Nov 282012

Why should sex have any negative consequences? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists put out a statement this week saying the birth control pill should be available over the counter. If anyone actually began the process of making this possible you know there’d be an outcry by the same assholes who opposed the HPV vaccine, and attacked Sandra Fluke for stating that employers shouldn’t strip women’s health from their insurance options. There is a school of thought among certain groups that sex should be as awful as possible. In particular, it should be absolutely terrible for women. Men generally get off without many consequences.

Why is that? In general it’s considered a good thing when negative consequences are avoided. No one complains that seatbelts make driving too safe or that anesthetics make surgery too painless. There’s the religious argument (“god says sex is bad, so we should make sure no one wants to have it”), but that doesn’t pass the smell test because people regularly ignore all kinds of religious prohibitions if they’re inconvenient.

I wish I’d kept it around, but I recall an article exploring the backlash against “easy” environmentalism by long-term environmentalists. Those who’d been making sacrifices and putting in lots of extra effort for years to reduce their environmental impact. New technologies and policies (such as un-sorted recycling pick-up, concurrent with trash pickup) were making environmentalism much easier. The old guard weren’t just boasting about how tough they’d had it back in the old days… some of them were actually opposed to these changes – despite the fact that the new ease of compliance greatly boosted participation and was much better for the environment. They viewed their efforts as virtuous, and the amount of work they put into saving the planet corresponded to their virtue. When the new upstarts joined in they were able to claim as much impact without putting in nearly the same amount of work – they were laying claim to virtue which they hadn’t earned, and that was offensive. The environmentalism had ceased to be about consequences and had become about identity.

I suspect this hatred of all things sexual may have a similar root. The people raising such a ruckus are those who were unable to enjoy sex. Perhaps they were born too early to enjoy many of the modern advances in the area, or they were raised in an environment which shamed them and deprived them of a sexual outlet. They took solace in the fact that they could avoid many of the negative consequences that used to be associated with sex, and prided themselves on the consolidation prize of being known as “virtuous”. Now they see people able to enjoy sex without risking their health and autonomy, and they sense that society no longer allows them to declare themselves superior – and they feel that they have been robbed. Something has been stripped from them, and their previous deprivation was for naught.

Rather than be happy that old monsters have been slain and that people no longer have to live in fear of them, they wish to return to the days were overall suffering was greater, but their personal position relative to the rest was higher. That is one example of evil. It is something we must overcome if we wish to continue to grow as a species.

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