Morning Ed: Relationships {2018.08.13.M}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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50 Responses

  1. Avatar Em Carpenter says:

    [Re5]: I vehemently disagree with any notion that sex robots can or will decrease sex crimes. Rape is about power and control, not sex. Rapists need to subjugate, inflict pain, humiliate. Conquering a robot, which has no will to be overcome and no feelings or shame to inflame, will not satisfy that.Report

    • Avatar LTL FTC in reply to Em Carpenter says:

      Those studies linking access to internet porn to declines in sexual violence might suggest otherwise.

      Pedophelia may work differently than age-appropriate sex, and it must be true for some subset of rapists, but the rape=power theory tracks better with related theory than with the rises and declines of sex crime rates.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LTL FTC says:

        From what I know, Pedophilia is quite a different pathology from adult rape.

        The question is, what exactly is the pedophile after? Is it the sex act itself, or the emotional conquest/control of the child? Something else? Whatever it is, is it something that a robot could replicate sufficiently to satisfy the urges?Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Em Carpenter says:

      I’m struggling to conceive of any reason to create humanoid robots that isn’t sociopathic.

      These aren’t “machines to lift heavy things” or “machines to perform dangerous tasks”.
      A vibrator or sex sleeve performs the function of delivering an orgasm.

      The literature which has been produced about humanoid robots, from I, Robot, to AI, to Blade Runner all suggest that these things stem from our darkest nature.


      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        The argument for sex robots is that they would provide something of an outlet for the myriad of really sexually frustrated people. It might not be the best outlet but it could be better than nothing. Or it could all end in a dumpster fire as many science fiction dystopias imagine.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

          The history of humanity is not…encouraging… on this score.

          Any machine that has the requisite sentience and emotional depth to comprehend and engage in relationships, will also be capable of suffering. And capable of rage and cruelty of the emotional or physical kind.

          We have a hard enough time accepting the humanity of flesh and blood humans, let alone something that isn’t.Report

          • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Have you seen the BBC series Humans? It pretty directly explores these issues.Report

            • I’ve got it on my to-do list while we have Amazon Prime.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Road Scholar says:

              Yes, I was thinking of that specifically. And several episodes of Dark Mirror. And Ex Machina, on Netflix.

              Also Bladerunner 2049: “every great civilization is built on the backs of a disposable workforce of slaves”.

              It isn’t enough to have an electronic assistant remind of us things; We also need it to have a nonthreatening female voice and name, to reassure us that we are in control, and it has no agency.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I have one of those built into the Qualcomm unit in my truck for spoken directions and such. It’s called “Jill” and it has an air of authority to it that reminds me of nothing so much as a 40-yr old schoolteacher. Frankly it grates a bit.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            On the other hand, most modern thought on human sexuality seems to hold that celibacy is unnatural for humans because we are sexual beings but at the same time wants people to be really good at celibacy. There seems to be a contradiction.

            Going for a legal analogy, love/sex might best be understood as what lawyers call an ultra-hazardous activity. That is something that can’t be made safe regardless of the precautions taken, so if you injure somebody while performing it you are strictly liable for all injuries that occur.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Em Carpenter says:

      Rape is about power and control, not sex.

      I’ve never quite understood this claim. It has always seemed like a political statement rather than a clinical one, meaning that it’s more of a normative claim about how we ought to view rape rather than one grounded in the actual study of rapists and their motivations. Any time I’ve seen research that attempts to gauge the attitude of perpatrators, the thing that stands out is the degree to which people convince themselves that what they’ve done isn’t quite rape or is mitigated by some particular circumstance. That doesn’t quite contradict the power theory, but it does suggest a more complicated story.

      And that would make sense. I can’t think of any human behavior that can be reduced to one thing. Even the basics, like eating and sleeping are multi-faceted. Why would sexual assault be any different?Report

      • Avatar Em Carpenter in reply to j r says:

        Phew. I’m not sure I have the time or energy to fully answer this.
        Think of it this way: many rapists are married or otherwise have willing partners available to them. They rape because they enjoy overtaking and dominating and humiliating. They do so by literally invading the body of another person, the ultimate in control.
        I don’t believe it is mitigating in any way, and it IS based on the actual study of rapists. They are not just uncontrollable sex addicts; the pathology is not rooted in sexuality but disordered personality.Report

        • Avatar Em Carpenter in reply to Em Carpenter says:

          I’ll add that there are other elements at play as well- misogyny or revenge, perhaps as examples- but I guess my point is that the goal of the rapist is to hurt and humiliate, not to get off. If that was their only goal, their own willing partners or self-pleasure would suffice.
          But because they need to subjugate in order to achieve satisfaction, a robot will never do the trick.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Em Carpenter says:

          They are not just uncontrollable sex addicts; the pathology is not rooted in sexuality but disordered personality.

          Like I said, this doesn’t strike me as an either/or situation. My understanding is that the “rape is about power” paradigm largley evolved as a corrective to the previously held common belief that rape was just about out of control libido. That corrective was likely necessary, but I’m not sure that the research presents such a clear answer. I just found a bunch of papers (here is an example: ) that present a more nuanced picture. And none of that even gets us to the question of how much similarity there is between those who victimize adults and those who victimize children.

          All I am really saying is that the answer to the original question is a clinical one; there may be very good ethical reasons why no one should ever attempt to answer that question, but it’s likely not an answer that we can simply deduce based on prior beliefs.Report

          • Avatar Em Carpenter in reply to j r says:

            I don’t think that saying “rape is about power and control” is a simple answer at all. I think the reasons behind the need for this type of power and control via rape are where one finds the variances and nuances that you speak of.Report

            • Avatar j r in reply to Em Carpenter says:

              I partly agree. When you go from “rape is out of control male libido” to “rape often involves power and control,” you have added nuance and generally advanced understanding of the topic. But when you say that X treatment won’t work for Y problem because “rape is about power and control, not sex” that’s a step away from nuance. But maybe that’s only in the phrasing and we’re mostly in agreement.Report

    • Avatar Jay L Gischer in reply to Em Carpenter says:

      I read a story last week about a man who was arrested trying to get upskirt videos on escalators in a mall. I thought that was exceedingly strange. We live in a time where you can go home, turn on the internet, and find a smorgasboard of women willing to show you video of what’s up their skirt, for free.

      So, yeah, I endorse that this was about transgression, about taking something that wasn’t offered. Maybe it just makes it that much more thrilling, like the couple who have sex in the airplane toilet at 25,000 feet.Report

      • Avatar Em Carpenter in reply to Jay L Gischer says:

        Dollars to donuts that guy, while perhaps getting a thrill from his actions, planned to sell those vids online.Report

        • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Em Carpenter says:

          I assume it’s also partly humiliating random women who did not consent to be photographed. Some people take a sick thrill out of that.

          I admit I look very carefully around public restrooms before I use them; there have been a few cases around here of cameras being found and boy, does that thought creep me the hell out. (And there was a high profile case some years back of a teacher who had apparently planted a webcam in the girls’ locker room)

          (MISTHREADED: meant to be a response to Jay, not Em)Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Re1: How come they aren’t calling in Pender? How come the first couple aren’t two adorable penguins that have internet access? I demand answers.

    Re2: Vox doesn’t have a comments section. This is because every Vox article is carefully designed to lead its’ readers to a very specific conclusion. They do not want evidence that their readers disagree with this conclusion.

    Re3: There are obviously that will eventually get girlfriends and have sex. Likewise, there are obviously heterosexual women that have utterly no love or sex lives and incel beliefs.

    Re5: If various forms of malign sexual attraction are caused by something in the brain, the best way to treat it would probably be with drugs that restrict or end these urges than robot sex. A pharmaceutical cure to pedophilia would probably work better than a robot sex cure. I’m also really disgusted and grossed out by the idea of creating robot children for child abusers to release their aggressions on. There are some forms of behavior we really don’t want to provide an outlet for. We want to eliminate it.

    Re7: The Daily Mail’s web design is atrocious. A year ago, I came across a study that sought to demonstrate that men who do not show benign sexism, i.e. chivalrous chauvinism, are often considered more sexist than men that do even if the man in general is really egalitarian. The study was by a woman. Demonstrating benevolent sexism or chivalrous chauvinism is something that I’m terrible at. Every time I see an example of it, my eyes tend to roll. Which probably explains a good part of my frustrations in my romance life.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I think the reason Vox doesn’t have a comment section is that comment sections have to be moderated, or they become garbage, particularly about controversial topics.

      And yes, Vox articles all have a definable thesis, and present evidence for that thesis. Which is pretty much how most articles on the internet work. With the possible exception of [Re2], which I could tell was a rebuttal to Vox, but since I hadn’t seen the piece it was rebutting, ended up a bunch of meandering that I couldn’t really find the center to.

      In The Third Chimpanzee, which I have read, Jared Diamond describes humans as “mostly monogamous”, and offers the small but notable size difference between males and females as fitting the pattern. Polygynous species have males that are much larger than females, and pair bonding species have no sexual dimorphism at all. Humans aren’t quite the latter. This does not preclude them being that, on an individual level. Biology is not destiny.

      I came away from [Re2] unsure of whether Buckner agreed with that or not.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        I think the reason Vox doesn’t have a comment section is that comment sections have to be moderated, or they become garbage, particularly about controversial topics.

        And yes, Vox articles all have a definable thesis, and present evidence for that thesis. Which is pretty much how most articles on the internet work.

        That all seems a but unnecessarily naive. Yes, having a comments section that doesn’t devolve into trash takes some work. However, if there were some commercial or editorial benefit to it, rest assured that Vox would have one. Heck, maybe the main reason to not have one is that it forces people who want to rebut your arguments to do it on their own platforms, which invariably creates more traffic to Vox content. That would be a very smart reason.

        Also, it should be pretty obvious that part of the reason that Vox gets the pushback that it does is because it presents itself with a veneer of objectivity that most internet content does not pretend to have. The conceit is that Vox is surveying the field and providing an authoritative explanation, of course, it almost always happens to be one that is as reliably just as left-of-center, but not too radical, as it’s core demographic target.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to j r says:

          FWIW, I have from the start found Vox to be annoying for pretty much the reasons you give. Partly it is the claim to explain stuff, giving me everything I need to know all in one shortish post, neatly wrapped up in a bow. The mere claim that such a thing is possible is a sure sign of unseriousness, and clearly is designed to stop rather than promote conversation. The absence of a comments section is consistent with this. The articles sometimes are useful, but I am more likely to read ones after being referred there from elsewhere than I am to go to the site to see what is there.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Re3: The more link was not that good. One of the worst things that we do in modern society is make some very heavy suggestions to young people that if you have the proper beliefs you will have a great love/sex life and if you have the bad beliefs, you will never get a romantic partner or really a girlfriend since its’ generally assumed that heterosexual men are going to be the ones with the bad belief. If Re7 is correct than the reality is a bit more complicated. Having the right type of sexism might be a boon for heterosexual men looking for a girlfriend for the most part.

    The reality is that there isn’t much of connection between being a good person or believing the right things and having a terrific love/sex life at all. Nobody wants to tell kids this though. There isn’t going to be a sex ed class where the teacher says that some of the students will have the time of their lives during their youth and others are going to be lonely and miserable.

    Re8: I read this as the sage advice is not to sacrifice your future teenage boyfriend or girlfriend. Which makes sense. Placing your boyfriend or girlfriend on a sacrificial alter is going to really end most relationships.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I agree but would frame it as that our modern society views relationships through the lens of individualist consumer mentality, where having a great sex life is like having a great house or car.

      We tell stories- movies, books, commercials- that pretend that everyone is living in a nicely furnished spacious house, driving a late model luxury car and having screaming orgasmic sex every night.

      And after a while we start to believe the stories, and feel cheated if our lives don’t measure up.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        It would be easier if people with great love and sex lives weren’t so in your face about it. Although, being in your face most likely covers up a different type of misery. The most mature people seem to be more discreet about these things and feel no need to broadcast them to the world. Those are the truly happy.

        Another problem was that the free love/sex positive movement needed to create its’ own narrative. When Western society believed sex was a sin even if done as part of monogamous marriage, the free love movement needed to create a strong counter-narrative. The was to present sex as a good, natural, and fun thing. They forgot the not everybody has equal access part though, which is a cause of a lot of misery.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq says:

          When Western society believed sex was a sin even if done as part of monogamous marriage

          Are you thinking of a particular thing or element or time within “Western society” that might narrow the observation? This seems a rather over broad assertion, no?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Isn’t there a Christian thing about how if you’re not doing it to purposefully make a baby it’s a sin? I swear to G** I’m not making that up.Report

            • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Stillwater says:

              My understanding of Catholic doctrine is that the act doesn’t have to be engaged explicitly for the purpose of reproduction but the act has to be consistent with the “ordered purpose” of sexuality as reproductive. So no contraception*, no oral, anal, or handjobs, no masturbation, and certainly no homosexual relations since none of those activities can result in conception.

              * The rhythm method** is a bit of a nod and a wink since it leaves open the possibility of a miracle, otherwise known as an oopsie.

              ** You know what they call a couple who practice the rhythm method? Mom and Dad.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              There sure as hell wasn’t in *MY* church. It was something for a man and a woman who loved each other very much and were married. It wasn’t only for children but for the whole pairbonding thing.

              I mean, children were a blessing and were the point… but birth control was allowed (even if it wasn’t actively encouraged).

              And I was raised in some serious Young Earth Creationist territory.Report

  4. Avatar bookdragon says:

    Re8: In my case, I have now been married for 29 years to the guy I met at 18 right as we were making our college decisions. But we went to colleges in different states (I had a full ride I wasn’t going to give up and the college I was going to didn’t have the major he wanted) and dated long distance for 4+ years. We moved in together at the start of grad school and got married the following summer.

    So, my sage advice would also be not to sacrifice your future for a teenage boyfriend or girlfriend. If the relationship is something that will last, it will last despite being in different places for college.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to bookdragon says:

      I don’t know if Fledermaus and i would have made it 4+ years long distance. We dated for a year in high school, then transatlantically for a year, then 5 years at the same university, before we married 16 years ago.

      The one year was hard, I doubt we have made it 4. Maybe if we’d each had a golden educational opportunity in different cities it would still have been for the best to have broken up over it. But I’m glad we are where we are.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Vox has. Netflix show? Who knew?Report

  6. Avatar j r says:

    I’ve never quite believed that incel is a real thing and both of the links on Re3 kind of reenforce that belief. I believe that there are people who identify as incels, but their defining characteristics seem to center more around the act of self-identification and the formation of online groups than on the ability or inability to be successful in pursuing relationships with their preferred sex.

    To out it another way, it seems that there are a bunch of people with deep emotional, mental and social disorders who have found an online community with whom to commiserate. The lack of success in relationships seems like way more of a sympton than a cause.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to j r says:

      “17-year-old incels” implies that there are a lot of 17-year-old voluntary celibates, and/or a lot of 17-year-olds getting steady action. That’s not how I remember it.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Pinky says:

        I was celibate at 17, if we don’t count onanism. Was this involuntary? In the sense that had opportunity presented itself I probably would have taken it. But I didn’t seek it out. There were several reasons for this. Being nerdy and not really knowing how to go about it was on the list, but so was being a pastor’s kid in a smallish town, with all that entails, combined with the knowledge that I would soon be away in college, with all that entails. Also, non-nerdy girls held only limited interest for me (still true, by the way). College opened up the nerd-girl possibilities wonderfully.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

      I think this is accurate. There are many other people who have no love or sex lives that manage to go about their lives without forming a distinct identity around their lack of a love or sex life. Incels are the ones that obsess about it to a really unhealthy level. A lot of this is because the Internet makes it easier to find like minded people in the same or similar circumstances. This is not always a good thing.Report

  7. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    [Re0] This reminds me of a recent Dear Abby column about the conspiracy theorist husband. His wife describes him as a charming, kind man, that treated her better than any man she had ever dated, and she thought she could look past his passion for conspiracy theories (flat earth; fluoride; Holocaust denial) and avoid talking science and politics with him. Two years later she is having second thoughts, though otherwise happy with their marriage. I liked Abby’s response:

    You say you are compatible and happy in every other respect. Yes, your marriage can survive — if you practice the same selective amnesia you chose to adopt when your husband was courting you, and focus solely on the areas in which you are in sync.

    I love the conditional response, if what you say about the past is true, then its still true. If you figured he would change, then here you are. I guess the study suggests, this is where all married people are, to a greater or lesser extent.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to PD Shaw says:

      If you figured he would change, then here you are.

      There’s an old saying about the two big mistakes that couples make before they decide to get married: (a) she assumes he’ll change; and (b) he assumes she won’t.

      The (a) part may just be ignorance of the tools. One of my friends in college — a psych major who is now head of the Psych Dept there — was in the habit of “improving” his housemates. Without telling them. Using his own definition of what would make them better.Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to Michael Cain says:

        One of my friends in college — a psych major who is now head of the Psych Dept there — was in the habit of “improving” his housemates. Without telling them. Using his own definition of what would make them better.

        There’s a Big bang Theory episode about this. Sheldon decides to improve Penny…..

        …. with chocolate.

        It worked ….

        … for a while.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Siegel says:

    That Vox monogamy episode depends a lot on Christopher Ryan who has always crossed me as a bit of a quack.Report