Monday, June 13, 2005

Sex Is Destiny: The Freudian Right

Friday over at TAPPED, Garance Franke-Ruta observed some gleanings from that universally-respected think tank, Primetime Live:
"...let's remember that, even though women are more broadly socially liberal than men, their liberalism is a form of tolerance, not libertinism. Overall, women are much more behaviorally conservative than men -- they have fewer sex partners, start having sex later, are less likely to do drugs, commit crimes, etc. -- and their greater tolerance is an outgrowth of an ethos of personal restraint that respects and is sympathetic toward the autonomy of others, not necessarily out of a progressive political mindset. Men, meanwhile, are much more judgemental of others, even while being personally adventurous themselves (which is how you wind up with creatures like Bill O'Reilly of falafel fame).
ABC's Primetime Live reported some interesting differences between the sexes when it comes to what are in political circles known as values questions:
Women are more conservative about sex ..."
There follows numerous stats on the views of men and women toward aspects of sex, proving her point, including that women are less sexually adventurous, think there's too much sex on TV, care less for pre-marital sex, and spend less time in/on sex chat rooms and websites. She continues:
"No great surprises there, but how could all of this not have some kind of political implications in an era where the culture is a matter for political contestation? Maybe it just takes until they have kids for women's greater conservatism on values questions to overide their greater tolerance and swing them over to the GOP side. But their greater conservatism is there from the get go."
"Greater conservatism on values questions"? You mean, like war? Child hunger? Abortion? Job security and fair wages? On each of these things women are generally more liberal than men, and none of it has anything to do with sex. To assume that, because a woman is more conservative sexually it is therefore an indication of her general political temper, is to ignore the roots of that sexual conservatism. When sexuality is used as a weapon or method of exploitation against you, when you grow up being told to be wary of the predators of the opposite sex who may hurt you sexually, emotionally, or physically if you let down your guard, the resulting "sexual conservatism" is merely common sense. It does not automatically extend to the rest of your life and outlook.

Didn't we spend years trying to get away from the idea that a woman's sexuality determined her entire personality? Yes, I avoid porn sites and think there is too much sex on TV, but I'm about as liberal as they get. And I became even more progressive after I had a child.

I understand the desire to get a handle on how the world works by trying to fit difficult problems into pre-fabricated pegholes, but rather than clarify and explain, this kind of summing up just helps maintain the fog of confusion.

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