A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Mutton Chop Tease Show

In C. S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity, there is a peculiar quote about sexuality. I think I recall it being quoted by others in defense of conservative sexual mores:
You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act--that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?

One critic said that if he found a country in which such strip-tease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving. He means, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease act resulted not from sexual corruption but from sexual starvation. I agree with him that if, in some strange land, we found that similar acts with mutton chops were popular, one of the possible explanations which would occur to me would be famine. But the next step would be to test our hypothesis by finding out whether, in fact, much or little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed that a good deal was being eaten, then of course we should have to abandon the hypothesis of starvation and try to think of another one. In the same way, before accepting sexual starvation as the cause of the strip-tease, we should have to look for evidence that there is in fact more sexual abstinence in our age than in those ages when things like the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before, and public opinion is less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than has been since Pagan times. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Macmillan, 1973), pp. 89-90]
So, according to Prof. Lewis, our age is one of sexual gluttony, since our appetite for sex is keen even in the presence of bounteous access. I have never fully agreed with Lewis' above quote and even now find myself siding somewhat with his unnamed critic. Lewis' wrote his work in the middle part of the last century. I highly doubt he could have foreseen the wreckage that feminism and the Sexual Revolution has wrought on our cultural fabric.

Sure, the socially dominant and the unscrupulous may be getting more sex, but others are finding themselves increasingly isolated in a depersonalizing culture. The burgeoning online dating industry, as a case in point, is indicative of how intimacy has become elusive for many souls. Moreover, if we are to believe, as some do, that married people have more sex than singles, then a decline in marriage itself can point to sexual starvation.

Some fellow bloggers tackling men's issues also point to the haremization of our culture. It could be the Government Harem of Marriage 2.0 and family law. It could be the Cultural Harem of women chasing a tiny pool of "Alphas" or women holding out for idealized mates that don't exist. Either way, men are getting locked out.

So I think Lewis' appraisal of our situation is deficient. I am not surprised that porn has mushroomed and been normalized. I am not surprised that some are now talking about the next phase of technologies in the sex industry (teledildonics, haptic technology, sexbots, whatever). What else could have happened? The relationship between the sexes is highly dysfunctional. Men are told that they can't live without sex or women. The Pink Wurlitzer plays that tune non-stop. So when people don't get any intimacy in a healthy way, its understandable when they scrape around in trash cans for poor substitutes.

Social conservatives just don't get it. They are following C. S. Lewis' line of reasoning. They typically think gluttony is the problem, when in many cases, desperation borne out of deprivation is the problem. If they do acknowledge an intimacy famine, their "solution" is Marriage 2.0. That is no real solution. The institution of marriage must be fixed in our culture, shorn of its misandrist elements before it can be taken seriously again. I have consistently preached that men can do without intimacy with women if only for the sake of their dignity and sanity. Indeed, sensible men will do without if the medicine is worse than the ailment. In many cases, it is.

Yet the problem remains. Men don't really have a lot of good options, so many of them take poor ones. The solution to our sexual ills cannot be reduced to theological and political soundbites. The religious pundits will yammer on and rail against men, but more male-bashing will accomplish very little. The hungry are still hungry. We've only just made them feel guilty about it. The Mutton Chop Tease Show will continue.

8 comments:

Thursday said...

In our society there's both a lot of gluttony and a lot of starvation, just for different people.

Anonymous said...

One thing that strikes me is the emphasis on masturbation as a necessary and good thing whereas some decades ago and before that men where taught the value of self control- up to the level of avoiding masturbation. This is also something that very few christian men bother to talk about, eventough masturbation in these times are very likely to lead to consumption of porn.

If one looks a bit closer on this topic there is a great animosity in the current zeitgeist and especialy amongst feminists against actual sexual abstinence among men. The idea that a man can in fact master his appetite and and thereby become well fed is a very threatening idea.

njartist said...

@Anon

More people are able to read the bible wherein they find there is no prohibition against masturbation: Onan was practicing the Roman Catholic practice of premature withdrawal. People finally discovered one of Rome's great lies.

Anonymous said...

you're right, the sex obsessions stem from starvation -- a starvation that's v hard to see, impossible to quantify, and not in the interest of our feminist cultures to expose

they like the system as is!

the west tremendously heightens male sexual arousal, steeping males in it constantly, then siphoning off that energy for its own use, including scapegoating and punishing the male for the very arousal it has purposely induced

generally men respond by seeking alternatives (porno etc); women also do this but also transfer their sexual frustration and rage into "laws" that punish males for maleness -- something with which their states are only to happy to comply

correct also that the political and religious sectors collude in this evil, largely because it suits their psychosocial agendas and maintains their power -- at a huge expense -- an expense overwhelmingly borne by "other" boys and men

as you point out, marriage should be the answer, but it now cannot be, having also been turned from god's purposes and co-opted by the matriarchal nations of the west

vysota said...

I'm assuming "Anonymous" views punctuation as a feminist tool. Good for him...

Talleyrand said...

I think he just has a problem with periods, which is generally a "female complaint."

Anakin, this post is a good summation of the situation for a fair number of men.

IlĂ­on said...

Even though you do touch upon the relevant distinctions, I think you're missing the point -- we live in an age gluttonous with sexual acts, and starved for love and intimacy.

joshtheaspie said...

I am reminded of a description of the French from the early part of "A Tale of Two Cities".

It describes the excess of the nobles, in debt, who could not think of getting rid of even one of the 4 servants devoted to whipping up a chocolate beverage, while the peasantry are so perpetually hungry that the image of the common Frenchman remained, for quite some time after, always overly thin and frail.

And now, the french as a whole love food so much that the closest word they have for glutton is "Gormandise". http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gormandise


I recall reading that French Catholics requested that teaching against gluttony be removed, as they see gormandise as a virtue.