Over at Psychology Today, psychologist Christopher Ryan states the obvious. My favorite part: Given the number of days a human female is actually fertile each month, it's a pretty safe bet that the Santorums have had their fair share of non-reproductive sex over the years. (Thanks to CB!)

32 Responses to “Rick Santorum doesn't understand sex”

  1. MrEricSir says:

    This self-righteous ass would be worth a laugh, if there weren’t people out there who seriously considered voting for him.

    • phisrow says:

      He is impolite enough to mention the details in public; but his social positions are pretty much bog standard ‘catholicism-of-the-sort-generally-not-actually-practiced-by-catholics’(except for his enthusiasm for war, of course; because we all know that Jesus was kidding about that pacifist hippie crap; but totally serious about the homosexual menace…)

  2. Jer_00 says:

    Rick Santorum’s position on sex is one that was handed to him by a bunch of men who have taken a vow of celibacy.  He doesn’t have to know what sex is for – he just has to believe what they tell him to believe about it.

  3. Mujokan says:

    You could make Santorum learn this off by heart, and it wouldn’t change his stump speech, because his only aim here is using religion to attempt to gain social control. Truth is utterly irrelevant to him.

    “Ordinary human dating. It’s enjoyable and it serves an important purpose. But when a human dates an artificial mate, there is no purpose. Only enjoyment. And that leads to… tragedy.

    Ordinarily, Billy would work hard to make money from his paper route. Then he’d use the money to buy dinner for Mavis, thus earning the slim chance to perform the reproductive act. But in a world where teens can date robots, why should he bother? Why should anyone bother? Let’s take a look at Billy’s planet a year later.

    Where are all the football stars? And where are the biochemists? They’re trapped! Trapped in a soft, vice-like grip of robot lips. All civilization was just an effort to impress the opposite sex… and sometimes the same sex.

    The next day, Billy’s planet was destroyed by aliens. Have you guessed the name of Billy’s planet? It was Earth! Don’t date robots!”

  4. vonbobo says:

    Do we have an opposite candidate that believes in “for pleasure only”, and wants to stop unnecessary reproduction?

  5. Manny says:

    I am not a Roman Catholic, but I’ve read the catechism book. It says in there that one important purpose of sex is to make the marriage bond closer. That’s why people who can’t have sex aren’t allowed to get married and why married couples are allowed to have sex all month if they want to.

  6. IronEdithKidd says:

    I had human reproductive biology units no less than four times between junior high and high school.  How did this numbskull manage to skip it entirely? 

    Frankly, I’m not terribly surprised.  This is the same guy who thinks terminating his wife’s pregnancy is perfectly OK, but all other women must die should they face the ” you, or your fetus must die” situation.

  7. Santorum and Ryan, conservatives and liberals aren’t really all that different in the end. Both believe that human sexual behaviour should imitate the natural world. The former are against everything that obstructs human reproduction in a premodern society (which, simply put, is everything that keeps the womenfolk from popping out as many babies as possible in the hope that some may reach adulthood). The latter believe that everything is permitted since the animals do it too. Even the tabboo against rape and child molestation was briefly broken by sexual libertines during the sexual revolution, although those two were quickly rehabilitated to make the left-liberal project reshaping of sexual mores acceptable again.

    The point is not to observe nature and see how we can encourage people to imitate it, rather,  the reconcile the emancipatory part of the conservative project (linking sex, love, exclusivity and children)  with the emancipatory part of the liberal project, namely an expansion of tolerance, rights and institutions to all sexual behaviour that is compatible with the first three and does not harm the fourth. Santorum may have questionable ideas but so do many of his opponents.

    • marilove says:

      “Both believe that human sexual behaviour should imitate the natural world.”

      That’s really not accurate.  Most liberals I know, including myself, think:  Have sex, enjoy sex, do it any way you want as long as it is with a consenting adult.  It has nothing to do with what other animals do, but rather the fact that humans enjoy sex.  It’s a very human thing.  Humans just like to fuck.  Even more so than (most) animals, because for humans it’s much, much more than just a survival thing.  Yes, even for those who believe that sex is only for reproductive purposes.  They’re just in denial.

      • Well, that largely confirms what I just said. So long as it’s in accordance with the one holy tenet of liberalism -consent-, it’s all morally equivalent. The moderate social conservative position -moderate, because I don’t want to condone most of that fundamentalist christian stuff- is to say that certain ways of living your life are more conducive to the interests of society, hence deserving to be placed on a pedestal as something higher, better, more mature. One suck example is marriage as opposed to “living with a partner” or being a bachelor. Another one, many conservatives would say, is heterosexuality as opposed to homosexuality, which I wouldn’t agree with, so it becomes about using public reason to establish where one is better than the other and where there really is moral equivalence.

        Nothing in any of that is about telling people that they shouldn’t enjoy sex. The more they
        enjoy sex the more productive they are, the more likely they are to stay together, the better they can raise their kids and teach them what constitutes of the kind of relationship that makes possible a life well lived. Nor is it about automatically using penal law against those whose behaviour doesn’t measure up to the ideal. People who take the existential leap into marriage deserve more respect than those who choose to live together in loving monogamy, who in turn deserve more respect than those who have a large number of emotionally uninvolved sexual partnership at any giving time. Society is perfectly able of praising the first and condemning the third, if only people rediscover their conservative sensibility.

        As with much cultural conservative thinking it’s about defending a balance between society and the individual in which society has relatively more weight than it does in the groupthink of liberal late capitalism. To bluntly retort that it’s nobody’s business reiterates the basic sensibility of liberal morality, but it’s not really an argument.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          To bluntly retort that it’s nobody’s business reiterates the basic sensibility of liberal morality, but it’s not really an argument.

          It’s not an argument because we’re not interested in letting Cotton Mather set the terms of the discussion. I wouldn’t waste my time arguing evolution based on biblical quotes; I’m certainly not going to waste it trying to convince anybody who spends their time fussing about other people’s sex lives. Find another hobby.

          • Note here that merely calling for intellectual openness towards anything that supposes critical self-examination regarding liberal sexual morality is greeted with “put a sock in it” and earns one a comparison to a puritan minister involved in witch trials. Which strikes me as a liberal version of calling someone who advocates banking regulations or a public option a marxist and comparing him or her to Stalin.

            Also note that we’re not talking about anyone’s sex life. We’re talking about the possibility of suggesting that value judgements regarding one’s relational life aren’t an exclusively private matter. One doesn’t have to agree with that but merely offering snide insinuations without refuting anything is more like shouting someone down.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Looks to me like you’re talking about social engineering of people’s relationships and sex lives.

          • Well of course we’re socially engineering people’s relationships to a certain extent. I, for example, try among other things to steer my kids away from associating with other kids that do illegal drugs, fail at school, are building a portfolio to enroll in prison, come from disfunctional families, don’t take care of the way they look… Which doesn’t mean the latter should be left to rot in a dungeon, but the ideal is to raise children into cheerful young adults with a perfect GPA, cultured, a healthy (which these days means below-average) BMI, in shape, well-versed in all the sorts of self-effacing behaviours that make life liveable for the people around them. Coming in contact with the wrong children won’t inevitably ruin my children’s future, but just to be sure I’d like them to mostly play with those who’re growing up into what I want them to be. I don’t need policy-makers to force me to force my children to excel, but at least the larger culture could quit pretending that it’s all the same. Similarly, I don’t think we should pretend that, or shout others down untill they pretend that, all relationships are the same.

            Sexual relationships… well I don’t think any sensible conservative would pretend that we should just outlaw any number of sexual behaviours and then send in the S.W.A.T. team to round up those who don’t do it right. But  some things are simply wrong, and people will react angrily when pundits anywhere try to convince them that they are small-minded prudes for holding on to those convictions. Cheating on your partner is one of the most heinous things one can do, cheating on your spouse even more so. Yet every now and then we read things like monogamy is unnatural because this or that animal doesn’t practice it, or that it’s undesirable because from an evolutionary point of view it’s better to spread your genes around, the more the better, etc. We’re humans, what animals do shouldn’t enter into the equation. We believe certain things about relationships and sex because we feel them to be right, and we convince ourselves that those feelings are legitimate because there’s a societal benefit to them.

            Likewise, Santorum’s views aren’t wrong because his social views are completely illegitimate. Of course people shouldn’t have sex outside their marriage or loving relationship. The problem lies more with the fact that there is a completely legitimate use for contraception. Sex strengthen relationships more than anything else, the more the better. Nor does it discourage people from having children. I think there is still a strong social consensus that those with children are more civic-minded than those who choose not to have children, and luckier than those who can’t have them. The main problem, ultimately, is that republican free market dogma has pushed so many adults so far to the edge that they don’t have the economic security they need to consider marrying someone, that they can’t pay for feeding 2,1 children K-12, then send them off to college. Upholding conservative ideals and simultaneously taking away the support people need to live up to them is the true travesty of modern conservatism.

          • chgoliz says:

            Um, I’m not saying I agree entirely with Grutte’s posts, but I think there is a lot of nuance to the poster’s arguments which doesn’t translate well among a large group of strangers.  I recognize some of what is being obliquely referenced; there’s a lot of academic research on the subject which is not known by the general public (of any political bent).  I think this is someone who is not accustomed to the style of writing in a non-academic comment thread, rather than a concern troll.

        • Pablito says:

          Although you seem to be against liberal morality, you still use liberal terms like public reason. Strange.
          What your ruminations on social behaviour and the good of society seem to miss is that there’s more than one way to live a happy and fulfilling life, and that these many ways of being may benefit society incommensurately.

          Attempting to create a taxonomy of morally good/bad deeds, and place them in a hierarchical order so as to ascertain which we should praise and which we should condemn is to misunderstand ethical life as we actually live it.

          Which value is more important: justice or friendship? It probably depends on the situation, there is no definitive answer.

          Similarly, for many people their circumstances might mean that for them it is better that they don’t get married, while for others the opposite could be true. Assuming that all relationships designated x are better than those that are designated y (and with no particular or pertinent reason given, you’ve said it’s obvious but I don’t see how or why) is to assume that all people’s lives and circumstances are the same. They are not.

          For some people polyamourous relationships work best, so for them having sex with someone who is not their partner is not the one of the worst things you could do. Perhaps one partner has an illness that saps their sex drive so the other seeks sexual satisfaction elsewhere. For the ill partner, being left sick and alone could well be worse than their partner seeking brief physical satisfaction with another but still staying in the relationship and caring for them.

          This is one of many reasons why liberal morality is based on consent and autonomy and not what some pseudo philosopher thinks is best for society.

          Indeed, what is best for society is to not cause conflict and divisiveness by condemning other people’s actions that don’t directly harm anyone else.

          In other words, put a sock in it, it’s no-one else’s business.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      The point is not to observe nature and see how we can encourage people to imitate it, rather, the reconcile the emancipatory part of the conservative project (linking sex, love, exclusivity and children) with the emancipatory part of the liberal project…

      Actually, the point is that it’s nobody’s business and the government and other busybodies should put a sock in it.

  8. flickerKuu says:

    I feel so sorry for Rick’s wife. What a horribly boring marriage, at least in the bedroom.

  9. zebbart says:

    “For Homo sapiens, sex is primarily about establishing and maintaining relationships—relationships often characterized by love, or at least affection. Reproduction is a by-product of human sexual behavior, not its primary purpose.”

    I’d say Christopher Ryan doesn’t understand evolution.

    • EvilSpirit says:

      Yes, you *would* say that, but only if you didn’t understand that social behavior can also be a genetic advantage.

      • zebbart says:

        “be a genetic advantage” = being about reproduction, duh.

        • It’s a genetic advantage to the species, not necessarily the individual. Humans establish relationships with one another, thus increasing everyone’s chances of survival. More surviving humans means more of them may eventually reproduce.

          We see this when, for example, humans and other animals sacrifice their lives so that the rest can survive (e.g. when running from a predator). It’s not in the self-sacrificing individual’s evolutionary interest, but it is in the group’s. Turns out, evolution is a lot craftier than you might initially think.

          So, yes, it is technically about reproduction; Ryan was only saying otherwise as a rhetorical device.

          • zebbart says:

            I know, I understand that, but it just underscores the point that reproductive sex is what everything is about, at least from an evolutionary standpoint. The sentence would be more valid if it went, “For Homo sapiens, 
             establishing and maintaining relationships is primarily about enabling reproductive sex. Non-reproductive sex acts (which are the majority)  establish and maintain relationships—relationships often characterized by love, or at least affection. 
             Establishing and maintaining relationships is a by-product of human sexual behavior, not its primary purpose, but it serves to benefit the primary purpose which obviously is reproduction.”

          • Right, that would be more literally accurate, but it’s very weak rhetorically. When trying to dispel the myth that sex is only for reproduction and nothing else, you don’t want to come out and say, “the primary purpose of sex is reproduction.” Rick Santorum already doesn’t understand evolution, so when explaining things to him, you have to take some baby steps and not overcomplicate things.

            Besides, from the standpoint of normal human psychology, sex definitely isn’t primarily about reproduction. So it could be argued that Ryan was speaking figuratively.

  10. Donald Petersen says:

    Chapman and Idle’s finest hour.  

    “Well, I mean, we’ve got two children… and we’ve had sexual intercourse twice.”

    “That’s not the point.  We could have it anytime we wanted.”

    “Really?”

  11. SamSam says:

    The article may be in good fun, but it really shouldn’t get a pass by Maggie to say outrageous things like

    For Homo sapiens, sex is primarily about establishing and maintaining relationships—relationships often characterized by love, or at least affection. Reproduction is a by-product of human sexual behavior, not its primary purpose.

    What? Evolutionarily speaking, reproduction is pretty much the primary purpose of pretty much any activity (well, reproduction and nurturing the offspring until they can reproduce).

    Sure, non-reproductive sex is more common than reproductive sex, but this doesn’t mean that the primary purpose for the existence of sex isn’t reproduction.

  12. digi_owl says:

    Ah, the inheritance of the puritans.

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