Friday, March 1, 2013

Flannery Fridays QOTW: Porn and Sentimentality

Free to be who we are meant to be, not something else.

"Pornography, on the other hand, is essentially sentimental, for it leaves out the connection of sex with its hard purpose, and so far disconnects it from its meaning in life as to make it an experience for its own sake."

--Flannery O'Connor, The Church and the Fiction Writer, America Magazine, 1957

I have a difficult relationship with the feminist movement of my youth, made even more difficult after watching the new PBS documentary, Makers:Women Who Make America this past week. I part ways with them on some fronts, most notably on sex and abortion.

The idea that women can pop a pill so that they can be as sexually free as men does not ring true for me. I once took the pill for about 6 months. I hated it. A woman's body has a great way of telling her what is going on: tenderness, bloating, even fatigue and hunger can signal that her body is doing what it should be doing. At least that's the way it is for me, but when I was on the pill all of that changed. I became less clued-in to the signals my body was giving me and became more dependent on the color of pills left in the little package. Blue pills for most of the month, white for about a week.

I became divorced from myself. It was dreadful.

I'm 48 years old and my body is going through changes. I'm clued-in to those changes and am grateful for it, even as they are confusing and exasperating.

Isn't that level of tuning in something we ought to keep? Isn't it something we should even celebrate?  I can't help but think we've gone full circle--from being told that the natural processes of our body were "a curse" from God, thereby relegating women to second-class citizenship, to believing ourselves that it is a curse of nature and we do everything (birth control that gives us a period only a few times a year. Yuck.)we can to become less like women and more like men. The former we call repression, the latter we call "freedom." The only thing we've done is internalized the lie we were told and made it our own.

Well-respected leaders of the women's movement said we should be as sexually free (libertine) as men, or as we wanted to be. Isn't it better to want something more than that? If we mimic the behavior of another, isn't it that we are actually less free to be our authentic selves? We aren't truly ourselves, nor are we truly another. We become an unreasonable facsimile.

There's an old story about a woman who cuts off the end of a pot roast before she cooks it. Her young daughter, curious about this ritual, asks her why she does it. The mother responds that she wasn't sure why, but she saw her own mother do it. So, the young girl, not quite satisfied with that answer, asks her grandmother why she cut the end of the meat before putting it in the pot. Again, the grandmother tells her because that's what her own mother did. Not to be deterred, the girl asks her great-grandmother why she did this.

"Because the pot was too small," the great-grandmother replied.

An action devoid of it's intended purpose becomes hollow.

To be sexually free doesn't mean that we divorce ourselves from its "hard purpose" of procreation and unification of love, but that we embrace that truth and enjoy the beauty of it. That's freedom.

We need to be celebrating life, not preventing it from occurring or destroying it. Unlike many people, I did not rejoice when the military announced that women would be allowed to fight in combat roles. Letting more people take away life isn't equality or freedom. It's a symptom that there is something gravely wrong with the way we live today.

And then there's Maude