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sexuality

“Green Sex”

contraception, MARRI, sexuality, women's health No comments

Amanda Brennan, Intern

In the last few decades society has jumped on an environmental bandwagon, a green one to be exact. People are trading in junk food for organic food, companies such as Bank of America are reducing paper intake by doing more online banking, and recycling has become strategic and readily-available. The idea that was initially meant to help the environment has developed into a “Go Green” craze. The initiative has opened people’s eyes to being better stewards of both the earth and the human body. But has it been eye-opening enough? 
Ashley E. McGuire of the new women’s magazine, Verily, presents a fresh take on the subject of “Going Green” in reference to sex. In the article, Love and Living Green, the author reveals that being a good steward of the human body is not only about minding what food and drink goes into your mouth and how much you exercise, but also about realizing the importance of sexual health. McGuire describes the present trend of making more nutritious choices by avoiding foods drenched in pesticides, ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, and hormone-tainted meats. Yet, as the author points out, deadly chemicals enter women’s bodies each day by way of hormonal contraception. 
 “As Americans quasi-obsessed with eating organically–with making sure no chemicals go into our produce and no hormones into our meat–we are at the same time culturally attached to a most un-organic method of sex and reproduction,” explains McGuire. The author is not the first to bring this reality to light. Dr. Janet Smith, Chair of Life Ethics and Professor of Moral Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan,explains in Contraception: Why Not?, “We live in a culture that is beginning to realize that it’s bad to put chemicals in the air and in the water supply and food. But women are putting chemicals in their bodies day after day, month after month, year after year, to stop something that’s perfectly healthy.” McGuire notes that “over 40 percent of women aged 15 to 44 in this country [are] using some form of hormonal contraceptives.” 
The data from the Guttmacher Institute coincides with The Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s Annual Report on Family Trends. From 2006 to 2008 it is shown that 28 percent of women aged 15 to 44 used the birth control pill during sexual intercourse. The remaining 12 percent noted above in the total 40 percent must be attributed to other hormonal contraceptives such as the patch, certain IUDs, and the vaginal ring. In any case, the reality is this: destructive artificial hormones are making their way into the human body and the environment via human waste despite peoples’ attempts to lead a wholesome lifestyle. Thousands of women seek to be healthier; however, their efforts are often in vain due to the effects of hormonal contraceptives, which are believed to contribute to health risks such as high cholesterol, breast cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, high blood pressure, and blood clots. 
In order to create a healthier environment for the earth and its inhabitants, people must be aware of what they are putting into their bodies via food, drink, air, and now in the realm of sexual health. Adopting “Green Sex” and grasping the truth of hormonal contraceptives will only benefit society. So, ponder McGuire’s ending question, “As our culture increasingly embraces eating and living organically, is it time to extend this philosophy from the kitchen to the bedroom? Is it time to reconsider life’s most organic act – sex? Is it time for green sex to go mainstream?” And decide for yourself.

A Selfish Dream

family, human capital, reproductive technology, sexuality No comments
By MaryAnn McCabe, Intern
At modamily.comthey advertise that they “bring your dream to life.” They state that “[t]he desire to become a parent is why single men and women use Modamily, but there is nothing preventing the development of a relationship. Our primary goal is to create a community for great potential parents that removes the stress and pressures associated with feeling that in order to be a parent one must find a spouse first.” Facilitating this sort of relationship could permanently skew the modern American’s perception of what family is.
 
“Modamily” and its ilk only have a market have their services, in large part, because young women have been convinced to give up on motherhood. Many have sacrificed a wedding, a husband, and children – and are left to resort to online co-parenting shopping.
 
Modamily allows you to choose your preferred method of conception (natural or artificial). Hypothetically, you could have intercourse with someone whom you meet on Modamily and believe would make a great co-parent. You might repeatedly “try” and fail to conceive. A man who has had a vasectomy (or STDs!) could potentially use the site for the sole purpose of finding ready sexual partners. This is a legitimate possibility, but the site does not protect against it. Modamily states that it “DOES NOT CONDUCT BACKGROUND CHECKS OR OTHERWISE SCREEN USERS OF THE WEBSITE IN ANY WAY.” The possibilities are both endless and terrifying.
 
Women’s peak fertility window is short (ages 22 to 26). Work, however, isn’t going anywhere. It is okay to press the “pause” button on work. Furthermore, while many women think raising children is a waste of time, a stay-at-home mother’s work contributes a lot to society. James J. Heckman, who is considered to be among the ten most influential economists in the world, wrote a paper titled Formulating, Identifying and estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation.  It identifies the scale of factors by estimating their effects on adult outcomes. Parental inputs have different effects at different stages of a child’s life. When a person leaves college to enter the workforce, there is a significant difference between someone whose parents invested a lot of time in them versus someone whose parents did not. There is a roughly thirty percent increase on earnings for young men and women graduating college whose parents invested their time in them. The median personal income is roughly $32,000.Thirty percent of $32,000 is $9,600. That figure is staggering! It means that if parents take their time and invest it in their child, he/she comes out of the college running with an average of $9,600 more annually then his/her peers! Stay-at-home mothers are at a particular advantage when it comes to investing time in their children.
 
In the end, Modamily’s purpose is to facilitate a selfish dream. They are selling a solution to childlessness that is ultimately harmful to all concerned.  As women we need to take personal responsibility for our fertility and decide whether it’s truly worth it to put off having children in order to pursue quick success at work.
 
For more on the importance of intact family life, visit www.marri.us.

Huffington Post on the Male “Need” to Cheat

commitment, family, MARRI, marriage, men, monogamy, pornography, sexuality No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

The Huffington Post’s Vicki Larson writes:

Monogamy is failing men.

Not only is it failing them, but it’s a “socially compelled sexual incarceration” that can lead to a life of anger and contempt, or so says Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England’s University of Winchester and author of the provocative new book, The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating (Oxford University Press, $49.99).

Cheating, however, serves men pretty well. An undiscovered affair allows them to keep their relationship and emotional intimacy, and even if they’re busted it’s a lot easier than admitting that they wanted to screw someone else in the first place, he writes.

In his study of 120 undergraduate men, 78 percent of those who had a partner cheated, “even though they said that they loved and intended to stay with their partner.” Contrary to what we may think, most men aren’t cheating because they don’t love their partner, he says; they cheat because they just want to have sex with others. And society shouldn’t pooh-pooh that.

Monogamy’s stronghold on our beliefs—what he calls monogamism—brings ostracism and judgment to anyone who questions or strays from its boundaries. That doesn’t make sense to Anderson, who wonders why we stigmatize someone who has a fling more than couples who divorce—throwing away a marriage rich in history and love, upsetting their kids’ lives—over something like sex.

Monogamy isn’t the only “proper” way to be in a relationship, and he says it’s time that society finds “multiple forms of acceptable sexual relationship types—including sexually open relationships—that coexist without hierarchy or hegemony.” It’s especially important for today’s young men, for whom monogamous sex seems more boring than in generations past because of easy premarital sex and pornography.

I’m dubious, to say the least, about Anderson’s research. His study consisted of interviews with 120 undergraduate males, a rather bizarre sample for a study of monogamy and commitment. The article itself is too long to address point by point, so I’ll say just two things:

1. Anderson writes, “Humans are largely lousy at controlling our bodies’ desires. We say we don’t want to eat that Snickers bar, but we also really do want to eat it. We eat it, we feel guilty about it, and afterwards we promise ourselves not to eat one again; but we nonetheless do.” His analogy is positively ludicrous. Marriage is not a diet. Marriage is a covenant. And whereas the occasional candy bar will not destroy the human body, the violation of the necessary marital commitment to fidelity will absolutely destroy a marriage. Furthermore, the difficulty that self-denial poses is no reason to completely eschew the discipline of fidelity. And though Anderson rationalizes that the sex is “just sex” and not an emotional relationship, the reality is that the divorce of sexual relationship from emotion and intimacy is deadening, when it is not impossible.

2. “Premarital sex” is, as the author says, “easy” to get. Pornography damages not only individuals’ perceptions of monogamous, married sexual relationships, it damages actual people. (For more on the harms of pornography, see the MARRI synthesis paper “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family, and Community”). The fact remains, though, that married persons enjoy the most sexual fulfillment. Don’t believe me? Check the following resources: Robert T. Michael, et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1994), 124-129; Edward O. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 364, table 10.5; Andrew Greeley, Faithful Attraction: Discovering Intimacy, Love and Fidelity in American Marriage (New York: Tom Doherty Association, 1991), see chapter 6 (as cited in Glenn T. Stanton, “Why Marriage Matters”).

What do you think? Do men need to cheat? Is monogamy an unrealistic and unnatural demand to apply to a partner?

More on Chastity: Sex by the Numbers

feminism, Hollywood, marriage, sexual revolution, sexuality, women No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

If you recall from my blog post on the romantic comedy “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” the characters’ number of past sexual partners doesn’t figure largely in the overall plot of the story. I was surprised, however, to read a few days ago about a film whose storyline is entirely based around the issue.

Meet Ally Darling, the fictitious star of What’s Your Number?. Ms. Darling is, as the tagline says, “looking for the best ex of her life.” The film’s trailer shows her out with a group of girlfriends when one announces that 96 percent of American women who have had twenty or more sexual partners will be unable to marry. We’ll flash back here to data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth (which we also cited in the blog post mentioned above).
The data is pretty telling: Only 18-20 percent of women with Ally’s sexual history are able to marry stably. The problem is, the film won’t show this. Perhaps her wedding is shown at the end of the flick in a happy montage of photos, as in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” but what happens after the credits are done rolling and the catchy music is off?

Even worse than the apparent trend of portraying fantasy in movies as reality is the fact that many women apparently still don’t believe that sexual history or chastity matter at all when it comes to future happiness. I actually first heard about “What’s Your Number?” from the blog Feministing. According to the author of the post that covered the movie,

[T]he bottom line is if women are upset about how many people they have had sex with, it is either because the sex has been terrible or because of external social pressure and faux-moral judgement [sic]. Despite what the anti-sex set may believe, how much sex you have today, does not impact your ability to be in a successful relationship later” [emphasis added].

What do you think? In light of the data above, what can we do to share the importance of preserving intimacy for marriage?