Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Atrios linked to a story about a Colorado politician and his views on sexual promiscuity:

Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease "stems from sexual promiscuity" and he didn't think the Legislature should "remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior." The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to cast the lone vote against SB-179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House.

Schultheis is clearly unimportant in the wider scale of things. But his views on 'the negative consequences from poor behavior' are fascinating. Here's more, from his own mouth:

Sexual promiscuity, we know, causes a lot of problems in our state, one of which, obviously, is the contraction of HIV. And we have other programs that deal with the negative consequences — we put up part of our high schools where we allow students maybe 13 years old who put their child in a small daycare center there.

We do things continually to remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior, quite frankly, and I don't think that's the role of this body.

Dave is a warm-hearted guy. He wants to punish the promiscuous women and promiscuous thirteen-year old girls for having sex, and the punishment includes letting their children get HIV and making further education for the mothers impossible. I bet he'd recommend public shaming of loose women, too, because that would keep the negative consequences of promiscuity fresh and biting.

As I pointed out above, Schultheis' opinions are far out of the mainstream and in some ways not worth discussing. But it's also true that many, many people would like to see women who have sex punished. The punishment could take various forms, true, but forced childbirth is always part of it.

Now reverse that. Do we call men promiscuous? Do we demand that promiscuous men be punished? Have we ever shunned them, say?

All that is odd, because heterosexual intercourse is not something women do without men. Yet it is the women who are labeled as promiscuous, even though there must have been at least some men who were equally promiscuous.

One might argue that all this is because the role of the promiscuous men used to be invisible or easily hidden before DNA-testing, and that it was the women who got 'caught' for promiscuity. But the society certainly never paid much effort in trying to unearth those fickle shadows of horny men with multiple partners. If anything, prostitution was at least tacitly supported in most societies and plays and books often portray the womanizing man as a hero. The stud, you know.

I think the women were selected as the scapegoats. The whole traditional idea of women as gatekeepers in sex is part and parcel of that same scapegoating. It also ignores the ability of powerful men to force women into sex, whether the women wanted it or not (think of the chamber-maids in Victorian England) and the fact that even today in many parts of the world a woman cannot really refuse a man who is above her in the societal rankings. Come to think of it, the whole concept of promiscuity stinks of sexism.