Lisa Miller Is A Dupe
I’m about to be unfair. The Democrats threw women under the bus and made the already pathetic state of access to a medical procedure that is a constitutional right and that one in three women will have even worse than it already is. Because mainstream Dems don’t care about women. I’m so angry, and so much has been said about the Stupak Coathanger amendment that I don’t feel I have much to add. So I’m looking for a target for free-floating antimisogynist anger, and Lisa Miller presented herself by saying something appallingly stupid. So … I’m taking it out on her. If it’s any consolation, I’ll stay mad for a long time; probably as long as I have a daughter, a wife and a sister living in this world. I’ll be unfair to lots of other people who say stupid antifeminist things.
What did Miller say that was so stupid? Using Newsweek as her podium, she said:
True Love Revolution might do better, then, to leave aside the divisive and wrongheaded “one man, one woman” language and help guide students through this modern sexual wilderness. And though it is not a religious group, it has religious underpinnings, and it might look to religion for some of the most thoughtful (and, perhaps, useful) analyses of how liberated women and men can reasonably opt out of sex—or, at least, the kind of sex they don’t want to have.
What’s so stupid about that? TLR is the Harvard abstinence group. Recently, they came out of the closet as the hateful bigots they are:
Recently the group has drawn fresh ire because it added to its mission statement, which had formerly supported sexual abstinence as a lifestyle choice, a platform that seemed calculated to ignite a culture war on campus. The new statement asserted that sex outside of marriage is “harmful to both parties”; it embraced “traditional marriage” (that is, not gay marriage); and it argued that choosing abstinence is “true feminism” in that “it recognizes the natural characteristics, strengths, and abilities of women and seeks to affirm them in this identity.”
So they admitted that what they are after is marriage for heteros only, and sex only in marriage. They follow the ancient theological principle of “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” first enunciated in a second-century Greek text that, miraculously, translated into a rhyming couplet. (Remember that part in the New Testament where Jesus talks about homosexuality? No, me neither.)
None of us who actually pay attention to the purity movement (see generally Jessica Valenti’s Purity Myth, probably the best one-stop shop for facts and analysis on this)* are at all surprised. There is no meaningful secular abstinence preaching, because it doesn’t work. There is no religious left abstinence preaching, because when the religious left talks sexuality, they approach it in a holistic fashion, with information, and with values that don’t sound like someone’s grandfather yapping, “when I was your age, women kept their legs closed!”
And that’s just what Miller sounds like. She writes:
I went to college in the early 1980s, when feminist arguments like Kovvali’s [that consensual sex is not degrading] were as ordinary as air: I think True Love Revolution is on to something. … Although the actual amount of sex college students are having may not be as high as parents fear—nearly 80 percent of college students report having had one or no sexual partners in the past year—students say the hookup culture is dominant and oppressive.
As I’ve said before, I think anybody ought to be able to say no to any kind of sex with anyone, anytime for any reason or no reason. So if students at Harvard are having sex and are miserable about it, that’s a real concern and I’m all ears about addressing it. Surely, if such a thing were in evidence, Miller could have cited it. But she can’t. Instead, she comes up with evidence that contradicts her argument, presents it as if it is support, and goes right on rambling. Here’s her “evidence”:
A G-rated example: “I am a conservative Christian. I am going mad with sexual desire. FML.”
That’s it. On Harvard FML, a conservative Christian is complaining about being horny all the time. No evidence of any sexual activity, let alone unwanted sexual activity. Further, no evidence that anything in the Harvard social environment caused this Christian to be horny. It might be … normal teenage hormones.
In fact, Miller all but admits she is full of shit:
Although the actual amount of sex college students are having may not be as high as parents fear—nearly 80 percent of college students report having had one or no sexual partners in the past year—students say the hookup culture is dominant and oppressive.
Which students? The FML Christian. That’s it.
There’s no logical route from “some Christian kid wants sex and isn’t having it and is intolerably horny” to “the culture of sex at Harvard is oppressive.” There is a hopeless series of leaps in there. What one might infer is that for conservative Christian teens, remaining abstinent is tough and a support group is a good idea. But TLR is not a support group. It’s an advocacy organization. They are actively trying to recruit others to their lifestyle. (Why is it only a problem if the pro-sex folks do that?)
All this is in the service of Miller’s point:
And though [TLR] is not a religious group, it has religious underpinnings, and it might look to religion for some of the most thoughtful (and, perhaps, useful) analyses of how liberated women and men can reasonably opt out of sex—or, at least, the kind of sex they don’t want to have…Teaching kids that saying no can feel as good as saying yes—that’s a revolution.
But TLR doesn’t want kids to know that saying no and saying yes are equally valid choices, and that both are fulfilling. Their purpose is to tell women — not really men, see Jessica’s book — that they will be used tape, used lollypops, and plucked flowers if they say yes. They are not preaching agency, they are preaching abstinence. They are not in favor of autonomy, they are in favor of restriction.
If Miller doesn’t get this, she’s a complete dupe and not worthy of a high-profile column in Newsweek. If she does get it, then she is actively participating in TRL’s charade, using “respect” for women as a stalking horse for an agenda to restrict sexual conduct. I said above that I was being unfair — in fact, maybe I’m being too fair.
*And I don’t just say that because she’s my editor and my friend.