Saturday, December 13, 2003

Naomi Wolfe on Sex (and other items of interest)

Speaking of Touchstone, I went there the other day following a link from Ponker (sorry) Poncer (sorry) Video meliora..(okay, forget that) - a link, I repeat, provided by the wry and witty (go find out for yourself; I don't have time to provide evidence) TS O'Rama, which landed me at last on "The Porn Myth," by Naomi Wolfe, who takes one more look at that under-discussed subject, sex. It is a subject oceanic in breadth, and our culture is drowning in it. I was impressed by Ms. Wolfe's exceedingly shallow treatment of it. Her subtitle says: "In the end, porn doesn’t whet men’s appetites—it turns them off the real thing." She thinks it deadens their libido. Is she trying to tell me there is less fornication going on now as opposed to twenty or thirty years ago? Because if she is I don't believe it. If men spend a lot of time watching pornographic videos, it's not a sign of reduced libido but of displacing that libido's attention to another object. Naomi certainly thinks that other object is a female porn star with whose adventurousness and good looks the average woman cannot compete. But I think that other object is one's own self, for porn watching is nothing more than a masturbatory exercise in self-love, which exercise in self-loving was in former years sometimes accompanied by an aftertaste of self-loathing, but we seem to have gotten rid of that, like the young fellow at the end who says, "Mystery?..."I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sex has no mystery.” Of course it doesn't, moron, people do, and sex belongs to people. We see in this young man the contraceptive mentality having mastered its subject; a creation of the mind, the monster now enslaves its creator.

Truthfully, this article conveys little more than Ms. Wolfe's dismay that these young men and women aren't bonking each other more often rather than watching someone else do it. Shockingly, the word "chastity" never appears. She does tell the story of an old friend now an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem who has become demure in garb and habit. She keeps her hair covered. Only her husband ever sees it. In the woman's bedroom, Naomi can feel the "erotic intensity" that this modesty incurs. "She must feel so hot," Naomi thinks. She mentions "many more traditional cultures" (without naming them, or considering the dominance men exercise over women in these cultures) that discourage the viewing of pornography by their men because they know it tears apart the erotic bond vital to a lasting marriage. If she's trying to lead us to an acceptance of periodic chastity within marriage as the moral path to sexual and spiritual nirvana, why doesn't she just say so?

I am skeptical that this is her mission because of lines like this (which I rather enjoyed): "When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman...If there was nothing actively alarming about you, you could get a pretty enthusiastic response by just showing up." Yeah, that's how it was. Most of the girls I knew liked to talk about how "cool" it was to offer themselves naked and willing...What world were you living in? And where were you when I needed you, back in those pre-Christian days when I had a ready-made excuse to do whatever I wanted? And one more thing, Naomi: how do you know this stuff? What kind of research was involved?

I do, however, owe her a debt of gratitude for finding the Old Testament a convenient and quotable resource, the substance relating to a recent post in which I made an assertion about an enduring physical and psychological need peculiar to all men, to wit...well, let the Good Book speak for itself: "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times." At all times. There. Case closed. It's in the Bible. She doesn't say, but it must have come from the Book of Wisdom.

While we're on the subject of sex, TSO tells us that he's trying to "'de-paganize' spam, by bringing out any innate but unseen beauty that might lurk within." He at least partially succeeds by penning one of his clever poems. But it served to remind me of the viagara spam that's been appearing in my comments boxes. It's always signed with a phony name, like Dick Manley, the visitor even leaving a comment, some empty vagueness like "keep up the good work," and the URL supposedly pointing to a source of discounted viagara. When the first comment showed up, I ignored the sophomoric wordplay and responded, "How did you find out how old I was?" The second time kind of got my ire up and I said, "I don't need it...yet. When I do I'll let you know." The third time my vanity got the better of me and I yelled: "What do I look like? Robert Disgusting Dole? I'll never need it! Got that? Never!" But they don't respond, just keep dropping comments. I'm beginning to suspect that the marketing mind behind Lust for Sale isn't a mind at all, just a disinterested demon, a 'ghost in the machine.'

Whatever it is, it's everywhere. A few nights ago I walked my daughter out to her room, kissed her goodnight, noticed that her computer screen was on and asked if she was going online. No, she said, too tired. So I went inside and got online and seconds later the door creaks open and there she is on my buddy list. I fired off an instant message: "Liar liar pants on fire." "Hah," she responded. "I just wanted to check my email and see if I got any viagara ads."

Yeah, I said, I get those too. (There we were, in separate buildings but a mere 50 paces from each other and sending IM's.) "Well," she said, "if you ever do get it, Don't tell me." I love that kid. I don't know how much she really knows, but she knows what she doesn't want to know.

Continuing with the sex theme, I created a bit of a false alarm by referring to the "dark side of homeschooling mommies." I found the words on my Sitemeter referral pages, a search engine their place of origin. But why Apologia? I'm not a homeschooling mommy and I have no dark side. (Shutup). So I googled them and found...nothing. My page was there - due to some long ago, perfectly innocuous remark - the Two Sleepy Mommies, the Summamamas, and even Jeff Culbreath when he was still a spot on Blogger. There just wasn't any dirt on you guys. Sorry, you make poor fodder for fantasy. I had wanted to warn you to be on your best behavior but...never mind.
Not to leave this subject too soon, I've been perusing Micki's (alias Smockmomma's) homepage at AOL. Perhaps it has more to do with relations between the sexes than sex itself, but I got kind of turned on while reading it. Click on her 'goodwife' page and you'll find a list of requirements for becoming one. Jeff Culbreath thinks his own beloved is already perfection, but I think he ought to read the list. Here's a small sample:

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before...Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night...
Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes...
Does this come with a footrub?

Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity...Remember, he is master of the house...

And, just in case Naomi Wolfe is listening (for I doubt that in her obsessive quest for sexual harmony this is quite what she envisions): A good wife always knows her place.

Now, I don't know if this is offered tongue-in-cheek or in deadly earnest but...I don't care. I'm in love.

Smockmomma is also the originator of the official Apologia groupie site, whose list of adherents is burgeoning at... a record slow pace. But it was nice to see Kathryn Lively on board, a surprise for which I'm grateful. Others (many others) are welcome. Remember, you get to leave a free link to your own website, so if you can't act out of love, do it out of self-interest.

Finally, in penance for all this talk of self and sex, we return to TS O'Rama (he's a regular goldmine, isn't he? I'm sucking up trying to get into his Spanning the Globe post) to find this excerpt of a letter from Fr. Benedict Groeschel to the editors of First Things concerning the matter of who gets into heaven. It concludes: Is it in totally bad taste to suggest that we might consider, partly on the basis of St. Faustina’s revelation, that there may be a final divine call to conversion at the hour of death? Could this be the meaning of the promise of salvation given to the good thief on his cross? He did not walk in the straight way or enter by the narrow gate, but we have it on the highest authority that he is not to be counted among the population of hell.

I like this Groeschel guy. As I wrote to the blogger, I've been looking for a way to sneak in, and maybe now I've found it, for I often feel like that thief. I just wish it would work without a cross.


Ohhhhhhhmyyygooooodness. Just this morning in MamaT's Bible Study (of St. James; today's topic: Faith That Works) we were asked if we'd ever felt like a hypocrite for telling someone what we believe. We also discussed the problem of believing something in the *heart* but never quite getting it to the *hands*. Gulp.
Posted by smockmomma email at December 14, 2003 01:39 PM

"I cannot tell a lie, Paw; I cannot tell a lie." The article is, of course, posted tongue in cheek. I've tried in vain to find the "original article" forwarded to me by a friend, but I cannot. It is one of those writings that plagues both sides of a person -- in this instance, a woman. On one hand you have a set of instructions that would, on first reading, make any red blooded American woman under, let's say, thirty-five want to crawl right out of her skin. On the other hand, that same woman can't read it without thinking "there's probably something to this." I keep it posted because it's important to have goals.
Posted by smockmomma email at December 14, 2003 02:26 PM

Chuckled at your line asking where the Naomi's of the world were when you were young. Ditto. Women seemed to be better gatekeepers back then, at least in southwestern Ohio. I'm thinking Naomi was a Haight-Asbury gal.
Funny, there was an article I just saw here that describes how young guys are now going for Viagra. From the article: "Sex therapists say a number of things could be contributing to the use of the drugs by otherwise healthy young men. Exposure to pornography, some speculated, has desensitized some men to less extreme sexual stimuli."
I think it was the Marquis De Sade who suggested that desensitization to sexual stimuli eventually leads to sadism to achieve those ends... E. Michael Jones agrees in his book on horror.
Thanks for the kind words! I've been thinking of "el camino realin'" it by posting less frequently, at least during the rest of Advent. But I can always haunt the occasional comment box.
Smockmomma is adding me posthaste to your list. I see you feel the way I do - like the thief looking for a way to sneak in, if possible without a cross. That sort of honesty you don't find everywhere. :) But my favorite Luseian line may well be "delusions of grandeur keep me going". Hi-laire.
Posted by tso email at December 14, 2003 04:47 PM

I had a feeling, Micki, you were too irrepressible to follow those guidelines to the letter.TSO - the Marquis, being a pervert, needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but he was certainly right at least for some people. The young guys (in my opinion) are going after viagara not because they suffer a lack of libido, but because they want more of it. It's true that anticipation and sensation are heightened by continence, but libido is a measure of one's desire for the sensation apart from love. If lust legitimizes the act, then pursuit of ever more extreme forms of gratification might occur whether one indulges the urge daily or not. In other words, I think someone might indulge sexual sin on a frequent basis without graduating to sadism. To do that, he needs first (like the Marquis) to be missing that moral framework that Naomi Wolfe never gives us. She wants people to discipline themselves but can't give them a moral reason to do so, just a practical one. She's doomed to re-tilling the same field over and over. I'll go read that article and you try not to be too sparing with the frequency of your posts.
Posted by William Luse email at December 14, 2003 06:36 PM

Please add me to the Bill's Groupie fan club. I'd join myself, but I can't access Blogspot sites at the present time (it's a lo-o-ong story).
Incidentally the verse about the wife's breasts comes from Proverbs 5:18-19. The word "exhiliarated" in v. 19 can also be translated "intoxicated."
Another noteworthy verse: Song of Songs 7: 7-10.
Note that these verses are about the MARRIAGE BED: Proverbs 5, 6, and 7 have plenty to say about the dangers of dallying with the adulteress:
Prov. 5: 3-14;
Prov. 6: 20-35;
Prov. 7: 6-27.
Posted by KTC email at December 14, 2003 07:59 PM

KTC, try clicking on the link in my post. Micki's page is at AOL Hometown, not blogspot.All I've got say about Proverbs is that it's full of Wisdom. Exhilarated, intoxicated, they both work for me. As to your other links, Naomi may have read them but she strikes me as the type who likes to pick and choose.
Posted by William Luse email at December 14, 2003 08:16 PM

Naomi's not all bad. In the 80s she wrote a runaway bestseller called The Beauty Myth. (She, BTW, was quite a looker in her day--not that that's important, but it's not as though she was some chip-on-her-shoulder, stereotypical "feminist-because-she-was-too-ugly-to-get-a-man").
The idea of the book is that the beauty industry has gotten huge and ludicrous. She pointed out that the face and body for women have become, literally, idols. Look at the reverence depicted in department store cosmetics ads--the ones with, say, Isabella Rossellini or airbrushed Liz Hurley. Goddesses. The sales clerk at the counter is like the priestess performing the rite of beautification in just the proper sequence.
Or, if the religion image isn't your thing, look at the sales clerk's WHITE LAB COAT! "Liposomes"--"Collagen"--"Retinol A"--It's not face-paint, it's SCIENCE!
Same thing at Jenny Craig: she's not a fitness nag, she's a WEIGHT CONSULTANT IN A WHITE LAB COAT! It's TECHNOLOGY!
Said Naomi, "It's BULLSH**!"
Posted by KTC email at December 14, 2003 08:32 PM

Bill and Micki--
AOL is blocked on my computer, too--this time to prevent my kids from Instant Messaging with AOL. Somehow blocking AOL also messed up my Netscape mail account, so now I use as my everyday mail address.
At any rate, now would be a great time for everyone I admire to make that move to Movable Type!
Posted by KTC email at December 14, 2003 08:36 PM

KTC - I'm there (moveable type). I also had a link to the Naomi Wolfe article, but TSO has more readers than I do, I think. I came out from radical feminism of the 60s variety to my current orthodox catholicism. Naomi Wolfe has this talent for heresy - in that she gets a bit of the truth (and often an important bit) - and then goes totally elsewhere with it. Orthodox feminists also consider her a 'heretic', BTW. She actually has had the gall to question the very basis of the 'sexual revolution' as being exploitive of women, and also to question whether contraception was actually liberating or enslaving - and then of course she goes totally off track. But I do find reading her to be intellectually stimulating. Bill - I think that Viagra (R) use is on the upswing precisely because so many women are using the contraceptive Pill. These women often have little or no libido (it is one of the big complaints I have heard over the years) but they are also not willing to quit taking the Pill just so they can be interested again. So their partners (often not husbands) are faced with an unwilling or grudging acquiescence, and I think you can see what that does to a guy's ability - but the desire is still there (or he is conditioned to think that he should be having 'it' on a regular schedule) and you have an epidemic of bedroom problems.The cure is not Viagra - it is healthy marriages with good communications and the removal of artificial barriers to sexual communications between husband and wife. The cure is not unlimited intercourse, it is sexual communication that is relationship focused, open to life, and willing to wait until the time is right. If we could only take back sexuality from the gutter rats.......
Posted by alicia email at December 14, 2003 09:25 PM

That birth control pill angle is interesting. It dulls her desire, and he either has to put up with it or...go somewhere else. So instead of being part of good "family planning," it's the engine of family destruction.
Posted by William Luse email at December 15, 2003 02:22 AM

Regarding Alicia's comments, I understand that a woman's sexual desire peaks during ovulation, precisely the time you can't have intercourse if you are following NFP. Not that that's a reason not to practice NFP, just another reason to have large families, eh!
Posted by tso email at December 15, 2003 09:42 AM

Attention Apologia groupies: The Smockmomma has an important announcement!
Posted by PeonyMoss email at December 15, 2003 03:13 PM

well actually her announcement is here. Sorry smockmomma!
Posted by PeonyMoss email at December 15, 2003 03:14 PM

now, re: the "little blue pill", isn't its effect not on the man's desire, but rather on his ability to act on it?
Posted by PeonyMoss email at December 15, 2003 03:18 PM

Peony, Umm..I wouldn't know. As I said, I've never tried it and I don't need it. Yet.
But if those young men are taking for the reason you say, there's a whole other problem out there.
Posted by William Luse email at December 15, 2003 04:12 PM

Peony, I just clicked on that Smockmomma link. Is it for real? I mean, I'm speechless. Speak to me. oh. my. God.
Posted by William Luse email at December 15, 2003 04:39 PM

it is for real! Heed thou the admonition on the green banner at the top of the page!
Posted by PeonyMoss email at December 15, 2003 05:22 PM

(the one about shipping)
Posted by PeonyMoss email at December 15, 2003 05:22 PM

Oh. My. God. What is it with women?
Posted by William Luse email at December 15, 2003 05:27 PM

women are special, that's what! BTW - Viagra acts to increase blood flow to the critical area at the necessary time - it will not be helpful unless there is a level of desire - but the way it is abused is to allow repeated actions way beyond the natural ability. Also, the docs I used to work with in OR refused to prescribe it after a couple of men had heart attacks (one near fatal) from increased blood pressure after Viagra usage. The internal medicine docs I work with now do prescribe it on occasion, but the drug company samples have to be kept under double lock - they were disappearing for a while and I was told they have a significant street value. sad commentary on our society, no?
Posted by alicia email at December 15, 2003 09:42 PM

Sad and scary. Always wondered how they targeted the blood flow to a particular area. The heart attacks tell me that maybe they can't.Yes, women are special.
Posted by William Luse email at December 16, 2003 12:34 AM

Those guys must have been trying to plan the circumstances of their own demise--they didn't want mourners at their funerals to say, "Poor Fred," but rather, "WHAT A WAY TO GO!"
Posted by KTC email at December 16, 2003 07:37 AM

Posted by William Luse email at December 16, 2003 08:47 PM

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