You Can't Make a Whore a Housewife

Nothing gets me hotter than a properly cited argument. I've had many a dream about a well thought out, thoroughly fact checked, calm and clear debate partner. I wish I could share some of that with you. Instead, here's the stupidest slut-shaming I found this week.

"You can't make a whore a housewife. Girls who are sluts make terrible wives. "

The "whore/housewife" alliteration has a pretty nice ring to it, and actually has some sort of citation. This report is from the National Marriage Project, and claims that women who have had more sexual partners report lower levels of marital happiness. Other sources have criticized the confusion between correlation and causation already, but I'm just going to tear the whole thing apart.

It starts by talking about Bradgelina (I'm serious) and makes no subtle hints about their main point: "[F]or women, having had fewer sexual partners before marriage was also related to higher marital quality... [S]ex with many different partners may be risky if you’re looking for a high-quality marriage." (For the record, at no point throughout their study do they acknowledge or compare differences found between men and women).

Let's look at the actual data. They defined "high quality marriage" as a marriage that scored in the top 40% of their sample, which is weirdly arbitrary. They used a four-item version of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. That scale usually has 32 items, but this study asked four questions. On a one to five (sometimes six) scale, they asked participants to rate relationship happiness, thoughts about dissolution, frequency of confiding in one another, and in general, how well things are going between the partners (which added to a total of 21 points). By their cutoff, scoring 19 or above was "happy" and any less was "unhappy". Their sample included 418 marriages and used telephone surveying though targeted sampling by a private company.  TD;LR: the reliability is sketchy at best.


The study states, "Many in Generation YOLO (you only live once) believe that what happens while you’re young won’t affect your future. But our research paints a different picture. " It briefly mentions a study from the 90s that said women who were abstinent were less likely to divorce, and then claims, "We further found that the more sexual partners a woman had had before marriage, the less happy she reported her marriage to be," but at no point in the study do they report their actual findings. Seriously, not a percentage, not even the raw data. They just say that and move on.

As for that old study? The conclusion was "These results suggest that neither premarital sex nor premarital cohabitation by itself indicate either preexisting characteristics or subsequent relationship environments that weaken marriages." The data they're using to back up their claims doesn't support their point. 

Anyway, let's look at data they did find. They talk a lot about people that have cohabited before marriage and couples that "slid" into living together instead of having a "defined talk" about it, but there's no reported gender difference.  Let's be very clear, their focus is on living with different partners prior to marriage, not sex.


You might have already asked yourself, "Well doesn't that make sense? Wouldn't someone with more experience be better at identifying issues in their relationship, especially compared to someone who's never known anything else?" The study acknowledges that irony but shuts it down, claiming that happy marriages come from not being aware of other options and "[a] history of multiple breakups may make people take a more jaundiced view of love and relationships." Damn, bet you didn't think all that teenage angst was going to ruin your adult love life, huh?

The study also asks if a good marriage can come from a hookup. Out of the couples who had reached marital bliss, 36% began as a hookup, while 42% did not. Firstly, what happened to the remaining 22%? Secondly, the study did not give a definition of hooking up. They literally just asked, "Did you two start by hooking up?" Thirdly, what does this have to do with having multiple partners?

Weirdly, when analyzing their data, they coded "previous sexual partners" as either 0 (sex with more than one person) or 1 (only had sex with their spouse). So, for this study, there's no difference between someone who had sex with 50 people or 2. There's also no difference between someone who had sex with their future spouse before or after marriage, so long as they didn't have any other partners.


When you look at all their findings together, after controlling for race and religion, the most influential factors on marital quality (in order of decreasing importance) are the following:
  • having kids from a prior relationship
  • feeling like you're more committed than your partner
  • getting pregnant with your spouse before marriage
  • having a wedding (the more traditional and the bigger, the happier)
  • having prior marriages
  • having an education
  • having moved in with previous partners
And THEN, after ALL THAT, with a p-value of GREATER THAN 0.5 (which anyone who knows anything about statistics can tell you is statistically insignificant) comes premarital relations with someone other than your spouse.

So why does this study even exist? Their main point isn't proven, and they gloss right over the part of their findings where by their definition, 35% of happy marriages have some physical violence. Well, let's look at the organization it's from.  This study wasn't peer-reveiwed or published in a journal. Furthermore, the president of the National Marriage Project came came under criticism over a 2012 study about gay parenting when he anonymously reviewed his own study and it was found to be influenced by conservative organizations that had funded it.

Is it possible this study was subject to the same bias? It was funded by the William E. Simon Foundation, a foundation that is based on "moral and spiritual values," including "thrift, self-discipline, and faith in God." Which may explain why they've forced a conclusion that they can't defend.

Please cite your sources. And please make sure your sources are reliable, because this is bullshit. Go ahead and marry a whore, there's no reason they wouldn't make a great partner.

3 comments:

  1. I love how you used argued against this using logic and statistics. Thanks for always having great posts!

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  2. I had 8 partners before I got married, I don't know if it's too many or too few... We celebrate 10 years together, the best 10 years of my life

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  3. yaah this is good posting woooooooooww thanks for shearing

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