Thursday, 30 June 2011

Community Standards

Oh darlingses, I just took down my last post. I decided it wasn't up to community standards.

You know when your pal sends you a link, and at first you think it is hilarious, so you post it, but then you read the small print, and you think, hmm? So then you add a note saying of course you don't approve of this and that, and then you go shopping. And while you are shopping, you feel badly about the judgmental attitude on top of linking to the hilarious post, so then you go home and take it all down.

That's what I did.

And it made me thing about community standards, and why I thought most of you would find that link hilarious, and then why I thought many of you would also find it A Bit Much, especially when you came across some bad language and, in the comments, some crude ideas.

The Benedict XVI generation is in a bit of a bind, when it comes to community standards, for we cannot say, "If it's okay for your granny, it's okay for you" because some of our grannies are real rips. They say things like, "I may be 40 years older than my granddaughters, but I'm younger in spirit. Now excuse me, I have a hot date tonight."

Okay, my grannies weren't like that, but one was born in 1904 and the other around 1915, so they missed the Granny Sexual Revolution. My mum is an old-fashioned Catholic granny who bakes cookies, crochets sweaters and calls me up to report what the parish priest has done now. She ignored the Sexual Revolution in general, so it's no surprise she's ignoring the Granny one, too.

That said, I would say stuff in front of my mother I wouldn't say to young things like the greater part of you. The older I get, the more sentimental I get about unmarried girls, especially ones who have never dated, and the more careful I am about language and writing about Sex and the City and what have you. I know two nice Catholic men who enjoy torturing me by saying they only ever watched Sex and the City because they knew I had, and they wanted to find out what it was all about and what sort of woman I might be.

Yours is not the first generation to shake off the morals (or immorals) of previous generations. (When I say your generation I am, of course, ignoring most of it. I mean the Still Goes to Church Every Sunday segment of your generation.) The Victorians, whom the 20th century loved to beat up on, shook the dirt and dust of the 18th century off their feet. The 18th century was a lot ruder than the 19th, at least in public, which is why the earliest biographies of Jane Austen are so boring. Our Jane was a Georgian, not a Victorian, and therefore too much fun by her nephew's standards.

But however naughty the 18th century attitude towards sexuality, the attitude stemming from the second half of the 20th century is disspiriting and gross. The balladeers of the 18th century may have sung obscene songs in the street for pennies, but today's balladeers mix abject hatred and violence towards women with the obscenities. In the 18th century, you could be arrested for publishing pornography, but today's pornographers, professionals and an shockingly huge army of amateurs, spread it all over the internet.

So when I talk about community standards, I'm talking about standards consistent with the Catholic blogging community, particular that part that reads my blog. It a standard that says the current community standards of the UK, USA, Canada and Australia aren't good enough. We need a break from those community standards, and that's why I ditched my last post.



mary said...

I'm not sure what your last post was about because I didn't see it, but do you really like Sex and the City, or were you kidding? I've seen it a couple times, and it is entertaining in the sense that it can be funny and the plots can be absorbing. But overall I've found that it does more harm than good for me, because I just feel like it often takes these ideas of promiscuity and immorality and makes them seem normal. Which then reminds me of how the Catholic lifestyle, while I wouldn't have it any other way, is radically different from what society currently considers normal. Which then reminds me how many bozos I've dated who just don't get it, and how hard it seems to find a NCB as I think you call them. Which also reminds me how much of a daily sacrifice it can be to be a late-20-something with raging hormones and a desire for God-given marriage, which again seems like a state of life at significant odds with what I know of the stories told in SATC. These thoughts generally lead me towards feelings of bitterness and frustration, which is not how I want to feel about life (and thankfully I'm pretty darn happy as a practicing Catholic).

Anyway, my point is that sometimes engaging in pop culture such as Sex and the City, Cosmopolitan magazine, contemporary "chick lit" and so on result in me feeling like a weirdo for having the values I have, even though I know I'm really not. So I find it better to avoid those all entirely as a single gal, and probably as a hopefully-someday married woman too, just because of how often (though not always) they treat sex and relationships as casual and selfish. Did that show ever make you feel like that, or were you just way better than me at detaching from it? Hopefully I'm not missing the point of what you were getting at. I find it hilarious that your husband's friends made those jokes. :)

I guess on the same token, sometimes even-slightly-bawdy jokes can be unnerving for those who are single and aren't in the habit of thinking about stuff like that, but more in the habit of trying to not think that way.

Jim said...

More and more, I think that Christians (by which I mean and include believing and practicing Catholics as well as believing and practicing Christians of Protestant persuasion, like myself), are going to become a sub-culture in modern society, and likely one that is going to be increasingly made fun of and marginalized. It's clear that much of the culture is now trying to "drive us into the closet" where other groups once were.

The bad part is that we may feel more isolated and prone to despair. The good part is that as more and more "nominal Catholics" and "Easter and Christmas Protestants" fall away, those who are left can more readily identify others who also are making the commitment to truly follow the Lord.

I actually find hope in that--the reason the early Church was so strong was exactly because those early Christians had to totally reject the culture around them. They knew exactly what their priority was.

Bringing it back to relationships (although I am married), maybe it will make it easier for singles to identify the real thing in the other person they are considering for a spouse, instead of having to winnow through the phonies.

Seraphic said...

I enjoyed the "Sex and the City" series when I was away from home at grad school and very much missed my friends. However, when I was home, and the girls all wanted to watch it, I was uncomfortable about the youngest ones watching. I enjoyed the women's friendship and many of the scenarios, but I did a lot of fast-forwarding, let's put it that way.

Since so many women, including Catholic women, were watching it, I mention it in some of my earliest blogposts. But, interestingly, enough, the very mention of SATC rang alarm bells as far as Catholic publishers were concerned. So I cut them all out when I submitted my final manuscript!

Today I don't feel much of a desire to watch Carrie and Co. I saw the movies, and Samantha's character was a dirty joke, plain and simple. After the first movie, a wise friend remarked that there was no way Samantha, who was incapable of a faithful relationship with a man, really could have sustained a deep, platonic relationship with three other women.

Needless to say, I don't recommend it to young Catholic or other religiously observant women.

Jim said...

As a guy, I have to say I have real problems with SATC and a whole bunch of other "women empowerment" shows, because they remind me of how women can play around with guys like they are objects. I've been there as the object, and it really hurts when that happens to you, whether you are a guy or a gal.

RMVB said...

Jim -

This might seem totally off topic, but I want to thank you for including devout and practicing Catholics and devout and practicing Protestants in the same category: on the same side of the Battle. This may seem trivial to you, but I work in an ecumenical environment where even the most well intentioned Protestants and Catholics don't see it the way you do. It's a great ministry, but the weight of it sometimes hangs heavy. And you have brought me refreshment.

PS as a community minister, I understand the importance of Community Standards, since I see how vital it is for me to sacrifice secular songs, movies, and the way I talk freely about having a drink for the sake of the impression I give the teens whom I serve. Just sayin.

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mary said...

I agree, Jim. Stories with an undertone of, "hey, let's all treat each other like garbage" don't empower anyone but just teach that being careless is ok. As a woman and a human being I take issue with that. Sadly this same undertone is all too present for both men and women in many other instances of pop culture. I've heard about Catholic media programs that are designed to help teens and young people look at the messages we're all bombarded with and be able to think critically about them. This is definitely something I would try to instill in my kids!

Jim said...

RMVB--I think distances between believing and devout Catholics and Protestants have narrowed substantially over the past few years. Partly I think it is a realization that we all are on the same page on things like protecting life and sexual ethics and keeping God first in your life, but I think a lot of it has to do with Pope John Paul. A lot of us Protestants gained a deep respect for John Paul II as a devoted Christian who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk for his whole life, even in his last years when it was clearly a struggle physically to continue doing everything he was doing. He changed the mindset of how a lot of us had viewed the Catholic Church.

mary--thanks for your comments. I know I probably sound like I have somewhat of a "bitter man" syndrome, and maybe I do have some of that in me. But one thing women may not know is that some of the worst men who take advantage of women weren't always like that, but themselves got burned badly in a first or early relationship. As a result, they have become warped and now are taking it out on other women. So the cycle of men and women using each other is reinforced. If you think about it, that's one way that the curse of sin proliferates. You really have to break the cycle by insisting that both men and women treat each other with total respect.

Julie said...

When I started college, I got tired very quickly of people making a big fuss every time I used the word "hell" or "damn". Obviously I did not use them very frequently but did we really need to have a big production every time I did? And then people started to comment on how they thought I thought I was soooo perfect, etc. So I made an effort to swear more (genius). I also thought (probably rightly) that my new friends would think I was seriously strange if I ever objected to seeing a movie on account of it being too violent, much less too sexy. Now I'm sad that I didn't keep my standards where they were, now that I feel much less concerned about whether other people think I'm a prude. Although after 8 years of high school being That Incredibly Weird Girl I don't know that I entirely regret being less couth (as it were) in college. The biggest issue is/was innuendo. I was mercilessly mocked all through primary school (and high school) for not "getting" dirty jokes and innuendo. Now I get it and I wish I didn't, really, although again I'm glad I don't stumble into saying things like I used to.

mary said...

I don't think the issue of carelessness in relationships has to do with men or women, but just people. A lot of women probably didn't treat men badly until they got burned either. Ultimately though, we are each responsible for our actions, reactions, and attitudes, and one gender can't be held accountable by itself (not that you're necessarily trying to place blame). Relationships can result in pain, but hopefully we grow wiser and appreciate the good in others that much more when it does come along.
Seraphic referred to God as the Healer recently, and that really resonated with me as I am getting over a breakup. I just want to avoid becoming bitter or jaded, even if that means I don't date for awhile. For the first time maybe ever, I feel resigned/open to whatever God wants for my love life, which is a blessing.

some guy on the street said...

I suspect Mr. Topoland of being a spammer, btw --- they've become much more articulate of late, but you might notice things that say nothing ...


There was a time when instead of "community standards" one would speak of "common decency". My own introduction to the newer notion was from a documentary about censors and film rating committees --- what Community Standard law required was to try stepping into the head of an "average person" and estimate what they would approve for various audiences. In particular, they were discouraged from using their own personal standards, and encouraged to abstract themselves in an unnatural way.

It reminds me of a discussion somewhere of the "reasonable doubt" criterion (see this for example); how at one time it was presented for the comfort of scrupulous jurors: that they could remain guiltless in concommitently condemning really-guilty people to really-gruesome punishment. But the standard has of late been reversed, to the point of making verdict of guilt more difficult to acheive in trial-by-jury.

That is, at one time "if you are convinced beyond reasonable doubt, you may confidently and safely find guilt"; now-a-days emphasis becomes "unless you are convinced beyond reasonable doubt, you may not find guilt". Similarly, at one time "if this book would degrade the community, keep it out of the library"; now, "unless you think most people would object to you reading this book, you may not keep it out of the library".


On the Other Hand --- maybe it'd be a losing battle, but, Aunty, you know how Fr.Z. will sometimes rally the troops to swing an internet poll here or there: what if a small division of young sensible folk on occasion descended in swarms on various blogs to admonish ill-spoken commentors unto common decency and set a better example for the folk who live in darkness?

(BTW, a blessed Dominion Day to you!)

berenike said...

Please can someone who saw the post, post the Scandalous Link in a comment on our blog?

Yours gratefully,

Dying of curiosity