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Logical Phalluses

posted May 1, 2012, 10:57 AM by Anna Borges

by alex finkelstein 

Both sex and logic are things that can be a lot of fun when done right. This post will be a combination of the two. It is a basic guide to some logical fallacies and their relation to sex positivity. Remember that the conclusions are not necessarily wrong because logical fallacies can lead to true conclusions. In the examples I show, I highlight flaws of reasoning and show that the conclusions are wrong due to lack of evidence and a nature contrary to fact. Inspiration for this post came from here and here.

Straw man Argument: A straw man argument is when somebody misrepresents their opponent’s position and argues against the misrepresentation they created instead of their opponent’s actual beliefs.
        Sex Positive Example: Sex Positivity promotes positive attitudes and viewpoints towards sex and sexuality. It does not promote unsafe sexual practices or immorality. So if somebody were to argue that sex positivity is bad because it promotes unsafe sexual practices and immorality that would be an example of a straw man argument. It would be untrue because evidence shows that Sex Positivity does not approve of these things.

Ad hominem attacks: Also known as poisoning the well, this is when instead of refuting somebody’s opinion you attack them as a person.
        Sex Positive Example: Rush Limbaugh is a racist and a sexist; therefore calling Sandra his beliefs on the contraception mandate are incorrect. A valid argument would say his beliefs on the contraception mandate are incorrect because he does not actually know how contraception works and is using false premises. Him being a racist and a sexist does not make him wrong on this issue, but does make him a bad person.

Post-hoc ergo propter hoc: It means after this therefore because of this. In other words, event A happened first therefore it caused event B that happened afterwards.
        Sex Positive Example: This is essentially how victim blaming works. If somebody is wearing provocative clothing and then is raped, the rape is often blamed on the provocative clothing (they were asking for it) because it preceded the rape. However, provocative clothing (or anything the survivor does) does not cause rape, which can be proven by the fact that people are raped when not wearing provocative clothing, and nobody ever asks to be raped.

No True Scotsman: This argument is when you define something as pure or true arbitrarily and use this definition to deflect future criticism
        Sex Positive Example: There are people who say that pure or good women have to be virgins. Even if a woman were shown to have exemplary character and be a great person, she would not be considered a good woman by the fallacy’s own definition. I recommend viewing the documentary “The Purity Myth” for further information about how cultural notions of sexual purity are used to control women’s behavior.

False dichotomy / black and white: Only two options are presented, when actually there are more alternatives.
        Sex Positive Example: According to some abstinence only education, the choices are abstinence or unsafe promiscuous sex. This is the dichotomy presented in the class where students were forced to drink each other’s backwash as a symbol for sex. In reality, there are other options such as safe sex and sex within a monogamous relationship to name two.