Saturday, March 01, 2008

Childhood discipline in sexual deviance: yet another meaningless correlation

Via Raw Story. Ever been turned on by rough sex? How about been dumb enough to have unprotected sex? Do you have to coerce partners to get laid? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, your parents' use of spanking to discipline you as a child has turned you into an irresponsible sadomasochist that may well have the tendency to use verbal/physical coercion to get a partner to agree to sex. At least that's the claim coming from Murray Strauss at University at New Hampshire.

Straus, co-director of UNH's Family Research Laboratory, conducted a study in the mid-1990s in which he asked 207 students at three colleges whether they'd ever been aroused by masochistic sex. He also asked them if they'd been spanked as children. He found that students who were spanked were nearly twice as likely to like masochistic sex.


Straus asked 14,000 college students in 32 different countries whether they strongly disagreed, disagreed, agreed or strongly agreed with this statement: "I was spanked or hit a lot before age 12." He also asked whether they had ever verbally or physically coerced an uninterested partner to have sex.

He found a big difference between students who said they'd been hit a lot before age 12 and those who said they hadn't. For every increased step on Straus's four-step scale of agreement, men were 10 percent more likely to have verbally coerced sex from a partner by insisting on sex or threatening to end the relationship if the partner refused. Women were 12 percent more likely to have done that.

Strauss plans to use this data to get state lawmakers to dedicate funds to teach parents against the evils of spanking children. Being spanked "a lot" as a child could be a sign of multiple things such as an overall ill behaved child, an unruly child that doesn't respond to time-outs or reasoning, stressed parents and/or parents who are very good or consistent at setting limits for their children. What I think of as spanked " a lot" is probably different than what someone else may think of as "a lot".

Correlation is not causation, that's something that must be kept in mind when analyzing this data. There's too much leeway for confounding to make me take Strauss' studies very seriously. While I don't think spanking is always the best choice for discipline, I'm not so sure that being spanked is what makes people use the "if you loved me you would" line to get laid or that unmarried couples, of whom neither were spanked, are always going to use protection.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find this interesting. I am 16 and I have been talking to girl who is 16 and I noticed when I mention sex she gets turned on by it being kinky and "naughty". I was curious as to what this has stemmed from. I know she has strick parents and that she still gets her mouthed washed out with soap for using profanity (crazy chritians). Does this childhood punishment possibly has anything to do with homosexuality?