Tag Archives: morality

regarding the flibanserin arguments

[ blanket trigger warning for anyone who has experienced sexual coercion ]

This whole mess… I thought I was numb to it by now, the idea of people supporting efforts to “fix” us.

If you’re not up to speed, you can find info on flibanserin here and here.

And it’s horrifying to read about, but I was emotionally compartmentalizing it well enough… up until I saw people — ordinary internet kids, not the drug’s marketers — brushing aside that 1) it’s not safe 2) it doesn’t work 3) this probably isn’t something you could make an effective medication for anyway & 4) all the explanations of how it would be used to hurt women, with comments like “okay well maybe don’t support THIS pill but you shouldn’t oppose the CONCEPT of medication for sexual desire because even if YOU wouldn’t want to take it, some women might want to!

And it’s one of those things that doesn’t just make me angry but is just… utterly baffling to me, because one of the most basic things I was always taught was that pleasure/fun isn’t a moral override.  It doesn’t have moral value.  If something hurts people, someone saying “well I like it though” doesn’t make it okay.

Honestly, this junk reminds me of how any criticism of the beauty industry is at risk of being derailed with “but remember some women like make-up and traditionally-feminine things!” as if that has any relevance as a rebuttal.  It’s the exact same crap.

So you know what?

Even if some women were to be like “yeah, I want a pill for that!” (hypothetically in absence of any societal pressure to want such a thing), (and ignoring that female sexual desire is probably too complex wrt the factors influencing it for anyone to just make a working pill for, and that there are better options), I would hope that the desire for sexual satisfaction wouldn’t be more important to them than protecting the mental health and physical safety of other women.

another quote from rhetoric class readings

In healthism, healthy behavior has become the paradigm for good living.  Healthy men and women become model men and women.  A kind of reductionism or one-dimensionalization seems to occur among healthists: more and more experiences are collapsed into health experience, more and more values into health values.  Health, or its supreme — “super health” — subsumes a panoply of values: “a sense of happiness and purpose,” “a high level of self-esteem,” “work satisfaction,” “ability to engage in creative expression,” “capacity to function effectively under stress,” “having confidence in the future,” “a commitment to living in the world,” the ability “to celebrate one’s life,” or even “cosmic affirmation.”  “Health is more than the absence of disease…,” writes one of the new pulpiteers (49, p. x), “it includes a fully productive, self-realized, expanded life of joy, happiness, and love in and for whatever one is doing.”  In the “high level of wellness” ethic, “health is freedom in the truest sense — freedom from aimlessness, being able to express a range of emotions freely, a zest for living.” (67)  In short, health has become not only a preoccupation; it has also become a pan-value or standard by which an expanding number of behaviors and social phenomena are judged.  Less a means toward the achievement of other fundamental values, health takes on the quality of an end in itself.

Crawford, Robert. “Healthism and the medicalization of everyday life.” International journal of health services 10, no. 3 (1980): 365-388.

I want to ask why this isn’t considered a religion, but then again, we know why.

Sex is Not a Vitamin

So we kick around all these phrases like “sex is not a universal need” and “sex can’t be something you owe someone” and “nobody’s entitled to sex with you” and all that, and although I agree wholeheartedly, I think I’ve noticed a blindspot — or at least, an angle that could use more emphasis.  Regardless, it’s good to practice saying it more, and I think more people need to hear this.

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What exactly is “faith in humanity”?

Because I’m pretty sure I don’t have it.

And that’s not to say that I’m a pessimist who thinks no good is possible and everything is doomed — that would be defining the potential of humanity according to a status-oriented model of morality, which is a framework I don’t use.  So, no, I’m not that cynical, but I do have a lot of confusion and skepticism around this term and how it’s employed.

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Humanity is Not a Virtue

In the same way that sickness is not a sin, humanity is not a virtue, by which I mean there is no minimum moral threshold to retaining membership of this species.  Language to the contrary — the conflation of immorality with a “lack of humanity,” calling people “less than human” because of their cruelty — acts to deny that evil can come from humanity, when in fact, humanity is its most common if not its only source.

Being human is not a moral achievement; it is not an award you were granted for good behavior; it is not a status you can lose via the severity of unethical choices.  It’s just a species, and that fact does not elevate you.  Rather than express the extent of depravity, language that conflates humanity and morality expresses only that the speaker has yet to accept that, yes, human beings can actually be that bad, and what the person is reacting to is proof of it.

Health is Not Morality

Don’t couch a moral evaluation in medical terms.  Don’t describe a deliberate, conscious choice with a metaphor that likens it to something that is not.

Stop using “sick” to mean “evil”.

Stop using “crazy” to mean “evil”.

Stop using “psychotic” to mean “evil”.

Stop equating physical and mental health with the ethics of people’s conscious behavior.  Being sick is not a sin.  Having a mental illness or disorder is not a sin.  There’s no worthwhile point in regarding immorality as a matter of inherent brokenness.  Choosing to be selfish is not anything like falling ill.

There are many evil things in this world, and I want to see people using the word “evil” more often when they attempt to describe them.

Models of Conceptualizing Morality

Whenever moral evaluations take place, the two models I’ve frequently seen employed in discussion are these:

  • a status-oriented, “being”-centered morality of personal characteristics and fixed natures (that which takes for granted the existence of “bad people”, as a division from the rest of the population, which commentators then use to sort people on the basis of whether or not they go in that category)
  • and, less frequently, an adaption of the former that emphasizes “shades of gray” and that “everyone has some good and bad in them” (which always devolves into a rather frustrating and defeatist brand of moral relativism that, in attempting to acknowledge complexity, prevents acknowledgement of anything by undermining any productive discourse, deeming the whole discussion a pointless exercise and thinking itself enlightened for it).

Neither of these models jive with my understanding of reality and human nature, and out of frustration with their ubiquity, I want to share with y’all an alternate model that I find far more useful in practice.

This post was brought to you in part by the encouraging comments on this post and in part by sheer bitterness.  Enjoy.

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