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May 17, 2005

Thou Shalt Be Ashamed

Of the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven. ~ Mark Twain

I think I finally understand the anti-sex rabidity of the fundamentalist right. For years I've been bewildered by and afraid of them. For so long, I've considered them to be simply deranged, but they appear to have tapped into something in "the homeland" and that power has to be respected. It's easy to laugh them off, but then you think about things like Waco and Jonestown and you realize it's not funny, and either it's just my paranoia kicking in, or it seems to be getting worse day by day (save the "darkness before the dawn" speech, please). Now, with a self-declared evangelical president who may be getting rid of the filibuster to make way for evangelical judges that will hold lifetime seats and influence US law for generations...well, my sense of humor on the topic has dwindled.

And just when I thought I'd never "get it" the proverbial light went on.

Today, I read a post on Hullabaloo about "anti-abortion extremist" Neal Horsley. He's one of those nutbags that harasses doctors and clinics and thinks the "do not kill" part of his rhetoric applies only to a fetus and not the doctors who get killed by his "pro-life" buddies.

And I'd like to make something clear at this point. When I say "fundamentalist right" I'm talking about just that. Not the average Republican nor the average Christian. I'm using the word fundamentalists literally, not for sarcastic effect.

At any rate, the Hullabaloo article (which cross-refs NewsHounds)provides a semi-transcript where Horsley admits to fucking farm animals (seriously) during his "hedonistic" days of youth. I had a lot of trouble believing that a Jesus freak who considers Bush a radical liberal would admit to fucking a mule in a national radio interview. But, sure enough, an excerpt appears right on the Alan Colmes Show page.

My first knee-jerk reaction was the same thought that pinged me when it started being revealed that so many high-profile anti-gay figures were closet cases: they're a bunch of fucking hypocrites. But that isn't the important lesson to take from this.

By and large I feel there are two types of hypocrisy. The first is a liar saying one thing and doing another just because he wants to get away with it. Intentional falseness with an agenda; premeditated hypocrisy.

The other flavor is just incidental hypocrisy and it happens everyday to most of us over the course of simply being a human being. I'm viciously opposed to child labor, but I'm a choc-o-holic. I loathe Wal-Mart and everything they stand for, but they're close and sometimes I just don't have the time to drive across town to the mom and pop shop that has the same thing. You can only read so many labels and do so many good deeds. So you make little compromises of your ideals and, let's face it, it's simply one of the costs of living. If you try to live every moment of every day abiding by all your "line in the sand" views on morals and integrity, you're going to find it's a full time job and end up missing out on many of the joys the world has to offer.

And I think it is the second type of hypocrisy that most of the people who scare me suffer from. I think in their lives, during formative years, they were damaged and brainwashed into believing that sex is dirty and wrong. In some cases, apparently, missionary sex is okay when engaged in with a spouse. But missionary sex that can only be performed while married doesn't fulfill everyone's sexual needs -- I'd argue most people's sexual needs, but I don't have the science to back up that statement. Certainly, however, it does nothing to appease the sex drive of the average puberty-crazed teen.

So, when these people experiment to find pleasure they are self-tortured and filled with shame. It pushes them to desperate acts -- like sexually harassing the family pet. This is so hard for my mind to wrap around. I've been touching myself since before I could spell and I was never once made to think it was dirty or wrong. I never got that memo. The idea that someone could feel that way by acts I consider as necessary as breathing ... it must be a tremendous burden to bear.

Now, obviously, most people don't engage in sex acts with animals as a major outlet, no matter what Mr. Horsley has convinced himself of. But I'm sure there are those who feel that masturbation or premarital sex makes them just as filthy as fucking a mule. Their shame must be palpable and the pent frustration it produces must be funneled into other outlets. For some, obviously, it crystallizes into a cause.

Causes can be healthy (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation), but they can also be a pulpit for tunnel-vision crazies (:::cough::: Fred Phelps :::cough:::). And the validity of rallying cries is tainted by the nature of the cause. For those who are sexually crippled by shame, it would appear that the rallying cry is to influence and limit/prohibit the potential actions of others.

In their minds, it must make sense. They have learned from their sins. The joy they experience now is a sense of social fulfillment that replaces sexual release. And I'm sure, in their minds, they must think they're trying to save the rest of us from the pain and self-torment they've experienced.

Obviously, enough Americans (I refuse to believe the majority) have sufficient levels of this shame hiding within them to feel beholden and afraid of sexual freedoms. And, like all fears, these spring from ignorance.

The mainstream sex industry isn't going to be what gets through to these people. Streaking pranks and topless car washes don't address the problem. It will not make these people any more comfortable with their bodies or their personal sexual inclinations. It won't make them feel any less dirty inside. It isn't going to be accomplished through bombardment. I think the healthy celebration of sexual freedom we've seen over the last 30 years has served as inspiration for the backlashes we're experiencing today.

We all celebrated OUR joys of sexuality and sensual expression, but we forgot about those who are more reserved, uncomfortable, or traumatized by sex. And the most horrific of all of this is the realization that we've allowed fundamentalists to continue their insurgency into our educational system. Basic sexual education has been under fire for centuries and organizations like Scarleteen can only reach so many.

It's probably too late to change the minds of those we're fighting against now. But we have to keep this lesson close and make sure we're getting through to kids -- even kids in "the heartland." Sex is not wrong. I'd almost like to get in a car and drive through Iowa spray-painting it on the sides of barns just to get the people talking about it who need it the most.

Without the guilt and stranglehold fundamentalists hold over their base, there wouldn't be a culture war. Because, let's face it, we can argue our political differences all day, but when the big guns want to distract from actual civic issues, they always play the sex card.

If people weren't terrified of becoming homosexuals (or being labeled as one) then there would be no reason in their minds to restrict gay rights. And that's the key. We've got to defuse the sex card so that there's no place to go with it; no fear to garner and no shame to exploit. We've got to liberate these people from their own shells. We've got to remove the stigma and the shame.

At least that's my theory.

How to accomplish it? Aye, there's the rub. But I have to admit, I feel somewhat more empowered understanding the problem for the first time.

Enlightenment achieved by listening to an anti-abortionist talk about getting it on in the barn. That's got to be a new one.


Poli-Sci by Doxy at 12:35 AM | permalink | talkback (1)


Aha! You have enlightened me as well. This is really well thought out and spot on. Those fundies have bugged the hell out of me for a long time. I would like to tell all of them, "Hey, if you don't like that, then don't do that. But you MUST not tell me what to do or how to think." You are now bookmarked. Intelligence and sexiness are a potent combination.

Posted by: cdb at May 19, 2005 05:11 PM

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