Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why be blunt about sex?

As anyone who's seen my antics over at What's Wrong With the World can tell you, I don't always get along with fellow social conservatives. Part of that is just due to my personality and the way I communicate - I'm aware that I can snap pretty easily at times, that I can focus on technicalities that irritate people, and that when I feel insulted I tend to escalate rather than blow things off. I'm not exactly pleasant - a revelation that surprises no one.

But aside from that, I catch a fair amount of shit because I'm highly critical of how social conservatives handle themselves when it comes to the topic of gay marriage and homosexuality in general. I also get some unique responses out of liberals because I ditch what I see as party-line criticisms of LGBT topics - this pussyfooting around the real issues, both in a moral and a secular sense. The short version is, everyone's afraid to talk about actual sex - the fact that the central problem with "gay relationships" is not the love, the hand-holding, or even these illustrated feelings of tenderness, but the abuse of sex and the malfunction of sexual interest.

I could see part of the problem, on the part of conservatives, is a general habit of avoiding vulgar talk - and really, there's no way to both clearly talk about sex and sexual desire without being vulgar. Not if you want to actually address the topic at hand, and trying to use talk of 'sodomy' in its place not only largely misses the point, but it's archaic-sounding besides to most ears. But I think a larger worry is one that crosses the liberal/conservative divide - people are uncomfortable talking about sex, period, in anything approaching a direct fashion. Especially - and this is key - once psychology starts getting wrapped up in it all. It's too broadly personal, it pulls people out of their comfort zone. Even obnoxious extreme-end liberals who love talking in broad senses about their polyamorous relationships and pansexual gender preferences will usually drop to a deer-in-headlights stare when you ask start asking questions about specific acts and mentalities. "So what should we think about someone who really craves a long, thick cock being jammed into their ass by a person they keep calling "daddy"?" will turn a lot of self-described hedonists into Church Ladies if it's coming from anything approaching a critic. I do not think these issues are restricted to liberals.

It's understandable, on a personal level, why people wouldn't want to talk about this. Un-fucking-fortunately, sex acts happen to be the central issue of contention in every topic from basic sexual morality to theological and metaphysical moral teaching to gay marriage to otherwise. If you remove the sex and the sexual desire, there is nothing - nada, nyet - wrong with a 'homosexual relationship'. Subtract that, and you're talking friendship, even deep friendship. The sex is everything, and that means we have to talk about it.

And if we don't? Then we subject ourselves to decades of vague discussions about "gay marriage" (when, really, it doesn't goddamn matter if two heterosexual men get married - THAT is an abuse of marriage too, even if they never have sex with each other), or "same-sex relationships" and "the gay lifestyle", as if the problems at hand is an unusual affinity for rainbows or a condemnation of two men living together and not getting married. Oops, too late - we already walked that route, and it's a large part of the reason why we're on the ropes.

Which is why I demand being blunt about sex, and why I regard a conservative fatwa against vulgarity on this topic - against reasoned vulgarity - to be not only short-sighted, but literally suicidal in the culture war. We cannot keep dressing this topic up and layering over it with code words meant to not scare off the most rabbit-like of church ladies. We have to face what the real problems are, what we are actually condemning. Otherwise we're going to repeatedly get sandbagged by people who portray us as 'being against love', as if 'love' were the problem with a cock ramming into the ass or down the throat.

8 comments:

ingx24 said...

As a fierce opponent of social conservatism (at least regarding the topic of homosexuality), I want to say this:

I think the first thing social conservatives will have to do, before anything else, is convince people that natural law is the correct approach to morality. Unless you can do that, you won't have any grounds for claiming that there's anything objectively wrong with same-sex intercourse, or anything inherently "broken" about same-sex attraction. And to establish natural law, you'll need to establish the truth of the whole Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical system - something that you're gonna have a hell of a time doing in today's intellectual climate.

Crude said...

As a fierce opponent of social conservatism (at least regarding the topic of homosexuality)

Why are you a fierce opponent? What motivates this?

I think the first thing social conservatives will have to do, before anything else, is convince people that natural law is the correct approach to morality. Unless you can do that, you won't have any grounds for claiming that there's anything objectively wrong with same-sex intercourse, or anything inherently "broken" about same-sex attraction.

I disagree. In fact, for as much as I think the arguments for natural law and Aristo-thomism are powerful and intellectual defensively (which is a far cry from absolutely demonstrably right), I oppose this as a rhetorical strategy.

That's a little like going back to 1985 and saying that the only way for gay marriage proponents to gain any traction is to convince the world that moral nihilism and nominalism are correct metaphysical positions. In an intellectual sense it may be so - in practice, it doesn't mean shit because most people can't define nominalism. Hell, most people can't define metaphysics. That isn't where proponents of either gay marriage or liberal sexuality morality invested themselves. Arguments had little to do with the cultural shift.

Most people don't care about arguments. Or intellectual consistency. Or, really, many other things. What I advocate is clarity in criticism, but that can affect a whole, wide, broad range of topics, and mandate a broad slew of approaches. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that Thomism - even Aristotileanism - isn't required.

I think it's defensible. Even right. But in a few ways, it's unnecessary.

malcolmthecynic said...

I don't know Crude, I think Aristotelianism is required, just not in as specific a sense as usually thought of. Sure, we don't, and shouldn't, start off gay marriage discussions with, "If you agree with Aristotle..." or some such thing.

But by its very virtue this whole issue boils down to Aristotelian metaphysics. Why do we think shoving cocks up people's asses is wrong? WHY is it broken? If you're going to establish that, and even discuss what conservatives mean when they say "harm", "love", and "marriage", we're going back to Aristotelianism. Not in a direct sense, sure, but establishing what should be "common sense" is, in theory anyway, de facto establishing Aristotelianism anyway.

ingx24 said...

Why are you a fierce opponent? What motivates this?

Because I think it's ridiculous to say that someone's sexual preferences can be objectively "wrong" or "broken" as long as it doesn't motivate them to victimize or take advantage of anyone. Who cares if two guys want to have sex with each other? Why is it anyone's business but their own? Who is it hurting, and in what way?

Crude said...

Malcolm,

WHY is it broken? If you're going to establish that, and even discuss what conservatives mean when they say "harm", "love", and "marriage", we're going back to Aristotelianism. Not in a direct sense, sure, but establishing what should be "common sense" is, in theory anyway, de facto establishing Aristotelianism anyway.

Well, the attitude I have is you can 'water down' these things in a certain way and deal with intuitions people have, or at least get them to appreciate your view more readily. In fact, I honestly think that most of the LGBT movement is subconsciously driven by this realization that what they are doing is on some level /wrong/ and /broken/ but that maybe, just maybe, if they're frantic enough and pass enough laws and control enough speech all those voices in the back of their heads will stop once and for all and they will know peace. Of course that's getting into heavy psychoanalysis territory and is more a hunch than anything - but there it is.

Let me put it to you this way - you say 'not in a direct sense', and I think that's basically what I'm talking about here. Not in an intellectual sense, but in a primitive, grasping sense, it's Aristotileanism or something near enough. But that just means that we don't need those distilled intellectual arguments anyway - we need to work with something else, something more primitive and visceral.

At the same time, I honestly believe that if someone is going to go the complete subjectivist/nihilist route, you still have your 'intellectual' mandate, because at that point you're just recognizing that all moral views are something close to aethetic anyway - and it's not like the anti-gay-marriage view is somehow "worse" than any other. Which is why I think people who dive for nihilism in this desperate hope that at least THERE they can finally insulate themselves from the Aristotilean bogeyman are ultimately mistaken - take that route and they've pretty well said 'intellectually your wants are on an equal plane with mine'. Then it's all about force and manipulation and personal aesthetics.

Which is one reason why, even though the 'most people support gay marriage/think such and such sex acts are morally okay' data bothers me on one level, it doesn't on another. While I don't think the intellectual arguments themselves move people directly most of the time, I think ideas have repercussions - and the fallout that's going to come from these movements will be amusing if nothing else. I think the pro-LGBT people are ultimately not only in a precarious position, but will remain in that position for all time. It's an intellectual house of cards, and no matter how much effort you put into keeping it up, eventually it's going to fall - and there's no stopping it once it falls.

Crude said...

ingx24,

Because I think it's ridiculous to say that someone's sexual preferences can be objectively "wrong" or "broken" as long as it doesn't motivate them to victimize or take advantage of anyone.

I have trouble believing this, and here's why: the mere belief that someone is wrong does not in and of itself motivate someone to become a 'fierce opponent' of them. I imagine there are plenty of beliefs people hold that you regard as wrong, yet you're ultimately apathetic - or at the least, not at all emotionally invested - about their being wrong.

At the same time, you say 'victimize' or 'take advantage of anyone' - but doesn't that seem like question begging? If someone is convinced that something is immoral is in fact moral, or at least morally neutral, is that victimization or taking advantage of someone? I think at the very least it should be easy to recognize - unless you automatically believe these are stark black-and-white issues - that it's a little more complicated than most people let on.

Who cares if two guys want to have sex with each other? Why is it anyone's business but their own? Who is it hurting, and in what way?

You know, you ask me this. But are you going to really tell me that LGBT groups are demonstrating that all they want is privacy? That a large part of their motivation is not only making their sexual acts and preferences the business of others, but of making damn sure everyone answers the right way? This isn't the 1990s where someone could reasonably bluff and say 'we have a right to privacy, it's not your business' - not when the whole point is to NOT be private about it, to be 'out and proud' and if anyone disapproves in a public way, well, we damn well better make sure they can even get employed.

The fight over gay marriage is all about public status and visibility. If this was about mere privacy, the issue would have been settled literally years ago.

Drew said...

haha, This hhas to be one of your best posts so far.

ingx24 said...

I have trouble believing this, and here's why: the mere belief that someone is wrong does not in and of itself motivate someone to become a 'fierce opponent' of them. I imagine there are plenty of beliefs people hold that you regard as wrong, yet you're ultimately apathetic - or at the least, not at all emotionally invested - about their being wrong.

Hm... sounds like "fierce opponent" was the wrong choice of words. What I meant was simply that I disagree more with social conservatism about homosexuality than I do with most other positions. I didn't mean to imply that I was emotionally invested in it or anything.