You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Thursday, October 02, 2003

WAS CS LEWIS EVER NOT RIGHT? Warning: the first link is to an article that CONTAINS RUDE WORDS and REFERS TO ADULT THEMES AND CONCEPTS. Nonetheless it makes some points worth thinking about. (Thanks to Boar's Head Tavern for the link. Link requires subscription, but will give you a "day pass" if you watch a short ad.) I cannot confirm or deny how true Ms Marlow’s generalisations are concerning the wider populace. What is striking, though, is how her report confirms what an unmarried Oxford don predicted sixty years ago:

(1) “It was after seeing “Thirteen” and noticing the display rack of handcuffs at Sam Goody on Sixth Avenue that it hit me: The polymorphously perverse, gender-is-just-a-construct future that radical feminists and academics used to dream of has actually arrived. Men no longer have any authority, either in their own eyes or in women’s, the genders are distinguished socially mainly by stuff they buy, and eroticism has fled from the bedroom to the store. It’s sexier for most of us to go shopping than to make love, and so we do. As a friend said when I told her I’d spent much of the weekend in bed with a man, “Who has time for that? The weekend is the only chance I have to do my shopping”. […]

“The collapse of the patriarchy was supposed to make women happy – we were supposed to get more sex, freer sex, better sex, more loving sex and better relations between men and women. If you went to an Ivy League college in the last 20 years or had a professor who did, you probably heard something about this.

“But instead men treat women worse than ever, women are retreating to 1950s notions that sex is something men like, and the nearly successful effort to stamp out gender contrast has made upper-middle-class American sex miserably dull, with or without handcuffs. Men and women are just too much alike stylistically now for much erotic energy to arise from their conjunction. […]

“The new American ideal is an equal relationship, satisfying our craving for justice and for simplicity. When I hear American women in their 20s and early 30s talk about their boyfriends, they seem preoccupied with whether they do 50 per cent of the dishes and whether they spend 50 per cent of the time talking about their problems and anxieties. Of course this is compensation for years of institutionalised unfairness, but it also sounds a lot like a defence against the powerful feelings they have for the men they love. […]

“What’s often lost in the insistence on equality is quality – how the people feel about each other, how much love they can give each other. We now feel queasy about the romantic language of our ancestors, who used the metaphors of slavery and devotion unabashedly. But is there another language with which to speak of love? Love does involve two people putting themselves in the power of each other. We’ve forgotten that what we are looking for between men and women is fairness and compassion, not identity, and there can be justice between people who acknowledge that their balance of power is unequal. The heterosexual act of love does involve women putting themselves literally in the power of men. And we no longer trust enough to do so.”

-- Ann Marlowe, “No intercourse, please – we’re enlightened: Sensitive, feminised and resentful, today’s young men no longer have the sexual authority to please a woman – no matter how much oral sex they perform”. (1 October 2003).

(1) “Men have so horribly abused their power over women in the past that to wives, of all people, equality is in danger of appearing as an ideal. But Mrs Naomi Mitchison has laid her finger on the real point. Have as much equality as you please – the more the better – in our marriage laws: but at some level consent to inequality, nay, delight in inequality, is an erotic necessity. Mrs Mitchison speaks of women so fostered on a defiant idea of equality that the mere sensation of the male embrace rouses an undercurrent of resentment. Marriages are thus shipwrecked. [fn: Naomi Mitchison, The Home and a Changing Civilisation (London, 1934), Chapter I, pp 49-50.] This is the tragi-comedy of the modern woman; taught by Freud to consider the act of love the most important thing in life, and then inhibited by feminism from that internal surrender which alone can make it a complete emotional success. Merely for the sake of her own erotic pleasure, to go no further, some degree of obedience and humility seems to be (normally) necessary on the woman’s part.”

– CS Lewis, “Equality”. Orig pub in (1943) The Spectator (27 August 1943), p 192. Rep in Present Concerns, ed Walter Hooper (London: HarperCollins, 1986), p 19.

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