Cads and Dads

Part of an ongoing conversation. I regret I have not time to answer in more detail: I can only give a summary of my conclusions without laying out the steps.

[info]artimaeus writes:

“In a nutshell, the traditional sexual mores glorify chastity, abstinence, and virginity because it is in the interests of both a woman and her neighbors that the man who gets her pregnant doesn’t leave her to raise her children alone. Marriage is a device to keep the father close by, increasing the odds that the children will grow up healthy and well-adjusted. People recognized that childbirth was the inevitable result of sex, and so sexual acts were discouraged, often demonized, until the man was committed to the woman and her children.”
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My comment:  Agreed, albeit there are other reasons, aside from this, to support monogamy, such as, for example, to prevent the exploitation of women by ruthless sexual predators.
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“Today, you’ll find the game has changed. Modern technology has undone the truth that once made enforcing chastity so important….”
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If paternity-identification were the only argument in favor of chastity and monogamy, yes, modern technology has made sterility (including the temporary sterility prophylactics provide) and infanticide easier and cheaper.
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“And this is not a bad thing…The blame lies squarely with the person too dumb to wear a condom….a woman can now gauge a man’s character in the bedroom…”
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This is a gratuitous assertion. In logic, a gratuitous assertion can be gratuitously denied. I would say it is a very bad thing indeed.

Even granting the argument in the light most favorable to your case, all that would necessarily follow would be that the benefit of having women able to assess their prospective husband’s copulation techniques, to allow her the freedom to dumb a limp and unsatisfying bed-athlete for once more adroit in penismanship, would have to be weighed against the cost of abandoning the traditional morality.

Keep in mind the way the human conscience works, and they way laws and customs work: these things are on a ratchet. Once it has become an over-riding social moral imperative to allow any sexual behavior, no matter how deviant, to be celebrated and applauded in public, it is not logically possible to maintain at the same time a social moral imperative that are in opposition, such as upholding paternal duties toward childrearing, honoring virginity, honoring sexual innocence in the youth,  and so on (for example: http://www.popeater.com/2010/05/14/single-ladies-little-girls/?icid=main|main|dl2|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.popeater.com%2F2010%2F05%2F14%2Fsingle-ladies-little-girls%2F).
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“However, the truth is, if a woman is looking to have children, she still has every reason to be picky.”
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Without the support of the surrounding society, it would take a woman of exceptional character to avoid being exploited by an unscrupulous adventurer, no matter how picky. She, and her potential mate, even if at first with the best will in the world, are exposed to temptations to copulate out of wedlock, and form an emotional bond, before either has made the type of commitment which should logically accompany that bond.
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“Of course, lacking any real reasons to oppose the notion of sex before marriage, traditionalists must invent them, attributing every manner of social ill to society’s promiscuity.”
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I wonder how you can look at the wreckage the last two generations have wrought to our society and dismiss this as being “no real reason.” There are also abundant sociological studies showing the deleterious effects of single-parent childrearing.
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“No one will deny that bad personal choices are bad. But if somebody robs a bank, I do not blame the horrible, wealth-obsessed Capitalist society; I blame the schmuck who robbed the bank.”
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No one will deny that bad personal choices are bad. But if more than half of the people who leave money in an untrustworthy bank end up robbed and defrauded, a wise legislator makes a law forbidding fraud and robbery: and this law covers every bank, not just the unwise ones, because that is the way the law works.
A professional racecar drive can operate his vehicle safely on a modern highway at 90 mph with almost zero chance of risk; nonetheless, the speed limit is set at a lower rate, because not everyone is safe at this speed, and not everyone is safe each man going different speeds.
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“It is telling that in the dichotomy you offer between the pragmatic and the mystical, both views treat women as purely sexual beings.”
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Nonsense and piffle. You are reading some odd idea of your own into the argument. I never said anything of the kind.
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“This view of gender [sic] may have been necessary in the past, but is outdated now that childbirth and sex have been separated and a single act need not threaten social order.”
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I would argue that the correct moral conclusion from this premise is to recombine the artificial and psychologically damaging split our cultural falsely believes it had made between sex and sexual reproduction.
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“How do we best encourage men to respect woman, not as sex objects, but as individuals with whom they can make decisions, collaborate, and raise a new generation?”
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No, I do not believe you want an honest answer to that question, because an honest answer would have us to ask our grandmothers whether they were treated with more respect or less than our sisters, wives and daughters.
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“The last thing that you want to do is surround feminine sexuality with a veil of mystique and fear.”
This seems to contradict the last sentence. If I respect my father, or my flag, or the gods of my house and city, is there more respect or less if the veil of mystery and devotion and fear is replaced by cynical mercantile calculation of self-interest? The boy raised to believe women are sacred — will he have less respect or more for the fairer sex than the boy raised to believe women are sex objects in a meat market? I propose to you that those are the only two real choices.
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“If equality is what we want, openness, honesty, and freedom will take us there.”
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Pardon my cynicism, but I have seen the result of equality and openness: it means broken homes and suicide, even murder. Half the people I know are divorced, and it ruined the lives of the weakest among them, those least able to cope, and granted freedom to the strongest among them, those with resources outside the marriage to fall back on.

Please realize that, no matter what the abstract argument might be, my argument will always begin from the viewpoint of that experience. I also used to work for the newspaper, covering the crime beat. Even if you law abiding people can meddle with the most powerful forces in the human psyche, the sex drive, and play with matches and not get burnt, the strata of poorer humanity that comes to public attention only in the police gazette cannot. Looking back on my youthful indiscretions, I find that I cannot. You no doubt may be excused from obedience to law commanding wisdom in the sexual arena because of your superior brains and goodness — but I and mine cannot.

From an economic point of view, the burden of misjudgments in the sexual arena just so happen not to fall on those responsible for the misjudgment, which, most often, is the man. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, the burden falls on the unborn child, who is either killed, or given away, or raised by a teenager, or raised by a single Mom. Economists call this a negative externality, not unlike a riparian owner who enjoys fresh water and dumps his pollution on the downstream user. Even in a libertarian commonwealth, logic suggests that the burden of the misjudgment must be placed on the party whose responsibility it is. Cads are responsible for raising their kids. The only sure way to tie the responsibility to the act is to put the act offlimits to those not willing to vow the responsibility. We might claim that women bear an equal part of the responsibility, but even so they do not share the risk of pregnancy with the male, so the risk-responsibility ratio is skewed.

Perhaps you know a better quality of people than I do: all I can report is that your cheerful expectation that every-dick-for-himself dog-eat-bitch sexual anarchy will be beneficial to women and aid in their independence has proved horribly, horribly false when I consider the women I know personally, and their children.

Addendum:

Just to put this into perspective: here is the modern picture of equality and dignity for women. I did not go out of my way to find anything particularly shocking–this is what passes for the norm these days. You’ve come a long way, baby:

A long way down. I note the braless wet nipple shot at 30, the pantomime act of copulation at 1.05, the breast wiggle at 1.25, and the pouring of the wine down the breasts at 2.15. All very artistically done, and any warmblooded male seeing images this no doubt has the natural caveman urge to club his rivals to death and carry off the  woman Sabine-women style. It is a Roman part of human nature, if not Romantic.

It also inevitably leads to what can only be called erotic gluttony. That is, the young males inundated with hypersexualized images of nymphs as their normal cultural background noise have only two possible reactions: they grow inured to it, whereupon normal women with normal sized breasts and normal tastes in copulation no longer rouse the libido; or the opposite, they get stimulated by it, whereupon they learn to look upon women as a commodity or a possession. There is no mystery to the fairer sex, and no respect.  I suggest that it is not just unlikely, it is impossible, to respect women if your image of them is like unto the nubile and dank dancer in this video.

I would ask my male viewers how many, looking upon the young lady in the vid, wondered about her hopes and fears and smiles and tears, the problems she faces in her family life, job, spiritual life, as if she were the sister of some friend of yours, or the daughter of someone you respect — how many, in other words, looked at the wiggling softcore nymph that passes for family entertainment these days, and saw a human being?

Nymphs are mythical beings.  Does a boy raised in the Internet age see more nymphs or more human women?

Freedom and respect? If you say so. But we have now raised a generation of young men who have  never known a world where it was considered wrong to portray women as Playboy bunnies, Baywatch models, Hooters girls, Palmer girls: they are saturated with such images continually, and, thanks to the Internet, ubiquitously.

Second Addendum:

Another reference point to allow us a clear view of the current culture and of what is considered normal in the current culture, please note that Mr. Woody Allen, famous both for his movies and for the seduction of the underage adopted daughter of his common-law wife and/or live-in girlfriend, has publicly voiced support and sympathy for the plight of Roman Polansky, famous for his movies and for the rape and sodomy of an underaged and drugged teen, and for fleeing the country to escape prosecution.  The aura of sinister creepiness that surrounds these two old pederasts, when the incestuous creep comes to the defense of the rapist creep is nigh unnoticeable in the modern moral atmosphere.

I leave it as an exercise for the alert reader to deduce how this point pertains to the above conversation.

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[info]artimaeus does me the honor of replying to some of my statements here: http://artimaeus.livejournal.com/2892.html

As best I can tell, my argument is sufficiently unclear that [info]artimaeus spends effort answering things I did not say nor imply. This is usually the outcome when the starting axioms are radically different. Rather than spending time repeating “But I didn’t say that!” I suggest my kind interlocutor merely re-read what I did write, and, if interested in a debate, write something in return on the same topic. If we talk about two different things, that is not a debate, it merely an exchange of mutually incomprehensible opinions (which is also an honorable endevour, if that is what we set out to do.)

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