Such statements stressing the role of female responsibility and the benefits of “lifelong monogamy” dominated a conversation led by Dr. John Diggs in Ticknor Lounge last night. The discussion, entitled “Sex Ed: The Sequel. What they didn’t tell you,” was sponsored by True Love Revolution, the student advocacy group that promotes premarital abstinence.
Diggs, who has garnered national media attention for his article “The Health Risks of Gay Sex,” was asked by TLR President Rachel L. Wagley ’11 to focus on issues besides homosexuality during the discussion, in accordance with TLR’s official stance.
“The True Love Revolution has no stance on homosexuality. Zero. None at all,” said Wagley before the event. “Dr. Diggs does have a very well known stance on homosexuality. We informed him of our group’s position, and we said we’d like that to be respected and we would rather that that issue were not a main topic or a topic at all in his conversation.”
Instead, Diggs focused on negative aspects of sexual promiscuity and premarital sexual activity, stating that their effects extend beyond easily calculable STD statistics to include more nuanced social ramifications.
“In a world where women will never say ‘no,’ men are never forced to settle down and make serious choices,” he said, before listing the consequences promiscuity has on women.
“Number one, there’s a good chance he’ll never marry her,” said Diggs. “Number two, if he does, there’s a good chance he’ll be stuck in his barbarian childish ways.”
Regarding the benefits of abstinence for the male members of society, Diggs used the model of a cost-benefit analysis. “The reason a lot of us guys do what we do and achieve what we achieve is to please a woman. If you have a situation where men do not have to achieve, because a woman will take any guy, that will lower the level to which men seek to achieve.”
Several female audience members objected to the reasoning behind Diggs’s arguments.
“I was really angry by the raw generalizations that he used to describe both men and women when he said that women need love, but want respect,” said Samantha G.M. Barnard ’09. “I think all people want to be respected equally.”
Barnard added that she was frustrated by Diggs’ requirement that women take the initiative for setting the tone in their relationships.
“It’s the fact that the man is excused for his behavior because of his quote ‘natural, biological’ impulses, whereas the woman has to be the one to set the boundaries.”
When Barnard posed a question concerning Diggs’ views on homosexuality, his response was cut short as Wagley called for the next question.
Other members of the audience responded positively to Diggs’s secular approach to the issue of abstinence.
“He really didn’t touch on the moral aspect, which was big for me because I’m an atheist,” said Jordan A. Monge ’12. “But he did really touch on the importance of monogamy in our society, which I think that everyone, even an atheist like me, can agree with.”
Monge disagreed with some of more negative reactions to Diggs’ speech, suggesting that they came from students “who wanted to categorize [Diggs] into their preconceived notions of people who support monogamy.”
But Wagley said she appreciated the presence of opposing views during the discussion.
“I think this event was a total success. In fact, I’m really happy with how it went,” Wagley said. “I think it may certainly open up intellectual conversation and discussion, but I think those things are healthy and those are the things that bring us together not divide us.”