Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Raquel Welch Meets Lysistrata

I don't know what to make of the coincidence.  Neither am I certain there's any connection between (1) Raquel Welch's recent lamentations about society's sexual addiction, especially men's to digital sex, and (2) Liberal Ladies' Who Lunch declaration of a sex strike (April 28-May 5) over supposed threats to their reproductive choices.

The two stories nevertheless strike me as being related via men's libidos.  First, the Liberal Ladies:

Younger men and women may not remember the ‘good old days’ when the only reproductive choice we had was to deny men access to sex. In truth, if we lose our hard won rights to medical care, birth control and pregnancy choice, it won’t only affect women. Men will have to go back to the days when they waited for or paid for sex. This issue impacts all of us. This strike is designed to make that point. IT IS NOT A PUNISHMENT OR A WEAPON TO BE USED AGAINST ANYONE! It’s a week in which you are conscious of the attack on women’s rights, nothing more. [Emphasis added] 
Ask your man to stand with you in solidarity and speak up for your rights, because when we lose our reproductive choices, so do they.

If I understand their rationale, Catholics and others who don't want to be coerced by government to buy other people's contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations present a dire threat to these Ladies' reproductive choices.  To their minds, resisting women's aggression = an attack on women's rights.

I'm tempted to hold this up as exhibit A of why women were denied the vote for so long.  Liberal Ladies Who Lunch make it harder for thoughtful women to be taken seriously.

As convoluted as their reasoning is (and annoying as references to "hard won rights" are--they were in fact the most easily won rights in the annals of human history; all it took was for the Supreme Court to mug American society), a sex strike would nevertheless seem an ideal tactic for achieving solidarity with men they don't sleep with, not those they do.

People who don't want to pay (especially under coercion) for others' recreational sex lives and related atrocities would be delighted for women to keep their knees together and to make men wait.  They'll settle, however, for not having to cooperate with evil.

Those who believe that the Ladies' choices are objectively disordered and intrinsically immoral--the purported attackers--are not among those who would mind (all things considered) waiting for sex, or being denied it. The Ladies' strike thus seems badly aimed at the wrong men.

What is to be gained by cutting off sex partners who already support everything the Ladies will to impose on the unwilling? As the strike announcement points out, they too depend upon these reproductive choices--especially the ones not to conceive or, nature having asserted its hegemony over volition, to kill the product of conception, human life, before it sees the light of day.

Their vulnerability to the Ladies extortion is proof of their commitment.  The strike seems aimed at rousing these too-comfortable men into action, to picking up the cudgels and engaging in battle with the alleged attackers

How old-fashioned of these modern Ladies--perhaps NOW Ladies would be more apposite--to expect men to fight their battles, and to enlist them by their gonads.  Perhaps a return to the days when men had to wait has its uses.

Anomalies notwithstanding, these Liberal Ladies are in effect telling their sex partners there will be no piece until there is no peace.  So, boys, go make some war or don't bother to beg.

Times have changed since Aristophanes' day, even Virginia Woolf's.  Lysistrata exhorted the women of Greece to cut their men off in order to end the Peloponnesian War, not instigate it.  Virginia Woolf asked what women could do to end war, generally, and thus entertained the same strategy.

Liberal Ladies Who Lunch must be confused.  They identify those who resist their aggression as attackers; they claim the mantle of modernity while resorting to behavior of millennial vintage; they view a man in control of his libido as a threat, and a man under the control of his libido as an ally; and they advocate a sex strike in order to foment, rather than end, strife.

Which brings me to Raquel Welch, a non-confused woman, who drew titters this week by descrying porn addiction, which made her--albeit in its soft form--an international celebrity for five decades.  She entered the fray by discussing sexual addiction, generally, and the misidentification of happiness with gratification. 

Raquel Welch: It’s just dehumanizing. And I have to honestly say, I think this era of porn is at least partially responsible for it. Where is the anticipation and the personalization? It’s all pre-fab now. You have these images coming at you unannounced and unsolicited. It just gets to be so plastic and phony to me. Maybe men respond to that. But is it really better than an experience with a real life girl that he cares about? It’s an exploitation of the poor male’s libidos. Poor babies, they can’t control themselves.
MH: I cannot dispute any of what you’re saying.
Raquel Welch: I just imagine them sitting in front of their computers, completely annihilated. They haven’t done anything, they don’t have a job, they barely have ambition anymore. And it makes for laziness and a not very good sex partner. Do they know how to negotiate something that isn’t pre-fab and injected directly into their brain?
MH: You make some good points, but it could also be argued that railing against kids today and their sexual obsessiveness could come across as a little over-the-hill cranky and prudish.

Raquel Welch: I know it does, and I’m fine with that. I don’t care if I’m becoming one of those old fogies who says, “Back in my day we didn’t have to hear about sex all the time.” Can you imagine? My fantasies were all made up on my own. They’re ruining us with all the explanations and the graphicness. Nobody remembers what it’s like to be left to form your own ideas about what’s erotic and sexual. We’re not allowed any individuality. I thought that was the fun of the whole thing. It’s my fantasy. I didn’t pick it off the Internet somewhere. It’s my fantasy.
Clearly, Raquel has a mind of her own.  She's more than the body that made her famous.

As I see it, exploitation of men's libidos is the tie that binds these stories.  But, where Raquel Welch (who has slaughtered more men than any woman alive) pities and chides men for being pathetic, Liberal Ladies are content to take advantage of men's lack of self-control to suit their own purposes.

Raquel has picked up wisdom over the years.  The Liberal Ladies still have much to learn.  That doesn't stop them from dictating Obama Administration policy, however, and sending their men into political battle to impose it on the scandalized.

In both stories, men's presumed (and fomented) inability to control their libidos leads to unfortunate outcomes: annihilation in Welch's telling; susceptibility to extortion in the Liberal Ladies' gambit.

The moral of these stories is that feeding sexual addictions makes men pliable and gets them used.

John Stuart Mill wrote that "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied."  That Liberal Ladies would menace men with a sex strike suggests that it's high time for men to stop grunting like pigs, acting like fools, and guiding their lives as Socrates wouldn't, i.e., with faculties not noted for reason.

Were men more practiced at appreciating beauty without consuming it, and taking possession of their eyes and minds, they wouldn't be at the mercy of Liberal Ladies Who Extort.  That seems a small price to pay for genuine liberation.

Raquel and the Liberal Ladies have done us a service by pointing out the nub of problems that vex our relations and roil our politics.  Men don't control themselves, which women take advantage of.

The solution seems obvious: men need to control their libidos, quit responding to feminine beauty like cavemen, and get sex out of their eyes and heads.  An entertainment strike on TV viewing, movie-going, computer surfing and magazine reading--in a word, on media--would seem a good place to start

With respect to women, in a 2010 interview Raquel lamented the enervating affect of contraception on society and marriage, the "cornerstone of civilization,"
"Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it's gotta be pretty bad. In fact, it's precisely because of the sexy image I've had that it's important for me to speak up and say: Come on girls! Time to pull up our socks! We're capable of so much better."
I don't know what Raquel would say to the Liberal Ladies.  Perhaps she'd applaud them for taking control of their sexuality, but probably wouldn't for taking control of their men's.  She might even chide them for cooperating with pathetic men to debase moral standards.

Perhaps she would simply encourage them to say no to sexual manipulation, and caution them about institutional arrangements that sap marriage, society and, ironically, eroticism and sexuality, of vitality.

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