On Morning Joe, MSNBC contributor bemoans attempts to define consent in sexual encounters

Noah Rothman: “It has created an atmosphere of tension in which wooing a prospective partner is a fraught prospect”

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Citation From the July 7, 2022, edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe

MARA GAY (MSNBC ANALYST): I haven't gotten to read it yet. I'm looking forward to it though. I mean, it's a little ironic actually because I wrote a piece over the weekend in defense of sex for pleasure. So I am not sure I completely agree with you that progressives are anti-fun, I'm certainly not anti-fun or anti-sex. But I would love to hear your thoughts on why you think this is a particularly Progressive problem.

NOAH ROTHMAN (MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR): So for all of our adult lives, you could count on the right to be prudish, priggish, moralistic. They with their keen senses of propriety saw in innocent cultural fair something that would corrupt you and degrade society. By contrast, the liberals emphasize self-fulfillment, self-gratification, even at the risk of self-destruction.

Now we are treated to profound moral campaigns that are led by the left. Entertainment companies that pledge to introduce didactic themes, perhaps even at the expense of a plot so that it will serve a grander purpose, a social purpose, more so than entertainment. Comedy critics, comedians, emphasizing the pain that you had to endure —someone had to endure — so that you could enjoy something as frivolous as a punchline. Sports coverage that introduces long digressions about the lamentable state of racial dynamics in America. And when fans complain, as they often do, they are explicitly admonished for putting their desire for a pastime, for a diversion, above their need to dwell on the world's horrors. 

This is a puritanical outlook. It is one that used to be native to the right. It is increasingly adopted by the progressive left, as progressives identify more with progressivism and less with left liberalism. And this is a thread you can tease out all through the 20th — the 16th century through to the progressivism of the 19th century through to today. To dwell a little bit on sexual politics, because that's what people think of when they think of America, a sort of caricatured bluenose, which is actually more aligned with the Victorian era conception puritanical thought than actual puritans, but nevertheless, it's our stereotype. The modern left does emphasize a sort of self gratification in the form of sexual identity, the proliferating sexual identities and orientations. But all of them have associated with them a political program. If you dig into it, if you dwell on the utility, the political instrument of this sort of idea of sexual freedom. So that we have a rhetorical permissive atmosphere, but at the same time, there is a labyrinthine network of rituals that you have to endure or observe to observe consent. Now consent is something that every activity that is legal observes. A non-consensual encounter is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent, but we also understand in the Progressive activist class that this sort of goes beyond the statute, it is a nebulous situation that we need to expand and expose and in some cases write into statute. California attempted and was subsequently struck down by the courts. But it has created an atmosphere of tension in which wooing a prospective partner is a fraught prospect, and it happens less and less. In fact the younger generation has reported constantly in surveys that they have far less sex than their parents and their grandparents. We're raising a generation that is somewhat less permissive than their grandparents.


ROTHMAN: It is in the surveys.

SCARBOROUGH: Than their grandparents? Come on.