Tuesday, November 8, 2016


"Would you run away to another land?
Walk a thousand miles through the burning sand?
And wipe the blood away from my dying hand
If I gave myself to you?"

Shivaree - Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)

Lady, it ain't no gift! Nothing is, in fact, given, when a woman so sneeringly condescends to spread her legs for a man. The few calories of energy expended in amusing ourselves with the sexual organs and instincts we've inherited as evolutionary relics are not in fact transferred from one person to the other but invested in the activity itself. Sex is not a product, nor a gift.

I said a few days ago I've been reading H.G. Wells' Tono-Bungay, a marginally fictionalized commentary on English society around the previous turn of the century published in 1909. Though most of it deals with the English class system and the increasingly predatory commercialization of public affairs, it also touches on other mental illnesses of the body politic like marriage and religion.
"I have tried [...] to indicate something of my own sexual development [...] My ideas were made partly of instinct, partly of romantic imagination, partly woven out of a medley of scraps of suggestion that came to me haphazard. [...] But it was evident to me [...] that to defy convention and succumb magnificently to passion was the proper thing to do to gain the respect and affection of all decent people.

And the make-up of Marion's mind in the matter was an equally irrational affair. Her training had been one, not simply of silences, but suppressions. An enormous force of suggestion had so shaped her that the intense natural fastidiousness of girlhood had developed into an absolute perversion of instinct. For all that is cardinal in this essential business of life she had one inseparable epithet - "horrid." Without any such training she would have been a shy lover but now she was an impossible one. [...] she had an idea of love as a state of worship and service on the part of the man and of condescension on the part of the woman. There was nothing "horrid" about it in any fiction she had read. The man gave presents, did services, sought in every way to be delightful. The woman "went out" with him, smiled at him, was kissed by him in decorous secrecy, and if he chanced to offend, denied her countenance and presence. Usually she did something "for his good" to him, made him go to church, made him give up smoking or gambling, smartened him up. Quite at the end of the story came a marriage, and after that the interest ceased."

Isn't it strange that the anti-sexual interpretation of sex which Wells presents as a singular aberration of the English society of his day is now, a hundred and seven years later, the uncontested law governing interaction between the genders? We sneer at Victorians as buttoned-down all the while convinced, ourselves, that sexual relationships are about anything and everything other than sex. Sex, we assure ourselves, is not about anything "horrid" but about men begging women to "go out" with them, about dinners in fancy restaurants, planting her roses where she wants them in the garden, cuddling on the couch watching her favorite movies, it's about listening to a woman talk about her day and giving her foot-rubs; sex is about diamond rings, banishing men to man-caves in their own homes, half-of-everything divorces, alimony and making husband #2 parade you around in the car paid for by husband #1.

Human sex is all about exerting power over men. It's about men debasing themselves in displays of devotion to women and women sneering down at men from atop the pedestal of femininity. Sex is never about sex.

Where men have a sex drive, women have a control drive, and while we vilify sex we glorify that female control, most often called romance. What men want is condemned as "horrid." Pornography, sex for its own sake, is demonized and swept under society's rug but romantic movies, romantic songs, romantic books, romantic news segments fill every moment of our public life. We live in constant panic over the threat of the rape of the body yet beatify the rape of an entire life, of men subverting their existence to protecting and providing for women and their offspring. We still push men to "succumb magnificently to passion" and risk everything in pursuit of women who deride and belittle them.

And sure, Wells later presents alongside the repressed Marion the liberated Effie with whom the narrator eventually has a no-strings affair. He neglects however to address the infinitesimally small proportion of Effies to Marions within the human species, if any Effies have even survived into the era of #HeForShe and #killallmen. It may be that decades from now we'll look back at the first twenty years or so of the new millennium, the age of the cult of Andrea Dworkin, as a bizarre sort of nu-Victorian prissiness. My money's on the alternate explanation. Wells mis-attributed his character Marion's behavior to nurture and not nature. The demonization of the sexual side of sex in favor of the glorification of courtship rituals, of blue-balled males constantly showering females in displays of devotion and social rank, that represents not merely some anomalous historical curiousity but an expression of women's own sexual instincts. The female of the species has likely just evolved to - bleed - men for the hell of it, to constantly reassure themselves of their mates' devotion by wringing as much out of them as possible. For material gain, sure, but more often than not for the sheer power trip of laying claim to more and more of a man's time and energy for herself, of getting her way. We applaud any female who brags about having males tied around her little finger. It takes effort on a woman's part to check herself in this behavior but no encouragement is given to women to do so whatsoever. Quite the contrary. Everything in our society tells women to indulge in their instinct to control men - "for his good" naturally. It's not an imposition upon women (though the tail might occasionally wag the bitch) so much as an expression of the predominant unanalyzed female instinct.

1909, 2016, London or Anytown, U.S.A., who can even tell? New barrel, same monkeys. Fun, fun, fun.

edit 2016/12/03 - Added a sentence and a half for clarification.

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