Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Yesterday’s warm weather put my hormones on high yearn. It’s mating season, in evolutionary terms, and the women of Cambridge were, knowingly or not, doing the equivalent of the mating ritual. On one side of the T car I stepped into, for instance, was a girl in shorts putting nail polish on her toes, tan, lean legs spreading to allow her access. Turning away brought no relief. I was standing above a woman whose dress seemed to be more a frame for her breasts than protection for her modesty. It cupped her, offered her, like a pair of hands.

So it seems brutally amusing that, on what was essentially day one of the year’s God-given season of going forth and multiplying, I was reading in the Times about the chastity and abstinence crowd at Princeton. These people complain of “an atmosphere that not only condones sexual activity among young adults, but ... expects it.”

One member is Jennifer Mickel, 19, from Louisiana, who was disturbed by the talk at an intercampus women’s forum.

“The discussion was very sex-focused, like about having rape kits in medical centers and condoms and the morning-after pill,” Ms. Mickel said. “And I asked, ‘What do your schools have for women who are not having sex?’ And the room fell silent. These delegates are appointed by their schools to be experts on these subjects, and no one had anything to say about abstinence.”

Yes, Jennifer, the room fell silent. No one had anything to say. Because it is impossible to have something along the lines of condoms, morning-after pills or even information about an act that consists of not taking place. Nothing is needed for nothing. One should ask, rather, what you were doing in a conversation about sex when your interest is a lack of same. It’s doubtful your peers are trying to join conversations about the best ways to sublimate sexual urges into chastity and abstinence, because they’re not part of the discussion.

There are no weight-loss books, products or programs — nor, for that matter, are there menus, specials or buffets — for people who do not eat. There are no gym fees or surging, rippling muscles for people who do not exercise. And there are no pop quizzes, class schedules or graduation ceremonies for people who do not go to school. That’s how things are.

The Princeton group’s president, David Schaengold, says its intent is “not ideological” but that

We don’t believe that human beings should be used as instruments or objects. We think the proper relationship between humans should be one of respect and love, and we think promiscuity and random hook-ups are completely destructive to respect and love. Dignity itself is a moral standard.

Perhaps good judgment and sensitivity can be a moral standard as well, and perhaps his group can consider the possibility that not every sex act, even a random hook-up, is devoid of respect, sweetness and even love. The positions of people such as Schaengold are invariably insulting, because they claim the moral high ground with no evidence except that of ideology, and inject time-wasting nonsense into conversations of substance — like creationism and intelligent design taking up time and space in a scientific discussion of evolution.

Or like abstinence and charity in a discussion of having rape kits in medical centers. Which, oh my very young and deeply silly Jennifer Mickel, has nothing to do with promiscuity or even choice, but is a terrific if unconscious revealer of your “nonideological” agenda. All the more revealing, in fact, because it was unconscious.

So don’t take this in a sexual way, but, well ... fuck off.


3Jake said...

The part that chaps my hide about these kind of groups is this notion that they have the moral high ground here. Not only are they upset for "being ingored" but somehow they come across like they need to be exalted. As though college students should all turn to one another and say "thank G-d that girl over there is not having sex, its inspiring really".

Don't want to have sex in college? Fine, then keep your legs and your mouth shut.

Scape7 said...

Nice to hear from you 3Jake.

College-age abstinence nuts make me think, for some reason, of people with great voices who don't sing or natural athletes who never stop watching television and playing video games. Somehow these things all seem to be a waste of natural resources. But only with sex is denying natural urges and abilities considered honoring God.

Anonymous said...

I had all my good sex in high school, and then great sex (with my wife) in college before and after I was married. That seemed to work out just fine.

I think they are really missing out on something fooling around in high school, though. That's the real pity.

Scape7 said...

We can only hope they give up and give in. Responsibly, of course.

Brian Wanamaker said...

To the abstainers: Oh, meow-meow-meow. You are just another little group, pissing and moaning about how you're neglected; because no-one is paying any special attention to you. You love to play victim, so you can pretend-aspire to martyrdom. Build a bridge, get over yourselves, and get on with your small-minded, short-view republican lives.

Sex needs to be dealt with and talked about, or at least acknowledged, because while we all have the urge, actually acting on those urges can potentially lead to illness and death if we don't protect ourselves. Abstinence, as Marc points out, is not something that needs addressing. You already have your (non)fucking solution, so shut up and go away.

Scape7 said...

Schaengold says he's a democrat, so I guess we can't lump all those who abstain politically as republicans. That doesn't keep us as lumping them all together as tiresome morons.

And I know it's redundant, but I need to be clear on this: I'm not criticizing people who choose not to have sex, only those that make the choice and then yap-yap-yap about it and their minority status and virtue and victimhood. Ugh.

Brian Wanamaker said...

(...)only those that make the choice and then yap-yap-yap about it and their minority status and virtue and victimhood. Ugh.


Jennifer Mickel said...

Hi Everyone. I AM Jennifer Mickel, and I'm actually NOT a member of the Anscombe Society. I was at the New York Times interview because I do see a need for the group on our campus. It is a hard decision not to have sex when everyone around you is talking about it and doing it left and right, and there's no reason why there should be a support group for red-headed people (which we have on campus) and not for those who wish to abstain.

The Ivy Council discussion I attended was NOT a discussion about sex, as you have misstated. That's why it was a relevant comment. The discussion was about women and what resources are available to them. My point was, if you want to abstain, you have no resource of support, and no programs are targeted at you. Perhaps some funding should be directed to things that are unrelated to sex.

At a university, which exists to promote the exchange of ideas, every viewpoint deserves a voice. By forming a student group, Anscombe can explain how and why they choose to be chaste--and many members have differing reasons. This is the kind of intellectual diversity that is healthy on a college campus, and that's why I support their existence.

The Anscombe society isn't religious, they don't ever mention God, and they don't say sex is bad. They think it's best between two people. Think about the first time you had sex--wasn't that particularly special? Isn't that person special to you? They promote that reverence for sex, to keep it from being casual. This isn't an altogether bad idea, if you ask me, whether or not you or I or anyone else chooses to live that lifestyle. At the very least it would stop the spread of STDs. But anyway, I've gone off topic now.