Author archives: Cathy Ruse

Praise for Tufts Universitys New Policy on Dorm Room Sex

by Cathy Ruse

October 2, 2009

The state of morality on the American college campus seems to be in perpetual decline, and I have shuddered to think about what it will be like in a dozen years when my own daughters will be getting ready for college. But from a liberal college in a liberal state comes a small ray of hope. Tufts University has revised its guest policy for dorm visitors for the new school year to include the following new rule: You may not engage in sexual activity while your roommate is present in the room.

Shouldnt this be obvious? Word from my friends with kids in college is that, shockingly, its not. Nor is it a problem unique to Tufts.

So a tip of the hat to the Tufts administration for having the courage to draw a line. And if Tufts can do it, any school can.

On Abortion, Obama Chose His Words Carefully

by Cathy Ruse

May 1, 2009

In his answer to the question on the Freedom of Choice Act, President Obama first said abortion was a “moral issue” and then went on to say:

[T]his is an issue that… individual women have to wrestle with… And I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a president of the United States… So that has been my consistent position. The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion…

These were careful words. Notice that Obama avoided any phrasing that would suggest that he believes abortions per se ought to be reduced. He doesn’t ever assert that we ought to reduce the number of abortions because that would cast abortion in a negative light; wanting fewer abortions suggests abortion is a negative thing that ought to be reduced. Rather he is always careful to say that he wants to reduce the need for abortion, which leaves abortion as a “good” and casts the pregnancy (or rather the child) as the bad that should be reduced.

The Democrat platform under Obama was changed from making abortion “rare” to reducing the need for abortion — a move deeper into pro-abortion orthodoxy. It’s like the child is the dreaded disease and abortion is the wonderful vaccine — why would we want fewer of those wonderful vaccines? It’s the dreaded disease we want to reduce!

Obama is careful in his choice of words and so should pro-lifers be: do not ever give Obama credit for wanting to reduce abortions.

Interesting column by George Will on food and sex.

by Cathy Ruse

February 27, 2009

I think Mary Eberstadt may be on to something, and I surely hope the theory follows through to mean more prudishness in sex will follow! But I have my doubts. People quite easily can measure the negative effects of gluttony by the numbers on the scale and their cholesterol count, etc. But an STD? Why that’s not MY fault, it was so-and-so who gave it to me. People who are honest and introspective, however, will be able to conclude that a lifestyle of serial monogamy has led to their unhappiness. Isn’t it interesting that the simplest answer that so many refuse to consider - faith in the God of Abraham rather than Lord Vegan — will make you both physically and psychologically healthier and happier?

By the way, my husband and I know Mary well and of course this article made me think of what she served us for dinner at her house not long ago — pulled pork sandwiches from a local deli!


Jewish World Review Feb. 26, 2009 2 Adar 5769

Prudes at Dinner, Gluttons in Bed

By George Will  

Put down that cheeseburger and listen up: If food has become what sex was a generation ago - the intimidatingly intelligent Mary Eberstadt says it has - then a cheeseburger is akin to adultery, or worse. As eating has become highly charged with moral judgments, sex has become notably less so, and Eberstadt, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, thinks these trends involving two primal appetites are related.

In a Policy Review essay, “Is Food the New Sex?” - it has a section titled “Broccoli, pornography, and Kant” - she notes that for the first time ever, most people in advanced nations “are more or less free to have all the sex and food they want.” One might think, she says, either that food and sex would both be pursued with an ardor heedless of consequences, or that both would be subjected to analogous codes constraining consumption. The opposite has happened - mindful eating and mindless sex.

Imagine, says Eberstadt, a 30-year-old Betty in 1958, and her 30-year-old granddaughter Jennifer today. Betty’s kitchen is replete with things - red meat, dairy products, refined sugars, etc. - that nutritionists now instruct us to minimize. She serves meat from her freezer, accompanied by this and that from jars. If she serves anything “fresh,” it would be a potato. If she thinks about food, she thinks only about what she enjoys, not what she, and everyone else, ought to eat.

Jennifer pays close attention to food, about which she has strong opinions. She eats neither red meat nor endangered fish, buys “organic” meat and produce, fresh fruits and vegetables, and has only ice in her freezer. These choices are, for her, matters of right and wrong. Regarding food, writes Eberstadt, Jennifer exemplifies Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative: She acts according to rules she thinks are universally valid and should be universally embraced.

Betty would be baffled by draping moral abstractions over food, a mere matter of personal taste. Regarding sex, however, she had her Categorical Imperative - the 1950s’ encompassing sexual ethic that proscribed almost all sex outside of marriage. Jennifer is a Whole Foods Woman, an apostle of thoroughly thought-out eating. She bristles with judgments - moral as well as nutritional - about eating, but she is essentially laissez-faire about sex.

In 50 years, Eberstadt writes, for many people “the moral poles of sex and food have been reversed.” Today, there is, concerning food, “a level of metaphysical attentiveness” previously invested in sex; there are more “schismatic differences” about food than about (other) religions.

If food is the new sex, Eberstadt asks, “where does that leave sex?” She says it leaves much of sex dumbed-down - junk sex akin to junk food. It also leaves sexual attitudes poised for a reversal. Since Betty’s era, abundant research has demonstrated that diet can have potent effects, beneficial or injurious. Now, says Eberstadt, an empirical record is being assembled about the societal costs of laissez-faire sex.

Eberstadt says two generations of “social science replete with studies, surveys and regression analyses galore” have produced clear findings: “The sexual revolution - meaning the widespread extension of sex outside of marriage and frequently outside commitment of any kind - has had negative effects on many people, chiefly the most vulnerable; and it has also had clear financial costs to society at large.”

In 1965, the Moynihan Report sounded an alarm about 23.6 percent of African American children born out of wedlock. Today the figure for the entire American population is 38.5 percent, and 70.7 percent for African Americans. To that, add AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and the unquantifiable coarsening of the culture and devaluing of personal intimacy.

Today “the all-you-can-eat buffet” is stigmatized and the “sexual smorgasbord” is not. Eberstadt’s surmise about a society “puritanical about food, and licentious about sex” is this: “The rules being drawn around food receive some force from the fact that people are uncomfortable with how far the sexual revolution has gone - and not knowing what to do about it, they turn for increasing consolation to mining morality out of what they eat.”

Perhaps. Stigmas are compasses, pointing toward society’s sense of its prerequisites for self-protection. Furthermore, as increasing numbers of people are led to a materialist understanding of life - who say not that “I have a body” but that “I am a body” - society becomes more obsessive about the body’s maintenance. Alas, expiration is written into the leases we have on our bodies, so bon appetit.

Of New York Times Editorials on Animal Eggs and Human Embryos

by Cathy Ruse

September 24, 2007

There’s so much that needs to be said in response to today’s pathetic editorial. The following statements, at least, deserve comment:

There are distressingly few women willing to donate their eggs for experiments at the frontiers of this promising science….Many were likely deterred by the time, effort and pain required - including daily hormone injections and minor surgery - to retrieve the eggs.

Not to mention the possibility of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, cancer, and death, complications which the New York Times editors must regard as inconvenient to their message.

And they were almost certainly discouraged by the meager compensation […] These restrictions are meant to protect the women against exploitation, but they have created a dearth of egg donors for stem cell research.

In other words, some people are concerned about the exploitation of women but all we know is that there aren’t enough women giving up their eggs — this is offensive.

Scientists need to develop new stem cell lines genetically matched to patients with diseases like diabetes or Parkinson’s. They typically take the nucleus of a patient’s skin cell and inject it into an egg whose nucleus has been removed.

Obscuring the truth of what this process is might be expected from smaller papers, but the NYT eds ought to have the [wherewithal] to use the word cloning, since that is where so much of the controversy lies.

If all goes well, the desired stem cell can be derived from the result.

An “embryo” is now a “result.” Masterful. If the NYT eds had done even a little research before opining on the subject, they’d have learned that all has never gone well: stem cells have never been derived from a cloned human embryo.

With few human eggs available, some privately financed stem cell scientists are studying animal eggs to see if they can work the same magic when injected with a human nucleus.

The magic has yet to be worked. The NYT eds are going out of their way

to look silly.

That may send shivers of apprehension through people who imagine rogue scientists creating grotesque half-human, half-animal creatures in the laboratory. But a thorough examination of the process by British regulators should alleviate such fears…there would be remarkably little animal - only about 0.1percent - in the mix.

Even 0.1 percent merits a shiver or two, no?