Why Do Right-Wingers Hate Sex?

Why do right-wingers hate sex? And why don’t they want the rest of us to get any? Okay, not all of them. Newt Gingrich, for instance, seems to be a fan. But what he likes isn’t something he’d necessarily want anyone else to do.

Rick Santorum is the reigning sex-hating champ – unless it leads to procreation, of course. He once warned that Satan was using sensuality to attack America and he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision to allow birth control. As columnist Maureen Dowd explains,

(Santorum) believes that America’s soul wounds include men and women having sex for reasons other than procreation, people involved in same-sex relationships, women using contraception… (He feels) contraception is “not O.K. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Actually, those who lack contraception but don’t want pregnancy could still do anal and oral. Or, men could simply ejaculate on woman’s faces. So a lack of contraception may only encourage sodomy and other “perversities.”

And then there’s Santorum spokesperson, Foster Friess, who insists:

Back in my day, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees.

Or, conservative columnist Ross Douthat helpfully explains, “Monogamy, not chemicals or latex, is the main line of defense against unwanted pregnancies.”

So if a married couple only want two kids, how often should they have sex sans chemicals or latex?

Or how about this guy who responded to a post I wrote saying women should be able to follow their conscience on birth control, and not be bullied by Catholic Bishops:

Where’s the discussion of men’s responsibility to do what they can to control their own passions? Are men just dogs who cannot control themselves?

And does all this repression make the right-wing sex drive reemerge in creepy ways? One bill sought to force women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds via vaginal probe. Democratic Delegate Lionell Spruill says this is tantamount to rape: inserting objects into vaginas without consent. Women’s advocates say the procedure is meant to shame women, which is similar to a motive of rapists: degrade the victim.

But why so anti-sex?

Are these just church-going folk who’ve been warned against sexuality their whole lives?

Some worry uncontrolled passions will harm the social fabric: children bearing children… unwanted babies. But that’s what contraception is for. As conservative columnist David Brooks admits, despite more sexually liberal attitudes, teen pregnancy rates are down, abortion is down, and crime is down. “There are problems with the social fabric,” he says, “but they no longer have to do with the sexual revolution.”

Others think right-wingers simply cling to clarity and order, and crave control (a common bent among extreme conservatives). And indeed, some may feel a sense of power in controlling women’s bodies. They may gain a sense of control by reigning in the flesh and wild sexuality of themselves and others. And, they can gain a sense of clarity and structure by seeing women and men as different, each in their separate spheres with men on top and women below, barefoot, pregnant, and obeying men.

Popular Posts on BroadBlogs
Markets Must Be Free; Women Must Be Constrained
Should Organized Religion Have More Rights Than Women?
Modesty Objectifies Women Says Nude Egyptian

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 24, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, reproductive rights, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Little? Miss! Sunshine

    It’s true that taking a rigid, unyielding stance on something (anything) in the name of “Defending what is always good/correct/just” will immediately rally some to your cause and simultaneously mobilize others to attack the fortress you’ve just built. What is more difficult to parse out is the origin of the beliefs of either party—the values/motivations underlying the dispute.
    It is much easier to be a black-and-white thinker (thinking in absolutes and making generalizations) than it is to be a nuanced thinker. Inevitably, we have our own opinions and values, and they will come into conflict with those of even our own compatriots. It is quite possible that one side may actually bear the majority of the credible evidence (for example, global warming). However, there has to be an acknowledgment that facts often do bear out more than one interpretation, and that being judicious in selecting that interpretation is very important. This means that all sides must be heard (really heard, not just filtered out for sound bytes that can then create online furor). Without such an agreement, our facts reinforce our opinions, and whatever chance we may have had at dialoguing productively is gone.
    Now comes my observation: It appears that many comments upon this post are just as strongly worded as the statements quoted by the conservative candidate. One might call them “religious” in their dedication to specific principles that “demand” our respect. Both sides are attempting to defend what is sacred to them. Neither believes that this point can possibly be conceded; it is essential to the integrity of our nation. If the other side wins even one victory, the entire war has been lost.

    Our political conversations are filled with these polarizing opposites—so polarized that they may not bear much resemblance to the ambiguous reality of life that is often filled with both good and evil—a combination that boggles our minds with its irreconcilability. For my part, I cannot believe that every conservative is filled with mind-polluting hatred, fear, disgust, anger, or greed, without a single shred of love, generosity, or compassion. I disagree with their party’s position on many levels, and find myself at times desperate on behalf of the oppressed in this country—women, the LGBT community, ethnic minorities, the poor, immigrants, those in the foster system, those in penitentiaries—but I also find that there is much combativeness in the people that I agree with. Perhaps they would say that the other side’s extremism is forcing them to be vociferous about what should be fundamental (dignity, equality, democracy, etc.) but nevertheless, it is clear that one extreme position breeds its opposite, and eventually neither is an objectively defensible stance. It is, of course, easier to judge the debate than to enter it and feel personally affronted; but at any rate, I have recognized that my battle is to let my need to be heard <= my need to listen.

    • Interesting and thoughtful.

      I would say that morality from the religious right takes the form of obeying what is thought to be God’s way of thinking, which it may or may not be. I mean, slavery has been defended as God’s way, and few would agree with that now. Today subjugating women and gays are still often taken by many to be God’s way, even as other Christians/Jews/Muslims believe the opposite. But the right tends to want to oppress people and use God as a justification for doing so.

      The left sees morality from a different perspective: that of respecting the dignity of every human being, regardless of gender, color, or sexual orientation.

      I personally have don’t see a problem with the left strongly advocating this point of view. As they say, evil continues so long on good men (and women) say and do nothing.

      Obviously I’m not a moral relativist. See, for example: Cultural Relativism: Must We Be Nazis to Criticize Them?

      I’d be interested in hearing more thoughts in response from you, a thoughtful reader.

      • Little? Miss! Sunshine

        I appreciate that a dialogue has begun. A conversation partner who respects my POV but doesn’t necessarily share it is the best person to help me clarify my thoughts. Here’s what I’m currently thinking:

        1. In conversations about legislation/policy, I don’t connect well with a critical position when the problematic issues are conflated with a person or group of people (us vs. them).

        –People are not their beliefs, just as they are not their gender, color, or sexual orientation. People are always more than the side they take in any given situation.
        –People are also not less than the beliefs they have. Some people have opinions that clearly marginalize and dehumanize minorities (women, the LGBTQ community, other ethnic and religious groups), and not being a moral relativist either, I would soundly repudiate any arguments based upon this brand of bigotry. These individuals/groups need to be held accountable for their wrong speech and conduct. But I strongly believe that how the person with the accurate perspective (protecting human dignity and choice) presents her side matters intensely to the outcome experienced by both parties.

        2. In my experience with conflict resolution, the approach that gives the best chance of reconciliation is nonjudgmental listening, repeating the other person’s words as accurately as possible, and affirming what both parties have in common.

        –This is not a magic formula that guarantees success, but I’ve found that the natural reaction of judging your opponent’s character, often labeling them as “narrow-minded” or “stubborn”, reflects the judge’s own biases. (I come to this conclusion frequently after conversations with my parents.) Even in your reply to my original post, there is praise at the beginning and end. This makes me feel that you want to hear my thoughts because my thoughts are interesting (not because you disagree and are hoping for an opportunity to convince me of the real truth).
        –I think your response raises the question of, “If some opinions are intolerant (phrased as representing God’s perspective) and have negatively impacted members of a society, then shouldn’t those committed to protecting the rights of all the members voice their disagreement?” The outcome of the conversation clearly matters, and those who can must speak up for those who are oppressed. Therefore, the answer is “Yes, voice the disagreement; it makes our country stronger.” So the new question is, “How does the nonjudgmental (conscientious) objector think and behave?”
        –I am of the opinion that, for better or for worse, people need each other in this country, and that changes the tenor of the conversation. As irreconcilable as the differences appear to be, I think that the “Let me convince you” approach merely creates more resistance and counterarguments, as the “Let me force you” approach breeds counterattacks. But what about the “Let me win you over with overtures of respect and compassion” approach? It has been tried before, and when strategically applied, has yielded results both in this country and abroad.

        I’m interested in hearing your response as well. I am still not quite sure what it would look like in the case of this debate (attitudes toward sex), and that would be important if this approach were to ever become something more than a theory.

      • I agree with you completely and feel that this is ideal communication. That said, I sometimes can’t resist having some fun going the other way, even as I know that what you say is more effective and try to do that most of the time.

  2. Sarananda Osheim

    What a great question, it really does seem like conservatives are anti sex. While they may preach this lifestyle, it seems unlikely that the majority of conservatives withhold themselves from these urges. What upsets me the most about politics interfering with ones sex life is that religious values are being shoved down the throats of Americans. We were supposedly a country without a chosen religious identity, our territory is an opportunity for freedom. Yet our laws surrounding sexual conduct attempt to control, all in the name of “moral values”. I don’t understand why sex is seen as morally wrong, Americans can indulge in physical objects as much as they want. Spoil themselves rotten, but individuals are discouraged from natural instincts.

  3. I believe that the issue of women using contraceptives at their own discretion is not an issue at all. Women should be allowed to use what they need to keep themselves healthy. The idea that contraceptives are in jeopardy of becoming illegal is ridiculous, what about women who’d bodies cannot handle pregnancy, or women who aren’t able to take care of a baby? We already have enough bad parents and orphaned children, and making contraception illegal is just going to create more, along with abortions, and back alley abortions. The right wingers that are trying to ban contraceptives are not only taking away women’s right to sexual freedom, but they are also taking away a woman’s right to her body and her health. It is easy for men to try to get rid of birth control, because they are not affected by it. The idea that women would have to have an ultrasound using a vaginal probe before she can have an abortion is absolutely horrible. The right wingers view abortion as an easy way out or women, or see women as not caring about the possible baby they’re carrying, and see it as a selfish act. They don’t understand that for most women, it is one of the hardest things they could ever go through, lots of women can be very emotional about it and use it as their last resort, its not something they want to have happen, and to use vaginal probing as a punishment for these women is outrageous and disgusting. Forcing something into a woman, without her consent is rape and this law would be forcing rape onto countless women who are already going through an extremely difficult time.

  4. Maria Papayianni

    I’ve lived in the Bay Area, in San Francisco to be exact most of my time here in the United States. I didn’t have the privilege to travel much outside the state thus far, but hearing right-wingers talk about their politics takes away from my desire to go where they live in great numbers. I am puzzled how it is possible that this is the mentality in parts of the same country I came love and respect so much? Their political views are similar to what I use to hear from crazy, uneducated extremist in the Middle East, which is close to where I am from. The only difference is the God of choice, but everything else sounds the same, especially what comes to control of women’s sexuality. That’s worrisome to see some of the U.S population having such theocratic, and women controlling tendencies like displayed in some poor regions of the world, where people are subject to various forms of oppression, including sexual oppression. There is no reason why anyone should be concerned about somebody else’s sexuality, what pills they take, and ones choice to have a child or not. In my opinion a senseless desire to control, especially when combined with religious reasoning as to why women or men should be controlled, is a red flag that a nation is not heading in the right direction. It’s ok to have your own belief system and abide by it yourself. When those individuals, such as Santorum and his followers, fanatically try to impose their values onto others then it becomes unhealthy, and possibly dangerous. Isn’t that what history should have taught us?

  5. God provided human with free will, and humans have no right to take away freedom of decision from each other just because they have power to do so, and that is exactly what some right wingers are doing to the women in the name of faith and religion for the purpose of achieving their political goals. Women’s body became the battle field for the fight between right wing and left wing and they are becoming the victim of this battle.

    I don’t really understand the reasoning behind right winger objection to birth control, and I don’t believe that they are against sex or abortion for several reasons. If they are not using any form of contraception themselves, can someone please explain to me how come they each don’t have 10 kids instead couple of kids? And what is going on with all the sex scandal news in the media? Are they all rumors! Why do we have to stick to the idea of putting “Bayer Aspirin” between the knees when we are equipped with modern medical science? What is the difference between taking birth control pill and putting Aspirin between the knees? Are they suggesting that one is accepted by religion and the other is not?

    There are so many unanswered questions and unreasonable claims by some of the right wingers, but no matter how they try to justify their objection, they are surely lost the vote of majority of women, and soon they are going to face the consequence of their actions. We are living in 21th century, and women of this century won’t allow men politicians to use their body as a punching bag to gain political power.

  6. It is sad that a person vying for the highest political office in the world refuses to rationalize with the findings of science and behaviors of society. Rick Santorum’s views on human sexuality seem severely archaic even by Victorian standards. It is blatantly clear if he ever gets the chance to implement his policies it would severely cripple the rightful freedom of women to do what they please. As another blogger rightly noted, Santorum seems to be overlooking that in these heterosexual, non-procreative, sexual encounters he so hates involves men as well – while all his ‘reforms’ curtail what women can do.

  7. It sounds like the right-wingers want to set women’s progress back about 50 years when women had horrible birthconrol and sought dangerous back alley abortions. The comment Foster Friess made about birth control really made him look like a woman hater. Yes, abortion rates are down maybe because of a wonderful thing called birth control. No politician should be able push his religious views on anyone’s body or sexuality. Politicians should not be able to decide what is put in anyone’s vagina, be it a vagina probe prior to an abortion tool, a sex toy or a birth control ring. Male rapists do not receive penetration or probing after they commit a rape crime, so why should female rape victims who wishes to abort have to undergo unnecessary probing? These folks are seriously out of touch with reality. The wacky ideas they cook up during their right-wing club sessions will definitely not win over the female vote. No thanks Rick. I will keep my bith control, my gay friends, and the freedoms women have worked so hard for thank you very much.

  8. I find that religion itself is not a reason more conservative people demonize sex, I find it’s the people who interpret religion in that hateful and scornful way. The bible itself (I do not believe) ever says sex is shameful, its the people who are jaded and want to impose their ideas on others who preach this ideology. In my opinion, it is fantastic to be religious and for one to believe in something greater than ones self, but to force radical ideas on liberated people ESPECIALLY women, who have been sexually opressed and controlled since the beginning of time is wrong and unethical. As a young woman i hate to think that I did not have sexual or reproductive rights. To deny women abortion and to seek to physically rape them vaginally if they seek one is the most ungodly things I have ever heard. “Treat others the way you would want to be treated,” is one of the teachings of jesus that these people forget. We do not condemn them for having unhealthy sex life so why do hate us for trying to remain happy and healthy and for doing what nature intended us to do. God is all loving and kind. He will not judge by you’re sexual patterns but rather how you treat people. This is not what any higher power intended.

  9. In my opinion it has become a point of view they accept and preach because the party has told them it is right, and how they should approach the subject. The Republican party itself has become stagnant in its beliefs, merely so it has a solid base for when elections come around. As a conservative that has stepped back from the Republican party itself I can honestly say, we do not hate birth control and do not believe in this denial of human rights. It is a personal choice whether to use or not use birth control, there are risks to having sex but they are not risks that we are taking, so we have no right to control how people have sex, or with whom for that matter. Birth control is a much safer, and effective option than an abortion. Abortions will happen if there are unwanted pregnancies, and though I am behind the presence of abortion, I am wary of unnecessary procedures. I do believe in the necessity of abortion, we have seen how denying this procedure will affect the illegal operations and heightened danger. However I do see problems that could possibly arise, though unlikely. No matter how we have improved in the medical field, surgery always has its risks. Abortion should be the last option and not taken lightly, though i doubt it is, it could become seen as a safety net if a couple either don’t have contraception on hand, or simply don’t want to use it.

  10. The question of Why do right wingers hate sex is pretty easy to answer. Right wingers believe in the questionable word of god and that book is full of women hating verses as well as making sex the devils workshop. Frankly I wish that right wingers would just keep their women hating book to themselves and not ry to push this book up our panties.

  11. Right wing sure knows how to use fear as a way to control and repress. Historically, the right wing has taught the poor that paying tithes to the church would save them a place in heaven. While these churches were building lavish empires and paying for custom made art.
    Sex is unholy and only used for procreation? I find that this attempt at brainwashing and it is a way to inject fear into the economically and systemically less powerful such as women and in the past – poor. Because the Bible tells me so?
    In the Bible women are portrayed as lustful seductresses that need restraint. Eve lures Adam into eating the forbidden fruit. Jezebel also enticed disciples of God with her highly adorned style. Yet, if a man feels the urge to “procreate,” sex is ok and welcomed by God (of course).
    I find that even today, male – dominated sex is norm, especially in women’s magazines. While thumbing through Cosmo, articles such as, “How to Give a Hand Job,” and “What He Wants During [football] Halftime” I found that the messages are the same: : women must have potential of so much power that it is threatening.

    • totallyshocked

      How ironic, since if a man is gay, he is just as reviled and mistreated by the right as if he were a woman. I guess right wing supremacy is not just a man thing, but more like a middle to old age christian white male thing…

      • Interestingly, the two are related.

        Male dominant types see gay men as acting like women, sexually and stereotypically, and find that threatening. Men being ok with “acting like women” threatens male supremacy (men and women seem more the same, so how can men be superior?). Also, how can you have male leadership in relationships with two women or two men (one man could be leader, but then the other would be submissive — a no no).

        You find homophobia in patriarchal cultures, not so much otherwise.

  12. It’s all about control and fundamentalism. I admit I am not really following the presidential candidates and their debates, but from what I’ve heard, I’m leaving the country if Obama doesn’t win. I was flicking through the channels the other day, and Santorum was on the subject of contraceptives and rape. I do not remember his words exactly, but he said something like although rape is a terrible thing, a beautiful thing can come out of it (a baby). I honestly did not believe he just said that on national television. From that, I am convinced he is not mentally fit to even be considered as a candidate. I believe that these right wingers love their patriarchy and want to control peoples’ lives because they think that is the best way to keep order. I have no problem with people against abortion for religious reasons, but religion is individual and is not supposed to be what runs a country.

  13. I understand the whole religion concept. People have a right to follow whatever religion they choose to. However, using that religion to control people who choose not to follow that religion, and thereby controlling someone’s body, is wrong and inexcusable. I think that it is perfectly fine to hole onto your own beliefs, because everyone has them, but I can’t stand it when people try to persuade others onto their “side”. Especially not when it involves someone’s body, the one thing they have a complete right to, and the one thing that no one can take away from anyone. Controlling women’s bodies simply to satisfy a crave is ridiculous. Women have a right to their own bodies because it is their body, no one else’. For me, personally, I am pro-life, but for every other woman I am pro-choice, because even though I know that I could never have an abortion, I would never try and take that right away from another woman, because it simply is not right and ethical. The same thing goes for contraception. By giving women contraceptives, they have more control over their own bodies, and they make women more sexually aware, informing them of the ways that they get pregnant, leading to less unwanted pregnancies, not necessarily more sex.

  14. Right wingers aren’t against sex per se. They’re against women having sex without facing the risk of pregnancy etc.

    See this chart from Amptoons, for example.

  15. I think that the issue that most religious people have with abortion is that they don’t know when the soul enters the body. For religious people the spiritual soul determines life, so I think they don’t know when a fetus becomes alive (with a soul), so to be safe, they disagree with most if not all kinda of abortion. However, I think politicians play on this fear and uncertainty to their benefits (votes). They enforce that once the sex cells join, it is alive despite it’s lack of form or any real vital signs of life. I also think the reason women are mostly targeted with anti-contraception is that most anti-abortion/ contraception politicians are men. Why would they want to be against condoms for men when they probably use it often themselves? It’s easier to control women contraception than to control men so why would they put in the extra work? Targeting women doesn’t affect them. Male politicians won’t take birth-control for women nor do they have to worry about giving birth, so why would they care? It makes it easier to protest when they don’t feel the benefits of women contraception or the burden of unwanted pregnancy.

  16. Right wingers are all about control. They manipulate and abuse both religion and sexual liberty to their own nefarious ends. They are not to be trusted. Do not vote for them under any circumstances.

  17. I think it comes from their religious tradition. The monotheistic religions have a attendance to hide away the sacred from the lay people. Modesty is an example of this. From there, it is not a far thing, when combined with the idea that sex is the original sin, to make sex bad and also needing to be hidden away. That’s the root, all else is commentary.

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: