Thursday, January 18, 2007

Absolute 'Feministe'

[Be aware that the Feministe article linked below contains profanity.]

Jill Filipovic at Feministe  uses the word "wonderful" to describe my Sunday Times piece.

Really, she does. She writes that I do "a wonderful job explaining why the pro-'chastity,' anti-choice crowd is so thoroughly misogynist, seeing men as actors and women as passive objects."

She makes a number of points based on her understanding of traditional Christian sexual morality (which is also traditional Jewish sexual morality), which she believes boils down to "keep girls nice and ignorant about sex, marry them off as soon as they can get pregnant, have their husbands rape them on their wedding nights," etc. There's no use responding to these points, because unless she ever sits down with the Gospels, the Catechism, Deus Caritas Est, or a tradition-minded priest or Orthodox rabbi, she's going to go through life unaware that The Handmaid's Tale is fiction.

What I do find interesting is her claim of moral superiority over chastity proponents. She asserts that she and her fellow sexual revolutionaries are better than the "pro-'chastity,' anti-choice crowd" because they make no claim to universal truth:

I suppose I’m one of those tin-hearted sexually liberated gals, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard casual sex promoted as a universal good in the same way that abstinence before marriage is. That seems to be the fundamental difference — sexually active, unmarried women may say “My sex life is great” or “I feel no need to wait for marriage” or “Have you heard about this new form of birth control?” or “This is what I like sexually — if you’re sexually active, maybe you’d like it to,” but I’ve never heard a woman claim that sex before marriage is the best thing for all women, or that because they like having sex before they’re married that all women must secretly desire it. They don’t make blanket statements about what does and does not make women happy when it comes to our sexual lives.
Yet, earlier in the same post, Jill lays out her moral justification for opposing chastity proponents:
That said, there are plenty of women who do feel that sex is best when we’re loved. That’s a perfectly respectable belief. But why a wedding ring is the only thing that proves “love” is beyond me. I honestly question if a man can truly love a woman — as an equal and as a partner — if he believes that sex is dirty and soils her, unless he’s the one doing it, and only after he’s paid for it. I honestly question if a woman can truly love a man, or enjoy sex, if she believes that her own body is inherently sinful, and that men are selfish beasts who have to be roped into marriage, otherwise they’ll leave you — and that sex is a gift she bestows upon him, for his pleasure, in exchange for money, security and social status.
I don't know a single chastity proponent who believes any of those things. Whatever one might call the philosophy Jill describes, it's not chastity — certainly not as defined by Christian or Jewish moral authorities. Yet, Jill needs to believe that chastity proponents hate sex and hate the human body — because if they didn't, they might be reasonable human beings and therefore might have serious justification for their views.

Instead, Jill argues that she is above those who would morally justify chastity, because she believes there is no absolute truth.

As a New York University law student, she should know better.

The assertion that there is no absolute truth is an inherent contradiction. If there is no absolute truth, that statement would itself have to be an absolute truth.

Moreover, the mere fact that Jill is morally justifying herself reflects that she does in fact believe universal truth exists. Moral justification requires universal truth, because without universal truth, there is no morality and therefore no justification.

That said, there is one point on which Jill and I are in agreement: "Love and partnership shouldn’t be about an exchange of commodoties [sic] — her body for his commitment and support."

I would go even further than that. Sex shouldn't be about a mere exchange of commodities: her physical pleasure for his. Sadly, the so-called "sex-positive" culture defines feminism as the right to reduce sex to a solely physical interaction if one wishes; it claims women are not truly liberated unless they are free from the need to tie sex to love and commitment. Certainly, free will includes the right to view one's activities within any moral context, but I believe that commodity-exchange sex — essentially mutual prostitution without money involved — shouldn't be held up as some sort of female-liberationist ideal. Rather, it should be seen as what it is: pathetic and sad.

Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at