Posts Tagged ‘let’s talk about sex’

Oh, goodness! Being “good” as being “same”?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Having recently listened to the Joe Jackson song referenced in class, I have been on a “kick,” if you will, about sameness. As our readings, particularly the Wilkins piece, exemplified, sameness offers solace and comfort, as well as social reaffirmation that one is on the “right path.” For example, we witnessed the University Unity kids assert repeatedly that they do pursue and hold friendships outside the confines of Unity and Christianity as a whole. However, and most notably, they find it hard to know “where they stand” with these secular friends or friends of other faiths. This cuts Unity/non-Unity friendships short, or only allows them to reach a certain point before one or both of the members feels disconnected from the other person on moral grounds. And in terms of Unity lifestyle, there are many areas that are apt to prompt disagreement with non-Unity friends.

The idea of being a part of a group that Wilkins originally categorizes as “just good people” is intriguing, because it brings up the necessary and essential idea of goodness. What—and who—can be considered “good?” In terms of Unity alone, it seems that if one is dutiful in praying and reading the Bible, setting aside time for God, and abstaining from sex, drug usage, and immodesty, then that individual fits the criteria for “goodness.” But in effect, adherence to these rules leaves very little room for individuality and potential to think for oneself outside of an academic context, so no wonder it limits their more secular relationships.

My question here is, does goodness imply sameness—sameness of “thought, word, and deed,” as outlined in the Nicene Creed itself?

This is a disturbing thought, because the last thing we want to believe is that we, as humans with functional minds and control over our actions, could subscribe to a set of prescribed actions and thoughts to such an extent that we become, as we mentioned earlier in the semester, “holy spirit zombies.” That we would be unable to identify any personal characteristic or marking qualities aside from surface-level hobbies, such as Lucas’ swing-dancing pastime, is frightening to a modern, liberal, 21st-century mind. And yet, on the surface, they seem so normal—college hoodies and movie nights with friends, going out to diners and for ice cream, and the like, seem to suggest that we as non-Unity members are not so different from them after all.

However, it is also important to note that while the Unity kids seem not to stand out in their choice of dress and lack of partying—Wilkins describes them explicitly as “vanilla” at one point—this is precisely what sets them apart from the norm. Though understated and subtle, Unity kids maintain the appearance of social “norms” in the way that Christian Rock does—they take the semblances of the mainstream and then “clean it up,” therefore making the action more palatable for those who subscribe to the Unity lifestyle. For example, some of the Unity girls like to go out and dance with their friends, but instead of contour skirts and pumps, they can be seen in T-shirts and jeans.

“Unity Style”

versus

This chick

This is the tricky part: T-shirts and jeans seem so normal, but in this case, their wearers are actually embodying a quiet form of resistance to social (i.e., secular) norms. By going against the expected code of dress, Unity girls maintain the modesty expected of them, and are able to participate in activities outside Unity, all the while upholding Unity values.

This resistance is fascinating, because it is often gender-dependent, can have many layers, and can be done in a variety of ways. In my Language and Gender class, we have talked a lot about gender and how individuals and groups will often subvert gender in ways that are unexpected and often surprising. If you have the time, I would recommend you read the following article about “Nerd Girls” that we had to read for class. Just the idea that the category of “Nerd” does not already include females is noteworthy, but that aside, it is a good read and exemplifies yet another way that groups subvert, undercut, and otherwise resist social norms and gender expectations. Furthermore, this is another example of how important sameness is in terms of connection and group cohesiveness, and how social situations can become potentially problematic or confusing if not all participants in the conversation approach the subject the same way.

[Incidentally, another gender-bending article we read for Language and Gender may be of interest to some of you. It is a culturally-based a commentary on Japan’s “Kogals”who routinely defy and redefine young Japanese women’s sexuality through sexual availability, deliberate linguistic change, and distinctive images that offer yet another form of resistance against traditional femininity.]

Whew, sorry for the longest blog post ever! See you all in class!

A Playlist of Evangelism

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Yes, perhaps I’ve got classic rock on the brain–(all the time, 24-7)– but our readings this week definitely brought to mind some famous songs…and I’m not talkin’ Y.M.C.A. These songs, while perhaps seemingly frivolous at first glance, actually represent how closely religious and secular views of society resembled each other and– dare I say it?– influenced each other.

First of all, we have the Evangelist’s side of things: Don’t Stop Believin’. This rock anthem, brought to you by Journey, seems religiously based at the outset: “Don’t Stop Believin’/Hold onto that feeling,” namely, faith. (This also ties to Journey’s equally-amazing song, Faithfully…but I digress.)

Evangelists of all ages and both sexes urge the Chicagoans to hold fast to their faith in the increasingly secular city in which they live, as the Red Light District expands and venereal disease creeps into the homes of dutiful middle-class Christians. Evangelists are especially quick to criticize prostitutes and those who run from domestic, middle class lives, such as our victim/protagonist? in this Bon Jovi tune, Runaway. Indeed, it seems that this era is full of stereotypes of the woman who runs rampant with promiscuity, poisoning Chicago’s streets with her sexual availability and rebuttal of societal rules. However, equally potent is the girl evangelist (who, admittedly, hits the scene a little later) from “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” who seems (and seeks) to embody a little messenger Angel in the urban slums. In the end though, it always seems to come back to Girls, Girls, Girls!

However, these so-called “religious” messengers are often young and impressionable themselves, and if we take a look at the lyrics of the Journey songs especially– and both of these are lyric vids, just so that you can indeed look at the lyrics if you’re unfamiliar with them, you’re welcome– we can see a sense of loss and displacement on the part of the youth, and something that deviates quite starkly from matters of churchliness:

“A singer in a smoky room/ the smell of wine and cheap perfume/ for a smile, they can share the night/ it goes on and on and on and on/ Strangers waiting, walking down the boulevard, their shadows searching in the night/ Streetlight people livin’ just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the niiiiiiiiight!”

Now, to me this indicates a certain youthful helplessness, which Joiner hits on in Chapter four, saying how the Christian men of Chicago’s younger generation struggle due to “not measuring up” to their father’s “masculinity,” and yet trying to avoid their mother’s “feminized Christianity” simultaneously. Seems like they’re caught in quite the bind, which may lead them further into vice…and lead them to singers in smoky rooms, wine and cheap perfume.

I really do think that the evangelicals of this time fully believed in what they were doing (and preaching)– but that didn’t keep them from suffering from the Stranglehold in which Chicago’s corrupt capitalist society bound them. At the end of the day, all they could do was keep Takin’ it to the Streets and, most importantly, Livin’ on a Prayer.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk about Sex, Baby

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

And by “sex,” I mean anatomical design, so calm down, kiddies.

“A preacher of her sex was in those days a genuine curiosity….Her sex was an advertisement.”

As a test, I decided to type “women” and “girls” separately into Bing to see what would come up on the drop-down menu. Here’s what I found:

Women…
in combat
of faith
of the Bible

A feminists dream! No references to porn or anything! Just good, old fashioned women in powerful roles. Let’s see what happens when I type in “girls…”

Girls…
names
Gone Wild
dresses

Okay, now that makes mores sense. With “girls” it’s either a sexual reference or the idea of a child. You should’ve seen what came up on the video drop-down menu–nay, I won’t even go there; I’ll let your imagination do the work.

The connotation of the term “women” is much different than that of the word “girl,” clearly. A girl is something sexual; a woman is someone powerful, or at least someone with goals and an identity. This may seem obvious, but I choose to focus on this strictly because of the title of our reading: “Out of the Mouths of Babes.” Truth be told before I read it, I thought it was a book about the effect of children and their words. To be, “babes” imply “baby,” but I guess to these religious groups at the time, having a female pastor was no different than having a three-year old lead service (which they did).

So then that got me thinking, seeing as I am an aspiring female pastor, I thought I ought to know my history. The term “babe” is often used as a term affection for women, along with the term “baby,” though the latter tends to be much more sexual in nature.

Which brings me to my next point: obviously women are no more than sexual birthing objects who can occasionally make meals for their husbands and sacrifice their lives for the good of their men (i.e. YMCA women, anyone?), so what better time to focus on them than in their youth, while their in their prime? While they’re…wait for it…BABES?

http://alltheragefaces.com/img/faces/large/cereal-guy-cereal-guy-spitting-l.png

But seriously folks, the emphasis on youth isn’t all on women. In Take the Young Stranger by the Hand, boys–BOYS–are being reared in their prime. Muscular Christianity. Take a young stranger by the hand. C’mon guys.

What is with this emphasis on youth in Christianity? In all other contexts, I would say it was obvious, that the focus was on sex–creating sexually appealing people that others wanted to follow. But that couldn’t be the main goal…COULD IT?!

I realize there is a giant gap here, and a lot of variables that I’m not acknowledging, such as the fact that the young men of the YMCA were wanted, and the female preachers/pastors, well, weren’t. But the fact still remains: the emphasis is on youth, and raising up beautiful, youthful members (i.e. muscular Christianity) to attract new ones. The focus is on babes.

Okay, so I realize I digress from my original idea, but it makes sense, non? It’s as important to be youthful and attractive in Christianity as it is in the secular world. Flappers echoed the very essence of youth and weren’t that far from female evangelists. They were young offered new ideas, and new perspectives on society, and got sh!t done.

Anyway, as I close, i will leave you with the song I know you’re all anxiously waiting to hear, seeing as the title of my blog post probably got it stuck in your head.

Cruise Control? Not so much.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Okay, so feel free to disagree with me, but a lot of this text seems to focus around miscommunications and confusion of goals at the YMCA. And a lot of these have to do with false assumptions. These include but are not limited to:

1.    Christians are wholesome.

False: Christians TRY to be wholesome. But hey, Christians are people, and people are whole, not wholesome (which, if you think about it, is an oxymoronic word in itself).

2.    Providing sex education will make young men MORE restrained and less likely to engage in sexual acts with other men.

False: Maybe this would have been true if the Y had been less demanding of the men who held positions within the organization, particularly the secretaries. Maybe if they’d gotten to spend more time with their wives, too, they wouldn’t feel such strong homoerotic bonds.

3.    However, in contrast to that previous observation, another assumption the Y held was that homosociality was just as “dangerous” to society as homosexuality…

False: From a 21st-century standpoint, neither is particularly “dangerous. But going along with that…

4.    Similarly, there was the assumption that the “scare” of rampant homoeroticism and homosexual desires being acted upon in the early 20th century were equivalent to homosocial bonds.

False: It is simply that the centuries had different ways of defining what was considered to be “erotic” and what was “good clean fun” in terms of men being around each other/craving each other’s company/expressing longing for being in close proximity to other men’s bodies…

…Sorry this is so scattered; there’s just a lot to say about this piece. Anybody else get a kick out of that one chauvinist who claimed that men were at the Y to get “real work” done, whereas at the YWCA, women do domestic things, such as “make food”? Or for the studies of gay pornography that trace their roots back to these early fitness manuals? That was extremely interesting to me, and I will tell you all why tomorrow…

I do think Gustav-Wrathall could have woven more of a religious context into this, but considering his background as an ex-Mormon may not have proven especially applicable to this scholarship, I do not count the absence of his religious input as a devastating drawback in terms of the work overall.

Maybe She’s Born with it…Maybe it’s Awakened During Puberty!: The Sexual Impulse in Women

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

So, now for a total change of topic from my last pre-break post…

I was especially intrigued by the section of this reading that ranged from pp. 198-203. First, there is Montaigne’s idea that women are “incomparably more apt and ardent in love than men are” because “it [sexual impulse] is a discipline that runs in their veins” (198). This is in direct contrast to the mode of thinking where women are considered sexually frigid. Even the greatest rock n’ rollers were familiar with this school of thought, as is evidenced by the following classics:

She’s So Cold by the Rolling Stones

Cold As Ice by Foreigner

But seriously, there seems to be a great divide when considering women’s sexuality, and I hate that it comes down to this, but if one tried to wrap it up neatly, women’s sexuality seems to fall into the paradigm of the virgin and the whore. Either women are considered “salacious, ”“lascivious,” and “seductive,” or they are regarded as the opposite: unable to be sexually excited at all, and averse to the advances of the opposite sex. It should also be said that the discussion of women becoming “hysterical” as a result of coitus, though ridiculous and old-fashioned to our 21st-century ears, gained a lot of popularity back in the day, and seems to go hand-in-hand with both the virgin who is “deflowered/awakened” by a man’s sexual advances, or the promiscuous woman who is prone to be put into hysterics often and without shame, which in itself would be considered shameful. Altogether, the idea of women’s sexuality and sexual pleasure seems coated in shame…

[Side note: I was frustrated by the fact that the author did not go into same-sex relations, but I can understand why it would confound his/her train of thought. I also have some issues with the final paragraph on page 200 about Baltic women and their seductive patterns, but I feel those would best be raised in class, where the discussion can be more fully fleshed out than simply on the blog.]

But enough complaining! Page 202 brings about an idea that is less offensive and (probably) much more palatable to modern-day women than the view that we are “frigid” or, on the other end of the spectrum, “slutty” or “easy.” I will end with this paragraph, which seems to attempt to make peace with both women and men harboring sexual impulses:

“…in most cases the sexual coldness of women is only apparent, either due to the concealment of glowing sexuality beneath the veil of outward reticence prescribed by conventional morality, or else the husband who has not succeeded in arousing erotic sensations which are complicated and with difficulty awakened… The sexual sensibility of women is certainly different from that of men, but in strength it is at least as great.” (Bloch, 202).

This postulation is not without its own set of assumptions/problems, but it at least seems to award women with their due “natural” feelings and persuasions instead of knocking them for having them in the first place.

Yo, let’s talk about sex (or at least blog posts)

Monday, February 11th, 2013

C’mon, folks. This is your blog. This is your grade. This is your grade on the blog. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ub_a2t0ZfTs

But seriously, many of you did not post a blog entry about the Great Lives lecture. If you don’t start posting, I may propose we change our class format to this:

It’s your choice.

I’ve Just Met a Girl Named Mariaaaaa…

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

…and BOY, is she an awful liar!

Okay, I am basically going to repeat the sentiments everyone else’s posts have already expressed:

  1. Sex sells. Whether it be rape (*cringing, can’t believe I wrote that*), incest, or any other negative/questionable sexual content, it grabs the reader’s attention.
  2. Babies. Gotta have infant death if it’s a worthwhile story. (For the record, I HATE “dead baby” jokes. Can’t stand them.)
  3. Priests make good scapegoats. They’re the guys people love to hate. Who would come to the door of a convent, make hissing noises, and expect to be let in around midnight for some wayward sexual pleasure? A priest, of course!

But seriously. I know that in 19th-century America– and indeed, since then– there has been a strong anti-Catholic rhetoric going around. Sometimes, the faith itself was used as a basis of racial oppression, as well. Indeed, two of the most discriminated-against European immigrant groups– the Irish and the Italians– were primarily Catholic, and in the early 1900s, they were “hated on” quite a bit for this reason.

HOWEVER, I would like to believe that if I were alive when the Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk came out that I would have been at least a little bit skeptical. No matter how terrible you may think a particular religious sect is, would you really ascribe to them infanticide, rape, murder, and whatever else, all in the name of God? This seems to be a stretch, even for your average illiterate American Protestant who “didn’t know any better.”

Therefore, I must say that Maria (a.k.a., the shady Protestant males with a knack for tall tales…hey, that rhymed) may have put forth an interesting horror story through this volume, but no wonder it was disproved within months of its publication. It was simply “too bad to be true,” and the writing style itself left a lot to be desired– I think I yawned twice for each page.

I have an alias, and it’s all good!

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I just want everyone to know, in case I wasn’t clear about it in class, that I am Sarah A. Foote.

Got that? Arrrbuckles=Sarah. Yay hooray, internet personalities!

Okay, back to homework now…

Beauty and the…Bestiality

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Just kidding! I will not actually be addressing bestiality much in this post at all, since that seems to be the theme most people have run with thus far, and I would like to add something a little different to the discussion. But I just really wanted to use that title, so there you have it!

What I actually wish to address for this week, however, is the ultimate “Catch-22” in Puritan Massachusetts (and, let’s be real, for much of history in many place globally): to be a woman. Oh, all right, we can nit-pick and excuse the “bawds” and official prostitutes from this category, although their lives were hard enough as it was. But for the most part, girls “were taught to please, to smile and fetch and carry, to stand on the table and sing” (95).

From this description, it seems as though females were regarded kind of like useful dogs: able to be of service to men when necessary, and be pleasant while doing so, and that they were indeed considered property, and therefore less than autonomous. The rules should have been clear if they [females in the community] were actually considered in this reductive of a manner, and there would be no question of whether one were committing a moral sin if she were only to behave in a way that is like that of a servant, pet, or child, and nothing more.

But of course, things are not that easy; on the contrary, the following paragraph struck me as confounding at best, downright befuddling (and harboring great punishment as a result) at worst:

“…A respectable woman did not undress before her male servants, nor did she lie under the covers with a man not her husband, but she might sleep in the same room as either. She did not sing or drink with strangers in the tavern, though out of hospitality she would certainly smoke at her own hearth or doorstep with any of her husband’s friends. She did not sit on her neighbor’s lap or kiss him in the barn, but with good conscience she could share his horse” (95).

As in our current age, the role of females here is a complex one– if a woman is capable of sharing a man’s horse, but culpable of adultery if she hugs him from behind in any other circumstances, where is it appropriate to draw the line?

I will probably do a follow-up blog post after tomorrow’s class, because there is a lot more that needs to be said regarding this topic, but I want to hear other people’s reactions first before I proceed any further with my tirades!