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No, Ma’am

Posted by V the K at 12:38 pm - January 2, 2014.
Filed under: Sex Difference

Men are not women.

Let that sink in, because there are a lot of feminists and Pajamaboy Gamma Males that don’t get that. One of them is Lisa Wade of Salon. (Ms Wade is also a is a professor of sociology at Occidental College, the institution of higher learning that Barack Obama may have attended, although there is no available public documentation to confirm it). Ms Wade thinks men need to have more friends that they can share their feelers with, because men will be happier if they act like women, so goes what passes for feminist logic.

Bill McMorris at The Federalist disagrees.

“To be close friends, men need to be willing to confess their insecurities, be kind to others, have empathy and sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest,” Wade says.

Bill Cosby addressed this very issue in his Thanksgiving Comedy Central special this year. His car broke down at 2:45 a.m. while returning home from a trip. He called two people: his friiieeend Ed and his wife. Mrs. Cosby shared her insecurities about Mr. Cosby’s substandard auto maintenance. Ed hopped in his car.

Wade laments that men talk about things, rather than feelings. But it’s not just talk—we do things for one another. Men don’t demonstrate the strength of their bond by saying, “I consider you an intimate friend,” though that may be enough for women. They hop in their cars. The act itself is the expression of friendship, just as the salute conveys respect of rank in the military without verbal confirmation that a superior officer is present.

It doesn’t occur to Ms. Wade that men don’t form friendships so we can bond emotionally with each other, men form friendships so we can do things together … hunt, fish, build catapults, game, play hockey … and we bond over that. We don’t bond over crying about how our women don’t understand us.

I had a girlfriend in college who chastised me because when she came to me with her problems, I actually wanted to fix them, when all she really wanted was for me to commisserate with her. Like most men, I’m just not wired that way. I want problems to be fixed so I don’t have to deal with them any more, and just talking about how I “feel” about them doesn’t accomplish that.

Long story short: Men don’t need to be more like women, we need to be more like men.

(more…)

Does Pat Robertson understand what marriage is for?

Just caught Erin Burnett on CNN talking about something I had noticed earlier today as trending on Yahoo!

Screen shot 2013-05-16 at 6.45.32 PM

Yup, that’s right, number one above.* On his “700 Club” television show yesterday, his co-host Kristi Watts read a letter from a woman having trouble forgiving a cheating husband. Watts called infidelity “one of the ultimate betrayals“, but Robertson said the woman should “stop talking about the cheating.” After asking some good questions which get at the heart of what it means to be good husband, he otherwise seems to miss the point, dismissing the problem of infidelity — and failing to understand the full meaning of marriage, particularly the marital vows:

He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man, okay, so, what you do is begin to focus on why you married him in the first place, on what he does good.

. . . .

But recognize also, like it or not, males have a tendency to wander a little bit. And what you want to do is make the home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander. But, think of the temptations that are out there. The Internet is filled with pornography. Magazines are filled with pictures, salacious pictures of women. Anywhere you turn around, there is some solicitation to the sense to entice a man. And so what you have to do is say, “My husband was captured and I want to get him free.”

Yes, Mr. Robertson is right; males do have a tendency to wander, but marriage vows exist to restrain that tendency, to remind a man that he has, to borrow a term many social conservatives like, made a covenant with a woman, forging a bond more important that the momentary gratification a dalliance with another women might offer.

What this man did was wrong and to earn forgiveness, he should first admit that.

Marriage has evolved for a great many reasons, one of them to control that tendency to wander.  Mr. Robertson should have said as much.  He should have said that what the cheating husband did was wrong — and criticized him for violating his vows.  And for causing pain to a woman to whom he had sworn fidelity. (more…)

Falling birthrates

Why do some nations’ birthrates fall? And can Big Government boost them?

[Germany] spends some €200 billion ($270 billion) on promoting children and families per year…But its birth rate, at 1.39 births per woman aged 15 to 49, remains among the lowest in Europe…

…The web of benefits is so complex that even experts don’t fully grasp it: There’s a “child supplement,” “parental benefit,” an “allowance for single parents,” a “married person’s supplement,” a “sibling bonus,” “orphan money” and “child education supplement,” not to forget the “child education supplementary supplement.”

The article suggests that the reason that German women don’t have kids is because the government isn’t funding enough daycare and preschools to make it easy for them.

I have a different theory. My guess is that birthrates fall:

  1. because living standards rise. (Kids stop being a help on the farm; start being expensive.)
  2. and because the Welfare State gives people the illusion that government will take care of them in old age.

My second point would mean that Big Government measures won’t, over time and on average, raise a nation’s birthrates. The more the State does – the more it hands out benefits and asserts its dominance in citizens’ lives – the less urgent its citizens will feel about procreating. Agree/disagree?

Profiling mass shooters

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 12:25 pm - January 31, 2013.
Filed under: Second Amendment,Sex Difference

Via Andy at Ace and Wired, comes this report from DHS (New Jersey branch) on the commonalities of mass shooters. A few key ones:

  • Male between the ages of 17 and 48. (Fits with Dan’s earlier post.)
  • Usually no prior military service. (Goes against a stereotype favored by some on the Left, of the rampaging psycho ex-soldier.)
  • Usually acts alone. (Columbine was an exception.)
  • Usually uses a semi-automatic handgun. (So, the banning of so-called “assault rifles” would accomplish… ?)
  • Usually “no pattern or method to the selection of victims.”
  • But, nearly half of the shootings (13 of 29) were at a workplace and done by an employee or ex-employee. Warning signs would be a sudden increase in the employee’s: absenteeism, drug/alcohol use, poor hygiene, depression, withdrawal, resistance to change, mood swings, angry outbursts, suicidal comments, comments about “putting things in order”, comments about problems at home, comments empathizing with previous mass shooters and other criminals.

The shooters include whites and non-whites (I did not see any obvious racial pattern).

The report states that “Most of the active shooters took their own lives or were shot by responding police officers.” But it also indicates that it takes 10-15 minutes, typically, for police to get there; during which time people are sitting ducks.

The report is not useful for drawing conclusions about the role of armed civilians. First, it looks at only “the 29 deadliest” of mass shootings in recent years. Almost by definition, those would be the ones where an armed civilian did not quickly stop the shooter. (The ones where an armed civilian did, would tend to have lower casualty counts.) Second, the report simply does not discuss the role of armed civilians, one way or the other. Whereas we know that, in at least a few shootings, armed civilians slowed the shooter, or occasioned his thinking “game over” and taking his own life.

“Why is it that mass murderers are almost always young men?”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:42 am - December 19, 2012.
Filed under: Sex Difference

In the conversations and articles I have seen in the wake of the horror in Connecticut, I am pleased that at least some people are breaking from the narrative the media are trying to create about the need to control guns and considering other issues behind last week’s shooting.

Blogging law professor  ask if the cultural War on Young Men contribute to mass murders.  He  excerpts 22 Stats That Prove That There Is Something Seriously Wrong With Young Men In America:

When are we finally going to admit that we have a very serious problem with this generation of young men in America? We have failed them so dramatically that it is hard to put it into words.

We have raised an entire generation of young males that don’t know how to be men, and many of them feel completely lost. Sometimes they feel so lost that they “snap” in very destructive ways. Adam Lanza and James Holmes are two names that come to mind.

Why is it that mass murderers are almost always young men?

(Jacobson via Instapundit.)  Yes, that is the real question.  One which should be asking.  Not just about mental illness, but about young, mentally unstable young men who commit mass murders and other atrocities.

Bear in mind as well that in many (but not all) hero myths, the young hero is frequently violent and often proud.  In short, some of the questions we’re asking aren’t new ones, just ones that we human beings need to keep considering.

Lesbians more likely to wed than gay men

“Men,” writes David K. Li in the New York Post, “have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the altar – whether they’re straight or gay.

While several studies have suggested that there are more gay men than lesbians, there have been more lesbian marriages than gay (male) ones by a margin of 3-to-2.  Since the Nutmeg State, for example, recognized same-sex marriages, “3,252 lesbian couples have wed . . . compared with just 2,053 gay guys.”

It does seem women seek to “nest” more than do men.  Guess some of our male fellows just prefer being the lone wolf.

(This is not the first time I’ve noted this phenomenon, but as I came across the (relatively recent) article while surfing the web, thought I would share it with y’all.)

The Left Hand of Darkness & the Human Tendency to Dualism

I am finally getting around to reading Ursula Le Guin’s science fiction classic, The Left Hand of Darkness, a book that over the years, numerous friends and acquaintances have encouraged me to read, largely because she explores a topic that has long fascinated me — sexual difference.*

About half-way through the book, I find it at once the most brilliant work of science fiction I have ever read  – and among the most frustrating.  Brilliant because of Le Guin’s insights into how human sexual difference has defined our culture — the book is set on a planet where the humanoids are hermaphroditic.  Frustrating because, at times, it seems less a story than a reflection on sexual difference via conversations with and character sketches of some leading figures on the Planet Gethen (also called Winter), the setting for this novel.

What really got me thinking (and there is much in this book to get one thinking) was this paragraph in the chapter on “The Question of Sex”:

Consider: There is no division of humanity into strong and weak halves, protective/protected, dominant/submissive, owner/chattel, active/passive.   In fact, the whole tendency to dualism that pervades human thinking may be found to be lessened, or changed, on Winter.

Perhaps, it is serendipitous that at the moment I read this book I am watching some lectures of Joseph Campbell on DVD.  That great scholar of myth is constantly talking about the images of difference which recur in mythological narratives and artwork (i.e,. the ying and the yang).  Carl Jung, one of Campbell’s mentors once wrote, “there is no energy unless there is a tension of opposites“.  Without sex difference, Gethenian culture would necessarily lack such tension. (more…)

Does “equality” rhetoric prevent gays from understanding our difference?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:07 pm - March 2, 2011.
Filed under: Random Thoughts,Science,Sex Difference

In the course of researching my dissertation, as I sought to show that Achilles’s rage represented an archetypal aspect of male behavior, I read many scientific studies on sexual difference as well as books considering those studies in the context of current cultural debates.   In their book Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women, geneticist Anne Moir and journalist David Jessel articulate the essence of this tension between sound science and politically-correct attitudes:

Recent decades have witnessed two contradictory processes; the development of scientific research into the differences between the sexes, and the political denial that such differences exist.

They write that if the reality of these differences make women angry,

. . . it is not because science has set at naught their hard won struggle towards equality; their wrath should rather be directed at those who have sought to misdirect and deny them of their very essence.  Many women in the last thirty or forty years have been brought up to believe that they are, or should be, ‘as good as the next man’, and in the process they have endured acute and unnecessary pain, frustration and disappointment.

Those passages came to mind earlier today when I was reading Christina Hoff Sommers’s, The WAR AGAINST BOYS: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.  That feminist scholar offered an argument similar to that put forward by Moir and Jessel:

I would argue that turning a blind eye to real differences and dogmatically insisting that masculinity and femininity are “created by culture” pose even more serious dangers of their own.

Science has shown that differences between men and women derive not from social construction, but our very biology.   (more…)

Do same-sex associations benefit different-sex marriages?

I had an interesting conversation last night with a straight friend who reported how his girlfriend constantly complains when hangs with his male buddies.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard about(or heard) a woman upset when her significant other spends times with his same-sex peers.  And yes, I’ve heard the reverse, men who get upset with their wives/girlfriends for their girls’ night out — or similar celebrations.

Our conversation reminded me that the straight folks (at least the ones I know) in the strongest marriages all engage in activities with their same-sex peers.  One of our readers enjoys a knitting circle with her female friends while her husband goes biking with his male buddies.  It seems that same-sex social contact is essential to the strength of their marriages.

I wonder how this plays out in same-sex relationships.  I have one lesbian friend who (sometimes jokingly) laments that her wife has a second spouse — the theater.  Perhaps, that second “marriage” contributes to the strength of her first.

Let me just throw this out for discussion.  It seems pretty clear that individuals in traditional marriages benefit by balancing their monogamous connection to a member of the “other” sex with associations in groups oftentimes composed only of members of their own sex.  How then do gay couples effect a similar balance?

The Wisdom of Tiresias

As I conclude the first draft of the last primarily myth-based chapter in my dissertation, I am struggling with where exactly to place Tiresias.  I had intended to include him in this chapter where I consider the role Athene played in the journeys of the various non-Homeric heroes, but, well, the mythological mortal most renowned for his wisdom just doesn’t really belong there.

You see, most of the heroes in this chapter are the kind of heroes we liked to read about when we were boys, you know, bold and daring men who wrestle lions with sword-proof skins, fight many-headed dragons, tame man-eating horses, behead ugly witches, grapple with supernatural half-human, half bovine creatures, confront fire-breathing monsters with body parts of different animals and outwit sphinxes.

But, Tiresias never battled any of these beings.  And the only time he had anything to do with a serpent is when he saw two snakes, well, um, getting it on.  And that lead to his own transformation.  For seeing such a site, he became a woman.  Seven years later, he saw the same thing again and back he went to his masculine self.

Stories differ as to how he gained his wisdom.  In one version, he was called before Zeus and Hera to settle their dispute about who enjoyed sex more, the man or the woman.  When he replied that a woman does, Hera struck him blind.  Because one Olympian could not take away one gift (or one punishment) that another had given, Zeus gave him the gift of prophecy.

In another version, Tiresias, restored to his masculine form, caught Athene bathing naked.  More gracious than her half-sister Artemis, she merely blinded him, but then feeling she had acted too rashly (even she could not take back her own “gifts”) gave him the gift of wisdom.

So, there have it, the mortal from Greek mythology most renowned for his wisdom was the only Greek mortal to have lived as both a man and a woman.

On appreciating sex difference in the gay marriage debate

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:57 pm - August 9, 2010.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Sex Difference

Perhaps the greatest reason for my ambivalence on gay marriage is that as my psychological and mythological studies have touched on anthropology, culture history and ritual, I have observed that all cultures understand the institution as a pairing of the opposites, uniting two individuals of different sexes.  Across cultures, the bride and groom have always played different roles in the ceremony.  (Arnold van Gennep offers a good introduction to this in the chapter, “Betrothal and Marriage” in his classic, The Rites of Passage.)

That said, I believe that if the state recognizes traditional marriages, it should also recognize same-sex unions, but am just not beholden to the term “marriage” to define them.

Given the vast array of evidence from a multiplicity of disciplines* on sex difference, I remain troubled by using the term “marriage equality” to define the movement for state recognition of same-sex marriage.  It suggests that sex differences are meaningless or, to borrow a term of a discredited theory, are mere “social constructs.”

In his thoughtful consideration of marriage and Judge Walker’s opinion in today’s New York Times, Ross Douthat contends that gay and straight unions are not the same:

But if we just accept this shift [i.e., changing views of marriage), we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.

Emphasis added.

Simply put, two men or two women relate to each other in a different manner than do one man and one woman.  It’s folly to suggest that sexual difference is meaningless, particularly given the vast amount of scientific research on the topic these past forty years.

Like Douthat, we would be wise to recognize that same-sex unions differ from different-sex ones.  And without an “Equal Rights Amendment” in the constitution, states are free to consider that difference in determining how to recognize those unions.  Perhaps, like the legislators of Vermont and New Hampshire, they will choose to call those unions “marriage” which is and should be their prerogative. (more…)

That One Little Word, “Marriage”*

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:10 am - August 9, 2010.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Sex Difference

Shortly after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed down its Goodridge ruling mandating that the Bay State recognize same-sex marriages, I recall reading that just as more Americans came to support interracial marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down it’s Loving decision in 1967, more would soon come to support same-sex marriage.

The polls don’t bear that assumption out, but they do, as I noticed last week show a dramatic uptick in support for same-sex civil unions.  About the time Goodridge was handed down, a slight plurality of Americans opposed same-sex civil unions.  Today, an overwhelming majority do — and that majority has been increasing (at least according to Pewe) at least since the Masachusetts decision.

Could it be that as the issue of same-sex marriage reached the national consciousness with the Massachusetts decision, people started thinking about the issue of same-sex relationships?  And once they started thinking about it, a number of people, once skeptical that same-sex relationships merited recognition, began to change their mind.  But, still they just didn’t wanted to call them marriages — which they wanted to reserve for different-sex couples.

This would explain the growing support for civil unions while support for same-sex marriage has effectively plateaued.

That decision thus changed the views of roughly one in eight Americans (a pretty substantial swing on a social issue in such a short time) on same-sex relationships.  Not what some activists who favor the judicial approach anticipated, but real progress nonetheless.

That’s my working hypothesis for now.  Much more on this in the coming week (hopefully).

* (more…)

On sex difference and same-sex marriage (continued)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:27 pm - May 2, 2010.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Romance,Sex Difference

Earlier today, Glenn Reynolds linked a piece which gets at the real problem of gay marriage perhaps better than anything I’ve read in the past few weeks. In his post, Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman?, Stuart Schneiderman writes “about experiments in Germany and the United Kingdom where men were treated with a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin . . . a hormone that men and women possess, but that women possess in larger quantities”:

According to the article, it triggers labor pains, helps mothers to bond with their babies, and produces enhanced sensitivity and empathy.

The article fails to mention that when a woman has a sexual experience her body produces extra oxytocin, thereby drawing her closer to her lover. Researchers call oxytocin the “cuddle hormone.”

Oxytocin is one of the primary reasons why women who make a habit of hooking up cannot detach their emotions from their sexual experience as easily as men can.

Emphasis added.

And this difference why making the case for lesbian marriage is a heck of a lot easier than making the case for gay marriage, given that women more readily make an emotional commitment to their relationships than men do.  And seem to more innately understand the link between sexual fidelity and emotional commitment.  That said, our culture is replete with stories of women “taming” men, where the Lothario becomes a Romeo under the influence of a woman.

Marriage serves to resolve the natural tension between the sexes.

Now, this is not to say that we should not consider gay marriage because of the absence of sex difference between the partners, but instead that we should address that absence in our conversations on gay marriage.  And, in our personal lives, find means to incorporate the qualities contained in that tension in our relationships.

On the nobility inherent in men & its needed nurturing

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:10 pm - March 4, 2010.
Filed under: History,Sex Difference

Yesterday on AOL’s Politics Daily, Ria Misra wrote a piece on a study comparing the sinkings of the Titanic and the Lusitania, now nearly a century ago which, well, I can’t get out of my head.  Perhaps because it relates to a matter I address in my dissertation, the civilizing of men.

According to a “study published in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences

On the Titanic, children were about 15 percent more likely to survive and women approximately 50 percent more likely to survive than men on the ship. Young men were more likely to die on the Titanic, but on the Lusitania, young men were almost 8 percent more likely to survive than other passengers. Researchers attribute the difference to the extra time — just 2 hours 22 minutes — in which they say that social norms (“women and children first”) made it more likely that they were given seats on lifeboats.

You see

The Titanic sank slowly, over a period of 2 hours 40 minutes, while the Lusitania slipped beneath the waters in a matter of just 18 minutes. And that difference in time had a huge impact on who survived — a discrepancy researchers attribute to passengers on the Lusitania acting instinctively in self-preservation, and on the Titanic, passengers first helping other passengers.

Our first instinct as men is self-preservation, but when we have time to think, as did the passengers on the Titanic, we consider others.

We men do have noble instincts; they just need developing nurturing.

Sexual Fascism

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:15 pm - November 10, 2009.
Filed under: Liberal Hypocrisy,Sex Difference

Jonah Goldberg could find inspiration in Anne Moir and David Jessel’s Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women for a sequel to his book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.

The problem is that it is the apostles of sexual sameness who set the agenda; they would enact the laws and ban the books in a vain attempt to divert children from their natural sexual identities.  But the idea that we are all born with a clean slate of mine, a tabula rasa, ready for society to print its message upon, is a totalitarian’s dream.  And if, after all, we are what we are because of our biology, is it not as monstrous and hopeless a task to eliminate our differences as it was to create a master race?  There is a disturbing whiff of sexual fascism in the premises and prescriptions of those who advocate sexual neutrality.

How about calling this tome Sexual Fascism:  The Secret History of Feminism, from the Social Construction of Gender to Gloria Steinem’s Defense of Bill Clinton’s Philandering?

Is the notion of “marriage equality” at odds with the natural sciences?

As I research the idea of male aggression for the chapter in my dissertation on why men need the goddess Athena, I encounter reams of evidence, from the social as well as the natural sciences, which provide substance to my “gut” suspicion of the term, “marriage equality.”

In their 1989 book, Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women, Anne Moir and David Jessel write:

A hundred years ago, the observation that men were different from women, in a whole range of aptitudes, skills, and abilities, would have been a leaden truism, a statement of the yawningly obvious.

Such a remark, uttered today would evoke very different reactions.

But, these differences are real and they go to the very heart of the debate about marriage:

The appreciation, for instance, that sex has different origins, motives and significance in the context of the male and female brains, that marriage is profoundly unnatural to the biology of the male, might make us better and more considerate husbands and wives.

Sex differences are not then a social construct and men and women see marriage in profoundly different terms, at least until their mutual sexual attraction brings them together in a committed relationship.  

We know how real those differences are from even such a zealous advocate of gay marriage as Andrew Sullivan.  He understands how hard monogamy is for men and offers excuses today for men’s failure to realize that ideal, a failure he refused to countenance when he was writing/debating gay marriage in the 1990s.

Does acknowledgement of these differences mean that gay people should abandon the struggle for state recognition of same-sex marriage?  For now, I’ll say, “not necessarily.”  It does mean, particularly given the results in Maine this past week, that we need change the way we approach the debate.

So what if President Golfs and Plays Basketball with just guys?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:31 pm - October 28, 2009.
Filed under: Hysteria on the Left,Sex Difference

Maybe because I’ve been reading a lot of about sex differences lately that all this hullabaloo over the president’s golfing (and basketball) buddies has struck me as just that:  hullabaloo.  No more than a tempest in a teapot.  

So what if he golfs and plays basketball only with men?  If these outings are just for recreational purposes only, then he’s doing what the better part of his fellow citizens do every weekend.

Have you ever heard feminists get upset when women gather together without men?   

It happens all the time and has happened throughout history–and likely through prehistory as well.  Numerous anthropological studies show that primates also often gather together in conclaves which exclude the opposite sex.

Some have become so obsessed with gender equality that we alas have often lost sight of human nature.

CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE:  This post was inspired by blogging law professor William A. Jacobson’s post on the same topic where he asks:

Let Obama play hoops and hit the links with the guys. Exactly which high-powered woman is he supposed to set a pick for, box out, or look the other way when she uses the foot wedge? Hillary? Maureen Dowd? Janet Napolitano?

Let’s criticize the president on his policies and not politicize his downtime.   We all need time to relax–and should be able to choose our companions when we do.

On marriage & gender difference

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:01 pm - October 22, 2009.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Sex Difference

This quote from a book I’m reading for my dissertation, is particularly relevant to the debate on gay marriage:

A serious sex education begins by emphasizing the reasons why female sexuality is dramatically unlike male sexuality; it explains the natural reasons for female vulnerability.  It explains to women why they like to be courted and how their sexual restraint can encourage a courting culture.  It makes possible an education that does much more to rein in male sexuality.

The more serious studies of sex differences I read, the more ambivalent I become about gay marriage.

On adolescent rage & the adult masculine ideal

Perhaps I have been particularly fascinated by Kevin Jennings’ contention that, as a boy, he learned about the American ideal of masculinity from his adolescent older brother because I chanced upon it (if chance it was) the same week I’ve been studying the adolescent rage of various mythological heroes as part of my dissertation research.  Each of those heroes—and not just the Greeks—must learn to tame his rage, to control his passions, before accomplishing the truly great deeds of his life.

Indeed, Herakles had to complete his celebrated twelve labors, in large part, because of his murderous rage.  The murder was not seen as the apotheosis of his heroism, but as a hindrance to it.  He needed purify himself of his wicked deeds.

It is striking that Jennings would suggest an adolescent boy could pass on the cultural ideal of masculinity.  In fact, adolescent boys are those most in need of an education in mature masculinity.  Anyone who has studied myth or rudimentary male adolescent psychology understands the seemingly untamable energy of boys on the cusp of adulthood.

And it is the taming of the energy which signals their our advancement into adulthood.

American males are not brought up to kill our fellows in order to prove our masculinity, but to stand up for ourselves in the face of obloquy and adversity, replying to our attackers in just measure and to our misfortunes with calm forbearance.

Had we greater access to myth, we might better be able to articulate this masculine ideal.

On marriage & the “gray” areas of sexual expression

I may or may not blog again on the case of Kevin Jennings.  I do have another post in my mind, but it’s basically just an expansion on a point I made in my last post on the topic.

I hope the readers who brought up the issue of “gray areas” in this case appreciate that I did indeed acknowledge those areas (perhaps implicitly) in the very post to which they attached their comments.  For I grant that, in this case, there are indeed gray areas (on the part of Jennings but not “Brewster’s” lavatory lover).  But, there aren’t always gray areas.

But, it seems sometimes that all too many of our fellow gays (and a large number of straights, particularly men) have decided to replace the Manichean division of sexual expression (“good” when inside marital bonds, otherwise, “bad”) with the notion (to borrow a line from the movie Saved!) that “it’s all a gray area.”  No, it’s not.

It is wrong for a man (or woman) to have sexual relations with a minor.  It is wrong for a married man or woman to cheat on his spouse.  It is wrong to promise fidelity to your boyfriend (or girlfriend) while carrying on with someone else.  And there are other things, many involving coercion, which are clearly wrong.

That said, the older I get, the more I realize how amazingly complicated our sexual expression is (and the more, many more, gray areas I find).  I still remain convinced that the highest form of sexual expression is between the two partners in a committed monogamous union.  But, not all of us are so fortunate to find ourselves in such a state, hence the gray areas.

That said, I fear that all too many in the gay community echo that silly notion from Saved! that it’s all a gray area.   (more…)