Saturday, March 18, 2006

Or is it all a matter of closed religiousity?

(ed: Reposting blog post because of spelling and formatting errors)

ST Article: "Is it all a question of openness?"
by Asst/P Tan Seow Hon

Reading the article, one cannot help but feel that this is a question still in search for an answer. Despite all that she wrote, nevertheless we are not left with an alternative with what it might boil down to.

Unless one reads between the lines of course. The only plausible alternative is that pre-martial sex is not good (I'm not even entirely sure she could even make the point that it was bad) because well "Someone" (nudge nudge wink wink) says so.

But let us focus on the substance of the article and in particular the claims made by the good Assistant Professor.

1. That a new orthodoxy about pre-martial sex seems to be emerging amongst the youths.

I'm not entirely certain about this assertion given that she extrapolates it from a single example (now 3 I hear, probably loads more) of a couple phonecaming themselves having sex.

Mind you, just less than a century ago, they would already have had kids and would be out working in the factories or managing the manor but nevermind that. The more important point is whether one can extrapolate a new <i>orthodoxy</i>, note the word, from a single example. The plural of anecdote is not data. But even if we concede that such a thing is possible, given the furor over premarital sex since the injunctions about virginity in most religious texts centuries past and present, are we necessarily seeing a new orthodoxy or more of the same old same old?

Aside: Maybe the new orthodoxy is exhibitionism. That should be personally interesting.

2. Some youths view those who believe pre-marital sex as a no no to be immature, prejudiced and judgmental.

Why Yes! Wow, brilliant observation, arguably with the intention of prejudicing the reader. But I don't give a flying fox about that. The real issue is which holder of views is more likely to be correct in their views.

I'm still waiting for a reason why pre-marital sex is INTRINSICALLY bad without recourse to either a) societal viewpoint (which as we know as the greaters arbiter of all that is good and pure racial lines =P) or b) some text asserting so.

Still waiting really.

3. That this is due to us no longer having a language of right and wrong. BUT that we poor poor liberals and post-modernists are just confused because we believe in individualism and autonomy but those notions still resides within the language of right or wrong.

What post-modernists more accurately say is that every viewpoint is a social construct and thus is subjectively valid. So the real question becomes, how do we arbitrate between them? I'm all for the use of an objective standard of Harm, the mainstay of Liberalism or even Utilitarianism as a consequentialist form of morality. Either way, by no stretch of the imagination or the facts (without outright lying or destroying the notion of Science) is pre-marital sex intrinsically bad.

This could be the start of a very long essay about the basis upon which we order society and how one determines Good but let's leave that for another day. Although if you search around on this blog, I've probably made some mention about that.

BTW, I very strongly recommend reading Bertrand Russell, he's at the very least funny and incisive.

4. We do not live by our instincts and that's what separates us from animals.

According to vegans (and this cute little article stuck to the drinks machine along the walkway to the Central Library), by the same argument, just because we need to eat and are omnivourous does not justify eating animal protein and the general exploitation of animals. Good enough argument? You decide.

And anyway how do we determine what is Natural (issues of self-evidentness abound)? Furthermore, my reason tells me that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with pre-marital sex, nor nothing particularly prized about virginity. Whereas my instinct (reason more likely) tells me that admonishments about pre-marital sex and keeping of virginity is the hallmark of a patriachical society premised upon the subjugation of women and based upon an erroneous mode of superstition.

5. No connection between marital and pre-marital sex.
6. The use of the word marital in order to "confer some of the same moral connotation upon a non-martial relationship that would otherwise be questionable".

Why do and should we hold in esteem something that is nothing more than an error of history and language?

Other than for its ironic and fallacious value of course.

7. Sex in a relationship with marriage in view makes marriage conditional.

So what? The same goes for the whole idea of dating, meeting his family, registering at ROM and a whole host of other things when it comes to marriage as a <i>choice</i>. When marriage isn't a choice than the list of things the marriage is contingent on becomes longer.

Family astrologer meet other family astrologer.

8. Marriage as more than a mere ceremony.

And therefore? Then the argument needs to be that somehow sex and marriage are inextricably linked and not simply by social convention. And even if it were, it would be logically fallacious to argue that Not A therefore B. No, that would only be true if A and B were mutually exclusive and in this instance they are not.

Adding insult to injury was a rather fallacious use of the hypothetical and caricaturedd post-modernist. And even if one accepts her basic assertion that post-modernist (all?) view it as a monumental affair, a life changing experience if you will, again the question is raised, so what? The more important question then becomes what is marriage and why does it 'sanctify sex'.

Any reductionist argument on the side of the marital sex bunch tends to cluster around arguments based upon sex as a means and not an end in and of itself. While I agree that this might be a notionally valid veiwpoint, nevertheless, its weakness lies in its mistaken assessment of its a priori assumptions necessarily being true much less still valid even today.

People have sex for pleasure. Get over it already.

9. Tries to sweep away notion of changing nature of marriage by simply saying that the increase frequency of divorce does not change the nature of the MOMENT of marriage.

So what happens after the moment of marriage? If one logically extends her last line about how one would not like to have sex in a 'partial and conditional love', the implication must be then that marriage is about 'total and unconditional love'.

I pause to savour the absurdity of that statement.

Moving along and on a substantive ground let us examine the nature of marriage. In some countries the groom purchases the bride, in others the bride purchases the groom. In ancient Greece, the negotiations were handled entirely by the groom and the bride's father (who would give mead which was made from honey for an entire moon, hence the origins of the word honeymoon). Arranged marriages have persisted all the way till now and it beggers the belief that this is about total and unconditional love unless one buys into some Orwellian notion of doublethink like slavery is freedom and lack of choice is love.

So where does this notion of a love marriage come in? Even in Chaucer's time, the notion of romantic love was that of romantic courtship where the female held the 'reins' of power in the relationship. The notion, like the stories, were entirely fictitious and were created as a partial salve against the reality that women were often nothing more than chattel. In Singapore, the MCYS census were rather interesting revealing that many felt pressured into marriage either by their family/friends or by society. Companionship? About 30%.

I leave this last point to the sociologists to dissect, but for now ta!


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