The Voice of Hedonism

In response to Micha's first Ben Shapiro post, I couldn't help but give my inner hedonist voice:

I’d way rather live in a world where 15-year olds are taught how to tramp safely if they want to than one in which they are discouraged from tramping at all. Heck, I don’t even mind if they are encouraged to tramp - tramping is fun at any age! OTOH, priggish parents are welcome to send their kids to uptight colleges - and should be allowed to send them to uptight grade schools without having to double-pay. But I’ll happily back the libertines against the prigs in a bet on who gets less STDs.

There were two responses which I'd like to argue with here, since I think the errors are interesting. Plus the topic has the potential to be controversial, and thus warm my hedonistic little heart with the flames of active commentary that let an author know his spark has found some tinder.

The first was from Josh, who says:

I’d be pissed if I found out my 15 year-old daughter was having sex. That’s not prudish, that’s trying to protect her.

As a libertarian, I have to point out that we have a name for the institution which protects us from pleasurable experiences we wish to engage in - its called the government. I got laid at 16, and I regard it as an unambiguously positive experience. I sure didn't need (or want) 'protection' from having a good time - only 'protection' from negative consequences.

The second comment was from Tom, who writes:

Let’s start with some basics:

Less teen sex = less disease + fewer unwanted children + fewer early (and often unhappy) marriages

Parents who want to protect their children therefore try to teach them to eschew sex because of its potential consequences. Abstinence – by definition – works better than prophylaxsis and contraception.

Parents who encourage their children to use contraceptive devices are, in effect, encouraging them to have sex. Parents who encourage their children to abstain from sex – and tell them why they should do so – are doing the right thing by their children. They won’t succeed 100 percent of the time, but they’re bound to succeed some of the time, unlike those parents who – by their attitudes – give the impression that they just don’t care.

Joe corrected one of the major errors here by referring to the studies showing that abstinence-based education increases rates of STD's, without reducing pregnancy rates. I was referring to these with my willingness to bet that the sex-ignorant would get more VD. (Aside: If I'm willing to bet on something, you should assume there is a good reason!) As libertarians, shouldn't we find it unsurprising that informed individuals make better choices? After all, that is part of the cornerstone of our philosophy! I see no reason to think the capability to benefit from knowledge suddenly appears at age 18. Rather, it steadily trickles in from babyhood on - and by 15, most of what will be there at 18 is already present.

But Tom has made another error, which is to list only the harm caused by sex and not the benefit. His equation is incomplete, because less teen sex also = less hot teen orgasms, less teen self-esteem benefits from feeling adult, and less wonderfully passionate teen relationships, fueled by raging hormones. Sure, costs matter, and sure, STDs, unwanted children, and unhappy marriages are costs - but benefits matter too! And *protected* sex almost entirely removes the first two costs, and by reducing pregnancy reduces unhappy early marriages. Look, you could just as well argue that less pot smoking = less coughing, or less investing in stocks = less years where you lose money. Everything has a downside, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile.

By teaching your kids abstinence instead of condoms, you make two grave errors. The first is to believe that Ignorance Is Strength - to demonstrate that you don't trust your children to use information accurately, a belief which studies show is wrong. And the second is the puritan foolishness of believing that stopping them from having fun is a good thing. Fun is a big part of what life is all about, and protected sex is some great fucking fun, whether you're 15 or 55. I do care - I care about my kids enjoying life, like I do, and did, and don't regret.


Update: Follow-up here.
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The earlier a girl has sex,

The earlier a girl has sex, the more likely she is to become pregnant. Period. End of sentence.

The earlier a teenager has sex, the more likely he is to contract an STD. Period. End of sentence.

One would think that this stuff would be obvious to rational, skeptical libertarians.

Perhaps I'm oblivious and irrational, but I don't think either of those statements is logically sound.

It does not follow that the earlier a girl has sex the more likely she is to become pregnant, no matter what form of punctuation you end the sentence with.

Nor does it follow that the earlier a boy has sex the more likely he is to contract an STD.

It is fine thing to aim for simplicity; it is, however, of no use to become egregious in that regard.

Hmm, I'm of two minds on

Hmm, I'm of two minds on this.

On one hand, I can appreciate the arguments for monogamy. As a twentysomething male who abstained for all those wild teen years only to give in to temptation in my twenties, I certainly didn't regret having sex before marriage, but I also realized that, well, it's just sex. There was nothing particularly earth-shattering about it. An orgasm is an orgasm whether self-induced or achieved via the more traditional means. I could have easily started earlier and probably would've gotten pleasure out of it, but conversely, I also could have waited until marriage and avoided all the heartbreak (mostly on the females' end of it) that goes along with the emotional bond that is created via physical intimacy. I don't know much about biology, but I've heard that physical intimacy leads to certain chemicals shooting off to and fro in the brain that in turn creates an emotional attachment. This was probably left over from millennia of evolution, which would have made it advantageous for sexual partners to develop an attachment to one another, seeing as the survival of the offspring necessitated a male figure to protect it from saber-toothed tigers and other assorted nuisances. As such, the whole "one man, one woman" thing that religionists like to espouse may be closer to nature than we often realize.

All of that said, I do agree that sex is fun. And if the consequences can be removed or mitigated, the pleasures of sex outside of a monogamous relationship may or may not outweigh the pain that comes along with the aforementioned emotional attachment. In theory, my 16-yr old self would've loved to engage in wild sex with all of the teenage hotties that I recall from my high school days. I probably would have had a lot more fun growing up, and who knows, perhaps that experience would have made my relationships with women less messy as I got older as women would have been less mysterious in my mind. Plus, it seems sex would have been much more fun during the hormone-raging teenage years.

So in sum, I don't quite know how my potential progeny will be educated about sex by dear old dad, but right now, it will probably go something like this: 1) sex is natural, wonderful, and something to be enjoyed, 2) sex is just like anything else in life as it carries with it serious consequences, and before you engage in the activity you must be prepared to face and/or mitigate the consequences, 3) despite the hype that naturally surrounds anything that's taboo, sex is just sex and there are some good arguments for saving it for a relationship that you feel is right for you, as opposed to treating it as a way to pass the time.

And to the above commenter that questioned whether women hit their peak at 35 --- as a 27 year old male, I can assure you I don't know, but if it is true, I do wish some of these 35 year old vixens would be more open to getting out their frustrations with men a bit younger...

Tobacco users live on

Tobacco users live on average 2 years longer than non-tobacco users

:shock:

Wow, I never thought I'd see someone say that with a straight face.

As a preface, let me say that few people irritate me more than the members of the anti-smoking lobby, former smokers who are still trying to convince themselves that they did the right thing by forcing everyone else to do it.

Having said that, I can say with certainty that the above statement is crap.

Tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable premature death in the United States, if not the world. Period. End of sentence.

Now if an adult wishes to use tobacco it's no skin off my nose. Just don't blow it in my face, and I'm happy. But don't pretend that it's a healthy choice. You're trading in future years of your life for temporary pleasure.

The fact that Aunt Millie smoked like a chimney and lived to 95 notwithstanding, on average tobacco users will die before non-tobacco users.

Similarly, there's very little debate about the effects of promiscuity. In short, your risk for contracting an STD increases proportionally with each person you sleep with. Period. End of sentence. The correlation still exists, even with condom use.

Sleep around with enough people, and you'll eventually get the clap. Or worse.

The problem with sex ed and condom distribution is that it assumes that teenagers are rational adults. They're not. They make impulsive decisions, which is why we generally don't allow them to drive cars before 16, purchase alcohol or firearms, sign contracts, or any other such things that are fraught with danger or far-reaching and unforeseen consequences. We don't do it because we're acting in loco Stalinis, we do it because cumulative experience has shown that for the average teenager, such things can be quite destructive.

The fact that some people have suffered little consequence from a teenage back-seat encounter notwithstanding.

It's called statistics, or if you will, the law of averages. The earlier a girl has sex, the more likely she is to become pregnant. Period. End of sentence.

The earlier a teenager has sex, the more likely he is to contract an STD. Period. End of sentence.

One would think that this stuff would be obvious to rational, skeptical libertarians.

This whole idea that somehow

This whole idea that somehow it’s ok for boys to have teenage sex but, dear lord, we must protect the girls, smacks of Victorianism.

Was the title of this thread Strawman? Everyone on the thread seems eager to argue with things I didn't say.

For the record, I have no moral problem with sex before marriage, this is a question of prudence and reputation. Boys don't need as much protection from sex as girls do because the consequences of sex for boys is much less than it is for girls. If a boy knocks a girl up at 15, his life isn't over, but hers is, to a large extent.

There's also the problem of reputation. Fair or unfair, people look down more on a sexually-active teenage girl than a sexually-active teenage boy. That viewpoint may be unfair or Victorian, but it's reality. I want people to respect my daughters.

Moreover, boys are more sexually aggressive in their teens than girls are. There's no question about it.

For the record, I think high schoolers of both sexes should keep in their pants until they graduate. But very obviously teenage girls need more protection than teenage boys do.

- Josh

As Glenn pointed out in his

As Glenn pointed out in his column, it's inevitable teens are going to have sex; they have been for centuries. Abstinence is probably a nice ideal on paper, but then so was Communism. Human nature dictates neither works very well in practice.

We should probably be encouraging teen monogamy. I think the most risk to teens, in both physical harm and mental anguish, comes from having multiple partners or a casual attitude toward sex.

Hmmmm... The libertarian

Hmmmm... The libertarian critique ob abstinence seems to stop at the end of one's genitalia, and not address the rights of others to any extent.

Here in D.C. we have pretty graphic sex ed classes starting as early as about 5th grade, and abstinence education isn't the centerpiece. The only question in this area is how much should we teach middle school kids about how to have various types of gay sex. We also have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country, and I don't even want to know what our pre-teen pregnancy rate is. Now, I know fetuses aren't people, so unwanted pregnancies that end in abortion really aren't an issue. But what about the thousands of kids born into extreme poverty, to 12 to 15 year old parents? I know those kids don't enter into the calculus at the time of the initial transaction, but they do seem to be a third party whose rights are affected by it. Sure, birth control works, if the child is conscientious, okay to be trusted to handle serious matters with life changing impact, and smart enough to stop if the condom breaks, etc. - but how many 13 year olds would you trust with your car keys, much less near absolute power over another human life? I used to work as a defense attorney and saw this phenomenon close up, all the time. When a 14 year old client facing hard time is in your office, wondering about the fate of his 13 year old baby momma (who lives with her crackhead grandma, because her 26 year-old momma is in jail, and all the men are long gone) it feels like watching a train hit a car, in slow motion. All the sex ed in the world hasn't stopped the crime/welfare/illegitimacy cycle in this case, and it seems to me that there is a place for pushing abstinence in all this - maybe alongside traditional sex ed. I know it's totally against the spirit of what passes for libertarianism, but trying to teach something resembling internal restraint to the denizens of our urban war zones, alongside teaching mechanical technique, might not be a bad idea.

Perhaps someone here can

Perhaps someone here can answer a nagging question I've been having.
Why is it that many people are so positive about 14-year-olds having sex but it seems that most would condemn a 30-year-old man having sex with a 14-year-old drunk girl. If you say that the latter example is wrong because the girl is not fully consenting, then is it because of her age or her drunken status? And if it is because of her drunken status, then do you make that a crime? And why does it seem like a worse act than for the 30-year-old to have sex with a drunken 27-year-old? (whis is not a rare event)
It seems that even the most committed libertarian would see important differences between these two cases, based on the age of the girl.
It is not uncommon for there to be a ten year difference in age for teen sexual experiences. I just don't see a way that you can be consistent with your libertarian principles but prevent older men from taking advantage of younger women. That is always the difficulty of rape or sexual abuse. If the only difference between rape and consensual sex is proof of consent (by definition), then it can often become one word against another. So, if we throw out all statutory rape laws (because it doesn't respect teenagers right to decide their own sexual experience) then I think that would give opportunity to many sexual predators because it wouldn't simply be a matter of proving that the victim is a minor, but one would have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the victim didn't give consent, and that is not easy to do.
Is there another way out? Can you legalize consensual sex at any age (or say, above the age of 13) without a vast increase in rape/coerced sex? Is it perhaps not the worst idea to restrict sex to below 18 in exchange for easier prosecution of those who have coerced sex with teens?

Patri - yes, it's a genuine

Patri - yes, it's a genuine difference in the two goods for our population, but it doesn't strike me as a difference that makes one good more important than the other. Or more important than any other goods one might find with a bit of searching. Um...for instance, yachts. Over the "normal range" of American yacht-ownership the marginal utility of owning another yacht is quite high, because most people don't even own one. If yachts and berths were free, we'd all want one. But that doesn't mean our collective yacht ownership is currently suboptimal, because yachts have an associated /cost/ as well as a benefit. Likewise with sexual intercourse.

Maybe it'd be clearer if I used ponies instead of yachts. :neutral:

The vast majority of

The vast majority of Americans already meet that basic minimum level, so it follows that for Americans at least, sexual intercourse is a greater contributor to happiness than money.

Suppose the average value in utils were as follows:

U(no money + no sex) = 0
U(sufficient money) = 60
U(sufficient sex) = 40
U(sufficient money AND sufficient sex) = 100

Assume all Americans have sufficent money, so the American util level ranges from 60 to 100. In that scenario, money is the greatest contributor to TOTAL happiness; sex is the greatest contributor to RELATIVE happiness. Money explains why average americans are as happy as they are; sex only explains why one average american is happier than another.

Glen - I think Micha was

Glen - I think Micha was making a stronger claim, one which is at least moderately backed up by evidence. Namely that over the range of normal American incomes, marginal utility of additional income is extremely low - it has mostly declined already. Whereas, over the range of normal American sex frequencies, marginal utility of additional acts is still high - it has not yet declined.

This is a genuine difference in the two goods, for our population.

Of course, what constitutes

Of course, what constitutes a "basic minimum level" of sex will vary from one person to the next...but that's just as true with regard to income.

Sadly, the claim "Sex and money are both normal goods and have declining marginal utility" doesn't quite have the same aura of profundity.

Micha, the converse of your

Micha, the converse of your last sentence is probably just as true. That is, one might as easily say sex isn't very important, because: "In fact, frequent income is a better predictor of happiness than sexual intercourse over a basic minimum level."

I'm not sure I follow your

I'm not sure I follow your point. The vast majority of Americans already meet that basic minimum level, so it follows that for Americans at least, sexual intercourse is a greater contributor to happiness than money. Sure, if you screw with the statistics and only include those Americans who have a ridiculous amount of sex, then you are correct that income is a better predictor of happiness than additional sexual activity for this subset of people. But in doing so, you have excluded a large and significant portion of the population, so your statistic isn't very useful. Whereas mine includes, rather than excludes, the bulk of the sample size.

Great minds must think

Great minds must think alike. I made precisely the same point as Patri's second argument, in this thread on sex education from doctors:

In response to the comment,

And the risks of sex are greater than the benefits for children. Unless you can show me a fool-proof method of birth control (and many many women will thank you for that one) or a method of avoiding all STDs (millions will thank you) I maintain my position

I wrote,

That’s a very curious cost-benefit analysis. How can you conclude that risks of sex are greater than the benefits solely on the grounds that risks exist (a fact which we both concede)? Surely the benefits of driving an automobile on the highway outweigh the risks for most of us, else we would not drive on the highway. Yet driving on the highway entails a very significant risk of death or injury. I need not show you a foolproof method of highway driving before I convince you that it is worth doing; why should I have to do the same with regards to sex?...

Why should the burden of proof be against sex rather than for it? You seem to be operating from a kind of “precautionary principle” standpoint, where if the consequences of action are unknown, it's best to not do that action. But inaction can have harmful consequences as well; in this case, the lost utility from sex. Do you think the precautionary principle is valid when used by luddites to oppose all new technologies that have not been sufficiently proven safe according to their standards? If not, why do you find it valid in this context?...

Let’s not forget the emotional consequences of forgoing sex, either. There is an opportunity cost to abstinence, and it is just as important to take that cost into account as it is to take the costs associated with sexual activity into account...

As for the utility of sex, I sure do believe its important. In fact, frequent sexual intercourse is a better predictor of happiness than income over a basic minimum level.

Let’s not have some kind

Let’s not have some kind of silly world where boys are hormone-crazed sex maniacs and girls reluctant nymphets and obligatory protectors of virtue. I recall there were enough hormones to go ’round.

OMG, are you serious?!?!?

Comparing the sex drive of a 16 year old boy and the sex drive of a sixteen year old girl is like comparing a zippo lighter to the atomic bomb. Honestly, I would not have had to read any more of your post to know you are a woman (not trying to sound sexist but you just HAVE NO IDEA).

schmoopie, I suspect it

schmoopie, I suspect it entirely depends on the boy and girl in question. Mine was definitely on the zippo lighter end of the scale at that age.

"Of course you did, you

"Of course you did, you weren’t the father of a 15 year-old girl. Duh."

Oh, heh, that reminds me, my dad tried buying condoms for me once when I was 15. He suspected that my boyfriend and I were having sex and wanted to make sure I had protection.

I thanked him for the thoughtfulness of his purchase, and then told him that I really preferred the ones with the spermicidal lubricant because that was an additional method of birth control.

He didn't try buying me condoms after that... he figured out I had it covered. :)

My dad was pretty cool. Another story from when I was 15, one time my dad came home, found my boyfriend and I cuddling on the couch, announced "I'm going to the mall to watch 2 or 3 movies now" and left. My boyfriend looked at me and said, "Whoa, your dad just told us to go have sex!!!"

Oh, I should probably add

Oh, I should probably add that I was already in college by then, which probably had a lot to do with my dad's willingness to treat me more like a mature adult.

This is a difficult subject,

This is a difficult subject, as I have not found a comfortable way to speak openly with my children about sex. Yet, I do agree that if they are informed about the dangers, they will make good choices.

When talking about the dangers with my teenager, I listed the following:
- Items that are avoidable with precaution
-- VD (some of which can be cured)
-- Unwanted Pregnancy (which could potentially be financially devastating to the whole family, depending on state family law)

- Items which are harder to avoid
-- really awful breakups
-- losing the mysticism of love at an early age

I relied on the media to make the case for why it is good.

Do you have a sense of how you will discuss these things with your upcoming offspring?

I am so on your side with

I am so on your side with this debate, it isn't even funny.

Point the first: I also lost my virginity at 16, in a cloud of sex-ignorance and hormones, and there's nothing that would have stopped me, least of all a lecture on abstinence.

Point the second: Some of the best sex I ever had was between the ages of 16 and 18. I've heard that women reach their sexual peak at around age 35, but until I receive first-hand proof of that fact, I argue in favor of teenage hormones.

Point the third: I'm one of the unlucky statistics that show lack of proper sex ed increases rates of VD. I'm also lucky in that it was curable with no lasting side-effects.

Point the fourth: Providing teens with the facts and options about sex does not necessarily encourage them to have sex. My sister got the birds-and-the-bees talk from me when she was 11, and she's had the support of her entire family for such a time as she makes the choice to become sexually active. At a month shy of 17, she hasn't yet made that choice, and I can't help but wonder if part of it is that there's no spark of rebellion in it for her, as there was for me.

My wife pointed out to me

My wife pointed out to me out some of the costs of teenage sex which don't go away with a twenty-five cent piece of plastic - the emotional costs. Some people get overattached to their sex partners, and teenage sex can lead to heartbreak or (as Tom mentioned) unhappy early marriages. Whether or not these costs outweigh the benefits depend on the individual, and I think fully informing them is the best way to help them figure it out.

But don't think that I believe sex has no negative consequences. I was just reacting to the particular negative consequences Tom mentioned, which conservative religious groups hammer on too: STDs and pregnancy. I think its really weird to focus on these *preventable* costs when there are genuine, harder to prevent costs, which we ought to be focusing on.

That's a fair point, Pat.

That's a fair point, Pat.

Ahh Patri pre-empts a post I

Ahh Patri pre-empts a post I was going to make. :) I agree, there are much more significant & hard to avoid costs to teenage sexual activity than simply STDs and pregnancy, and these costs are at the heart of the matter.

But is that really what

But is that really what conservative religious groups "hammer on?" I'm not sure. A short google search turned up some sights that warned of STDs and pregnancy, but they also warned of intellectual immaturity and the loss of religious virtue.

I agree fully informing the individual is probably the best way to get correct decisions out of them -- but I can hardly fault parents for trying to prevent those decisions they deem incorrect. Minors have different legal status, presumably, for a reason.

Scott - Try this one on for

Scott - Try this one on for size: "I agree fully informing the individual is probably the best way to get correct decisions out of them – but I can hardly fault legislators for trying to prevent those decisions they deem incorrect. Citizens are under their legal control, presumably, for a reason."

I think its a valid metaphor. Not to be stretched down to 2 year olds - but quite relevant when talking about teenagers.

Don't forget that our extremely high age of majority is a *very* recent phenomenon, historically. People were making their major life decisions as teenagers through most of history. Which is not to say that their decisions were always good ones - but it seems to have usually worked ok.

I agree. I've been sexually

I agree. I've been sexually active since 14 with no pregnancies or STDs because I was well-informed. My main regret is that my early experiences were with a fellow teenager -- my sexual experiences got MUCH better once I became a "victim" of statutory "rape" by an older, more competent lover.

Unfortunately the emotional risks are very real and I don't think there is enough education or understanding amongst teenagers (or most other people) of the effect of the hormone oxytocin (an addictive substance released during orgasm or cuddling) on our brains.

As a libertarian, I have to

As a libertarian, I have to point out that we have a name for the institution which protects us from pleasurable experiences we wish to engage in - its called the government.

Did I say "government"?

I got laid at 16, and I regard it as an unambiguously positive experience.

Of course you did, you weren't the father of a 15 year-old girl. Duh.

I sure didn’t need (or want) ‘protection’ from having a good time - only ‘protection‘ from negative consequences.

A 16 year-old boy has few possible negative consequences from having sex. A 15 year-old girl has a number of possible negative consequences, including pregnancy. A father of a 15 year-old daughter is doing his job if he warns her to keep her legs closed.

Good lord, Patri, I thought you had more sense than this.

- Josh

You didn't say government,

You didn't say government, but I think its an appropriate metaphor. In both cases, someone who thinks they can make better decisions for another individual does so "for their own good". Admittedly, parents have far more incentive to be right than the govt does - but still less incentive than the individual. For example, parents bear more of the negative costs (say financial costs of an abortion or STD treatment), but less of the benefits (they don't get the sexual pleasure).

How that lowered incentive balances with the increased knowledge of parents seems far from clear, to me.

A 16 year-old boy has few possible negative consequences from having sex. A 15 year-old girl has a number of possible negative consequences, including pregnancy. A father of a 15 year-old daughter is doing his job if he warns her to keep her legs closed

Both can get STDs. I agree that consequences are higher in general for girls, and our advice to male and female children should be different because of it. Not only pregnancy, but emotional complications are likely to be worse for women.

But I also think that our brain wiring, the instincts which are driving the 'legs closed' philosophy, is out of date with a modern world that includes contraception, abortion, and STD barriers. With abortion, contraception is 100% reliable. My daughters, and the daughters of many other people in this country, will have *zero* risk of an unwanted pregnancy. So why is it a danger to be concerned about?

Antoine - I like your

Antoine - I like your advice, I concur wholeheartedly on your division into preventable and unpreventable. I find it very strange that people weight them evenly, or weight the preventable ones as higher.

As for my children, obviously my wife gets a say too, and based on our personalities she will likely focus more on the negatives and me more on the positives. In general, my advice will be: the importance of preventing the preventable, and explanations of what the unpreventable is and why it should be taken seriously. And because I'm a hedonist, I'll probably mention how much fun sex is - but given raging teenage hormones, I doubt that point will require much belaboring :twisted:

I'm not sure I agree that

I'm not sure I agree that consequences in general are higher for girls.

The legal consequences are higher for boys in that in many states they can be convicted of statutory rape and labeled a sex offender. Even if it's consensual, the law doesn't recognize the right to consent at that age. The financial risk is also higher for boys in that if contraception fails they can be forced to support an unwanted kid, whereas the girl has the option to abort or give up for adoption - supporting a child is probably a choice for her, not a legal requirement that might be imposed without her consent.

Glen - I had thought that

Glen - I had thought that minors could not get convicted of stat rape, but if this is wrong and there is an asymmetrical rule (or enforcement), then you have a good point.

And I had assumed that minor fathers could not get made to pay child support - but I just realized that once the father is 18, he probably can be forced to pay for a child he fathered while underage, so that is a cost. I'm still not convinced that the boy has a higher risk - but I now think its closer than I had thought.

Bravo.

Bravo.

"I’m not sure I agree that

"I’m not sure I agree that consequences in general are higher for girls."

The potential physical consequences of heterosexual intercourse are much much higher for females than for males. Pregnancy is a serious consequence whether she decides to keep it or not (abortions are not fun experiences). Also, the risk for a female to contract an STD from an infected male through intercourse is much higher than the risk for a male to contract an STD from an infected female due the direction that most of the fluid is moving. The potential for injury or discomfort during intercourse is much higher for the female than the male since he is the poker and she is the pokee. ("OW! THAT'S NOT WHERE IT GOES!") Also, girls are at a much higher risk of being raped by their partners if they change their mind and want to stop.

"The legal consequences are higher for boys in that in many states they can be convicted of statutory rape and labeled a sex offender."

I would like to see some evidence to support your increased legal risk argument. I have heard of different ages of consent in the US for gay vs. straight sex but not for girls vs. boys.

"The financial risk is also higher for boys in that if contraception fails they can be forced to support an unwanted kid, whereas the girl has the option to abort or give up for adoption - supporting a child is probably a choice for her, not a legal requirement that might be imposed without her consent."

I hardly think that the possibility of having to pay a little money is comparable to the much higher risks girls face of death, permanent injury, incurable disease, rape, etc.

Some people get overattached

Some people get overattached to their sex partners, and teenage sex can lead to heartbreak or (as Tom mentioned) unhappy early marriages.

Care to prove it? I seem to remember ALL teenage relationships lead to heartbreak (sex or no). Any stats on whether early marriages are more unhappy than later ones? I would be really surprised if it were so.

As usual, people seem obsessed with preventing _other_ people from having sex. I would love to see a father of a teenager say to her "Look, I know abstinence is hard, so I am going to abstain right along with you. I will have no sex until your eighteenth birthday."

The laws used to be totally

The laws used to be totally lopsided but nowadays are reasonably symmetric in most states. Prosecution is still assymetric.

In California it turns out it's only a misdemeanor if the age difference is less than three years. The relevant part of the relevant law says:

261.5. (a) Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual
intercourse accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the
perpetrator, if the person is a minor.

Check out the court case at bottom of the page - 16 year-old boy and 14 year-old girl, court finds the act was consensual but still upholds a statutory rape charge against the boy. Strictly speaking if it was consensual then the girl was also guilty of a misdemeanor, but I'll bet she wasn't similarly charged.

Pegasus -- huh? Jacqueline

Pegasus -- huh? Jacqueline seems to have not suffered ill effects from having been a 15-year-old, sex-having girl. I admit I barely missed 15 -- the flesh was willing but suffering from an absence of condoms, superego beat id -- but I had no ill effects from having been a just-barely-16-year-old, sex-having girl, anyway. I rather think I would have been worse off if I had waited.

This whole idea that somehow it's ok for *boys* to have teenage sex but, dear lord, we must protect the *girls*, smacks of Victorianism. I grant you that girls are at higher biological risk, but most of the risks are shared between the sexes, as are the possible rewards. Let's not have some kind of silly world where boys are hormone-crazed sex maniacs and girls reluctant nymphets and obligatory protectors of virtue. I recall there were enough hormones to go 'round.

Corwyn -- not ALL. OK, I concede there was some heartbreak in there, but my teenage relationship hasn't ended; I'm married to him now.

Yeah, that's just me the traditionalist girl. I saved sex for my husband after all; he just wasn't my husband quite exactly yet ;).

(P.S. It certainly is odd having a conversation on teenage sex with Patri when I seem to be one of the few teenage girls at our college who did *not* have sex with him. I will, however, in no way criticize his right to speak on hedonism...;)

Scott - Try this one on for

Scott - Try this one on for size: “I agree fully informing the individual is probably the best way to get correct decisions out of them – but I can hardly fault legislators for trying to prevent those decisions they deem incorrect. Citizens are under their legal control, presumably, for a reason.”

There is, I believe, a difference in kind, and I think you know as much.

As to our high age of majority, there may well be arguments for changing it -- I certainly never argued it was the correct age -- but those are matters of degree.

Also, can we put that quote from Landsburg on the sidebar of the site or something? Or at least point out that he accidentally put it on Patri's post instead of mine?

_Let’s do an experiment.

_Let’s do an experiment. Anyone care to substitute “alcohol use” or “heroin injecting” or “smoking” for “teen sex” in the above paragraphs? Try it, and you’ll see why idiotic ideas such as this are not only wrong, they are politically stupid._

Politically stupid, perhaps, but, as I understand it, very few of the regulars here are looking to change the world through elections. Besides, 'endorsing X is politically stupid' and 'endorsing X is morally required' are not exactly inconsistent claims.

Although I'm not a libertarian, I would be willing to make your substitutions. One of course has to understand that the calculus for such actions changes. Many of the negative consequences of teen sex can be reduced via adequate education. The negative consequences of heroin use are significantly greater. So teen sex is, arguably, perfectly rational when done in a safe, responsible manner. Heroin can be used more or less safely, but at the end of the day, it's still probably pretty irrational.

Alcohol use and smoking? I'm having a glass of small-batch bourbon and contemplating smoking my last Cohiba right now. :grin:

Captain Holly - Yes, I think

Captain Holly - Yes, I think the same argument holds fairly well for all of those things. My position is not the foolish one which says that people will always make good decisions, not at all. I merely think that people make slightly better decisions for themselves than for others, and that the cost of trying to restrict their choices is higher than the benefits. I understand its not a mainstream view, but I still think its pretty reasonable.

As for .'s:

I don’t think the government should even have an active role in this sort of thing, but active promotion is ridiculous.

I don't think I was suggesting that the govt. have any particular role. Hell, I would prefer that the govt. not have any role in anything! I was merely pontificating, as an individual, on what I thought the rational parenting strategy was. And why libertarians, in particular, should agree with me.

Tom - you seem to be

Tom - you seem to be disagreeing with a position I explicitly avowed, when I wrote in the first quote:

OTOH, priggish parents are welcome to send their kids to uptight colleges - and should be allowed to send them to uptight grade schools without having to double-pay.

I'm arguing exactly for parents rights to educate their children, saying that they should be allowed to send kids to schools I consider uptight, without having to pay both the govt. and the school. I'm certainly not a fan of govt. schools, or their use to indoctrinate children, even when they are teaching something I consider important like a healthy knowledge about the risks and rewards of sex.

But I do believe that the *choice* to keep your kid ignorant is the exact *opposite* of libertarianism. It is a policy of restricting knowledge from individuals who have the capacity to use it to make better choices, because you think you know better. It is exactly what we protest in government censorship and regulation - what could be less libertarian? We aren't talking about a baby reaching for an electric socket, we're talking about people who's brains and bodies are almost fully developed. They may not always make good decisions - but neither do adults, and I don't think there is a large difference.

Is a few orgasms sufficient

Is a few orgasms sufficient to outweigh reason, discrimination, and spiritual intelligence?

I have to agree with the above poster's comment about Libertarians remaining in the political ghetto. I don't think the government should even have an active role in this sort of thing, but active promotion is ridiculous.

Absitence Only Programs

Absitence Only Programs Ill-Conceived
Catallarchy tackles the subject of teen sex. (HT: Instapundit). I expect to be hung for saying this here, but I think abstinence-only education is an ill-conceived approach to a very basic and age-old problem - temptation. God created us to...

This post provides more

This post provides more evidence that Libertarians will forever remain the Judean People's Front of American politics.

Let's do an experiment. Anyone care to substitute "alcohol use" or "heroin injecting" or "smoking" for "teen sex" in the above paragraphs? Try it, and you'll see why idiotic ideas such as this are not only wrong, they are politically stupid.

As for the studies "showing" abstinence education produces higher incidence of teen pregnancy, I'll just note that priggish Utah has a lower rate than the US as a whole.

How exactly is using the

How exactly is using the power of the government to compel people to raise their children a certain way the "libertarian" position? If some parents want to teach their children safe sex and others want to teach their children abstinence, they should each be free to do so and every one else should mind their own business. "Hedonists" who try to force safe sex training on every child are every bit as authoritarian as "prudes" who try to force abstinence training on every child. Get sex education out of the schools and let parents do their jobs as they see fit. That is a truly libertarian position.

Scott1798: Life expectancies

Scott1798: Life expectancies were short in the past because kids died of early childhood diseases and because women died during pregnancy. The additional life expectancy of somebody who managed to survive to 15 without getting pregnant hasn't changed all that much.

Interesting. I think your

Interesting. I think your argument is severely weakened by your equating promoting abstinence with promoting ignorance.

If the studies showing higher STD's among those committed to abstinence prove true, I suspect that result has little to do with "ignorance" and more to do with planning. A teen who thinks they are going to be abstinent is not going to carry a condom. It is not as if that teen is ignorant of the risks of sex or ignorant of the concept of barrier methods. That is just silly.

I also have doubts, based on my own observations, that those studies will prove to be accurate. Nevertheless, there is an explanation for that possibility, though it is no the one you offer.

Let me provide my Christian

Let me provide my Christian perspective. When you have and orgasm, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel really good. I suspect many if not most of you know what I am talking about. Just like Pavlov's dog, this chemical reward can be used to train behavior. If you make love to your spouse with the lights on and your eyes open, when you orgasm your mind will associate the sight of your spouse with that good feeling. Repeat often enough and like Pavlov's dog salivating, the sight of your spouse will stir some pleasurable associations in your brain. As you get older, you are become glued to your spouse. The inevitable fall and decline of your bodies is not as major of an issue with you because you will continue to associate the good feelings of thousands of orgasms with your spouse. All of this leads to fewer divorces (and thus avoiding the financial and emotional drains they cause) and each of you having sex with only one person provides the best protection against STD while still letting you have lots of sex.

One of the measures of maturity (aka wisdom) is the ability to make decisions that forgo immediate rewards in return for greater rewards in the future. So forgoing teenage sex (including self sex involving fantasies you bond to rather than to your spouse) in return for a more stable marriage would be an example of making a mature decision. Certainly some people would not make that trade off, but then some people will also not save for tomorrow.

So if you take the Christian view, you maximize your long term benefits. Some times it does help to read the manual.

What people often forget is

What people often forget is that it wasn't too long ago that the average life-expectancy was 35. It was that way for 10,000 years, until the advent of modern medicine. In such a situation, if you didn't get married and have children when you were 14 or 15 and waited for say ten years, you were dead before your children were raised. Thus the drive to have sex is extremely high among teenagers. It's simple biology. Modern medicine, by extending life expectancies, does not change that, and no amount of government regulation, religious instruction or parental education is ever going to change that. Throughout human history, teenagers have been having sex. One can only hope that they will behave at least as responsibly as adults when they do, but judging by how much trouble adults get into having irresponsible sex, I'm not holding my breath.

Less teen sex = less disease

Less teen sex = less disease + fewer unwanted children + fewer early (and often unhappy) marriages

1.

Why limit it to teen sex?

Less sex = less disease + fewer unwanted children + fewer (often unhappy) marriages

2.

More (teen) sex does not automatically mean any of those things. Unprotected sex is much worse than protected sex, which means 10 unprotected sex acts might be worse than 100 safe, monogamous encounters. In other words:

less sex = more disease + more unwanted children

You can't refuse to add condoms to the equation just because they destroy your argument.

3.

If teen sex is what is fueling failed marriages among young people, why is the divorce rate worse in red states? It's not (in fact, I thought anti-sex conservatives were claiming that the sex-having lifestyle was a threat to marriage)

I lost mine at just 13 and

I lost mine at just 13 and nothing would have stopped me doing it. I mean I was seduced by an older (15) girl and was not really sure what the hell was going on most of the time (well not believing it was actually happening to me). I had a decent amount of sex education at that point and it didn't register. It registered ironically after I knew what the hell they were on about. :wall: `I still wanted to rut like a rabbit, but I realised why you had to take precautions.

I think there is a bit diff between a girl of 16 having sex with someone of a similar age and her shagging a 19 or 24 year old. If I had a daughter I would be extremely ticked about the latter but not that fussed about the former (as long as she was using protection etc etc).