A matched set, this time about young women, birth control, and sex

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a plan.  To protect your daughter from . . . you, it wants all girls who could be sexually active (that means every girl 10 or older) to have her own personal stash of “Plan B,” aka “the morning after pill:

During Thanksgiving week the American Academy of Pediatrics announced its recommendation that “morning after” prescriptions be issued to adolescent girls as a matter of course, allowing them the false security of what has long been described by advocates as a “fire extinguisher” in their purse to counter at least some of the consequences of risky behavior. “There’s no good reason” why there should not be follow-through on the recommendation, the San Francisco Chronicle asserts.

This is a heinous idea at so many levels.  I freely concede that there are young women out there who have the profound misfortune to be the daughters of abusive or unloving parents.  But I’m willing to bet that most young women have parents who love them.  The AAP is taking a problem for a minority of young women and trying to create a disaster for the majority of young women.  This is a plan that alienates young women from those who care for them most deeply — their parents:

“Girls often need support in order to avoid coercive early sexual activity, and the support of parents and medical providers is critical to enabling them to make healthy decisions,” [Anna] Halpine [founder of the World Youth Alliance and CEO of the FEMM (Fertility Education and Medical Management) Foundation] observes. “Girls want to be loved, not just used, and being affirmed in their pursuit of education and long-term dreams is a necessary part of the empowerment of any girl. Happiness is not an illusion; there are concrete things that can be done to achieve it, and explaining that to our girls is our responsibility and obligation. As the hookup culture grows ever more pervasive, it is matched by rising rates of female depression. We need to take these indicators of our young women’s development seriously, and make sure that we provide them with clear messages that help them fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams.”

Yes.  Yes, and more yes.  The government doesn’t care about my daughter, but I do.  The government cares about masses and batches of people, and the more dependent on the government they are, the better.

The government doesn’t only have no interest in young people when it comes to their emotional needs, it also doesn’t care about their physical needs.  Hormones are powerful medicines.  Every woman knows that the pill can interfere with the basic biologic function of pregnancy.  Most women know that the pill can bloat them and make them moody.  A significant number of women know that the pill can make them vomit uncontrollably.  The pill is also a not-so-rare factor in blood clots and strokes.  This is powerful stuff.  Girls who need parental permission to get their ears pierced or their bodies tanned are going to be handed hormones in sufficient doses to mess with their body’s natural functions.  Why aren’t more people outraged?

I’m not done yet, though, because I promised you a matched set.  Here’s the match:

The elite University of California, Berkeley has seen a blow to its uber-serious reputation with a controversial article from a student boasting about her marathon campus sex sessions.

Nadia Cho’s detailed account was part of her weekly column in The Daily Californian, Berkeley’s independent, student-run newspaper.

Cho writes that she and an unnamed male student started their romp in Berkeley’s library, Main Stacks, the day before Thanksgiving, when the campus was ‘marvellously empty’.

[snip]

But other students were in the library studying while the two performed and more than one student walked by them in mid-act, Cho writes.

She and her partner then moved into one of Berkeley’s classrooms, as she graphically describes.

‘Sex isn’t always about c****** and having orgasms. Sometimes it’s for s**** and giggles,’ she writes.

It’s impossible to imagine Cho’s attitude in a world where parents preach a loving, caring morality and birth control pills and abortifacients aren’t handed out like candy.  Again, I know that not all parents are loving, caring or even moral, and I know that many young women have sex without birth control or rely on things other than the pill, but the fact is that Cho is the product of a society that’s saturated in sex untethered to love, morality, family, or even plain old decency.

 

Yes, I have a very peculiar sense of humor

I’m on a mailing list that introduces potential book reviewers to newly published books.  Today’s email was about “romances.”  I quickly scanned the list of books to see whether any were worth requesting to read and review.  None were, but this one caught my eye:

Kink is not my cup of tea, so it wasn’t the cover of the book that intrigued me, with its intimations of whips, chains, Great Danes, and three on a chandelier, nor was it the description of the various esoteric activities the book covers:

Christmas is a time of love and joy, and the New Year is a time of renewal. But they are also times of stress and strife, family drama, pressure and heartache – a potent mix of high expectations and conflicted emotions. Add in power exchange relationships, kinky gift swaps, and unconventional love in a sometimes unforgiving world, and you have a formula for a sizzling anthology of stories that tug at your heart.

Nope. None of that was interesting. What made me laugh, though, was this bit of information:

20% of all proceeds from O Come All Ye Kinky will be donated to the Domestic Violence Project of the National Leather Association–International.

First of all, I didn’t know there was a National Leather Association, international or domestic. Second of all, to the extent it celebrates, not just wearing leather, but using leather for “disciplinary” purposes (or, as it calls these activities, BDSM), it seems funny (to me, at least) that this organization focuses on domestic violence. I guess it’s not “domestic violence” if your partner agrees with the whole whips and chains thing.

Is working as a porn star the cure for mental health issues?

Did any of you catch a story the other day claiming that a study of porn actresses showed that they’re happier and better adjusted than their non-porn peers?

The report in the Journal of Sex Research found that porn stars are not more likely to have psychological problems than other women.

In fact, they discovered those in the sex entertainment industry had a more positive outlook on life with higher self-confidence and more flattering views on their body image.

‘In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction and spirituality compared to the matched group,’ the report summarises.

Wow!

The way that study reads, it sounds as if those dealing with depression or other mental health issues should head for the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, home of myriad porn studios, rather than seeking out more traditional options, such as a therapist, anti-depressants, or, in more serious cases, a full-care residential facility.  Sadly, we have a thread of depression running through my family’s history, and various family members have (or could have) benefited from some or all three options.

Such options weren’t always available, of course.  My mother’s maternal uncle and her paternal grandmother both suffered greatly from mental illnesses that were probably bi-polar disorder in his case and histrionic personality disorder in her case.  The Nazis dealt with these problems quite efficiently by killing my great-uncle and great, great grandmother.  I don’t know about my father’s family’s mental health history, although most of them ended up being killed by the Nazis too.  Maybe all of them could have avoided these fates if they’d become happy porn stars.

Let me say that I don’t believe this study at all.  For one thing, it’s got a very small sampling:  171 porn actresses.  For another thing, these actresses were compared to some magical “average” woman.  Lastly, I’m dubious about this kind of self-reported happiness, given the lives they lead.  I know people who practice . . . hmmm . . . let’s say “alternate” sexual lives.  These women tell me, almost aggressively, that they’re “happy” with their choices and that having myriad sexual encounters with nameless, faceless men makes them feel like sex goddesses.

That’s what they say.  What I see are women who rely heavily on pot and other drugs to maintain an anesthetized distances from their life choices.  Indeed, the study acknowledges greater drug use amongst the porn actresses studied:

While the report challenged the stereotype of porn actresses as drug addicts, drug use was found to be more prevalent among the entertainers. They were more likely to have tried ten different types of drugs compared to the control group.

These women also age much more rapidly than their cleaner-living peers.  I don’t know if it’s the sex or the drugs, but you can tell that they’ve been around the block a few thousand times.

Of course, if you report yourself as happy, maybe you are happy.  After all, our emotional well-being is a state-of-mind and, as the saying goes, mind over matter works:  if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.  If these women are convinced that they’re not prematurely aged, substance using (not necessarily “abusing,” but “using) people whose lives are defined by their exhibitionist sexual habits, but are, instead, desirable, beautiful women, than I guess they are — their perception of reality defines their reality.

We know, though, that young girls who are sexually promiscuous are less happy than their peers.  Hearing that porn stars are happy shouldn’t be used as an indicator that exhibitionism is a recipe for happiness.  At most, with such a small sampling, the study shows that people with unusual predilections have found their niche.  Most people, I suspect, would find that niche to be a very demoralizing place, indeed, and certainly not a panacea for depression or just routine unhappiness.

An ad that invites parodies

I hadn’t yet posted about the Lena Dunham ad, which just seemed too stupid to acknowledge, which is why I’m not linking to it here.  After all, I’d prefer not to sully my blog with videos that liken voting for Obama to losing ones virginity.  Frankly, maybe because I’m a mature, sentient human being, I don’t find the ad enticing so much as I find it really icky.

Not linking to the ad, though, doesn’t mean not linking to the parodies.  This one, from Steve Crowder, is too good to pass up:

Hat tip: Power Line

On Yale, sex, porn, and relationships *UPDATED*

It’s no big secret in the Bookworm Room that I like romance novels.  Someone I know calls them pornography.  He’s both right and wrong.

A large percentage of today’s romance novels have pretty explicit sex scenes scattered through the pages.  The language isn’t as vulgar as true pornography, but the sex is certainly graphic enough to fall under the heading of “erotica.”  It’s also dull.  There are only so many ways to describe “insert tab A into slot B.” Moreover, romance writers, because they’re aiming for romance and not hard-core porn employ no end of awkward and embarrassing euphemisms, all of which make the whole experience seem a little bit like peeking under the modesty skirts that some Victorians allegedly used to hide the legs of their Victorian piano.

Given my druthers, I read nothing but Georgette Heyer’s exquisite romantic comedies of manners, which might end with a chaste kiss on the last page.  Sadly, though, Mrs. Heyer died in 1974, and there are no new Heyer books forthcoming.  Even I, a most enthusiastic fan, can read her existing fare only so many times before feeling a bit of ennui creeping over me.  There are other writers out there publishing “traditional” romances (i.e., no sex), but they lack Heyer’s wit and erudition, making their books a poor substitute.  Moreover, many of these traditional books are overtly Christian, and that simply isn’t a genre that appeals to me.

So, as I said, my friend is correct that there’s an erotic element to today’s romantic novel market (which is, I believe, the largest segment of both the paperback and ebook market).  What he misunderstands is that the graphic–ish sex isn’t the “porn” that draws women in.  The real porn aspect of these novels is what I call “relationship porn.”

Relationship porn doesn’t have dialog revolving around body parts and sex acts.  It has dialog revolving around a woman’s real needs.  The following aren’t verbatim quotations from any specific book, but I guarantee you that you can find variations of these themes in any modern romance novel you pick up:

Lainey walked self-consciously down the stairs, aware that Caleb had never seen her in anything other than an over-sized sweatshirt and jeans before.  In the clingy black dress, she felt acutely vulnerable.  As she drew closer, Caleb let out a long, low whistle.  “My God, Lainey!  I could look at you forever!”

Safe for the time being under the sheltering overhang of the cave, Rob carefully checked Karen to make sure she was okay.  Her hair was hanging lankly around her ears, her pale face was covered with mud, and her clothes were drenched and ragged.  She had never looked more beautiful to him.

Brad turned to Victoria and said, “Don’t worry, baby.  I’ll take care of the dishes for you.  You just go to bed.”

Yup — there’s the real porn.  Our romantic hero, who looks good and smells better (unlike many of Hollywood’s most famous and narcissistic stars, both male and female), thinks that, under any circumstances, our heroine is the most gorgeous thing in the world and he helps out around the house.

What’s sad is that relationship porn didn’t used to be a niche market idea.  Before the sexual revolution  hit, popular culture encouraged men to appreciate and cherish their woman.  That is no longer the case, though, which may explain why women are so happy wrapped in the loving arms of a romance novel.

A young Yale grad, Nathan Harden, has just published a new book that reveals both a symptom and a cause of the unloving culture we’ve created for young American women.  The title pretty much tells its own story:  Sex and God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.  I haven’t read Harden’s book, but he spells out the premise in a recent Daily Beast post, descriptively entitled “When Sex Isn’t Sexy: My Bizarre Education at Yale University.”  That premise is a simple, and sad, one; namely, that Yale has become one of American education’s major sex purveyors, and that the sex it sells to students has nothing to do with romance, love, and respect, and everything to do with commerce and impersonal relationships:

When the average person thinks of Yale University, sex probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Nevertheless, in recent years Yale has positioned itself as a leader in a radical new form of sex education, complete with sex toy pageants, porn star lectures, sadomasochism seminars, and fellatio demonstrations. What does any of that have to do with the mission of Yale University? That’s the question I set out to answer in my new book, Sex & God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

[snip]

Yale’s cozy relationship with corporate interests in the sex industry—including numerous major porn production companies and some of the nation’s largest sex toy companies—has been the backbone of its infamous “Sex Week at Yale” event for the past ten years. Other elite universities, including Harvard, Brown, and Northwestern, have begun holding sex-themed events modeled on the corporate-backed events at Yale. Yale’s leaders say that academic freedom requires them to allow these activities. But I think they need to learn a basic business lesson: When a company comes into a classroom to market and sell its products, that’s called advertising, not education.

Yuck.  Pardon me while I go refresh my mind by spending some time with Lainey and Caleb, or maybe Rob and Karen, or perhaps I’ll ask the imaginary Brad to help me out around the house.

UPDATE:  Somehow it seems apropos to note here that the First Lady has found herself guest editing a website that includes her fitness and lifestyle tips alongside sex advice from prostitutes.  Michelle Obama, of course, has nothing to do with sex advice; it’s just that the commercialization of sex, and its uncoupling from romance (pardon that pun) is everywhere.

UPDATE II:  As Abercrombie & Fitch is discovering, in a market glutted with sex, even sex stops selling.  Maybe they should raffle off their male models with the promise that the guys will come to the lucky winner’s house and do the dishes.

Putting sex back in the closet where it belongs

In today’s Marin IJ, there was a little squiblet asking people what they like about summer.  One 24 year old man was blunt — women in their summer clothes, he said, are what makes summer good.  By that he meant young women in almost no clothes.  He’s certainly right about the clothes.  Summer attire for girls here — nice, middle-class girls — consists of super-short shorts and tank tops.  That’s pretty much it.

Thinking about how even nice girls put all the merchandise on display, I couldn’t help but remembering JB Priestley’s book Lost Empires, which is now better remembered for the 1986 Masterpiece Theater adaptation starring a very young Colin Firth.  Colin Firth plays Richard Herncastle, a young man in pre-WWI Britain who finds himself traveling with musical hall performers.  Some are good, some are sleazy, all are rather interesting, and one is a beautiful older woman (in her late 20s or early 30s) who casts her eye on this innocent young man.

Both book and TV series are written as reminiscences by an elderly Richard Herncastle, writing in the late 1960s or early 1970s, and looking back upon his youth.  In the book, and maybe in the TV show (I simply can’t remember over a distance of so many years), Herncastle makes a point I’ve never forgotten:  His first glimpse of the older woman naked completely overwhelms him.  In those days, women’s flesh was suggested, not flaunted, and it was a magical moment to see that pearlescent skin for the very first time.  He went on to say that modern young men, reared on endless vistas of naked female flesh, have lost something special.

Although less romantic and graceful in tone, Woody Allen (the man who turned his son into his brother-in-law) made a similar point when he was still funny:  “The psychiatrist asked me if I thought sex was dirty and I said, ‘It is if you’re doing it right.’”  Up until recently, at least, part of the pleasure of sex was how intensely private Western culture made it.   Animals do it in fields.  Civilized humans start with public romance draped in mystery, and then go to an intense privacy that should, ideally, be shared only by the two people most intimately involved.

Old movies, constrained by the Hayes Code, pulsated with sexual excitement without ever going beyond chaste kisses.  Rather than seeing Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh doing a boring and embarrassing simulation of sex amongst skillfully draped blankets, with suitably hazy lighting, we got to see a nighttime shot of the manly Rhett carrying Scarlett upstairs, followed by a morning shot of a kittenish Scarlett smiling with satisfaction in her bed.  Adults got it; children, thankfully, didn’t.  Most people still remember the excitement of that scene although, by modern movie standards, nothing actually happened.

An equally romantic scene, yet one that shows nothing, occurs in the wonderful 1934 version of The Merry Widow, with Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier. The two meet at Maxim’s in Paris, and the virtuous widow leaves the amorous Danilov with the strong impression that she’s one of the light skirts who frequents Maxim’s. Some singing, a chaste kiss (by modern standards), and some flirtation that leads . . . nowhere. It’s ridiculously romantic — and, again, I think more romantic than watching some body doubles writhe obligingly under some sheets on behalf of the big named stars.

I know I’m old-fashioned, but I do think young people, especially young women, would benefit so much from a more chaste society. I’m not advocating imposed burqas (God forbid!). I am saying, though, that young people could discover that a culture of romance and respect is much more exciting than a culture of sex.

With that in mind, I’m not at all surprised that one of the hottest acts in the Western world right now is Britain’s One Direction. These young guys have figured out that if they sing songs about admiration, the girls will find them and buy their music:

Stockholm Syndrome, Victimization, and the media’s version of American men

Stockholm Syndrome:  In psychology, Stockholm Syndrome is an apparently paradoxical psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome

****

Victimization Symptoms: Victimization symptoms were proposed by Frank Ochberg as a distinct subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is not formally recognized in diagnostic systems such as DSM or ICD, and includes the following:

  • Shame: Deep embarrassment, often characterized as humiliation or mortification.
  • Self-blame: Exaggerated feelings of responsibility for the traumatic event, with guilt and remorse, despite obvious evidence of innocence.
  • Subjugation: Feeling belittled, dehumanized, lowered in dominance, and powerless as a direct result of the trauma.
  • Morbid hatred: Obsessions of vengeance and preoccupation with hurting or humiliating the perpetrator, with or without outbursts of anger or rage.
  • Paradoxical gratitude: Positive feelings toward the victimizer ranging from compassion to romantic love, including attachment but not necessarily identification. The feelings are usually experienced as ironic but profound gratitude for the gift of life from one who has demonstrated the will to kill. (Also known as pathological transference and/or Stockholm syndrome).
  • Defilement: Feeling dirty, disgusted, disgusting, tainted, “like spoiled goods,” and in extreme cases, rotten and evil.
  • Sexual inhibition: Loss of libido, reduced capacity for intimacy, more frequently associated with sexual assault.
  • Resignation: A state of broken will or despair, often associated with repetitive victimization or prolonged exploitation, with markedly diminished interest in past or future.
  • Second injury or second wound: Revictimization through participation in the criminal justice, health, mental health, and other systems.
  • Socioeconomic status downward drift: Reduction of opportunity or life-style, and increased risk of repeat criminal victimization due to psychological, social, and vocational impairment.

There’s an exciting publishing sensation out there.  It’s E.L James’s S&M trilogy, the first of which is Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy.  I haven’t read the books myself but, as best as I can tell, they are this generation’s Story of O.  As a hip young college student, I tried to read the Story of O, but I quickly got terribly bored.  All the faux sophistication in the world wasn’t going to make me like a creepy story of domination and submission.  My distaste for this genre seems to leave me in something of a minority.   The trilogy occupies the top three spots on Amazon’s bestseller list.  Women, apparently, are completely thrilled by this story of a naive young woman who enters into a submissive relationship with a tortured man who has a compulsive need to dominate women sexually:

Mr Grey, a 27-year-old billionaire, seduces young graduate, Anastasia Steele. He has a penchant for bondage and soon envelops her in a world of kinky sex, S&M and XXX-rated bedroom ‘contract’ games that make for solid post-watershed reading only. Love, inevitably, is not omitted from the romance.

Maureen Dowd, who is rather famous for holding men in disdain (or, as she asked and answered, Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide) doesn’t think much of the book’s concept and, as I do, thinks it’s an O retread.  She is willing to consider the theory, however, that this whole S&M thing isn’t really about men dominating women but is, instead, about women making men do the work in the bedroom:

The Harvard-educated [Jennifer] Hunter [a dominatrix] asserts that most women are sexually submissive — “the sexually dominant woman is that rara avis” — and scoffs at the idea that anything in the book is offensive except its overwrought prose.

“Every good dominant knows that the submissive is really the partner in control,” she says. “All a submissive woman has to do is relax and enjoy the ride while delicious sexual acts are visited upon her. She’s the star of the proceedings. Someone is ministering to her needs for a change. Master is choreographing all the action. The book seems to have resonated with so many women because, after a long day of managing employees, making all the decisions and looking after children, a woman might be exhausted about being in charge and long to surrender control.”

Think about that theory:  because women are in charge of everything all day long, and are responsible for everything, their sexual fantasy involves a man who takes charge, even if the manifestation of that willingness to take charge is to engage in bizarre, but ultimately tame, sexual games that would have left the Marquis de Sade nodding in bored approval, much like a doting parent at the kindergarten play.  Or to put it more bluntly, since men are disappointingly absent during the daytime, let’s pretend they can be “manly men” at night time.  I don’t know about you, but I find that terribly sad.  It answers Dowd’s question by saying men aren’t necessary at all, except to fulfill some freakish fantasies.

50 Shades of Grey isn’t the only pop culture phenomenon out there celebrating bizarre sexual practices that see women pretending to be the weaker sex.  Frank Bruni, with great sadness, examines a new TV show called Girls, which he sees as emblematic of the failure of women’s lib, which has resulted in a dehumanizing, dead-end, hook-up culture.  As with 50 Shades of Grey, the young woman in Girls is a prop for the man’s fantasies, with the woman’s pleasure (if any) coming from that passive prop status:

THE first time you see Lena Dunham’s character having sex in the new HBO series “Girls,” her back is to her boyfriend, who seems to regard her as an inconveniently loquacious halfway point between partner and prop, and her concern is whether she’s correctly following instructions.

“So I can just stay like this for a little while?” she asks. “Do you need me to move more?”

He needs her to intrude less. “Let’s play the quiet game,” he answers.

The second time, she’s an 11-year-old junkie with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, or so he tells her, commencing a role play in which he alone assigns the roles. He has highly specific fantasies, and she’s largely a fleshy canvas for them.

Who needs love when you can turn every relationship into a porn tableau?  Bruni is correct that this is deeply saddening.  I’m not sure, though, that I see it as a failure of women’s liberation, so much as one of its goals — but more about that in a few minutes.

Cultural critic Bill Bennett has looked at Dowd’s and Bruni’s columns and weighed in himself.  He sees this trend in pop culture as a terrible reflection on men — and he’s right, but for the wrong reason.  To Bennett, the book and show reveal a trend that has men degrading women:

Bruni goes on to grapple with Dunham’s loveless sex scenes and wonders whether today’s onslaught of pornography and easy sex has desensitized men to the point where they view women, to recall the words of an earlier day, only as objects. Even the act of sex itself is boring to some men unless it is ratcheted up in some strange, deviant fashion–all at the expense of the thoroughly humiliated and debased woman.

In the act of degrading women, men are also degrading themselves.

James Taranto explains, however, that Bennett errs at a very fundamental level in making the above comment.  You see, both 50 Shades and Girls emanate from female creative minds.  Yup, the fantasy of bored, overwhelmed women who desperately need someone else to take control in the bedroom is a female fantasy:

How does an essay about “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Girls” turn into an anti-male screed? Both are written by women for women. Dowd notes, but Bennett omits, that the real first name of author E.L. James is Erika. As for “Girls,” Bruni points out that Lena Dunham “is not only its star but also its principal writer and director.” And if it’s anything like “Sex and the City,” no heterosexual man will ever watch it except as a favor to someone of the opposite sex.

We don’t dispute Bennett’s contention that pornography is degrading to women, but it takes no courage or insight to say so. “Fifty Shades of Gray” and “Girls” sound degrading too, but Bennett seems to shy away from confronting the fact that this degradation amounts to female pornography–produced by women for the entertainment of other women. In postfeminist America, it’s so much easier and safer to scapegoat men.

Taranto is absolutely right, but he hasn’t gone far enough, while Bennett hasn’t quite figured out what’s really going on.  Post-feminist America is indeed remarkably hostile to men and these books are evidence of the fact that feminism has reduced men to mere sexual utility.  Looking back on the rhetoric of the 60s and 70s, this was one of feminism’s goals all along.  After all, who can forget Gloria Steinem’s stirring battle cry:  “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”  Feminists seem to have discovered that this is true in every area of life (work, child rearing, socializing, etc.), except in the bedroom, where an archaic amalgam of heterosexual urges and sheer exhaustion make a faux manly man an object of desire.

Both Bennett and Taranto, however, have pulled back from noting one important thing:  today’s media men — the film producers, TV producers, publishers, etc. — are entirely complicit in this trend of degradation, a trend that not only turns women into sex objects, but turns men into ciphers, useful only in a utilitarian way once the bedroom door closes.  Women may be roaring all over, but you cannot get these films and TV shows made, or these books published, without male participation, participation that is often very enthusiastic.

Take a film such as The Help, which was a Hollywood big deal.  Although it’s based upon a book that a woman, Kathryn Stockett, wrote, the movie is a male production.  A man — Tate Taylor — both wrote the script and directed the move.  And it is not a nice movie when it comes to men.  For one thing, the men are mostly missing in action. When they do appear, with two minor exceptions, the men in The Help are cowards, wife beaters, and racists.  The two exceptions are a paper cut-out black preacher man whose sole role is to give a brief sermon about Moses, and a white man who is on the screen for about two minutes and who is not racist.  And that’s it.  That’s Hollywood’s most recent approach to men in the Jim Crow South.

The Help is not anomalous.  Men do not fare well in media land.  They’re buffoonish, violent, and often invisible.  Women and girls routinely teach them lessons in order to make them more sensitive.  And invariably, the men are complicit in this.  Male actors, male producers, male directors, and male whatever other else they are in Hollywood willing produce widely broadcast materials that make America men look just awful.  It’s the rare production that celebrates manly virtues.

Hollywood’s men are not interested in providing affirmative role models for America’s boys and young men.  Instead like sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome or Victimization Syndrome, they gleefully join in with their intellectual captors in denigrating and demeaning men.  This is a tragedy when it comes to the men who have already given themselves over to their feminist captors and a national disaster when you imagine the second generation of young men raised to hate themselves.

Moderating the sexual revolution

Yesterday, I riffed on James Taranto’s post regarding whether the sexual revolution bell can be un-rung.  I don’t think we can go back to the way things were before — time does, after all, run forward, not backwards — but I do think we are still in a position to moderate its worst excesses.  With that in mind, I looked to the way the staid, even repressive, Victorian era followed upon, and was a reaction to the licentious rapacity of the Georgian period.

Taranto provided more food for thought, because he published an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who spoke not only about ObamaCare but also about the sexual revolution.  I think Dolan’s thoughts are a nice complement to my ideas about re-elevating sexual morality to a public virtue (emphasis mine):

What about the argument that vast numbers of Catholics ignore the church’s teachings about sexuality? Doesn’t the church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? “Do we ever!” the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. “I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie.”

For this he faults the church leadership. “We have gotten gun-shy . . . in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.” He dates this diffidence to “the mid- and late ’60s, when the whole world seemed to be caving in, and where Catholics in general got the impression that what the Second Vatican Council taught, first and foremost, is that we should be chums with the world, and that the best thing the church can do is become more and more like everybody else.”

The “flash point,” the archbishop says, was “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reasserting the church’s teachings on sex, marriage and reproduction, including its opposition to artificial contraception. It “brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the church, that I think most of us—and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself—kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’ We forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.”

Without my having raised the subject, he adds that the church’s sex-abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do. . . . After what some priests and some bishops, albeit a tiny minority, have done, how will I have any credibility in speaking on that?’”

Yet the archbishop says he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative church voice on sexuality. “They will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it. . . . But we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us.’”

That hunger is the beginning of the Victorian revival.

Putting the sexual revolution genie back in the bottle — it can be done

James Taranto says that the Left has ceased to be a revolutionary movement.  Instead, it is a monolithic institution that spends its time trying to preserve the changes it has already wrought in society.  The two big changes Taranto mentions are the New Deal of the 1930s and 1940s, and the sexual revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.  With regard to the latter, he points to Ann Patchett’s defense of the modern sexual status quo in America.  Patchett contends that a revolution, once done, cannot be undone.  Says Patchett:

Here’s the thing about revolutions–there is no taking them back. . . . If you feel that the sexual revolution destroyed the American family by giving women power over their reproductive choices, and that power turned daughters and wives, by and large, into a bunch of wanton hussies, well, stew over your feelings all you want, but you might as well give up thinking that it is possible to herd us up and drive us back into the kitchen. . . .

For those who remain bitter about the revolution and wish it had never happened, join hands with the likes of me, who see the rights and freedoms of women as the only possible outcome for a thinking society.

Taranto points out the obvious fallacy in Patchett’s rather naive belief that you cannot put the genie back in the bottle (or, more prosaically, reverse historic trends):

The presumption that history inevitably moves in one ideological direction is reminiscent of Marx, just as the determination to defend decades-old revolutionary gains echoes the Brezhnev doctrine.

In one sense, of course, Patchett is right. Time moves only in one direction, and events that have happened cannot unhappen. The consequences of the sexual revolution will always be with us, just as the consequences of the Russian Revolution still are. But just as in the Soviet Union, that does not preclude the possibility of some sort of counterrevolution. The intellectual frailty of today’s defenses of the sexual revolution is one reason we think a sexual counterrevolution may be in the offing in the coming decades.

Apropos the sexual revolution, and the fact that sexual mores are anything but irrevocable, think about this:  The Victorian era, one of the most sexually staid periods in modern Western history, followed swiftly upon the heels of the extraordinary licentiousness that characterized the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  (For more on that pre-Victorian sexual revolution, check out The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution, by Faramerz Dabhiowala. I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know if I’ll agree with its ultimate conclusions, but I do know that it provides detailed evidence about the social debauchery that existed side-by-side with Jane Austen’s refined world.)

It was no coincidence that the restrained Victorians immediately followed the Georgian rakes.  The Victorian era was a direct response to the social decay and upheaval of that earlier sexual revolution.  It was, to use Taranto’s word, a Counter-Revolution, one that took place, not in the streets, but in drawing rooms, parlors, and bedrooms.  As much as anything, a social revolution can result from a sense of repugnance.  Society may feel that it has reached a point of almost no return, and withdraw, much as a snail does when it senses a killing amount of salt in its environment.

I do not believe that our society will revert to barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, just as the Victorians didn’t revert to wimples and witch-burning.  I do believe, however, that an increasing number of American people feel that they are staring into a moral abyss, and that they need to draw back before they (and their children) are pitched into the darkness below.

What’s in a name — or yet another reason Sandra Fluke bothers me

A fluke is a one time thing, a bizarre coming together of circumstances that cannot be relied upon to occur on a regular basis.  We’ll hope that Sandra Fluke falls into this category, because she’s been a headache.  (Although, I suspect, for many outside of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, her arguments, and the defenses the MSM offers on her behalf, have been enlightening to say the least.)

I realized this morning that Fluke’s name is even more apt than being a reminder that she represents a peculiar moment in history.  This gal is advancing a form of parasitism — she wants to live off of insurance companies.  She doesn’t just want insurance for the actual flukes in her life — the unexpected moments that are impossible to plan — but, instead, wants permanent lifestyle maintenance from a third party.

Sandra Fluke, may I introduce you to the Liver Fluke, another parasite?

Are these names a coincidence?  I think not.

By the way, you might have noticed that I don’t often link to Mark Steyn anymore.  It’s not because he is less brilliant than he used to be.  He’s just as brilliant as ever.  It’s just that his articles really depress me.  Today, however, his article was so brilliant on the flukiness of American politics that I got past my depression, and really have to share it with you:

As I said, I’m on the other side of the planet, so maybe I’m not getting this. But I’d say the core issue here is not religious liberty — which in these Godless times the careless swing voter now understands as a code phrase meaning that uptight Republicans who can’t get any action want to stop you getting any, too.

Nor is the core issue liberty in its more basic sense — although it would certainly surprise America’s founders that their republic of limited government is now the first nation in the developed world to compel private employers to fully fund the sex lives of their employees.

Nor is it even the distinctively American wrinkle the Republic of Paperwork has given to governmentalized health care, under which the “right to privacy” the Supreme Court claimed to have discovered in Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade will now lead to thousands and thousands of self-insuring employers keeping computer records of the morning-after pills and herpes medication racked up by Miss Jones on reception.

Read the rest here.

Please, please, please let Gloria Allred be successful in convincing Florida to mount a criminal prosecution against Rush Limbaugh

Gloria Allred is demanding that Rush face criminal prosecution for calling Sandra Fluke a slut:

In a letter dated March 8, Allred, writing on behalf of the Women’s Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund, requested that Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe probe whether the conservative radio personality had violated Section 836.04 of the Florida Statutes by calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke the two derogatory words.

The statute stipulates that anyone who “speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity” is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. Allred explained that the statute recently came to her attention as having never been repealed, and that it could very well apply to Limbaugh’s remarks as his show is broadcast from West Palm Beach.

When I read that, my first thought was, “Please, please, please, make it so!”  Can you think of anything more wonderful than having Fluke in court defending her sex life?

Think of it:  the legal standard is that the prosecutor, in order to win, must first show that Fluke was sufficiently chaste that someone could be convicted for wrongly accusing her of not being chaste.  Keep in mind that Fluke gives no appearance that she is a blushing virgin.  Rather, she is a 30 year old activist who insists that taxpayers and the Catholic Church fund her sex life.

Any trial of this matter will be a circus, and any circus can only benefit both Rush and the conservative point of view.  It’s already wonderful enough that Allred is making this hysterical claim, but the icing on the cake, the gilding on the lily, the cream in the coffee, would be a criminal action.

But . . . but . . . there’s a caveat.  If the Florida prosecutor goes after Rush, he also has to promise to go after Maher.  That one, at least, should be an easy case to make:

Molock rising

Long ago, in ancient Phoenicia, arose a religion reviled in Biblical as well as in Greek and Roman lore, that worshiped a deity most commonly known as Molock, Moloch or Moleck. To this deity, parents sacrificed their infant children by cremating them alive in the bronze hands of a bull-shaped statue of the deity (the golden calf all grown up?).

The religion generated revulsion among the Jews, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and other Mediterranean peoples of that ancient time. In Judaic and Biblical lore, Molock was associated with demonology and Satan’s reign. The Romans purportedly destroyed the last vestiges of this religion in the rubble of Carthage, destroying and scattering every structure down to the last brick, so that it could never ever spring back anew. However, this rationalization for infanticide, just published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, makes me wonder if  Molock isn’t stirring anew in the ebb-tide of the Judeo-Christian West.

http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/02/22/medethics-2011-100411.abstract

In my lifetime, I have been witness to the normalization of promiscuous sex, throw-away children, abortion, partial birth abortion, euthanasia, and now, the open rationalization of infanticide should parents change their mind about a living baby. This is the end game of secular humanism, where there is nothing more transcendent about human beings than simple utilitarian sacks of meat. It was observed by G.K. Chesterton that when cultures (or cults) begin to kill their weakest members, their old and their children, such cultures are in the final stage of collapse.

I came to my Christianity relatively late in life. My faith in my faith is absolute. The existence and/or nature of a force for evil in the world, however, has been a more difficult concept to grasp, as there are so many other ways to rationalize evil behavior – e.g., bad upbringing, mean parents, schoolyard bullying, chemical imbalances, mental illness, hubris, etc. Now, though, I am coming to the conclusion that evil is a palpably real force in the world. Either that, or a violently real, contagious, psychic virus!

Ann Coulter’s most recent book, “Demonic”, relates the proclivity of the secular Left (Democrats) for mob violence and bloodshed, tracing its bloody trail from the French Revolution through the Nazi and Communist abominations of the 20th Century, to the social-justice proclaiming Liberal/Left movements of today (oh, heck, let’s throw in the Marxist Jim Jones Cult for good measure). The violence that our society increasingly wreaks on our weakest members is all part of the same disease and I fear that it is going to get much, much worse.

For me, it’s simple: babies are for loving, not killing — I know, I know…others disagree! The publication of such an article under the guise of “medical ethics” tells me that something truly wicked this way comes. Today, the secular Left may feign indignation at the thought that their revolution will ultimately involve killing those that do not fit their Utopian ideals, but we can see how easily they are getting comfortable with the concept over time. It will be what it will be. I hope that I don’t live to see it. But, as the New Age of Molock establishes itself, I certainly will resist it to the end. I know that you will, too.

 

*** UPDATE

And, now, in support of the Secular Humanist view of human kind as utilitarian pieces of meat, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shares her policy perspective that abortion and contraception means fewer babies, ergo fewer government expenditures. Human reproduction becomes a simple government-mandated budget line item.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/sebelius-decrease-human-beings-will-cover-cost-contraception-mandate

One would have to be a total fool not to recognize that this is Government asserting its sovereignty over reproductive rights and life and death decisions.