Promiscuity isn't a bad thing

Last updated 05:00 14/05/2012

Ever since Colin Craig came out with his "New Zealand women are the most promiscuous in the world" line, I've been waiting for someone, preferably someone with a bit of clout, to point out the obvious: so what?

Promiscuity is not necessarily a bad thing, in a man or a woman. As long as no-one's being hurt, and the sex is consensual and safe, sweet, go for it.

If promiscuity bothers you, fine. Your call. Just don't pretend, as Colin Craig did, that you're basing that on anything other than your personal beliefs or values. Especially, don't pretend your concern is actually about pregnancy rates or STIs or costs to the taxpayer. Because promiscuity doesn't cause pregnancy or STIs or costs: unsafe sex does. They are not the same thing. One instance of unsafe sex is more dangerous and costly - and much worse, in my view - than 10 instances of safe sex.

I need to clarify, too, that promiscuity doesn't mean cheating on people. Cheating: bad. Unsafe sex: bad. Promiscuity? Not good, not bad, just an option.

But instead of making that distinction when Craig had his wee brainfail, we all fluffed around, denying and outraging, and questioning the validity of the Durex survey Craig quoted. Which is fine - except that when that survey came out, the story ran all over the place with variations on the headline "Kiwi women most promiscuous". Bit of a turnaround there. It seemed to me like we all knew his statement needed to be challenged - that there was something inherently wrong about a politician critiquing womens' sexual choices - but we weren't sure exactly how to do that.

I think we need to challenge the most basic value judgement Craig made: that promiscuity is a very bad thing. No-one's done that, so far as I can see. Which worries me, because maybe that means everyone secretly agrees with him.

In fact now I'm nervous about this blog post going up, because of the assumptions and judgements people might make about me. But I'm not going to defend myself. My whole point is that I shouldn't have to.

What was your reaction to Colin Craig's statement? Do you see promiscuity - as opposed to cheating, or unsafe sex - as a bad thing? And do you think a promiscuous woman is any worse than a promiscuous man?

Catherine Woulfe is the deputy editor of Sunday magazine.

- Auckland Now

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Nato   #1   06:14 am May 14 2012

Great article. I agree with you 100%. Ive no time for Colon Craig whatsoever as I dont believe religion has a place in government.

Andy B   #2   06:31 am May 14 2012

Spot on - logical and human handling of a poor piece of political burbling. Thank you.

Greg   #3   06:41 am May 14 2012

For goodness sake Catherine! How ignorant are you? Firstly, Colin quoted a scientific study NOT a Durex survey. Secondly, of course promiscuity is a bad thing. It is detrimental to health for obvious reasons and in most cases leaves emotional problems as well. Get a grip.

Michele   #4   06:46 am May 14 2012

I think you're spot on. Two things really irked me about Craig's statement and the ensuing blather around it

First, the continued damning tripe about promiscuous women but nary a word about promiscuous men. Just who are these women having sex with? Themselves? (No problem.) Other women? (Not a problem from a birth control perspective.) Men? (What?? There are promiscuous men in NZ?!)

Second, the whole debate continues to presume birth control is solely the responsibility of the woman. Isn't it past time men took their fair share of responsibility?

How about forgetting all the misdirection and vilification around promiscuity and focusing instead on self-responsibility -- for both women AND men.

Dave   #5   06:59 am May 14 2012

I'm perplexed. We all hear politicians feed us lies and half truths on a daily basis and yet when Colin Craig has the spine to quote statistics on promiscuity he gets shouted down in the media. Promiscuity by definition carries a moral connotation. There is something very special about waking up to the wife/husband you love and are committed to and will eventually grow old with. Children born from that secure relationship grow up safe and secure, leaning the true value of commitment. I think in your heart of hearts Catherine you know this to be true. Lack of commitment and "if it feels good do it" ultimately lead to a feeling of emptiness. Taken to its extreme imagine how horrible the world would be if everyone was promiscuous?

Rudy   #6   07:07 am May 14 2012

I think that it makes NZ look bad, and really around the time of the World Cup I heard men saying they were coming to NZ because the women were slutty, and essentially that they were coming here to have some fun sex. It reduces women to being nothing more than a sperm receptacle. If you are fine with that (I am not) than that's YOUR call.

I have lived all over the world, and it DOES appear that NZ women like bathroom sex, which ruins it for the rest of NZ women that are not trash.

Kimbers   #7   07:14 am May 14 2012

I agree with you. I think most of our society's problems with sex,STI's,unwanted pregnancy and violence towards women stem from constant attempts to define and control women's sexuality. Again and again in comments from nobs like Craig, it is only women who are promiscuous. As if there is only one man out there having sex with all these tramps, and the rest are safely monogamous. People are gonna make dumb and narrow-minded assumptions and judgements about you whatever you say and do - so you may as well say and do what is true for you.

Dan   #8   07:18 am May 14 2012

A point of correction: Craig did not base his statement on the result of the Durex survey, but rather something a little more scientific. Read his Q&A with Paul Holmes for more detail:

Atrius   #9   07:33 am May 14 2012

Colin Craig is a conservative politician. If he DIDN'T make a social issue out of this, that'd be shocking. For him, the moral fabric of society rests at the juncture of your thighs. But that's besides the point. From an objective standpoint, you are largely correct. Personally, the only truly serious problem with promiscuity I see (one extant for both genders) is that it can lead to emotional fallout, caused by a failure to communicate what both parties want out of any 'shenanigens' - like it or not, sex has an intimate element. But that problem is a personal sphere issue rather than a societal one. Unless people make it one. (And people are capable of anything!) Yet - while on the topic of people - those like Craig are going to make value judgements on this kind of thing (and on you) based on subjective bias cultivated by religious, cultural, or familial mores. That is their right, of course. But just because they have the freedom to criticise based on personal feeling doesn't mean you are wrong, or a whore. It just means you think differently from each other. That's also probably why people 'with a bit of clout' have been radio silent on this matter - his is just a value judgement. Since he's not calling for legislation on it, to them what he thinks is a non-issue.

Immozilla   #10   08:00 am May 14 2012

"I think we need to challenge the most basic value judgement Craig made: that promiscuity is a very bad thing. No-one's done that, so far as I can see. Which worries me, because maybe that means everyone secretly agrees with him."

Catherine, just to correct you. I don't secretly agree that promiscuity is a very bad thing. I am happy to shout it from the roof tops, that it is a very bad thing. I can't think of any occasion where it could be deemed good. It is selfish and immoral, and yes, I feel this way because of my morals and values, but it worries me that there are so many that think these morals and values outdated and archaic. And we wonder why society is failing. Morals and values are what builds a happy, healthy society.

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