A Distortion of Our Message
To the editor:
Last week, in the article “Sex and Sexism,” Emily Unger and Rachel Zax made disparaging attacks on True Love Revolution. In short, they claim that TLR seeks to “demean and disparage women.” However, their op-ed completely distorts TLR’s positions and message. Furthermore, their criticisms of our poster campaign and our approach to dialogue on campus are equally unfounded.
Contrary to the allegations of sexism, at the heart and opening statement of TLR’s platform is “the inherent dignity of every human.” Our platform also clearly states that the differences between men and women “do not evidence the superiority of one sex over the other.” Yet the authors seem to believe that we contribute to a “troubling national attitude that misunderstands and demeans women and sexuality.” Unger and Zax have badly misinterpreted our message to create a double standard that we feel would be harmful to both men and women. Instead of making a case for their own views on women and sexuality, they have resorted to misrepresenting positions contrary to their own. As stated in our platform, sexual integrity is important for “both the parties involved and to their relationship.” True Love Revolution exists to promote this very message. To suggest that we promote premarital abstinence for women only is either a dishonest or a careless twisting of our beliefs and mission.
The authors also protest our use of a statistic in a recent poster campaign: “Women who had their first sexual encounter prior to their first marriage have been shown to be about 34 percent more likely to experience marital dissolution.” They call us “intellectually dishonest” for presenting a “misleading statistic,” claiming that our statistic unfairly conflates correlation and causation and that “a randomized, controlled study would be the only way to demonstrate such causality.” However, observational studies can be used to argue for causal outcomes. The racial education gap and education policies such as Teach for America, for instance, are based upon observational studies. Scholars can’t randomly assign children different education outcomes at birth, the same way that scholars cannot randomly assign all people different sexual decisions. In such studies (in our case, a survey that questioned women), scholars control for differences among populations and samples, examine their data, and make an argument based on their results. In this case, those results make clear that successful marriages tend to follow lifestyles of sexual integrity. While Unger and Zax sought to expose our “poor understanding of statistics,” they instead revealed their own poor understanding of our argument.
Finally, Unger and Zax call into question our commitment to honest, intellectual dialogue in making the case for premarital abstinence and sexual integrity. Yet since True Love Revolution’s inception, we have written many articles, participated in debates, and invited speakers to campus to promote discourse on these contentious issues. For example, today we are honored to host Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, president and founder of the Ruth Institute, who will be discussing her book “Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hookup World.” We invite Unger, Zax, and anyone else with an interest in discussing these issues to attend Dr. Morse’s presentation today, Thursday, March 29, 2012 from 6:00-7:30 PM in Harvard Hall 202.
Luciana E. Milano ’14
President, True Love Revolution