Raging Libido

From Townhall, more oddities, this time courtesy of Dennis Prager: When a Woman Isn’t in the Mood, Part 1.

I’ve written before about the dangers of buying into ‘Saturday morning cartoon’-style ideas of gender,  a trap that the Religious Right seems to fall into with every step; traditional family values go hand-in-hand with overly simplistic notions of what the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ mean. In this article, the first of a threatened series, Prager explains that women should avoid saying no to their lustful husband’s sexual advances, even if they really aren’t in the mood for sex. Keep in mind that this was written in 2008, as opposed to, say, 1905.

The central point of his argument is that ‘A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him’, and from this it naturally follows that a woman who refuses sex is giving her husband the impression that she doesn’t love him. His near-omniscient knowledge of the male and female minds allows him to deliver this knowledge in godlike fashion, presenting it to us mere mortals with much fanfare and condescension. Curiously, he simultaneously assumes that these truths he speaks of are self-evident – at least, I’m assuming that’s the assumption that went behind his decision to not cite any evidence whatsoever.

In fact, he takes a decidedly unscientific approach to the subject when he asserts that ‘Compared to most women’s sexual nature, men’s sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. So what? That is the way he is made. Blame God and nature.’ Actually, I would say that both men and women posses ‘sexual natures’ which are absolutely identical to that of the rare and elusive animal  species Homo sapiens.

But enough snarking; nobody expects anything so esoteric as evidence when dealing with Right-wing crackpots. I don’t have much insight into the workings of an ordinary heterosexual relationship, so I’ll leave Prager’s treatment of male-female dynamics to someone more qualified, but I would like to say a bit about his portrayal of men.

According to Prager, men are essentially penises with legs. How do we measure the success of a relationship? With sex. How do we know if our significant others love us? With sex. What is the greatest threat to our forming long-term relationships? Lack of sex. I’m not going to deny that most men quite enjoy sex, but the world does not begin and end with it. And if Prager’s assessment of heterosexual relationships is true, I’m pretty damn glad that I’m gay.

My partner isn’t particularly interested in having sex at the moment, for reasons that I won’t go into here. He could do it if he wanted to, he just doesn’t feel like it right now. Rather than feeling unloved because of this, I respect the fact that he’s just not in the mood, and likely won’t be for some weeks or even months to come. Do you know why? Because demanding that he validate our relationship by having sex when he doesn’t want to would make me a complete asshole.

This is, to my mind, how it should be. For the married straight men out there: how happy would you be if you knew that your wife was only giving in to your advances because she feels that she needs to? That it’s a duty rather than something she actually wants to do? That would certainly kill my relationship faster than any suspicion of infidelity, because it would mean that I’d be married to someone who doesn’t see herself as my equal. Prager’s recipe for a happy marriage is for a wife to make herself subservient to ‘her man’, who just can’t control his raging sex drive; to me, that comes across more as a ringing endorsement for polygamy.

I can’t speak for all men, obviously, but the thought of being in a relationship like that disgusts me. I am not some sort of uncontrollable beast that requires sex on demand in order to be kept happy. Is this what people mean when they talk about traditional conceptions of the family – patriarchy and lust? No thanks.

Oh, and if you’re lucky, the Ann Coulter advertisement will still be lurking halfway down Prager’s article by the time you read this. Man, there’s an idea for a future post…

Next time on what I’m already beginning to think of as ‘the Townhall files’, I’ll say a few words on this cataclysmically stupid attempt at justifying the Rick Warren affair.


3 Responses to “Raging Libido”

  1. 1 D.C. LaRocca December 27, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    You must have missed the memo: “Dennis Prager is an idiot.”

    That said, there are men and women in both straight and gay relationships who measure love largely by the level of physical intimacy. I guess that’s o.k. as long as both partners feel that way.

  2. 2 augustine December 28, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Indeed, I’m not about to dictate to people how they should quantify the success of their relationships. Still, to me the ideal of a romantic relationship involving a ‘meeting of minds’ is very attractive, far more so than one measured in terms of physical intimacy.

  1. 1 Sexual Politics « Just Above Sunset Trackback on December 27, 2008 at 6:23 am

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