Monday, 7 March 2011

What's It All About, Auntie?

After reading the college junior's essay in the New York Times yesterday, I wondered if there isn't some mass psychosis amongst the fathers of the world that makes them take their sons aside to say, "Listen, son. Monogamy is for losers. Life is short. I want you to go out there and get as much tail as you can. Quality's fine, but I'm talking quantity here, ya dig? Whatever you do, don't commit. Oh, and never volunteer."

The imaginary fathers in this scenario were nothing like most of the fathers I know, though. Almost all the fathers I know are married to their kids' mothers, and either have a job or are over 65 and retired. The only father I know personally who might conceivably make this speech hasn't seen his son his years and left the country shortly after he found out his girlfriend was pregnant. And why a kid whose father took off on him and his mom would listen to his life advice is beyond me--except that boys have a heartbreaking need for guidance from men.

That said, the above speech is basically the philosophy of Playboy magazine and therefore the alternative voice of the 1950s that became the dominant voice of the cultural elite of the 1960s and beyond. So, beyond the ancient adolescent male pattern of trying to score as much as possible before settling down (a pattern St. Augustine recorded), that's what we're dealing with. But sadly we're dealing with something else, too.

On TV the other night, I saw an advertisement for a marathon run against breast cancer. In the UK, people love to dress up in funny ways. I believe one year it was fashionable for a local woman to do a marathon run against breast cancer wearing her bra on the outside of her T-shirt. Well, in this advert, the women were wearing white fluffy bunny ears. And this made me uncomfortable because bunny ears on women means Playboy magazine and the defunct Playboy clubs. I cannot get the idea of adult women voluntarily donning THE symbol of women-reduced-to-sexual-animal before raising money for breast cancer research.

But, to make a long story short, many women have simply accepted the Playboy philosophy, and believe that the only way to hang onto a man (or get any male attention at all) is to look young and perpetually sexually available. The best book I've read about how this happened is Female Chauvanist Pigs. My new pal (yay!) Wendy Shalit also touches on the subject in her A Return to Modesty. And Dawn Eden writes about her depressing bed-hopping years in The Thrill of the Chaste.

Despite hundreds of generations of women telling their daughters that jumping into bed with men was not a path to long-term happiness and marriage, ever since the Second World War, young women keep thinking that it is. Or young women, obedient to the Playboy philosophy, claim they aren't interested in marriage anyway, and just want to have sex "like men". Yeah, you love it when man after man walks away--or when you walk away from the man you're in love with so he can't ditch you first. I believe you. Sure.

The saddest part of the NYT essay is not that the young men of New York and New England sound positively addled. It's not even the bad Jesuit novice/scholastic who dumps the author because she won't sleep with him on the third date. (Hey, and thanks for helping the Society's reputation, Brother Dirt-bag!) It's that the author keeps going to bed with these characters--although not, one notices, the Jesuit. I wonder if he had horrible zits, or what.

In Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget's mother warns her not to sleep with Mark Darcy, a great matrimonial catch, because if she does, he won't marry her. Bridget is embarrassed and outraged and (PLOT SPOILER)--never mind the movie--never does marry Mark Darcy. But the point is that the wisdom of the ages was "If you want to get married, you must not sleep with him" and the current superstition is "If you want to get married, you shouldsleep with him."

Unsurprisingly, I agree more with the former dictum than the latter superstition, although I recognize that many women have indeed married men they had premaritally slept with. Premarital sex is not an immediate and universal deal-breaker although I want to grab any woman who sleeps with a religious, church- (or mosque-) going man and shriek, "Are you insaaaaaane?" There's no deal-breaker like religious guilt, cherie. You'll have noticed what our father Adam said as soon as he got caught.

Young men sleeping around before marriage is not new. What is new is that thousands upon thousands of young women are also sleeping around before marriage. Young men used to have rather restricted access to premarital sex. It was a challenge. They had to hunt for it. They often had to pay for it. They often pondered how mad their parents would get if they tried to get it from the servants.

They almost never found it among women of their own background because (A) prostitutes were a class of their own, (B) women of their own background had fathers, uncles and brothers of their own background who would have no problem thumping other men of their own background, (C) women of their own background were holding out for marriage with guys like him or better.

It was often just easier to marry a nice girl, a girl who did not remind him at all of his dumb, disspiriting sexual adventures.

But now a man with a good line of patter or sharp observational skills can go out and pick up upper-crust college juniors for one night stands, seemingly no problem. Society's numero uno way of herding men out of indiscriminate oat-sowing into positive family-building is gone. And guess whose fault that is? It's the fault of every poor woman who bought the lies of the sexual revolution and the morally-skewed women who told her to. Yes, I hold women to a higher standard. It's because I think women are naturally morally stronger than men. Sue me.

So in the end I didn't write a post about fathers. Outside of war zones, we women are our own worst enemies.

You may now be thinking, "But, Auntie Seraphic, if sleeping with a man does not get me a husband, what does?" And, once again looking at the statistics for marriage in the USA, I have this to say: Time.

Stop thinking about how to get a "boyfriend," but instead go out there and make as many business contacts, acquaintances and friends as you can. Don't treat men like women, but remember that sex is for husbands, not for boyfriends. Oh, how I loathe the word "boyfriend." A "boyfriend" is too often the guy or concept keeping a woman from getting married. I've never married a "boyfriend" in my life, and I probably never will.


sciencegirl said...

A great big "YES" to all the above!

How sad is it that this girl is obviously unhappy but convinced that this is what feminism has won for her?

Not the thrill of going to college, working an interesting job, or voting. Using men and being used by them is supposed to make her feel fulfilled. Who's she going to believe? Her messed up ideals or her lying feelings?

Andrea said...

"Yes, I hold women to a higher standard. It's because I think women are naturally morally stronger than men. Sue me."

I won't sue you, but can you explain? Are women naturally morally stronger when it comes to sexuality, or are they more keenly aware of their own biology (ie. more likely to consider with whom they'll get pregnant?)

I'm torn between thinking women are morally stronger or, on the reverse side, that women follow men (ie. give what they think men want, sexually or otherwise.)


Ginger said...

In addition to what Andrea said, I would also like to point out that women also know they have much more to lose by having sex. Besides the risk of pregnancy, we also risk our reputation in a way men don't have to worry about and most women are aware of that.

I think we also have a knowledge of self that tells us to be cautious with our emotions. Most of us place more importance on the emotional attachments that comes with sex than men do.

All those things are very good reasons for women to be "stronger" than men, though I don't think moral strength is really the issue, especially when men often show more moral strength than women in other areas. So why should sexuality be different in and of itself? Probably because women have more to lose.

Sheila said...

YES. Excellent article.

In the Lysistrata (I *think* it was the Lysistrata) all the women go on a no-sex strike to end a war. They get it, too! And Chesterton said that if all women nagged for a vote, they would get it in a month. If we ALL agreed not to have sex before marriage, the men would HAVE to court us and wait! Sadly, awhile back quite a few women left the "union" and let the men have their way ... thus making those of us who hold out look like the exception, rather than the rule.

Andrea, I agree with Ginger -- our biology makes us extra cautious about who we jump into bed with. Sure, we have desires, too, but we also have a certain amount of healthy fear. We are aware -- on an instinctive level even when not on a rational level -- that we have more to lose.

Anonymous said...

Sheila and Ginger, I agree with you. But being more aware of our biology, more aware of our emotions and more aware of what we have to lose is not the same as being morally stronger. In fact, one could look at the current world where women have "left the union" in droves, and argue that we are morally weaker because in spite of many, many good reasons not to have sex outside of a committed relationship, so many women are. Could one not?
(not trying to be argumentative, just genuinely sorting through this.)

Andrea said...

sorry, that last anonymous comment was me, Andrea. I forgot to put my name in.

Catholic Pen said...

So if you don't marry a boyfriend, who do you marry. What I mean is although your courtship went pretty quickly, most people's don't? What exactly does it look like in the meantime and what is the difference between this and having a boyfriend...curious with a reason. Just beginning a courtship and wanting to do it in a marriage minded way...

Sarah said...

Andrea, I was agreeing with you, lol. I was saying that I think we have more to lose and are therefore less willing to have sex, and falsely see it/call it strength.

Ginger (Sarah) said...

and "Sarah" should read "Ginger." Oops. I do that all the time.

Seraphic said...

Women as morally stronger. Well, for one thing women almost never rape people and we also commit much, much fewer violent crimes in general. There is actual statistical evidence that the majority of violent crimes are committed by men.

Recent trends in changing female behaviour have, of course, narrowed the gap.

In general, the overwhelming male sin is taking too much and the overwhelming female sin is giving too much. For a very interesting take on the female sin of sinful self-abdignation, see Cynthia Crysdale's "Embracing Travail".

I think women deserve more credit for modesty and chastity than a simple "oh, it's because we have more to lose". I think it is also because we are in tune with something very important about our deepest privacy unless we are attacked as children or until we are brainwashed out of it.