Monday, October 29, 2012

Project Lemonade

Sharia law meets abstinence-only education:
. A new study in the American Sociological Review found that evangelical virginity-pledgers could learn a thing or two from Muslims and Hindus, who are the most likely to actually abstain from premarital and extramarital sex instead of just lying about what went down in the basement over the weekend. What's their secret? Really pretty "True Love Waits" t-shirts? Nope: legal and religious coercion, gender segregation, and never showing any lady skin, ever.
Those looking for casual sex partners online should try "advanced search"ing for Chosen Ones: a whopping 94 percent of Jews who participated in the study reported having premarital sex, followed by 79 percent of Christians, 65 percent of Buddhists, 43 percent of Muslims and 19 percent of Hindus.
So rather than complaining about how Islamic law is taking over, why not get on that action to actually make a tent on premarital sex rates?

(Actually, the study -- at least as reported in Jezebel which, in fairness, is a considerable caveat -- doesn't seem to have a great answer for why the rate for Hindus is so much lower than the rate for Muslims. As for its Jewish findings -- well, it's good to be a Chosen One sometimes).

1 comment:

PG said...

(Actually, the study -- at least as reported in Jezebel which, in fairness, is a considerable caveat -- doesn't seem to have a great answer for why the rate for Hindus is so much lower than the rate for Muslims.

I'd note that getting married young reduces the likelihood of premarital sex -- Islam requires a bride price, which may make it harder for a man to get married than in Hinduism -- but the abstract of the article says "an earlier age at marriage does not appear to explain the relationship." As for Jezebel's speculations, the abstract also says, "The percentage Muslim within a nation decreases the odds of reports of premarital sex and this relationship is not explained by restrictions on women’s mobility."

The full article is free here. I'm most curious about how this plays out in countries or regions with significant minority religious groups, i.e. how do the Hindus in Bali compare to the Muslims, the Muslims in India to the Hindus, the Muslims in Thailand to Buddhists, etc., but the only country of those they included was India.

They marked India as "country has restrictions on women’s mobility," which has to be cultural as there are no such de jure restrictions. In New Delhi, I legally could wander around on my own in a sleeveless top and knee-length skirt -- I'd just get a lot of creepy stares and occasional friendly advice to put on a punjabi dress. The gender equality index on which the sex study relied says, "There are no legal restrictions on women’s freedom of movement," but gives the country a poor score because of the host of non-legal inequalities (including some that are literally illegal, such as dowry, child-marriage and sex-selective abortion). That index also says "India extends maternity leave benefits to all employed women for twelve weeks at 100 percent of their pay, paid for by their employer," which I hadn't known and is kind of amazing, though like early Social Security in the U.S. it doesn't apply to "women employed informally and in the agricultural sector."

Skimming the study, some of the statements are kind of bizarre: "Many Hindu communities also discourage young men and women from regular private interaction. However, this may have more to do with cultural tradition and caste than with religious proscriptions regarding premarital sex. Some Hindu communities view social division by caste as religiously ordained."

Yes, the cultural tradition dictates limited mixed-sex interaction, but AFAIK that has nothing to do with caste. The desire to separate by caste is not based on premarital sex concerns, but on either snobbishness or a continued belief that contact with lower castes is somehow polluting. Families who think like that don't want their daughter to befriend a Dalit girl.

Another thing that can complicate the survey is that they just asked people "What is your religion?" In my experience, Hindus and Jews, and to a lesser extent Muslims and Buddhists, are prone to state that religion based on what they were raised to be even if they are wholly non-believing and non-practicing. People who were raised Christian but who are non-believing and non-practicing are less likely to say they are Christians.