Archive for July, 2011

No More “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

by Jason Stotts

One oft he very few things that I think Obama has done right since he’s been in office is to work to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy of discriminating against non-heterosexuals in the military.  Yesterday, he officially signed the certification that will completely end DADT in 60 days.

WASHINGTON — President Obama formally certified on Friday that the American military is ready for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as Pentagon officials said that nearly two million service members had been trained in preparation for gay men and women serving openly in their ranks. (NYT)

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our LGBT soldiers who fought for our country, even though they couldn’t be themselves doing it. I’m happy that you can now serve openly and I think the military, and ultimately the country as a whole, will be better for it.

Formspring: When is Sex Appropriate?

by Jason Stotts

I’ve received another question from Formspring, this one about when it’s appropriate to have sex.

When is it an appropriate time in a relationship to have sex? How do you know when one should? I have very little experience in this arena (I’m a 20 year old male in college), and don’t know how to apply Objectivist sexual ethics in this arena. Thanks!

The most important thing to remember is that for Objectivism the over-arching principle guiding all of ethics is for an individual agent to act to maximize his happiness, taken in the rich sense of eudaimonia as originally elaborated by Aristotle, over the long term.  Obviously sex and love play a very important role in what it is to live a good human life and thus we must treat love and sex as important values.  In fact, I think love and sex are necessary conditions for happiness.

Some questions to consider are:

1. How long have you been dating?

By spending lots of time with a person and being close to them, you learn who they truly are.  The longer you have been dating, the better you should know someone.  If it’s very early in a relationship and you don’t know each other well, especially at your age and probable experience level, it’s best to wait until you get to know each other better.  Having sex too early may cause the relationship to fall apart if it doesn’t go well or you might find that you’re not able to be your true sexual self in front of your partner and you don’t know your partner well enough.

2. Is the relationship based on shared values or just pleasant association?

Your relationship will be in a position to have sex sooner if it’s based on real values than if it’s based on simple pleasant association, assuming in the latter case that you actually want a relationship.  The more your relationship is based on shared values, the stronger it will be.

3. Do you actually care about each other?

This sounds like a strange question at first, but if you don’t care about your partner for herself, then you should wait to have sex.  Sex is selfish.  In a good and healthy relationship you care about your partner for their sake because they are a value in your life and make your life better, but you still care about them for their own sake as well.  This is important as some people take the stance that “of course I care about X, she is my girlfriend (or whatever),” but you should wish your partner well even if they were not your partner.  To put it another way, you shouldn’t care for your partner only because they’re your partner, but because they’re a good person and deserve good things.

4.  Are you virgins or do you have some experience with sex?

If you’re both virgins, you need to wait until you each feel comfortable with the idea of having sex and of having sex with each other.  If you’ve both had sex with multiple people, you will not need to wait long at all.  Knowledge of sex and what you like and need sexually makes it much easier to have sex with new partners.

I’d also like to add that virginity is no value for a rational person as it simply means a state of ignorance and inexperience with sex, which we Objectivists think is an important value.

5. Are you going to jump right to coitus or are you going to work your way up to it?

Going from only having kissed directly to penis-in-vagina (or butt) sex is a bad idea.  Actually, it’s a terrible idea at your age and experience level, if you care about your relationship.  You need to work your way up to vaginal intercourse together, learning about each stage and enjoying it for the pleasure it brings you both.  That is, you need to master oral, not because you simply need to postpone vaginal sex, but because you’ll learn about yourselves, each other, your likes and dislikes related to sex, and important skills.  Once you master each stage, then you move to the next one and keep going until you’re good at vaginal sex too.  Of course, there’re lots of side roads and detours and the like, but I think a good basic trajectory is manual – oral – sex.  I’m not saying that it’s obligatory to follow this trajectory, but it can really help you to gain knowledge and experience, and comfort with your partner, so that when you do decide to have intercourse, you’ll be ready.

A couple of final thoughts: I’m of the opinion that we shouldn’t be too rationalistic about sex and that it is better to learn from experience than to try to guess what you may like or not.  I think it is better to err on the side of trying new (safe) things and then judging whether you like them than to attempt to a priori deduce this.  This shouldn’t be taken as permission for promiscuity, but it does mean that I think you shouldn’t reserve sex for the one person you hope to marry.  In fact, I think that pre-marital sex is morally obligatory, as going into a relationship as serious as marriage without knowing if you’re compatible in one of the most important aspects of marriage is beyond foolhardy.

Since you’ve taken the trouble to write me, I’m going to offer you a free copy of my recent speech “Sexual Ethics and Objectivism.”  Just e-mail me at Jason(at) and I’ll send you a copy.  (Please include the date you submitted your question for verification.)


Do you have questions for me?  Feel free to submit them via Formspring or by e-mailing me directly at Jason(at)

Bisexual Invisibility and Coming Out Bi

by Jason Stotts

In a recent column, Dan Savage argues that more bisexuals should come out of the closet so that they can be out in the open as part of society and can live their lives with integrity as who they really are.  I fully agree with Dan about this point.  All too many people think that bisexuals don’t exist because they (apparently) don’t know any bisexuals.

Not only would it be great if more bisexuals were out to their partners, it would be great if more bisexuals in opposite-sex relationships were out to their friends, families, and coworkers. More out bisexuals would mean less of that bisexual invisibility that bisexuals are always complaining about. If more bisexuals were out, more straight people would know they actually know and love sexual minorities, which would lead to less anti-LGBT bigotry generally, which would be better for everyone.

I firmly think people of all kinds should be open about who they are and what they like and that they should live their lives with integrity.  If more swingers were open about being swingers, people would understand it better and would realize how many people are swingers.  If more Objectivists were open about their Objectivism, people would realize how many of us there are and that many reasonable and intelligent people are Objectivists.

I think we should take a lesson from homosexuals and how much support and freedom they have won for themselves through being open about their homosexuality.  Sure, it’s not without some hardship and some people’s lives were made worse, or tragically even lost, but now homosexuality is largely accepted.  This same tactic of being visible and proud of who you are will work for any minority and I think bisexuals should be the next out of the closet.


Update: I wrote this with adults who are in stable situations in mind and I do not advocate one sacrificing himself for a cause.  I think it would be very beneficial for more people to come out as bisexual, but they shouldn’t risk their happiness or life to do so.

Sex Tips #11: Adapt and Overcome

by Jason Stotts

When we were young and imagined what sex might be like some day, I’m sure we all imagined that it would go perfectly. That things would just magically happen and everything would just work. However, those of us who have had sex before know that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes there are distractions or interruptions. Sometimes there is equipment failure.  Sometimes the condom breaks or slips off. Sometimes our partner wants something different. In short, sometimes things happen that make sex not go as planned and then we are confronted with the decision of how to deal with the problem.  I say: adapt and overcome.

Things not happening according to plan can cause us to have a bad experience, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.  If we keep an open mind about our sexual experiences and don’t try to force them to conform to specific patterns, then we will likely have a much better time.  Sex should not be formulaic: it should not always start with kissing, then oral, then vaginal penetration, and then cuddling.  Sometimes it can start without kissing.  Sometimes you can go right from kissing to coitus.  Sometimes you can skip whole steps or add new things in.  In short, we should not go into a sexual encounter with an idea of how it must be and any deviation from that will ruin the experience.  We should keep an open mind during sexual encounters.  We should adapt to each new sexual situation and overcome any problems that might come up.

Keeping an open mind and adapting to changes and overcoming problems will make our sex lives much better and reduce the disappointment that we might otherwise feel.

Polyamory is Wrong!

by Jason Stotts

I saw this come across the twitter earlier today (via @kellyelmore79) and several people were kind enough to forward it to me as well. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve seen in awhile.

I share this etymological worry myself.  As I said in “On Polysexuality“:

What I am interested in analyzing is the practice of having multiple sexual partners.  […] I will begin by naming it “polysexuality” combining the Greek poly- (more, many) with the Latin sexus (sex) and meaning by it the condition of having multiple, or more than one, sexual partners during any one time period (not necessarily simultaneously) or of having sex with people besides a person’s partner while he is in a relationship.  As much as I hate to combine Greek and Latin, the standard nomenclature regarding sexuality has already been bastardized and, so, for clarity’s sake in English, I will follow suit.  The problem is that there is no sufficient word in the English language to deal with the phenomenon that we are analyzing and so I must introduce this new word to carry the cognitive weight of the following analysis.  Furthermore, in contrast to “polysexual,” I will introduce the word “monosexual,” the Greek mono- (one), as meaning sex with only one person during any time period or, to put it another way, a person who does not have sex with anyone besides his partner when he is in a relationship.

Unfortunately, English is lacking in some pretty important words regarding love and sexuality.

Furthermore, the word “poly-philia” (from the shirt) more properly means that one has a lot of friends than it means something like multiple lovers.  The greek philia is the love of a friend, not the romantic concept of love that we have in our culture and which is absent from Greek culture.

Ultimately, I think that in these matters we are either going to have to bite the etymological bullet and accept the bastardized words or have issues being understood.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

by Jason Stotts

I think the idea of “too much of a good thing” being bad is nonsense and it is based on an incorrect understanding of “good”. For Objectivism, for something to be “good,” it must promote the life of the agent. Good, for Objectivism, is not intrinsic, or by divine decree, or some non-natural property.

Furthermore, all things must be taken in their proper context. Exercising is good for you, but exercising until you die is bad for you.  So, it must be a case of “too much of a good thing,” right?  No, it’s just sloppy thinking and dropping the context that the good arises from.  The context here is of a normal person doing a normal amount of exercise.  It is not about diseased people, or malformed people, or people whose bodies have been injured.  It is also not about someone doing exercise incorrectly, or doing too much of it, or doing only very dangerous exercises.  It is about how a general rational person should exercise and the idea that “exercise is good for you” exists as a general principle that must be applied to the life of any individual agent in question.

Moreover, saying exercise is good for you is making very particular claims that must be based in reality.  It is making claims like exercise increases your heart rate and that makes your heart stronger and having a strong heart means you will live longer and that makes your life better: thus, exercise is good.  If any link in the chain is broken, the claim “exercise is good” becomes no more than a floating abstraction unconnected to reality and devoid of meaning.  If one of the premises in the chain is actually wrong, then the claim is invalidated: if, for example, raising your heart rate meant that you would actually die sooner, then exercise would not be good for you.

If you recognize how these general “x is good for you” claims work, as abstract principles, and that they must be seated in context in reality, then it’s clear that the idea of there being “too much of a good thing” is nonsense.  It utterly disregards everything that makes the original claim of “x is good for you” true.

Second Annual Objective Standard Essay Contest

by Jason Stotts

The Objective Standard is once again holding an essay contest on Atlas Shrugged.  Don’t miss out on a good opprotunity for fortune and fame, all through merely putting your pen to paper.


In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand dramatizes the principle that “there are no conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not desire the unearned . . . men who neither make sacrifices nor accept them.” Elucidate and concretize this principle using examples from both Atlas and real life.


First place: $2,000 cash plus
publication in TOS
Second place: $750 cash
Third place: $300 cash


The contest is open to anyone aged 18 years or older.

Submission Deadline and Announcement of Winners

Essays must be received by August 15, 2011. Winners will be announced on October 15, 2011.

Specifications and Formatting

Essays must be in English, between 1,500 and 3,000 words, and submitted either electronically in a Microsoft Word document to[email protected] or on paper via snail mail to The Objective Standard, P.O. Box 5274, Glen Allen, VA 23058.

All text must be 12-point Times New Roman; lines must be double spaced; the first line of each paragraph must be indented; and pages must be numbered in the lower right-hand corner. Citations must be placed in endnotes and formatted in accordance with The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.

Essays must be original material written by the entrant and must not have been published elsewhere.

Essays must include a separate cover page on which the author’s name, email address, snail-mail address, and phone number are listed. Neither the author’s name nor any other identifying information should be included on any pages other than the cover page. This is crucial to the judging process.

The title of the essay (but not the author’s name) must appear at the top of the first page of the essay text.


Essays will be judged blindly by a three-judge panel. Cover sheets and all identifying information will be removed before essays are distributed to judges. Judges will look for clarity, concretization, logical organization and flow.

Additional Information

For more information write to [email protected].


Sex at Dawn

by Jason Stotts

I’ve recommended the book Sex at Dawn a number of times now, both in person and online.  It’s a very interesting book about the sexual history of the human species and I think it proves that humans are not naturally monogamous.  I highly, and enthusiastically, recommend it, even though it does contain some pretty strong socialist leanings in some sections.  Regardless, it’s a worthwhile read and one that I think should be undertaken by anyone interested in sex.


Big Brother warning: if you plan to purchase Sex at Dawn, please use the Amazon link so that I will make a small referral fee that goes to help keep Erosophia operational.