Because I’m Weirdly Inquisitive: Teenage Sex Edition



One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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258 Responses

  1. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    It would depend on the context–sex can be healthy or unhealthy even without STDs or pregnancy. But in general, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I mean, I started having sex in my teens, so it’d be a bit hypocritical to yell about it.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There are people out there who are capable of having healthy sex without getting hung up.

    There are people out there who pairbond immediately and have serious issues with the various problems attendant to their own monogamy, other people’s monogamy, other people’s perception of their own monogamy, and so on.

    While it’s true that I haven’t hung out with 16 year olds for 24ish years now, it was certainly true back then that the majority of 16 year olds were in the latter category rather than the former.

    I see the behaviors that would follow the drug’s enterance into the market as doing more to result in damaged feelings and relationships than to result in people having fun, healthy, happy sexual relationships with each other.

    That said, the drug itself sounds like one hell of a good idea. There are more people out there engaging in the act than 16 year olds.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Not to mention the fact that being protected from a bunch of the negative side effects of being sexually active will help those kids who were going to wind up in that second category regardless.

      I don’t think it would encourage sexually activity any much more than 16 year olds’ baseline.Report

    • Avatar M.A. says:

      I’m largely in agreement with you on this one, Jaybird.

      It would remove the “oh my god my kid is going to do something physically damaging” issue, but parents would still be wise to at least address and discuss with their kids the emotional issues involved in sex.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I would object, which would would come as a surprise to 20-something-year-old me. Sex is neither something that you “only do when you love each other very much” nor something that “is totally disconnected from love and other emotions.” It carries with it a lot of baggage that I’m not sure 16-year olds in our society are mature enough to deal with properly.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      This is more or less what I would say*, except I’d change 20-something-year-old me to 50-something-year-old me. Holy cow, Tod– are you really only in your 20s? You must be an old soul. My 2o-something son is also an old soul. (I’m neither particularly religious nor spiritual despite my active UUness, but some stuff just defies explanation.)

      *Actually, 40-something-year-old me said pretty much this same thing to my then teenaged kids, only I added a lot more flourish and embarrassing rhetoric because making my kids squirm was ever the most fun part of my momly duty and I took my momly duty seriously. (LOL I said “duty”)Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        I’m sure Tod would be flattered that you thought that he was in his twenties, but what Tod meant was that the twenty year old version of himself (IIRC he is now retired) would have reacted in surprise to his current views.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Easy for me to answer as Mrs. Likko and I have no kids so this is purely hypothetical.

    If all the assumptions in the OP were true my concern wouldn’t be the sex, it would be the quality of my teen child’s partner and the quality of their relationship. If the teen demonstrated enough maturity to not set things like school and getting in to college or otherwise preparing for the future then dating, with or without sex, seems like a fine thing for a teen to do.

    IF all the assumptions in the OP were true.Report

  5. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    I’m going to be kind of disappointed if my son isn’t having sex when he’s 16 as it is.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

      To be fair(er), I do think emotional maturity is incredibly important. I’d like to know my kid is capable of handling relationships or casual sex or whatever he wants without causing himself psychological damage or hardship. But I’m also hoping, as a parent, to demystify sex a bit so he’s not saddled with all kinds of “I can only have sex with the love of my life!” baggage. My pop psychological theory is that part of the reason sex is so destabilizing is because we insist that it ought to be destabilizing. I intend to remove that insistence a bit.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      “Son, we need to have a talk. Your mother and I went through you room today, and we didn’t find any condoms.”Report

      • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

        “Or even porn! Are you okay? Do you need… help with Google Image Search?”Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          *blink* that… seems likely to lead to awkward moments.
          I’d venture to say that for about 50% of people who “don’t have porn” in their room, you just wouldn’t have recognized it as such… foot fetishists, people who get off on tickling (yes, sadists. no, if you aren’t looking for it, the peacock feather doesn’t code as porn), the list goes on.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      I don’t mean to criticize here; as a mom of two twenty-something men, I understand that there’s some pride of knowing they can get it on, etc.


      That sense of pride also needs to be examined in the light of its potential to create sexual predators. A parents pride that Johnny got some has to be second fiddle with the pride that Johnny knows how to have healthy relationships with his partners. Jane with her partners.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Thanks, Zic. My hunch is that Ryan is joking, but it is the broader atmosphere that allows for and created by that humor that holds us back from making progress on this issue.Report

        • Avatar zic says:


          And that humor also leads to the differences of being comfortable with a son being sexually active at 16 bud uncomfortable with a daughter. (Which leads to the odd question of whith whom that son’s supposed to be active?)

          My dad cheered my brothers/step-brothers on; nearly shot one of my first boyfriends for the same behavior.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            As a budding father who has often contemplated what it will be like to have a daughter, I think that part of the difference in reaction to a son and daughter is a function of “protectionism”. Daughters SEEM to need protection in a different way than sons. Some of that seems legitimate/practical (e.g., women face different consequences) but some of it seems far more troublesome.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          Uh… I’m not joking? Not really, anyway. Puritanical approaches to sex have been an utter disaster, socially, morally, emotionally, everythingally. I am firmly committed to demystifying sex and encouraging a healthy approach to sex on the terms of the two people having it. I’m not looking to take pride in his ability to “get it on” but in his ability to make decisions that are right for him and the people in his life. What I was trying to get at with my “joke” is the idea that 16 seems like it’s generally an age at which people should be more than capable of making these decisions. If my son isn’t ready by then, it means I have done a poor job of preparing him for adulthood.

          As I said in my more explanatory comment, I want to prepare my son to be emotionally mature enough to handle the choices he wants to make. As long as we’re prepared to understand that “healthy relationships with his partners” is a broad term that encompasses a large number of lifestyles and choices, I’m on board with that. If what we mean is, “I must demand monogamy from my son!!”, then no.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            Did you specifically refer to your 16-year-old son because you are having a boy? Would you feel differently if it was your 16-year-old daughter?Report

            • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

              Yeah, I did. I’m trying to person-ize him more as we approach the birth. I like to think, in this hypothetical space, that I would feel the same way about a girl. Puritanical sexual mores have been considerably worse for women than for men, so it might even be more important to have a healthy, sex-positive approach with a daughter.Report

  6. Avatar Alexios says:

    Open Question(s) : would it matter if the 16 year old was a son or a daughter? If so, why? If not, why not? What other considerations, apart from intelligence (esp. emotional intelligence) might be most relevant?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      This here is a most excellent follow up question for this post, Alexios.

      Everything in my head tells me the answer is that I would feel the same way regardless, but I wonder if I wouldn’t be more against it if it were my daughter. And even if that is the case, I’m not sure I can put my finger on why.

      I’ll have to think about this.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I think this is psychologically fairly easy and typical.

        As a man, you used to be a hormonal teenage boy. You also probably had one or two guy friends that were sort of scummy with women and real players. You don’t want your daughter dealing with any of these ner’do wells. No “sweet talkers on their way to jail”.

        Honestly I have a hard time coming up with the female equivalent of the “bad boy” is. The nerdy guy being in love with the cheerleader doesn’t quite seem like the equivalent of the motorcycle riding, pot-smoking class cutter.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          FYI: Every woman used to be a hormonal girl, too.

          Girls feel the pressures those hormones urge, too; they just have a whole lot more ‘don’t do that’ holding them back; which sort of translates to ‘don’t actively pursue,’ not ‘don’t do’ in very many cases. But it’s way complicated. And important to clearly understand that urge is human, it’s built in to varying degrees in all, boy or girl.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            I understand and agree.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            girls tend to get a lot less practice dealing with their hormones. with guys, they’re always on. not… so much with girls…Report

            • Avatar zic says:

              With girls, it often gets translated into ‘I need to feel loved,’ or, ‘I need a boyfriend.’ Because they’re taught it’s okay to feel an urge to attract a mate, to use their sex appeal to that end. But really, I’d say it’s rooted in the same urges. There’s a lot of social conditioning that allows him to feel horny, but she’s supposed to sublimate it into these other things.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                while this is somewhat true, it’s also the case that girls aren’t really in touch with their sexual instincts… and that one of the “classic” responses to a “strong and powerful” man wanting to have sex with a woman is for her to basically shut up and take it.

                Plenty of girls have had nonconsensual sex, and not been able to get a single damn word out. Because they hadn’t had the experience to know what he was aiming for (and, with pigs (again, chinese zodiac), it takes an actual experience, as they’re decent at staying -well away- from anything that sounds sexual).

                Also, plenty of the “i need to feel loved” can be twisted by a guy into getting nonconsensual sex. I’m not certain if this is countering your argument that “I need to feel loved” stems from the whole “hormones” thing, or not. Just throwing it out there.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          It’s simple. The girl who breeds people like horses. 😉 Somewhat rarer than the guys deliberately trying to get girls pregnant…Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        I can put my finger on why. It’s ugly, but so are a lot of things about being human.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          Here we can use poetry.

          A Little Tooth by Thomas Lux:

          Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
          and four, and five, then she wants some meat
          directly from the bone. It’s all

          over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
          in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
          talker on his way to jail. And you,

          your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
          nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
          are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tallReport

      • Avatar Alexios says:

        Thanks very much, Tod. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on all these related issues. Great, thoughtful community y’all have here.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I know my answer likely would differ based on the gender.

      I know I’m not okay with this.

      I don’t know what to do about this.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        And that also leads me to a follow up question of my own…

        In our current world (sans wonder drug), would parents feel differently about their son/daughter engaging in heterosexual sex versus their daughter engaging in lesbian sex versus their son engaging in homosexual sex?Report

        • Avatar Miss Mary says:

          I wouldn’t and I think our country is moving more toward no on this. Younger parents are more open to this idea, I think.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            I would have ZERO issue with my child being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or anything else.

            But I do think I might react differently to my daughter being behind closed doors with her girlfriend than my daughter being behind closed doors with her boyfriend, with a larger objection for the LATTER scenario. And I don’t know if this is “right” or “fair”. The consequences of lesbian sex are objectively different than those of heterosexual sex (with gay sex falling somewhere in between).Report

            • Lesbian sex is, without question, the least risky kind.

              That said, two teenage guys who haven’t engaged in risky sex with older partners are still pretty low-risk.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                That is what I assumed, but didn’t know for sure.

                These questions make me wonder how much of our general objection to teenage is predicated on the risk of pregnancy, how much on the risk of disease, and how much to other things.

                I think a lot of people point to pregnancy when discussing the appropriateness of teenage sex. My feeling is that it is more complicated than that, which is what this post was trying to get at. Also, I asked the question of Zazzy and she almost hit me.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                If I were a parent who had raised la kid from infancy, I’m sure I would simply not “get it” that my kid had become a sexual person. It just wouldn’t make sense.

                I’d be quicker to come to grips with that new reality with a boy-child than with a girl-child. I expect the converse would be true for a mother.Report

              • Avatar Alexios says:

                If you answer your own question in context of the hypothetical drug that prevents disease & pregnancy, perhaps in extricating the role of those parts of the equation, you’ll discern the role gender/orientation plays in your considerations.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I asked about the gay/lesbian child in our current context.

                In a world with the hypothetical drug, I think/hope my response would be identical regardless of orientation. But I’m still not sure what that response is.

                By-and-large, I agree with folks here that sex is neither something uniquely sacred that should only be enjoyed between two life-long committed lovers nor is it the physical equivalent of a high five*. And with that in mind, I would hope that my child engaged in healthy, responsible sex, both in terms of pregnancy/disease AND in terms of emotional stability. The use of this drug would be a form of responsibility with regards to the former, but I would hope it wouldn’t encourage them to be less responsible with the latter.

                Oddly enough, the hyper-practical side of me says, “It *IS* like a high five! We need to not be so weird about sex!” But then I remember that I never kissed a girl who I didn’t immediately develop some emotional attachment to, even if only fleeting. And I don’t know how much of that second thing was socialized into me and how much is just how I am wired.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          Unwed pregnancy is something that I’m close enough to on the Kevin Bacon scale that I’m intimately familiar with the way it changes your life.

          It has helped a couple of people grow up, but it always extracts a terrible cost and it’s a crappy, crappy way to be introduced to the responsibilities of being an adult. I really don’t recommend it.

          If anything drives my attitude about how I’m going to approach my children being sexually active, this is it. Screw emotional maturity and its attendant heartaches; they have to learn that eventually to be adults, that’s part of the deal. I can’t protect them from it, nor should I, really.

          I can protect them to some degree from enlisting in an 18 year term without full disclosure.Report

        • This may shock you, but the gender of the persons with whom my children have sex (all else being equal) will make no difference at all to me.Report

    • Avatar Miss Mary says:

      I’m for treating all the teenages the same, no matter their gender. I never understood why people felt differently depending on their child’s gender. Most people that I have spoken to about this are men and they think it’s ok for boys to have sex earlier than girls. That makes no sense to me.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        There’s a consequentialism aspect to it.

        If the boy has sex with a girl, a good part of the decision making about what to do if a pregnancy occurs is out of his control. There are consequences, but he’s got to live with her decision. Them’s the breaks, in this world we live in.

        If the girl has sex with a boy, a monstrous part of the decision making about what to do if a pregnancy occurs is all on her head. There are consequences, and she might wind up shouldering far more than her fair share of them. Them’s also the breaks, in this world we live in.

        This means that there are practical differences to what happens if both of my kids are sexually active at a young age, and those practical differences will be very, very different for both of them.

        This is going to affect my attitude about what they decide to do. Jack will never, ever have to deal with bearing of a child. Jack will never, ever have to decide to have an abortion or not. He will have to live with the consequences of someone else making that decision.

        I’m not going to pass a judgement on whether or not this is easier, or harder, or worse, or better, or if it’s the way it ought to be, or not. Those are all conversations to have, but that’s not really the point, when it comes to how it can affect the weaving of your life tapestry.

        It’s certainly *different*.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        We /like/ our society to be like this. Just to be clear.
        If we really thought it was just as okay for a 11 year old girl to have intercourse with an 18 year old man as it is for an 11 year old boy to have intercourse with an 18 year old girl…

        As a society, we want our girls innocent and sweet, while we’re okay with boys being grubby little horndogs.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I assume most of these men haven’t been groped by an older girl, or had sex with an older girl (not having thought he was capable of making consequences).

        I don’t think they have room to judge. I think they are just as inexperienced as the next person down the street.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I would not encourage it, especially in today’s sexual climate. I think there is going to be an enormous body of research done 10 years from now about the sexual dysfunction that easily-accessible porn has created in younger adults. To be blunt, things like anal sex are considered the norm now. It’s amazing what kids are doing these days. That’s going to cause some longterm damage IMO.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

      It really was better when we considered anal sex and those who have it moral monsters. I’m sure the Doc agrees.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Oh that’s just ridiculous. It’s not about morality. It’s about a normal progression of sexual practices in the context of ones life and more importantly within a relationship.Report

        • Avatar Shygetz says:

          Normal in unimportant. Healthy is important. Anal sex can lead to health complications, but if those complications are avoided and both partners are willing and eager participants, then where is the problem? If you are emphasizing “normal” then it you are referring to morality, or at least sexual ethics–i.e. there is a normative sexual experience that people are culturally obligated to emulate.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Now I really want to hear your theory of “the normal progression of sexual practices in the context of one’s life and more importantly within a relationship,” and how you think anal sex does or does not fit into that progression. While we’re at it, how oral fits would be interesting too.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          Putting the word “normal” in there isn’t helping your case.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      “I would not encourage it, especially in today’s sexual climate. I think there is going to be an enormous body of research done 10 years from now about the sexual dysfunction that easily-accessible porn has created in younger adults.”

      Part of the problem with stuff like this is that what is sexually dysfunctional is so often a reflection of society at large, and this changes all the time.

      People of my grandparents generation were sure that the 50s and 60s were going to make women sexually dysfunctional, and by their standards they were absolutely right: It led to a world where women admitted they enjoyed sex, husbands didn’t get the absolute say as to when sex would happen, female masturbation wasn’t seen as a sign of mental illness and we started warming up to the idea that women who were sexually attracted to other women didn’t need to be jailed or institutionalized. Very, very dysfunctional for grammy and grampy.

      Every generation believes their’s is the first to really “get” sex, and that the following generation is a tad perverted.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


        “To be blunt, things like anal sex are considered the norm now. It’s amazing what kids are doing these days. That’s going to cause some longterm damage IMO.”

        Reading either Freakonomics or Freakonomics 2, it was interesting to learn that 100 years ago the most expensive “service” you could purchase from a prostitute was fellatio, which was seen as the the most filthy, anti-Christian, dirty kind of sex imaginable. Which is odd sounding to me, having grown up as a teenager in a time when fellatio as something teens did when they weren’t ready for all the hassles and baggage that came with sex.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        I’m not suggesting that those behaviors are unacceptable. Believe me, I’m all for adventurous sex lives within a certain context. What I am saying though is that kids learn from porn. We did when we were kids. But porn today is much more aggressive, much more degrading to women IMO. Maybe I ran in some tame circles but no one was doing anal two months into a relationship. Now my understanding is that it is often expected.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Eh, I wonder how much exposure you have. I just don’t think it’s true that the content has changed that much. The availability has, though, and that, undoubtedly, means more teens see it, and teens see it more, which undoubtedly does have an effect on their sex lives.Report

      • Avatar Matty says:

        Every generation believes their’s is the first to really “get” sex, and that the following generation is a tad perverted.

        Someone I know put it as “Every generation thinks they invented sex, which is why they have such trouble working out where they came from”.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Anal sex is never considered the norm, until you find the biblethumpers who are convinced that this keeps girls virginal.
      There’s a certain character type of guys who lusts after anal sex. Always has. It’s yet another version of homosexuality (we have a lot in our culture).Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Hmmm… Not really sure I want to ask this, but… Anyway, in my experience, the sort of guys who lust after anal sex tend to be more the dominant personality type, just like the women who lust after anal sex tend to be more submissive. I’ve no idea how that relates to homosexuality though.Report

        • Avatar dhex says:

          “It’s yet another version of homosexuality (we have a lot in our culture).”

          i know i’m just stepping on a landmine here but i’m having a real hard time working out the gay part of a bro makin’ sweetness to a lady person in the rumpus.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Because… somehow… looking at pictures of Clowns (in full whitepaint regalia) sinking into quicksand…. causes anal sex???!?

      I somehow think that looking at pictures of baby robots pissing oil into each others diapers also doesn’t lead to anal sex.

      People are weird, yo. You don’t change people’s fetishes easily. All you can hope for, is that you can persuade the people with the truly bad ones, to get off online, rather than terrorizing da kids.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      I would not encourage it, especially in today’s sexual climate.

      Holy cow, what an unexpected response. Dude, do you know which decade we’re currently in?Report

  8. Avatar Miss Mary says:

    16 year olds should not be having sex. Most of them aren’t ready emotionally. I would prefer that they explore other interests and get to know themselves before delving into the world of learning and loving someone else. I’m pretty open minded and think almost (with the exception of abuse) any romantic relationship is fine as long as it works for all those involved, but I hardly think that 16 year olds know themselves, their partner, and their options well enough to make informed, rational decisions.Report

  9. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I think anyone who thinks they can prevent teenagers from having sex is deluding themselves. The only sure way to make sure teenagers are virgins is to make them massively unpopular and Dungeons and Dragons geeks in high school. Even that might not work depending on the school (if the school has a large enough nerd-population).

    So, better safe than sorry. If this drug works and I knew my teenage son or daughter was having sex, I would mandate that they use it.Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    I’m not sure about that drug; part of having sex is learning how to have sex safely; meaning how to be sexually active and avoid unwanted pregnancy and STD. Being ready to deal with that stuff is a sign that you’re mature enough to have sex, or so I think.

    I don’t think it’s about 16 or 14 or 18 or 26. People come in a variety of flavors. One person may be ready to be responsibly sexual at 16, another not until early, mid-twenties. The important thing is recognizing when you’re ready.

    A big part of this is helping children thing through the difference between physical attraction and friendship and love. If I had it to do over again, I’d spend a lot more time helping my kids understand their friendships and how they succeed/fail. And one of the things I’d try to stress is learning how to observe the people you find yourself attracted to; learning to watch how they treat other people. Because after the thrill is gone, that’s how they’ll treat you.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      helping children thing think, not thing. Sigh.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      The american college of gynecologists just came out with a recommendation about giving long term birth control to women who are in abusive relationships. Apparently abusive boyfriends have a real history of cutting out implants, putting holes in condoms, stealing/replacing birth control pills, in order to exert control over their girlfriends/wives.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Huh. I’m having to put this into context, because I also know that for very many women, the real physical abuse doesn’t begin until she’s pregnant/has a child. Before that, it was more of emotional abuse with name calling, demeaning treatment, and isolation from friends/family.

        That’s a big part of my desire to teach young people to evaluate friends and potential mates on the “how do they treat other people, for eventually that’s how they’ll treat you.” It’s sort of looking for reflections of the golden rule.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          If you’re going to physically abuse someone, it helps to have her feel chained by the idea of a child (who you either claim you’ll keep — frightening!, or claim you’ll saddle her with and not pay your child support).
          Short trip from there to: “maybe I can help her get pregnant, so she stops acting up so much”Report

  11. Avatar Angela says:

    I would object to the sex, but insist on the meds.
    I have teenage kids (boy, girl, boy) and all had the discussion about “life-changing consequences”. Having sex should be a big deal, and so not be done lightly.
    Pregnancy on the other hand, is a life-changing event.

    So, I’ve discussed with my kids (around 14 or 15, or when they started dating) why I didn’t want them to have sex before they were adults (self-supporting, living independently, etc).
    And I also gave them a box of condoms.

    If such a drug had been available, I would have provided it and made sure they knew how to take it correctly. And then talked to them about why they should wait.

    (Note: We’re Catholic, so when the kids got the sex-ed stuff at school, birth control was covered as “not allowed”. I explained that premarital sex was also not allowed. And if they were going to break the “sex not allowed” directive, they should also break the “birth control not allowed” directive.)Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Amen to that last paragraph.

      If you’re going to break the rule about riding on a motorcycle, wear a goddamn helmet.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      ” birth control was covered as “not allowed””

      I’m curious, how did that work? Was it, like, this is the pill, and it operates like this, and it has these risks and this level of protection but doesn’t protect you from STDs like a condom might – or is it just, “don’t?”Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Sex ed was different for me, but I went to a Jesuit institution and they’re a bit more practical. The conversations about birth control covered all the bases. Abstinence was recommended, but it wasn’t discussed at the expense of talking about the pill.Report

      • Avatar Angela says:

        When the kids were in 4th/5th grade, the biology part was covered (here’s how it all works). Birth control was discussed in religion class (“don’t use it”).
        In 8th grade, there was another set of biology classes, which you could choose to have your kids opt out of, that went into more details of the reproductive systems, and how the different methods of birth control worked to prevent pregnancy. And which affected STD transmissions and which didn’t, etc.
        We had already covered this in our family, but many of the other kids were hearing it for the first time (according to my kids).
        I thought the school (Catholic parish school) did a good job.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I’m curious how you rectify the school telling them, “Don’t use birth control,” with the school doing a “good job”.Report

          • Avatar Angela says:

            The religion class said “don’t use birth control”, which is standard Catholic instructions.
            The biology class covered how stuff works and doesn’t. There was none of that “rape makes all that stuff shut down” garbage. After the 8th grade classes, I thought that the kids had been given clear and correct instruction about the facts of human biology and modern contraceptive methods. I know that some schools don’t cover the biology as well, or any details about contraception. This school did.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Got it. Thanks. Sorry for being more flippant than was probably warranted.

              Even though I may disagree on the morality, it seems appropriate for a religious class at a religious institution to teach the faith’s moral teachings on birth control. And it is good that other venues had the proper autonomy to teach about the subject in an equally appropriate manner.

              If I may ask… suppose you had a child in that religion class who asked the teacher, “I know you’re going to tell me that I shouldn’t be having sex. But I’m going to. Nothing is going to stop me. I will be having sex. When I do, should I use birth control?” How do you think the teacher would respond? How would you want the teacher to respond?Report

              • Avatar Angela says:

                It gets confusing because you have the same person in multiple roles. As the religion teacher, she should teach the current rules and the theology behind them. Especially if it seemed like the kid was being intentionally confrontational during an open class discussion, rather than seeking advice.
                If the teacher is approached as a “trusted non-parent adult”, who the child is going to because she feels she can’t talk to her parents, or needs another adult opinion, I would hope that the teacher would (1) encourage the child to open a dialog with her parents; (2) also encourage her to take the time and strength to make good, life-affirming choices for herself; and (3) try to limit as much as possible “life-changing consequences” — encourage birth control if she’s going to have sex.
                And, frankly, that’s what I would say if some other kid came to me for advice: it’s better to wait until you’re an adult, but if you’re going to have sex, use birth control, every time.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Thanks for your thoughtful contribution, here and elsewhere. That seems about the best tack for bridging the various gaps presented. And I apologize again for being unnecessarily flip earlier.Report

              • Avatar Angela says:

                Since the LeagueFest is in Chicago in June, I thought maybe I’d comment a bit more, rather than just lurking. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the faces behind the posts. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


                (on the whole commenting more thing)Report

  12. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    This would also make it perfectly safe (physically) for a 16-year old girl to have sex with a 40-year-old man. I do not conclude that that would be just dandy.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Nor a 16 year old boy with a 40 year old woman.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        It probably says something about me that that one, though a bad idea, doesn’t horrify me the same way.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          I’ve read (I don’t know if this is really true,) that there are cultures where older men ‘awaken’ the young women, older women ‘awaken’ the young men. The passage to adulthood is one where someone with knowledge opens the door.

          I don’t know how I feel about that. Mostly think it might be a good idea. And it also terrifies me, since it was much of the justification my pedophile gave me; he thought it was a good idea, too.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            If you were from that culture it would seem like the most natural and appropriate thing concievable. You would have feelings of regret and sorrow for 16-year-olds who “awakened” each other.

            You aren’t from that culture so the practice seems a little ooky. Maybe more than a little bit ooky.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              If there really are such cultures, and it’s not purely a pedophile just-so story.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                A 16 year old is not be ready or able to consent with a 40 year old but it is hardly pedophilia. Pedophilia is the attraction to children who are pre-puberty.

                Most people don’t look that radically different from 16 to 19. This is not say I approve of 16 year olds having sex with middle age men and women, I do not. But it is also far from pedophilia.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I’d say that a 16 year old who has been having consensual sex since age 12 or so is indeed capable of consent with a 40 year old (this is not to say that it is LIKELY… it is FAR more likely that some sort of armtwisting is going on…)Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                I never heard of the cultures Zic mentions but I have heard of some other strange ones.

                There is a tribe somewhere in Northern China that does not really have romantic relationships like we do in the United States. What happens is that each house as a separate room and if a woman wants to have sex, she invites a man to spend the night but he needs to leave by daybreak. If a woman gets pregnant, her brothers act as the parental role figures, not the biological father.

                This was on a video on Sullivan’s website. The speaker was the guy who wrote Sex at Dawn.

                Human sexuality is a lot weirder and more complicated than most people want to talk about.

                Again, I am not condoning the “awakening” cultures if they do indeed exist. I find them ooky as well.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Sex at Dawn was interesting, if problematic. But yes, there are all kinds of cultural mores out there, ranging from the Greeks and their boys, to things like this.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                What happens is that each house as a separate room and if a woman wants to have sex, she invites a man to spend the night but he needs to leave by daybreak. If a woman gets pregnant, her brothers act as the parental role figures, not the biological father.

                That sounds much like the matrilineal society described in Evangeline Walton’s retellings of the Mabinogion, in which the fact that sex causes pregnancy is just being discovered. Sexual liaisons may be long-term, if that’s mutually agreeable, but are not connected to parenthood or property. Motherhood is, of course, well-understood, so inheritance goes from a man to his eldest sister’s eldest son.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                I think I read on it as part of an African tribal culture; but that memory and the loaded potential makes me suspect, also.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            it’s… a natural thing. a beastial part of us.
            Very… different from true pedophilia (attracted to people before they’ve hit puberty).

            Of course, humans get off on the whole idea of doing what you aren’t supposed to. We aren’t good at keeping rules.

            Folks tend to think rules are there for individuals, but for sexuality? Ain’t so. Rules are there for societies. And plenty of people knew how to break the rules and get away with it.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          I think I would have seen it as being somewhere between “not a problem” and “WICKED AWESOME!!!” before I had sons goring to be that age.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            Mine is 18 now, and, yes, it would have been unfortunate. Having thought about it, it’s because the power differential between men and women would get added the the one between grown person and adolescent that older man–young girl seems so much worse.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            I think this is a large part of the problem. When a teenage boy has sex with an adult woman a lot of people tend to view it through the lens of the old Van Halen video for “Hot for Teacher”.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              Shouldn’t take much Google-fu to find real life examples of hot female teachers in their twenties seducing their male teenage students. Hot For Teacher is real enough and in real life we still condemn it. Maybe with less condemnation of the power differential but the added bonus of slut-shaming in the cocktail makes up for it.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                I was thinking of this as more of an Equal Protection Clause issue. But yeah there have been a lot of stories like this in the past few years. Sometimes the male students are as young as 12-13. IIRC there was a story a few years ago about a woman in her 30s or 40s who slept with one of son’s friends from middle school.

                Let’s take two 25 year old teachers: One male, one female. Both get caught seducing/sleeping with a 17-year old student.

                Who do you think is going to get the harsher prison sentence? The male teacher or the female teacher? Probably the woman and the reasoning seems to be along the lines that at heart, the guy is going to be less damaged psychologically by the experience of sleeping with an older woman. Adam Sandler even made it the plot point of one of his more horrible movies when his character got deflowered by the hot teacher. IIRC his character was 12 or 13 when the event happened.

                Is this true? Maybe but perhaps not.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                I must have missed that Adam Sandler movie.

                Also, please take my use of the word “seduced” above with a grain of salt; looking back over that comment I realize that it can be rather pleasant to be seduced, depending on how it’s done and whether the seducer has an ulterior motive. But if what’s really going on is an exercise in power and fear, then “seduction” isn’t something we ought to imply any significant level of actual, holistic consent and enjoyment to even if the subject (or “victim”) experiences a degree of pleasure during the actual sex act.Report

            • Avatar zic says:

              The Last Picture Show.

              Cloris Leachman.

              If you haven’t watched this, you should. 100% awesome movie.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Well, if the 16 year old girl is going to have sex with the 40 year old man, the presence of the pill is still better than the absence of the pill.

      It only matters if you really think that the presence of the pill increases the likelihood that the sex is going to take place. It probably does, a little bit.

      But when it comes to the offspring, I can help correct for that bit of encouragement. I can’t help correct much for the consequences of unprotected sex. I’d rather have the first duty and the second freedom.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Yes, removing permanent physical consequences from a relationship that’s based on a severe power differential and quite likely emotionally abusive is better than retaining them.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        In an interesting sign-o’- the-times case study, our outgoing mayor is a gay ex-city counselor named Sam Adams. When he was elected mayor in ’08, we were all very proud that PDX had become the largest city to elect a gay/lesbian mayor.

        Shortly after the election, it came out that he had been having an affair with the 17 year-old staffer for an uber-social conservative state rep. (Although this is all anyone admits to, it should be noted that the trysts appears to have started when the boy was 16). The affair apparently started after the boy approached Adams, admitted his orientation, and asked Adams for advice about how to succeed in public service as a gay man. Yaddda, yadda, yadda… They both claimed that they held off going “all the way but” until the boy turned 18, but really no one believed them.

        What I found fascinating about the case was the public’s reaction. In another time (not so long ago, really), the public might have turned against the mayor in a really ugly and homophobic way, saying, “what do you expect from those people?” Good on Portland for not doing so.

        Unfortunately, they *did* tun on the staffer. Part of it was certainly that his name – Beau Breedlove – was a sufficiently porn-star type of name as to inspire chuckles. But they also tarred the kid as an opportunistic, trampy, seducing, star-fishing, nympho for tempting the mayor so. It was horribly ugly to see. I remember saying to people at the time that if the kid had been a female, they’d have recognized the creepiness of a successful 40-year old public figure turning a 16 year old’s request for help into a sexual conquest.

        Still, almost no one here sees it that way. They love the Sam Adams, and the staffer is a pariah ’round these parts.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          I’m not sure we did the best possible job when the staffer was Monica Lewinsky, to be fair.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            She clearly was the predator in that case. Not that she deserved the abuse she suffered afterward, particularly having her private conversations first illicitly taped and then released publicly. Ken Starr is a complete scumbag.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              “She clearly was the predator in that case.”

              Wait… really? What?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                She had the intention of seducing him before he had even met her. Of course he should have stopped things before they got anywhere close to that, but she was the instigator.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Gotcha. I was in high school when that whole thing went down so I don’t really remember all the details.

                Man… the balls on her! “Not only am I going to get an internship at the White House, but I’m going to score the POTUS!”

                And I agree with Glyph that “instigator” is a better term than “predator”. Clinton is/was a lot of things. But prey? Hard to imagine.Report

              • Avatar dhex says:

                “She clearly was the predator in that case.”

                in the same sense a bag of cocaine was a predator towards darryl strawberry, maybe.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I’m glad somebody else asked, because I am struggling to make sense of this too. Most powerful man in the world, surrounded 24/7 by armed men…and an intern, even if she initiates the flirting/sexual behavior, is a “predator”?

                I am not sure we are using that word in the same way…Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Ah, I see your reply. I am OK with “instigator”. Predator just carries different connotations to me.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              “She clearly was the predator in that case”

              This is jarring, considering the premise that started this sub-thread.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Yeah. I noticed when I made a post about the Clinton-Lewinsky thing that did not speak glowingly about the ex-POTUS, many people came down hard on me for not giving him a pass. But since those were also people that were coming down hard on Herman Cain, I had assumed it was just a party affiliation thing.Report

            • Avatar zic says:

              I’m a bonafide liberal.

              And I’d lay the blame there at Clinton’s feet. 100%. Doesn’t matter that Lewinsky went with the intent of tempting; it’s his job to keep a cool head. Powerful people get temptations thrown in their path. It’s part of power; goes with the territory. And it’s part of the responsibility.

              Lewinsky was foolish. But she’s paid the price of being Lewinsky; the butt of every cigar joke for the next 25+ years. That’s quite a burden to carry, starting at what, 22?Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Shoulda voted for Kyle MacLachlan (and I know Adams plays his assistant).

          Weirdly, Kevin Clash lost *his* job for pulling much the same stunt, no?Report

        • Avatar trumwill mobile says:

          Slate had a piece on this at the time, basically saying that Adams got a pass because nobody wanted to judge the gay guy. Of course, he from what you say, not here was no such restraint with the gay boy.

          Adams, of course, isn’t the first Portland mayor to have been involved in somethinglike that (though that one involved a girl hat Thatothercase was horrifying to read about.

          (crikey, forgive the formatting my phone is freaking out.)Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      This would also make it perfectly safe (physically) for a 16-year old girl to have sex with a 40-year-old man. I do not conclude that that would be just dandy.

      But we never thought the physical unsafeness of the sex itself for the 16was much at all why that’s not dandy anyway, did we? I mean, the sex itself is almost as unsafe for 16 year-old girl having sex with a 16-year-old boy? Or at least, one big component of the physical danger is still there….

      IOW, whatever reasons that we think it’s less okay for a 16 year-old to have sex with a 40 year-old than with a another 16 year-old are barely affected by this hypothetical (beyond a maybe marginally maybe not marginally lower chance of STD transmission, which on reflection seems probably not that marginal really…), right? The concern we have is the same with or without the pill, no?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        STDs and pregnancy are not minor concerns (the latter being yet another reason that man-girl seems worse than woman-boy).Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          Right, but the only difference the hypothetical erases between man/16-y.o.-girl sex and 16-y.o.-boy/16-y.o.-girl sex is the difference between the man’s likelihood of infecting the 16 y.o. and the boy’s. That’s definitely worthy of concern, but I don’t think it’s what we first think of when we think about what makes our objection to man/16-y.o.-girl sex greater than our concern over 16-y.o.-boy/16-y.o.-girl sex. If we do have that differential in concern that is. Rather, I think you lay out what the concern is above.Report

    • Avatar Gorgias says:

      My first time was with a 39-year old man as a 17-year old (I’m male). It was a positive experience all around. He knew what he was doing, was kind, and had fewer emotional hang-ups than my peers would have. I find it difficult to believe a first relationship with someone closer to my age would have been better, though it’s possible I simply got lucky.Report

  13. Avatar Shygetz says:

    I would not recommend to my 16-year old child to become sexually active, even in a world with such a drug. Sixteen is a hormonal-enough age without adding in the added hormonal and behavioral complications of sexual activity. However, while I would tell them my thoughts on the matter, I would also make sure they took the magic pill. Turns out, kids don’t always take good advice from their parents.

    Who knew?Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      … there’s a certain point where the body’s ready to be sexually stimulated. waiting too long after that point to have any stimulation can lead to neurological issues (mostly reversible, but that takes patience which is often lacking in our culture).Report

  14. First, the glib answer — I would be delighted to give my children this drug when they turned 16, because that would mean I had managed to make it to their adolescence without running into traffic. At that point, a pill keeping them healthy when they had sex would just be gravy.

    Now, the serious answer.

    Let me start with my Adolescent Specialist hat. I have all kinds of 16-year-old patients. Some have absolutely zero interest in sex. Some want it but not enough to pursue it. Some are having sex already. Of the sexually active ones, some do so with an established partner with whom they (as far as I can tell) have a respectful, committed relationship. Others… not so much with the responsible decision-making.

    For the ones who aren’t already having sex, I suggest that continuing to wait will be the most reliable way of keeping their lives relatively worry and disease free. Nothing works quite so well as abstinence. And then I make sure they know how to keep themselves as safe and healthy as possible, should they decide that they want to have sex anyway. Because that’s my job.

    Which of these kids will my kids be? I have no idea. Right now my son is a kid whose sole purpose in life often seems to be grinding my will into a fine powder and then dancing in it. If, as a teenager, he seems like he’s going to be having sex despite my preference that he wait, then hell yes I want him to get this pill. But what I’m really, really hoping for is that I’ll get to be the kind of Dad I’m trying to be, and we’ll have a relationship where we can talk with each other with respect and admiration, and he’ll let me know what’s important to him. And if he ends up in a relationship where he’s going to be having sex, then I’d want him to have the pill, but if he’s willing to wait like I’ve suggested then he can ask for it later.Report

  15. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    It’s an interesting question, but I’m not sure it would make much difference for me. Sex can be pretty emotionally fraught, especially for teens. So, the circumstances of the sex would be pretty important beyond the need for protection. If they were smart in terms of emotional issues, I’d have no real problem with them having sex and would probably supply the contraception anyway.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      And unfortunately, smarts about romance and sex is typically only acquired through experience. Just like touching the hot stove teaches you about safety in a way no other lesson can, so too does heartbreak teach you about romance in a way nothing else can. It’ll never be pleasant. But hopefully they’ll learn from it. (Hopefully we oh-so-wise adults all have, too, and as always, YMMV.)Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Yeah, I guess it’s not really a matter of preventing them from doing things for me. I figure they’d go through all that anyway. It’s more a matter of how I’d feel about it. I think the relational situation would make more of a difference in how I’d feel than the technical aspects. Not that I wouldn’t want them to know about safe sex.Report

  16. Avatar Pyre says:

    Sure, why not?

    A lot of people have said “Well, what about the emotional consequences?” Well, what about them? It wasn’t that long ago that it was considered weird to not have sex by 16. For those of you who know your Shakespeare, there is a passage in Romeo & Juliet where Juliet’s mom is worried that, at 13, Juliet is becoming a spinster and cites herself as having had Juliet at 14. That age didn’t change too much until the Industrial Revolution.

    But what about the emotional issues? People will have emotional issues whether their first bad experience was at 16 or at 40 but that doesn’t really strike me as a reason to stop them any more than it would be a reason to worry about the emotional issues associated with them playing Call Of Duty. Obviously, things will be different for various kids but, as a general rule of thumb, there isn’t really any magical age where someone suddenly handles their first bad sexual experience/breakup well.

    “Well, what if it’s your kid who has the bad experience?” Ignoring the notion of me greeting any potential suitors for my daughter with a shotgun and a growled “Boy, what are your intentions towards my daughter?” scaring any off, I’d probably treat it the same as any other counseling that I’ve done in the past. Listen intently and offer whatever was the appropriate advice. Since I don’t have a specific situation in mind, the general answer would be:

    Girl: Beat the boy up, drag him back to her, and let her do the breaking up.
    Boy: Give him a copy of Dr Dre’s The Chronic. After he’s listened to the whole thing, tell him to man up and go mow the lawn.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      British man talking about Italian lovers. Obvious exaggeration.
      Menarche in Scandinavia was ~16-18.Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        Fair enough but, even so, I did some google digging on it and, while the median age through the 1800s up to the U.S. industrial revolution was 22 for women to be married and pregnant, there were still a significant portion that were doing both at age 16 without it being considered odd.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          *nods* yeah, posting of the banns in England was generally 15-16 (at which point people were having sex, before marriage, in general).
          Jewish cultures had girls getting married 12-13, and boys becoming “adults” at 13. This was more to prevent dads from sleeping with their daughters than anything else. (the downside of having women with more relative power).Report

  17. Avatar Sam says:

    I would object strictly because I wasn’t having sex at 16 and, like all adults, I take out of my own frustrations on the younger generations who refuse to do what I instruct anyway.Report

  18. Avatar b-psycho says:

    As you describe it, a hypothetical 16-year-old kid of mine that I knew for a fact was taking that…fine, fish all you want. What is there to worry about? It becomes no riskier than playing video games with such a guarantee.

    Adolescents are going to explore, totally blocking it just screws them worse in the long run. In the real world where there IS risk we should be drilling into them protection & informed choices on what with who and when, because blanket “No” is a *great* way to end up an early grandparent and/or have to pay for their treatment. Never underestimate the ability of teenagers to violate taboos out of spite.Report

  19. Avatar trumwill mobile says:

    I would likely urge against it due to emotional consequences and concernsover the ccorrelations between early sex and number of partners and later divorce. However, my objections would be much more muted and I would make sure she has access to the tthing that would minimize the repercussions.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      emotional consequences and concernsover the ccorrelations between early sex and number of partners and later divorce.

      Is there such a correlation? I can see it in older couples, my generation and slightly younger, but my guess is that in younger people, there’s some latitude for mate selection based on experience making for less divorce. Also, I see a shift toward better sharing of family responsibility; more contributions to household chores and more involvement in raising children in younger men as women’s monetary contributions to the family become more standard and accepted.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill says:

        Zic, there is a correlation – at least as it pertains to the female side – though causation remains murky. It’s like the data on premarital cohabitation: people often read into it what they think to be the case. For some people, it intuitively makes sense that more experimentation means better mate selection. My personal view is that this is not the case (though I don’t think “waiting for marriage” is a tenable goal).Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Yeah, on the female side. That was my point, at least in part.

          We are riding a wave of change. On the female side. My mother got married — shot gun wedding, so to speak — at 16 because she was knocked up. Me, I got the pill. My two kids (both boys?) expect the girls they know have full, vital sex lives. I’ve sat at the kitchen table and talked with them about their sex lives; it’s just not a big deal to be sexually active, no matter your sex.

          But declines in marriages, delayed marriages, are mostly due to women’s growing economic security. My mother needed to get married; she was pregnant, and Roe v. Wade was a decade in the future. I opted to get married. My boys? They’ll have to earn their wives respect, regard, and the right to marry. And I like that, very much. They can have all the sex they want. But for bonds of family, of children? They have prove themselves worthy.Report

          • Avatar Trumwill says:

            I agree with a lot of what you say here, as far as marriage and such goes. I married a very independent-minded doctor and sacrificed my career for hers and am presently a stay-at-home dad. I think it’s important for all involved – and great for my daughter – that we live in a world where a woman does not need a man.

            On the sex stuff, my views here still tend towards moderately conservative. Even though the statistics point to one direction, I would give my son the same advice I plan to give my daughter. Away from “all the sex you want” but not all the way to “save yourself for marriage.”Report

            • Avatar zic says:

              What a nice response. It gives me great joy that you’re with staying home with the kids. I believe this is one of the unsung benefits of the feminist movement, fathers as primary care givers should be celebrated.

              And when I said “all they want,” that’ was, I realize, through the filter of my visions of this new, equal paradigm of sexuality, not through the old system of boy’s get lucky, girls get shames. Thank you for helping me see that; for I will speak more clearly in the future because of it.Report

    • Avatar Pyre says:

      Also, given the shift away from marriage in our society, concerns about future divorce may not even be a relevant factorReport

      • Avatar Trumwill says:

        Which is another can of worms. I don’t think our children will abide by our views against premarital cohabitation, though they will certainly be introduced to them.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          Whose views against pre-martial cohabitation?

          I think pre-marital cohabitation is a damn good idea. It has also been happening for hundreds of years. Common Law marriages are not a new thing. My parents lived together for many years before marrying in 1979. They are still married.

          I don’t see marriage shifting away. Plenty of people still get married every day. There are times I can’t seem to log onto facebook without hearing about an engagement or marriage.

          Sometimes it feels like liberals and conservative (or conservative leaning folk) inhabit completely different universes.Report

          • Avatar Trumwill says:

            My wife’s views and my own. I guess you can break it down into two categories, premarital cohabitation while waiting to get married, and premarital cohabitation as testing the waters. Our view is that you need to decide whether you want to get married before you move together.

            Clancy and I chose not to move in together until we were married (Right before the wedding, I was in a blizzard trying to get my remaining stuff into her apartment. Carrying a mattress, I was blown over and fell five feet off a little ridge into a huge patch of snow… good times!). My brother, however, moved in after the proposal and before the actual wedding and I can’t say that I have anything negative to say about that because they were already planning to get married at that point.

            Where I see a problem is when you move in together before getting married. Sometimes it works out, very often it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a function of financial necessity, and I can understand that. I would still consider it to be suboptimal for reasons that do show up in the statistics (higher divorce rates) and reasons that don’t (more wasted time before determining that you need to go your separate ways).

            Marriage rates are going down (or were, last I checked). However, like you, I don’t think marriage itself is going away any time soon.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              I wonder how much of marriage rates going down is gay people not marrying heterosexually?

              I hold that it’s relatively immoral to get married before you’ve figured out whether you’re sexually compatible with your partner. Likewise, there are a lot of people whom sparks fly between (in a good way), but who can’t really live well together.

              A marriage is a commitment for life.Report

  20. Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

    Best to rip the band-aid off. Emotional bruises throughout adolescence are like the scrapes and scratches that younger kids get when playing around: painful and somewhat regrettable, but important parts of the maturing process and figuring out boundaries. With respect to sex, and the knowledge of what emotions that triggers, a 20-year old virgin is not in much better shape than a 16-year old virgin. Sexual maturity is mostly orthogonal to other types of maturity, and can only be gained through experience. Let the young make their mistakes, and if it is not life-threatening or with life-long consequences, and they will be significantly better off.Report

  21. Avatar Pyre says:

    Now that I think about it, if there were such a drug and I was in a position of power, I would have it be a standard additive to all tap water as well as a required supplement to all bottle water. In order to get the antidote/counter-measure in order to have a child, the couple in question would have to take rigorous IQ tests, emotional wellness assessments, credit checks, and genetic testing.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      How lovely you are with your Eugenics. Do you miss the 1930s?Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        Do I ever!

        But would it be such an awful thing if it were possible? Since we’re already discussing societal attitudes brought about by a mythical wonder drug, it seems shallow to just discuss it in terms of whether or not it would make us okay with 16-year-olds boinking. Why not discuss the potential for ending the abortion debate? The potential for ending kids being born into poverty? Kids born to abusive parents? Mitigating high-risk birth scenarios? Hell, even world population issues can be addressed here.

        Yes, you may be getting Heinlein flashbacks in the same way that Republicans seemed to be seeing death panels during the healthcare debate. However, if such a drug were available and it could be safely introduced into the water supply, why wouldn’t we do so?Report

        • Avatar Murali says:

          The problem is that I don’t think any kind of licensure policy for parenting is publicly justifiable. It just contains too many value judgments of an intensely private nature about which there is just so much pluralism about.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            And a lot of bigotry.Report

          • Avatar Pyre says:

            As a society, I would say that we’re moving away from the notion of being answerable to nobody but ourselves for our decisions. The argument of “too many value judgements of an intensely private nature” was floated by the GOP as an argument against Obamacare and that argument was soundly defeated.

            Further, while you could argue that 2 of the 4 checks are subjective, I would maintain that credit checks and even genetic testing is a coldly mathmatical process. Even the other 2 have certain key factors that one could objectively use to mark someone as a poor parental candidate. As an example, I would say that ongoing spousal abuse in a relationship would be a red flag against putting a child in that situation.Report

            • Avatar Murali says:

              As a society, I would say that we’re moving away from the notion of being answerable to nobody but ourselves for our decisions

              But this is precisely what is going to make a society less liberal, less just and more oppressive.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          The very fact that it is impossible and was often introduced on racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines makes it awful. Eugenics is merely another way for a self-appointed and supposed elite to control the group of people they consider undesirable.Report

          • Avatar Pyre says:

            Everything that you’ve just said was used as an argument against Obamacare. ESPECIALLY the line about the elite using this as a means to control the masses.

            This argument didn’t fly then and it hasn’t grown wings since. Yes, much like Obamacare could be set up to use death panels or to control the masses through health care rationing, so too could my proposal be used to spawn a society made up of Aryans or force people to go fight on Klendathu for a couple years. However, there comes a point when we accept that the farfetched worst case scenarios are just that: Farfetched Worst-Case scenarios.

            If the only argument that can be marshalled against a proposal is “You know who else liked Eugenics (oooo, buzzword)? HITLER, THAT’S WHO!!!”, then the proposal isn’t as weak as you might think.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              So, nu, let’s take IQ tests. I know someone who has an IQ of 25 (severe learning disabilities). I assure you he’s quite intelligent, even if some parts of his brain are wired differently than the rest of us.

              Or hell, let’s take my friend who breaks bones at the drop of a hat. She uses a wheelchair because walking is dangerous for her. She’s intelligent too, and yet your “let’s get rid of these genes” would probably lead to someone like her getting excluded.

              Besides, you sound remarkably unfamiliar with our current eugenic laws.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Are you secretly Dr. Lao? Or just insane?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                False dichotomy.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                yes. in all fairness, I could be both.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Yawn. She almost got taken away from her parents, because the doctors thought such frequent bone breakage in an infant was a sign of parental abuse.

                As to my other friend? *shrugs* you’ve used his work. 😉 [yes, I realize it really does say something when I can state that with confidence].Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Okay, I’m beginning to get the idea. “Friend” is “someone I once read about on the internet”.

                So… crazy as a shithouse rat.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                *eyeroll* I post here anonymously. I suspect you do as well. I’m not going to go violate my friends’ privacy by posting their names on here.
                What do I have to say? My friend has worked for google and Ibm. I realize these aren’t exactly small companies, but that’s why I’m bothering to post about ’em.

                I’m certain you know one or two odd people in your life. If not, your life must be awfully dull.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Between you and Blaise, who needs the Dos Equis guy?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Excuse me? I do hope you’re not trying to lump me in with Kim.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Only in the “wild life stories” category. In the sub-category of “wild life stories that might actually be true”, you remain alone.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                You mean the “Most Interesting Guy in The World”?
                I walked right by him in Burlington Vermont.
                Didn’t recognize the bloke. (again, no TV).
                (husband told me about a year later).

                There’s a difference between me and Blaise, though. I tend to tell stories about my friends (or their friends, who tend to be much stranger)Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                You mean the “Most Interesting Guy in The World”?
                I walked right by him in Burlington Vermont.
                Didn’t recognize the bloke.

                Can someone make this a haiku and put it on her tombstone?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                See more glass.Report

              • I am entirely willing to believe you have a friend with osteogenesis imperfecta.

                I am entirely unwilling to believe that you have a friend who is quite intelligent but whose IQ tests at 25.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                As far as I can tell, not having reviewed the scoring, I figure it has something to do with edge-effects, on the low end. “What do you mean he can’t remember a sequence?? Like, I gave him a three number sequence, and he doesn’t even remember the first number!”

                His coping skills mean that he had a lot easier time with calculus than algebra.

                Also, being dyslexic, dysgraphic, and dyscalculic might have something to do with the scoring… (he doesn’t take notes in class. if he’s writing, he can’t listen to the teacher).

                [Also, while I’m certain he’s not exaggerating, he’s taken a LOT of IQ tests in his life. Quite possible for some of them to hit certain problem areas harder than others.]Report

              • Can he dress himself with ease? Does he speak in full, complete sentences? Does he have a job?

                If the answer to any of the above is “yes,” the IQ of 25 is highly, highly dubious.

                [Revised to state — I just reread your comment more carefully. You posit that a person who can work calculus has a measured IQ of 25. That is the most ludicrous thing I have read in ages. Seriously, just ludicrous. Persons with an IQ of 25 MAYBE develop basic communication and self-care skills. They cannot work calculus. You are a remarkably silly person.]Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Learning Disabilities is a term that signifies a high degree of variation in the subtests of the IQ test.

                I’ll agree that the IQ test appears to be pretty inaccurate here. But that’s my point. If you’re going to say, “we ought to make a decision based on someone’s intelligence”, you first need to convince me you have a good way of determining that.Report

              • Kim, an IQ of 25 = profoundly retarded. NO competent neuropsychologist or developmental specialist would assign that score to someone with specific learning disabilities but who can work calculus. Period.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                IQ Scoring seems to measure things like arithmetic, or maybe simple algebra. It is certainly possible to understand calculus and to complete the course using a calculator, when you might be unable to do the math in your head.

                And it took him an awful long time to learn arithmetic (done using two’s complement, which as you might imagine, isn’t taught in elementary school as a standard way to solve arithmetic problems), and four-five times through algebra to learn that too.

                And I’m saying that someone who managed to ace calculus had a measured IQ Score of 25 (not sure when this was. 2nd grade? age 25?). The problem with IQ Tests is that they measure things on a very low level, and he’s best on a higher one, where coping skills can bridge gaps.

                (not that I’ve bothered to mention this, as it /may/ not be important to an iq test, but he’s got extremely slow reactions, and other indications that his brain is simply wired funny).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                And it took him an awful long time to learn arithmetic (done using two’s complement

                OK, I may have to start reading Kim’s comments more often. This is awesome.Report

              • Well, I think further conversation (as per usual) will prove fruitless. I find your description of your friend utterly implausible, and there’s naught to be said beyond that.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Life is full of utterly implausibles. That’s why it’s life and not fiction.
                Only in fiction do people care about plausibility.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Life is full of utterly implausibles. That’s why it’s life and not fiction.
                Only in fiction do people care about plausibility.

                Except its not. Sure, the world is large enough that there may be implausible things happening. Hell, most people may even be connected to one or 2 things that sound implausible. But you, Kim, it seems like you are all about the implausible all the freaking time.

                There is one thing that can seem implausible about me*. But that becomes less implausible if you factor in my geekiness and being raised in a sex-negative environment.

                *Its one that we have discussed before. I am not about to rehash it.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I collect stories. I can list about ten “somewhat implausibles” that have actually happened to me. [and at least one of them is “stupid tourist tricks” — got mistaken as a celebrity in NYC, people were taking pictures]. A good deal of them you could verify empirically (look up the companies involved, and if you want to spot me that I actually invested…).
                That said, I know a good few people. And they know a whole lot more smart people than I do.

                Then again, it could be that some people are just weirdness magnets (Orange Communication, anyone?).Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                To be fair, if Kim is saying “He’s intelligent in a way that some IQ tests completely miss”, I couldn’t reject that out of hand.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Mike, on the other hand, if she’s saying, “He taught himself arithmetic using two’s complement (however the hell that would work), and he’s intelligent in a way that some IQ tests completely miss so that he’d end up with an IQ of 25,” then she’s full of shit.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Two’s complement is how most computers represent negative numbers. It has the advantage that the same logic can add both signed and unsigned numbers. (I could enlarge on that, if anyone cares.) I don’t (offhand) see any useful way to extend it beyond binary representations, making it fairly useless for humans (I didn’t get to the ATM today. Can you lend me 10100 bucks?)Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                For my part, I consider these unfathomable and sometimes exasperating stories a part of the wonderful and delightful package that is Kim. (I mean this quite genuinely.)Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I usually don’t read Kim, and I cringe a bit when she replies to my comments, because her replying to a comment is a pretty good way to ensure that it doesn’t get any serious replies, but I must say that if Kim said she was going to the Chicago meetup, I would have to seriously consider going. I just want to see if her offline personality matches her online personality, and if so, what the hell that would mean.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              This may be the strangest argument in favor of eugenics that I’ve ever read. “Obamacare does it, therefore eugenics!” It doesn’t even really say what Obamacare does, it just says that it does it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Do you think that we, as a society, don’t have a compelling interest in children?

                You may think it’s silly today (and you have my deepest sympathies). For my part, I remember what people thought were silly yesterday.

                Remember this argument from the other day? No where in the world are people allowed to “enjoy their lives on their own terms.” The world is too big and complex for that. I dont’ work on my own terms. I don’t buy products on my own terms. I do hardly anything on my own terms, except maybe think (thank you Descartes). I do things on aggregated terms.

                Good times.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I do think we have a compelling interest in children. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything I said, though.

                Also, I don’t remember that argument from the other day (I don’t think I paid much attention to that thread), but depending on what “on my own terms” meant, I think it’s trivially true. Again, what that has to do with this, I don’t know. Maybe you could spell it out?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think that these arguments, further down the slippery slope they may be, are becoming less and less alien by the day. The arguments that explain that, yes, how much soda you drink *IS* the business of the government is not quite as far from the argument that whether you’re engaging in procreative sex is the business of the government as we’d like it to be.

                Obamacare, for example, was used as a reason that we have a compelling interest in whether our co-citizens develop diabetes.

                Wait until you see what is a compelling interest tomorrow.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                First, we do have an interest in whether our fellow citizens develop diabetes. Whether that interest overrides their own freedom to eat whatever nasty shit they want to eat is something people have to work out (and you clearly have worked out).

                However, if that’s true of Obamacare, it is true of pretty much anything we pay taxes on. Under this view, I have an interest in people not driving large trucks, not just because of the environment, but because they fuck up the roads that I paid for. I have an interest in people not having cell phones that can text. I have an interest in whether people eat eggs (they’re highly energy inefficient). I have an interest in whether people with high blood pressure have sex. I have an interest in just about everything.

                I don’t think this is what Pyre’s saying, but if it is, he might do a better job of it. Also, since I don’t care whether you drink coke, it’s not particularly relevant to me.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


                And how crazy is it to say that we do have a compelling interest in whether people are having children that they aren’t prepared to care for?

                Whether that interest overrides their own freedom to do… whatever is something that people have to work out.

                You won’t believe what won’t sound crazy tomorrow.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jaybird, that it affects me (and is therefore an interest), and that we have to work out whether its effect on me licenses me reducing your choices (via the state) are obvious, and are pretty much the case with every law. That you’re just now realizing that there is a balance, or that you think you need to convince me or anyone else here that this balance can be tilted, strikes me as odd.

                Or maybe you’ve just now become an anarchist? Weird.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think it’s more that it’s my belief that there is a lot of room between “papers, please” and anarchism and where we currently are is, every day, moving closer and closer and closer to “papers, please”.

                “AUGH STOP MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION!!!” usually gets a response of “don’t like it? Move to Detroit.”

                I see us very soon moving to an area where the state will be involved in our lives to a point where even you will find it uncomfortable and, I suspect, your complaints that other people shouldn’t care about the things they care about and that the things they claim are compelling interests are not, in fact, compelling interests will fall on deaf ears.

                For what it’s worth, I suspect that me and mine will sympathize with your complaints. I imagine that that will be cold comfort, though.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                I think what Chris is looking for is where you’re drawing the line. Your claim that there’s a lot of space between anarchy and “papers, please” is well taken, but in even framing it that way you admit, seemingly, that you want to live in a place that’s somewhere between those. So please tell us how you want us to draw the line.

                Complaining that there’s a line we’ve crossed doesn’t do us much good if you: (a) believe a line exists, and (b) won’t tell us where it is.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, if that’s the case, it will indeed suck, but I’m not sure, “If you don’t like eugenics, then you shouldn’t like laws that limit the size of the coke you can get at McDonald’s” is really a good way to argue for much of anything (either eugenics or cola laws).

                Also, I am currently significantly less worried about whether cola laws will lead to “papers please” than I am about whether militarism will do so.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Hell, I’m past drawing the line. At this point, I’m just saying “AUGH STOP MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION!”

                I’m not sure, “If you don’t like eugenics, then you shouldn’t like laws that limit the size of the coke you can get at McDonald’s” is really a good way to argue for much of anything (either eugenics or cola laws).

                I’m pretty sure that saying “we, as a society, have a compelling interest in your nutrition because we, as a society, have a compelling interest in your health care” will take you places that you have already said you don’t want to go.

                I’m just not sure that your saying that you don’t want to go there is enough to keep us away.

                Good lord, my screaming “AUGH STOP GOING IN THAT DIRECTION!” sure as hell isn’t. Indeed, the desire to stay where we are is generally assumed to be pro-anarchy.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, you being an anarchist wouldn’t bother me, though I assume you wouldn’t be a left anarchist, which would (about half the time, I am one). But the way you initially framed the issue is a way in which every law could be framed, so in order to remain consistent with that simple framing, anarchy or totalitarianism is necessary.

                Also, as I said, militarism and nationalism worry me a hell of a lot more than coke laws. Coke laws are a long way from “show me your papers.” “Show me your papers” is very close to “show me your papers.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But the way you initially framed the issue is a way in which every law could be framed

                Yep. Moreover, it’s how a huge number of laws are framed.

                Whether we’re talking about something that we have a compelling interest in like the size of Coca-cola drinks being sold or something that is none of our business like gay marriage, it’s surprising how many laws use this justification.

                My problem is that I generally don’t trust peoples’ ability to distinguish between a compelling interest and a prurient one.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                So… we should have no laws?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, neither do I. Nor do I trust markets to work this shit out. Or politicians. Or bloggers.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So… we should have no laws?

                See? That’s the first place “you shouldn’t use a justification that can justify *ANYTHING*” that folks go to.

                Why not use a… *DIFFERENT* justification?

                “We’ve done a cost/benefit analysis and there are benefits to this law that outweigh the costs and people breaking the law are adding costs that can be prevented though passing this law and then enforcing it.”
                “We’ve established these rights and this particular practice violates one or more of those rights and so we’ve made this particular practice illegal without violating any rights.”

                Those are justifications off the top of my head that don’t particularly bug me.

                Nor do I trust markets to work this shit out. Or politicians. Or bloggers.

                This is why I choose the whole “let’s not require this shit to be worked out, then” option.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, how is your cost-benefit analysis different from “Whether that interest overrides their own freedom to eat whatever nasty shit they want to eat is something people have to work out (and you clearly have worked out)?”

                Who decides what things are costs, and what things are benefits? Is a loss of freedom not a cost? Is an actual cost to the taxpayer (or to other citizens in some other way, like say polluting the environment) not a cost? Explain to me how your method differs in practice, and not merely in theory (if it even differs in theory; I’m not sure that it does).Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I’m with you on the latter justification, but how is this:
                “We’ve done a cost/benefit analysis and there are benefits to this law that outweigh the costs and people breaking the law are adding costs that can be prevented though passing this law and then enforcing it.”

                … any different than what is being discussed? It still seems to be based on the relationship between liberty and shared interests.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’d like to think that costs and benefits are measurable enough that we can say “golly, we promised that the legislation would do X and instead it did Y!”

                And then, of course, we can say “WE NEED TO DOUBLE DOWN!” and “WE NEED TO ADD WOOD ALCOHOL TO THE BOOZE WE INTERDICTED!” and, after we do that enough times, maybe we’ll (eventually) say “okay, maybe the legislation didn’t do X.”

                If, however, we just base it on interests? There are people out there who will never, ever, stop having an interest in the square peg going through the round hole.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                That seems like a fair distinction. For me, that is a bit too utilitarian. And too often it would require a high degree of presumption that I’m just not comfortable with. We can (maybe) calculate the financial costs of giant sodas. We cannot meaningfully or accurately calculate the cost of lost freedom by banning them. And if some asshole tries to tell me he knows how the loss of Big Gulps impacts me, well, we probably can measure the temperature at which my blood starts to boil.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, the interests we’ve described here are monetary (diabetes costs me more, therefore I have an interest), so I can’t imagine the conclusions that are arrived at there would be any different from those arrived at from a cost-benefit analysis. What’s more, in both cases, we’re still having to determine what’s a cost and what’s a benefit, which, since that determination is doing most of the work, means they’re going to end up in the same place even if they do look different (which they really don’t).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If you don’t like utilitarian, you’re stuck with deontological (yes, I know about virtue ethics, once you start institutionalizing these on a federal level, they cease to be distinguishable from deontology).

                If you want to run with a deontological set of laws, you seriously need to be prepared for “because, that’s why” as an answer when the majority disagrees with you. For my part, I’m not.

                As for Chris’s point of the cost/benefit analysis, I just ask that we look at the numbers before and the numbers after. That’s it. If, as it turns out, we reduce diabetes through restrictions of 32 oz Coca-Cola to the point where it is now cheaper for the new system to sustain itself than it was for the old system, then I will *CHEERFULLY* say that the Lord’s Work is being done.

                You and I both know it won’t be. You and I both know that diabetes won’t be affected for a freakin’ second.

                My money is on the fact that we will have the discussion where we explore how “this is very complicated, we need to double down”.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                What if we ban fast food and high fructose corn syrup altogether? That will affect diabetes rates dramatically over time, I bet. So we shouldn’t ban Coke, we should ban fast food and high fructose corn syrup.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Sure. NYC seems as good a testing ground as any.

                I just ask that we look at the numbers before and the numbers after.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I don’t know wht deontological means. As I said, I agree with the second justification you offered. In a nutshell, I think laws should be designed to either protect or extend rights/liberty/freedoms. A soda ban does not do that. Even one that hypothetically works.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, however you want to do it, though it’s quite clear to me that your method won’t keep us away from “papers please” any more than the method you’re decrying. Hell, as my example shows, it’s likely to get us there a hell of a lot faster, because the sorts of “costs” and “benefits” that keep us from getting there in any system aren’t easily quantifiable, which means that in a strictly quantitative system, they’re going to tend to be discounted.

                In a system in which one’s social, political, and economic fate is largely determined by one’s initial position, all I’m interested in is making sure that the initial position is as close to equal as possible (or that we set things up so that the role of the initial position is minimized, allowing for it to be effectively equal). I don’t think cola laws have much to do with that. Access to health care? That does. Not being able to have children because of one’s SES? That’s pretty much the opposite of what I’m saying we should be doing.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Personally, I think there’s two thing going on here. One deals with incurred obligations and whether and to what extent they should obtain. A second issue, sorta hidden beneath the first, is what to do about them. Jaybird is opposed to the idea of incurred obligations. Or rather, I think he’s opposed to the idea of formalizing and conventionalizing the mechanisms by which obligations are incurred. It’s a bad precedent! It invites an all-too-easy acceptance of ever-more incurred obligations.

                On the other hand, tho, our social and institutional arrangements do incur obligations on each of us. Drinking too much soda leads to diabetes, and the health care costs to treat that condition will be disproportionately born by people who don’t have diabetes. That’s true in the private insurance market as well, I should add. (Unless insurance products have become so fine grained that policy price is a function of sugar consumption.)

                So, given that incurred obligations are a fact of the matter (however much some of us might not like that fact) the issue devolves to policy mechanisms and ways to meet those obligations. Metrics come into play: minimal loss of freedom, or efficiency, or consistency with other rights, or etc.

                Personally, I Jaybird’s principled stand against incurred obligations is factually incorrect. Instead, I think it’s a stand against normalizing incurred obligations. If that’s correct, then I agree with him.

                I also think that mechanisms matter in these types of discussions. A soda tax makes more sense than a soda ban. Maybe that’s something liberals and libertarians can agree on.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                the sorts of “costs” and “benefits” that keep us from getting there in any system aren’t easily quantifiable, which means that in a strictly quantitative system, they’re going to tend to be discounted

                The War on Drugs might provide a good enough example of that… “We’ve caught 1000 tons of cocaine at the border in March!” becomes “We’ve caught 1100 tons of cocaine at the border in June!” and is that a reason to… what? Keep trying to catch cocaine at the border? Stop trying to catch cocaine at the border?

                Is the only thing being measured the amount of cocaine being intercepted?

                This is why it’s important to me to come out and say “this is what we’re measuring” and then measure it and then say “our policy will do X” and then, after the policy is enacted, measure what we’re measuring again and compare it to X.

                I’d like to think that we’d eventually be able to say “our policy is not doing what we said it would do.”

                Even if we do have to double down five or six times first.Report

              • Avatar Pyre says:

                That’s because I’m not arguing that.

                What I was pointing out was that using the Eugenics buzzword and farfetched worst case scenarios is no more a valid counter-argument here than it was during the healthcare debate.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Except that you haven’t shown that people are even saying the same thing (that was my point). Or really said anything at all, except that you’re in favor of good, old-fashioned class-based eugenics.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              I still believe in liberal Democracy and civil rights. This means that there are things the State/Government is not allowed to make requirements for and one of these is who is allowed to become a parent and who is not. You can not have a liberal democracy if there are tests or polls on voting (I am even against felons losing their franchise) and if the Government states who can and cannot have children.

              The decisions would simply be arbitrary and eventually involve bigotry. I was a drama major in college and have had some more snooty engineers question my intelligence for going into what they see as an easy-peasy major. So despite my BA, MFA, and JD, I am sure that there are people who think I should allowed to breed.

              I am Jewish. There is a long history of people seeing the Jews as being racially undesirable and wanting us to be slowly drained out of the Human race by not being allowed to have children. I simply cannot support any Eugenics or parenting requirements. It is beyond the pale.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                How much time do you spend campaigning against our current eugenics laws?
                I hear what you’re saying, I just want more of a … value comparison? Maybe this isn’t possible, if you don’t spend time campaigning for anything…?Report

              • Avatar Pyre says:

                “I simply cannot support any Eugenics or parenting requirements.”

                I would argue that this statement is false.

                We already HAVE parenting requirements in the form of Child Protective Services. Unless you can honestly say “I oppose CPS because, during WWII, the Nazis would forcibly take children away from their parents in the concentration camps”, then you already support parenting requirements.Report

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

      I don’t know about the licensing part, but I like the idea that getting pregnant should involve making a deliberate positive choice instead of, “Oh, damn. Look what happened!”

      Through the modern miracle of oral contraceptives we were married for five years (after having lived together for a couple years) when we decided that the time was right. I was in the military with essentially guaranteed employment for a period of time and great health insurance.

      We had enjoyed our time together as a childless couple with the freedom that entails and we were secure in our relationship. The time was right to expand the family.

      The second child, unplanned, came at an awkward time and was more upsetting to our situation. Make no mistake, we love her to pieces and can’t imagine life without her now, but it wasn’t as smooth a transition.Report

  22. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Kazzy, I just wanted to say that this was an awesome post idea. It made me think. Clancy and I actually talked about it on the two hour drive home.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      It is indeed a fine post but I honestly can’t see why this wouldn’t be a much better world than ours.

      Of course I don’t see sex as a bad thing. Rather the opposite.

      People seem to forget that 16 year-olds who are not having sex find themselves in emotional pickles rather frequently as well.

      If that drug were real you would still need to teach your kids about good consent, identifying abusive partners, and a whole list of other worries.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I think the world would be objectively and wholly better with this wonder drug, but there would be some downsides.

        I’d rather have every 16-year-old screwing with 0% of them getting pregnant or contracting a disease than 50% of them screwing and some small-but-real-percentage of them getting pregnant and/or contracting a disease. But having every 16-year-old screwing isn’t objectively good, and possibly (probably) objectively bad. However, I don’t think that outweighs the gains of drastic reductions in unwanted pregnancies and STDs (which would not be limited to 16-year-olds). But I am of a prior mindset that views safe teen sex as less destructive and I recognize that others might view it as moreso and that might change their calculus.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Thanks, guys! These are the crazy thoughts that enter my brain, largely because of a reflexive tendency to look at the way things are and say, “What the F?”* This seems a more productive way of examining the seeming unexamined and attempting to understand a culture whose existence I’ve been alive for less than 10% of. I’ve got more coming and really, really appreciate all the highly thoughtful responses.

      As a woman, a doctor, and the mother of a daughter, what were Clancy’s thoughts?

      * This might be the thing that largely keeps me from ever being a social conservative in the broad sense of that term. I will likely always want to change, or make possible the option to change, the ways of the world than steadfastly maintain them. But maybe that’ll mellow.Report

  23. Avatar Chris says:

    Kazzy, a few facts about me to give you an idea of where I’m coming from. First, I am the father of a 15 year old boy (he’d say “Man, dad. I’m a 15 year old man!”), whose mother I’d known for 3 months when he was conceived (we never married), though I was in my early 20s and not a teenager. Also, I became sexually active around my son’s current age. Oh, and we live in a state with an absurdly high teen pregnancy rate. My son and I have had a few conversations about sex over about the last 12 months, all of which had a consistent message: you and the girls you know are probably not emotionally mature enough for sex yet, so you should wait, but if you can’t wait, make sure you take every precaution you can. I’ve found that it’s difficult to explain the consequences of not taking those precautions, because he is such a consequence, and if I say to him, “Your life will be better if you don’t have a kid too early,” he’s inevitably going to start wondering, “Would my mom and dad’s lives have been better if they hadn’t had me?” Plus, it’s hard to say, “It will be much more difficult to do what you want with your life if you have a child too early,” since I pretty much did exactly what I wanted to do (i.e., become super over-educated). Despite these difficulties, I think he’s getting the message, but he’s a teenager, to it’s difficult to tell.

    To answer your question then, even in the absence of your hypothetical drug, I would be OK with my son having safe sex, but I actively encourage him to wait, not until marriage, just until he’s older, standing on firmer emotional ground and benefiting from more experience with girls/women. If such a drug existed,I’d obviously still be OK with him having sex, but I’d also still encourage him to wait, at least until they make a drug that also eliminates the emotional after-effects of sex (particularly for teens, whose brains are basically pickling in hyper-emotional juice).Report

  24. Avatar Boegiboe says:

    My concern would be that teenage brains are forming the reward paths that will guide them for the rest of their lives, and sex creates a powerful and potentially addictive reward path. I would therefore still encourage my child to wait, but if she doesn’t wait, to be cautious and infrequent in her explorations. This is in fact one of the reasons I plan to give my daughter for waiting, when the time comes, and I would give it to a son if I had one.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I worry that this approach essentially says that we should just keep our teenagers locked in a room.

      It’s true that sex is potentially addictive, but so are a lot of things that teenagers are exposed to on a regular basis. What’s more, a good way to prevent something from being addictive is to develop healthy habits early on. So the addictive nature of sex might just as well suggest that we should be letting kids have sex early.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      so… you’re saying it’s a bad thing if the kid wants to masturbate 5 times a day?Report