Is religion hurting our sex lives?

Tough question, eh? As the days of secularism are dawning, more research is being done to look at the relationship between unhealthy sexuality (something I often refer to as sex negativity) and religious belief. In light of the research, there is compelling evidence to suggest that when religion is in the picture, our sex lives are more likely to be unenjoyable and/or unhealthy. Let’s take a look.

The guiltiest religions
A study done last year on the relationship between religion and sexual guilt was able to stratify religions according to how guilty its members feel after having sex. An important part of this research was that between all of the religious participants and nonreligious participants, they found that everybody had the same amount of sex. What varied was how much guilt they felt afterward.

FELT THE MOST GUILT: Mormon (8.2/10)
Jehovah’s Witness
Pentacostal
Seventh Day Adventist
Baptist
Catholic (6.3/10)
Lutheran
Agnostic
FELT THE LEAST GUILT: Atheist (4.7/10)

Those who had left their religion experienced a significant improvement in their sexual relationships. As the chart shows, even those who do not use a god to govern their lives (agnostics/atheists) still feel a degree of guilt, perhaps indicating that we are all subject to the oppressive values and sex negativity of influential religions. Religious belief effects us all, even if we don’t want it to.

Religious upbringing
Research also suggests that nonreligious households more often yield happy, healthy, sex positive child rearing. This is not surprising; the fact of the matter is that the religious right in America is typically anti gay marriage, anti woman’s choice, anti masturbation, anti safe sex/birth control, and anti sex health education. An example of each is provided in the links.

Let’s look at the data:

Shamed or ridiculed for masturbating
In a religious household: 22% | In a nonreligious household: 5%

Strong guilt over a specific sexual desire
In a religious household: 80% | In a nonreligious household: 26%

Source of sex education
In a religious household: more likely to be from porn
In a nonreligious household: more likely to be from parents

Researcher Darrel Ray commented:

“Our data shows that people feel very guilty about their sexual behaviour when they are religious, but that does not stop them: it just makes them feel bad. Of course, they have to return to their religion to get forgiveness. It’s like the church gives you the disease, then offers you a fake cure.”

Here’s a controversial thought: perhaps its time for us to start being more critical of what organized religion actually does for us–both inside the bedroom and out.

8th grade Hooters excursion?

I have to ask.

Apparently a group of 8th grade Pennsylvanians ended up at Hooters for lunch during their field trip this week.

So far, no shit has hit the fan. Big surprise. Seriously. This seems like something conservative types would throw a fit about.

I’m not so sure I would personally be upset as a parent. At least, not for the reasons other people might be. I hypothesize (since, alas, I am not a parent) that the sexual aspect of Hooters would not be a problem–you can find “sexier” things on TV. EDIT: To be clear, sexiness/boobs/women are not a big deal, especially for 8th graders. In fact, this sort of experience might be another useful tool to talk to my kid about sexuality and sexual expression.

However, I do have a problem with supporting Hooters as a company. It’s not sexuality itself that’s at issue, it’s the type of sexuality. The company has been involved in many degrading and disempowering practices toward their female workers and company authorities have been tangled in a slew of lawsuits for sexual harassment. Reputable chain strip joints generally have better track records–perhaps because their purposes are more explicit. Further in my distaste, the premise of “Hooters” is body negative and sex negative (pairing large breasts with attitudinal stereotypes required for employment, creation/encouragement of body hierarchies, encouraging gender hierarchies, reinforcement of women’s bodies as objects of sex in menial labor positions etc) as can be seen in the 3 in-text links above. IMO, this is not an empowering expression of sexuality and thus is not a company I want to support. My dollars are political and I can see myself being a bit irritated that the school would facilitate the financial validation of this kind of company through my kid.

How would you folks react if you were one of the parents?

Offended by my shirt?

I have a vulva on my shirt.

Why? Well, I love vulvas. But I also teach people about them, and the shirt is for a sexual health organization I’m a part of. As you can see, it’s not a huge, graphic picture of a vulva. Just a small, contained vulva within the circle of the symbol for “female”.

The shirt itself has so far proven itself to be a fabulous teaching tool…except in one incident. I was wearing it downtown yesterday, and an older woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked me why I needed to feel the need to wear a shirt with a vagina on it.

My instinctive response was, “Lady, it’s not a VAGINA it’s a VULVA. Get yo shit straight!”

My actual response was different (yay thinking before speaking). I told her that I love vulvas, and that I also teach people about them.

She told me that regardless of my love for vulvas, my shirt is unnecessarily obscene. Then she walked off. She never gave me a chance to respond.

So, lady, if you’re out there somewhere, I just wanted to tell you…

My vulva isn’t obscene. And neither is a cartoon of it.

It never ceases to surprise me how many women support the war that is waged on bodies. You’d think they would have had enough of the bullshit. For the 2094382039420394820394th fucking time, there is nothing shameful about a naked body nor any of its individual parts. We all have ‘em people.


there’s no shame in toes
there’s no shame in feet
there’s no shame in calves
there’s no shame in knees
there’s no shame in thighs
there’s no shame in buttocks
there’s no shame in hips
there’s no shame in tummies
there’s no shame in backs
there’s no shame in shoulders
there’s no shame in necks
there’s no shame in arms
there’s no shame in fingers
there’s no shame in ears
there’s no shame in eyes
there’s no shame in mouths
there’s no shame in hair
there’s no shame in BREASTS and
there’s no shame in VULVAS
.

One step at a time.

“We Waited”: Online Dating For Virgins?

I recently stumbled across a dating website exclusively for virgins called wewaited.com.

Dating websites are an interesting relationship platform that is rapidly gaining momentum. In 2009, 17% of couples who got married met online. And for good reason, online dating has the magical ability of weeding out a lot of deal-breaking crap right from the beginning (beliefs, opinions, lifestyle, future plans, interests, etc). In the case of “We Waited”, they weed out based on…..sexual experience. For some reason, situating compatibility based on the quantity of sexual experiences seems a little weird. Why would you want to homogenize your dating pool in such a way? It seems like you’d be missing out on a lot. Then again, if never having had sex is super important to you, then I guess it’s not so bad after all.

For this reason, I was initially intrigued and happy to know that such a thing exists. However, when I started reading more into the site….I’ll be honest, it got a little weird.

For starters, the website gives pretty shitty advice to teens:

Select your friends based on whether or not they’ve had sex? Uhhh…what? Yeah, that’s a real positive approach to friendly relationships, judge them by their sex lives. *facepalm* And what’s up with the “we’ll be waiting for you” line? Surely even their virginal consumers would find that mildly creepy?….

It gets more intense. “We Waited” supports the premise of their site with the assertion that “most teens wish they had waited”, but there is no data on their “source” website to back it up. Derp. Anyone can make any assertions they want, we’ve all pulled bogus out of our ass at least once. Hence, no factual evidence, no credibility. However, even if there was data to support it, a high percentage of regret should not signal that teens should just shut down their own sexuality and pretend it doesn’t exist until they’re married. It should signify that teens are not being given the proper tools to assess their sexuality on an emotional level. Physically, they’re ready to get down. Hormones are raging and their bodies are fully capable of enjoying sex. However, our culture has stunted the emotional growth that should come with sex by using all of these crappy fear mongering attitudes, like the ones “We Waited” has.

Why not help teens to make informed decisions so that their biological instincts are socially efficient? Why not open the conversation up and allow teens to think about when it’s appropriate to have sex? Teenagers are NOT stupid or inept, and we must stop treating them as such. I feel we need to be asking questions, listening to their answers, and providing them with the tools they need to grow into healthy sexual beings. All of this “shut it off” shit is pretty contrary to how things actually go down within our bodies.

Cherry on top for “We Waited”? Their “virgin screening system”. When I read about it on their homepage, I laughed. But then I realized that to actually test for virginity would require some kind of hymen test for women…which is, you know, fucked up and inaccurate. Plus, who knows how they’d do it for men. Polygraph? Lol.

Luckily, there’s no such approach in their “tested and reliable system” (they are pretty hardcore about its reliability on their homepage). When you read the fine print, their “tested system” basically checks “to identify people who have been married, in previous relationships, if they have children, or if they have provided false information about themselves” (FAQ page). Sounds like a background check followed by a bunch of arbitrary assumptions from the person behind the computer. I’m frightened to know how they may have “tested” this system.

I’m all about a virgin meeting site because it might be neat for those who value abstinence in a partner, but the preachy exclusivity in all of their literature really turns me off. Hopefully “We Waited” will eventually realize that their discourse falls more along the lines of “We are Assholes”.

JUSTIN BIEBER: Google’s #7 “WOMAN” on the Web?

Recently, COED Magazine has released a list of the 50 most popular women on the web according to Google search. Coming in at #7? Justin Bieber.




I personally have not been infected by “Bieber Fever”, but I do think international entertainment phenomena, especially ones based on sex appeal, are interesting to watch unfold. When I watched Bieber on YouTube in 2008, he was loved and adored by all who came upon him. Justin Bieber USED to be one of the Greyson Chance or Alex Goot types until he actually made it big. Stardom aside, since his rise to fame, Bieber has continually been at the pit of a war of fanatical teenagers vs. everyone else. Petty issues aside, one of the things that I cannot help but notice is the constant attacks on Justin Bieber’s gender and sexuality in the media. You can find one example for each below (and a whole lot more with a few minutes on Google).

1. Gender – Justin Bieber named #7 most searched woman on the web in 2010
2. Orientation -The launch of a popular website devoted to lesbians that look like Justin Bieber.

But why? Because Bieber has feminine physical features? Because he doesn’t sing songs that equate women to fast food?

Possibly, but let’s dig a little deeper. Bieber is the perfect illustration of 2 things: firstly, social attempts to control who are allowed to be, and secondly, social discomfort with pushing gender/sex boundaries. Mix the two together, and it’s no wonder sexuality and gender identity are a popular way to control behavior. By attacking someone’s sexuality, we can shame them back into the only 2 boxes that we believe are allowed: masculine or feminine, boy and girl. When somebody blurs the line between tough boy and sweet girl, especially somebody who is famous or supposed to be “straight”, shit hits the fan and everybody rushes to put them back in their place.

Grow up, COED editors. Grow up, 2nd source media outlets, America, and the rest of the world too, for that matter. I may not be into his music, but for goodness sake, LEAVE JUSTIN BIEBER’S SEXUALITY ALONE!


*For reference, other shamed international celebrities: Brittany Spears, Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga.