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The Atheist’s Guide to Sex: The abridged version

Ask your partner(s) for consent, not mythological or supernatural beings.

I think that about sums it up.

On a more serious note, if/when I get any free time, a book called The Atheist’s Guide to Sex is my number one goal (or perhaps editing an anthology, if I can rope others into it). Think of the endless chapter possibilities! Secular sexual ethics, the effects of religion on sexual guilt, religious bullying of GLBT teens, interesting sex acts in other species, the religious right’s war on women’s reproductive health, giving “the talk” as a secular parent, bizarre sex stories from religious mythology… I could go on all day.

What would you want to see covered? …And do grad students ever go on sabbatical to write a book?

Comments

  1. Brian says

    …And do grad students ever go on sabbatical to write a book?

    I suspect most of them wait for tenure first.

  2. joshhelton says

    If you wanted to do it with a fellow author, I’m sure that’s right up Laci Green’s alley.

  3. Specify Other says

    I’d buy it! If you do write it, you should devote at least a page to “penis-in-vagina isn’t the only kind of sex.” I’m guilty of it too, but there’s a societal tendency to separate “just” “hooking up” from full-blown sex. (No pun intended. ;)

  4. says

    That sounds really awesome!

    I’d want to see asexuality in humans covered, especially with points about how it does not contradict evolution that there are people out there who don’t feel sexual attraction, since I see that idea come up far too often from otherwise skeptically-minded people. I want to see it made very clear that lacking sexual attraction doesn’t mean lacking ALL aspects of human sexuality, and see some discussion of how asexuals who do engage in sexual activity deal with that.

    If you do it as an anthology, I’d totally contribute an essay on that topic, and if you write it by yourself I’d volunteer myself as a consultant on asexuality. :P (Actually, I’ve been meaning to write something on how a secular view of sexuality is a lot more helpful to me as an asexual than a religious one for a while now, I should get on it soon.)

  5. says

    “interesting sex acts in other species”

    Dear Jen, if you have not heard of this book, please check out “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice To All Creation.” You would probably enjoy it. I did!

  6. mnb0 says

    “Ask your partner(s) for consent, not mythological or supernatural beings.”
    Too short. Add: do your best to please your partner and expect your partner to do her/his best to please you.
    That’s called utilitarianism.

  7. Homo Straminus says

    I have a friend who took a year sabbatical to work for Habitat, so there’s that.

    Of course, if his case is any indication, sabbatical for a grad student means, “Ok, you can stop being a grad student for awhile, and we won’t make you start over when you come back.”

  8. Ysanne says

    According to an authoritative source, as a grad student you don’t take a sabbatical for a project unrelated to your research. Instead, you plunge headfirst into it, and recognize it as an opportunity to fulfill your true calling during grad student years: Procrastination.
    (I know I did.)

  9. Zugswang says

    The first rule pretty much covers it, yeah. I’d add just one thing to that, which I will dub “Watson’s Corollary”:

    When asking, do so at a time and place that is appropriate (or more succinctly, consider your audience)

  10. Beige says

    Yes, this. I have no idea what “abstinence” is supposed to mean, I think it’s been taken by the ‘no hand holding, God hates all pleasure’ people, but as someone who has a penis and generally ends up involved sexually with people who have vaginas, I have had long-running happy orgasm-filled relationships in which we didn’t do that one particular sexual thing for various reasons, and we really didn’t think of that as anything unusual.

  11. annie says

    In answer to your first question: I would like to see the benefits of sex before marriage discussed.

    In answer to your second question: Ummm… no.

  12. says

    do grad students ever go on sabbatical to write a book?

    I’m sure many of them do plenty of research that might not be directly related to their theses…

  13. says

    This sounds like a great idea Jen! I would also suggest perhaps including a section on say, less vanilla types of sex. If you were going to make it an anthology, I would perhaps suggest seeing if Holly Pervocracy would submit something.

  14. chezjake says

    An excellent idea. Please be sure to include at least one chapter on polyamory.

  15. benjaminsa says

    Cool idea, so many possibilities. You could add some history of atheist thought on sex, Bertrand Russel wrote a little on this. Sexual psychosis in America could be one: how can you on the one hand have sex everywhere; adverts, songs, billboards, every action movie the hero seems to have to have sex somewhere, and yet it is so shamed and guilt ridden. Look at countries where sex is just a normal part of life, and ironically they are far less sexualised. Also, have you ever read The Purity Myth?

    Sabaticals depend on project, and your department. Talk to supervisor, see how easy it would be to drop and come back to your research. Could you do your research part time? Normally not a great idea but writting full time is a hard job and perhapse breaking both up would be better?

  16. Daniel says

    Most universities will allow you to take a one-year leave. The larger consideration would be to get your advisor(s) to sign off on it. If they felt your research was very time-sensitive, they could be a barrier.

    In terms of topics, I think one thing that would be very useful would be a chapter on coming to grips with your sexuality after a religious upbringing. Being able to be ok with wanting to have sex and having sex outside of religious confines can take a long time for a lot of people, including me. If you could get an atheist psychologist with experience helping people through that transition, I think that would be a great addition to any book on atheists and sex.

  17. Didaktylos says

    Q: Is it wrong to have sex before getting married?

    A: Well, it does rather inconvenience other people if it delays the ceremony.

  18. Flah the Heretic Methodist says

    Chapter idea:

    Not Inviting Jesus Into Your Bedroom Leaves Room For More Interesting Threesomes

  19. beardedbeard says

    I am on a sabbatical from my undergrad right now… no wait I am just poor.

    I would like to see a chapter or an essay on an Atheist perspective of pleasure more generally. Maybe even as simple as defending the position of “if it makes you happy do for it. As long as it does not hurt anyone else or frighten the horses”. This seems particularly topical during this “holy” season of lent.

  20. npyundt says

    I would like to see a chapter devoted to forbidden/taboo sex acts in various cultures and religions that are actually perfectly safe. As well as why they are perfectly safe.

    One chapter devoted to statistical data on size and shape of various human sex organs. Why size doesn’t actually matter, since it is a prevalent myth. Think of how many teenage boys will feel better when they realize their Junk is just fine the way it is.

    Finally, perhaps, a chapter on how to not be insanely jealous of anyone who ever so much as touched your current partner or crush, a problem I experience due to an almost Victorian era upbringing by prudish parents.

    Oh and as always, lots of cited articles and recent research so people can’t claim it’s BS and can look it up for themselves if they want. (as if I really need to suggest this, just being thorough)

    Awesome idea, and you can always take a leave of absence, dependent on your research and the departments policies.

  21. Freedom Cruiser says

    How about a chapter on Biblical sex taboos, such as Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and then having sex with him? One of my faves! Such sweet young ladies.

  22. Another Matt says

    And do grad students ever go on sabbatical to write a book?

    I believe this is called the “dissertation phase.” :)

  23. says

    I think this is a great idea for an anthology. You could have a wide range of things in there, stories, essays, studies…. I would totally want to contribute to something like that.

  24. says

    It’s possible for non-theists to use theistic language during moments of extreme passion and pleasure. This may or may not happen — both possibilities are perfectly normal. [/sex educator speak]

  25. kaboobie says

    You totally just gave me a flashback to Health class in junior high. I can’t remember the teacher’s name, but I know we called him Mr. Perfectly Normal behind his back, because that was the phrase he used most often!

  26. says

    D’oh, you beat me to it.

    To add to this, I’d like to see the inclusion of sexual inactivity ,and even sexual aversion, as a normal variant of asexuality, not a disorder. (e.g, “Some asexuals will have sex in their lifetimes, others will not, and that’s okay. Saying no is always valid, even if it’s no forever.”)

    I’d like to see a skeptical takedown of “hypoactive sexual desire disorder”, too.

  27. piero says

    Sex is overrated. For thirty seconds of pleasure, people are willing to forfeit far more valuable things.

    Get over it. Unless you are in a genuinely loving relationship, sexual athletics are a huge investment of time and energy for a puny prize.

  28. Azkyroth says

    My deepest sympathies to your partners if “thirty seconds of pleasure” accurately describes your experiences with sex.

    You’re self-righteous and snotty and slut-shamy, so I don’t have much sympathy for you.

  29. Azkyroth says

    Yeah, really. Apparently people think it’s a big deal that atheists who have grown up in a religion-permeated culture have absorbed some of its habits. Even though they don’t seem to have a problem with making plans on “Odin’s Day” or “Thor’s Day” or going out on “Freya’s Day” night, for the most part…

  30. says

    I’d suggest that Jen also note that sometimes it’s not a case of asexuality. A great many medical conditions can diminish sexual desire and pleasure, as can general stress. I don’t think ASS-uming that a woman experiencing low libido must be asexual is a good idea… no matter how much the special snowflake aces of the internet want that to be true.

  31. Azkyroth says

    Doesn’t “disorder” imply that it causes you suffering or hardship in some way? A person who does not feel sexual desire and is comfortable with that would necessarily be excluded anyway.

  32. says

    Well, to be fair, there is a phenomenon of the medical profession “medicalizing” all sorts of harmless human variation, and someone who is asexual but who is not aware that asexuality exists could spend a lot of time trying to fit their square selves into a round hole (if you’ll forgive the expression).

    That said, given how much pressure there is on het women to put up with bad or nonexistent sex, and how much things like a spouse who does no housework whatsoever when both partners work outside the home can create resentment that lessens desire for that person… I think it’s really retrograde and dangerous to assume that any lack of desire must be caused by inherent asexuality.

  33. Meyli says

    Please write this! And as someone above stated, you and Laci Green could totally team up to write it :P

  34. piero says

    Thanks to all who misunderstood my post. You all skipped the “unless you are in a genuinely loving relationship” bit. Why that should be the subject of epithets such as “self-righteous and snotty and slut-shamy” (I’ve no idea what the latter means, by the way: could you please insult me in English?) is beyond me.

    My partners? I’ve only ever had one partner: my wife. With her, having sex is not solely about getting an orgasm (which effectively lasts 30 seconds or less): there is a deeper desire for intimacy, for giving pleasure, tenderness and reassurance, for expressing what words can only express clumsily.

    Perhaps I’m old-fashioned. Perhaps the sexual revolution never reached me. Perhaps one-night-stands are what most people look for. I’m not judging anyone’s lifestyle; I’m just expressing an opinion on what makes sex valuable to me. You too are entitled to your opinions, and indeed to do whatever you want. Why the vitriol?

  35. says

    I would highly, highly recommend the following books as background research:

    The 5 love languages
    The Ethical Slut
    She Comes First
    Marriage: A history
    Skipping towards Gomorrah
    Sex at Dawn
    My Secret Garden

    Only Sex at Dawn and Skipping towards Gomorrah have anti-theistic tones, but all of the above have framed and shaped my wonderfully hedonistic approach towards life.

  36. says

    What would you propose,then, for those of us who’ve been through the medical ringer and still come out the other side asexual (and aversive)? Who did everything we were supposed to do and are still this way?

    And I’d rather be a shuriken than a snowflake, if you don’t mind.

  37. Azkyroth says

    What the hell are you talking about? This has nothing to do with the point she was making.

  38. Azkyroth says

    So let me get this straight:

    You don’t see how stating that sex is only worthwhile in a genuinely loving relationship is “slut-shaming?”

    You don’t see how stating that sex for orgasms or otherwise for physical enjoyment is worthless and that it HAS to have an emotional component to be worthwhile is “slut-shaming?”

    You don’t see how the above, plus stating that anyone who doesn’t practice sex the way you, personally, find most fulfilling, without even the slightest qualifier, on the first pass, about it being YOUR experience, is “wasting their time,” is snotty and self-righteous?

    Seriously?

  39. piero says

    As I said before, I don’t understand the expression “slut-shamy” nor “slut-shaming”, sp I cannot reply to that. English is not my first language; I learnt English in Britain, and I presume those expressions are specifically American.

    Do I think that having sex exclusively for the pleasure od having an orgasm is “wrong”? No, I don’t. People can do with their lives whatever they want. If that’s what you want to do, nobody prevents you from doing it. But you could save yourself a lot of trouble if you just masturbated. No need to go out and have dinner, no need to tolerate obnoxious opinions, no need to run the risk of having a stranger in your bed, who might well turn out to be a psycho.

    Am I snotty and self-righteous? Only if you take my opinions seriously. You are perfectly free to ignore my posts and carry on with whatever lifestyle suits you. I’m not going to judge you, much less try to prevent your enjoyment. Just as you most probably ignore Ratzinger’s dicta on contraception, you can ignore my opinions on what enjoyable sex consists of.

    I did not say that sex for orgasm or physical pleasure was “worthless”. I said that sex ONLY for orgasm or physical pleasure was, in my view, worthless, because in that case you are using somebody else as a masturbation device. There are plenty of such devices on the market: why should you diminish a person to that status?

  40. says

    That I’ve been through the process of having my “condition” medicalized, and treated, and nothing the medical community was able to do for me actually changed anything, so I feel like pathologizing us is pointless. Sorry if that was unclear.

    The snowflake comment is because she called us special snowflakes.

  41. Anat says

    If that’s what you want to do, nobody prevents you from doing it. But you could save yourself a lot of trouble if you just masturbated. No need to go out and have dinner, no need to tolerate obnoxious opinions, no need to run the risk of having a stranger in your bed, who might well turn out to be a psycho.

    Seriously, you need to know people more before you offer ‘advice’. There are plenty more reasons and situations to have sex than on the one hand, being in a ‘genuinely loving relationship’ or just for one’s own physical pleasure. For example – for the mutual pleasure of all participants, regardless of whether they are in a loving relationship, a friendly relationship, a relationship that may or may not become a loving relationship, or never going to see each other again. It doesn’t take anything deeper than being a decent human being to care about the enjoyment and well-being of another person, especially under intimate circumstances. That your personal experience doesn’t (admittedly) cover anything but your own marriage really doesn’t put you in a good place to criticize other people with other preferences. I don’t think you understand. And if you think orgasm is the only or even main source of physical pleasure – there are things you can learn. With a good partner foreplay can be better than orgasm. And other fun stuff. To each their own.

  42. Azkyroth says

    The point that’s being made is that being asexual is not the only reason a person might not feel interested in sex, and that people who WOULD feel that desire except for something other than being asexual deserve to have their concerns addressed too, rather than being written off as “asexual” and, if they protest, “in denial.” Sort of like this commenter having her hypothyroidism misdiagnosed as depression and her objections simply blown off. This kind of thing is damaging.

    Unfortunately, between here and your carrying on on Pharyngula, you seem, as Ms. Daisy Cutter observed, to be genuinely incapable of conceptualizing a discussion that does not center around you and your concerns as legitimate, so I don’t expect this will get through to either.

  43. Azkyroth says

    You use a lot of judgmental language for someone who repeatedly protests that he isn’t judging anyone.

  44. Azkyroth says

    As I said before, I don’t understand the expression “slut-shamy” nor “slut-shaming”, sp I cannot reply to that. English is not my first language; I learnt English in Britain, and I presume those expressions are specifically American.

    Here you go. :)

    Do I think that having sex exclusively for the pleasure od having an orgasm is “wrong”? No, I don’t.

    Okay, all the dismissive, judgmental language is just an accident. Got it.

    But you could save yourself a lot of trouble if you just masturbated.

    Masturbation doesn’t provide full-body contact, pillow talk, physical warmth, the ability to take turns being active or passive, new ideas that hadn’t occurred to you, a whole range of sensations that hands and plastic can’t really duplicate, or the ability to enjoy watching someone else enjoy themselves.

    You don’t have to be in a genuinely loving relationship to appreciate those things.

    No need to go out and have dinner, no need to tolerate obnoxious opinions, no need to run the risk of having a stranger in your bed, who might well turn out to be a psycho.

    …why do you have such a shitty opinion of other people and social interaction?

    Am I snotty and self-righteous? Only if you take my opinions seriously. You are perfectly free to ignore my posts and carry on with whatever lifestyle suits you. I’m not going to judge you, much less try to prevent your enjoyment. Just as you most probably ignore Ratzinger’s dicta on contraception, you can ignore my opinions on what enjoyable sex consists of.

    Why wouldn’t we treat your opinions seriously? You obviously expect us to or you wouldn’t have voiced them.

    I did not say that sex for orgasm or physical pleasure was “worthless”. I said that sex ONLY for orgasm or physical pleasure was, in my view, worthless, because in that case you are using somebody else as a masturbation device. There are plenty of such devices on the market: why should you diminish a person to that status?

    So, the only possible ways to view someone you’re having sex with are Twue Wuv™ or as an inanimate object?

    That’s a sad, stupid way to look at things.

  45. piero says

    Fine. Whatever rocks your boat.

    I’d still would like to know what “slut-shamy” means, though. As far as I can tell from the context, it probably means that a woman who has sex with someone she has known for only a couple of hours is a slut. That’s a wholly unwarranted interpretation of what I said. Though I’m an heterosexual male, my post was intended to apply to all sexual indentities. Just as I do not judge a woman for having casual sex, I don’t judge a man for having casual sex either. I just feel they are missing out on something, much like those who would rather listen to Lady Gaga rather than Prokofiew or Rachmaninoff.

    Do I care? Yes, I do. I saddens me that some people are so estranged from the nouminous. Can I do something about it? No. To each his/her own, and that’s it.

  46. piero says

    By the way, I don’t understand the acronym WUV either. And I don’t like being called stupid, unless you can prove that my IQ warrants such description.

    Let me make my position clear: you can do whatever you like with your sex organs. They are yours, and you are presumably an adult. I expressed an opinion of what constitutes sexual pleasure, beyond the mere biological physicality of the process.

    You are entitled to disagree. You are not entitled to call me an idiot, because for all you know I could be far more intelligent than you. Also, you are not entitled to use obscure slang and refuse to answer my questions on it. That’s simply bad manners.

    Por ejemplo, yo podría continuar mis mensajes en castellano, pero eso sería muy maleducado de mi parte.

    Oppure potrei inviare messaggi in italiano, ma siccome sono una persona civile ed educata, cerco anzitutto di farmi capire.

  47. piero says

    Oh, and referring me to a website for a definition that could be given in two lines is also bad manners. Fortunately, since I’m not actually an idiot, I could figure it out by myself. It surprises me, though, that apparently no equivalent term exists for males; so you are happy to employ a misogynystic term in a discussion about sexuality. That tells me everything I need to know about you.

    Masturbation doesn’t provide full-body contact, pillow talk, physical warmth, the ability to take turns being active or passive, new ideas that hadn’t occurred to you, a whole range of sensations that hands and plastic can’t really duplicate, or the ability to enjoy watching someone else enjoy themselves.

    You don’t have to be in a genuinely loving relationship to appreciate those things.

    I agree. People are much more sophisticated masturbation devices. They can even talk! They can pretend they care about you! The have “Genuine People Personalities” (TM)!

    And if you think orgasm is the only or even main source of physical pleasure – there are things you can learn.

    I never said that. In fact, I said quite the opposite. And if you think I need to “learn” something, thanks, but no thanks. I’m not interested in learning techniques on how to obtain or give pleasure from or to somebody I don’t really care for. Yes, I’ve had only one sex partner since I was 16. I’m not ashamed of that: on the contrary. And I don’t see why you should deride it. As you said, “to each their own”.

  48. Anat says

    I never said that. In fact, I said quite the opposite.

    So you retract the bit about ‘for thirty seconds of pleasure’? You have no idea what other people want and why they like what they do, or even why they value what they do like.

  49. piero says

    @Anat:

    I you re-read my first post (which could be a daunting task for you, but try to make an effort) you’ll find the following:

    “Unless you are in a genuinely loving relationship”

    I’m not retracting anything. I do believe that having sex with someone you have no intention of seeing again is tantamount to using her/him as a masturbation device. Very realistic ones (indeed, real ones), with brains, skins, smells, conversation, atc. But fundamentally, masturbation devices.

    Is anything “wrong” with that? If the other person is fully aware of the contract clauses and their implications, no; if the other person is led to believe that a long-term realtionship is on the cards, then yes.

    Would I go to bed with someone I’ve known for a few hours? No. I’d feel like a bonobo. And that’a all I have to say on this matter.

  50. Anat says

    piero, since the reference to thirty seconds is from your original post I have obviously read it. To you sex in a ‘genuinely loving relationship’ is different and much better than sex with someone you just met. *You* wouldn’t do the latter because that would, *to you*, be using the other person as a ‘masturbatory device’. This does not mean other people’s experiences match your expectations. How do you know that *all* those who have casual sex do it for self-gratification only? Some people enjoy it tremendously when they cause pleasure to another person, even if it isn’t someone with whom they have a ‘genuinely loving relationship’. And why do you think the only self-benefit of casual sex is that thirty second orgasm? Do you think good fore-play or after-play don’t exist outside of a ‘genuinely loving relationship’? And why is the only alternative to a ‘genuinely loving relationship’ a one-night stand? There are plenty of variations of interpersonal interactions that may include sex.

  51. Azkyroth says

    When you are 70, the answer to your question will be obvious.

    Oh bull fucking shit.

  52. Azkyroth says

    I agree. People are much more sophisticated masturbation devices. They can even talk! They can pretend they care about you! The have “Genuine People Personalities” (TM)!

    See, this is the sort of thing I mean by “snotty and self-righteous.”

  53. Azkyroth says

    acronym WUV either. And I don’t like being called stupid, unless you can prove that my IQ warrants such description.

    IQ has nothing to do with the term “stupid” as I use it. Though if you’re going to open that bottle, what IS yours?

    Let me make my position clear: you can do whatever you like with your sex organs. They are yours, and you are presumably an adult. I expressed an opinion of what constitutes sexual pleasure, beyond the mere biological physicality of the process.

    Then why are you still talking?

    You are entitled to disagree. You are not entitled to call me an idiot, because for all you know I could be far more intelligent than you. Also, you are not entitled to use obscure slang and refuse to answer my questions on it. That’s simply bad manners.

    I’m not, eh?

    Try and stop me.

    “Wuv” is not slang. It’s babytalk for “love.” And it’s hardly obscure.

    Also, when you show up to announce that things other people do and enjoy are “worthless” you’ve forfeited any right to complain about “bad manners.”

    And, wow, you speak other languages. Um, good job?

    Oh, and referring me to a website for a definition that could be given in two lines is also bad manners.

    So is demanding that people explain things that a reasonably informed person would know and could look up trivially.

    Fortunately, since I’m not actually an idiot, I could figure it out by myself. It surprises me, though, that apparently no equivalent term exists for males; so you are happy to employ a misogynystic term in a discussion about sexuality. That tells me everything I need to know about you.

    See, this is what I mean when I say “stupid.” “Slut-shaming” is not a misogynistic term. The behavior it describes is misogynistic. It means treating people (usually women, in practice, but people) as though they’re bad people simply because they’re having more sex than you are, with more people than you are.

  54. Anat says

    When you are 70, the answer to your question will be obvious.

    It is obvious now: Because you are narrow-minded and arrogant enough to assume everyone is either like yourself, aspiring to be like yourself or should be. Newsflash: There is huge variability among people. What works for some doesn’t work for others, and vice versa. So stop denigrating people’s choices that you have zero experience with. They probably know better than you what works for *them*.

  55. piero says

    @Azkyroth:

    See, this is the sort of thing I mean by “snotty and self-righteous.”

    Nope. It was just a quotation from “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”

    IQ has nothing to do with the term “stupid” as I use it. Though if you’re going to open that bottle, what IS yours?

    Probably 147. The only time I took an IQ test (with a trained psychologist, not an online crappy test) I was ranked in the 99,9th percentile. But you are right: a high IQ can mean nothing when dealing with stupidity, as the word is currently used. For the sake of clarity, however, you could substitute some more precise term: ignorant, stubborn, uninformed, vile, despicable, or the ever popular “fuck off.”

    And, wow, you speak other languages. Um, good job?

    Not a good job at all. My mother tongues are both Italian and Spanish. I was born in Chile to Italian parents, so I spoke Italian at home and Spanish everywhere else. The “other” language I speak is English. Nevertheless, I think you’ll agree I cannot be expected to know the meaning of “WUV”, especially if written in all-capitals. “wuv” could have led me to deduce it was baby talk, but “WUV” lookes like an acronym. Besides, Australian, South African and British babies probably don’t pronounce “love” as “wuv”.

    See, this is what I mean when I say “stupid.” “Slut-shaming” is not a misogynistic term. The behavior it describes is misogynistic.

    Nice distinction. So “cunt” is not actually misogynystic; it only becomes misogynistic when I actually use it to refer to someone.

    @ Anat:

    It is obvious now: Because you are narrow-minded and arrogant enough to assume everyone is either like yourself, aspiring to be like yourself or should be. Newsflash: There is huge variability among people. What works for some doesn’t work for others, and vice versa. So stop denigrating people’s choices that you have zero experience with. They probably know better than you what works for *them*.

    I don’t expect anyone to be like me. Also, I don’t like the expression “it works for me”, because it sound mechanical an soul-less. I just made a choice on how to lead my life, and the choice I made was to have a life-long partner whom I loved and was loved by. I’ve already mentioned several advantages of such an arrangement, including the irrepleaceble sense of fulfilment when you realize your partner is undergoing a climax. But there’s so much more, from scratching a precise spot on her back to stroking her earlobes, from kissing her neck to holding her tightly in you arms, from playing the role her favourite fantasy calls for to whispering in her ear what I’m fantasising abour right now.

    Have I lost something by adopting this approach to life? Probably, but mostly irrelevant things. I could not care less about extravagant sexual positions which would probably damage my spine or give me a cramp. Have I lost the chance to compare my sexual experiences with my wife and with other women? Surely. But I don’t care. There’s something much more important at stake: love and trust.

    Does all this mean that I’m impervious to seduction? Of course not. I find thousands of women incredibly attractive, but I do not act upon my desires. As I’ve said before, I’ not a bonobo.

  56. Anat says

    piero, you started with an argument saying other people are making a wrong, or perhaps silly choice wrt their sex lives. You diminish their gain by claiming it is ‘thirty seconds of pleasure’, that sex is only worth pursuing in a ‘genuinely loving relationship’ because otherwise there is too much risk or some other downside. Yet you admit you never tried anything but your one lifelong relationship. So all you can say is that your relationship was worth whatever you consider the investment, potential risk or any other downside to be. You do not know every other person’s circumstances, what their goals are, what they would consider acceptable levels of risk in light of their goals, what measures they take to minimize such risks, what their chances are to achieve their goals etc etc, yet you go and tell them that if their relationship doesn’t measure up to *your* standards (because their relationship has to be *genuinely* loving – and who determines that?) they are better off staying virgins. I call BS. I say there is a better chance for each and every person to know better than some stranger on the internet whether or not it is a good idea for them to have sex under their circumstances.

    Your personal story is of no relevance, as is mine.

  57. left0ver1under says

    “Ask your partner(s) for consent, not mythological or supernatural beings.”

    A very laudable and quoteworthy sentiment.

    But the problem is, those who resort to religion to circumvent consent are the sort of people who couldn’t get consent. Why would would they be resorting to force?

  58. left0ver1under says

    That should read:

    “Why else would they be resorting to force?”

    Blame the PEBKAC for that one.

  59. piero says

    I agree. My personal story is of no interest to anyone except me. Does that mean I cannot express an opinion?

    I believe in trust and commitment. I cannot imagine how that can be achieved in a short-term relationship. I don’t want to run the risk of having being used as a disposable dildo, not to make my partner feel I’m using her as a disposable inflatable doll.

    Perhaps I’m too old-fashioned. I’m 55 now, too old to adapt myself easily to the new sexual paradigm, if you will. Perhaps I’m an idiot: perhaps I should betray my wife and start a life of swinging (what an old-fashioned word!). But I feel no need to do it. In fact, I’m slightly disgusted by the thought.

    You took issue with my assertion that sex should be included in the context of a “genuine” loving relationship, and asked me who determines that. Well, the answer is quite simple: if your partner should suffer an accident that left him/her paralized from the waist down, would you stand by him/her or would you say “Sorry, I’m leaving. I have my needs, you know?” By the way, I’m not making this up: it’s the true story of a couple of friends of mine. She was run over by a car and broke her spine. This was 30 years ago. They’ve been together ever since. He works his ass off to cover medical bills, to buy ever more advanced wheelchairs, to build a specially designed house where she can reach every nook and cranny with a minimum of effort, etc. That to me is love, genuine, heart-wrenching love.

    Would you be willing to clean and dispose of your partners excrement when he/she is suffering form an acute case of lumbago?

    Would you be able to forgive and forget if your partner told you she finds X incredibly attractive and has fantasies with him/her?

    I don’t know what is a canonical relationship. I merely expressed my opinion, and I stand by it. I do think that sex without love is a trivial pursuit. Now shoot me.

  60. Azkyroth says

    In a more even vaguely relevant example, saying “People who call women ‘cunts’ are misogynists” doesn’t make you a misogynist for using the word in a sentence.

    You sure about that 99.9th percentile?

    (By the way, no, referring to vulvas as “cunts” isn’t misogynistic either, so you’re entirely by accident, right – it IS only misogynistic when you call someone one.)

    I’ve already mentioned several advantages of such an arrangement, including the irrepleaceble sense of fulfilment when you realize your partner is undergoing a climax.

    Doesn’t require life partnership.

    But there’s so much more, from scratching a precise spot on her back to stroking her earlobes,

    Doesn’t require life partnership.

    from kissing her neck

    Doesn’t require life partnership.

    to holding her tightly in you arms,

    Doesn’t require life partnership.

    from playing the role her favourite fantasy calls for

    Doesn’t require life partnership.

    to whispering in her ear what I’m fantasising abour right now.

    Doesn’t require life partnership.

    Have I lost something by adopting this approach to life? Probably, but mostly irrelevant things.

    The barest hint of empathy doesn’t seem irrelevant to me, but okay..

    I could not care less about extravagant sexual positions which would probably damage my spine or give me a cramp.

    Not precluded by life partnership.

    Have I lost the chance to compare my sexual experiences with my wife and with other women?

    Not precluded by life partnership.

    Surely. But I don’t care.

    You know, the fact that you feel the need to go on at such length denigrating people who haven’t made the same choices or want different things really makes it sound like you care very much, even though you kinda feel like you shouldn’t.

    There’s something much more important at stake: love and trust.

    Doesn’t require life partnership.

    And frankly, the sneering stereotypes about how non-life-partnership-sex happens and how people experience and approach it are getting really, really tiresome.

  61. Azkyroth says

    I don’t want to run the risk of having being used as a disposable dildo

    Perhaps you might try to be less of one, then?

    Perhaps I’m too old-fashioned. I’m 55 now,

    Wait, I thought you were 70.

    too old to adapt myself easily to the new sexual paradigm, if you will. Perhaps I’m an idiot: perhaps I should betray my wife and start a life of swinging (what an old-fashioned word!). But I feel no need to do it. In fact, I’m slightly disgusted by the thought.

    Which isn’t what anyone is suggesting, of course, but you have no intention of actually arguing with what anyone is actually saying, do you?

  62. piero says

    And frankly, the sneering stereotypes about how non-life-partnership-sex happens and how people experience and approach it are getting really, really tiresome.

    Maybe, but only because I’ve clearly stated my opinion on what love is about; you, on the other hand, seem to be more interested in criticizing my statements (to a rather obsessive extent, I might add) instead of offering your view on the matter. For example:

    You do not know every other person’s circumstances, what their goals are, what they would consider acceptable levels of risk in light of their goals, what measures they take to minimize such risks, what their chances are to achieve their goals etc etc, yet you go and tell them that if their relationship doesn’t measure up to *your* standards (because their relationship has to be *genuinely* loving – and who determines that?) they are better off staying virgins.

    Interesting rant. Now, could you actually declare what those goals might be, what you consider an appropriate relationship, etc.? If a life partnership is not required, could you be a little more specific and tell me how long do you usually expect a relationship to last? Are you opposed in principle to a lifelong relationship?

    And no, I’m not sure about 99,9th percentile. I was tested only once, as I said, so it wasn’t a scientifically valid measurement. If it makes you feel better, there is a chance I might be a moron.

  63. Anat says

    Now, could you actually declare what those goals might be, what you consider an appropriate relationship, etc.?

    Whatever people choose for themselves, and in consideration of the wishes of the parties involved. In other words, it is none of my business. I’m not opposed to life partnerships. I’m not opposed to other forms of relationships. I’m not opposed to people re-evaluating their situations and changing their minds, one way or the other.

  64. piero says

    Nice cop out. You should be a politician (maybe you are).
    I was asking about your thoughts on the matter. You must have an opinion of what constitutes a good relationship to you. Of course people can choose whatever form of relationship they see fit, but that’s a non-answer. For example, in view of the recent (and not so recent) sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, do you think celibacy is a reasonable choice? Do you think having an inflatable rubber doll as a partner is a reasonable choice?

  65. Anat says

    You must have an opinion of what constitutes a good relationship to you. Of course people can choose whatever form of relationship they see fit, but that’s a non-answer.

    But what suits one person doesn’t suit another. Relationships have context. Anything mutually consenting can be part of a good relationship. A marriage (or a marriage-like relationship) can be happy or miserable. Friends-with-benefits can be relaxed or anxiety-fraught. One-night-stands can be alienated or sweet. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. If one listens to one’s partner(s), if one is alert to their reaction, if one considers their needs and wants as expressed by them, it doesn’t matter how long the sides have known one another or whether they plan on staying together.

    The majority of relationships break up at some point (ie end while the former partners are all alive). How long should people be together until they ‘know’ their relationship is ‘genuine’ enough for sex by your standards? And how many people have arrived at such a stage only to break up not-too-long later?

    You called sex without love a trivial pursuit. Sex is one of many things people do to make life enjoyable and worth living. How does it compare to other things people do in company for fun? Is it more or less trivial than going jogging with a friend? Playing a game of ping-pong? Going on a stroll together? Eating out together? Cooking a meal together? Chatting about a topic of mutual interest? All potentially fun things, I doubt anyone would denigrate them or demand some standard of relationship before doing any of them. So why a different standard for sex?

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