Cornelius Walker wants us to stop treating women’s bodies and sex as something to be bartered for political gain.
What is going on in the comments on Joanna’s post Would You Fall For A Sex Strike? When I first heard of this strike, I immediately put it into the “gimmick” bin in my mental filing cabinet. Also filed there is the story of the pastor who spent 24 hours with his wife in bed, on the roof of his church, and every other “story” about sex that turns out to be a sell-job.
For some reason — typical mind fallacy? — I thought other commenters would see the absurdity in the proposal, nodding their heads in agreement that the entire stunt is premised on gender role essentialism and an allusion to Aristophanes’s play.
Boy was I wrong.
First, let’s all just agree that Rick Santorum is not going to be president. However “on fire” evangelicals are about him, campaigning for an interventionist military and against sex and college is not the way to win the youth vote. Why are we taking his assault against contraception seriously? Didn’t Monty Python, author the definitive sendup of this idea, do this nearly thirty years ago?
It saddens me that these issues have fallen prey to the same old stereotypes I thought we were working against. First is the idea that men are ruled by their lust, and women should play their strongest hand against them: access to their genitals. Instead of rejecting that narrative, some apparently have embraced it, suggesting that their wives and girlfriends were fungible commodities, ready to be swapped at the drop of a dime should they ever pull such a stunt. And then there are women who support this idea that the quickest way to a man’s brain is through his penis.
Next we have the idea that it’s only conservative men who take this anti-contraception stance. There’s an old joke that I think applies here:
Jews don’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God.
Protestants don’t recognize the Pope as head of the Church.
Baptists don’t recognize each other in a liquor store.
If you’ve ever driven through the Bible Belt you’ll notice two things. One, there’s a heck of a lot of churches. Small, ramshackle churches, churches in homes, churches in strip malls, gigantic stadium-sized churches. The other thing you’ll notice is that not far from those churches you’ll often find just as many liquor and sex stores. Location, location, location.
It’s not just men supporting this type of legislation, it’s women too. It’s not only conservatives, even though the evangelicals behind this legislation usually vote Republican. Women are not in lockstep agreement when it comes to the proper care of the female reproductive system. Both men and women have signed on to the legislation in Texas, in Virginia, in Arizona, and twenty other states. Men and women who are using or have used contraception. This entire issue is shot through with hypocrisy.
The irony of the reference to Lysistrata is that everyone knows the gimmick — women denying sex to their men to stop a war — but no one seems to know the play. In it the women are the ones who are considered hedonistic and driven by their passions. It is the women who need to be policed so as not to break the strike. The very premise of the play contradicts our current assumption of women as prudes and men as being ruled by their burdens, even as we rely on its setup.
As someone who has genitals, I don’t understand why anyone else cares how often I use them, in what manner, and with whom. (Except for my wife, that is, I’m sure she cares an awful lot.) If everyone is consenting — and old enough to consent — that’s good enough for me. Perhaps I am falling to the typical mind fallacy again, but I think this is because how you use your genitals never crosses my mind. Ever. Unless you’re a potential sex partner, I’m just not that interested in them.
Can’t we just stop? Stop trying to police each other’s sex lives. Stop trying to enforce on others a morality we don’t even follow ourselves. Stop portraying sex — procreational, recreational and otherwise — as something shameful or sinful, something to be bartered, something to be withheld. And if I might send Rick Santorum a personal message: If Jesus is truly concerned about whether I’m making enough babies or what position I like, I trust He’ll let me know. And I’m fairly certain it won’t be you that he chooses to send the message.
Photo by iamtheo