The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why the ladies, not the guys..?

Having a good time reading through the Bible, but my conclusion is that I can't use it as a substitute for Shakespeare in terms of vocal practice and literary quality--although the stories collected in the Old Testament are just fabulous to understand much of our cultural attitudes, and it is tres useful to use them for metaphorical resonance.

But an odd thought occurred to me while listening to my Teaching Company CD this morning (morning workout: Tibetans, Djurus, and H2H drills using a 16lb Shot or Kettlebells, followed by Warrior Wellness joint rotatations). And it deals with that sticky question (pun intentional) about why female homosexuality is more accepted than male (judging by cultural imagery and reactions). Wellll...here's a possibility.

There's no prohibition in the Bible. Yeah, there's stuff about "Man shall not lay with man as he lays with woman" and so forth. But there's nothing that says women can't snuggle up to each other. Ain't that interesting? There is a certain "chicken and the egg" quality to this: did the human tendency to approve more of one than the other lead to the Biblical injunctions (atheists would probably choose this, a Christian variant of the "Orientalist Fallacy") or did the Biblical rules influence human thought on the subject?

What do you guys think?

Oh...and the story of Onan? Doesn't sound to me like it's about masturbation at all. Sounds like it's about birth control, a very different question. Thank God. I have a chance for Heaven after all...

##

I'm sure there were damned good reasons, but after watching the Clintons perform at the convention, I wonder if Obama had second thoughts about not picking Hillary. I think that, positives and negatives combined, she would have made the best choice. After all, a prime reason they stir up the Right is that THEY ARE WINNERS. Underneath anger lies fear. I always figured she was a pro, and would perform like a good soldier. But no matter who he chose, Obama was gonna be excoriated. If he chose her, they'd say he was scared not to. If he doesn't, he's just scared OF her. Oh, please. What a game.

I think Biden definitely throws a monkey wrench in the possibility of McCain chosing Romney. Two guys worth over a hundred million each against a couple of guys with about 2% of that net worth turns the election into a struggle of Class as opposed to Race. Race is a losing position for Obama. Hell, he's got to have a 10-point lead to cancel out the 5-15% of whites who won't vote for a Black man. But Class? That one is a winner. Gonna be interesting to see who McCain choses.

As I've said, and will say again: all I really want is for the best person to be elected. My personal opinion about who that is is entirely secondary. If it is true that McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time, that disqualifies him in my mind...but I've been wrong before, and will be again.

25 comments:

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Sounds like it's about birth control, a very different question.

Yes. And birth control in a particular context, too - Onan is only married to the woman because that marriage was supposed to provide her (and, by the rules of the system, his dead brother) with children, but he's refusing her children outright. The nearest modern analog I can think of would be if a man married a woman who had made it absolutely clear she hoped to be the mother of his children - and neglected to mention to her that he'd already had a vasectomy.

Very different issue from masturbation.

Frank said...

Actually, McCain isn't worth $100 million; his wife is, and there's a pre-nup.

McCain's only income is his Navy pension and his Senator's salary.

Romney is wealthy, but he earned it.

But I don't think most people are into class warfare so they don't really care.

Which is why the Obama campaign's harping on the 7 house fugue seems quite mysterious and ill-advised given the doors it opened for McCain. McCain doesn't actually own any houses.

Having more money than God didn't hurt JFK none and I'm pretty sure it's not why Kerry lost.

Shady_Grady said...

The societies that produced what we know as the Bible generally consigned women to a pretty low place. In short they were misogynist. So to their way of thinking nothing could be lower than a man playing the part of a woman. So that is why in the Old Testament there is seeming denunciation of (male) homosexual acts.

I'd have to look it up but I believe that in the New Testament, Romans(?) there is some implicit criticism of women who prefer women. I think that's the only place in the NT to do so.

Ultimately I think this comes from the same place in society today that accepts a rough, tomboyish girl but is a bit more concerned about an "girlish" boy who prefers dolls or playing at tea.

Shady_Grady said...

Most people know immediately how many houses they own. The fact that McCain forgot and had to promise to have his staff get back to the questioner is a horrible gaffe.

When you combine that with McCain's joke that rich doesn't start until you earn over $5 million/year and his wife's assertion that "the only way to really get around Arizona is by small private plane" it works against McCain's (generally successful so far?)attempt to portray Obama as an out of touch elitist.

Obama hasn't hit McCain on this anywhere near as hard as he should. If the roles were reversed and Obama had made similar statements McCain would go for the jugular.

lynn said...

Official net worth of McCain and Obama. Strange, isn't it, how Obama is the one who is perceived as "too elite." Of course, I have to admit that by my standards Obama is wealthy too but that's quite an income difference. It's bound to affect their worldview.

Anonymous said...

SO why ladies and not guys, one of the common male fantasy's is two women. The only way for that to be is if women together is ok. Women have soft curves and aesthetically acceptable. Men have angles and not as pleasing in most peoples eyes.

victoria

Marty S said...

I would be suspicious of any stat like McCain voted 90% with Bush. Before such a stat could be interpreted one would have to know what kind of votes were counted in the stat. Over 7+ Bush years there must have been hundreds of votes on routine issues that a yes vote was probably a formality on. These probably far out numbered the controversial ones like those on the war. One would have to compare how all the other members of congress voted on all the votes in this stat before one could begin to measure how much of a "Bush supporter" McCain actually was.

Frank said...

Lynn

Strange, isn't it, how Obama is the one who is perceived as "too elite."

I don't think that the "elitist" moniker was bestowed upon Obama because of his net worth, as your reference tries to imply.

And the issue about Obama's house was not that it was worth a million bucks, but that it was bought, in part, via a shady deal with a convicted felon and notable Chicago political fixer.

Frank said...

Marty

One would have to compare how all the other members of congress voted on all the votes in this stat before one could begin to measure how much of a "Bush supporter" McCain actually was.

One could, as I have, make the case that Obama would represent a third Bush term.

It just depends on what you want to focus on.

lynn said...

Well of course the "elitist" label wasn't bestowed on him because of his net worth. That was the whole point.

Elzabet said...

Actually, Romans 1 addresses homosexuality in women specifically and several other places in the NT address homosexuality generally. In all cases, any type of fornication is listed as sin. I have no idea why folks jump all over homosexuality when any form of sex outside of marriage is address as a lack of self control and therefore athwart the work of the Holy Spirit.

As for Onan, it was a case of disobedience to providing his brother with a continuing name and his brother's wife with children to care for her in her old age.

As for rich politicians...Almost ((please note the almost)) all of them are rich and out of touch compared to the rest of America. I find it highly amusing to think that any of the DC Crew have a clue about how I live from day to day.

Mike said...

Re: McCain voting record

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/643/

The 95% figure is fudged, a little. Obviously, in context, it's more complicated. But, expect to see a lot of use of it, because it neatly ties McCain to an unpopular Bush. On the other hand, it's only fudged a little, while some of the Republican attacks on Obama (either directly or through proxies) are down right vicious lies.

Christian M. Howell said...

Biblicly-speaking the Old Testament is more for men as times were even more "patriarchal."

Read Romans from Paul. Or maybe not as that changed my life. It does speak of women and sex.

Donnon said...

"Having a good time reading through the Bible, but my conclusion is that I can't use it as a substitute for Shakespeare in terms of vocal practice and literary quality--"

Milton! John Milton! Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained!

Steven Barnes said...

I should have said "Old Testament." I don't believe there is a positive reference to sex of ANY kind in the New Testament--please someone correct me if I'm wrong.
#
Yes, all today's politicians tend to be rich. I would suggest that the more money they have, and the longer they've had it, the more likely they are to be "out of touch." Doesn't necessarily make 'em a bad leader, though.

Steven Barnes said...

I'm not sure where the horror of effeminacy comes from...other than the reactions of the culture, both male and female. Having been a slight, sensitive kid, I got it from both sides that I wasn't "man enough." So it isn't just guys pushing this agenda. Why women have more right to be "butch" than guys have to be "fem" is mighty interesting...and rarely factored into the questions of relative male and female freedom.

Mike Ralls said...

>I'm not sure where the horror of effeminacy comes from...<

At a guess? If a large enough % of the male population feels free to embrace their more feminine aspects it probably weakens the ability of the tribe to convince enough of the young strong men that, "Gee, my own precious self is pretty disposable and I should fight and probably die proving how macho I am." And tribes that allowed that to happen went extinct.

It's important to remember how constant tribal warfare was and how that played a role in our evolutionary anthropology. I believe that something along the lines of 1 in 4 or 1 in 3 human skeltons that we've found from the hunter-gather era show evidence of death by violence. And that's just what shows up in skeletons (IE a knife to the gut wouldn't show up), so the true rate of violent death was probably higher. Any tribe that couldn't fight went extinct so traits that made the tribe better fighters were selected for. A large % of feminine males was not one of those traits.

>"Why women have more right to be "butch" than guys have to be "fem" is mighty interesting...">

The 19th and 20th century feminist ideology and movement among women to take on males roles was never matched by a similar movement or ideology among men to do the reverse on anything like the scale. At a guess, this was because more women dreamed of being CEO's then men dreamed of having someone else take care of them.

The thing is being a CEOs is that a lot smaller % of people can be CEO's then can be homemakers. But countervailing that trend is that the DREAM of being a CEO is a lot more powerful and glamorous than being a homemakers.

Bennett said...

>But countervailing that trend is that the DREAM of being a CEO is a lot more powerful and glamorous than being a homemakers.<

Hey, in fairness, one of MY dreams is to get into that racket! Especially if I can find a billionaire heiress (particularly one whose business distributes a product which I enjoy) young enough to be my daughter.

Dana said...

Not exactly sure why you think that Atheists would make the argument that the 'allowance' (or at least lack of condemnation) for lesbianism in the bible was caused by an innate human trait; opposed to the text creating that trait in humanity.

Is your argument that atheists are likely to childishly insist that the Bible has had no effect on humanity that wasn't an evolutionary predisposition? I'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm genuinely puzzled. It seems like two completely unrelated things.

In the interest of disclosure, I'm an Atheist and don't really have an opinion one way or the other on the question. It seems like it would be fairly easy to find out by studying cultures unexposed to the bible, as well as pre-biblical historical documents.

Josh Jasper said...

Onan's sin was not masturbation, it was a direct refusal of a Godly commandment, ans spilling his seed was a sign of his disrespect.

There are all sorts of injunctions in the Bible and Torah. The one against male homosexuality got picked up, and others get discarded.

I think those Christian groups that are actively anti-gay encourage people to find gay men frightening, and a threat to children. It's a means of social control - if you're able to attach a man to a woman in a formal church controlled ceremony, you've got some power over him. There's no framework for controlling male/male relationships in Christianity, so people are encouraged to try and destroy them.

Think about other consensual, non destructive things Christianity has had a history of trying to destroy. Judaism, Paganism, astronomy, evolutionary biology...

There's a slow but noticeable shift in all of the antagonism from actual violence and murder to social sanctions, to eventual acceptance on some issues. Judaism dropped off after WWII because being blatantly anti-Jewish got one associated with Nazis. But anti-Semitism is still active in more radically conservative Jewish sects.

Lesbians are more socially acceptable than gay men because we live in a straight male dominated society, and men like to fantasize about multiple women. It's that simple.

Steven Barnes said...

Believers would have a tendency to think that God gave man the Bible, and that human beings are then influenced by it. Atheists would think the Bible was written by human beings, and therefore reflects some social or biological drive. No condemnation or approval of atheism was implied.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

How widespread is the hatred of effeminiacy? My impression is that there's a lot of cultural variation.

Steven Barnes said...

I'm not certain. In some cultures--say, Thailand, apparently it's much more tolerated than in the Middle East or Latin America. But I'm not certain about Africa, or say Russia.

Dan Gambiera said...

There's no prohibition in the Bible. Yeah, there's stuff about "Man shall not lay with man as he lays with woman" and so forth.

There's a few things at work here.

One of them is sperm. My Tribe was very big on sperm and what happened to it. When boys do boys precious yo-ho-ho that could have made a new Israelite is wasted. When girls do girls it doesn't count.

Then there's masculinity. Boys who let themselves get done by boys are submissive, effeminate girly-men to that way of thinking. And that's a Bad Thing. If girls let themselves get done by girls, well, it's not like being effeminate and submissive is much of an issue for them. Being a mannish woman is a problem; cross-dressing is forbidden for both sexes.


Oh...and the story of Onan? Doesn't sound to me like it's about masturbation at all. Sounds like it's about birth control, a very different question. Thank God. I have a chance for Heaven after all...
It's not even about birth control, although the ancient Israelite men didn't warm much to the idea. The tradition was that if a man died without children his brother would impregnate the widow. The child would be raised as the dead man's son. That way his property wasn't broken up. His name continued. And the child would have a lot of his genes anyhow. Onan wasn't doing his duty. He was just screwing his brother's wife. His dead brother's name would die out. His flocks and other property would be broken up. A lot of it would probably go to Onan. His widow wouldn't be provided for and would have to go back to her family if they would take her.

Onan was a 24 karat shmukele. He deserved the lightning bolt.

Dan Gambiera said...

I remember a discussion some years back between a Jewish lesbian who knew Tanakh and Talmud backwards and forwards and a very Orthodox rabbi.

The rabbi was forced to admit with much hemming and hawing and attempts to change the subject that girl-girl wasn't actually forbidden. There were just traditions, not even rabbinical commands, that girls shouldn't share a bed with other girls because it might give them ideas.

And I swear he was chewing on his beard and gnashing his teeth when she forced an even worse admission out of him. Men being passionate about other men wasn't forbidden. And there was a whole raft of things that they could do which wasn't actually against the Rules. There verse in Leviticus technically only referred to one particular sexual act. It kind of ties in with the thoughts on masculinity in my previous note.