By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
DURHAM — Duke University’s decision to recruit female students for research involving sex toys is wrong in so many ways it’s hard to know where to begin.
No wonder the study, which involves Tupperware-style parties where the erotic toys are promoted, has raised the ire of Father Joe Vetter, director of the Duke Catholic Center. Vetter lodged a complaint with researchers, who have declined to discuss the purpose of their study saying it could taint the results. Never mind what is already being tainted.
“Studies of this nature demonstrate just how far many colleges and universities like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and others have fallen away from their roots. Each of these universities was established by Christians for Christian purposes,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Duke University has similar roots. Its Methodist heritage is represented there by the Chapel Tower and in the carvings of Methodist leaders like Thomas Coke, Francis Asbury and George Whitefield, along with John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.”
“I can assure you that at one time Methodists would have been appalled at a study on sex toys – no doubt – even the suggestion of it,” the Rev. Creech added. “What’s more, men like Francis Asbury and George Whitifield would have argued for Methodists to keep their children out of such an institution. So it’s truly sad to see such a sign of the times.”
According to an ad that was recently removed from the University Web site, participants in the ill-conceived study will fill out a questionnaire about their sexual attitudes and behavior before attending an hour long “sex toy party” where they can buy the items at discounted rates and discuss their use. Some 60 days later, they will be asked to fill out a second questionnaire. The study is being led by Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational” and the James B. Duke professor of behavioral economics in the Fuqua School of Business.
Vetter argued that the study “can give the impression that the university is endorsing behavior that I don’t think the university should endorse.”
“It certainly sends the message that the university is endorsing such behavior and at the least is complicit with it,” he said. “Should the University decide to study the dynamics of strip clubs and then have a party to sell ‘pole dancing’ lessons to young women? Give me a break.
“Educators at Duke need to recognize that the moral climate of an institution of higher learning shapes future generations.”
Nonetheless, Duke’s Vice President for Public Affairs Michael Schoenfeld told WRAL that the study had undergone a “rigorous review process,” that “there are a lot of issues that are studied at a university that make people uncomfortable” and that that’s how “we get an understanding of things like ethics and behavior.”
What seems “predictably irrational” about the study is that it flies in the face of ethical behavior, encouraging instead the attitude that sex has nothing to do with relationship.
“Even if the University as a secular institution today is not willing to honor the sacredness of the marriage bond and God’s plan and program for sex, then they should at least recognize that recruiting female students for this kind of study diminishes the University’s moral responsibility to teach the importance of fostering and developing meaningful relationships,” the Rev. Creech said. “You can’t simply take a neutral position here, which is what the University is saying that it is doing – all in the name of academia.”
Creech pointed to Laura Sessions Stepp’s “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both,” as evidence of the dangers of casual sex, even beyond sexual transmitted diseases or the risk of unwanted children.
“Stepp’s findings, which came in part from following women at Duke, revealed that many young women today have given up on dating, love and commitment, and settled for what they call ‘hookups,’ essentially casual and playful sexual escapades. But instead of finding any satisfaction in skipping the hard work of developing personal relationships of deep and abiding commitments, they are battered, emotionally and sometimes physically, by empty and unforgiving cultural patterns,” he said.
“Studies like this, I’m convinced, only exacerbate this kind of problem for many young women. This is not what parents send their children to learn in college. And they shouldn’t have to be concerned that their daughters are being recruited into this kind of nonsense.”
Take Christian Action:
Contact the office of the President to lodge a complaint about this study.
Richard H. Brodhead
Phone: (919) 684-2424 Fax: (919) 684-3050