Saturday, May 09, 2009

Virginity Balls

I was reading the reviews at Amazon and came across one about the book The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS by Elizabeth Pisani that I found rather interesting.

Pisani has no patience for distraction, a major one being that AIDS is a gender / development / poverty issue. Pisani shows that this liberal idea, favored by a lot of NGOs and UN agencies and other donors is a distraction. First, it's a distraction because first, you may have the causality wrong (AIDS causes development / gender issues rather than the other way around), second, as shown in the book, even in Africa, that's not always the case, and third, because, again, that gets in the way of common sense prevention which should be the main focus, along with treatment for the already infected population. But again, focusing on women and children makes the AIDS issue more palatable to donors than those filthy whores, junkies and fags, so, Pisani and her colleagues at the AIDS Mafia, as she calls them, played that game too. After all, once you have the money, you can still get stuff done.

And, of course, I particularly enjoyed the chapter blasting the Bush administration and its faith-based initiatives and PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). Although she does credit the Bush administration for putting money on the table, Pisani makes mince meat of the Bush and his religious nuts crowd for their hypocrisy and nonsensical attitude. She deals swiftly with Virginity Pledges and the creepy Virginity Balls and the whole family values crowd.
The term Virginity Ball is a new one to me and I was imagining some kind of modern day chastity belt. But that is not at all what Virginity Balls are about. So let us take a look at the wiki and see if we can learn something.
A purity ball (also known as a father-daughter purity ball or purity wedding) is a formal event attended by fathers and their daughters. Purity balls promote virginity until marriage for teenage girls, and are often closely associated with U.S. Christian churches, particularly fundamentalist churches. Typically, daughters who attend make a virginity pledge; a pledge to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. Fathers who attend pledge to protect what they view as their young daughters' "purity" of mind, body and soul. Proponents promote a strong father-daughter relationship as a means to affirm what they consider to constitute spiritual and physical "purity".
Well that is a little strange. Unless you know that the tree of knowledge that the serpent enticed Adam and Eve to eat from was not an apple tree. It was a fig tree. And what is that symbolism about? The fig looks like the genitalia of some females. Funny thing is that Eve ate the fig first. Kinky girl. Or as the cruder males among us might say. "Lesbians. Wooo Hooo!" But you know that Adam had to be one popular guy. He ate figs.

The meaning is reinforced by two of the Ten Commandments. Commandment Seven says, "Do not commit adultery." And that is further reinforced by Commandment Ten, "Do not covet your neighbor's wife."

So what is the meaning of all this? I think the Biblical context is that carnal knowledge can lead to social and ultimately physical disaster for nomadic tribes living on the margin. One social mistake - arousal of jealousy for instance - can destroy tribal unity and lead to starvation and/or murder. And in those days the rape of a daughter or even consensual - but unapproved sex - can destroy the tribal harmony necessary for survival. Daughters were property (even more so than male children) and needed to be protected to maintain their value. In cases of rape a traumatized daughter is going to be a large burden on the tribe and not an asset. Which is why cultures that are not far from the tribal state still do things like honor killings of raped females. The woman is officially made as guilty as the rapists because there was not enough wealth to deal with even potential problems. Harsh law. To go along with the harsh necessities of survival on the margins.

The thing is. We no longer (most of us any way) live on the margins. We can carry a lot of dead weight without catastrophic harm to our economics (just look at our government for proof of that. Although the new guy looks to be doing his best to introduce catastrophe). So the rules were changed (slowly). Murder for adultery was no longer necessary for tribal and intertribal harmony. Cities had different advantageous rule sets than those required for nomadic tribes. The first harbinger of that cultural change came some 2000 years ago. It seems nuts to go back to the old ways where the tribe was more important than the individual.

So the Purity Balls seem to be a throwback. However, you also have to consider genetics. Culture can change rather rapidly (a few hundred years even in times of slow communications) while genetics takes longer. And the rule of genetics is that humans are "designed" to get their genes reproduced. And having strange men impregnate your wife is not conducive to that. We see the remnants of that in our laws which consider catching a guy with your wife grounds for leniency in murder cases. Our genes are the product of many millenia of killing rapists and adulterers. And until our genes change enough there will be pockets of culture that are throwbacks to distant ages.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


tomcpp said...

Our genes have 1 law. The law of the jungle. Often quite correctly described as "the weak must perish".

That supposed "property of reality", including our own society, is the very cornerstone of any genetic algorithm. Without it, nothing of the mechanisms work : worse, whatever you had accomplished before in the algorithm collapses.

But hey, this is what atheists "believe". Of course many have never tried a genetic algorithm. Even few of the people that *did* try genetic algorithms have ever tried to see what happens if you remove natural selection (everybody's performance plummets. as does memory usage).

Do you know what that means ? That means, to put it bluntly, that unless the weak (ie. the poor) die in small numbers everyday (because they starve, because the rest kills them, because ... whatever, just as long as they die we have natural selection), we all become proto-humans, monkeys and eventually just totally disfunctional organisms. All of our offspring, not just the currently "genetically ill" races/families.

The consequences of evolution theory are more than enough reason, by themselves, not to believe in it. If they're true, we should stop this civilization thing asap and start trying to kill eachother.

RavingDave said...

I am impressed. You DO understand what i've been saying.


M. Simon said...


Genetic theory is what it is. What we do about it determines whether we are civilized or not.

Man in his natural state is not a pleasant creature. I was under the impression that conservatives knew that.

I take it I was mistaken.

I'm not anti-Darwin because Darwin explains the natural world. Natural selection pretty much explains what goes on in the natural world and what we know about genetics supports Darwin. To not follow science on moral grounds is absurd. Even the Catholic Church is not that stupid anymore. They are Darwinists in so far as science goes.

The question is: should humans work to reinforce the Darwinian imperatives or ought we work to mitigate Darwin? Death camps or hospitals.

I'm all for using technology to ameliorate our natural condition. It is why I'm an engineer.

Birth control (if used) has separated us from some elements of traditional culture. I believe that is good. But you know, transitions are always hard. I trust humans to find cultural adaptations to changes in technology. Over time.

Infanticide was a popular method of family planning for millenia. Birth control is better.

So what are the long term prospects? If women who don't want children have a relatively easy way to avoid pregnancy then we will be continually reinforcing genetically the desire of women to have children in following generations. children. Because only women who want children will be reproducing.

In the long run we will get better mothers.

We are seeing some of this already among the upper classes. Children are a status symbol. In my own effort to reduce the natural trend I had decided long ago that my minimum family size was three. We got four.

As to your other point. That was covered pretty well in The Bell Curve. And funny thing - in first world countries intelligence has been increasing for the last 100 years. What is IQ 100 today would have been IQ 120 a hundred years ago. A lot of that is attributed to better nutrition. I'm of the opinion that some of it is due to the option for better mate selection birth control provides.

We see some of that already. Nerds are more competitive in the marriage market than they were 100 years ago. The epithet "pointy headed intellectuals" is not common these days. It was when I was a kid. And "long hairs" has changed its meaning. Culture has changed. For the better. In response to the environment.

And what does our environment reward most? Brains.

A female cousin of mine once told me that she was wrong for being so dismissive of nerds when we were going to school (in the 50s and 60s). No doubt she has imparted that wisdom to her daughters.

M. Simon said...

BTW you could see the change beginning in the detective show "Simon and Simon". The smart guy did get the babes - occasionally. Not as often as the hunks to be sure. But before that I don't recall the dynamic.

Did Dr. Zarkov (Flash Gordon) ever get the chicks? Not as I recall.

peter said...

Don't forget that the leading mode of HIV transmission in Africa, and some communities in the developed world, is promiscuous sex.

M. Simon said...

Don't forget that the leading mode of HIV transmission in Africa, and some communities in the developed world, is promiscuous sex.

Unprotected promiscuous sex.