Planned Parenthood: “Nothing Unhealthy” about Promiscuity

Planned Parenthood recently posted an eye-opening Q&A on Tumblr in response to the question, “Is promiscuity a bad thing?”

“Unfortunately some ‘promiscuous’ women are judged in a negative way by society. But ‘promiscuous’ men are more accepted in society, which is totally unfair.”

I sympathize with the gender disparity. I really do. I personally try to be as judgmental as possible toward promiscuous men.

“So ‘promiscuity’ is a word that can refer to a whole variety of different sexual behaviors. But in general, it’s a word that’s used to judge or shame people. And, again, it’s a term that’s most often directed at women.”

Most often directed at women. Got it.

“Since the number of sexual partners you’ve had doesn’t say anything about your character, your morals, or your personality – or about anything at all really– there’s nothing bad or unhealthy about having a big number of sexual partners.”

The first half of that sentence is downright perplexing (apparently the choices you make – and the actions you take – don’t say anything at all about you). The second half is a non sequitur. Even if it were true that promiscuity is morally neutral, that doesn’t tell us anything at all about the health effects of promiscuity. Swimming with piranhas doesn’t make you a “bad person,” per se, but it can still leave you with a few missing appendages.

As far as most progressives are concerned, there’s only one reason why someone might oppose promiscuity. In order to avoid the grave sin of “slut-shaming,” they happily turn a blind eye to…well…

neil-degrasse-tyson

Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade, but it turns out that having a large number of sexual partners does lead to unhealthy side effects. Just read this study. And this one. And this one. And this one.

Having multiple sexual partners before marriage has also been linked to higher rates of infidelity and divorce.

And also, “super gonorrhea” sounds scary.

“…if you feel satisfied with and confident about your sexual decisions, you have nothing to worry about –”

Oh, word?

“– even if someone calls you or your behavior ‘promiscuous.’ And that’s also a good reason to hold off on judging or gossiping about other people’s sexual history, too.”

The “hold off on gossiping” part is okay, I guess.

It just seems strange to be getting a lecture on manners and civility from an organization that once produced a cartoon depicting an abstinence educator being drowned in a trashcan and a pro-life activist being decapitated by a giant condom:

From a business perspective, this Q&A article makes financial sense. More promiscuity = more unintended pregnancies = increased demand for abortion. And as it turns out, Planned Parenthood relies on abortions for the lion’s share of their clinical revenue.

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11 thoughts on “Planned Parenthood: “Nothing Unhealthy” about Promiscuity

  1. Matt,

    Let’s deal with the general point first – multiple sexual partners.

    “The first half of that sentence is downright perplexing”

    That’s not surprising given how your judgmental ire is determining that you read into simple words much more than is there, and that you miss significant points made clearly. So, …

    “apparently the choices you make – and the actions you take – don’t say anything at all about you”

    No, this is not the point being made and it is dishonest of you to suggest it is. This was very specifically about numbers of sexual partners. It said nothing about how those relationships might play out and so expose various aspects of someone’s character. If the relationships are open, consenting and do not cause a problem for anyone else then there is nothing in those relationships that has any moral significance.

    People who coerce people into sexual activity, or that inveigle themselves into what would otherwise be monogamous relationships, or not being careful to avoid transmitting STD’s, and many other ways of practicing multiple partner sex, would be open to criticism for their behaviour in this regard, not for having a number of sexual partners.

    “Even if it were true that promiscuity is morally neutral, that doesn’t tell us anything at all about the health effects of promiscuity.”

    Exactly. So numbers and health issues are separate issues. I take it you don’t make such a big moral deal about the multiple social encounters you’ve had where you’ve passed on the common cold or flu. It is the religious sexual stuff that’s at the core of your complaint here and nothing to do with health. The health is yet again a coincidental issue that you are taking advantage of.

    I’d be interested to know if you written any posts condemning those religious people who oppose sex education. Because in areas where absence and avoiding sex education are the only options on offer there is a greater chance of teen pregnancy, because as immoral as you see it kids will have sex. It is morally irresponsible for those that take a religiously motivated blinkered view of sex to the point where they leave their kids exposed to its dangers.

    Of course it also took some time for the Roman Catholic Church to get the immoral consequences of their moralising dogmatism, by opposing the promotion of condom use in areas of Africa where AIDS is common.

    So, let’s give the wider context of what the Q&A says:

    Since the number of sexual partners you’ve had doesn’t say anything about your character, your morals, or your personality – or about anything at all really- there’s nothing bad or unhealthy about having a big number of sexual partners.

    Some things that can be unhealthy include having sex before you’re ready, having sex to try to seem impressive or cool, having sex when you don’t want to, having sex with people you don’t like/trust/care about, and having sex without using protection – like condoms and birth control.

    If none of those behaviors sound like you, and if you feel satisfied with and confident about your sexual decisions, you have nothing to worry about – even if someone calls you or your behavior “promiscuous.” And that’s also a good reason to hold off on judging or gossiping about other people’s sexual history, too.

    Wow! That sort of makes your perplexed state perplexing in itself. How on earth could you miss that context? I’d suggest you are mistakenly letting your bias miss this, or you are dishonestly representing what was written.

    With regard to the pubmed study, then sure, kids arriving at college with a poor sex ed background are going to go wild at college. What’s new? And again, it really is a matter of education. Just as the common cold can be transmitted far less with a little education. If there’s any moral lesson it’s to be more careful about inflicting disease on others, whether STD or the common cold, or any transmittable disease.

    “Having multiple sexual partners before marriage has also been linked to higher rates of infidelity and divorce.”

    First, the morality of divorce is complex. And infidelity can depend on the relationship expectations of the individuals. Unfortunately the moralising of religion already has stamped its mark on our societies, insisting on monogamous relationships when they might not be appropriate for everyone. Individual consenting adults are free to have whatever relationships they want to have.

    But linked? How linked? What’s the cause and effect?

    How about that people of bad character engage in all sorts of activities that we don’t approve of. So they might be dishonest in many ways. People of bad character who do marry, agreeing to be monogamous, will be less concerned about infidelity. The cause and effect here is that people of bad character will be dishonest with their partners; it does not mean that decent people that have had multiple partners prior to committing to a monogamous relationship will cheat.

    Let me spell it out for you. I’ll keep this very complex relationship business simple just to make the point:

    1) Good character + Monogamous only = Few are likely to cheat. Early monogamy, such as being socially persuaded to marry when young, will lead to more poorly considered relationships, which may end in divorce.

    2) Good character + Multiple partners first + Monogamous = Few are likely to cheat.

    3) Bad + Monogamous only = Unknown. Early monogamy, such as being socially persuaded to marry when young, will not prevent someone of bad character cheating.

    4) Bad + Multiple partners + Monogamous = More are likely to cheat.

    For your point that it’s the monogamy/multiple partner issue that causes infidelity and divorce you would have to show that good people of (2) are incapable of sustaining a loving relationship after having multiple partners prior to the relationship. I don’t think you can show that. You would also have to show that in (1) and (3), the act of being monogamous will ensure people of bad character won’t cheat, or that people of good character will not find themselves in unsuitable marriages.

    The link is statistically valid, but the causal relationship is that bad people will cheat, whether they have been entirely monogamous or not.

    In (1) and (2) I say few are likely to cheat, rather than none, because that possibility of good people making mistakes is a human characteristic. There are many complex influences on good people that can make them do unsavoury things. If monogamy is such a good cause for non-cheating then celibacy would prevent Roman Catholic Priests abusing children.

    And again, the Q&A wasn’t condoning infidelity in relationships where both partners are expecting monogamy. It was simply talking about how many partners one has. Many people of good character would be quite happy to have multiple dates, and I don’t suppose the Roman Catholic Church objects to you people dating multiple partners? It only objects to them having sex?

    • Ron:
      “How about that people of bad character engage in all sorts of activities that we don’t approve of. So they might be dishonest in many ways. People of bad character who do marry, agreeing to be monogamous, will be less concerned about infidelity. The cause and effect here is that people of bad character will be dishonest with their partners; it does not mean that decent people that have had multiple partners prior to committing to a monogamous relationship will cheat.”

      My question to you is, what is bad character? What does that mean? Who decides what “bad” character is? You made the argument that religious moralizing defines infidelity as bad when it’s not even appropriate for everyone. So, how can you say that someone who “cheats” is cheating based on “bad” character? Aren’t you making a judgement about what constitutes good and bad character? Why do you get to decide what behavior is good or bad? Is that even a collective decision? Who are the “we” who don’t approve of “all sorts of activities” in which people of bad character engage? You say “they” may be dishonest in many ways. So, we can infer that you consider dishonesty a sign of bad character, and further, that you do not consider yourself to be a member of that group.

      You’re trying to say that good people won’t cheat as much and bad people will cheat more, regardless of the number of sexual encounters they’ve had. That’s all you’ve said. What constitutes “good” and “bad” though? What is the standard for recognizing that a certain person has a “good” character and is therefore not very likely to cheat, or that someone else has a “bad” character and is therefore more likely to cheat? There’s a checklist. Whether in your head, or in society norms, or in church. There’s a list of behaviors that SOMEONE has determined falls into category “A” and category “B”. You did that very thing in your own response. So, who are YOU to say what is good and bad? Your argument is reduced to relativism.

      Maybe you are arguing about impact. The more impact a behavior has on society, the more weight can be given to the judgement of “good” or “bad”. Killing animals and maintaining slaughterhouses has a huge negative impact on the environment and causes innumerable health problems. Or, is it the cost to society that determines good and bad? We spend billions upon billions of dollars on weapons and defense. Maybe you think that “law” is the moral decision maker. If it’s legal, it must be right and “good” and if it’s illegal, it must be wrong and “bad”. That’s the “might makes right” argument that tyrannical dictators have been using for centuries. The problem with “the law makes it right” theory is that if it can be changed, it isn’t authoritative as a standard of “good” and “bad”. Anyone with a big enough gun or enough followers can change the law, and indeed, millions upon millions of people of “bad” character have been eliminated with this logic. The law is relative to time, place, and circumstance.

      The truth, however, is not limited to time, place, or circumstance. The truth is absolute, and therefore, it is the truth that becomes the standard. The truth is determined by eliminating all relative, temporary designations. When you come to that which is unchangeable, universal, and not subject to opinion, belief, perception, understanding, or arbitrary implementation, that is the truth.

      Promiscuity is a display of lack of self control, whether in a man or woman. Generally speaking, women will follow the morals of men in a society, so when men become irresponsible, the women will lose their good qualities as well. I won’t go into that with you, because you obviously don’t know what is good and what is bad, or how to determine such things. You, and the murder-for-profit Planned Parenthood think it says nothing about your character to have unlimited sex partners, buy why should we accept your judgement? It is “bad” to kill, but PP encourages and supports killing innocent babies, who never had the opportunity to display “good” or “bad” character. Yet, they are murdered wholesale, for the convenience of irresponsible women and men, and for the profit of “Planned Parenthood.” Your argument is rubbish, and so are your values.

  2. Matt,

    Let’s move on to the second key point, the funding of Planned Parenthood.

    Let’s see what Rachael Larimore said in the linked article:

    “But it’s easy to calculate, as the Weekly Standard did, that Planned Parenthood gets at least a third of its clinic income—and more than 10% of all its revenue, government funding included—from its abortion procedures.

    10% or all revenue!

    But one third of its clinical income? Well, since medical procedures are expensive what would you expect? It’s not like they are into fixing broken legs, heart bypass, and tons of other medical procedures. It would be interesting to know though what range of clinical procedures they engage in that cause abortion to be one third.

    But having said that I think there is a legitimate worry when an advisory and guidance organisation makes money from the people it advises and guides. I wonder what other organisation does that. Oh yes, the Roman Catholic Church. What a surprise.

    I’ve put some questions to the Planned Parenthood organisation about their funding. I’ll get back to you if they respond.

  3. I dont think i have ever been more traumatized by a video that seem like it was meant for kids.

  4. Nothing is universally unhealthy (the very definition of “unhealthy” and what falls under it is for an individual to decide for themselves), and morality is DEFINITELY not universal/objective.

    • “Those who deny the existence of absolute truth (including moral truth) are just asking you not to accept the truth of what they’re saying. So don’t.”

  5. Lori,

    Good questions.

    First, I wasn’t choosing any particular behaviour and judging it bad, or good. I was basically saying, OK, if there are a set of behaviours that most religious and non-religious people think are bad, if we can agree on them, then I would argue that having multiple sexual partners shouldn’t one of them we judge bad. What one does in having multiple sexual partners, what accompanies that behaviour, is what can make the behaviour good or bad.

    So, for example, having multiple mutually consensual sexual encounters where the two people (or more) engaging respect each other’s’ wishes, then there is nothing at all wrong with that. But I would judge that someone who has multiple sexual partners by raping them is not engaging in good behaviour. I think most humans consider rape to be bad behaviour – but if you don’t, if you think I’m being too judgemental there, by all means come back on that one.

    I see no evidence at all for anything that is remotely like a god or gods that dictate to humans what moral codes they should live by. I see no evidence written in the cosmos, discovered and encoded in the laws of the universe that dictate human moral standards.

    All the evidence we do have points to a complex evolved set of desires. They come from our animal past. Evolution has instilled in all animals some basic desires that dictate our basic moral feelings: personal survival, personal possession (of food and space), protection of close kin.

    Later, some animals evolved more complex brains that could reason more, and in particular modern humans have brains that can reason. In that reasoning humans experience ‘the theory of mind’ – we have the idea that if we have a mind, and that mind drives us to satisfy those basic desires, then others probably have it too. The human theory of mind, and our empathy for kin, was enough to drive tribal conflict and even the conflict of nations. But some humans reasoned that it might be better all-round if we extend the scope of our empathetic and sympathetic behaviour, for the purpose of mutual benefit. War is a young man’s game, and as a very simplistic generalisation women and the old and frail prefer a peaceful life. So, moral codes evolve culturally, to satisfy our desires as individuals and as groups.

    But then comes religion, and those that like to control others make good use of it, throughout history. And it still goes on. The Roman Catholic Church and its pious members aren’t satisfied with dictating moral behaviour for themselves, they want to dictate moral behaviour for everyone. Islam is the same. These systems make noises of peace and freedom of belief, but have only ever agreed to freedom of belief when they have had to, when there has been strong opposition to them. In any state where a religion dominates that religion dictates the politics of the state.

    So, what is bad behaviour? It’s what humans don’t like to see in others and themselves. Often it’s more dictated by what they don’t like to see in others. Historically groups of humans have taken what they wanted, but don’t like it when other groups come and take their stuff. So peace accords and other agreements of behaviour are often determined by a power balance. Humans have complex and sufficiently basic animal drives to still want to take what they want, but it’s our empathy and our moral education based on the golden rule that determines whether we individually learn to live by moral codes that we invent.

    There is human variability in biologically driven behaviours. So, for example, we know that some people have aspects of the brain that dictate that they lack empathy. Those with a sociopathic tendency may act out a morally good life, but might also make selfish decisions knowingly, if they feel they will not be caught. If they and we are unlucky and they have had an unfortunate background they may be more predisposed to explicit behaviour that harms others. We will all individually sit some place on some scale that describes how empathetic we are. We are not responsible for our actions, in any flowery spiritual cosmic sense. We are simply the products of our nature and nurture in some complex and mostly unfathomable way. We are only just beginning to glimpse the biological nature of empathy and how it contributes to our morals – the science is in its early days.

    Religions in particular encode behaviours in terms of sin and the action of a freely willed soul or mind. But there is nothing but myth to sustain this notion of sin. Humans are biological systems, with brains that can reason about the behaviour of the brain-body – not only its own brain-body system but that of others.

    Humans can come up with systems of behaviour that are mutually beneficial, on balance, even if that means sacrificing some natural biological tendencies to grab what we want. Even if the notion of sin was useful in the past, it is defunct now. Human behaviour is judged good or bad by humans, individually, and collectively in various groups, whole nations, with attempts to decide on the limits of behaviour for the whole world through international organisations. This is very complex, and our individual variability, and our historic cultural variability, means that we don’t agree on all points. But we do what we can. Currently religions are carrying too much ancient baggage that isn’t applicable now – and much of it never was applicable.

  6. Lori,

    On truth:

    “The truth, however, is not limited to time, place, or circumstance. The truth is absolute, and therefore, it is the truth that becomes the standard.”

    I fine sentiment that I happen to agree with. Unfortunately it’s unattainable by humans it seems. Truth, as in true/false, is a binary dichotomy. We never have enough information to determine any absolute truth on any matter. So much so that in most cases we cannot even come close to any absolute truth. And there are many circumstances where there is no specific truth to be found, or where the framing of a question presupposes a binary true/false dichotomy that doesn’t apply.

    Mostly what we have are human assertions of truth. They may be entirely unevidenced assertions – e.g. there is a God that created the universe and is involved in our lives. They may be evidenced statements about the world – e.g. the sun appears to rise and move across the sky, but actually we are on a globe that rotates in front of the sun.

    There are occasions when we make claims to truth, but they later turn out to be wrong. It was felt to be true at one time that the sun was a disk or globe some distance away that moved across the sky each day. This was later discovered to be an incorrect interpretation of events – we declared it a false claim.

    Sometimes we make statements and claim them to be truths, when really they are just opinions or desires. So, stating that ‘having multiple sexual partners is immoral’ is true in the sense that some people declare it to be immoral, so by their opinion they hold it to be true. But there are others who say it is not immoral, and declare that it is morally neutral, a behaviour that in itself has no moral implications – though it might be a component of other behaviour that is deemed to be immoral.

    Both groups cannot be right. They are stating opinions about whether a behaviour should be included in their constructed moral codes. But without good evidence to suppose it is immoral there is no reason to suppose it is.

    It is often mistaken by the religious that because they believe something to be true it must be true. What is true is the fact that they believe it to be true; but that isn’t sufficient to ensure it is true. This starts with belief in god. It doesn’t matter how sincerely one believes there is a god, how much faith one has, this does not make it true that there is a god. For us non-believers you might as well be telling us you believe Micky Mouse created the universe. It seems to be difficult to get through to believers that your intensity of belief means nothing to us.

    The religious often like to appeal to some absolute arbiter of truth. But the Euthyphro dilemma disposes of that notion on simple grounds of reasoning. But more than that, there is no evidence for any absolute truth to morality. Morality is a human invention. Other animals alive today don’t appear to have it at all – though they may have behaviours that were precursors in the history of human morality. If I was the last human alive on earth there is nothing I could do that would be immoral. Everything would come down to my lone desires. We invent morals only in relation to each other, because they are convenient codes that help us get by without having to re-negotiate every trivial encounter or question of ownership or freedom.

    Good and bad are no more than labels for what we like and don’t like. It’s mostly about what we do and don’t like for ourselves. And to that we add our empathetic feeling that others have similar likes and dislikes. But we get carried away with ourselves and start to think that we can dictate what others should like and dislike, and that’s where religious moral prescription and proscription goes too far.

    I don’t care if a rapist likes to rape people – his likes are of no direct concern, only of indirect concern, with regard to his actions and the likelihood of him carrying out his actions. There is no ultimate cosmological sense in which rape is good or bad – no sense in which it is absolutely true that it is bad. We make it a bad behaviour because we don’t like being raped and we don’t like seeing others being raped. We don’t like it because it goes against our biological instincts to do what we want to do and not to be coerced, attacked, or have our survival threatened. In this sense many impositions of the religious are immoral – they are examples of the religious coercing us into complying with your religious views when we don’t hold them.

    “The truth is determined by eliminating all relative, temporary designations. When you come to that which is unchangeable, universal, and not subject to opinion, belief, perception, understanding, or arbitrary implementation, that is the truth.”

    I’m sorry, but that pure Rationalist rhetoric. Humans are complex material objects with evolved brains that we are only just starting to dig into. Rationalism is based on the presupposition that we have minds capable of pure reason. It seems we have complex messy brains that aren’t at all good at absolutes, or getting to absolute truths about the world. We live by evidence, empirical investigations about how the world works and how we fit in it. We don’t do that very well, but it’s all we’ve got. That’s why science is both complex and difficult, and why it is the best route to knowledge about the world – our best attempt to get at truths.

  7. Lori,

    Promiscuity and abortion:

    “Promiscuity is a display of lack of self control”

    Only if you don’t want to do it but keep finding that you are doing it. But if you like it, see nothing wrong with it, and actively engage in it, then it is a behaviour that you are actively controlling: it is an act of self-control.

    For Roman Catholic priests who want to be pious and celibate, but who give in to urges and abuse children in their care, then yes, their promiscuity is a lack of control.

    For Roman Catholic priests who are perhaps sociopathic and who actively decide to use their position of power to abuse children in their care, then their promiscuity is under their control.

    Ultimately both are products of their particular brains and their histories. In both cases we can stop the pain they inflict by exposing them and removing them from their positions. In both cases we might want to frame their behaviours in moral terms, and in both the behaviour is generally considered to be bad. The notion of sin would not be very helpful here. I suspect that in a religious culture that values the notion of sin there would be the temptation to label one as more sinful than the other, perhaps. But in practical terms the former is more likely to try to avoid giving in to the biological and psychological urges to inflict suffering on victims, so in a pragmatic sense the latter poses a greater danger. Many people would naturally be more sympathetic toward the former. But having said that, there are some sociopathic pious people who would see the weakness of the former as a greater sin – there’s no accounting for the complex moral confusion of the pious mind.

    But neither of the above compares remotely with people who enjoy short sexual relationships and have a number of them. I see no moral implications there at all.

    “I won’t go into that with you, because you obviously don’t know what is good and what is bad, or how to determine such things.”

    That’s an outrageously despicable assertion that belies all the apparent good intent of your earlier questions. Your seemingly open minded questions about morality are pre-loaded with your absolutist piety.

    “You, and the murder-for-profit Planned Parenthood..”

    Another despicable example of bad framing. Where have I ever claimed any desire for profit in this argument? This is an atrociously presumptuous statement. This is precisely what is wrong with the overly pious.

    “[you] think it says nothing about your character to have unlimited sex partners, buy why should we accept your judgement?”

    You don’t have to accept it. You are welcome to argue that it is immoral. So far you haven’t convinced me at all. Appealing to myths won’t do the trick.

    “It is “bad” to kill, but PP encourages and supports killing innocent babies”

    Personally I support the right of a woman to remove from her body anything she wants to remove, whether it’s excess fat or a zygote. The issue becomes more complex as the foetus develops a brain. The current problem is that we don’t know when the foetus begins to suffer in any sense that closely relates to adult or infant suffering; so limits are placed on abortion.

    The notion that two cells that have just come together to form the early stages of a new human, a few undifferentiated cells, are anything at all like a person, is just dumb religious myth. These early cells are indistinguishable from the many billions of cells the human body sheds every day, except in their biological function. Eventually they become a foetus with a brain; and eventually they become a baby in a womb, and eventually they become a born infant. We simply do not know how to determine when this process takes on the state of personhood to which we give rights. It’s one of those instances that does not comport to the notion of absolute truth about absolute boundaries. The problem lies deeper in issues of personhood and rights, which I’d be happy to correct you on if you wish. So we make it up; we have opinions; we make laws. That’s all it’s about.

  8. I used to be a pure atheist, and then I noticed all this feminist denial about sexual promiscuity and “slut shaming”. I’m not sure about God, but all this deception and outright lying might prove the existence of Satan.

    Or, from a more rational perspective, modern people are utterly stupid. I agree with you. Sex is dangerous, scientifically. From a risk-benefit standpoint, it makes sense to have sex with as few people as possible.

    • Rock climbing is dangerous, ‘scientifically’. Living is dangerous, ‘scientifically’ – there is overwhelming evidence that we die from it.

      Where’s the feminist denial? The feminists are making the point that women should be as free to engage in sex as men. The feminist point is that it is the slut shaming that is applied to women more than men that is the social sexist problem. What do you think they are denying?

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