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Organic Sex or “Recycling?”

May 26th, 2010

This article from the Georgetown Hoya could be considered appalling. (I think that is approximately the view of my friend Tony Listi, who called it to my attention.) I think it is highly instructive. (Listen to me shift into Professor mode: sorry, I can’t help it.) This author who frets about “recycling” an old hook-up, is actually illustrating that the “organic” approach to human sexuality is truer to the facts than is the “consumer” approach.
First, some definition of terms: “recycling” means having sex with a hook-up partner a second time.
The “organic” approach to human sexuality acknowledges that sexual activity has two organic purposes, procreation and spousal unity, which are written into the body. In plain English, these two purposes mean that sex makes babies, and that attaching to your sex partner is the most natural thing in the world.
The “consumer” approach to human sexuality says that sex is a recreational activity, and that your sex partner is an object that pleases you more or less well.
It is pretty clear that Ms. Leahy’s article, entitled “Recycle Your Trash” takes the consumer approach:

Human recycling is rather different from rocking your older sibling’s hand-me-downs. It typically involves alcohol, bad judgment and a late-night phone call. However, it happens on college campuses — all the time. So, is there some sort of benefit to this practice, or should an old hook-up be thrown in the trash, never to be touched again?

The pool of dateable suitors on Georgetown’s campus is limited. With about 6,000 undergrad students, a third of whom spend the majority of their nights in Lau, it’s exceedingly difficult to find that special someone. Many students give up on their search for a serious something and opt to live in the now. They end up having a one-night fling with their bio lab partner or that boy in their IR discussion section. Promising it will never occur again because the morning after was just “so awkward!” they go about life as if nothing ever happened.

This whole article proves that sex does create attachments, in spite of itself. For instance, why exactly is the morning after “so awkward!” if casual sex is just as casual as going to a movie together? Why does this next situation arise?

Then, a month later, said student dances in the living room of a too-crowded Henle and feels a hand on their waist. Oh no, it’s that embarrassing hook-up from a few weeks ago. But, with the assistance of jungle juice, they begin to recycle. Feelings are not involved, just hormones. And, once again, they wake up with a knot in their stomach, queasy due to the previous night’s events.

Why is it embarrassing, if sex is really no big deal? And why does one need the assistance of “jungle juice” to “recycle?” It almost sounds as if recreational sex isn’t so much fun. Using alcohol as an anesthetic sounds like something you’d do to prepare for surgery, not for something fun. (Full disclosure: I had a chapter in my book, Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook-Up World
entitled, “Why Recreational Sex is Not Fun.” I didn’t know Ms. Leahy at that point: honest!)

Why does Ms. Leahey come to this conclusion, if casual sex is really all it is cracked up to be?

The unpredictability and randomness of recycling can be exhilarating, and always provides for a funny story the next morning. But, just like an old sweatshirt eventually needs to head to the landfill, so do some old hook-ups. Unfortunately, your recyclee will not begin to physically unravel, smell or get moth holes, so it’s up to you to decide when it’s time to throw your baby out.

Next time you see your random hook-up out, think about the repercussions of what you’re about to do. Although you’re not helping the environment, you could have a bit of fun. Weigh the pros and cons of your situation; if it seems worth it, then feel free to recycle one more time. But do remember, you could wake up the next morning feeling like a piece of trash yourself.

Why exactly should you feel like a piece of trash? I went to a baseball game last night with my son. We struck up a casual conversation with the guys in the seats next to ours. I don’t feel the slightest bit of shame. not trashy in the slightest. I had a good casual fun time. Could it be, that even the sexually liberated and the heavily indoctrinated, experience some inarticulate shame over giving their bodies to someone they barely know and think so little of they could think about him or her as disposable?

This is the culture of use and be used, the throw away culture. Does anyone really enjoy being on the receiving end of this kind of treatment? isn’t anyone just a tiny bit embarrassed about using other people like this?
At the Ruth Institute, we are not out to ‘censor’ columns like this one in the Hoya, even at a university in the Jesuit tradition. We are not here to forbid or stop or shame anyone. We are here to talk you out of it. Casual sex isn’t fun. If it were, this column would not have been written and women would not have known what she was talking about.

The “use and be used” world is not the only choice. You could participate in a “love and be loved” world.
Think about it.

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  1. K. Ann
    May 27th, 2010 at 12:12 | #1

    We women do have it in our power to shift the world to a strictly “”love and be loved” world”

    It requires only that we settle for nothing less than love, the ring, the wedding, the home, the children!

    If every woman stood firm that no man would get any sex at all unless he was man enough to head a family–then more men would GROW UP. After all, they do want women.

    Recreational sex is the woman telling the man that it is OK that he is only using her. After all, if he LOVED her he would want marriage and children with her.

    This is what I tell young women. (and then if I can, I get them to read your book!) I hope they listen! It would save them a lot of deep rooted emotional pain, the kind that sits there rotting inside and refusing to go away.

  2. Betsy
    May 27th, 2010 at 12:46 | #2

    Amen, sister.

  3. Ginny
    May 29th, 2010 at 01:33 | #3

    Appalling is certainly the word for this–not the article itself, but what it describes. “Recycling the trash”??? If he was “trash”, why would I want to have sex with him even once, let alone twice? Or is he just “trash” because of the way I treated him–disposing of him as soon as I was done using him?

    Geez, I can’t even imagine thinking like this. At least the old “But we LOVE each other” reason is understandable; this isn’t understandable at all.

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