Symposium: Sexuality and Sex Week


This article is in response to “Why Hooking Up Is Letting You Down” by  and is part of the symposium, “Sex and the Polis: Perspectives on Marriage, Family, and Sexual Ethics.

After showing Budziszewski’s article to a few of my secular college friends, I was surprised how much it resonated with them. They loved it. The fact is, Budziszewski’s refreshing argument from design and explanation of natural law speaks to the core of our being.

Our college ‘office of health promotion’ tells us it endorses ‘safe sex’ to promote a healthy sexuality; on the contrary, their confused view trivializes our sexual nature.  The collegiate view of sexuality promotes the idea that our bodies are merely props we use to get pleasure, attention, and approval, just as gnostics throughout history have separated their bodies from their souls.

As Emory gets ready to launch its first ever Sex Week next February, the feminist and rape prevention groups have been more active than ever in handing out free condoms and promoting ‘safe sex’.  I am daily reminded that the newest deadly sin is  “slutshaming,” because we are taught that hooking up merely affirms our bodily desires.

Campus advocates promote sex as one more healthy recreational activity, but they also say that rape is a serious and grave offense to the inner core of our being. These two claims do not align.  Could it be that the documented rise of rape on campus is directly related to our collegiate hookup culture, so acclaimed by ‘Sex Weeks’  on campuses all over the country?  The philosopher Roger Scruton aptly points out the problems that arise from this confused view of sexuality:

The interpersonal nature of desire explains why unwanted advances are forbidden by the one to whom they might be addressed, and why they may be experienced as a kind of contamination. It explains why rape is so grave a crime: for rape is an invasion of the victim’s freedom, and a dragging of the subject into the world of things. If you describe desire in the terms used by the advocates of liberation, the outrage and pollution of rape become impossible to explain. In fact, just about everything in human sexual behavior becomes impossible to explain. Which is why our society is now so confused about sex. We advocate a neutral, scientific view of sex, as a kind of pleasurable sensation in the private parts (which are rapidly ceasing to be private). And by teaching this view of things to children, we encourage them to a premature and depersonalized interest in their own sexuality. In effect we are endorsing in our heads a view of sex that we know in our hearts to be evil.

I invite (beg?) for suggestions and comments concerning how to support Budziszewski’s and Scruton’s view of sexuality during Sex Week at my school.

  • A sex-positive feminist

    There are not. Instead, we pour
    our time and energy into support groups that respond to sexual assault
    survivors and refer them towards resources on campus that can help them. Rape
    is caused by rapists, not every single attempt to “affirms our bodily desires”, and we treat
    the crime as such. There is a clear distinction between healthy sex
    and rape, which this author does not seem to understand, and to lump the
    two into the same category is incredibly offensive to survivors who have experienced
    sexual trauma. Instead of imposing draconian ideals regarding
    “the negative effects of hookup culture”, we choose to
    educate people on the realities of non consensual sex and how to
    respond to those harmed by sexual violence. I’m sure the “Love and
    Fidelity Network” has myriad insightful information on how to abstain from
    sex till entering the heterosexual,
    cisgendered, patriarchal institution that is marriage – maybe I’d be
    more inclined to pay attention if abstinence-only education and propaganda
    wasn’t proven to increase teen pregnancy and sexual assault.

  • Amelia Sims

    Hi! Obviously we disagree about these issues and I would like to dialogue with you about that. I’m Catholic and although these are my opinions and that of my church, it is fine with me if you disagree, as Pope Francis said, who am I to judge?

    Right now Im studying for exams and papers but maybe we could meet for coffee next year.

    I know my argument runs against much of the prevailing ideas about sex on our campus, but we have similar goals. I want to see violence against women erradicated and I want to see Emory students gain a better understanding of human sexuality, how it works, and what it was made for. I think our current hookup culture and the promotion of “safe sex” aren’t enough to address the significance and meaningfulness of what sex is in human life.

    If we really believe in pluralism and diversity we also need to allow for diversity of ideas which is messy and difficult at times.

  • Amelia Sims

    I would just like to clarify a few things..

    I think rape is always a terrible crime and an objective evil. I think Roger Scruton has a point when he says the view of sex as merely casual recreation may not support this truth that rape is such a terrible crime.

    I think the new popularity of the term slut shaming may INADVERTENTLY contribute to the problems on campus regarding casual hookups and the pressure some people feel about that.

    I don’t think anyone should use any mean spirited term for people including slut shaming.

    As a Catholic, I have a different view of what healthy sexuality is. I’m glad that we are tolerant and respectful enough on this campus to discuss important issues without descending in to vitriolic accusations.

    This was a “less than 400 word” blog post not great philosophy, great literature, but meant to encourage dialogue and discussion. “When we all think alike, no one thinks very much”