Showing posts with label Sex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sex. Show all posts

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Quote Of The Day: The Realities Of Dating Inequality

I just read an excellent article over on the free thought online magazine Quillitte about how the new dating economy creates differing levels of inequalities between men and women, with (no surprise) men having more inequality than women. In other words, male attraction to females is much more spread out based on women's appearances, whereas female attraction to males is much more concentrated to the top fifth of attractive men.

Applying the Gini coefficient to men and women using the number of swipes on dating apps like tinder, the Gini coefficient of males is 0.542, whereas it's a much more egalitarian 0.324 for females. Towards the very end of the article the author, Bradford Tuckfield, makes a slight critique of the progressives who cheer on the end of religion (which would include people like me) in how they're reacting in apparent dismay to the unintended consequences that come along with shattering traditional institutions of sexual regulation, like marriage and monogamy, usually grounded in the authority of the church:

The result of these cultural changes is that the highly unequal social structures of the prehistoric savanna homo sapiens are reasserting themselves, and with them the dissatisfactions of the unattractive “sexually underprivileged” majority are coming back. It is ironic that the progressives who cheer on the decline of religion and the weakening of “outdated” institutions like monogamy are actually acting as the ultimate reactionaries, returning us to the oldest and most barbaric, unequal animal social structures that have ever existed. In this case it is the conservatives who are cheering for the progressive ideal of “sexual income redistribution” through a novel invention: monogamy.

If you read this blog, you know I take strong comfort responding to criticism of secularism and atheism. But this is a new one for me I haven't considered. The dismantling of religion and the values it stands for comes with the unintended consequences of what a free market dating landscape looks like, where the bottom 80 percent of men who are largely unattractive to the majority of women end up struggling in the dating economy in a manner similar to how the bottom 80 percent of people in our economy are. This phenomena gives rise to the "incels" — the involuntary celibates, who for various reasons haven't been able to secure any success in the free market dating economy, and who often yearn for the "enforced monogamy" of the past.

This got me thinking. I'm not a fan on marriage, though I wouldn't argue that no one should get married. I think for many people — perhaps a majority — marriage is the best option for them. Most people are naturally monogamous and prefer to have one long term romantic partner in their life. A minority of people are naturally polyamorous, or are serial daters who prefer frequent, short term, mostly sexual, relationships. Marriage is declining, especially among the poor, and this is due to a variety of reason I won't dive deep into here. But am I unknowingly championing the fall of the dating and sexual realities of the bottom 80 percent of men? I might be, and I'm not crazy about that reality because I might be in the bottom 80 percent of men in terms of attraction. So what should I do? Well, I don't have all the answers now, so I might have to write another blog post about that in the future.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Naturalistic Fallacy And How It Creeps Into Our Thinking

The naturalistic fallacy can refer to a few things. It can refer to the idea that something is good if it is natural, or bad because it is unnatural. In the context of morality and politics, the fallacy pops up a number of ways and affects our ability to reason. Here are two examples.

Conservatives will often argue that homosexuality is unnatural, and that it's therefore morally and politically wrong to allow it. Catholics who espouse natural law theory are very privy to this kind of reasoning. But it's simply false, on two levels. First, it makes the naturalistic fallacy. What is unnatural is not bad, because plenty of things are "unnatural" in the sense of being man-made, like technology, nose jobs, or medicines, and they can be positively good. Second, it is simply wrong that homosexuality is unnatural. Homosexuality is in fact, natural. But that also doesn't make it good either, since plenty of things are natural and aren't good, like cancer, HIV, poisonous mushrooms, and gamma ray bursts from the sun. The goodness or badness of a thing does not depend on its naturalness.

For liberals, it is very popular to say that there are no fundamental differences between men and women other than the obvious physical differences, and this leads many of them to argue that the low number of women to men in particular fields like science, technology, and engineering, are necessarily due to systemic sexism. But there are good arguments against this. Psychology and biology shows that men and women are not the same in our general preferences. Men tend to prefer working with things, and women tend to prefer working with people. That's why there are so many men in the physical sciences, engineering, and technology, and so many women in the social sciences, healthcare, and education.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Rules Of Engagement: Sex And Dating In The 21st Century - Part 2

Continuing on from part 1, I've argued that there is a gray area when it comes to the rape/non-rape and harassment/non-harassment divide because, among other things, the definition of consent is not agreed upon. And there's a series of new problems on our hands given the seemingly new rules surrounding appropriate communication we all must abide by: Women don't want to be harassed. Men don't want to be rejected. But neither do women want men to not ever pursue them, and neither do men want to be harassers (well most of them at least). In light of the recent allegations against Aziz Ansari, this is now more needed than ever.

So, I've decided to write my suggestions on the new rules of engagement: a 21st century conversation on sex, dating, and consent. This is one of the things we absolutely need analytical philosophy for. Sex and dating should be no exception.

I've broken this down into several areas covering day-to-day situations, bars and nightclubs, dating, and sex.

Let's start with day-to-day situations first. I'm defining a day-to-day situation as situations where you're in public, in a restaurant, on the street, on a subway or bus, in a common area in a college, or any place open to the general public, like the kind we frequent on a day to day basis.

A question arises: Is it OK to approach someone in a flirtatious manner or comment on their sexual attractiveness in these day-to-day situations? Consider these scenarios:

  • A guy catcalls a woman passing by on the street by telling her she looks really beautiful and that he would love to get her number. 
  • A guy tells women passing by on a busy street that he thinks they're beautiful. 
  • A guy politely strikes up a conversation with a woman next to him in a bookstore or cafe to talk about a non-controversial subject in a manner that is a bit flirtatious. 

I'm using a guy in all my examples because I want to focus on the main area of controversy, which is in the way men approach and behave with women. There is a kind of woman who would consider all of these situations harassment and a kind of woman who wouldn't. And some women may consider it harassment only at certain times, with certain men. Given that at least some women would find it to be harassment, should men behave according to the feelings of those kinds of women and refrain from such behavior with all women?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Rules Of Engagement: Sex And Dating In The 21st Century

OK - let's have a frank discussion on sex and dating in the 21st century. I think the time's about right.

The recent sexual harassment scandals in the media — if anything — should force us to have a discussion on what are the proper rules of engagement in the dating and sexual arenas, as well as in our regular everyday encounters.

As Bernie Sanders tweeted:

So let's go there. I will write this of course from a male perspective because it's the only way I can, and I will voice some of the concerns I have as a male on the current problems we're facing. And one of those problems is the gray area.

The Gray Area

If a man abducts a woman on the street and forces intercourse on her, this no one denies is rape. If a man and a women have consensual sex with one another, this no one denies is not rape. We can all easily pick clear examples of rape and non-rape with little effort. But now let's move closer towards the middle of the scale. Things get a little bit trickier.

Suppose a woman and a man at a party have a few too many drinks, get flirtatious, and end up voluntarily having sex. Is this rape? What if just the woman had a few too many drinks and the man was mostly sober? Is this rape? What if it was the man who had a few too many drinks and not the woman? Does this change anything? What if they were both women, or both men? Does that change anything? What if they were both sober and one was the clear aggressor and the other went along to bed but never gave affirmative verbal consent? Is that rape?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Toxic Masculinity From A Man's Perspective — Let's Go There

Author's note: I've been wanting to write more about social issues and sexuality for a while now. And since I just wrote a long follow up to why I'm an atheist, I thought I'd give atheism a rest for a little but. So I'm going to be focused on non-atheism and non-religious topics for a bit.

Just about a year ago I became aware of the term "toxic masculinity." While I had not been familiar with the term, I was aware of the concept. It's something I've been dealing with basically all my life. So what is it?

According to Wikipedia,

The concept of toxic masculinity is used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behavior among men in contemporary American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects. Such "toxic" masculine norms include dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance, and the suppression of emotions.

According to Geek Feminism,

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

The "toxic" denotes a distinction between masculinity simpliciter. There's masculinity, and then there's toxic masculinity. In other words, some masculinity is good, and some masculinity is bad. (More on this later)

I definitely agree that there are common attitudes among men that are extremely destructive. I grew up in New York City and was exposed to the thug culture where you had to always be strong, never show any fear, and be willing to kick someone's ass at the drop of a hat if they disrespected you, otherwise you were a "pussy" or a "fagot." Now luckily I never went too deep into the thug culture, but I know from experience how utterly destructive it is.

Thug culture exemplifies the very worst of toxic hyper-masculinity. Every boy and man is trying to be the toughest muthafucka out there. No one's nice out of fear it will be confused with weakness. You can never show any emotion, vulnerability, or weakness of any kind. Women are to be used and abused to enhance the male ego and gratification. Homophobia is ubiquitous: gay males, or perceived gay males are to be bullied, harassed, mocked, and beaten up. The most aggressive, sexist, sociopathic male gets the most respect. It's insanity.

That was the culture I experienced growing up and I hated it. It was toxic masculinity on steroids. While other varieties exist to varying degrees, there are common threads: men must be strong, aggressive, unemotional, womanizing, competitive, and avoid doing things commonly associated with femininity. 

There are a couple of things to say about toxic masculinity as I see it from a male perspective. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Curious Case Of John Doe

Kevin Spacey was in one of my favorite movies of all time, Seven. In it, he played a fanatically religious serial killer who killed his victims according to the seven deadly sins of gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath. The movie is an absolutely brilliant masterpiece of story, cinematography, set design, acting, and editing all coming together.

Recently, as I became fascinated with religion I started seeing Kevin Spacey's John Doe character in Seven in a new light. Spacey has been accused of sexually assaulting men as well as some teenage boys for decades going back to the 1980s. He used the opportunity to come out as a gay man, revealing inadvertently that he'd been repressing his homosexuality for decades, at least publicly.

I always thought the character of John Doe in Seven was a little gay, and I've now begun to think that his Catholic religious fanaticism — which unambiguously takes a hard line stance on homosexuality, could be the reason why he killed in the name of his religion.

Oftentimes, repressed homosexuals who live in conservative religious communities and families become more fanatical and more fundamentalist than anyone else, like pastor Ted Haggard who railed against homosexuality only to be found paying men for sex. They're trying to prove themselves pious because of their internal struggle with their sinful desires. I imagine John Doe was most likely in that same situation: a repressed homosexual laden with guilt and confusion driven to violent religious extremism in an effort to prove how pious he is. There's probably scores of ISIS recruits in the same situation given how common this thread is.

And it seems that the real Kevin Spacey may not be that different. The recent allegations that he's been sexually assaulting men and teenage boys I think stems partly from his repressed homosexual desires. According to one account, Spacey invited a teenage boy over to his place and who he invited to sleep in his bed and when the boy refused and slept on the couch instead, he woke up to find Spacey holding him. This sounds to me like a gay man longing for male companionship, but doing it all the wrong ways perhaps because he can't come out of the closet.

Would Spacey have done such things had he just came out as gay earlier? Is his behavior a result of repressed homosexuality, or is it just a predatory sexual appetite like Harvey Weinstein's? I don't know. I'm totally speculating here. Certainly being gay in and of itself doesn't entail wanting to sexually assault men and boys. It's an aberration. 

The movie Seven doesn't go into such ideas so this is extra speculation on a non-extant movie character, but it could explain John Doe's behavior, and it could be the reason why he killed the way he did.

In that case John Doe's sin wasn't envy, it was lust.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Locker Room Talk" - Some Thoughts

OK, I feel the need to weigh in on the recent comments made by Donald Trump from his Access Hollywood appearance back in 2005. If you haven't heard about it, Trump got caught on a hot mic saying that he kisses married women without their consent, and he tries to fuck them, and he likes to grab women by the pussy, also without their consent.

Aside from the fact that we've never had a presidential candidate caught on recording saying such things in the modern era, I want to talk about Trump's explanation that this was all just "locker room talk."

Now as a man I am very familiar with so-called "locker room talk," but bare in mind that it doesn't include talking about sexual assault. Yes, many men talk about women in very sexual and sometimes very degrading ways, and I too have been guilty of it, but that's different from bragging about sexual assault. In heterosexual male culture there is a kind of expectation that you're supposed to talk about women as sex objects and brag about all of your sexual exploits with them. And yes, there is an incentive to exaggerate on the juicy details whenever necessary. This has been going on probably since we've had language as a species, and it might not ever end. Not all men or boys do this, and not all the time. But generally speaking, your average male has done this at some point in his life.

For a long time this kind of behavior was chalked up simply as "boys will be boys." But now of course this excuse is increasingly not being accepted by society. Here's my view on this. First, we have to keep in mind that what Trump talked about was actual sexual assault, not just having sex with women consensually. We cannot have any tolerance for sexual assault or rape of any kind, period. Second, when it comes to talking about women in sexually degrading ways, my view is that we men should refrain from it, but I wouldn't go so far as to say two men should never talk about women in sexual terms. It's possible to talk about someone as a sex object while being able to fully recognize them as a human being. We've evolved to look at each other as sex objects. That's how nature gets us to reproduce. But you can look at a women as a sex object and as a human being without being a hypocrite, because how you see her depends on the context.

So I'm not asking that all people all the time talk and act as if they were on national television because that would make the world into a politically correct 1984 dystopia. We should be free to say what we want in private but know that it might become public and we should be prepared to deal with the potential consequences, however frightening that may be.

Most men who engage in "locker room talk" are not rapists or would ever sexually assault a woman and so they know how to understand the context. But again, remember what Donald Trump did: he bragged about having had sexually assaulted women in the past. I'm not justifying that. I'm just saying that it's OK to talk about women in sexual terms when men are together alone, so long that they treat women with respect when they're near them. That also means not referring to women as "bitches," which is still very prevalent, especially in the black community — but referring to them as "women." It almost seems like an expectation in some circles to refer to women as "bitches" to the point where if you don't you must be a pussy. We've got to stop that.

There are at least two ways that I've thought of where we can remedy the situation:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far? Yes

This weekend I'll be hosting a debate on political correctness and on whether it has gone too far — which is gotten me in a fix because as the host I'm expected to me impartial. I make it no secret that I think modern PC has gone too far. Political Correctness is defined as:

the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Let's look at a few examples of where I think it has:

  • Debating/Open Dialogue: Recently, when a debate over campus sexual assault was organized at Brown University, some women on the campus feared such a dialogue would enable trigger warnings and under the university's guide were given a safe space room to retreat to equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as reported by the New York Times.
  • Clapping: As reported by ListVerseThe National Union of Students Women’s Campaign, a feminist college student group in Britain, announced in March 2015 that they would ban clapping at their future conferences held at UK colleges. The feminist group claimed that the act of clapping could “trigger some people’s anxiety,” and therefore should be banned from all of their conferences. Instead, the feminist students instructed those who attend conferences to use jazz hands—to wave their hands silently in the air—when they wished to display approval.
  • Cultural appropriation: As reported by ListVerseTrouble began for a band called Shokazoba when they were scheduled to play a Halloween concert at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Shokazoba plays a genre of music called Afrobeat, which is a fusion of funk and jazz music with African rhythms. However, this style proved to be the band’s undoing because of one problem. The band’s members are mostly white.
  • Microaggressions: As reported by The College Fix: The University of California's president recently declared some staples of small talk to be inherently racist or sexist. Saying “America is the land of opportunity,” “There is only one race, the human race” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” are among a long list of alleged microaggressions faculty leaders of the University of California system have been instructed not to say. Other sayings deemed unacceptable include:
    • “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”
    • “Where are you from or where were you born?”
    • “Affirmative action is racist.”
    • “When I look at you, I don’t see color.”
  • Due process: Under pressure from the Obama administration, some universities have abandoned due process in favor of a guilty until proven innocent attitude in sexual assault cases. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, colleges that refuse to curtail the due process of the accused may lose federal funding. Through an interpretation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act universities will be strongly discouraged from questioning or cross examining the accuser. 
  • Feminism: Critics of modern day third wave feminism, like Christina Hoff Summers, who challenge popularly believed statistics like that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted on campus, or that women earn 77 cents on the dollar to men, make “trigger warnings” by their very presence on college campuses and are banned or protested against from speaking.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My thoughts On The Anti-LGBT Laws

Recently, several American states, almost all of them in the South, have passed so-called "bathroom" laws against transgendered persons from being able to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with. The laws, they say, are intended to protect women and girls from being victimized by men who will dress up like women just to enter a female bathroom for the purpose of assaulting or harassing them. To date, I don't think there has been a single case of such an incident ever being reported in the US.

But regardless of lack of evidence that there are men dressing up as women to victimize women in bathrooms, these "bathroom" laws were passed and I don't think many of these conservative lawmakers have fully realized the consequences of these laws they're passing. At least one potential problem came to my mind immediately once I heard about them.

Meet Buck. Buck Angel that is. Buck is a trans-male — he was born as a female but identifies as a male. He has a vagina. Under the new bathroom laws, Buck, and all other trans-men who were born female, would be legally required to use the women's bathroom. How do you think women are going to react when they see trans-men like Buck in a women's bathroom? They are going to think a man has entered and some of them will call the police. And trans-men like Buck might get arrested over and over again and each time have to prove their birth gender by showing the police their vagina. That is a very degrading and humiliating prospect when the obvious solution is to let them use the bathroom of the gender that they identify with. I'm not sure the lawmakers have considered this. And I'm not sure that they realize such a policy could make it easier for real men to enter a women's bathroom since they could be posing as a trans-male. There are also many trans-women out there that can pass as a natural woman and for me seeing one in a men's bathroom might give me a second look. I personally have no problem with trans-women in a men's bathroom, but not all men might be.

That's one reason why I think these anti-LGBT bathroom laws are not made with common sense in mind and will very likely lead to unintended consequences. North Carolina's law goes even further and prevents local municipalities from passing their own laws preventing these bathroom laws; Mississippi's law allows any person or business to deny services to same-sex couples, people who engage in premarital sex, or transgendered people under the guise of "religious freedom." They also allow employers to fire employees merely for being gay.

Oh Mississippi, you never fail to show the world how regressive you are.

This also means that I could be fired for being an atheist if my employer wants to on religious grounds. And I can be fired for having a sexual relationship out of marriage. This is madness. Since many theists often accuse atheism of being a "religion," then shouldn't I be able to fire Christians or deny them services based on my sincerely held "religious" belief that Christianity is immoral? Would any conservative law maker take that seriously?

When you offer a service to the general public, you must serve the general public. I'm a vegetarian. I'm against eating meat. And at my job I'm required to help companies that sell meat products make more money, enabling more meat eating. This is against my personal beliefs. But do I refuse to offer services to these companies? No. I even had to help a Christian company whose mission it is to strengthen faith in Christ make more money through the company I work for recently. Did I protest and refuse to support them on account of my anti-theism? No. I did my job. I don't make personal choices against customers at work. I was hired to perform a service and I perform that service for everybody regardless of whether their business conflicts with my personal beliefs. If I find that my beliefs conflict with the duties of my job, I should either quit or be fired. So the cashier who won't checkout pork products or alcohol products because they conflict with their beliefs should either quit their job or be fired. And the county clerk who feels it is against their beliefs to issue a marriage licence to a same sex couple should either quit or be fired. We all have to sometimes enable those who do things that violate our beliefs due to our jobs. And prepending the word "religious" to those beliefs doesn't make them any more important.

Friday, April 8, 2016

When Liberalism Shoots Itself In The Foot

I feel the need to write more about politics given that this is an election year and I've always been a political person. I want to gravitate towards writing about higher level phenomena like politic and economics, and discussing the issues and the philosophies around them.

I've been thinking for some time now about the negative, and perhaps, unintended consequences of political correctness that some on the left don't seem to acknowledge. One of the problems with political correctness is that it sometimes forces you to deny reality—to deny facts, in the name of not offending people. There are some facts about this world that are inconvenient to the liberal agenda. But facts shouldn't conform to political ideology. Rather, ideology should conform to the facts.

I think political correctness when gone too far can sometimes hurt the liberal agenda by shooting itself in the foot. Let's look at two examples.

Take the issue of the treatment of women in Islam. You have feminists in Western countries who will challenge every aspect of the patriarchy, and every perceived threat of male dominance to the status and treatment of women, yet on the issue of Islam and how women are treated in cultures dominated by that religion, the criticism almost disappears. Instead, the idea goes, since most Muslims are brown, and since the Western colonial powers have historically done bad things to brown people, criticizing Islamic culture for its treatment of women exemplifies this legacy Western colonial dominance, and so we must be respectful of not criticizing the treatment of women is Islamic cultures too harshly—or at all—thereby enabling the mistreatment of hundreds of millions of women to persist. This is a case of political correctness hurting the liberal agenda.

Or, take the dicey issue of race. Political correctness has made talking about race and racism more difficult. The social justice warriors of our day want to effectively shut down anyone who disagrees with their "facts" or who violates their preapproved accepted terminology on how to "properly" talk about race. If someone accidentally "misspeaks" and uses the wrong word, they are labeled a racist and must either step down, be fired, boycotted, or shamed into apology or hiding. What this ends up doing is making many people terrified to talk about race publicly. But racism still exists and not talking about race doesn't make racism go away. We have to talk about race in order to address the causes and solution to racism, and if everyone's terrified to talk about race because they're afraid of accidentally offending someone and being labelled a racist, then no one talks about race except for those perhaps on the far left, and actual racists. This will alienate people in the middle who might have important input to the discussion but who don't agree with the most liberal positions of the far left agenda, and who don't want to get associated with the actual racism of the far right. And so hugely important issues about race might never get discussed and addressed. This is a case of political correctness hurting the liberal agenda. It's 1984 with a liberal Big Brother.

I understand the need for some level of political correctness. I don't want to live in a world where everyone is openly racist and sexist like it was sixty years ago. I abhor actual racism and sexism. But political correctness gone too far shoots liberalism in the foot—and I still consider myself a liberal, by and large. We have to be able to be real with one another when talking about the tough problems we deal with as a society. For example, if you suggest that black culture is partly to blame for the systemic problems in many black communities, should that automatically disqualify you from the conversation? No. If you say that the Islamic religion and much of the culture based on it has sexist elements and is a large part of the problem with how women are treated in Islamic cultures, should you automatically be labeled a Islamophobe who's upholding the racist colonial dominance of an oppressed people? No. We need to be able to discuss about these things without the PC police shutting down the conversation before it even starts.

This is by the way, not an argument against liberalism, but an argument about how liberalism should change, because too much political correctness is hurting it. This is enabling a backlash that is empowering the rise of the far right. And I don't want to see that happening.

Unintended consequences.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Reply To Steven Jake On The Last Superstition - Part 2: Final Causality

Steven Jake over on the Christian Agnostic blog wrote a review of my review of Feser's book The Last Superstition. So let me now review his review of my review. This is part 2 on final causality.

Final Causality

When it comes to final causality, if this goes, A-T metaphysics goes. On final causality SJ says:

Now, the final cause of a substance, as Aristotle articulates it, is the end or goal that it will reliably generate. For example, an acorn will reliably generate an oak tree, given certain favorable conditions. It will not generate a bicycle or a rock. Thus, the oak is the final cause of the acorn—note that a substance can have multiple final causes.

I maintained in the review that if final causality merely means causal regularity, then this is perfectly compatible with dysteleological physicalism. So even if it is true that I completely miss the mark that final causality must apply solely to substances and not events or process (which I don't) it doesn't mean all my arguments are therefore false. It is possible to not fully comprehend something in your criticism of it while your criticism is still valid.

Final causality, as Aristotle articulated it, is not predicated of events. That is, he didn’t say that events in life, like car accidents, have an end-goal, or purpose, in mind. Rather, Aristotle’s ontology of final causes was meant to apply to substances. So The Thinker’s comprehension here is simply confused, and since his argument is predicated on such confusion, it can likewise be dismissed.

When it comes to events, Feser did say that the "evolutionary process itself" would exhibit final causality if it were shown that everything in the biological realm could be explained in terms of natural selection, as a kind of fail safe that all the "followers of Aquinas" would take (p. 114). So if SJ is right here that final causality never applies to events or processes, then Feser is wrong on page 114 where he makes the point that final causality could apply to events or processes. Regardless of whether we're strictly talking about substances or substances + events, there is no teleological final causality Feser (or SJ) has demonstrated. They are simply asserting that the reliable effects of causes are the cause's "goal." This is a very weak argument to rest theism on. There is dysteleological "final causality" — if you even want to call it that, which I don't think we should. I think the term final causality is itself completely antiquated and full of misleading connotations, and the fact that Thomists have to keep explaining what it really means is evidence for that. We need to drop this kind of language altogether when talking about the world we live in.

Moreover, when this inadequate understanding was brought to The Thinker’s attention, yet again, in the comments section of his Chapter 2 post, he did not admit fault nor did he subsequently adjust his review so as to not argue against a caricature of Feser’s position. Rather, he simply stated that he had also addressed final causality of substances. But The Thinker seems oblivious to the fact that when you straw-man an individual’s position, this fallacy is not swept under the rug simply because you didn’t straw-man it in another instance.

We did debate that point about final causality applying to events and processes beforehand and I included it specifically in my review to prevent Feser's own attempt to claim processes would exhibit final causality, as he says in his book on p. 114. I wanted to include a rebuttal of final causality to processes and substances to cover both ends. So I'm not straw-maning Feser's position, although I admit I could have made it more clear what I was trying to do. He really did suggest evolution would exhibit final causality, and by that he meant teleological final causality—as distinct from dysteleological final causality, which is the crucial distinction SJ fails to fully acknowledge in his review of me. I find the notion of any kind of teleology in evolution absurd given the history of it. Nothing could be more dysteleological and more incompatible with omnibenevolence.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Double Standards On Sex

Politically speaking, I'm a left-leaning independent populist and a progressive secularist who is socially liberal, especially on matters of sex. I'm a "feminist" in the sense that I believe in full gender equality, but I generally prefer to call myself a "humanist."

I've found that for many people, especially men, raised with traditional, old fashioned attitudes towards gender norms, one of the hardest things for them to accept—if they want to be a liberal progressive like myself—is the idea that women should be able to have as much casual sex as they want without slut shaming.

If it is perfectly morally acceptable for a man to be able to have casual sex, monogamously or non-monogamously, then it should be perfectly morally acceptable for a woman to be able to do the same. There should be no sexual double standard. This is logically entailed if you want to support sexual and gender equality, as most left-leaning progressive secularists claim they do. But, there are still those among us who call ourselves "liberals," or "feminists," or who openly claim to support an end to the "patriarchy," and who pay lip service to "gender equality," who still think it's proper that women should guard their sexuality in ways men shouldn't.

Why? I think for some men there are inherent fears that a true liberation of female sexuality will unleash the sexual beasts within them, and these women who engage in casual sex will spark inner fears of jealousy. Many of us, perhaps most of us, are prone to sexual jealousy. We're fearful of those we love or desire having sex with others. Similarly, some women who are more on the monogamous side of the spectrum are afraid that the sexual liberation of women will make it more likely that their male partners will cheat on them due to the abundance of having so many easy sexual prospects (and as Chris Rock said, men are only as faithful as their options). It of course goes without saying that many religions cause many of these attitudes and so traditional religions obviously have to go.

So what do we do about these fears that tend to make us hold onto traditional gender norms? Well, it's complicated. First, allowing women to have sex as much as they want without fear of slut shaming doesn't mean that all women will have to have casual sex. It means they should be able to if they want to. There shouldn't be any rigid gender norms imposed on men or women. Men and women should be allowed to have casual sex if they want to. Or not—if they want to. While I do think that the potential for female sexuality in the arena of casual sex or polyamory is greater than it is, I don't think it will be everyone. Second, we need to, as a society, learn to get over our sexual jealousy. I've known many men who in the same breath will complain about women not being easy enough to have sex with, and then complain that a certain woman is a slut or a whore for having too much sex. It's totally illogical and hypocritical. You can't slut shame women for having casual sex, while complaining that you're not getting enough casual sex from women. Third, we still need to respect monogamy for those who are monogamous and for relationships where there is an expectation of monogamy. I'm certainly not trying to advocate in this post that we all just cheat on everyone. Not at all. We should all be open and honest to our partners about who we're having sex with and whether we're monogamous or not. If you promise a partner you will be monogamous with them, then you should be monogamous with them. Period.

No doubt there will be lots of new complexities that arise from fully liberated sexuality and gender equality, but we'll deal with them, much like we dealt with the complications that arose from racial equality. Although, I'd prefer we take a much more rational approach.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Religious Believers: If You're Against Church/State Separation, Here's How It's Gonna Work

In light of the recent uproar over the refusal by Rowan County clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licences to anyone in her county due to her "deeply-held" religious belief against same sex marriage, and her subsequent jail time, I've been motivated to write about an idea I've been entertaining on what a legal system could look like if government and religion were in business together.

Imagine if the government legally forced every religious person to live according to the rules of their religion so that they had to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. They would not be allowed to pick and choose which religious rules they wanted to live by or force others to live by. It would work like this. Everyone would have to register their religious affiliation with the government. For whatever religion you register with, special laws would apply to you on top of civil laws from that religion. So if you register as a Catholic, it would be illegal for you to divorce, or to use any contraception, have abortions, masturbate, have any sex outside of marriage, and even watch pornography. Your internet service provider would have to block pornographic websites from being accessed. If you register as a Muslim, it would be illegal to eat pork, drink alcohol, eat during Ramadan, have any sex outside of marriage, watch porn, and daily prayer would be mandatory.

All the special religious rules would be laws that each member of the religion would have to adhere to, under penalty of the law. Failure obey these laws would result in anything ranging from a fine, to a prison sentence. Your religion would be displayed on your state issued ID, so a liquor store clerk would be able to see if you were Muslim and trying to buy alcohol, and a convenient store clerk would be able to see if you were a Christian and trying to buy condoms, and they would be obligated to refuse to sell it to you. All the regular secular laws that exist would still apply to everyone, but the religious laws would apply in addition to them for registered religious adherents. If the two were in conflict, there'd be a general preference for secular law over religious law, so if someone's religion allowed human sacrifice, or wife beating, it would still be illegal for them.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sexuality In The 21st Century

Random thought about dating in the 21st century. I've never been married, never gotten close to marriage, and have lived, pretty much, the life of a bachelor my entire life. I have had many girlfriends over the years but I've not settled down with any of them. I was just thinking about how dating is in the 21st century, and how my generation handles sex and relationships, a topic I don't often blog about.

I can say, speaking as a man in his early 30s, technically a millennial, that it is fairly easy to get sex today. I think this is in large part due to the fact that our society has progressed to the point where female sexuality is liberated enough where modern women are owning their sex lives and doing it on their terms, and not the terms traditional society wants them to. This has inevitably resulted in it now being easier to have sex than perhaps ever before.*

I think that this overall is a good thing, but I recognize that there are probably genuine concerns and arguments that can be raised about potential negative effects. I'm not against traditional monogamous relationships and marriages, I'm for diversity for those who do not feel that the traditional model works for them. I think we would all agree that cheating is bad, but instead of doubling down and going back to that traditional long-term rigorous monogamy model, instead another view, the one that says making short-to-medium term relationships and polyamory more acceptable would be the best way to handle the fact that many people feel a strong desire to cheat, and often do. That way, we can be more honest about what we want and don't have to all pretend like we're all looking for marriage and kids, which many of us don't want.

I'm not even the kind of person who practices things like polyamory, but the principle here is what matters, and that is a society acknowledging a relationship spectrum where many views are accepted, instead of just the traditional life-long marriage model.

*I could be totally wrong on this and I have no way of telling how easy it really was get sex in all other places and eras.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Generational Divide On Attitudes About Sex

55% of Americans now think that same sex marriage should be the law of the land, but when you look at it demographically from an age-point perspective, you can see a clear generational divide. 78% of 18-29 year olds think it should be legal but only 42% of those 65 years or older think so.

But more than just same sex marriage, the older and the younger generation are divided on basic attitudes on sex that have long persisted. The Sex Positive movement, with the help of the internet (or perhaps because of the internet?), is helping to shape progressive, positive and healthy attitudes towards the most taboo subjects on sex. It is bringing the long held myths about sex and its many quirks and kinks out into the light from a perspective that doesn't look at it with shame and embarrassment, but instead examines all forms of sexuality from the clarity of reason and science.

And the older generation is slowly catching up, although they're where the younger generation was a generation or two ago. Many of our old-fashioned attitudes about sex persist because of religion, and it is no surprise that many in the Sex Positive movement reject traditional theism. The older generation is much more religious than millenials are and their attitudes about sex perfectly correlate with their religiosity. Older, mostly religious, Americans tend to hold old-fashioned attitudes and myths about sex and sexuality, while the younger and increasingly secular and non-religious Americans are embracing progressive views on sex at dramatically high rates. Gallup recently ran a poll that showed 72% of those 18-34 think premarital sex is morally acceptable, while a smaller (but still majority) 56% of those 55 and older think it's morally acceptable.

It is clear in which direction views on sex are blowing and we're never going back, lest radical Islam somehow triumph. Aside from that, it appears the Western world is steadfastly sailing towards a complete abolishment of traditional, often religious based views on sex that have persisted for millennia. I'm all for free and open reasonable perspectives on sexuality that are free from myth and all forms of ignorance, especially dogmatic antiquated religious ignorance, and it recently occurred to me that I should be more vocal about it. So expect in the future more posts addressing the divide between progressive and conservative views on sex and sexuality and where I stand on the issues.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Did Jesus Ever Get An Erection?

The whole idea that Jesus was the embodiment of a perfect human being never sounded plausible to me. If Jesus was indeed perfect and divine, then I wonder, did he ever at any point in his life, get an erection? If he did, then must have had lust, and according to Christians he wouldn't therefore be perfect. But if he didn't ever get sexually aroused was it because he was incapable of it, or did his moral perfection somehow prevent it?

The philosophical question I have is, if Jesus got sexually aroused, is it compatible with moral perfection? The absurd notions of moral perfection are what I'm confused by. Jesus is said to never have had lust in his heart (which means he wasn't a normal human), and so presumably that means he never got an erection, even when he was a baby or a teenager. This is a ridiculous idea if there ever was one. So we can entertain a logical paradox here just like the old question of whether god can create a rock so heavy he cannot lift. So the question is, could Jesus be tempted with sex so powerful, that even he could not resist getting an erection? If no, Jesus was impotent, and that means god couldn't get it up and god would somehow be omnipotent but also impotent, and the Christian notion of a perfect man would be one with no sexual desire and who cannot get an erection. If yes, then the lust Jesus would have had would have negated his moral perfection.

Presumably Jesus was capable of getting an erection, in that he had all the necessary hardware needed to achieve lift-off. But due to his moral perfection (according to Christians) he would not ever need or desire something such that it would result in an erection.

Some have suggested Jesus was really gay and his celibacy was really just him hiding his sexuality in a culture that prescribed the death penalty for homosexual sex. If Jesus existed, I think it is quite possible. It would have provided a loop-hole around his idea that looking at a woman with lust is akin to adultery. And being that he never spoke our against homosexuality explicitly further suggests that maybe he was actually gay. I have no idea of this of course and I am only speculating. I'm officially an agnostic as to whether Jesus actually existed. But the question of whether Jesus ever, or could ever get an erection is one I don't think many Christians are unprepared to answer.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hipster Atheism

When I'm out drinking around town and strike up conversations with strangers, I often want to talk about beliefs. I'm fascinated about exploring other people's worldviews. Lately, most of the young people that I've talked to have all been atheists. This may not come as a surprise given that I live in New York - a very liberal city and a third of all Americans under 30 have no religion, but here in New York the number of atheists/non-theists seems to be much higher than a third. It seems to be a majority.

New York has one of the largest hipster communities in the world, and Williamsburg (which is only a few miles from where I live) is considered the official hipster capital of the world. I don't have official statistics, but in my experiences with the hipster community, atheism or agnosticism seems to be rampant. Atheism seems to be "cool" with the fashionably conscious. It's very rare - almost never, that I run into a young person who actually believes in a theistic god within the context of a particular religion. While I think it's fucking awesome that so many young people are catching onto atheism in numbers that have never been seen before in the US, I certainly want to keep atheism a plausible intellectual position and not just some trend that will be jettisoned once it gets too popular. That's because once something goes "mainstream," hipsters are required to hate it by law, and the growing popularity of atheism might backfire if "uncool" people in backwards parts of the country start embracing it.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Feminism Is Tearing Apart The Atheist Community

For most of the past year or so on my blog I've been balls deep into counter apologetics, taking on every religious argument that crossed my radar. While that currently is and probably will continue to be the primary focus of my blog, that's not all I want it to be about. So let's talk about some social issues for a bit.

The atheist/skeptic/free thinking community has been divided over feminism for the past few years. AronRa spoke about this recently in a new video he put out about how stupid all this in-fighting really is and how bad it's making the community look. This is even more pressing when you consider that atheists are already one of the most despised demographics in the US. Our focus as a community should be in promoting the naturalistic worldview as best we can, and promoting free thinking devoid of religious dogma as the practical and healthy alternative.

I've generally avoided in-fighting other than making a few criticisms of what atheists sometimes do usually in the area of defending atheism. But this whole thing about feminism has gotten me riled up. If feminism is defined as equality between the sexes, then who today would be against that? Yes many republicans wouldn't but they're batshit crazy. I mean what normal person today would be against equality of the sexes? Part of my criticism of religion is that most religions are extremely sexist. And I can't use that as a counter-argument against religion if I myself am a sexist. So integrity forces me not to be a hypocrite on this issue.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tokyo For Foreigners

Watching a few documentaries recently on YouTube about the experiences of culture shock of Westerners in Japan got me thinking of the time I visited Tokyo in 2010. Now I love to travel, but I truly hate that experience you get when you're in a foreign land and cannot speak the language. It almost turns you into a toddler, unable to communicate the most basic of needs and wants. I once got terribly lost in the Tokyo subway system and asking people for help was virtually futile as hardly anyone spoke English. Nonetheless, the Japanese people I asked were very nice, and they tried their best. I somehow eventually found my way.

So what was my experience like in Tokyo? Well, I remember the first night in Tokyo I went to the Shibuya district, which is kind of like Tokyo's Time Square. It's a very trendy district and full of Japanese hipsters. I felt a bit out of place because I wasn't stylish enough. I hadn't really brought any stylish clothes with me because the main destination that I was going to was Bali, and Bali is a tropical resort where you really have to dress as minimally as possible because of the heat and humidity.

And so I spent the night ogling at the people...

Now I come from New York, and we have plenty of Asian people, so being around tons of Asians is not something new to me. But in Japan it's a different story. I was on their turf, their land, where their history goes back centuries, uncorrupted by strong Western influence. Although Japan was occupied by America after World War II, the Japanese, being a very secretive people, and living on an island, have been able to retain a strong core to their cultural identity. Whatever American or Western influences you see there are mainly on the surface.

So of course I headed over to Starbucks for a drink.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Question To A Theistic Evolutionist On Lust

If god used the evolutionary process to make human beings, then why would god use a process that would knowingly embed lust into our very nature and then make it a sin to have lust?

For example, in virtually every species, especially mammalian species, there is one gender that is sexually aggressive, usually the male. There must be one gender that initiates reproduction in order to ensure the survival of the species. The impetus of this initiation is sexual lust. Lust is necessary to ensure the survival of all species. A male must desire more than he can ever have to increase his odds of his chances of finding a mate. That's built right into the evolutionary process - naturally.

If god designed it that way, then his blue print for sexually reproducing species included the necessary requirement of lust. God would have known that humans would be no exception to this rule, and that sexual lust would be the impetus driving our species as well. But then, according to theists, after millions of years of a lust driven survival-of-the-fittest routine, god decides that with humans it is a sin to have lust in one's heart and to even think about a women who is not your wife in a sexual way, much less act on it. And this only applies to males.

Does this honestly make sense? Why would god use evolution, knowing that it would embed certain behavioral traits into our very DNA and nature, only to suddenly tell us that these very traits that god designed into us (via evolution) are sinful and forbidden? Why not just create humans without lust? Or without evolution? And when it comes to homosexuality, why not just make it so that no humans have homosexual desires? Why make some people born with homosexual lust only to forbid its practice under penalty of death? God would have to be at least partly sadistic in order to have designed it this way. The easy option for me has always been to delete god out of the picture. But for theists who refuse to do that, how do you explain this dilemma?


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