Today the paper reported that Tufts university has officially implemented a policy that says, “If your room-mate is in your room, you shouldn’t ruin their sleep by having sex in the same room”. The Hartford Courant (the paper I’m referring to) asks in its little subtitle, “Common Sense?”. The article goes on to say that they have contacted other schools and no one else has the policy explicitly written, because it should be “obvious” or “common courtesy”. My room-mate in college knew it was common courtesy, but frankly, he didn’t care. His girlfriend did, so they stopped having sex in the upper bunk bed and went to … (wait for it…) her house off campus.
All of this made me wonder what other “common courtesy” ethical rules about sex might be flouted in our society. My clinical life gave me quite a few that seemed obvious to me, but not apparently obvious to others, so I thought I’d express them (like it matters).
1) If you created a child, you’re responsible for it. You’re responsible for it for the next at least 18 years. At a minimum, you’re financially responsible for it, guys, but that’s just the minimum. Keeping it safe from cars, bullets, pedophiles, or at least trying to do those things, is the next level up. Teaching it morals, spending time with it, engaging in parental responsibilities like watching the child play sports or display a talent — that’s the full package.
Ladies and gentlemen, this responsibility thing may also mean making hard choices like adoption, abortion, separating from a violent significant other, and so on. Being responsible is a pain-in-the-you-know-what but, hey, if you’re old enough to put Tab A in Slot B and you knew what you were doing, you’re old enough to make the tough decisions. The rights of adults should go with the responsibilities of them, too. And if you need help making those decisions, ask for help from people you trust — another sign of the person mature-enough-to-have-sex.
2) When I worked in Jamaica Plain, MA at a homeless shelter, there was a billboard on my way home that said, “Your girlfriend, your property — they’re different things”. The fact that this sign had to exist at all astounded me, but there it was, big as life. If you don’t know this already guys, you shouldn’t have a girlfriend. By the way, gals, your man is not your man either. If he wants to wear Converse All-Stars to the party, so be it. It’s his body, not yours. If he wants to get his tongue pierced, oh well. You don’t have to french kiss him with it that way, and he may look ugly as sin, but so what? That’s his right. Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious before this, the rule applies to gay couples, as well. People don’t stop being individual people once they start being a couple. People are not property. If your significant other is really significant to you, treat them that way and respect their bodies and brains and personalities as theirs.
3) Back to the kid thing: If you are having a kid, get your sh-t together before they’re born. I don’t care if you take the nine month crash course in personal growth during pregnancy, but it’s your responsibility to do as little damage to that kid as you can when you’re raising them. It’s time to be the grown-up now. Too bad if you want to still drink til you puke. Too bad if you still want your parents to take care of you. And if you’re having mental problems, do something about them other than whine. I’m OK with whining if it’s the first time you’ve talked about it, or if it’s early in therapy, but once the kid’s there, they need a parent — and you signed on for duty. Nobody expects you to get it totally right, but you’ve got to be at your best — whatever that is.
4) Rape does not mean she loves you. If you have to rape her, you couldn’t get it any other way. If you couldn’t get it any other way, you shouldn’t get it at all. The same thing goes for sleeping with little kids. If you can only have sex with little kids, you shouldn’t be having sex. Real sex is a choice. If it’s not a choice, it’s not real sex. Choice is what makes it worth chasing in the first place.
Alright. That’s it for now. It’s not an extensive list, but it is an obvious one, at least to me.