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By Myrhaf from Myrhaf,cross-posted by MetaBlog

I thank all the people who took time to comment about my question regarding casual sex. I think most of the contention and confusion in the comments arose from interpreting the hypothetical situation, which I an now sorry I brought up. One has to assume an average context to a hypothetical. If one starts dreaming up wild scenarios like, "Okay, say it's the last day of this guy's life..." then one defeats the purpose of the hypothetical. But still, there are too many variables to make that hypothetical question useful.

I have some uncertainty about casual sex, which is why I asked the question. My tentative answer is most like the fourth commenter, Anonymous, who brought up the virtue of pride. Promiscuity shows a lack of pride. Before the rise of the egalitarian New Left, discriminating was understood as a virtue. A discriminating man does not sleep with any slut who will say yes after 10 seconds of conversation.

To understand a lack of pride as immorality, one must get rid of every vestige of Christian or traditional morality, for they hold humility as a virtue. I think even some Objectivists struggle with the idea that lacking pride is immoral. Remember, morality is not primarily about what you do to other people, but about how you should deal with reality. Pride is a virtue because it means you strive to live as well as you can.

Sex between a man and a woman involves the woman submitting to the man. The man pursues the woman, wins the woman, conquers the woman, takes the woman and other verbs that make romantic love sound like a battlefield. The man penetrates and the woman is penetrated. If a woman submits too easily, then the victory is not as satisfying.

But I also sympathize with Tom Rowland's position. Casual sex might be inferior and not as satisfying as romantic love sex, and certainly a habit of casual sex -- promiscuity -- is wrong, but is occasional casual sex always wrong? I can't say that it is.

Don't tell me my position is like "If I only rob banks on Tuesday, then I'm still moral." Casual sex is not a crime. A better analogy would be, "I know that great art offers the more enriching, soul-satisfying experience, but sometimes I like to watch detective shows on TV." Or "I enjoy fine dining, but sometimes I only have time and money for McDonald's."

I think those of us who are not religious still have to watch for remnants of puritan hatred of sex in our thinking. Sex is a good thing. With a serious, committed romantic partner it is great; with anyone less serious it can still be pretty good.

Those are my thoughts. I am open to persuasion if I am wrong.

Click here to view the full article and a discussion in the Comments.

Edited by softwareNerd
Changed link to point to original blog-post.

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I think "casual sex" is too broad to say one way or another whether it is immoral or not. Objectivism would say (if it could speak or agree on its own) to look at the specific context to determine the morality. Ayn Rand also once said be careful judging the relationships of others because you may not know the full context. I think "casual sex" can be moral or immoral depending on the specific circumstances.

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It depends on what one means by "casual," as the discussion over at Myrhaf's illustrates.

But there is one sense in which Moebuis is right: since there is the possibility of masturbation to be self-destructive (i.e. if one has perverted fantasies), then it is possible for the one to be no worse than the other, depending.

That, however, is not likely what was meant. Clearly, the statement is that any consensual sex is necessarily not immoral, which is false.

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That, however, is not likely what was meant. Clearly, the statement is that any consensual sex is necessarily not immoral, which is false.

Well, on this we agree. The fact that sex may be consensual does not necessarily make it moral. However given that you view the other instance merely as not necessarily as or more destructive, I'd guess we disagree that casual sex in that sense can certainly be moral and not simply less destructive.

For my part, I'd want to know more about the specific circumstances before making that call.

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Aside: I predict this thread will be 100 posts long before a week is out.

I agree. I won't rehash all my already posted thoughts in full as they are already on record in numerous previous threads. I merely want to let the OP know that not everybody was in agreement with the idea that "casual sex" is necessarily immoral.

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The term "perverted" begs the question here.
Begging the question is stating as proof that which one seeks to prove. I am not seeking to prove that masturbatory fantasies can be perverted; I am merely stating it.

Aside: I predict this thread will be 100 posts long before a week is out.

That is a safe prediction.

However given that you view the other instance merely as not necessarily as or more destructive, I'd guess we disagree that casual sex in that sense can certainly be moral and not simply less destructive.
I'm afraid you've lost me here, grammatically. Could you rephrase that? Edited by Inspector

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I'm afraid you've lost me here, grammatically. Could you rephrase that?

My position would be that "casual sex" can be moral. My assumption is that you would disagree with that based on this:

But there is one sense in which Moebuis is right: since there is the possibility of masturbation to be self-destructive (i.e. if one has perverted fantasies), then it is possible for the one to be no worse than the other, depending.

My interpretation of what you are saying is that since since masturbation can be self-destructive then masturbation and casual sex could be "even" because you think casual sex is inherently self-destructive. If I'm mistaken, please clarify.

Edited by RationalBiker

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My interpretation of what you are saying is that since since masturbation can be self-destructive then masturbation and casual sex could be "even" because you think casual sex is inherently self-destructive. If I'm mistaken, please clarify.

Oh, okay. Yes I believe casual sex is self-destructive. Not necessarily so in the way that Myrhaf defined it, but I don't think his definition is proper. Under the proper definition, I do believe it is necessarily self-destructive. (For details on this, follow the link in the first post)

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Okay, I'm going out on a limb with a personal story. :thumbsup:

I really appreciate this thread for two reasons. #1) I am about to become single again and I have been wondering about this topic myself and #2) I have been wondering about some "relationships" from my past and whether or not they were moral. To elaborate:

#1) I haven't been single in about 15 years so the thought of being out there again is both exciting and a little frightening. It seems like so many people are into casual sex these days, but, of course, I want more. I want the whole package, the real deal. But what if I don't find the real deal for awhile? I still have sexual needs and desires. Would it be so horrible to fulfill those needs with another willing partner as long as we both get something productive and not destructive out of it? I don't think so, but I'm not sure.

#2) Before I met my soon-to-be-ex-husband, I went through a period of my life that I am not too proud of. Without going into details, which I'm sure you can imagine based on the topic of this thread, I can think of two encounters that really meant something to me even though I never had any other relations with the men. The experiences caused me to grow as a person, to realize something important and/or to realize something I had not realized before. Looking back on that time in my life, I can say there were many things I was not proud of, but from those experiences did come growth and better understanding, and frankly, those experiences helped make me who I am today. And I really like myself. :D

So from personal experience, I can say that I think casual sex can be both moral and immoral. Immoral in that casual, one night stands can be detrimental to one's psychological health, yet on other occasions, an unplanned, spontaneous sexual encounter with someone you have connected with, but you know you will never see again can be a completely wonderful, enlightening and fulfilling experience. Does that make it moral though? I am not certain, but I tend to think so.

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K-Mac, From what I understand of Inspector's view (based on his comments in the original blog), he does not include a "spontaneous sexual encounter with someone you have connected with" in his concept of "casual-sex". Saying you "connected" implies that you saw something you liked about the person. I think Inspector isn't talking about that type of thing, but more about "random sex with strangers". So, if one were to think, "I need to have sex today, it's been a while", and were to take whatever actions were required to locate and pick up the first available partner who seemed to have the same idea, that -- in Inspector's definition -- would be "casual-sex".

I'm not making any case for or against. Just trying to clarify the terms here, because otherwise things will be at cross-purposes.

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See my comments here (warning: long thread).

I think casual sex between two consenting adults is no worse than masturbation.
I think casual sex between two consenting adults is no better than masturbation.

Aside: I predict this thread will be 100 posts long before a week is out.
I predict I will be called either a Christian or a Puritan (or both) before my next post. :thumbsup: Edited by Capitalism Forever
Added spacing

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K-Mac, From what I understand of Inspector's view (based on his comments in the original blog), he does not include a "spontaneous sexual encounter with someone you have connected with" in his concept of "casual-sex". Saying you "connected" implies that you saw something you liked about the person. I think Inspector isn't talking about that type of thing, but more about "random sex with strangers". So, if one were to think, "I need to have sex today, it's been a while", and were to take whatever actions were required to locate and pick up the first available partner who seemed to have the same idea, that -- in Inspector's definition -- would be "casual-sex".

That is correct.

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Saying you "connected" implies that you saw something you liked about the person. I think Inspector isn't talking about that type of thing, but more about "random sex with strangers". So, if one were to think, "I need to have sex today, it's been a while", and were to take whatever actions were required to locate and pick up the first available partner who seemed to have the same idea, that -- in Inspector's definition -- would be "casual-sex".

Does that mean that if I had sex with a friend who I had no romantic feelings for but is sexually attracted to, or if I slept with someone after the first date after I've gotten to know them somewhat, it wouldn't be considered casual sex?

As in, is it only considered casual sex when it is with a complete stranger or whoever it is that came along first and I lack any standards what so ever?

Because I thought it meant just having sex with someone who I am not necessarily romantically involved with.

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Does that mean ...
I'll let Inspector clarify, rather than speaking for him again. I did so before, because I figured it was best to focus on what is being meant by "casual sex" before proceeding. Edited by softwareNerd

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I guess I assumed that casual sex means a one night stand type of affair?? :thumbsup:

To answer both questioners, it is a matter not of one's temporal relationship but rather of the seriousness of the values involved. When Ayn Rand condemned casual sex in the quotes I gave, she was not speaking of relationships in which one does not seek for them to last a lifetime. You will notice in the third quote I gave, she said such a thing was morally permissible. (although, for those: be careful; you're dancing on the edge of evasion with that kind of thing. If it's not going to last, is that because of some value difference that, if you considered carefully, you would abort the whole thing?) She was not contradicting herself; she was merely using the proper definition of "casual sex."

She was speaking of the promiscuous, casual attitude of the New Left and other hedonists. No matter the temporal quality, the issue is to take sex seriously and not casually. (Which is the same as taking one's values and oneself seriously; which as Myrhaf said is a matter of Pride)

Edited by Inspector

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To answer both questioners, it is a matter not of one's temporal relationship but rather of the seriousness of the values involved. When Ayn Rand condemned casual sex in the quotes I gave, she was not speaking of relationships in which one does not seek for them to last a lifetime.

What's a "serious" value? Is that the same thing as an "important" value? A "deeply held" value? I consider gaming to be an important, deeply held value in my life and most people consider it a joke. Is that "serious" or not? And who determines what is and isn't "serious"? Reality? All values are equally "serious", then, because they all serve the same ultimate purpose: furthering your life and happiness.

Just because some values are apparently "smaller" than others doesn't mean that I devote any less passion to them. From what I've seen, the wider the range of values you share, the longer you will continue to derive benefit from the relationship.

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I predict I will be called either a Christian or a Puritan (or both) before my next post. :smartass:

Look. I really want to see your next post on this thorny issue. So...

I believe that Capitalism Forever is a Christian and a Puritan. I actually saw him singing in the men's choir of the Cathedral of Mary and Joseph last Sunday when I visited London! :o

Edited by blackdiamond

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A "serious" value is one that you whole-heartedly believe to be something worth maintaining. It is something one deems as essential to their ability to enjoy life. One can value the Sunday newspaper, their culinary talents, or their integrity, with the realization that the maintaining of the last is clearly more important than the maintaining of the first. The extent to which one believes a particular value furthers their life is how serious of a value it is to them.

To take something casually is to be indifferent towards it. Casual is the opposite of serious. There is no such thing as a "casual" value.

Sex is an expression of and celebration of values.

The extent to which one takes their values seriously--i.e. the extent to which one values himself--i.e. the extent to which one is Proud, as those above have put it--is the extent to which one will demand a reflection of their values in the person they express them with. "Casual" sex is possible only to the man who has no values, or doesn't actually believe that the things he claims to value are of any importance or relevance to his life.

To quote Rand: "Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of unbreached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest values in the person of another--an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire. Such a man (or woman) is incapable of experiencing a sexual desire divorced from spiritual values."

The attempt to defend "casual" sex is the attempt to argue that spiritual values can be divorced from sexual desire, which is false. Any kind of sexual encounter that can be deemed "casual" is necessarily in violation of any morals that a rational man can claim to hold. Any kind of sexual encounter that can be deemed "moral" is necessarily not casual, in that it is based on a connection of values (whether the connection be complete, or some context-based degree). "Casual" sex is not inferior to, but is the opposite of Romantic (serious; value-based) sex.

The amount of time that one person has known another is of absolutely no importance in regards to sex. Time is not a value. It is a passive fact of existence. The relevant question is: Do I value this person? It is possible to know a person for a week and value them immensely. It is possible to know a person for ten years and not value them at all. A one-night-stand with a stranger is no different from establishing a "friends with benefits" relationship with someone you know, but value little more than a stranger.

The difference is, one usually feels bad about or regrets a one-night-stand afterwards; a result of the misalignment between the values one thought himself to hold, and the values that one discovered he actually holds, as expressed to himself by himself through the act of sex. [For a person who would regret a one-night-stand,] Not feeling bad about being "friends with benefits" is the result of tricking oneself into believing that the non-value of frequency (or time) is an actual value shared between you and the other person. It is preposterously clear that there is no difference.

On K-Mac's #2: If someone does "grow" from a sexual experience, it is incidental, and related to the context of the situation. Sex is an end, not a means. It is not a value in itself, but an expression of one's response to values based on the confidence and character that one already possesses. It is not something through which other values should be sought. What one may have gained from the context of a sexual encounter does not make having done it in the first place any more (or less) moral.

Ok. I hope my ideas didn't come across as too convoluted. I have ideas but it takes me a painfully long time to write them out clearly, so I hope that was succinct.

In end, Francisco: "Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself."

Edited by cilphex

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To set the context: I think everyone here will agree that sex with a stranger could be classified as "casual sex" (at best). Suppose we define values very broadly, to include: "the way she thinks", "the way he laughs". With that broad view of values, most will also agree that sex that is not based on any values at all is "casual". However, K-Mac asked about people one "connected" with. And a few posts addressed that by saying that one should connect in some serious (non-casual?) way.

Even so, Cilphex, from your post, it is still unclear what you refer to when you say "serious values". For instance, reading your post, it isn't clear if you mean that people should agree at some explicit ethical level before they have sex. For instance, someone might "connect" with another person, while talking to them about almost any topic: a favorite activity, a favorite vacation spot, ... countless number of things. In the process of such a connection, one might agree with the person on the particular topic, but not actually experience a "friendly connection". The way they approach the topic might just be alien. OTOH, one might even disagree with the person, on the topic, but still feel a "connection" in some underlying sense. Like, "you're completely wrong, but I love the way you think", or "I don't quite agree, but I love your passion and animation about this". These don't have to be explicit identifications... they can often be felt as a connection, even though one does not put them into words. Similarly, there are judgments one makes about people by the way they look and behave; and these can strengthen or weaken a feeling of "connecting".

My question, then, is whether these are the types of values you're talking about, because romance is mostly a sense-of-life issue; or, are you referring to something more in the sphere of explicitly-held ethical values, when you speak of "serious values"?

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what about just being single in a bar and seeing someone who is just sexy looking with a good body and desiring them physically? Couldn't you just decide to respond to them with just lust as the connection?

I have never had a "one night stand" because no one has impressed me enough in that short span of time to illicit desire in me for them because it is more than physical for me and they would have to be mentally sexy too, however, I don't think its immoral for someone who just wants to enjoy physical pleasure and knows thats what they have decided to do.

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Look. I really want to see your next post on this thorny issue. So...

I believe that Capitalism Forever is a Christian and a Puritan. I actually saw him singing in the men's choir of the Cathedral of Mary and Joseph last Sunday when I visited London! :o

LOL, I wish I could actually sing in a choir, for two reasons: 1. it would mean I was a good singer; 2. it would mean they had an Objectivist choir in London! :lol:

It seems like my bait hasn't worked, though. I should have known better than to post a link to a long thread on another forum--I should have made my inflammatory statement right here, as boldly as I can, so that not even the most ... what's the word? ... casual readers of the thread can miss it. So here goes ... where's the button for bold? ... ah, got it ....

I think a man never ought to sleep with a woman he does not intend to marry.

Can you imagine that, dear Casualist reader? A Texan from the 12th century somehow lost his way and ended up in London, and is posting on an Objectivist forum! And he's trying to take away from you everything you hold dear--namely, your license to sleep around with broads you don't hold dear! He's disputing the very foundation of modern society: the principle that "A is A" ends where your bedroom begins! Isn't that unheard of?! You've got to respond to this outrageous idea!

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