith Warner explains that in the distant past parents believed how a child turns out depends on destiny, or later: genetic heredity, so a lot of attention from adults wasn’t necessary. During World War II there was even growing concern that many mothers were too focused on their kids and creating too many “mama’s boys” who would be too weak to defend their country. So many mothers became afraid of giving kids too much attention.
One woman is quoted as saying she remembers her mother spent hours on the telephone with friends instead of focusing attention on her daughter. One day the child held up a sheet of paper and asked “Do you like my artwork?” The mother replied “Yes, it’s lovely.” But it was a blank sheet of paper. The mother didn’t even look at it. Some “modern” experts advised mothers not to spend too much time playing with their child because they would be doing it out of a sense of obligation rather than because they enjoy it.
After the 1960s a belief in the importance of the family environment spread, so if a child doesn’t turn out successfully then it’s the parents’ fault, and especially the mother’s fault. So more recently mothers have become anxious to avoid blame by devoting more attention to children’s schoolwork and after-school activities, at the same time that mothers were being encouraged by feminists to work at jobs outside the home. Hence, the unhappy modern mother, and the occasional infanticide, despite progress in women’s freedom and the modern technology of automated household appliances, etc. (2).
The contemporary mother’s desire to avoid blame is consistent with my repeated criticism that many parents are overprotective primarily for the parent’s benefit rather than the child’s benefit. Warner provides many examples of women justifying their concern about child abuse and neglect by saying “I feel bad…” rather than “My child suffers.” The constant “I, I, I…” in women’s narratives reveals that pedophobia often exists even when parents are overprotective.
The historical analysis in “Perfect Madness” is valuable but the author claims the modern mother’s lack of “productive” fulfillment is a major source of stress, as if spending time with children is hardly productive. Previous feminist tracts with titles like “The Baby Trap” also took for granted that childcare is a sacrifice rather than a joy. In describing the heyday of “productive” feminist dreams in the 1980s, Warner lets slip this revelation: “…the chance that children wouldn’t quite fit into this picture – never even entered our minds.”
The author also laments that women who want to pursue careers outside the home are “forced to abdicate the dreams of a lifetime” if they become a mother. Exactly my point: spending as much time as possible with children is not the dream of a lifetime for most adults. Warner’s solution is to create more government sponsored Baby Parking to free up some time for mothers to get away from children, since governments are well-known for their competence in administering public education?
Like many feminist tracts before it, “Perfect Madness” largely ignores that two-thirds of women today are sexually dysfunctional, not just mothers, but the author claims modern motherhood is the culprit. The flimsy excuse offered is: the “passion” mothers give their kids “empties” a mother of sexual energy. According to such logic, mothers should be less sexually functional than career women, and more sexually functional before parenthood. But are they? Warner doesn’t seem to be aware that widespread feminine frustration from sexual dysfunction is a problem that predates motherhood and commonly exists even in adolescent girls (3).
Why are most women with or without children unable to experience clitoral erections or have orgasms without the aid of a mechanical device? Although female sexual dysfunction is probably a multi-factorial problem, feminists refuse to confront the glaring fact of widespread clitoral erectile dysfunction and its likely cause: mental castration in childhood. Instead of attempting to prevent that tragedy from occurring again and again in future generations of growing girls, feminists now devote most of their energies attempting to demonize pornography and other forms of sex work, or protecting a woman’s legal right to kill the children she doesn’t want to have, and doesn’t want anybody to adopt either.
I humbly doubt that widespread sexual dysfunction in adolescent girls and women today is because mothers are stressed out after helping kids with their homework and driving to and from soccer practice. The sexual revolution focused on people’s (including women’s) right to enjoy sex. That was a good thing, but by now women should notice that lack of sexual desire and the difficulty women have in reaching orgasm is due to how little girls are still mentally castrated long before they grow up. Many feminists themselves have focused on “protecting” women from becoming sexually functional by spreading the mass hysteria over child sex abuse Even Ms. magazine once published an article claiming that satanic cult abuse really does exist.
Typical of expressions of pedophobia is the tendency to deny children’s humanity, i.e. by creating a separate category for them, like “lower” animals, incompetent to consent and otherwise undeserving of autonomy. Hence the popular attempt to infantilize older children and even teenagers – ironically just as women are traditionally infantilized. In reality children possess and exhibit most if not all of the qualities of “mature” human beings, including some of the best qualities of humanity. The pedophobic mental castration of children is possibly a twisted form of vengeance. If women today are sexually dysfunctional, they damn sure doesn’t want the next generation of girls to become sexually functional.
Attempts to start “childfree” political movements in the U.S., Britain and Australia have appealed to many adults. The lack of interest (let alone love) for children expressed by adults who choose to be “childfree” is clearly bizarre and evidence of pedophobia. Such attitudes indicate a tendency toward misanthropy, and are similar to some ancient religious sects that advocated physical castration and viewed all physical life as evil, as well as some radical environmental groups today that advocate voluntary human extinction.
I think the spread of pedophobia is directly related to the mass hysteria over pedophilia. Although violent sex crimes against children are attributed to “pedophiles,” such gruesome crimes are committed by psychopaths not people who love children. Likewise, the would-be heroes eager to start witch hunts for suspected pedophiles and join lynch mobs to achieve “justice” are usually people who otherwise couldn’t care less about children’s health and safety.
In my personal experience the individuals most hysterical about relatively rare and innocuous “excessive love for children” tend to be not parents, teachers, or childcare workers, but rather individuals who have absolutely no interest in children and want nothing to do with children in their daily lives. People who are involved with children on a daily basis tend to be more concerned about becoming the unjust victims of witch hunts, a danger that pedophobes (conveniently far away from any source of suspicion) have no reason to be concerned about.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Marina B. for buying me the book “No Kid…”
1. Maier, Corinne. “No Kid: Quarante raisons de ne pas avoir d’enfant.” (Editions Michalon, 2007).
2. Warner, Judith. “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.” (Vermilion, 2005).
3. Tolman, Deborah L. “Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality.” (Harvard Univ. Press, 2005). See my review: Sexual Equality
The belief that sexual “seduction” of children is usually seriously harmful was popularized by Freud over 100 years ago, based on his observations of 18 hysterical patients (1). Freud’s observations were distorted by his very unscientific “pressure” method, and he proposed his theory at a time when medicine, psychology, and cross-cultural anthropology were primitive. By coincidence the seduction theory was wholly consistent with the ancient religious condemnation of any sexual experience outside monogamous marriage (2).
The seduction theory was eventually rejected by Freud himself and his followers as overly simplistic, but it was revived in the late 1960s by feminists who falsely claimed Freud changed his theory because he was under intense criticism for exposing child sex abuse. Feminists claimed Freud’s original simplistic theory was right: child sex abuse is responsible for most of women’s problems, so women today should cash in on the political and financial woe-is-me benefits of victimhood (3). The feminists thought child sex abuse is exclusively men against little girls, and hence is a sinister male strategy to cultivate feminine subservience. They were conveniently unaware that in reality both women and men sexually abuse boys as well as girls.
In the 1970s some small, biased surveys of selected populations described severe sequelae of early sexual experience in some individuals, and – like Freud – claimed such weak and limited evidence may be generalized to the whole population. Freud’s old simplistic theory seemed to now be supported by sophisticated (social) science, won wide acceptance as politically correct dogma, and created a booming business for psychotherapists and other self-proclaimed rescuers of child sex abuse victims (real or imagined).
The convenience of that new orthodoxy for traditionalists became obvious in the 1980s when suspicions of widespread child sex abuse in daycare centers (already under criticism by conservatives who promoted stay-at-home mothering) spread and resulted in witch hunts culminating in the hysterical belief that devil worshipers were organizing and orchestrating sex abuse in daycare centers to defeat Christianity and take over the world.
Not surprisingly, a few perceptive critics in the 1990s questioned the sincerity of some individual claims of child sex abuse, as Freud himself had eventually done a century before, and even discovered that some therapists were persuading patients through suggestion to imagine they were sexually abused as children and then call those fantasies “memories.” Modern therapists merely copied Freud’s “pressure” technique a hundred years before, which resulted in patients saying whatever the therapist wanted in order to please the therapist. Eventual malpractice suits caused a sharp decline in profiteers specializing in so-called “recovered memories” of sex abuse as well as so-called “multiple personality disorder” (4).
In 1998 Bruce Rind and colleagues finally conducted a meta-analysis of 59 unbiased studies of college students that did not support the dogmatic belief that early sex abuse is usually seriously harmful (5). Previous studies were imprecise, qualitative analyses of biased samples – mostly females in treatment for mental problems – while Rind quantitatively analyzed males and females more representative of the general population. The work of Rind et al. indicated severe sequelae of child sex abuse were exaggerated and much less frequent in the general population.
There has never been any valid evidence of a causal link between early sexual experience and later mental problems, and it is reasonable to assume that there may be other variables such as family environment (before and after the sexual experience) that explain the positive, neutral, or negative outcome later in different cases. Rind found less negative effects when the child perceived he was willing, but critics oddly objected to considering the victim’s perception of willingness, since children are supposedly too young to understand consent. The critics thus confused the correlates of actual outcome of the experience with the moral quality of the event. Saying that a victim felt he had consented (and later reported he was less harmed) is not the same as saying children are always or ever competent to understand consent.
If the mass hysteria over child sex abuse had been based on genuine concern for children’s health and safety, then we would expect that Rind’s evidence would be welcomed as a relief. But Rind and his work had actually undermined the sacred premises of the child sex abuse rescue business, so he was viciously attacked by vested political and financial interests as if he had committed sacrilege.
The Alaska State Legislature was the first government body to confuse politics with science by criticizing the Rind study, and under political pressure the U.S. Congress eventually voted to censure the American Psychological Association (APA) for publishing that study. In House Concurrent Resolution 107 (H. Con. Res. 107), the Supreme Court was quoted as an expert on the subject of child sex abuse, which “is [always] pervasively and intensely harmful,” and specifically attacked any suggestion “that sexual relationships between adults and ‘willing’ children are less harmful than believed.”
In reality, previous biased surveys had merely noticed a history of child sex abuse in some mental patients, and simply assumed a causal link without any specific evidence of causation. Rind’s work supported the idea that there is good reason to believe physical abuse, neglect and other family problems better correlate with negative outcomes than does sex abuse.
The APA conducted an in-house review and concluded: “Well, with all due respect, it isn’t a bad study. It’s been peer-reviewed by the same principles as any kind of scientific publication. It’s been examined by statistical experts. It’s a good study.” But The APA eventually bowed to public relations pressure by conceding that some of the language in the Rind study was “inflammatory,” and promised that the APA would more carefully consider “the social policy implications” of future articles on controversial topics submitted for publication.
Under duress of the public relations nightmare, the APA asked the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to review the APA’s decision to publish. The AAAS officially declined the request, which was an indirect expression of support for the study’s scientific validity – and an obvious criticism of those who questioned the scientific quality of the study and the APA’s standard peer review process for publishing studies. However, the AAAS did say: “examining all the materials available to the Committee we saw no clear evidence of improper application of methodology or other questionable practices on the part of the article’s authors.”
The AAAS further stated: “The Committee also wishes to express its grave concerns with the politicization of the debate over the article’s methods and findings. In reviewing the set of background materials available to us, we found it deeply disconcerting that so many of the comments made by those in the political arena and in the media indicate a lack of understanding of the analysis presented by the authors or misrepresented the article’s findings. All citizens, especially those in a position of public trust, have a responsibility to be accurate about the evidence that informs their public statements. We see little indication of that from the most vocal on this matter, behavior that the Committee finds very distressing.”
Chairman of the AAAS committee, physicist Irving Lerch, said “[s]ome of the political statements were clearly self-serving. I think some politicians tried to inflame or cash in on public sentiment by purposely distorting what the authors said.”
Some critics stooped to calling the Rind study “junk science,” while in reality Rind’s work was a significant advance over previous research. Instead of focusing on Rind’s data or methodology, critics repeatedly focused on the political incorrectness of the findings as supposedly “trivializing” child sex abuse. Analogously, another study of child cancer patients found they were surprisingly well-adjusted. So why didn’t moralists and politicians attack that study as trivializing cancer? Revealingly, crusaders against sex play during childhood seem to be uninterested in the easily available statistics that show the vast majority of child deaths and serious injuries are due to physical abuse and neglect by parents, and have nothing to do with sex crimes by strangers (6).
Although Rind’s study caused no immediate reaction in the scientific community, it was attacked by a talk-show host at a fundamentalist radio station, and the resulting publicity worried profiteers in the sex abuse rescue business, so some self-interested criticism of the Rind meta-analysis finally appeared in a scientific journal two years later. Prominent among Rind’s critics were Freudian psychoanalysts who specialize in the “treatment” of homosexuality, a branch of the talk-therapy business in significant decline. An organization of such therapists publicly welcomed support from religious groups.
In later articles Rind easily answered his critics, pointing out their fallacies and contradictions, and eventually even quoting the worries of critics with vested interests that Rind was threatening the income of those who live off the myth that child sex abuse is usually seriously harmful. One critic admitted that he wanted “to protect good psychotherapists from attack and financial ruin as a result of suits that are costly both financially and emotionally.” One former patient of such therapy was awarded a $10 million settlement from his “therapist” and hospital. Rind suggested the APA and other scientific organizations should defend researchers and stand up to such political attacks in the future, rather than bowing to politically driven hysteria (7).
Throughout Western history religious authorities have attacked and sometimes executed scientific thinkers for contradicting orthodox beliefs. Although science has progressed and has more freedom today than ever before, scientific evidence that contradicts orthodoxy is still very unwelcome in the house of cards built on “ancient scripture.” People who have the courage to explore and welcome advances in our knowledge and understanding of the world must still fight against censorship and other attempts to silence the truth.
Attacks against child sexuality are often circular: they claim sex play in childhood is inevitably harmful, while ignoring that typically early education specifically preps children to view and react to sex negatively. When anyone proposes accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education from the earliest age, critics say we shouldn’t do that because early sex play is inevitably harmful! As I have pointed out many times before, the mass hysteria over child sex abuse contributes to the traditional mental castration of millions of girls, instead of protecting children from possible injury.
One mistake Rind did apparently make and then did not confront is that he reportedly accepted an invitation to speak to the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a group of self-professed pedophiles with an obviously self-serving political agenda, so it appeared that Rind was at least sympathetic to those who wish to defend pedophilia. If that report is true, then the invitation and Rind’s acceptance should have been addressed by Rind himself. But that mistake after-the-fact does not detract from the hard evidence on child sex abuse that Rind’s study contributed to modern science.
Everyone has some good and some bad in them. Nobody is all good or all bad. We should cultivate what is good in every person: the healthy paternal and maternal instinct to love children and protect children from true harm. And we must pity and resist the opportunists and profiteers who pretend to love and protect children while really only loving and protecting themselves.
- Freud, Sigmund. The Aetiology of Hysteria (1896).
- Fout, John C. (ed). Forbidden History:, The State, Society, and the Regulation of Sexuality in Modern Europe. (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1992).
- Whittier, Nancy. The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Emotion, Social Movements, and the State. (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009).
- Ofshe, Richard and Watters, Ethan. Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria. (Univ. of California Press, 1994).
- Rind, Bruce et al. A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples (Psychological Bulletin 1998, Vol. 124, No. 1, 22-53); and Rind et al. The Validity and Appropriateness of Methods, Analyses, and Conclusions in Rind et al. (1998): A Rebuttal of Victimological Critique From Ondersma et al. (2001) and Dallam et al. (2001) (Psychological Bulletin 2001. Vol. 127. No. 6. 734-758).
- Adamo, Frank. Real Child Safety 2nd Ed. (Foundation for Research and Education on Child Safety, 2014).
- Rind, Bruce, et al. Science versus orthodoxy: Anatomy of the congressional condemnation of a scientific article and reflections on remedies for future ideological attacks. Applied & Preventive Psychology 9:211-225 (2000). Cambridge University Press. https://www.ipce.info/library_2/rbt/science_frame.htm
There is widespread hostility against sex work even when it only involves mature adults, with traditionalists and feminists joining hands to condemn women who “sell their body,” and worse: evil male customers who support the nasty business. Sex work always and necessarily exploits women; they cry all the way to the bank. However, some sex workers choose their career willingly, and vehemently resent being “rescued” against their will. While most people – both sex workers and prohibitionists – oppose “underage” sex work, an examination of the reasons is instructive.
One reason sex work is outlawed is because many people think if sex work becomes decriminalized it is a form of blanket approval of explicitly exchanging sex for money. But it is important to distinguish between some situations in which exchanging sex for money is unobjectionable, and other situations in which exchanging sex for money may reasonably be disapproved of.
When children are very young and uninhibited they enjoy spontaneous sex play without any need for economic incentives. Genital play is motivated solely by curiosity and the desire for pleasure: sex play is its own reward. But under some conditions an asymmetrical desire develops between individuals so an offer of an additional non-sexual incentive naturally arises.
Some individuals are considered more attractive than others, so when given a choice very attractive individuals prefer each other rather than less attractive individuals. An extreme example is a deformed or diversely able (handicapped) person who would like to have sex with someone who has no such deformity. An offer of money or other incentive is perfectly understandable in this case, and so is accepting that offer perfectly understandable.
The person who accepts payment in such a case is renting certain body parts and precious time just like any other employee or independent contractor. The most important difference between sex work and other kinds of work is which body parts are being rented. A sex worker doesn’t “sell her body” anymore than a secretary does, although accusing a sex worker with the phrase “selling her body” has more rhetorical impact.
Sex play often becomes sex work because many children in Western countries are indoctrinated to become fearful or hostile to sexuality, and such fear or hostility is expressed and transmitted to others eventually. Although euphemistically referred to as “inhibition,” a more accurate term is mental castration
Some medical professionals in the past recommended burning a little girl’s clitoris with acid to reduce her interest and capacity for pleasure, and in some Third World countries even today women cut off a little girl’s clitoris. The modern medical ritual of circumcision was originally a form of symbolic castration.
For most growing girls the very thought of sex becomes unpleasant or even painful, so cash or other incentives become necessary. There is some evidence that introducing financial incentives reduces children’s precious internal motivation to learn, so it’s possible that introducing or encouraging financial incentives for sex may likewise interfere with children’s physical enjoyment of genital contact and thereby harm children’s development of healthy sexual function. Ideally, children should have models of sexually functional adults who enjoy sex for its own sake, rather than models of sexually dysfunctional adults who always require payment for sexual contact.
When sexuality is being discovered in early childhood it is something very exciting, but if that desire is satisfied the novelty eventually wears off. The age at which any particular child becomes less curious about sex play may vary greatly depending on the individual, immediate family, or wider environment. There may even be genetic differences between individuals in the desirability of physical sensations; some people may be more “thick-skinned” than other people.
Whatever the reason, two five-year-olds are the same age, but one may be less enthusiastic about sex play than the other, as opposed to other types of play. The more enthusiastic child who is creative can offer something in exchange for sex play, and depending on the other child’s degree of interest, the latter may accept the offer or hold out for more value in the exchange. Sexual bargaining is not evil or destructive; it stems from a sense of justice. When individuals have different degrees of interest, bargaining is a natural form of compromise.
Another common scenario in early childhood is that some individual children are considered more desirable as a playmate in general, so the less popular child is more likely to consent to sex play or offer sex play even if not desired in itself. This scenario is especially likely when there are other children competing for the popular child’s attention. There may be negotiation and bidding for the popular child’s attention, including offers of sex play. As some children get older they accept this discrepancy in individual value as a fact of social life, and after an adolescent period of posturing (Who me, exchange money for sex?) eventually see nothing strange about offering sex for some other value, or accepting something non-sexual in exchange for sex.
Still another common reason for sex work is that some adults may find professional sex workers exotic or otherwise attractive and hence be occasionally willing to pay for sex regardless of the availability of attractive “free” sex partners. Due to a girl’s susceptibility to clitoral erectile dysfunction the majority of women in the West today are sexually dysfunctional. They are unable to experience clitoral erection, and they reach orgasm infrequently and with difficulty. They must settle for “enjoying the closeness,” and faking orgasm So women more often need an additional incentive to participate in sex and hence are the most frequent sellers rather than buyers of intimate company.
Traditional marriage has an obvious commercial aspect, even though modern Western culture attempts to hide the commercial aspect through romantic narratives of endless love or the “mutual benefits” of marriage. Explicitly exchanging sexual services for money is publicly condemned, but the institution of marriage itself has long been viewed as a business affair. Sexual services are traditionally viewed as a form of family resource or wealth that should be carefully managed by wise parents rather than squandered by inexperienced youngsters. Hence parents of daughters attempt to capitalize on the male’s lesser dysfunction (“stronger desire for sex”) compared to the average mentally castrated female, by demanding payment for sexual services – the “bride price.”
I believe that the discrepancy between male and female desire is minor if both individuals are sexually functional. Human females commonly make a greater effort than males to groom themselves, dress up, manicure, pedicure, to appear attractive. Although the man may be the one who eventually verbalizes the proposition, in effect the woman has orchestrated and initiated the sex in many cases.
In our close relatives, monkeys and apes, healthy females are not merely receptive to sex. In what is called proceptivity, females actively solicit copulations with males. Females present themselves in the mating position, as well as licking the male’s face or genitalia. Mature females even solicit sex from juvenile males, and especially juvenile females are very persistent in soliciting sex from mature males. Evidently jealous of each other, juvenile females occasionally harass mature females during copulation, and mature females harass juvenile females during copulation. In our very closest relative, the bonobo, an immature female sometimes climbs between two copulating adults.*
The same female enthusiasm may be seen in very young human children before they are mentally castrated. Little girls are often more enthusiastic than little boys about sex play, and have to settle for each other as playmates when boys are interested in other forms of play. Girls seem less interested in sex when they get older because traditionally there is greater parental effort invested in mentally castrating girls, so their capacity to enjoy sex is reduced or eliminated more effectively than boys, rendering the financial incentive more important or essential for the maturing female. As girls grow up they are traditionally taught to be more “practical” about sex.
While many parents condemn sex work publicly, girls are traditionally brought up to never “give it away” for free rather than in exchange for a lifetime meal ticket. Other girls will call any girl who gives sex away “a slut,” or whoever settles for a small one-time payment will be called a prostitute. The healthy development of a girl’s capacity for sexual pleasure is sacrificed for long-term financial return.
Far from discouraging sex work, parents traditionally teach daughters that economic advantage is the only reason to have sex. Hence the meeting point between traditionalists and radical feminists: both condemn heterosexual sex purely for pleasure. Both also share the illusion that sexual inhibition in childhood is only temporary. Once adulthood is reached, girls can simply turn off their sexual dysfunction and magically become sexually functional.
Another way of looking at clitoral erectile dysfunction is that most women are not sexually dysfunctional – they are just diversely able. But being diversely able is acceptable only when it is inevitable and irremediable. Nobody in their right mind chooses to become diversely able voluntarily. So if clitoral erectile dysfunction can be prevented, why do parents continue to mentally castrate millions of girls generation after generation?
While nobly claiming that the criminalization of sex work protects young girls from being forced or pressured into sex work against their will, tradition ignores an attractive girl’s willing desire and freedom to chose sex work. When it comes to young girls working as prostitutes, we should note that 12-year-olds may be called “children,” but they are very far from 5-year-olds or even 8-year-olds. A pampered 12-year-old growing up in the average American home today is certainly very different from a 12-year-old growing up in a brothel in New Orleans in 1917. In the film “Pretty Baby” the 12-year-old whose virginity is auctioned off to eager men was prepared for her career long before she was actually “deflowered.”
Girls growing up in brothels in other countries even now cannot be compared to an average 12-year-old in the U.S. today. Of course, no 12-year-old should ever be forced to become a sex worker if she doesn’t want to. In other words, she should know she is free to choose not to become a sex worker, without any threat of rejection by her parents or any other negative consequences. Where sex work is legal, laws set an arbitrary age standard (counting birthdays) that is convenient for legal administration and enforcement, but ideally what should matter is not the girl’s chronological age, but her understanding of the consequences of different choices, and her freedom to chose alternatives. Criminalization of sex work at any age restricts a girl’s choices no less than coerced sex work. Prohibitionists and sex traffickers oppose each other, but they are actually on the same moral plane.
The most peculiar part of the story “Pretty Baby” is that many men placed (or still place) such a high value on virginity, compared to the value they placed (or still place) on a more mature and experienced woman. The traditional fascination with virginity might be based on the mistaken assumption that if a physically mature girl has never had genital intercourse before, her vagina hasn’t been stretched and hence is tighter and will provide more pleasure to the male. But in reality the opposite is the case: an inexperienced girl has undeveloped vaginal muscles so her vagina is actually weak and loose.
Repeated genital intercourse is a form of exercise that eventually strengthens the vaginal muscles just like any other striated muscles. Note that I’m talking about a physiologically mature vagina. The immature vagina is too tiny for genital intercourse in any case (it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle), as well as being vulnerable to laceration and infection if penetrated by anything. Some girls are under the illusion that an older male with a mature penis will bring more pleasure to a small and immature virgin vagina. Accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education from the earliest age would destroy such ridiculous and dangerous myths as the tight virgin vagina, and relegate the primitive fascination with virginity to the dustbin of history.
One important advantage of decriminalizing sex work is that people naturally become bored having sex with only one person over time, so professional sex workers provide a safer alternative than extra-marital affairs. Professionals are not only more careful about unplanned pregnancy and infections, they keep proper emotional distance from clients. Rather than risk a spouse becoming emotionally involved in an extra-marital affair with a neighbor or co-worker, and thereby break up both families, the legal availability of professional sex workers would provide a safe outlet for satisfying a married person’s natural wanderlust. A professional sex worker can’t possibly marry every one of her clients.
There are also documented cases of some law enforcement agents who take advantage of the criminalization of sex work to rape or rob sex workers – including “underage” sex workers. Some psychopaths inside and outside the government think labelling some activity as illegal gives them the license to ignore normal moral conduct and do whatever they want.
We need not advocate a blanket acceptance of exchanging sex for money, but nor should we support a blanket condemnation of sex work under any circumstances – especially if a sexually restrictive atmosphere contributes to the mental castration of millions of growing girls. Condemning any form of explicit sex work leads to the absurdity of firing teachers who are discovered to have been sex workers in the past, or even taking children away from parents who are revealed to be (or have been) sex workers. There are no valid data to show that sex workers (past or present) are likely to be less competent or less responsible parents or teachers. Some sex workers may even make the effort to become more competent childcare providers than other people to compensate for their politically incorrect sexual lives.
How dare anybody submit a child to the tragedy of being separated from a beloved parent or teacher simply because it is considered politically correct to do so? The popular concern over the supposed dangers of explicit sex work in any form, and supposedly widespread “sex trafficking” (relying on wild and unfounded claims and bogus statistics) is hardly worthy of any thinking person’s support.
* Dixon, Alan F. Primate Sexuality: Comparative Studies of the Prosimians, Monkeys, Apes, and Human Beings. (Oxford University Press, 1998).