Monday, March 07, 2011

Our Ross Cares About the Gurlz

That would be Ross Douthat in his latest column. He truly, truly cares about the gurlz (well, straight gurlz) and wants them to be happy. In order to do that, he recommends that they use an aspirin held between the knees as the contraceptive choice. Or rather, Ross wants to see less wild sex and he justifies this by telling us how very sad such sex makes gurlz. Then he segues from that to blaming Planned Parenthood as a sign of the End Times. Or that's my summary of this odd column.

It is odd because its main sections are these:

1. Tell that more young people are choosing abstinence. This must mean that they are wingnuts.

2. Quote only studies which support the view that the wimminz are unhappy with premarital sex. Or that the wimminz are just unhappy with all their freedoms. Don't mention the usual corollary of wingnuttery which argues that the menz are outrageously happy with all the booty they can trawl.

3. Then remind us that Planned Parenthood is a Very Bad Thing. Its existence encourages wild sex among teenagers. Guess why? Because they aren't getting properly punished for its consequences. The gurlz, he means.

And a bit more about the evidence our Ross rolls out: First, he refers to an old story about how women are just getting unhappier with all this equality. I wrote about the study and its problems when it appeared. But our Ross doesn't read here.

Second, he quotes the study of those two gentlemen I have also written about, Regnerus and Uecker, at least one of them an evangelic Christian who advocates early marriage. Their study, having to do with people between 18 and 22, reportedly found that:
Their research, which looks at sexual behavior among contemporary young adults, finds a significant correlation between sexual restraint and emotional well-being, between monogamy and happiness — and between promiscuity and depression.
This correlation is much stronger for women than for men. Female emotional well-being seems to be tightly bound to sexual stability — which may help explain why overall female happiness has actually drifted downward since the sexual revolution.
Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.
It seems as if I have to read that bloody book. Anyone want to send it to me? I hate the idea of paying for it.

In any case, note that the term "lifetime" doesn't have quite the same meaning when we are talking about women between the ages of 18 and 22 than it does in general. In fact, it's a rather short concept of a lifetime! I wouldn't be at all surprised if women with a history of one or two partners at that age wouldn't be pretty happy. That they actually turned out to be happier in this study than virgins is something that Ross carefully skips over. It's not at all certain that these relationships lead to marriage, after all, and it's perhaps a bit more certain that many of the women with only one or two partners so far will have more partners as they get older and before they marry if they do.

And correlation is not causation. If depression and multiple sexual partners are correlated it may well be the depression which rules this relationship, not the number of sexual partners. This is because alcohol is sometimes used as self-medication for depression and alcohol may interfere with one's judgment about the advisability of casual sex, say.

Or both having multiple sex partners and depression could be caused by some third factor, such as low self-esteem caused by earlier life-events such as abuse. And perhaps the reputation a woman gets from having multiple sex partners is what makes her depressed? All these are every bit as good theories as the idea that just going to bed with many men somehow breaks your brain.

You know what? I have a great desire to start writing the same way as the Boyz in the NYT stable do: Just quote evidence which supports MY precious views and never discuss any other evidence at all. Then I can draw conclusions which -- lo and behold! -- quite scientifically prove that I happen to be right.