Let me start out by saying that I like Lucy. However, that being said, I am not a fan of her pet project from this past week. Separating sex from its fundamental context makes for an incomplete collection and subsequent analysis of data.
As most of you know from first-hand-experience or by word-or-mouth, Lucy Orsi conducted an online survey about sex this past week. I write this article having taken the survey – although I did not see a certain set of questions. Not surprisingly, the survey spurred both controversy and applause. However, the root issue for me was not the survey itself, but the context in which it was taken.
See, the idea of the survey itself is inert – neither right nor wrong. This is because (as many academics believe) data collection itself is amoral. None of the questions on the survey put anyone in danger or directly revealed their identity. The survey itself was neither harmful nor, quite frankly, even very offensive.
However, since surveys are written to produce certain data, they have an obligation to be complete. This one was not.
Lucy’s survey was subjective, and thus left out a number of important items, including options for being married, engaged, transsexual, asexual, bisexual, etc. However, my key issue with Lucy’s survey is the context in which it was delivered: sex as an outfit that we can take on or off as we please. I wholeheartedly disagree.
Sex, like religion, is something at the core of who we are. In fact, I would argue that since sex is intricately tied to what we believe about God – and therefore, what we believe about ourselves – completely omitting a question about religion or morality takes sex out of context, and therefore produces data that can have no foundational basis, nor lasting impact.
This reason – the lack of fundamental context in which the survey was conducted – leads me to say that, in its incomplete form, the survey itself should not have been conducted at all. What we do makes up who we are – and who we are cannot be removed from what we believe about God.