Bullish Life: Let’s Just All Agree on Some Basic Principles of Sexual Ethics

I have this fantasy wherein I am a sex educator who goes around to high schools.

Not the condom-on-a-banana kind of sex educator (although the kids need that, too). No, I go around teaching a sexual ethics class that, amazingly, liberal parents, Orthodox parents, Muslim parents, and everyone else is fine with.

How would that be possible?

Well, anytime you want to get a group of disparate people to agree on something, start with basic principles. Israelis and Palestinians? Hummus is tasty. Pro-choice and pro-life people? It is totally wrong for the government of China to force women to have abortions they do not want. I want to set up a table about this at some kind of abortion-related protest and just watch as both sides are like, “Um, that is awful.” And then I’d refuse to reveal what “side” I was on. (I’d have pre-French-braided my hair all Utah-compound style, just to throw people off.)

So, back to sex ed. I feel like even good liberal parents, the ones who give their kids all the facts well before they could ever need them, are sometimes at a loss for what else to add. Like, “But you probably shouldn’t have sex at all.” Or, “But you should wait as long as possible,” or “Have fun and tell me if you need health care!” Or, probably, nothing at all.

Even the parents who are preaching abstinence are sometimes aware that, “God says no” isn’t that convincing to their kids, and that even with all the information about pregnancy and diseases, obviously pretty much everybody in the world around them is fucking anyway, much the same way we all still drive on the highway even though it’s a “high-risk behavior.”


So, how come nobody ever just tells all the teenagers:

“If you start having sex, there is a significant chance you will become so preoccupied with it that it’ll be hard to keep your grades up and get into a good college.”



“Sex can result in a wide range of emotional responses: happiness, detachment, regret, vulnerability, gloating, etc. It’s possible that, if two people have sex, their responses to it will be different and that this will feel terrible for at least one of them. Discuss.”


We can all get behind that, right? Those are some pretty basic ideas that I feel like hardly anyone ever says out loud, especially to young people.

So, let’s talk about adults, and also that Coors Light beer coaster thing I picked up in a bar because it was appalling.

Here, I think, are some basic principles of sexual ethics I hope we can all get behind.

If lying to people is not okay (except when a gunman is involved), then lying to people when they’re naked is also not okay.

I don’t even have anything to say under this subpoint. I mean, who’s really in favor of lying in instances in which someone is not hiding from the Nazis?

I suppose Pepe Le Pew could show up and comment that lies are all part of the dance of seduction. Pepe Le Pew is totally a rapist.

Misleading is not quite lying, but still pretty bad. Misleading people does not become okay just because you are horny or because it makes you feel like you are winning a contest.

According to Wikipedia, “The long and current slogan of ‘Silver Bullet’ to describe Coors Light is not for the beer but for the silver colored can in which the beer is packaged.”

So, I’m translating the Coors Light beer coaster (pictured) as meaning, “When your buddy has sex with the ugly friend of the girl you want to have sex with, you should buy him one of our beers.”

If you’re not clear on the “taking a bullet” part, a quick search for “wingmen” and “bullets” brought up this article about avoiding various types of cock blocks, including the “ugly best friend” who is “trying to make sure her friend is doing the ‘right’ thing.”

What a bitch! (If you wish, please consider me your ugly best friend.)

So, the Canadian Molson Coors Brewing Company is suggesting that their beer – which no self-respecting Belgian would ever drink, by the way – is an excellent reward for a man who fakes interest in a woman in order to have sex with her that he’s not even interested in having. That is, you should reward men for tricking women into having sex with someone who is secretly laughing at them.


Yeah. Let’s talk a little more about “misleading.”

Casual sex is not fine if some party to the sex is unaware that it is casual.

I once went on a date – later chronicled in Judy McGuire’s How Not to Date – with a man who informed me in the first half-hour that he would like to meet his life partner ASAP, have her quit her job, and move together to a boat in the Mediterranean where she would have 5-6 of his children, which he (an emergency room doctor) would personally deliver. On a boat.

I got out of there pretty fast. He was quite handsome, though. If he had said, “I only want to have sex with a woman who is interested in quitting her job and giving birth to at least five children on a boat,” it would have been wrong to go home with him, even if I had not technically lied.

Gifts from Brooklyn, Not Billionaires


The same ethical rules apply here as in basically any other situation. If I say, “I only want to be your business partner if we can donate 50% of our profits to Christian charities,” and you say, “Let’s work on a business plan” and yet you do not intend to donate our profits to Christian charities, I think you’re being highly misleading. If someone says, “I don’t want to sleep together until I’m sure it’s right,” trying to sleep with that person implies your argument that it’s now “right,” whatever that means in the context of the conversation you were having.

By the way, the babies-on-a-boat guy also insisted that his family owned an emerald mine. No, I didn’t keep his number.

Don’t drink Coors Light. Not that you were going to anyway.

Okay, that’s not really a principle of sexual ethics, but still a worthwhile message to spread to both teens and adults. Drink a good Hefeweizen or a nice IPA and then have casual sex with someone who also wants to have casual sex, consider falling in love with someone who is also considering falling in love, or tie up someone who wants to be affixed to your bedframe.

Just because you’re a good, happy liberal who thinks that people should be able to have any type of sex they want as long as everyone consents doesn’t mean that social relationships are now an ethical free-for-all where you can treat people badly. Nope. The normal rules of life still apply. We should teach them to young people. And older people who need remedial help.

On that score, you might enjoy Cindy Gallop’s Make Love Not Porn, despite the fact that the expression “make love” just sounds like you want to have sex with someone in the seventies, on a shag carpet. Also, this article I read in 2004 on Salon, about a man who wrote a really intelligent sex book for teenage boys. (“I’m trying to tell young guys that it’s all about connection. I don’t think the first sexual experiences necessarily lead to marriage, because it takes a while to find the right person. But I think that it leads to wonderful relationships with people, because you were real with each other. “)

If you want me to come speak to a high school, call me.

You might also enjoy Bullish Life: Keep Your Love Life From Ruining Your Actual Life and Bullish Life: 3 Romantic Mistakes That Young Women Make That Cause Weeping Among The Angels And Kittens.

Does someone you know need a sexual ethics talking-to? Please send them a link to this article. Did someone send you a link to this article? You just might be an asshole. Put down the Coors.

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