Monday, August 22, 2011
Intolerant women and male/female sex differences
Bettina Arndt is a good-humoured Australian lady who has been a sex columnist and counselor for many years -- both before and after her own happy marriage. Her husband died of a heart attack aged only 37 in 1981. She later remarried. She has elsewhere dealt with the problems of women whose husband has lost interest in sex but below she deals with the opposite problem: Men whose wives have lost interest in sex.
Faced with the misery of a lifetime spent dealing with the frustrations of monogamous sex-starved marriage, most men don't leave. On my website forum, there's a letter titled "Do I stay or do I go" from a 40-year-old married man who's gone for years without any sex in his marriage. The letter has attracted hundreds of responses, many from men urging him to go. He left, for a while, but then came back and is struggling on, trying to make his marriage work. Like most men who write to me, he loves his wife and children and feels he has too much to lose if he leaves.
We hear constantly about men in trouble over sex. Men in trouble for not keeping their trousers zipped, for groping and harassing women, men caught out looking at pornography, or gazing at women in the wrong way. But what we never hear about is men's restraint, the remarkable stoicism of current generations of heterosexual men who cop it sweet, despite their immense frustrations.
Last year The Sunday Age published a sweetly amusing story about men's sexual fantasies, written by a man who describes himself as a "respectable, married" man who has spent the last few years taming what he calls his "inner goat". There's no place for hidden sexual yearnings in his proudly reconstructed world - he boasts he keeps his goat firmly locked inside a concrete pen, tethered to a post. Yet he ruefully acknowledges that sometimes it manages to escape and he finds himself mentally undressing a woman as she walks past.
The online responses to his article were intriguing - the men who applauded his courage and the women who condemned him for expressing such thoughts. "Men, you could put your minds to much better use than fantasising about women you are never going to get … There's something you can do: you can respect women and learn to control your pathetic, primitive minds. Meditation helps," wrote one smug woman.
A male responder hit the nail on the head, summing up what's happened here: "While the feminists and soft men like to kid themselves that they are changing our nature, all they've really done is teach men to keep their mouths shut, while our minds still explore exactly the same topics they always have."
There's an interesting book - The Testosterone Files - written by a feminist writer who had a sex change and became a male. The author, Max Wolf Valerio, describes being blown away by the urgency of his newly acquired sexual urges, his constant sexual fantasies - sex is now food, he says. He cringes when he sees female audiences on talk shows pursing their lips, shaking their heads at sheepish male guests who are supposed "porn addicts" or "womanisers". He's shocked by women's ready assumption of moral superiority.
"How to explain this to women?" Valerio ponders. "There is this thing about men that they cannot completely know. Few people want to believe that there could be a real chasm, a chemically induced difference of sexual drive between the sexes. Few want to believe that there might be any difference at all that is not socially constructed.
"Now that I am Max, I see that this rift, this fundamental chasm between men and women's perceptions and experience of sexuality, is one that may never be bridged.
"There certainly can be no hope for understanding as long as society pretends that men and women are really the same, that the culture of male sexuality is simply a conflation of misogyny and dysfunction. That the male libido is shaped and driven primarily by socialisation, that can be legislated or 'psychobabbled' out of existence."
The strong male libido remains, even if the inner goat now must remain firmly tethered. Men live with up to 20 times the testosterone of women and that makes it very tough to cope with decades of monogamous marriage, particularly when sex is offered very reluctantly - "like meaty bites to a dog", as one man put it.
Yet most men are doing a remarkable job remaining true to their women. For all the talk about unfaithful men, most married men succeed at monogamy most of the time. Just look at the statistics. The Sex in Australia survey of almost 20,000 people found just 5 per cent of partnered men had strayed in the previous year. Now admittedly, these tiny numbers can add up over a long marriage or relationship, but while there are men who are compulsive philanderers, this wasn't the case for most of the men taking part in my research who admitted to having had an affair.
The overwhelming majority wanted to be faithful and were succeeding, even though there may have been a lapse along the way - a one-night stand at a conference, a few weeks of illicit pleasure, or even an affair lasting months or perhaps a year or two. But nothing compared with the many years of restraint.
In one of Dan Savage's amusing Q&A sessions with college students now available on YouTube, he argues men should get credit for this. "If you are with a guy for 40 years and he cheats on you three or four times, he is GOOD at monogamy! Not BAD at monogamy. We think of monogamy the way we think of virginity - it exists until you f--- someone and then it's gone forever. We need to think of monogamy the way we think of sobriety - you can fall the f--- off the wagon and still get back up."
All the evidence suggests the urge is hardwired - yet most men find ways of ignoring that itch, or diverting it into harmless pursuits like looking at pornography.
Harmless pursuits? That's not, of course, how porn is presented. We are subject to an endless stream of people, mainly women, warning of the dangers of porn. Witness the recent visit to Australia of British sociologist Gail Dines, who appeared on television panels and at writers' festivals describing in the most salacious terms the horrors of gonzo porn - gagging women, women whose anuses "literally drop off their bodies because of anal prolapses". She claimed mainstream porn was invariably vile, body-punishing, brutal, dehumanising and debasing.
Yet the truth is when men sit in the wee hours staring at their flickering computer screens, the big attraction is willing women, eager women, easy women - easy to bed and easy to please. "Images of women hungry for sex with us, possessed by desire for us. Receptive women who greet our sexual desire not with fear or loathing but with appreciation, even gratitude," wrote David Steinberg in an essay relating sexual scarcity to the male attraction for porn.
A research study looking at porn usage in Australia, published in The Porn Report, found most (98 per cent) of the best-selling porn videos are pretty white-bread and free of violence - in fact, the most popular mainstream internet sites are now the DIY amateur sites where thoroughly ordinary couples bonk for their webcams. My research suggests men turn to porn for good reasons: as a harmless outlet for their sexual curiosity; to control a sexual drive causing conflict in their relationships; to relieve sexual boredom; and as relief from the tensions of trying to please women in real-life sex.
I recently received an email from a 60-year-old woman talking about her "fabulous, amazing, caring, awesome, loving" husband who keeps harassing her to get involved in threesomes and group sex. She's an intelligent, thoughtful woman who is perplexed about how to negotiate this difference in their attitudes. "There is, I believe, a big difference between 'just saying yes' within the confines of a marriage, and agreeing to sexual arrangements that simply fly in the face of everything that you believe that sex is about."
Her husband grew up in a very liberal sexual environment and had previously enjoyed open relationships. He's convinced his desire for sexual experimentation is perfectly natural, but it holds no attraction for her. After much persuasion, she participated in a threesome with a male friend yet the pressure continues, with her husband seeking further get-togethers with other males and even sending a photo of her (clothed) to a potential partner. Naturally she was upset by this, but rather than rant about his behaviour, she wrote seeking simply to illustrate the difficulties of negotiating this divide between men and women.
I suggested she post the letter on my website forum, to generate discussion on this difficult issue. It attracted an immediate response from an angry woman: "NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY (not even hubby) has the right to pressure you into doing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. A person who does this is not respecting OR loving his/her partner," she wrote, tearing strips off the man for his unseemly behaviour. "If that was my husband, and he continued to harass me over this, it would be grounds for separation and divorce. Red flags going off all over the place for me," she added emphatically.
Naturally that served to shut off any real discussion. Few men would dare venture an opinion after such a tirade. That's what happens all the time. Whenever anyone, man or woman, talks openly about how to accommodate male sexual desire, angry women close down the conversation. It strikes me as odd.
Of course women have a right to say no to such activities but shouldn't men have freedom to ask? Is it so very different from other areas where women feel perfectly free to try to persuade men into life-changing decisions - like buying a bigger house (involving him in an extra decade or two of mortgage payments) or persuading a new husband, a remarried father, to have more children?
A few months ago, ANU women's studies students held a demonstration protesting about a talk I was giving at their university. They objected to me even raising questions about sexual obligation in marriage, suggesting such talk is dangerous for young women.
What nonsense. Closing down the debate on the vexed business of accommodating male and female sexual needs doesn't solve anything. This is mighty tough stuff but it's a conversation we must continue.
UK riots: It’s not about criminality and cuts, it’s about culture... and this is only the beginning
Condemned as a racist for his comments on 'Newsnight' following the riots, the historian David Starkey speaks out below against those who tried to silence him for confronting the gangster culture that has ruptured British society
What a week! It’s not every day that you’re the subject of direct personal attack from the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. On Tuesday, after he had spoken at his old school, Haverstock Comprehensive, about the riots, Ed Miliband was invited by a member of the audience to “stamp out” the now-infamous opinions I had expressed on the same subject on last Friday’s Newsnight.
Mr Miliband might have replied that he disagreed with what I said, but in a liberal democracy defended my right to say it since it broke no laws. Not a bit of it, I fear. Instead, Miliband – the son of a refugee who fled from Nazi Europe to preserve his life and freedom of thought – agreed enthusiastically with the questioner. Mine were “racist comments”, he said, “[and] there should be condemnation from every politician, from every political party of those sorts of comments.”
Strong words. But what do they mean? Well, the following statements are verbatim quotations of some of the principal points I made on Newsnight: “A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion.” “This sort of black male [gang] culture militates against education.” “It’s not skin colour, it’s cultural.”
“Disgusting and outrageous”, are they? In which case, those who agree with Miliband must believe the opposite of all these. They are therefore convinced that gang culture is personally wholesome and socially beneficial.
But how, then, to explain the black educationalists Tony Sewell and Katharine Birbalsingh defending the substance of my comments on “gangsta” culture, as well as Tony Parsons, who wrote in the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror that, “without the gang culture of black London, none of the riots would have happened – including the riots in other cities like Manchester and Birmingham where most of rioters were white”.
Even stranger is Miliband’s apparent notion that, far from militating against educational achievement as I suggested, “the gang culture of black London” must therefore be a seedbed for scholarship and sound learning. Odd, isn’t it, that Waterstone’s bookshop was the only business unlooted in the Ealing riots? And odder still that Lindsay Johns, the Oxford-educated mixed-race writer who mentors young people in Peckham, argues passionately against “this insulting and demeaning acceptance” of a fake Jamaican – or “Jafaican” – patois. “Language is power”, Johns writes, and to use “ghetto grammar” renders the young powerless.
“So why,” some of my friends have asked, “didn’t you stop there?” “Why did you have to talk about David Lammy MP sounding 'white’? Or white chavs becoming 'black’?” The answer is that I thought my appearance on Newsnight was supposed to be part of a wide-ranging discussion about the state of the nation. Central to any such discussion, it seems to me, are the successes and failures of integration in Britain in the past 50 years. And it was these that I was trying to address.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that my remarks on this subject produced especial outrage. I was accused of condemning all black culture; of using white and black culture interchangeably to denote “good and bad”, and of saying that blacks could only get on by rejecting black culture. Actually, I said none of those things and nothing that I did say could have been construed as such by any fair-minded person.
Instead, I was trying to point out the very different patterns of integration at the top and bottom of the social scale. At the top, successful blacks, like David Lammy and Diane Abbot, have merged effortlessly into what continues to be a largely white elite: they have studied at Oxbridge and gone on to Oxbridge-style careers, such as that of an MP.
But they have done so at the cost of losing much of their credibility with blacks on the street and in the ghettos. And here, at the bottom of the heap, the story of integration is the opposite: it is the white lumpen proletariat, cruelly known as the “chavs”, who have integrated into the pervasive black “gangsta” culture: they wear the same clothes; they talk and text in the same Jafaican patois; and, as their participation in recent events shows, they have become as disaffected and riotous.
Trying to explain why, led me to what all my friends agree was my greatest error: to mention Enoch Powell. Tactically, of course, they are right, as the “Rivers of Blood” speech remains, even 40-odd years after its delivery, an unhealed wound.
Unfortunately, the speech and still more the reaction to it, are also central to any proper understanding of our present discontents. For Powell’s views were popular at the time and the London dockers marched in his support. The reaction of the liberal elites in both the Labour and Tory parties, who had just driven Powell into the wilderness, was unanimous: the white working class could never be trusted on race again. The result was a systematic attack over several decades: on their perceived xenophobic patriotism, on symbols like the flag of St George, even – and increasingly – on the very idea of England itself.
The attack was astonishingly successful. But it left a void where a sense of common identity should be. And, for too many, the void has been filled with the values of “gangsta” culture.
Consider the converse. One of the most striking things about the England riots is where they did not happen: Yorkshire, the North East, Wales and Scotland. These areas contain some of the worst pockets of unemployment in the country. But they are also characterised by a powerful sense of regional or national identity and difference that cuts across all classes and binds them together. And it is this, I am sure, which has inoculated them against the disease of “gangsta” culture and its attendant, indiscriminate violence.
Scotland, Alex Salmond says smugly, is a “different culture”. It is indeed, since the Scots are allowed - and even encouraged - to be as racist as they please and hate the English with glad abandon.
I do not want a similar licensed xenophobia here. But an English nationalism we must have. And it must be one that includes all our people: white and black and mixed race alike.
Fortunately, there is a powerful narrative of freedom that runs like a golden thread through our history. “The air of England is too pure for a slave to breathe in,” counsel declared repeatedly in Somersett’s Case, about the legality of slavery in England, in 1772.
We must focus on the righting of the wrong rather than the original wrong itself. The former heals; the latter divides. And we have had enough of division. There is a final point. If all the people of this country, black and white alike, are to enter fully into our national story, as I desperately hope they will, they must do so on terms of reciprocity. In other words, I must be as free to comment on problems in the black community as blacks are to point the finger at whites, which they do frequently, often with justice, and with impunity.
For the other pernicious legacy of the reaction to Powell has been an enforced silence on the matter of race. The subject has become unmentionable, by whites at any rate. And any breach has been punished by ostracism and worse. As the hysterical reaction to my remarks shows, the witch-finders already have their sights on me, led by that pillar of probity and public rectitude, Piers Morgan, who called on Twitter for the ending of my television career within moments of the Newsnight broadcast.
But the times have changed. Powell had to prophesy his “Tiber foaming with blood”. We, on the other hand, have already experienced the fires of Tottenham and Croydon. Moreover, the public mood is different from the acquiescent and deferential electorate of the Sixties. We are undeceived. We are tired of being cheated and lied to by bankers and MPs and some sections of the press.
We will not continue, I think, to tolerate being lied to and cheated in the matter of race. Instead of “not in front of the children”, we want honesty.
But this is only the beginning. The riots are the symptom of a profound rupture in our body politic and sense of national identity. If the rupture is not healed and a sense of common purpose recovered, they will recur – bigger, nastier and more frequently. Can we stop bickering and address this task of recovery and reconstruction – all together?
BBC praises Communist spy
Which tells you a lot about their attitudes: They're Britain's Kremlin
The Courtauld Institute was once the best place in Britain to study the history of art. But its director, Anthony Blunt, had, earlier in his life, spied for the Soviet Union. He was the "Fourth Man" in the ring with Burgess, Maclean and Philby. He confessed to the British intelligence services in 1964 (having repeatedly denied all the accusations over many years). The information was kept quiet, partly because he was Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures. In 1979, he was publicly exposed, stripped of his knighthood and disgraced.
The Reunion brought together five distinguished people who had studied under Blunt. They included the director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor, the novelist Anita Brookner and the critic Brian Sewell. All five agreed what a wonderful chap Blunt was – brilliant, kind, civilised, terrific work on Poussin. And all said how appalling it was that Blunt had been attacked by the press after his exposure. Sue MacGregor (no relation of Neil, I think), who presented the programme, said that Blunt had been the victim of "public vilification"; she referred to the scandal as "what had happened to him".
We were told only in the thinnest outline what Blunt himself had done to others. In the mid-Thirties, he began working for the NKVD (the forerunner of the KGB), and helped recruit other British agents for them. It is often alleged that people in the West at that time had no means of knowing what Stalin was up to. This was not the case. Malcolm Muggeridge, attacked on this programme for attacking Blunt, went to the Ukraine in 1933 and reported – in this paper's sister, The Morning Post – that millions were starving there as a deliberate act of Stalin's policy. There were many like him (though not nearly enough).
Much was made, particularly by Brian Sewell, of the claim that the threat of fascism was so great in the Thirties that Communism seemed the only way. This does great injustice to all those – the majority of the population – who detested both. If Sewell is right, why did Blunt, Philby, Burgess etc continue to work for Stalin after he made his pact with Hitler, which lasted from 1939 to 1941, the time of greatest danger for Britain? And why did Blunt continue to shelter Burgess, Maclean and Philby from discovery after the war, when Nazism had been defeated and the Soviet Union was the deadly enemy of the West?
As for Blunt's acts of spying, these were brushed aside by the programme on the grounds that there had been "very exaggerated estimates" of the number of people who had died as a result of his actions. His treachery, said another former pupil, Michael Jacobs, had been "a minor and ultimately irrelevant aspect of his life".
It is a good thing that people feel gratitude to their teachers. It is also true that Blunt's work on Blake, Poussin, Borromini and so on does not become bad because he turned out to have been a Communist spy. So it was difficult to blame the five for their loyalty to Blunt, even when they were talking rubbish.
What was disgraceful, though, was the structure of the programme. For many, The Reunion's version may be the first they have heard of the subject. It is the duty of the BBC to apply to history the impartiality on which its Charter insists. Yet, as with the same programme's treatment of the 30th anniversary of the Brixton riots (which this column criticised on March 28), the entire panel was on the same side. Blunt was a virtually innocent victim, we were told, and the only villain was the press.
Sue MacGregor explained that Blunt "made no secret of his Marxist beliefs". This was perfectly irrelevant. The issue in his story was not his beliefs, but his treachery, which, by definition, was secret. He pretended that he was a normal British citizen and, during the war, a loyal officer of MI5, but in fact he was working for a murderous tyranny. Almost the only censure in the entire programme came from Neil MacGregor. Blunt, he said, had been guilty of "a very serious breach of trust". This understatement was rendered powerful by its solitary splendour.
The breach of trust was made even worse by the "establishment" career which Blunt chose to pursue. At least Burgess, Maclean and Philby ended up, drink-sodden, in miserable Moscow flats supplied by the dictatorship they so admired. Blunt, however, stayed, advised the Queen about her pictures, was knighted and honoured in academe. For a quarter of a century, throughout which time he concealed what he had done, he lived in the Courtauld's grace-and-favour Georgian elegance in Portman Square. His entire (non-spying) career was constructed on principles in direct conflict with his Marxism.
And when he was finally unmasked, even his handling of the news reflected his love of the privilege which had always surrounded him. He had lunch at The Times (then the establishment paper) before the press conference, and restricted access to selected reporters.
The Reunion propagated the theory that spying for the Soviets in the Thirties and Forties was nothing worse than an excess of zeal. This is a shocking untruth. Hitler and Stalin were moral equivalents. Indeed, at the time when Blunt signed up for the Soviet Union, Stalin had actually killed far more people than Hitler because the Führer was only just getting into his stride. The BBC would (rightly) never dream of making a programme which sought to excuse traitors who worked for the Nazis.
In our generation, Blunt's equivalents are the intellectual apologists for Islamist extremism. No doubt it will turn out that some of them worked secretly for countries like Iran, and no doubt, in due time, the BBC will laud them too.
WA: Church to fight prohibited baptism in public park
An Olympia church is considering its legal options after the state of Washington denied its request to hold a baptism ceremony at a park on the grounds of the Capitol. Officials at Reality Church had wanted to hold a barbecue and baptism last Sunday at Heritage Park.
The park, located on the grounds of the state Capitol, includes a 260-acre man-made lake. Church members had wanted to use a portable baptistery, not the lake. The Department of General Administration, the state agency that oversees the park, turned down their request stating that the proposed baptism service was a violation of the state constitution.
“We approved their permit for the barbecue, but our state constitution does not allow public grounds or funds to be used for religious ceremonies so we got advice from our attorney general’s office and we denied their permit for the baptism,” GA spokesman Steve Valandra told Fox News Radio.
The American Center for Law and Justice filed an appeal with the state on the church’s behalf, but it was denied. ACLJ attorney Jordan Sekulow said the state of Washington is treating Christians like second-class citizens. “They’re basically saying the barbecue is just fine – but if you can’t baptize anyone,” Sekulow told Fox News Radio. “It’s an outrage.
GA (General Administration) is not precluding members of the Reality Church from exercising their First Amendment rights to express their religious beliefs or conducting a baptism ceremony at the church,” wrote acting director Jane Rushford. “However, the use of public property for the performance of religious worship, exercise or instruction is prohibited under the Washington State Constitution.”
Article One of the Washington State Constitution provides that “No public money shall be appropriated or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment.”
Sekulow claims the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from suppressing or excluding speech of private parties. But the state refused to back down. “So now you’ve got a state saying this is too much religious activity so it’s not really speech anymore,” Sekulow said. “This violates the U.S. Constitution.”
“A baptism ceremony is a form of religious exercise and worship,” Rushford wrote. “And as such it would violate Article 1, Section 11 to authorize the use of state property for this purpose.”
Instead, the church held their baptism service at a local YMCA.
Sekulow said the state’s decision makes it “uncomfortable for Christians to use the facility in the future.”
“If they open up this property for people to use, they can’t ban religious groups from being able to access it and perform something like a baptism,” he said. He said the church will ultimately decide whether to sue the state but if they do, he predicted it could set a national precedent. “Who is the state to decide what is worship and what isn’t,” he asked. “The state of Washington has taken the extreme approach to banning religious.”
Valandra said he believes the state is on solid legal ground. “We feel we’re on good legal ground,” he said. “We have to abide by the state constitution.”
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.