I’ve started to hate whenever the media decides to decipher what the latest study means for those of us who don’t keep up with news from the science world. Usually, conclusions are made before the results can really be considered conclusive. Those conclusions many times make Olympic quality reaches to support whatever agenda the person doing the reaching supports. At worst, these hasty attempts to be the first to trumpet the next potentially life changing scientific development to the world result in undue hysteria, false hope, or are the launch pad for ongoing discussions about why certain groups of people find themselves as the subject of these studies more than others.
Science seems to be pretty infatuated with black people lately, an issue which Gina McCauley at What About Our Daughters does a beautiful job of highlighting, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
During my daily blog scan-by, I saw the headline Turns Out, Getting Slutty on the First Date Can Actually Lead to Marriage on Jezebel, which references a new study that seems to dismantle the notion that “good” girls finish first when it comes to marriage. By good, I mean girls that took Steve Harvey’s could-have-been-better-worded advice to institute a 90 day waiting period for sex while dating to heart. I don’t advocate for women being defined by their sexual habits, but this was probably the best advice we already knew from that book.
According to the study, lust and love both involve the same parts of the brain. Lust triggers our pleasure centers, while love seems to trigger the same area of the brain that is responsible for forming habits. Love is the result of the brain treating the lust that you feel for someone over a period of time as a habit, and thus the emotions start to be managed by the habit-forming part of your brain. That seems to be where Jezebel and the MSNBC website The Body Odd that it linked to got their theory that somehow having sex on the first date could lead to starring in an episode of Say Yes To The Dress later.
“So there—love can grow out of a sweaty one-night stand. I’ve seen it happen plenty of times; I don’t know many young people who would admit to being morally opposed to casual sex; and yet the idea that, in general, waiting as long as possible is just nebulously better still completely pervades our culture.”
Maybe they’re planning on marrying a straw man.
First, there’s a problem with the fact that the original study was not linked to in either the Jezebel piece or the MSNBC article that it linked to. Upon further investigation, I was able to find this piece from ABC News that links to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, where the study was published. Although the MSNBC article did have quotes from Jim Pfaus, a lead researcher in the study, the writer gave no indication that Pfaus had anything to do with the study in the identification of his quote. To Jezebel and MSNBC’s defense, the study does require a subscription to the JSM to see the whole thing and I’m sure deadline pressure had something to do with this oversight as well. However, if you’re going to write such sensational headlines as Jezebel’s or MSNBC’s you should want to fully examine what you’re basing them off of so as not to overstate your claim. ABC did a much better job of analyzing the research and their headline is much less reachy.
That aside, this piece by Jezebel is yet another example of feminism being condensed down into a fight for the right for women to be promiscuous. I’ve never understood why women want to be able to hit it and quit it like men. I get that the main issue is usually about the double standard that praises men for having multiple partners while stigmatizing women who do the same, but I don’t see this type of behavior has positive in women or men. It’s dangerous physically, spiritually, and emotionally and is much less rewarding than a genuine relationship that is developed over time. If anything, this study seems to suggest that waiting is ideal since it does take time for the lustful feelings you experience on a first or second date to become the habit called love.
The sad reality is that a double standard does exist for men vs. women when it comes to sexual experience, but I’d much rather combat that double standard by reinforcing that both sexes observe sexual responsibility instead of giving both clearance to participate in destructive behavior.