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Defending the Right to Pleasure

By Eloquence in Culture
Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:31:08 PM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

Pleasure is a human right, and like all rights, it needs to be defended. The last centuries have shown the disastrous witchhunts that can result from the punishment of pleasure. But the right to pleasure is not just one of many human rights, it may be the most important one. Neurological and cross-cultural research has proven that children who are deprived of this right become violent and aggressive. Pleasure is the key to the human value system. The failure to protect it may lead us into another Dark Age of irrationalism and violence. It's already late. We need to defend the right to pleasure before it's too late.

I am the webmaster of a site on the origins of peace and violence. I started the site back in 1998, when I first read about Dr. James W. Prescott's work in Carl Sagan's best-selling science book Cosmos. Cosmos made Sagan, who died in 1996, one of the most popular scientists of America and, in fact, the world. The TV series had 600 million viewers and is the most popular science TV program ever produced, the book is beaten only by Hawking's Brief History of Time. In Cosmos, Sagan wrote (scan here):

"Mammals characteristically nuzzle, fondle, hug, caress, pet, groom and love their young, behaviour essentially unknown among the reptiles. If it is really true that the R-complex and limbic systems live in an uneasy truce within our skulls and still partake of their ancient predilections, we might expect affectionate parental indulgence to encourage our mammalian natures, and the absence of physical affection to prod reptilian behaviour. There is some evidence that this is the case. In laboratory experiments, Harry and Margaret Harlow found that monkeys raised in cages and physically isolated--even though they could see, hear and smell their simian fellows--developed a range of morose, withdrawn, self-destructive and otherwise abnormal characteristics. In humans the same is observed for children raised without physical affection--usually in institutions--where they are clearly in great pain.

The neuropsychologist James W. Prescott has performed a startling cross-cultural statistical analysis of 400 pre-industrial societies and found that cultures that lavish physical affection on infants tend to be disinclined to violence. Even societies without notable fondling of infants develop non-violent adults, provided sexual activity in adolescents is not repressed. Prescott believes that cultures with a predisposition for violence are composed of individuals who have been deprived -- during at least one of two critical stages in life, infancy and adolescence -- of the pleasures of the body. Where physical affection is encouraged, theft, organised religion and invidious displays of wealth are inconspicuous; where infants are physically punished, there tends to be slavery, frequent killing, torturing and mutilation of enemies, a devotion to the inferiority of women, and a belief in one or more supernatural beings who intervene in daily life.

We do not understand human behaviour well enough to be sure of the mechanisms underlying these relationships, although we can conjecture. But the correlations are significant. Prescott writes: 'The percent likelihood of a society becoming physically violent if it is physically affectionate toward its infants and tolerant of premarital sexual behaviour is 2 percent. The probability of this relationship occurring by chance is 125,000 to one. I am not aware of any other developmental variable that has such a high degree of predictive validity.' Infants hunger for physical affection; adolescents are strongly driven to sexual activity. If youngsters had their way, societies might develop in which adults have little tolerance for aggression, territoriality, ritual and social hierarchy (although in the course of growing up the children might well experience these reptilian behaviours). If Prescott is right, in an age of nuclear weapons and effective contraceptives, child abuse and severe sexual repression are crimes against humanity.

These results were astonishing, so I ordered the 1975 article Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence (which was reprinted by the famous Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists a few months after its original appearance in The Futurist) and read it. It became clear to me that his research, which he conducted as administrator of a program on child abuse and neglect at the renowned National Institute for Child Health and Development at the NIH, was important for various reasons:

  • The study of 400 preindustrial societies, based on one of the most comprehensive anthropological reports ever made, the Cross-Cultural Summary by R.B. Textor, gives a sample that is free from the many influences of modern civilization. Here we can really separate cause and effect and examine all possible variables of societies and their relations to each other. The Human Relations Area Files (HRAF), which were compiled by Textor et al., are, in a way, the basic parameters of humanity. We can examine all codes and see how they work, and we have control groups that do not consist only of small samples, they consist of whole societies that were watched by anthropologists of the last centuries. And the group has carefully filtered and categorized subjective accounts.
  • Prescott not only found that cultures that lavish physical affection on their infants are peaceful, he also found that the same cultures have less religious fundamentalism and "invidious display of wealth". More importantly, he found that if a culture was both violent and lavished physical affection on its infants, which was extremely rare, in all of these cases the culture repressed premarital sex. Likewise, all of the few cultures which physically punished their infants and were peaceful tolerated premarital sex. Tolerance of pleasure at all ages is, according to the cross-cultural study, a 100% predictor to adult violence.
  • Prescott's group has not only conducted research on human cultures, they have also done tests on the brains of humans and monkeys. The behavior of isolated monkeys was carefully watched, and indeed, the deprivation of physical affection caused aggression and even brain damage. Electrodes were inserted into human and monkey brains, and the stimulation of the "pleasure center" (the septal region, near the limbic system) stopped any violent or aggressive activity. Test subjects became peaceful, creative and flirtatious. Stimulation of the pain/aggression centers and stimulation of the pleasure center could never be measured at the same time.
  • Prescott has also done a survey on college students which strengthened the link between the different value systems: Those who condemned physical pleasure were more likely to approve violence against children, the death penalty, or punishment of abortion. They were more likely to think that physical punishment is necessary "to build a strong moral character", they were more likely to prefer drugs over sex, and they tended to be more politically conservative. Please keep one thing in mind when looking at these correlations: The "belief" in pleasure is not a belief like any other -- it is wired into the human brain during the mother bonding phase, and during puberty. (Several studies have shown that later attitudes on pleasure do depend on earlier experiences, but that's common sense anyway.) Any cause-effect relationship would likely be determined by these early formative experiences, and not vice versa.

At this point, I decided to put Dr. Prescott's 1975 article online. I contacted him, and he gave me permission to do so. But I did not leave it at that. I compiled a list of the researchers who have quoted Prescott. I tried to find serious scientific rebuttals. Those who contradicted Prescott did so mostly on religious grounds -- Prescott used quotes from the Bible to illustrate that the anti-pleasure attitude is deeply rooted in our culture.

The work by Dr. Prescott and his colleagues at the NIH/NICHD is among the most important of the last century. Turning it into political action may be the only way to prevent humanity from falling back into a new Dark Age of irrationalism and violence. And I am not exaggerating. In the US, anti-pleasure and anti-sexual movements are rampant, and no serious counter-action is underway. I have written an extensive article on this (German only, but many sources can be found there).

Among the cases I have encountered during my investigations: teenagers forced into "therapy" (looking at pictures while being punished with electric shocks) for being homosexual, children being treated with "aversion therapy" (smelling ammonia while looking at pictures) for touching each other sexually, juveniles being locked up for "statutory rape", which, in most cases, are sexual ralationships where the age difference is simply one year to much.

A 16-year-old girl from Oregon, a beautiful, intelligent young woman named Crystal Larkin, was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for consensual sex with a 12-year-old boy. Another 16-y-o boy was sentenced to the same sentence for having sex with a 13-year-old -- again, consensual, and he was imprisoned against the explicit will of the girl and both families. This is the result of the sex abuse scare coupled with the "tough on crime" scare, as these sentences are mandatory minimums.

In other states, large groups of kids aging from 7 to 17 having sex with each other were split up into "victims" and "offenders", half of them sent to prisons, the other half to "therapy". Again, the sexual relationships were playful and non-violent. Teenagers have been imprisoned for making photos of each other while having sex -- producing "child pornography".

The sex abuse scare itself, at least, seems to be mostly over. At its height, a witchhunt took place in America and Europe, with kindergardens and schools raided by investigators and social workers who learned soon that everyone they investigated was a victim or an offender. The "Top 10 signs that you are sexually abused" include things like headaches or "the feeling that you are different from others". The list reads nearly identically for the top 10 signs that you were abducted by aliens. Or that you have multiple personalities.

The accusations from sexual abuse therapists (and later, their victims, i.e. patients) often have destroyed entire families -- because a woman who had some problems in her marriage suddenly "discovered" that she had "repressed" memories of the most extreme & bizarre memories of abuse in her past. Thanks to the therapist for asking questions like: "Are you sure you weren't abused? Well, just for the sake of the argument, imagine that you were abused. Then we'll try to recover these memories and after 6 months, you tell me again that you weren't abused." And then it goes on like this: "Well, of all persons, who would most likely be the abuser? Your father? Yes, your father. I knew it all along. What did he do to you, did he touch your vagina? Can you see the picture now?" -- often under hypnosis or even under drugs. Again, I don't exaggerate. This has been documented by many scientists and journalists. An excellent book on the subject that should be in any humanist's bookshelf is Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria, by Richard Ofshe (a sociologist at Berkeley) and Ethan Watters (an investigative journalist).

While many courts now reject these false abuse testimonies, the therapists are still there, and have looked for new occupations--to further spread their antisexual memes. One of their favorite topics is child sexuality, where they are capitalizing on the child pornography scare. They are treating "children who molest" (sexually active children) and "educating" parents about the "dangers" of touching, hugging and, generally, pleasuring each other. Even tickling is a sin. I quote from a guide for foster parents:

Reduce or eliminate horseplay such as tickling or wrestling. While these behaviors are not bad in themselves, tickling can be coercive, and wrestling is often the starting point for more intimate behavior.


SITUATION # 5: Your fourteen year old foster daughter and twelve year old foster son are wrestling and tickling each other on the living room floor.


Step #1: Stop the Action: Tell the kids to stop and ask them to stand up.

Step #2: Define the Behavior. "You kids are wrestling in the living room."

Step #3: State the rule. "In this house, wrestling and tickling are not allowed. It might seem fun, but it can also lead to hurtful touch or even sexual touch and that is not allowed in this house."

Step #4: Re-direct the children or apply a consequence. "Since you know the rules and have chosen to break them anyway, there will be a consequence. I want you both to go to your rooms and give them an extra cleaning this week. "

In other words: If the kids don't act isolated from each other, enforce the isolation. What this leads to has been documented in many animals, from monkeys to humans. Here are photos of an isolation-reared monkey -- the respective paper by Dr. Mitchell cannot be reproduced on the web for copyright reasons.

Let me quote another article from the nineties on "children who molest" (which didn't criticize the concept at all), emphasis mine:

Thus was born the Denver area's first treatment program for pre-teen sex abusers. And Isaac said it's been as much a learning experience for the therapists as for the young clients.

They discovered that young children were using a wide range of sex acts - fondling, oral sex, simulated intercourse - TO REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY, TO FEEL GOOD.

"That was real disappointing, and kind of scary," Isaac said. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, if we don't do something to get them to make some changes at this point, by the time they're 17, no chance.'"

( Denver Rocky Mountain News, July 1 1992: "Children Molesting Children" )

The whole psychotherapy industry protects this kind of "therapists", and they are silently spreading their anti-sexual memes. For a good, although outdated summary on the subject, see: Antisexuality and Child Sexual Abuse by Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield. Read it now, it's very disturbing.

Most people from more civilized countries will view these developments with disgust, but will not understand them as the dangers they are. Prescott has clearly shown the relationship between violence, aggression, greed & irrationalism, and antisexuality as the cause of all of them.

Seen in this context, the new wave of antisexuality in America and elsewhere endangers our civilization. Those who are raised in antisexual environments will be more likely to be violent & antisexual themselves. They will be more likely to be irrational and strongly religious. They will more likely to be the kind of person that burns books and puts large sums on the heads of their authors. Coupled with economic and political problems, America is in danger of falling apart in religious fundamentalism and irrationalism, and if this happens, the whole world is in danger. On this subject, also see this article on the website, which may dispel the argument that the repression of pleasure is necessary for success.

What happened to Dr. Prescott? He was fired, silenced, his work forgotten. Only with one of the most important tools for fixing the future, the Internet, it has been possible to get the word out about his research and its implications. The cover-up of Prescott's research is the stuff for more than one conspiracy novel -- and documented on the website. He did get some financial support from Larry Flynt -- one article by Dr. Prescott in Flynt's "Hustler" was part of the reasons he was fired, since it generated a lot of publicity. This article is one of the most courageous and most powerful statements against violence against children I have ever read.

Fighting for the Pleasure Principle

As you can see, with support from others and of course Dr. Prescott's own indispensable support and help, I have invested a lot of time in documenting all of this. But it is not merely supposed to be a documentation, it should be built into a central portal where people go when they want to learn where to take action. A site to learn about things like the recent hugging bans (there are other schools who did the same) or the repression of children's sexuality, for example. And the research needs to be summarized in a much simpler fashion. People need to know what to read first. It's all too overwhelming for the average reader. Also, the lack of a supporting community (besides peacelist) makes it hard for people to judge the importance of the scientific results presented there. And it reduces the motivation to visit the site daily.

What I would like to see is a site that combines the value of the research that is already there with the power of a self-supportive portal like K5. Unfortunately, while I have invested countless hours in digitizing, proofreading and organizing the material on the site, my current priority is the preservation of freedom of speech on the Net, and I can't invest as much time in violence.de as I would like to.

We -- the few people behind the site, including Dr. Prescott -- need volunteers. Someone who can set up a new server for this, someone who can install Scoop. Someone who watches the media for interesting cases to report on the site while it's still young. Someone who helps in converting the material that is there. And even more importantly, lots of material that has been scanned has not been proofread yet -- we need help for that, too. If we work together, we can build a site that gets thousands of visitors per day. There is a need for someone to step up to stop the sexual hysteria and counter it with scientific facts. We could build a pro-pleasure portal that reports daily, about pleasure rights violations around the world.

People have been ignoring the right to pleasure and left it to pornographers like Flynt to fight for it. If we continue to ignore it, it will eventually be taken away. The consequences would be fatal for all of us. Because by denying children pleasure and giving them hate instead, as is the case in so many schools and homes today, you can turn them into monsters. Not necessarily people who will kill in violent outbursts. People who burn libraries. People who promote think that a picture is an insult to their strong and mighty God -- that even the face of a woman must be veiled because it is an obscenity. People who see children as asexual objects. Businessmen who think that diamond mines in Africa are worth every drop of blood that needs to be spilled to get them. People who can send other humans into gas chambers without feeling anything, because their brain isn't wired to feel affection for other people, for lack of childhood bonding.

Eventually, if our lack of affection for each other gets too high, we will no longer be able to maintain a stable, cooperative society. Ironically, while creationists blame violence on "monkey" behavior, the bonobo chimpanzees have built a society where literally no serious aggression exists - conflicts are solved with various sexual techniques. This has been documented by various researchers (a good book to start would be Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape by Frans De Waal, which includes many beautiful pictures as well).

I am not trying to convert anybody. This is biologically impossible in most cases. The S-SAD theory on affectional deprivation is a scientific one, not a religious belief or a New Age cult; a remarkable scientific theory even by the rigorous standards of a Carl Sagan. If you have verified Prescott's claims and think there is truth in them, your support would be greatly appreciated. If you feel we can and should work together, you can contact me by e-mail or post below. I have also created a new mailing list called peacelist-tech for the sole purpose of organizing work on a new, better website.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Will you help me in starting a pro-pleasure project?
o Yes, your arguments are convincing - let's start! 21%
o Maybe, I still have to check all those links 22%
o No, pleasure is not necessary for human development 6%
o No, repression of pleasure is necessary for human development 9%
o No, I have more important projects to work on 38%

Votes: 101
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o origins of peace and violence
o scan here
o Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence
o the researchers who have quoted Prescott
o German only
o sources
o Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria
o photos
o Antisexual ity and Child Sexual Abuse
o this article
o documented
o article
o hugging bans
o peacelist
o Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape
o e-mail
o peacelist- tech
o Also by Eloquence

Display: Sort:
Defending the Right to Pleasure | 104 comments (74 topical, 30 editorial, 0 hidden)
reading for pleasure (1.88 / 9) (#6)
by danny on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 08:22:40 AM EST

My thoughts on reading erotica...

[900 book reviews and other stuff]

One thing interested me there (none / 0) (#102)
by deaddrunk on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 11:50:42 AM EST

Inter-racial sex was listed among far worse things such as incest and suicide. Why? What makes inter-racial sex a taboo?

[ Parent ]
People need love not pleasure (3.85 / 20) (#9)
by LordHunter317 on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 08:41:51 AM EST

Love != to pleasure.

The person in my life who loves me the most, also places me through the most trials, the most tribulations, gives me my hardest challenges, and has the generally capability to make my life miserable. Partly because I love them enough to do whatever they ask of me. Also, because the reward I get in return is more worth it then all the pain I have ever, and will ever go through.
Is all the pain pleasure? Heck no, I don't like getting hurt at all. Is it worth it? Oh Yes, all the love is more than worth it.

I do agree with the physical contact part. Children need physical contact, but not sexual contact. That's completely different. I hug/cuddle with lots of my friends of the opposite sex, but the feeling is mutual, and nothing more will ever happen. Besides, there is other problems with teenagers having sex (not ready for pregancy, possibly of STDs, mental/emotional attachment in such a relationship).

Either way, good article, but your idea is way off the mark.
Man cannot be wonderful. Man can only lift big rocks and grunt - Me to Ex-girlfriend
Let's not try to define love. :) (4.00 / 7) (#23)
by gauntlet on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:35:48 AM EST

I don't think the author is off the mark. There are a lot of very strong reactions to this article, but they are to specific parts of this article that I feel are being misconstrued. Nowhere did the author say that kids should have sex. Kids don't need to have sex. But there's a difference between explaining sex to your child, telling them how it is done safely, and telling them that you would prefer if they did not try it until they were much older, and society saying "Don't have sex, or we'll put you in jail."

We need to expose kids to sex, so that they understand it. That's not the same as pimping them off.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Huh? (3.57 / 14) (#15)
by farmgeek on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 09:45:01 AM EST

Let's see if I can follow your reasoning.

* Physically affectionate societies are non violent.
* Unless they repress pre-marital sex (which despite your assertations, does not seem to be the case in the US).
* Pre-marital sex = children having sex.

Conclusion: Children should be having sex to ensure that we live in a peaceful society.

The leap of reasoning required to assume that pre-marital sex requires that the participants be children completely eludes me. I also have to question the repeated use of the word pleasure when you are in fact referring particularly to sexual pleasure. Then there's the sentence: "Because by denying children pleasure and giving them hate instead, as is the case in so many schools and homes today, you can turn them into monsters.", which makes the argument that keeping children from having sex with one another before they can understand the ramifications is equivalent to hate.

All in all, I really have to question your reasoning, especially when you throw in the last paragraph where you proclaim that you are not trying to change anyone's mind.

My different interpretation... (4.20 / 5) (#25)
by gauntlet on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:54:10 AM EST

Physically affectionate societies are non violent. Yes, I got that from the article.

Physically affectionate societies can be violent if they repress pre-marital sex. Well, I think this was actually stated (at least originally) as adolescent sexuality. However, I'd imagine that societies that discourage adolescent sexuality would also discourage pre-marital sex, so I can accept this.

Pre-marital sex = children having sex. This I don't see at all. Nowhere does the author say that kids should be having sex. What the author does say is that kids should not be under penalty of prison sentances for expressing a perfectly natural and benevolent desire for physical touch, even if it is sexual touch.

The assertion that the auther is referring particularly to sexual pleasure is not supported. The studies were done on physical affection lavished on infants, as well as adolescent sexuality. Your fixation on the sexual aspect of the study would seem to belie the fact that on average, we are tought to fear sex, because it can kill you, and if it doesn't kill you, it will make you pregnant, and if it doesn't make you pregnant, no one will respect you if you do it, or (unless you wait to get married) you will go to hell, and even if none of those things happen, you can be sent to jail.

Sex is just as dangerous as, say, guns. I played with guns when I was a kid. I knew what shooting someone was. My parents explained how they worked, and what it meant to shoot someone, or something. There was no stigma associated with my knowing these things, so they felt free to tell me about them. If they had felt, "If my kid knows about guns then he's going to tell all the other kids about guns, and then I'll have all of the PTA on my ass for exposing my kid to adult material, and in turn exposing their kids," then who knows whether or not I'd be packing right now.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Evidence for my interpretation. (3.75 / 4) (#40)
by farmgeek on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 02:27:15 PM EST

From the article:

"Let me quote another article from the nineties on "children who molest" (which didn't criticize the concept at all), emphasis mine:".

I'll skip the quoted intro and go to the second quoted paragraph:

"They discovered that young children were using a wide range of sex acts - fondling, oral sex, simulated intercourse - TO REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY, TO FEEL GOOD."

The quoted article is clearly talking about a program for pre-teen sex abusers.

After the quotes from the article the author goes on to criticize the therapists who set up the program:

"The whole psychotherapy industry protects this kind of "therapists", and they are silently spreading their anti-sexual memes. For a good, although outdated summary on the subject, see: Antisexuality and Child Sexual Abuse by Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield. Read it now, it's very disturbing."

The third from the last paragraph states:

"People have been ignoring the right to pleasure and left it to pornographers like Flynt to fight for it. If we continue to ignore it, it will eventually be taken away. The consequences would be fatal for all of us."

Pornographers, are the ones fighting for the right to "pleasure", which in this sentence pretty much has to be construed as sexual in nature. In the very next sentence we have the tie in with children:

"Because by denying children pleasure and giving them hate instead, as is the case in so many schools and homes today, you can turn them into monsters."

If you take the time to carefully read the article, you will see that it focuses almost entirely on children's sexuality.

[ Parent ]
Sex & Guns (none / 0) (#89)
by prs24 on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 07:37:22 AM EST

Sex is just as dangerous as, say, guns. I played with guns when I was a kid. I knew what shooting someone was.

Go look at the europeans. Less guns, more sex. Less murders, less pregnancies.

Maybe they've got a point?

[ Parent ]
physical affection must be sex? (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by coffee17 on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 05:13:48 PM EST

There can be a fair amount of affection while still keeping this fairly "innocent". Example, my best female friend in highschool and I. We'd feel comfortable using the other as a human pillow, as well as a fair amount of tickle fights, sometimes with some light biting. But we were always just friends, no big "O", no kissing, and the only time we hugged was at an acquintance's funeral.


[ Parent ]

A Few Comments (3.75 / 4) (#18)
by lucas on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:12:31 AM EST

I didn't want to vote this down because it was obvious you had spent a lot of time with it, but you use a lot of politically-loaded words, often perjoratively, that turned me off to it.

Instead of the ridicule and destruction of all opposing beliefs, you should be convincing the audience why they might want to modify their ideals... and not just those who oppose you, but those who don't (or can't) see the forces you're advocating.

Why is this important? Well, for instance, I was born in 1976, so the "pleasure conspiracy" stuff of my parents' hippie era is foreign to me. You may have been alive at this time and are bringing the sort of baggage of stuff that was going on at the time to the article... I don't know.

So, I really see no limits as to the pleasure one can have and I don't see a limitation or anti-sexual movement. It is amusing to see research advocating pleasure, as (last I checked) hedonism and pleasure-seeking is alive in well in the US, at least.

I can understand people getting upset after Friedrich Nietzsche advocated pleasure in the stiff-lipped 19th century Victorian era... or the ruckus caused by counterculture icons like Jim Morrison advocating Dionysian hedonism after the stifling post-war 50's and early 60's, but I would be highly amused if there were an anti-pleasure movement today, as it would be a highly naive and little-supported effort.

Pleasure conspiracy (4.20 / 5) (#27)
by gauntlet on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:05:50 AM EST

Is there an anti-sexual movement in the US? No, there is not. It is an ingrained cultural bias. For instance, a certain teen pop star marketed herself as being a virgin. Why? To obtain the support of parents of her target market. In order for her to be able to sell sexual innuendo, ("hit me baby one more time") she had to publicly denounce pre-marital sex. What does that tell you?

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Britney Spears? (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by lucas on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:25:38 AM EST

I'm not sure sure she *had* to say it, but it made people think of her more sexually naive... more appealing to younger and older men. It's a publicity stunt, like any other corporate recording star.

Denouncing premarital sex is only to satisfy a small, loud segment of parents out there who actually are stupid enough to fall for it.

It also gives the impression that she is persecuted for her sexuality, which appeals to young girls. There is a marketing term for the archetype they are appealing to, but I can't remember it right now.

If you believe that was done because of cultural norms, I would disagree... that is what they want you to believe, because it makes the "star" seem like she is "breaking out of the mold" and covering new ground. It's marketing. Period.

[ Parent ]

Are you kidding me? (4.25 / 4) (#65)
by naasking on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 11:36:59 AM EST

There are all kinds of examples of this (irrational) sexual fear in our culture. If I had more time I would dig up links to articles. The one that immediately comes to mind: kindergarten children have been expelled for kissing under the table. Not the girl, but the boy. Why? It wasn't forced. Both parents thought it was the most ridiculous thing they had ever heard(being expelled, not the kiss). Is that ludicrous or not?

You're right that sexuality and pleasure seeking overall is alive and well, but I'm increasingly seeing a growth in anti-sexual sentiment.

[ Parent ]
"Pleasure" is too simplistic (3.85 / 7) (#20)
by kostya on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:17:58 AM EST

This argument comes in many different forms, but it boils down to this: humans evolved from animals, animals are big pleasure/pain state machines, therefore humans work that way too.

The argument gets very sophisticated (dumbed down evolutionary psychology) or just plain crass ("If I want to, who are you to deny me?"). But it is still basically the same. I'm sure many of you would be astonished to find this is an age old argument :-) Christians will remember 1 Corinthians 6, as Paul quoted the arguments of the day: "Everything is permissable for me" and "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food."

The question I have is this: is it really that simple? Is every desire for pleasure I have guaranteed the right to satisfaction? What would life REALLY look like if we lived in such a way (i.e. where life's goal is pleasure)? Would it be a viable way? What would be different about our society?

I think the article should be resubmitted as two different articles. The author mentions the right to pleasure, but the author only talks about sex. Sex alone is fraught with all sorts of shades and connotations that make the discussion difficult. I'd like to see an article that just discusses a philosophy, a world-view of hedonism (since that is basically what you are arguing for). Let's debate the sex things in a different thread.

Veritas otium parit. --Terence
Hell yeah, the point is pleasure. (3.20 / 5) (#29)
by gauntlet on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:12:32 AM EST

The question I have is this: is it really that simple?
Hell yeah. :) Pleasure is a million different things. Doing something challenging gives me pleasure, seeing something beautiful gives me pleasure, making love to my wife gives me pleasure. My question is what would life be like if the point weren't "the pursuit of happiness".

The author is not advocating hedonism, and I don't know where all you <flamebait>sexually repressed</flambait> people are getting that idea. The author is saying that our willfull disregard for the natural inclination toward physical touch and by extension sexual pleasure in the formative years of life results in a violent and repressive society. I challenge you to find the spot in which the author says "Kids should be having sex, 'cause they wanna." The author says "Kids should not be sent to jail for having sex," but that's not the same thing.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

the underlying presuppositions I don't agree with (3.80 / 5) (#41)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 02:42:43 PM EST

This article is based on two presuppositions I do not share.
  1. Sensual touching is equivalent to sexual touching. Adolescent sexual behavior is made to be parallel to affectionate touching (hugging, carressing) of infants. This reduces sexuality to being merely sensual touch. This makes all sensual touch to be equivalent to sensuality.
  2. Sex is entirely about pleasure. The article does not address that sex is about much more than simply pleasure.
I believe that these two presuppositions also feed into Gauntlet's proposed challenge.
I challenge you to find the spot in which the author says "Kids should be having sex, 'cause they wanna." The author says "Kids should not be sent to jail for having sex," but that's not the same thing.
The author did, in fact, imply that children ought to be having sex. The implication of the theory that preventing children from having sex leads to societal violence implies that society would theoretically be better if children were not prevented from having sex. The article seems to pressuppose that the urge to have sex is irresistible in adolescents. Most adolescents are still children.

I would also side with Kostya on the definition of pleasure. The article treats sensual pleasure as if it were identical to the pursuit of happiness. This is not the case. Intellectual and emotional pleasure are entirely different beasts than sensual pleasure. In fact, one can experience sensual pleasure at the same time that one is experiencing emotional and/or intellectual pain. The issue is not as simple as happiness == pleasure.

The author is not advocating hedonism, and I don't know where all you <flamebait>sexually repressed</flambait> people are getting that idea.
If one defines pleasure as being integral to (or perhaps even the most important aspect of) the pursuit of happiness, how is one not advocating hedonism? Is not hedonism the school of thought that pleasure is the highest good?

My position is that pleasure is neither here nor there in attaining happiness. Pleasure is like any other experience. It can lead to misery and disenchantment. It can lead to happiness and satisfaction. The key is what is going on in the heart and mind of the person undergoing the experience.

[ Parent ]

What he said ... (2.00 / 1) (#45)
by kostya on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 03:24:30 PM EST

... yeah, what Lee said ;-)

I'd post a thorough reply, but it would mostly be what he said, and he seems to have said it rather well.

But to enumerate some points or clarify them with more statements or evidence ...

I wanted to see the sexuality and "pleasure" dealt with separately, since the author equates them. I don't believe that is accurate, and at best a over simplification of the issues. Additionally, as you pointed out so famously <grin> there are many sexually repressed folks wandering around here. So equating (or making blanket statements) sexuality with pleasure by using them interchangably in the article will only confuse discussion--read generate flamebait. Of course, we are already seeing that :-)

In the article, a direct correlation is made between violence in a society and restricting adolescent sexual behavior. Examples were cited of adolescents being charged with criminal behavior. If the motivation is not "when kids feel like it", what are you suggesting it is? We are to remove restrictions--so what is the motivation? And since the article very clearly believes that adolescents cannot help but engage in sexual behavior, what could be the implication of the article except that kids just act on their sexual urges.

So while I feel it has potential, I believe the article to have some confusing "fuzzy" parts that hurt it.

Out of fun curiosity, I'd be curious to hear what your definition of "sexually repressed" is. It is a broad term with very different meanings depending on the context.

Nifty history fact: despite the term "puritanical", the Puritans believed that sex was vital to a good marriage and that a healthy sex life led to marriage bliss. They just frowned on it outside of marriage. So the puritans both did and enjoyed the "nasty" (or my personal favorite euphemism, the "double-backed beast").

Veritas otium parit. --Terence
[ Parent ]
Right to pleasure? (3.71 / 7) (#33)
by Corwin on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:22:17 AM EST

I'm not sure that I agree with "Pleasure is a human right". A lot of things have been bandied about lately as being "rights" that need to be defended, but are they really? I think we need to define properly what a "right" actually is. To me, a right should be something that we need to survive: food, water, shelter, lack of abuse or torture, etc. Free speech? Bear arms? Pleasure? Napster? These are all really nice things to have, and I support each and every one of them, but I don't consider them to be inalienable rights. Our lives are certainly lessened without them, but people can and do live full lives without them.

I agree wholeheartedly with the rest of your article, however. I too have noticed a distinct anti-pleasure movement in much (all?) of the industrialized world, and am very much hoping that sooner or later people will lighten up and let other people have fun without all these strings attached. +1FP.

I would be interested to hear how other people define what is and is not a 'right' to them.

I'm in search of myself. Have you seen me anywhere?
Right to be confused (4.50 / 2) (#49)
by crank42 on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 05:01:04 PM EST

The problem with a great lot of "rights-speak" is that it hides an equivocation. There are different sorts of rights, and not everyone agrees about them.

First, there are contractual rights. If you have a contract with someone to be paid $n for some work, the other party has the right to expect you to complete the work, and you have a right to expect to be paid $n upon the completion. The right arises entirely from the contract.

Some think that broader, social rights are all contractual rights (these pepole are often called contractarians). This is fairly uncontroversial in the case of, say, the right to bear arms. In Canada, you do not have such a right. The right arises entirely from the U.S. Constitution, and is a pretty strange right in the rest of the world. A more interesting question is whether you have the right, for instance, of free speech because you are an implicit signatory to a contract (e.g. in Canada or the U.S. the country's constitution, or in the U.K., the "unwritten constitution"), or because rights accrue to you by virtue of being human.

If you think you have some rights by virtue of being human (if you believe, as the United Nations officially does, in "human rights"), then you believe in natural, inalienable rights. It appears that the author of the original article, above, believes that pleasure is an inalienable right. I think that's pretty fatuous, but there you go.

In my view, it adds nothing to a conversation to say, "I have a right to x," unless you have that right by virtue of a contract. In the case of a contract[1], you have some written thing to which you can appeal (you just have to hope it's not ambiguous). But in the case of natural rights, saying, "I have a right to pleasure," tells you no more than, "No-one should try to prevent me having pleasure." It's a moral claim, and calling it a right doesn't do anything.

The agreement of other nations, of course, does not prove that something is a right: slavery has been widely practiced in many countries, but no-one thinks it's OK anymore. In the same vein, one could argue that there are some things with which everyone ought to be provided, but which are nowhere so provided (shelter is probably an example of this). In the case of pleasure, I see no argument at all that one ought to be able to pursue it. I do see an argument (although not, in my view, a very good one) that certain types of pleasure make us better mammals. I think the real problem, here, is that "pleasure" is badly defined. Let's face it, some kinds of psychoses make people take pleasure in killing others. I expect that the original author didn't mean that sort of pleasure.

[1]I mean, a literal one: all parties signed it. The legal system also confers some rights, in the case of a constitutional regime. Except for the written laws of the U.K., I think British subjects have no rights.

[ Parent ]

'pursuit of happiness' (none / 0) (#90)
by eightball on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 08:57:35 AM EST

Does the above ring a bell?

[ Parent ]
Definition of rights (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by MyrdemInggala on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 06:38:59 PM EST

To begin with, rights are not inalienable. They are arbitrarily defined by a society and need a society to enforce them.

My definition of a right: If any citizen of a society is allowed to do something, and they are entitled to enlist the aid or protection of the society if it they are prevented from doing it, that something is a right. In a way, it's the direct opposite of a crime - something which the law is required to protect rather than prevent or punish.

For example, in order for a society to work the first thing that needs to be defined is the right of each person to live. This right must be protected by the society - murder (an infringement on this right) must be illegal.

Some other things that I think should be rights:

Freedom from abuse (both physical and mental) - we kind of have that (if someone beats you up they get charged with assault... unless you're in school).

Freedom of speech - we kind of have that.

Access to information - can you say "mandatory filtering software"? I also think that the current copyright model should be scrapped, but that's a very long rant.

Freedom of thought - a "bad" thought should never be a crime. This also encompasses freedom of religion.

Decisions regarding one's own body and mind - encompasses the right to control what happens to your body after death (I don't know what it's like elsewhere, but here in South Africa it doesn't matter how keen you are to donate your vital organs - if your next of kin disagree, there's nothing anyone can do) and the right to kill yourself (applies mainly to euthanasia).

I don't think that pursuit of pleasure is a right by this definition. Certain specific acts mentioned in the article should simply not be criminal, thus falling into the wide range of things that are legally neutral (like stamp collecting). It should not be illegal for children to cuddle, but I don't see how we can intelligently introduce a law against preventing children from cuddling. There ought to be a blanket law against preventing people from doing things that are not illegal. Maybe there should be a right to engage in any lawful acts you like without interference.

I apologise for any holes that may have crept into this argument. It's something I haven't put into words until now.

-- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
[ Parent ]

defining rights (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by partingshot on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:21:28 PM EST

> a right should be something that we need to
> survive: food, water, shelter, lack of abuse
> or torture, etc

Ummm... a prisoner has all he needs to survive.

There are no 'rights' as such, although
some would say their creator bestowed upon
them certain 'unalienable rights'. Life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (pleasure?)
come to mind.
For the most part, we get to define what is and
is not a right. Certain people/organizations
will try to manipulate other
people's/organization's rights to their advantage.
There will always be disagreement.

[ Parent ]
The only right: (3.00 / 2) (#66)
by naasking on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 11:40:05 AM EST

is the freedom to do as you please unless you attempt to restrict another's freedom. Pleasure easily falls into this category. You may think pleasure itself should not be granted 'right' status, but freedom is undeniably a human right.

[ Parent ]
Correlation and causation (4.64 / 14) (#35)
by ucblockhead on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 11:31:04 AM EST

The neuropsychologist James W. Prescott has performed a startling cross-cultural statistical analysis of 400 pre-industrial societies and found that cultures that lavish physical affection on infants tend to be disinclined to violence.
This is one of those results that may well mean something completely different from what the researcher thinks. All too often in these studies, a certain sort of causation is assumed despite perfectly valid alternate hypotheses. Here, the guy assumes that it is the treatment of infants that causes the level of violence in society. However, we've just got a correlation, which does not necessarily mean that there is any causation. Whenever you've got something, "A" that is correlation with something else, "B", you've got four possible reasons for it:
  • A causes B
  • B causes A
  • some unknown X causes both A and B
  • Wild coincidence.
We can probably ignore the later of the statistics were done well, though I've seen people fall down on even this. If the study is designed so that there is a 2% chance that the results are due to chance, well, that's not 0%. This is particularly bad when people do hundreds of comparisons looking for correlations. Not the case here, but...

Anyway, what I am saying is that it is perfectly reasonable to look at that data and suggest that perhaps reducing the amount of violence people encounter in their society leads them to treat their children better. Or perhaps that there is some unknown factor that increases violence in society and also causes people to treat children more poorly. All are perfectly reasonable hypotheses, and equally fit that correlation. It is a huge mistake to assume that one is true.

This is especially the case because if you back the wrong horse, you could do more damage than good. Prescott is saying that if you treat your children better, violence will go down. But if the correlation is due to A->B or X->A and B, then this is just pissing in the wind, ignoring the real problem.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Smoking (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by Scrymarch on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 07:53:47 PM EST

That's a good point, often neglected. It's also exactly the argument that the tobacco industry used to defend smoking for years.

"Even if there is a correlation," they said, "it doesn't imply causation. Why there could be a gene that predisposes people to both smoking and lung cancer. If you ban smoking, you'll just be depriving individuals of the smooth, pleasant taste of cigarettes until they inevitably die of lung cancer!"

They would get an important scientist with a well funded new project to say it. And he was completely right. Science is a bugger like that. Also see the Philosophy of Science discussion.

But I am forced to agree that this study is particularly prone to this problem. Conservative views about sex (pleasure) tend to coincide with other conservative views about capital punishment etc. Surpising? It's not exactly the _Origin of Species_.

[ Parent ]

Ted Sturgeon (3.85 / 7) (#38)
by kallisti on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 01:29:50 PM EST

In the classic anthology Dangerous Visions, there is a story called "If All Men Were Brothers, WOuld You Let One Marry Your Sister?" by Sturgeon. The story is about a man who discovers a seemingly Utopian society and is all excited about it until he accidentally discovers the big secret, incest. There is then a long argument why removing the incest taboo would benefit society, I'm still not sure whether Ted was joking or not. He used a similar device in Venus Plus X.

So, aside from plugging a favorite author, why am I bringing this up? Well, you seem to be doing a similar thing, you are saying that the removal of a long-standing taboo (child sexuality) would benefit society. There are a lot of other issues involved here.

The biggest one, of course, is pregnant teenagers. This is a pretty big burden for a 14 year-old to bear. More scary, however, is the number of teenage girls who want to get pregnant. I know a nurse at Planned Parenthood who has 13 year olds asking how to get pregnant. Diseases are the other obvious drawback, as well as exploitation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fully in favor of sexual expression, but there are dangers involved and I think that needs to be addressed. When trying to rebuild a society based on the Bonobos, don't forget we are also related to the chimpanzee.

not quite (4.00 / 2) (#67)
by naasking on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 11:44:10 AM EST

He is suggesting we abolish the prosecution of children and teenagers when they engage in sexual acts. He does not support child sexuality, or encourage it, but is saying don't jail a fscking 13 yr. old for having consensual sex with an 11 yr. old fer Christs sake.

[ Parent ]
No subject (4.37 / 16) (#39)
by theR on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 01:40:28 PM EST

As I said with editorial comments, it is hard to decide where to begin. I'll start with a response to the stated intention of the article, and then move on to specific disagreements. I might mention some instances of agreement, too, but I'm not a big lover of "Me, too!" comments. Also, for reasons of length I don't think I will be quoting specifically from the article. Hopefully, most of my comments will seem valid without having to quote the specific part of the article I am referencing.

I have perceived that the main intention of this article is, in addition to discussion like most other submissions, to get support and help. The problem is, help and support what? Is this about people denying pleasure to people? Lack of affection? Antisexual behavior? Pedophilia, even? Before you ask people for help or support, you should more clearly state what position they will be supporting.

For instance, pleasure and sex seem to be used interchangeably. Sex does not have to equal pleasure, nor does pleasure have to equate with sex. There are many other forms of pleasure besides sex, and for some people, sex is not pleasurable. Why is pleasure discussed in parts while advocating more open sexuality as a positive? The two do not have to be related.

Also, as someone said previously, what makes pleasure a right? I agree that pleasure is good, and would hope that people have pleasurable experiences if they want, but I don't really see how it is a right. If so, maybe we better start a lawsuit against numerous governments for violating our rights. I don't think they've made it easy enough for me to have pleasurable experiences. Maybe we should sue our employers, too. While my job is enjoyable, I think a lot of other people here don't get much pleasure from it.

Anyway, I would not rate pleasure as my highest desire. Happiness is number one, and pleasure may be a factor, but it is by no means the only one or the most significant.

I also am not sure what your definition of pleasure is. It seems that a good portion of the story is about sexual pleasure, specifically. If so, you should state that more clearly, because "pleasure" is most definitely different than "sexual pleasure" or "physical pleasure".

The parts about sexuality are interesting, but, quite frankly, some of it makes me nervous. The reasons for my nervousness are quite logical, in my opinion. I agree that there is some hysteria with regard to touching, horseplay, and premarital sex. I do not understand why you apply all this to children only, though.

While I do not agree with sending a 16 year old to jail for performing sexual acts with a 12 or 13 year old, it is not ok for this to happen. Why? Because there is no way to know if the consent of the younger partner is valid. There is a huge difference between a 16 year old and a 13 year old. How can you know if the 13 year old is stating consent because of actual wants or simply going along with the wishes of somebody who is older because that is what the younger thinks is supposed to happen? I do not think you can know. If a 30 year old got consent from a 13 year old, I certainly wouldn't view that as valid consent, and I hope most people agree. While 13 year olds can be quite intelligent and mature, it is just not realistic to think that they would not feel pressured to do what the older person wanted, and this applies to a 16 year old with a 13 year old, too, as far as I am concerned. Adults usually can deal with similar pressures when they are exerted, but young teenagers and those that are even younger just can not be expected to always have the experience to fend off such pressures if they actually do not want to have sex.

There are other issues, as well, such as risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. No amount of argument will convince me that it is alright for a 13 year old to become a parent in this day and age, no matter where you live on this planet. A pregnant 13 year old seems much more likely to cause at least two high risk, shitty lives (mother and child) than denying the 13 year old this so-called right to pleasure (meaning sexual pleasure).

Sex is not bad. I lost my virginity at the age of 16 to a 15 year old who was also a virgin. It would not have hurt me in any way to wait longer, though. The problem when advocating a position like this one is, where do you draw the line? It must be drawn somewhere. Children need guidance, examples, and help making decisions. I am 28 and still look to my parents for advice sometimes.

I wholeheartedly agree that more shows of affection between people reduces violence. I hug and kiss my children, tickle them, wrestle, and just generally horse around with them. My brothers and I did the same, as did my parents, and I am probably one of the most nonviolent people you could meet. But this does not equate with kids engaging in sexual activity.

Kids want a lot of things they should not have. That may seem harsh, but it is the truth. Many kids do not want to go to school five days a week. While our schools could use many improvements, I don't think not going to them would benefit a child more than going.

Anyway, I think my point is, kids do not need to use sex for pleasure, nor should they. Obviously, a lot depends on the definition of who is a child and who is not. In my opinion, it is better to go with the definition that labels somebody as a child a little longer as opposed to shorter when talking about children in a general sense, not a specific person. I don't think this has to demonize sexual pleasure or pleasure in general. If you have a healthy attitude and talk to your children about sex, they will view it in a positive way even before they ever participate.

/me wipes brow. I could write more, but if you made it this far, I'll spare you.

a few points... (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by naasking on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:14:47 PM EST

Classifying pleasure as a 'right' would be somewhat difficult, so I will suggest a different way of thinking about it, then perhaps you'll see the correlation. Freedom is a right. With freedom comes choice, and as long as your choice does not interfere with another person's freedom of choice, you should be allowed to make that choice. Does purchasing an Athon over a PIII affect anyone else's life? No, so why should someone else dictate which choice you should make or punish you for making one choice over another. So why should making the choice of having consensual sex be punished? Why should any suc pleasure seeking be punished or even frowned upon?

The most important problem that I see in this article is not pleasure as a right, or some anti-sex movement trying to stifle it, it's kids being punished for doing these things. You're right that younger people are more susceptible to influence than adults, but does that mean every teenager is like that? So everyone who has sex with a teenager should be persecuted and jailed? Even another teenager? Why is it that only the boys go to jail? Why is persecution pursued at all if no one is even laying charges?!?! The families and the kids involved didn't want it, yet the boy got sent to jail anyway. How does that make you feel? Does that honestly seem right to you?

You're also right that kids often want things they cannot(or should not) have, but should physical contact(sexual or not) be among those? As recently as last year, there was a big hoopla about a kindergarten kid(the boy of course) being expelled for kissing a girl in his class. They met under the table, he gave her a little peck, the teacher saw it and hauled him to the principal's office. He was expelled for sexual harassment. Both families were shocked. I was fscking incredulous. How does that make you feel? Do you see how ridiculous it's becoming? Kids that age do not even know the meaning of sex or 'sexual contact'. So how do you communicate this 'line' you propose to draw to people who have no freaking idea what you're talking about? It's like trying to communicate the proper emergency exit procedure for a plane to someone who is still running around in a loincloth hunting his food.

The point I'm trying to make is that sexuality should not be encouraged in the young age groups but it should not be punished if it happens. Children are not adults and so should not be encouraged to engage in activities which require an adult level of understanding and responsibility, but they should also not be held up to that level of punishment should they happen to do so. That's the most important message of this article, because honestly, things are getting ridiculous.

To me, this article did not contain any advocacy of child sexuality, adult sexuality or anything of the sort. I saw a support for freedom, liberal and tolerant attitudes, and common sense approach to dealing with children and young adults who have experienced consensual sexual situations. It is a difficult issue on many grounds but it is currently not being properly handled.

[ Parent ]
My reply to the points (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by theR on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 05:13:44 PM EST

Freedom is a right. With freedom comes choice, and as long as your choice does not interfere with another person's freedom of choice, you should be allowed to make that choice. Does purchasing an Athon over a PIII affect anyone else's life? No, so why should someone else dictate which choice you should make or punish you for making one choice over another. So why should making the choice of having consensual sex be punished? Why should any suc pleasure seeking be punished or even frowned upon?

I agree, to a point. It should not be a crime for a 13 year old and another 13 year old to engage in sexual activity unless rape or some other crime is involved. The main problem is determining if the act was consensual. Children are much more susceptible to outside forces, in general, than those that are older. Consent under duress is not consent at all. As I said in the comment you replied to, I do not agree with a 16 year old going to jail for having sex with a 13 year old. But at the same time, I do not agree that a 16 year old should accept consent from a 13 year old. It is just too problematic to determine why the 13 year old has given consent, and the reasons for consent do matter. The fact that I agree with the stupidity of a jail term for this should indicate my feelings about more boys going to jail and, in fact, makes it irrelevant to argue whether or not boys are prosecuted more often for the same acts.

As for why someone else should be able to dictate which choice you should make or punish you for making one choice over another, there are definitely people for whom having this power over another is completely justified. They are called parents. Whether or not their decisions on how to treat their children are good or bad, they have the right to treat their children as they see fit, at least to a certain extent. My parents were quite open about sexuality, and I strongly agree with that aspect of this discussion, but that does not have to be the same as just letting your children do as they please with regard to sexual activity.

I saw a support for freedom, liberal and tolerant attitudes, and common sense approach to dealing with children and young adults who have experienced consensual sexual situations.

Children are not free, nor should they be. When a child is born, it is completely dependent on those that care for it, and this continues for many years. If I am supporting, teaching, loving, and caring for my children, then my children will have to bend to my wishes in some form or another. I try not to be confrontational and I am very open and will talk to my children about anything, but it is ridiculous to advocate "freedom" for children. If I am a child's caretaker, I am also a child's rulemaker, for good or bad. Freedom is a responsibility, and a sense of responsibility is not innate in people -- it must be taught.

Anyhow, in the end, I think we mostly agree. It is more the article which has many points I question than your response to my comment.

[ Parent ]
My response to your response to the points ;-) (none / 0) (#94)
by naasking on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:20:47 AM EST

It is just too problematic to determine why the 13 year old has given consent, and the reasons for consent do matter.

I think that's generalizing too much. Maturity depends to a large degree on the individual. And besides, I don't think it's that difficult to determine. I bet a quick psychological evaluation could easily determine how susceptible he or she is to coercion and pressure. While not a conviction in itself, it would be strong evidence suggesting 'foul' play. I don't put much faith in psychology for much, but this is one area I feel it could handle.

there are definitely people for whom having this power over another is completely justified. They are called parents.

But you see, the only reason parents have that much power over you(and should have it) is because kids are at a stage where they are not educated and experienced enough in the world to make intelligent decisions. Once you get to that point where you can make intelligent decisions about your own life, you should be making them on your own without interference from your parents. Of course, this isn't an overnight thing. It's not like a kid wakes up one morning and his parents say, 'I think you know enough to make your own decisions, so we won't interfere anymore'. I see it as a gradual lessening of burden on parents while heaping it on the kid as they mature. Keep in mind though: maturity is the key here, not age. It's up to the parents to determine when is the appropriate time for what.

but that does not have to be the same as just letting your children do as they please with regard to sexual activity.

I never said to let them do what they want. I just finished saying that kids often don't know enough about the world to make intelligent decisions, so they should be stopped from doing potentially harmful things until they've been educated on the subject. But, what I did say in my previous post was: don't punish them if it does happen. They probably didn't know what they were doing, and they probably didn't fully understand the consequences. This is a situation for education, not punishment.

Children are not free, nor should they be.

Children are free. It is we who put the artificial restraints on them. We should of course(for the reasons I've already stated), I'm simply disagreeing from a purely logical point of view. The problem I see is that children do not have a respect for that freedom or the freedom of others. That's where I think they need education. Once they realize how important freedom is to them, they will understand how much it means to someone else and they will develop a respect for another's freedom. And before you start saying, 'but children are not mini-adults and can't reason like that', I didn't say they would come to this realization when they were 2, or 5, or 9, or even 16. Hell, most adults still don't get it(IMO). But don't say it couldn't happen at a young age.

Freedom is a responsibility, and a sense of responsibility is not innate in people -- it must be taught.

True. I think a sense of responsibility would naturally evolve from the respect I outlined above. In a sentence: you have the freedom to do what you wish as long you do not try and restrict the freedom of another.

Sorry if I seem to be looking for points to disagree on, I just like playing devil's advocate sometimes. Makes for good discussion. ;-)

[ Parent ]
I interpreted differently from most (3.87 / 8) (#47)
by speek on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 04:13:21 PM EST

I'm seeing a lot of negative feedback in the posts - most seem to be complaining about the teenage/child sex stuff. I just didn't interpret the article as being in favor of 12/13 year-olds engaging in sex, but rather, was pointing out some of the more ridiculous attitudes that exist out there. Also, it seemed to advocate that if inappropriate sex was happening between minors, it was more a matter for the parents to handle than for the state.

Eloquence surely overstated some points, and confused "pleasure" with "physical intimacy", but the essential idea is there and valid - physical intimacy is vitally important to human mental health.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

exactly! (4.00 / 2) (#69)
by naasking on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:17:55 PM EST

I would also like to add that the only advocacy I saw in terms of pleasure as a right was freedom as a right. Freedom is a right and exercising that freedom for consensual sex(or other pleasures) naturally follows as a right.

And you are correct, unless the sex is not consensual it's a personal matter, not a state matter

[ Parent ]
for fun: (3.66 / 3) (#48)
by jeanlucpikachu on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 04:27:03 PM EST

Pleasure vs. Free Speech

You have to pick one, and only one. Which one and why?

Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu AIM: jeanlucpikachu
Free Speech. (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by Seth Scali on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 06:40:59 PM EST

If enough people say, "Fuck this, I want to have some fun", there will eventually be an uprising to overthrow the organization/entity/social structure that is infringing upon the right to seek pleasure or happiness.

Then again, I don't know if I could experience pleasure if I knew I weren't allowed to speak freely.

[ Parent ]
(not) For fun: (none / 0) (#91)
by eightball on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 09:36:11 AM EST

Your wife vs your child.

You have to pick one, and only one. Which one and why?

Just because you claim peace does not mean you do not sow discord.
These are not either/or things.

rejected queries:
food vs water
air vs land
sugar vs cream
thought vs action

[ Parent ]
Ever read Brave New World? (3.20 / 10) (#51)
by /dev/null on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 06:17:55 PM EST

Your arguments terrify me. What kind of people have we become? If we simply spend all our time seeking nothing but pleasure, we lose all humanity. Huxley explores this concept to great length in Brave New World, one of the classics of dystopian literature and one much more relevant to our current society than 1984. If we simply reduce all of life to a series of sexual escapades, sex has no meaning. We would lose all art, all genius. Society would stagnate and life would not have any meaning.

Our suffering defines us as human.

Pleasure is a wonderful thing, but it should be enjoyed in moderation so that it is truly pleasurable. If do not earn something, where is its value? And is it truly worth it to give up such an outmoded concept as love for an increase in our pleasure? After all, that's what is really important.


Brave New World (5.00 / 3) (#56)
by sigwinch on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 08:46:07 PM EST

If we simply spend all our time seeking nothing but pleasure, we lose all humanity. Huxley explores this concept to great length in Brave New World, one of the classics of dystopian literature and one much more relevant to our current society than 1984. If we simply reduce all of life to a series of sexual escapades, sex has no meaning.

I think you miss the point. It isn't about making pleasure the center of life, it is about not stamping out all traces of affection. There are people -- frequently busybodies in places of power -- who believe in physical puritanism. These are the people who ban rock'n'roll (and presumably other 'modern' music) from schools, who ban dancing. These people consider holding hands to be one small step away from coitus, and therefore a thing to be controlled and limited lest the chillun's precious bodily fluids be polluted by lust (which remember is a deadly sin that will cause you to burn forever in the flames of hell). They make meaningful reproductive education, nevermind sex education, impossible. It's not just the Taliban decreeing that women must be covered at all times in public -- it's the baptist fools on school boards who ban all public displays of affection. (People who went to school in the Bible Belt will probably remember the phrase 'public display of affection'.)

And don't anybody give me a lecture about Puritanism with a capital P, and how they wanted to achieve enlightment by reducing the distractions of the physical body and concomitant moritification of the flesh. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the puritans-with-a-little-p, who want to substitute the banal pleasures of TV and Big'n'Tasty burgers for personal affection. These people think that laughing along with the canned laughtrack when a character insults their mother on a sitcom is OK, but if some girl gets kissed *in public* and it's the end of the world.

These people turn affection to poison, fun to horror. If you see two adult women holding hands in the Bible Belt, they're likley lesbians who have given up all hope of ever conforming; everybody else has given it up because in the puratin ethos it is implied homosexuality. I recently read a comment on Slashdot (ya, ya, the Katz kids-killing-kids story, gimme a break) that said (paraphrased) "That shoving someone else was punishable, unless it was accompanied by a shouted 'Fag!'. The teacher came right out and said this."

There's a Dave Barry bit that goes something like this: "Whenever the police need some publicity, they bust an 'adult' book shop. It's a sure way to win. People on the jury will convict automatically. And then vote the death penalty, just to make sure nobody gets the wrong idea." That is not much of an exaggeration for many communities.

And don't get me started on things like female genital mutilation (variously called infibulation, or 'female circumcision). Do a web search if you've never heard of it -- you'll be horrified.

Our suffering defines us as human.

I've got nothing against glorious suffering, the tension between eros and pathos, the demons that drive men to great accomplishments, the essentially absurd state of the human condition. But I will not suffer these bastards who want to eliminate all affection in the name of their god, who think that suffering is an end in itself to be dispensed by smug high-school principals.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Brave New World (4.75 / 4) (#60)
by kubalaa on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:46:57 AM EST

You're right in that art arises from conflict. However, the total lack of pleasure is just as "uninspiring" as the total immersion in it. And I think one of the unavoidable points of Brave New World is that this balance is self-regulating; the lack of dissatisfaction is dissatisfying in itself, as you even point out.

Besides, you've completely missed the point of the article. The author isn't saying we should "spend all our time seeking nothing but pleasure"; he's saying that we should not be repressing natural affection without good reason. And he's pointing out the harmful effects this repression has on society. There's a big difference between a (healthy) self-restraint in not participating in sex to the exclusion of all else, and the (unhealthy) condemnation of affection by society.

Overeating is bad. Does this mean it's okay for society to condemn food as evil? Or make people feel guilty about eating at all? Or that you shouldn't eat when you're hungry?

[ Parent ]

But... (5.00 / 3) (#63)
by Elendale on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 01:59:26 AM EST

Our suffering defines us as human.

So does pleasure.
One without the other is a disease- that is the problem.


When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
what? (3.50 / 2) (#70)
by naasking on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:22:26 PM EST

Where are you getting all of this stuff? Where did this article advocate pursuing pleasure and sex as the ultimate meaning of our existence? Where did it say that we must start objectifying everyone so we may enjoy them as sexual objects? Perhaps you should read it again. This time try hearing what he's actually saying instead of what you think he's saying.

[ Parent ]
Reality (none / 0) (#88)
by RandomPeon on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 10:49:59 PM EST

Huxley explores this concept to great length in Brave New World, one of the classics of dystopian literature and one much more relevant to our current society than 1984.

Read it, bothered to read Huxley's criticism of his own work too. Huxley (like any reader with a brain) noted that he offered a forced choice between absolute hedonism and absolute asceticism - neither one is a decent society. Huxley's work is a satire - not a plausible tale.

If we simply reduce all of life to a series of sexual escapades, sex has no meaning. We would lose all art, all genius. Society would stagnate and life would not have any meaning.

Let's try using real history instead of science fiction. The ancient Greeks had a very liberal attitude toward sex, but they were one of the most creative peoples ever. Believe it or not, illegitimacy rates were higher around 1700 than they are today - in the middle of the enlightenment - this continued up into the Industrial Revolution. It doesn't seem like promiscuity and innovation are mutually exclusive.

[ Parent ]
Isn't the real issue affection? (4.00 / 6) (#52)
by misterluke on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 06:36:38 PM EST

People ( including eloquence ) seem to be having a field day with the word pleasure in this here thread. Doesn't Prescott say more about affection than pleasure in his paper? It seems more likely to me that getting used to affection would do more to reduce violence than access to pure pleasure all the time, be it sexual or whatever. I guess it's 'cause affection seems by definition reciprocal to me, while pleasure does not. I get pleasure from giving pleasure to someone, and I definitely get more pleasure from someone who is pleased to please me ( oh god - kill me now for paraphrasing bad pop culture, that is if your mom didn't hug you enough when you were little (hehe) ).

On the other hand, maybe affection is just what teaches you to expect pleasure from other people ( and value them as potential pleasure resources ) and decide they're too valuable to drive away or kill, in which case it does all come down to pleasure after all. Shit, I'm confused - maybe I shoulda been a little more adventurous at age 10 ...

Interesting topic, bad argument. (3.70 / 10) (#57)
by jesse alexander on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:20:16 PM EST

Pleasure is simply feeling good. We like to feel good, and therefore we pursue pleasure as much as possible. But just liking or desiring a thing does not necessarily mean we have a RIGHT to have that thing. I agree that some people consider pleasure ESSENTIAL for living, but I do not agree that pleasure should be readily available to everyone, all the time.

Pleasure, as the teaser irrationally states, is far from the foundation of human value systems. It may give me great pleasure to own your car. But that pleasure would not justify stealing it. The author then states that the denial of pleasure to young children impedes their emotional growth and leads to all sorts of behaviorial problems. That is true -- but then the author equates "pleasure" (a very broad term, meaning several different things) with physical affection. He/she then says that physical affection is simply sex. The author asserts that children need sex in order to be whole, healthy human beings. If they do not have enough "pleasure" (=sex) then they will turn into child abusers, slave owners, or Nazis.

Fellow k5ers, this is simply not true. How can children understand the consequences of sex? Is a 13 year old ready, physically, emotionally, socially, or economically, to support a child of her own? Can a 14 year old really comprehend the dangers of various sexually transmitted diseases and adequately protect himself from them? And must physical affection take the form of sex? Saying that a behavior is justifiable simply because it brings pleasure is a dangerous precedent. Can a criminal say "Well, your honor, it made me feel good, so it was okay"?

So, while the article is full of examples, quotes, and citations, it is fundamentally flawed. Morality does not spring from sexual fulfillment, and it is ludicrous to think so. (However, if the author is right, I can blame some of my shortcomings on my virginity....THAT is interesting :) Sex is only a part of love, which is a much bigger and better pleasure-bringer. THAT is (or should be) an inalienable right; NOT sex. ugh, that's a rambling mess. I hoped my first post as a k5 member would be a bit shorter :)

"Why are you talking like that?" "I thought you wanted to."

not the main argument (4.00 / 2) (#71)
by naasking on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:45:00 PM EST

The author asserts that children need sex in order to be whole, healthy human beings. If they do not have enough "pleasure" (=sex) then they will turn into child abusers, slave owners, or Nazis.

I'm sorry, I must have missed that part. Where is that? I only saw references to people trying to punish children for engaging in consensual sexual activity and the author stating that that's not the right thing to do. Don't you think those 13 yr. olds who were jailed for engaging in sexual acts will be somewhat traumatized and afraid of sexuality for a good part of their lives? Do you think that's right? Is that the kind of attitude you want a kid to develop as he's shaping himself and growing?

Fellow k5ers, this is simply not true. How can children understand the consequences of sex? Is a 13 year old ready, physically, emotionally, socially, or economically, to support a child of her own?

As you've pointed out, pleasure != sex, so sex != child.

Can a 14 year old really comprehend the dangers of various sexually transmitted diseases and adequately protect himself from them?

Maybe, maybe not. But that's not the issue that's really important in this article. What's important is the punishment of children and young adults who (by your own admission) don't even know what they're doing.

And must physical affection take the form of sex?

No, and nowhere did the author state that it must.

Saying that a behavior is justifiable simply because it brings pleasure is a dangerous precedent. Can a criminal say "Well, your honor, it made me feel good, so it was okay"?

He didn't say that either. You seem to making the same flawed assumption as other's who share your view. Pleasure is not a right that gives you absolute freedom to do whatever you please(which is the problem with the article as you see it). Rather it is a right that follows from freedom. Freedom itself is a right. You have the right to do whatever you please as long you do not try and restrict another's freedom.

Consequently, pursuing a course of action which will bring you pleasure and which does not restrict others is fine, and I'm sure you'll agree. Everything stated in the article falls under this category(ie. consensual sex, etc.) and this is what the author is trying to protect. This is also what is currently under attack(see my other posts for examples).

So, while the article is full of examples, quotes, and citations, it is fundamentally flawed. Morality does not spring from sexual fulfillment, and it is ludicrous to think so.

Correct. Morality does not spring from sexual fulfillment, but instead springs from respect of freedom. And that is what I believe to be the truly important message in the article.

Sex is only a part of love, which is a much bigger and better pleasure-bringer.

You're not trying to define what sex should be for me are you... ;-)

[ Parent ]
Affection (pleasure) and violence (4.78 / 14) (#59)
by FlightTest on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:44:36 AM EST

I'm going to claim affection and pleasure are largely the same here. Or at least that affection is a good source of pleasure. And I think I have good idea what might be largely contributing to the spate of school (and societial) violence, and it ain't jocks, bullies, movies, games, or guns.

It's lack of affection. From anybody. Take a hard look at the photos of the isolation-reared monkey. Recognize the look? I've seen it in the faces of some teens and young adults. We've always had jocks and bullies in school (duh!), violence in movies (any WWII movie), violence in games (cops and robbers, and cowboys and indians are the original "first person shooter" games), and guns have been plentiful in the U.S. for a long time. So what has changed in the last 40 years?

The first thing that changed was parental attitudes. Around the 60's and 70's, parents became so wraped up in themselves, they didn't have time for thier kids. Everything became about "me" and to hell with everyone else. People became more concered with keeping up with the Joneses than in raising their families. How many parents do you see substituting gifts for quality time? How many times have you seen parents use their kids as weapons against each other, especially in divorce? Children are a lifetime commitment, people. If you don't have time for them, don't have them.

The second change is the subject of the article. It is the outright forbidding of touching of anyone for any reason. A teacher at a school can no longer consol a child who has fallen and scraped her knee. He can no longer hug her and dry her tears and tell her it will be all right. Nope, now the kid goes to the nurses office and given a band-aid to put on themselves. Any touching is presumed to be sexual and therefore forbidden.

Why do people lash out for "no apparent reason"? Could it be that people are becoming so disociated from each other that they no longer have any empathy for others? They see everyone as "different" from them because they've been denied comfort and affection from virtually everyone? Could it be that we're rasing a generation of people in "isolation", no human contact allowed? How can you have any empathy for your fellow humans if you've been denied human contact? Words are not enough. Physical contact is required.

So go hug a kid today. Make sure they know someone cares about them.

Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
Re: Affection (pleasure) and violence (1.00 / 3) (#73)
by emo on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 05:37:26 PM EST

Take a hard look at the photos of the isolation-reared monkey. Recognize the look?
Yes, it is George Walker Bush.

[ Parent ]
Beware of premarital sex anthropology studies (2.50 / 6) (#61)
by deanc on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 12:50:33 AM EST

There seems to be a stereotype of pre-industrial societies that are peaceful and utopian and tolerate premarital sex. In modern society it's kind of easy to forget the fact that sex generally causes babies. :)

Anyway, part of this has its origins in Margaret Mead's studies in Samoa, in which promiscuous sex amongst adolescents was supposed to be common. However, it seems that she was inadvertently duped by the young people of this community whom simply told her what she wanted to hear... of course, the society was actually very very sexually conservative, as many societies have to be when one wants to be sure of which child belongs to whom and create an environment in these primitive societies for the children who are products of sex to be raised...


Attractive, but not rigorous (3.66 / 6) (#62)
by redelm on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 01:25:36 AM EST

As attractive as this theory is to me personally, logical rigor compels me to debate it.

As ucblockhead states above, correlation is not causation. Eloquence invokes Sagan's reptilian brain as the causative mechanism.

Unfortunately, a reverse causative mechanism is just as credible: A violent society is very likely to control it's subordinate members [no premarital sex] and may well shy away from infant contact knowing the potential for harm.

An exogenous cause such as genetics is also credible as causing both violence and lack of touch/sex. Something as simple as genetics ought to be testable via generational and twin studies.

The other evidence is far from persuasive. The surveys are certainly fraught with covariance unless very carefully analysed with ANOVA techniques. The simian trials are more promising, but hardly seem well-controlled. What is missing is something like a comparison between untouched and touched isolation-raised monkeys. I always look for what could or should have been, but wasn't.

The prudery of America is legendary. The historical religious roots are easy to see. Europe appears more liberal, even with differences such as between France and Germany. But I've lived there and know that most of this is merely pragmatic tolerance not genuine acceptance. That Europe be tolerant is hardly surprising given the singularly repressive regime in force 60 years ago.

This is confusing. (4.66 / 15) (#64)
by gromm on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 07:33:39 AM EST

I see a lot of normally rational people panicking and jumping up and down about this article. Most of this panicking and jumping up and down is in response to the author's suggestion that permarital teenage sexual exploration is a good thing, or that children playing doctor in the treehouse *isn't* the scarring sexual abuse we think it is.

And the reason that these normally rational people are panicking? Overwhelmingly the phrase "because a 14 year old doesn't know the risks involved" is used. They don't know about STD's. They aren't ready for pregnancy.

I'm sorry, but if your 14 year old son or daughter *doesn't* know about these things, it's because you have failed in your duty as a parent to give them a proper education. We are living in the 21st century here. Every adult with an IQ higher than 50 knows how their body works in detail. It was taught to them in biology class in high school. We have contraceptives drugs that are 99.9% effective, and condoms that go a long way to prevent the spread of disease. Most children want to know all about reproduction and basic biology well before their eighth birthdays. Give them everything they want to know and then some. By the time they reach puberty and start to get interested in the actual mechanics of sex and mating rituals, they should already have a good theoretical basis to build this knowledge upon, and an established canonical source of information to draw upon - you. You need to inform them of the dangers and the rewards that they are about to face in romance and pleasure, and give them the skills tools they need to venture forth safely.

Ignorance is NO excuse for advocating abstinance until marriage, because teenagers have this funny way of having sex when they want to, prepared or not. If they are not prepared, it is *your* fault.
Deus ex frigerifero
Good point but... (none / 0) (#104)
by {ice}blueplazma on Mon Apr 08, 2002 at 02:15:42 PM EST

I am a teenager and I like what you just said. However the problem is this: parents may not prepare kids for sex (thankfully, mine did) but if they kids do have sex the parents don't get blamed, the kids do. You need to consider that parents may fail at their duties but they don't get blamed.

"Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
--Jimmy Fallon
[ Parent ]
Pleasure, Affection, Cause and Effect (4.75 / 20) (#72)
by Eloquence on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 05:13:09 PM EST

In response to blog and media coverage that quoted selectively from the comment below, which is an addition to a larger published story called "Defending the Right to Pleasure", Erik Moeller has asked me to add a link to his public response to what he calls a defamation campaign. The public response can be found here: http://intelligentdesigns.net/blog/?p=101. The original post below has not been altered.

--Rusty Foster, Kuro5hin.org maintainer, April 28, 2010.

First, I would like to point out that the main reason for writing this article -- and putting it under the Help! topic -- was not to convert those who fundamentally disagree, but to get support for the project described in the article. The length of the text may have distracted from that, and I apologize for it -- but I think it was inevitable. The alternative, to split it up, would both make it more difficult to get the big picture and to actually convey the necessity of a pro-pleasure project ("OK, your article series was interesting and all, but now we know that you really just wanted help for your obscure project! -1 from me!").

So far, one person has e-mailed me and offered to help and another has directly subscribed to peacelist-tech, the mailing list I have created for the activities related to building this project. Two other readers have expressed general agreement by mail. If anyone else wants to help, please e-mail me or subscribe directly to peacelist-tech. Donations would also be welcome, of course.

I wasn't very specific in what the site should cover because that largely depends on the involvement by others. With few people, a complete reorganization of the current site is hardly possible and most work would consist of adding new papers to the archive (mainly HTML and proofreading work). With more people and some room on a server where Scoop could be installed by someone with the necessary skills, more could be done (including coverage of current pleasure-related news and events). It all depends on you.

Addressing the comments

First, thanks to everyone for their feedback. There are no arguments that I haven't heard before, but it's good to see them all compiled in a single place. In order to avoid having to follow many different threads, I am going to compile the replies in one comment, but I will structure them with headings. If you are irritated by the length of this comment, please read only the parts that interest you.

Pedophilia and Incest

One of the first editorial arguments against the article was that it is just a "defense of pedophilia", suggesting that either I am a pedophile, or at least that I have some sympathy for pedophiles (maybe part of a conspiracy?). I have pondered putting a disclaimer into the article ("I am not a pedophile. I am a 22-y-o heterosexual white male") but I see no reason to give this concession to the child sex hysteria.

But if there was any doubt, yes, I am defending that children can have sex with each other. Not only adolescents, but also children of earlier ages -- whenever they want to. It is a scandal in itself that the subject of child sexuality cannot be discussed without people raising the specter of pedophilia. That is the direct result of the witchhunts I have described in the article, where so-called therapists induced false memories in patients and horrible stories of mass abuse were produced -- child sexual abuse was portrayed as being literally everywhere, and celebrities proudly described themselves as "survivors" of sexual abuse.

As a result, not only were many harmless, affectionate adult/child situations (parents hugging, kissing, tickling their children, for example) stigmatized but also child sexuality as a subject in itself. Children and even teenagers are mostly portrayed as asexual, and if it's obvious that they are not, they are required to "control" their sexuality. The problem goes so far that in some cases of gay teenagers put in therapy because of their sexuality, local youth gay centers didn't offer to help because they feared to be seen as pedophile-defenders. These people have a hard enough time fighting for gay rights as it is, so they avoid tackling another "hot button" issue. Unfortunately, that means that teenagers like Lyn Duff, who was sent to a therapy center in Utah for being a lesbian, are hardly offered any help. (Do a Google search on her name to learn more about her case.)

The Incest Taboo

What is my position on pedophilia, then? It's really simple. If the child doesn't want it, is neutral or ambigious, it's inappropriate. This excludes most adult/child sexual contact, but only little child/child contact. There is another key to the puzzle - the incest taboo. Incest leads to an increased amount of genetic defects, because defects in the genetic code of one parent are more likely to be corrected in the combination with the genetic code of the other.

That means that incest is disadvantageous from an evolutionary perspective. In primates, there exists a simple yet effective mechanism to prevent us from having sex with our closest relatives. Thinking of the people we are bonded with in a directly sexual context creates a feeling of disgust: Think visually of sleeping with your mother or father to find out what I mean (the feeling is stronger if you still live with your parents). Even if your mother is the most beautiful person in the world, the feeling is totally different from that you have when thinking of having sex with some other beautiful person you like. This is the reason "motherfucker" is still one of the most emotionally effective insults. For the same reason, even the bonobo chimps, who otherwise do practically everything that is conceivable in the area of sexual behavior, don't have incest. With the exception of a few genetic defects, all people have this taboo.

What that means, now, is that any mother/father-child-sexual relationship is going to be a highly traumatic experience for the child. The incest taboo usually sets in shortly before puberty, and experiences which are forgotten should have no long-term effects. Again, there is much hysteria to be found, some people "discover" at age 45 that they have been abused as a baby; thanks to "therapists" again who ask the respective suggestive questions.

But it's different from family to family what is seen by the child as a sexual experience. In a sexually repressive family, where all nudity is hidden from the child, a single instance of nudity could be remembered by the child as a sexual memory, invoking the incest taboo and causing disgust. In a family where nudity is not a taboo, it is not associated with sexual actions, and therefore no problems result.

Pleasure-repressive people might argue that the best way to avoid problems would be to ban all nudity, instead of allowing all. However, if you succeed in doing this, you only make the situation much worse. The reason is that you can ban nudity, but you can't ban sexuality, and sexuality doesn't begin at puberty. If you remove nudity from the child's view, other situations will be interpreted as sexual. Some religious fundamentalists even see the face of a women as an obscenity, or ban them from riding bikes because their legs move so seductively. When you apply this "logic" to children, you create all sorts of weird fetishes when sexual feelings are encoded into non-sexual subjects.

There are people who have a fetish for crucifixion, for example. In one case I know about, the person explains this because they had a large vivid Jesus cross in the living room. That was obviously an image that had been burned into his memory, and for some reason encoded as sexual, probably because of the half-nudity. As an adult, he creates quite professional photo-manips of crucified women -- that is the best way for him to be sexually aroused. I know of other similar cases with fetishes ranging from the harmless (foot fetishes, wet clothing) to the extreme (necrophilia). It is worth pointing out that the majority of sex offenders stems from conservative, sexually repressive households. This has been verified by various studies (Amir 1965, Gebhard 1965, Kant & Goldstein 1970, Geiser 1979, Fox 1980, for example).

Pleasure and Affection

A lot of people were worried that I "confused" sexual pleasure with "other pleasure" or physical affection. First, I am indeed talking mostly about body pleasure and not pleasure in general, but that includes sexual pleasure. Unfortunately, people have artificial barriers in their heads when it comes to sexuality, especially child sexuality. Let me quote an article by Jacqueline Livingston to illustrate this point:

Because I was raised in a family where my sexuality was repressed (as most of us were), I thought touching one's genitalia was something that occurred in teen years. As a new parent, I learned differently. Sometime in Sam's first week, when I was changing his diapers, his hands went to his genitals. My first impulse was to brush his hands aside, but I hesitated long enough to realize that here was an important decision--to be free or not to be free, that is the question.

I envisioned thousands of parents repeatedly pulling their babies' hands away, slapping them, or spanking--whatever it took to teach them that the area between their legs is forbidden territory. I had grown up thinking/feeling it was a dark and dirty business down there. My mother was undoubtedly responsible. She must have pulled my hand away from my sex hundreds of times. I wasn't going to make the same mistake.

I encourage you to read the complete article, it is also a great commentary on the hysteria related to child pornography. Many people think that affection is good and all, but when children start acting sexually, things are taking a wrong turn. This is a barrier that doesn't exist in reality -- the same pleasure center (the septal region in the limbic system) of the human brain is activated during sexual pleasure that is also activated in the pleasure derived from physical affection, touching etc. The question is which other brain regions are active at the same time: just the somatosensory/touching region, or also the sexual regions? This determines whether we feel that a certain type of pleasure is "sexual" in nature. In other words, it's not the pleasure that is different (although it may vary strongly in intensity), it's the feelings that accompany it.

So if one type of pleasure is beneficial, there is no reason to assume that another type isn't, if it doesn't come with harmful side effects. Whether there are any such effects in the case of child sexuality I will discuss later on. There are reasons to assume, though, that the deprivation of the most basic types of pleasure (resulting from touch or sexual actions) causes many problems, including brain damage and violence. This is only natural, since children are programmed to desire closeness to their mother (being away from her causes discomfort, permanent discomfort causes long-term damage - being close to her is an evolutionary advantage) and children are sexual human beings (sexual relationships strengthen social bonds and are therefore beneficial to the community, an evolutionary advantage).

Now, some have argued that I have failed to show any research supporting the claim that the expression of sexuality is beneficial to children, and not only to adolescents. This is easy to assume, and I should have pointed out that "premarital sex" doesn't mean quite what you may think it means in the "primitive" cultures examined by Prescott/Textor. Marriage in most of these cultures happens at teenage age (the Balinese marry at age 12, for example). Premarital then also means preteen. Those who are shocked by the idea of children having sex with each other (something which is commonly acknowledged as "playing doctor" in most European countries) should maybe go back to 1948, when America was in some ways more progressive than it is today, and about a third of the adults examined by Alfred C. Kinsey in his groundbreaking sex surveys remembered preteen sexual games with other children before puberty.

Diseases and Pregnancy

There are two killer phrases of those who advocate sexual repression: teenage preganancies and STDs. Advocating a natural relationship towards sexuality, they argue, would be wrong because children and adolescents don't have the responsibility to deal with these problems. To begin with the problem of pregnancies, let me start by quoting some recent news:

Friday March 2 11:44 AM ET
Dutch Offer Winning Formula to Cut Teenage Pregnancies

By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) - Sex education, free contraceptives and liberal attitudes toward sex are among the best ways to reduce soaring teenage pregnancy rates, a Dutch researcher said Friday.

The Dutch should know. The tiny country better known for its cheese, windmills and canals has fewer pregnant teenagers than most Western countries.

Less than one percent, or 10 per 1,000, 15-17 year-olds in the Netherlands get pregnant each year, compared to nearly five percent in Britain, which has the highest rate in Western Europe, and 99 per 1,000 in the United States. [It is notable that Britain is also the most conservative. The government there has even started similar sexual abstinence programs to the US.]

``Teenage pregnancy seems virtually eliminated as a health and social problem in the Netherlands,'' Dr. Simone Buitendijk, of the Dutch Institute for Applied Scientific Research in Leiden, told Reuters.

The Dutch have seen a steady drop in the number of young mothers for decades as teen pregnancies have been increasing in other countries. In the early 1970s four percent of live births in the Netherlands were to teenagers. By the late 1990s the figure had dropped to one percent.

``It's due to a whole mix of things. It is very hard to pinpoint what the major factor is. The liberal attitude is probably one very important determinant,'' she added in a telephone interview.

Better Knowlege Of The Birds And Bees

While other countries have been expounding the joys of no sex, the Dutch have accepted that teens are sexually active and have introduced measures to deal with it.

``In Holland teens know about sexuality and about procreation, how it works and what you should do not to become pregnant. Their peers know and it is a very socially acceptable thing to prevent pregnancy,'' she added.

Birth control pills are available at pharmacies and free through a National Sick Fund, a state-funded system that ensures low income people have medical care, and statistics show that Dutch teenagers are using them.

In 1995, 70 percent of sexually active 18 year-olds were on the pill and 40 percent of students three or four years younger. Eighty-five percent of teens used a condom, the pill or both during their first sexual experience.

Buitendijk, who will present the Dutch data at a meeting on child health in London, said condoms are popular among young teenagers but the pill gains preference as they get older.

``Factors that positively influence contraceptive behavior in Dutch teenagers are their sufficient knowledge of reproduction and contraception, the large amount of information available to them both in school and informally and the general permissive attitude the Dutch hold toward teen sexuality,'' she said.

Proof that birth control is the key is supported by a drop in teenage abortions in the Netherlands but an increase in sexual activity. So more teens are having sex but fewer are getting pregnant or having abortions.

Teaching sexual abstinence doesn't work, while educating kids (and allowing them to educate themselves) does. This is only logical: By teaching someone to suppress their sexuality, kids are totally unprepared when having spontaneous sex under the wrong circumstances later. They don't know how to handle the condoms (most condom problems result from mishandling, the rest from inferior quality), if they think of condoms at all. However, if kids are allowed to "train" even before they are actually able to reproduce, this is unlikely to ever happen.

The situation is similar with STDs. Condoms, when properly handled, are a safe measure against both pregnancy and STDs. But they can only be properly handled if the kids are familiar with them. That means that sex education is not only essential, it is essential at an early time.

(The "primitive" cultures usually handled contraception by coitus interruptus. For this, training is especially important. STDs were obviously not as big a problem then.)

Correlation vs. Causation

One obvious argument against the cross-cultural study is the difference between correlation and causation. Societies that lavish affection on infants and tolerate premarital sex are 100% non violent. Societies that physically punish their infants and punish premarital sex are 100% violent. (This is based on the latest data on the cultures examined, which is somewhat different from the 1975 data.) Now, let's take a look at the different possible hypotheses that can be based on these facts:

  1. Repressing pleasure causes people to become violent. Increasing the amount of pleasure would lead to less violence.
  2. Violence causes people to repress pleasure. Reducing the amount of violence would cause people to be more tolerant towards pleasure.
  3. "Something else" causes both violence and the repression of pleasure.

Now it must not be forgotten that there can be a multitude of reasons for punishing (body) pleasure. Many cultures argue that pleasure is against their religion, some here on K5 argue that the repression of pleasure is necessary to feel accomplishments. So there is definitely no singular cause to the repression of pleasure. According to possibilities 2 and 3, a culture would therefore be possible that represses pleasure (punishes infants and premarital sex), but is not violent. Likewise, a culture would be possible that allows pleasure, but still is violent. Such a culture has not been found in the cross-cultural study, nor has it been found in the comparison of today's cultures. On all the primitive cultures where data exists, according to the latest data, not a single one has been found that is both peaceful and anti-pleasure, or violent and pro-pleasure.

From this data alone, it can therefore be reasonably argued (unless there are reasons to assume that there is a singular cause for people to repress pleasure), that the repression of pleasure is the cause, and adult violence is the effect. Even if the cross-cultural study stood alone, it would be evidence enough to assume such a relationship. But it doesn't stand alone.

Keep in mind that Prescott is a developmental neuropsychologist, and that's what his primary work was: studying the human (and monkey) brain. I have pointed to the research showing that deprivation of physical contact directly causes violence in monkeys (chimpanzees are 98,4% genetically identical to humans and also exhibit this behavior) -- such experiments cannot be done on humans for obvious reasons -- and that stimulating the pleasure center of the human brain stops all aggression. If any further confirmation would be necessary for the effect, this is it.

There are lots of other reasons, too, including the simple fact that the pleasure/no-pleasure experience is one of the earliest ones and most basic ones, if not the most basic one, the infant makes, and all other experiences (and the value system itself) are based on it. The primary motivations to act violently -- not in self defense, but because of enjoying it -- must be formed in early life. Based on this, there can only be three possibilities, that the repression of pleasure causes or prevents violence, and the other data clearly refutes the latter, or that genetic defects cause violence. If you assume genetic defects, the distribution of violence would not be as unequal as it is in primitive cultures. Please note that I am not arguing for a singular cause of violence and aggression, but for the repression of pleasure as a main cause (and a good way to compensate other possible causes, like bullying or poverty).

The body pleasure/violence relationship is one of the must fundamental and most certain ones we know. Yet it is one of the most controversial ones. The reasons are not in science, but in culture. People who do not like pleasure will always find reasons to ignore science. If we want to change society, we need to work on it. You know where to find me.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Short Note (none / 0) (#75)
by Eloquence on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 06:06:39 PM EST

www.violence.de isn't reachable right now. The ISP is extremely unreliable. At least the 1975 paper is mirrored here. Obviously, moving the whole site to a more reliable server would make sense, but the money isn't there for that.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
This is the bravest thing I've seen on the Net (3.40 / 10) (#74)
by localroger on Sat Mar 31, 2001 at 06:00:26 PM EST

In many years of just being an ordinary Joe trying to eke out a living in our pleasant Capitalist hell, I have occasionally seen a few things that hinted at my own internal thoughts about what the problem is. But this is just beyond the Pale.

You have exposed, defined, codified, and displayed the problem down to a precision NASA should envy. There is nothing else to say, except to don sackloth and ashes because we are doomed.

A few societies like Iceland and Denmark have actually implemented some half-way measures with spectacularly good results, with the result that they are reviled by the backward elements everywhere. You are right, we are right, but ours is a lost cause barring a miracle.

Then again, as the Earth warms and the chaos intrudes maybe the Clue will get around. One can hope. Even if Hope came out of Pandora's box, it can still be a comfort in the hours before the jackboot comes down.

I can haz blog!

So many people seem to be missing the point... (4.30 / 10) (#76)
by WixerTheGriffin on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 01:24:23 AM EST

The main idea that I formed from reading is that we need to RE-EVALUATE our standards of sexuality. Why do Christianity and other religions teach that sexuality at a young age is bad? Sure it's supposed to prevent teen pregnancy and over-indulgence of pleasurable activities, but is that what sexual/intimate repression prevent? Not fscking likely! Look at the US's pregnancy rate compared to other developed countries. The Dutch have a tenth of our pregnancy rate but wait, THEY DON'T SEEM TO DISCOURAGE SEXUAL ACTIVITY?!?!? WTF, IMPOSSIBLE! Anybody who has been to Europe knows that sex is much more openly discussed in society. But funnily enough they don't have a higher teen pregnancy rate! But people either ignore this fact or they say, "Oh, it's just some random correlation, i don't have to believe it because my scientific thinking allows me to see through such correlations." Perhaps, but remember your views are affected by a lifetime of pro-sexual repression at a young age. sure you may have turned out fine, but perhaps society could be better overall if it hadn't been repressed.

and that is exactly the point the article tries to make. Our violence is somehow tied to sexual repression. This is supported by many different forms of evidence. The statistics, for one. Another example: the stimulation of pleasure suppressed violent thought in some animals they were testing. Never did violence and pleasure coexist, they were basically mutually exclusive in the brain. Also, violent activity is observed in animals primarily during times of mating, in the form of male aggression. Once they get to have sex, viola they are peaceful again! Also: bonobos can solve their social problems with sexual activity. Do we see a trend? If you deny a trend, then go to hell. Otherwise, try to be OPTIMISTIC! Do you have ANY evidence that shows sexual repression to be good? nothing other than the fact that our society is wrought with school shootings and disproportionately high teen pregnancy. could it be better? yes, obviously! We live in a society that is a result of countless years of repression. it's fucked up and someday we'll have to do something about it. And more repression doesn't seem to be helping, goddamn it.

who cares about anything but the point that PERHAPS our VIOLENCE is tied to our FUCKED UP SEXUAL REPRESSION. if you get riled up about how Eloquence ties pleasure to general societal health, then disregard pleasure because you seem to have been tainted by the idea that pleasure in the form of sexual play is unconditionally bad. he's just making a general correlation between happiness and non-violence to regular uninhibited sexual activity from a young age.

if you disagree with this article, you MUST defend WHY sexual repression is GOOD. that's the only point that the article can be disputed for.

re-evaluation is absolutely critical. why should we believe what our ancestors have naively believed in for so damn long, and when in so many damned cases it was the "morally" wrong thing to believe. in retrospect, the crusades were idiocy, yet they were religiously defended at the time. cannot the exact same thing be happening here? you must recognize the analogy, so please re-evaluate what your beliefs are in light of what research seems to show.

scattered thoughts on an American Beauty (3.00 / 5) (#77)
by kurthr on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 01:29:43 AM EST

i thought this was an interesting bit of incitement. i have doubts about the absolute strength of the causation between (lack of) affection and violence (the confounding variables are legion), but it satisfies my social liberalism;^) so i won't argue.

also, i enjoyed watching American Beauty last night, which seems strangely apropos.

conflating affection with sexuality seems a bit much, but so is suspending 5 year olds or sending 16 year olds to prison. to give an example of the confusion, one afternoon watching television i listened to a televangelist use the phrase "what if a child saw it", while refering to women breast feeding in public. i had to laugh, but clearly some fully grown people aren't hip to how babies become adults (who begat yet more babies).

on a side note about the Bonobo, arguably man's closest genetic relative: the original 1954 researchers hid their sexuality in latin (native germans) because they were afraid of what would happen if the common folks found out what the monkeys were doing, and that males were appearently not dominant in this peaceful society.

try looking at cultural violence and insensitivity as a meme. for the defense of the group it's important to be able to fight off invaders, and even to expand as an imperial power. to do that you need to brutalize your children so that they will fight with/for the group. of course this may cause problems within the group during times of peace (and?) prosperity. _The Lucifer Principle_ discusses this quite a bit, though it's a bit pedantic and mostly worth skimming for content.


big group hug

i'm not even coherent enough... (none / 0) (#78)
by kurthr on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 01:43:50 AM EST

to post a link in support of the bonobo allegations:


it contains an article
by Frans B. M. de Waal
Originally published in the March 1995 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

the author of the book Eloquence sites.

[ Parent ]
Bring it on (2.00 / 7) (#79)
by gamecat on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 12:05:43 PM EST

If anything, such a portal will be a great source of pleasure, for those into psychoceramics. Once it's created, we can possibly expect it to become a nexus for crackpots and cranks of various stripes. You could have the pederasts who seize on this argument to justify "consensual" sex with young children, the conspiracy kooks who believe that repression was implanted by alien oppressors, or even neo-Nietzchean arguments that it is right to take your pleasure by all means necessary, and kill anyone who would deny it. All of which guarantees a most amusing read.

Useless Rubbish (3.00 / 6) (#80)
by Jonathan Walther on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 08:59:59 PM EST

This article says, in verbose and wordy terms, things that have been known for hundreds of years. Writers of the previous century used to discuss teenage sexual sublimation, and how it gave rise to our current day civilizations technological prowess. Take away that sublimation action, and you take away peoples motives to excel in fields that are seen as "anti-social". So society as a whole loses. If I'd seen this article in the queue, I'd have voted it down. The great colonization of the world was a Good Thing. It gave rise to the Internet after all :-)

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

Useless Rubbish this is indeed... (2.25 / 4) (#82)
by WixerTheGriffin on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:51:27 PM EST

do you believe that maybe, just MAYBE, there could be a better way to raise kids? do you honestly think that society knows the ULTIMATE way to make all types of optimal people? do you believe every single good artist or person in an anti-social field was beaten and sexaully repressed? nobody is stupid enough to answer 'no' to any of those questions. besides, you missed entirely what the article is really about. go read it again.

[ Parent ]
Useless Rubbish II (1.22 / 9) (#81)
by Jonathan Walther on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:02:43 PM EST

The same goes for much of our civilizations great art and music. Imagine if Beethovens father had been a big teddy bear. Or Mozarts. Any field which requires great amounts of effort to master is affected greatly by permissive sexual mores.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

Didn't Timothy Leary say something like this? (2.28 / 7) (#83)
by gamecat on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 12:14:54 AM EST

I recall reading arguments by Timothy Leary that argued something similar to this. Only he went a bit further, arguing that the answer is for everyone to take LSD to dissolve their warlike/industrial/anti-pleasure imprinting and reprogram themselves into a more hedonistic mode.

Great article!!! (3.25 / 8) (#84)
by emmanuel.charpentier on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 12:14:04 PM EST

But I can't believe how many comments are actually against the basic message.
Pain and pleasure are the most basic urges animals have. And sexual pleasure is one of the greatest energy we have available.
In fact, when looking at evolution, we must consider sex as the one relation between us and the early generations. Along with food, drink and shelter, it is the one thing required for the continuity of life
I'm glad to see what netherlands are doing with the education of their kids, and how it improves their life.
Moreover, I want to add that thinking children have no sexual pleasure is a very reductionist viewpoint, and keep in mind that sex is not just about genitals, but about the whole body.

A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing (4.16 / 12) (#85)
by Tjekanefir on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 03:17:18 PM EST

You need to learn a little more about primatology before trying to use secondhand stories you heard somewhere to support your ideas.

There are many good reasons not to jail teens and preteens for nonviolent sex play. (The most convincing one, for me, is that they're sure to learn worse habits in jail.) This rambling essay, though, makes none of them, instead using half-baked philosophy based loosely on the study of bonobos to attempt to "prove" the point.

A few corrections about bonobos and chimps:

1) Bonobos' use of sex to "solve conflicts" is something they SHARE with humans. Two bonobos, squabbling over some food or a toy, have sex and calm down. Come on, anyone who's ever been in a relationship knows humans do the exact same thing.

2) Yes, prepubescent bonobos engage in sex play with each other, and it does not cause them stress. However, adult bonobos also engage in sex play with infants. I hardly think *that* is something the author wants to recommend. Just because one species is happy with a behavior pattern in no way suggests a different species would be.

3) It's absolutely not true that bonobos don't fight. They bite, hit, kick, and scratch each other. In captivity, they are friendly the vast majority of the time. So are gorillas (who engage in very little sex play). Most serious primate violence is not directed against members of the same troop, and so it's rare to see it happen among the family groups in zoos and study facilities, such as those where Dr. DeWaal does his research. Whether bonobos in the wild wage wars against neighboring troops, as chimpanzees have been observed to do, is sadly never likely to be known; there are few bonobos remaining in the wild.

4) Chimpanzees, who *have* been observed waging war (including killing helpless opponents), masturbate ALL THE TIME. Observe a young chimpanzee for three continuous hours sometime. I guarantee you he or she will masturbate for you at least once. And the mother chimpanzee doesn't slap his hand away, either. Prepubescent chimpanzees also pretend-mount each other, pretend-mount adults, touch adults' genitals, carefully observe adults having sex, and make attempts to join in when adults are having sex. They give every appearance of pleasurably enjoying all these things. It doesn't stop them from slashing to death an elderly female who belongs to a different troop when the troops are fighting. What on EARTH makes you think primate studies suggest children masturbating and engaging in sex play would make them disinclined to war?

Given this author's obvious ignorance about non-human primates but willingness to claim primate data supports his ideas, I don't have any faith in his or her supposed "data" about primitive human societies, either.

Jefferson (2.71 / 7) (#86)
by wytcld on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 03:58:17 PM EST

The Declaration of Independence's first draft said "life, liberty and property." Jefferson, following his favorite philosopher Francis Hutcheson, who argued that accumulation of property was only legitimate insofar as it truly served happiness, changed it to "and the pursuit of happiness." I'm not certain whether this was before or after Jefferson began pursuing happiness with his property, namely Sally Hemmings.

This mixed moral example should remind us that at the time of the Revolution only 17% of the population of the Colonies consisted of members of church congregations. "Under God" was only added in the 50s by the McCarthy-ites. The separation of church and state was instituted at a time when the great majority saw little value - and much danger - in church.

As the illegitimate Bush administration moves us towards a war footing with our old cold-war enemies, and encourages discipline and denial as the cure for all social problems, remember that what they promote is not our true culture.

A few words in defense of social workers (3.00 / 3) (#92)
by refulgence on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:35:11 PM EST

It is unfortunate that a group of people already underpaid and underappreciated should be further stigmatized. Everyone from CNN to Lifetime to Eloquence seem to look down on them (though I appreciate the quotes around "therapist"); the truth is that social workers perform the bulk of mental health care in America and often provide much better care than better-paid, drug-'em-up psychiatrists who only talk to their patients for ten minutes during med checks.

While it is certainly true that many case workers and repressed memory specialists overstep their bounds, it is also true that most of those who work to discredit child testimony on these grounds are well-paid professional witnesses hired by people who actually are guilty.

Let's just remember: social worker != agent of Satan.

"Disgust is the appropriate response to most situations."  JennyHolzer
The holes in his arguement. (2.85 / 7) (#95)
by datapulse on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 12:39:14 AM EST

Although I agree with alot of the author's reasonings when it comes to describing the problem, but I think he is way off base with his solution.

He makes it seem that if all us teens would just start screwing like rabbits we would fix the world's problems. He's taking too much of a radical approach to solving this problem and it could be just as destructive as what we're doing now. As a junior in high school I can tell you that I've seen too many girls(and some guys) hurt and screwed by someone who was using them for sex. I've seen them mope around for weeks and never fully recover. Hell I've seen the same thing happen from just a flirtatious kiss. Is promiscuis sex the answer we need? I don't think so!

What the author needs to understand is that when you give someone alot of freedom such as sexual pleasure it MUST come with as much responsibility. Like all double-edged things(guns, sex, etc) one must find the balance between good and bad. If you suppress the bad things about intimacy than you also limit the extent of the good side. A child who is not taught about intimacy, who is not shown affection, and who has not been able to give affection will not have a clear view of where the balance is, nor will he be able to fully enjoy the good side. So if we cannot suppress the bad than what can we do? WE HAVE TO LET "EVIL" HAVE FULL REIGN AND FREEDOM! Only than can a child really understand and accept responcibility. Now this is not to say give everyone a condom and a free hotel room, I'm just saying there's no way to restrict evil in this world, the only way to combat it is to fight back every step with a higher dosage of "goodness". What is "goodness"? Goodness is the act of teaching kids what TO DO(love, commitment,etc) and NOT restrictions. People have to understand that NOT doing "evil" and doing "GOOD" are two seperate things. When I have kids I would want them to be able to stand in room filled with drugs, peer preasure, and playboy sex kittens and be able to turn away not because they are afraid of me but because they know there's something better out there, something I taught them with what I DID in life and not what I DID NOT DO.

I think that's the author's problem, he's very vague with his solution and really only points out the problem. My father once told me "Don't complain about something unless you have the solution" and frankly the author doesn't seem to have it.

Oh one other point i forgot (It's 12pm im drowsy!).

Throughout this raving I tried to stress to words intimacy and affection and NOT SEX. I think what we are lacking as a society is more emotionally based, sex is just two bodies up against another. without emotions it's nothing. that's what seperates us from the monkeys.

my two penneth (or cents) (none / 0) (#96)
by andyr0ck on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 09:57:04 AM EST

i agree with this: we, as a society should promoting affection and love, rather than the cheap, virtual, desposable existence that is fast becoming the norm.
[ Parent ]
So-called false memories (none / 0) (#97)
by doumakes on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 01:06:49 PM EST

There's a lot of self-interested pseudo-expertise on the issue of memory, repressed memory, and recovered memory.

Relevant research has been done. Investigators went into decades-old medical records and found confirmed cases of child abuse. They then found and interviewed the adult victims. Thirty percent of the adult survivors had no memory of the abuse that we know, for a fact, occurred. Clearly memory of abuse does indeed get repressed.

Certainly it's possible to interview someone in such a way as to suggest answers. In my years of practice as a psychiatric nurse, I never saw any professional do so, but it has happened in a few well-publicized cases. That kind of screwup in no way justifies blanket skepticism toward people who claim they are abuse victims.

Pseudo-Expertise (none / 0) (#99)
by Eloquence on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 12:25:20 AM EST

There's a lot of self-interested pseudo-expertise on the issue of memory, repressed memory, and recovered memory.

With that, I agree completely. Out of self-interest, psychotherapists who are responsible for witchhunts of epidemic proportions are further promoting the myth of "repressed memories", citing pseudo-scientific studies, pedophile conspiracies and "personal experience". The witchhunts which destroyed families and led to year-long prison sentences for innocent people are laconically referred to as "screwups", while those who know how to do it right are the experts who are to be trusted. "Experts" who use exactly the same methods (now no longer accepted as evidence by many courts of law), with exactly the same arguments, as "reincarnation psychotherapists" and "abducted from aliens psychotherapists".

Most of those who are involved in this field will never be able to realize the extent of their delusions; they are like religious fundamentalists who have to accept the craziest contradictions in order to further support their beliefs (and, in this case, their income). Selective perception is a powerful mechanism. Ofshe and Watters have, in Making Monsters (which I cite in my article, while you cite nothing) not only documented the many, many, many cases of false memories (and how the suggestion of these memories is a fundamental part of the movement's dogmatic literature -- a lot of the text in the book comes from books and articles by (in)famous sex abuse psychotherapists), they have also examined and refuted various studies on the subject that are often cited as "evidence that repression occurs". They have clearly shown that the installation of false memories is not an exception, but the rule.

If you can cite the "research" you refer to it may very well possible that it is covered in the book. If it's not, I'd be very happy to order a copy of the respective articles and examine them. For example: At which age did the abuse occur? Abuse in infanthood/early childhood is often not "repressed" for years but never remembered in the first place. I would not be surprised if these "studies" were about as scientific as the papers regularly coming from the Bible Belt showing that "going to church increases your health" (people who go to church regularly are generally more healthy than those who cannot / are not able to go to church- duh!).

You could also do yourself a great favor by reading Making Monsters. Then feel free to tell me how and where the authors are wrong.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

cats and dogs -- living together. (none / 0) (#98)
by naught on Tue Apr 17, 2001 at 05:58:13 PM EST

mass hysteria.

what the author suggests is largely correct, but accidentally so, and the conclusions drawn are sketchy at best.

here's the problem: we in america criminalize affection. we don't want our kids touching other. we don't want our teachers touching our kids. we don't want our friends parents touching our kids. this is because most parents believe that the way the look in the eyes of their community is through their kids. people are pretty judgemental about kids. we almost treat kids like property -- and we're all possesive twits, for the most part.

hence, our defensiveness: we don't want people touching our stuff. and with all the 'child abuse' madness in the 80s and early 90s, the distance between any given two people got that much farther apart. these things, along with the denouncement of secular education by the evangelical community and several highly publicized kidnapping/rape cases involving children fostered an aura of fear that is being persisted by the media.

is that person a child molester? are they violent? are they sick? are they gonna give my little girl hepatitis? these are the questions that your average suburban american asks about the people they meet on the sidewalk. and who can blame them, with so many pseudo-news sources (dateline, 20/20, readers' digest) and talk shows (geraldo, oprah, the view) promoting the idea that the world is a scary place. they point out everything that could ever hurt you, and teach you not to touch anyone or anything unless you have your disinfectant handy. they show you the worst violence of society and then point the finger at anyone who's a stranger, saying it's better to stay home (and watch their shows).

the consequence of this is we, as a society, have drifted away from values which incline us to initially trust each other. now, the default setting of most people is suspicion. and one of the ways this affects us is in the ease with which we develop affection for other people.

now, i'm about to go into touching other people. but first: i don't really agree with Eloquence here -- i think that his thinking is past what is good and healthy, and right back down into the 'ultimately destructive'. it's tempting to allow and encourage sex among children, from the point of view that 'pleasure and violence can't coexist'. they can happily coexist, btw -- there are those who derive pleasure from violence. but the journey to adulthood is one in which children are developing the associations they'll take with them throughout their adult life. we want them to be healthy when they get there. one of the ways that a child can become unbalanced is to learn to associate sex with affection, or sex with happiness.

sex makes you happy -- but it's not the only thing, and it doesn't keep you happy for long. it's a short term happiness, and far too many people stack up short term happinesses so they never have to figure out long term happiness and contentment. this is how addictions and obsessions start -- a person finds something that works, for a little while, and has to keep coming back to that because they don't know any other way to be happy. if a child associates sex too early with happiness, why should they learn anything else? given the powerful animal and chemical nature of sex, those entanglements (i'm talking about other people here, not masturbation) should be avoided until the child is mature enough and well-balanced enough to grasp the fact that there's more to life than that.

when is that, you ask? depends on the kid. maybe 12. more likely 15-16. sometimes not until 20-21. of course, by then they've already learned the hard way, no doubt.

also, the association of sex and affection is one which is fallacious. i have a lot of affection for people i have no sexual predilection toward. we hug, touch, and hang out. these behaviors are not preludes to sex; they are born of pure love and affection. a child (1-25) who can't differentiate that affection which is born of love and companionship and that which is born of lust is gonna make a pretty sorry adult.

girls: have you ever met that guy who you've started talking to, got to know, thought he was pretty cool, and then he asks when you can head back to his place? you're stunned. you were fond, but you weren't thinking of him *in that way*, right? this person couldn't differentiate between pure affection and lust. in his mind, you were getting along, so sex was the inevitable conclusion.

guys: have you ever hung out with that girl who seemed different and swell while you were paying attention to her, and then got sullen at you when you weren't right there? or you've been talking, you get around to heading out, and she asks 'don't you find me attractive?'. same deal -- no differentiation betwen friendship and affection and sex.

i don't want to think about a world where everyone is like that. where every being equates sex with happiness and human relations.

but i digress: a lack of positive human contact is causing us to be a society of strangers. and we don't mind hurting strangers. we need to decriminalize contact with our fellow man, as a society, and as a government. we need each other's touch. it makes us real. we associate reality with the things in which we come into contact. we know our other senses often deceive us, but we're pretty sure, as beings, about touch.

one of the most meaningful gestures in recent memory came from my friend andrew. i was having a rough week -- i was sitting there trying to each lunch, and was having a hard time speaking, holding on to my tea cup, just trying to hold back the emotional flood caused by all the [censored] that had been filling up my life in the previous few days. andrew reached across the table and touched my arm. he asked if i was okay. in that simple gesture, affection and concern were carried, and i found that i *was* okay. it was that touch that did it.

at some point, we as a society have to start trusting our parents, teachers, ministers, and the other people who help us raise our children. at least have more trust than distrust. give them the tools to do their job.

also, we as adults should take the time to show our affection to our friends and family a little more freely. a hand on the shoulder, a smile, a hug, a kiss -- these things, from those who want to help us out and care about us bring us closer each other.

for the record, i'm not an overly friendly guy -- this rant is a little out of character for me, but it struck a chord somewhere. if you see me on the street, don't expect a hug, at least after an hour or so and this 'faith in humanity' crap has worn off. =)


"extension of knowledge is the root of all virtue" -- confucius.

Rules and Regulations (3.00 / 3) (#100)
by Eloquence on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 12:40:18 AM EST

one of the ways that a child can become unbalanced is to learn to associate sex with affection, or sex with happiness.

Now that's a new argument. We have to sexually repress our children -- keep them from doing what they do naturally, perhaps even put them in therapy if they do it "excessively" -- in order to make sure that they derive "happiness" from as many sources as possible. Now, there are some questsions you have to answer: How happy are children allowed to be? And when is happy too happy? What is the evidence that having too much sex makes you unhappy in the long run, or that too much happiness is, somehow, a bad thing? How do these "primitive cultures" which allowed freedom of sexuality for children have any disadvantage towards our sexually repressive cultures?

Sex is not a button you can push at any time to become happy. It depends very much on what we loosely call "your mood" -- there is already a sophisticated chemical regulation system in place which prevents us from getting addicted to sex (i.e. turning the sexual pleasure state into the "normal" state and the "normal" state into the "depressed" state). Externally regulating sexual behavior is not only unnecessary but dangerous and potentially very, very harmful. There are reasons why other primates don't have laws against child sexuality. There are reasons why the primitive cultures who had those laws were more violent.

If you give me that electrode with which I can create an orgasm by pushing a button at any time, then we may talk about regulation. Any necessary regulation of pleasure derived solely from our own bodies has evolved biologically millions of years ago.
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[ Parent ]

Pleasure/Pain (2.00 / 1) (#101)
by jude on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 07:26:00 AM EST

A few properly positioned electrodes in everyone's brain and a mild electrical current could bring about world peace then, couldn't it, until all the batteries ran down and there was nobody around to make new ones. Our schizoid apprehension of things tends not to take into account that pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin and you cannot have one without dealing with the other. Attempting to find shortcuts to maximize pleasure at the expense of pain will just create a large "pain deficit" that must one day be paid. The Bonobo are more nearly total animals than are we and are thusly less capable of making conscious choices. With sufficient regions of your brain cauterized you might be able to live happily as a Bonobo. Lacking that, however, truth is going to be constantly reminding you that pleasure has it's price. To ignore that truth will one day cause you great pain.

The pleasure/pain axis is a dangerous one to spend much time on. Endorphins don't make the man, they just make the man feel better. The man should not "feel better" unless he has a good reason to, (i.e. unless he has accepted responsibility for the consequences of his pleasurable acts and has made peace with himself on paying the price of them)

pain deficit?! (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by gold tone ranking monkey on Wed May 02, 2001 at 10:59:24 AM EST

[...]Attempting to find shortcuts to maximize pleasure at the expense of pain will just create a large "pain deficit" that must one day be paid.

are you insane? pain is not an accountant, you don't "owe" pain, nor do you owe the world a block of "suffering" in payment for every increment of pleasure you experience.

this bizarre, religion-derived concept that pain and pleasure must coexist in some kind of balance (although it seems to be preferred in a 3:1 ratio) seems completely wrongheaded. guess what - we could all live without pain (or more pain than we inflict by accidentally stubbing our toes or ending a relationship) quite happily, and society wouldn't collapse into an endless chain of orgies and, more frighteningly, no work getting done.

now i see why wilhelm reich's books were burned. the sane ones, anyway, before he starting hallucinating UFOs.

The Bonobo are more nearly total animals than are we and are thusly less capable of making conscious choices.

exactly how conscious are our choices when you can see how deeply we're conditioned by the explicit and implicit rules of our religious and repressed society? can anyone see that so many of the responses to Eloquence's article seem to be solely knee-jerk reactions to a misinterpreted sentence or two from the middle of the article?

With sufficient regions of your brain cauterized you might be able to live happily as a Bonobo. Lacking that, however, truth is going to be constantly reminding you that pleasure has it's price. To ignore that truth will one day cause you great pain.

how tedious. doesn't sound like "truth" to me - sounds like the little priest in your head telling you you're going to burn for the bad, bad things you've done.

i'm not saying "if it feels good, do it", necessarily; i'm saying we should stop telling people that "if it feels good, you're doing it wrong/you'll pay for it later/you're too young for it."


[ Parent ]
Defending the Right to Pleasure | 104 comments (74 topical, 30 editorial, 0 hidden)
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