November 24, 2003

Weird Sex and Marriage.

Posted by shonk at 02:25 AM in Sex | TrackBack

In the wake of Michael Jackson's latest run-in with the law, I'm sure many people have discovered this gallery of horrors which I ran across a couple of years ago. We all know that Mike's appearance has changed drastically for the worse in the last decade or so, but seeing this line-up of pictures really drives the point home that the dude is fucked up in the head.

If you're looking for marginally less disturbing imagery, you might want to check out this calendar, sold by the Kansas Anarchists. Their cover girl doesn't do much for me, but I can appreciate the irony of infoshop-type anarchists selling naked pictures for profit.

Since I'm on the topic of unusual sex (Michael Jackson and naked anarchists), I might as well mention briefly what has to be one of the oddest sexual disorders I've ever heard of. My only question is this: What is it about having 200 orgasms a day that's a bad thing? I'm not being sarcastic, since I can think of several possibilities, but I'm wondering which is the worst. Is it that orgasms become monotonous, so sex isn't exciting? The nervous tension of constantly being on the brink? Or it just too exhausting? I was, of course, amused by this:

American sufferer Jean Lund, 51, told The Sun that when she told her gynaecologist he said: "You're every man's dream."

Speaking of every man's dream, how about teenage girl-on-girl action? No, that's not a porn link, but rather a link to a news story about a high school girl who decided the best way to protest harassment of homosexuals by jumping on a cafeteria table, shouting "End homophobia now!" and kissing a female friend. I mean, talk about putting the cart before the horse. Protesting harassment of a group of people by manifesting one of the most hurtful stereotypes about that group (in this case, the idea that homosexuals are more libidinous than heterosexuals). I understand the value of shock, but you're not helping gays by stereotyping them as the sorts of rude people that interrupt other people's meals with their public displays of affection. And yes, I know it's not fair to pick on nave, innocent high school girls, but if Maddox can pick on pre-schoolers, I think it's only fair that I point out legitimate flaws in the sort of brain-dead "statement" protests that today pass for progressive activism.

As for gay activism, David Brooks makes an interesting case for why conservatives should support legalized gay marriage:

The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments. We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.
This comes on the heels of an argument that marriage is a sort of sacred glue, whereby people can escape from the "path of contingency" to the "path of fidelity". Brooks decries the fact that this opportunity to discard contingency (relativism?) in favor of morality is only open to heterosexuals:
Still, even in this time of crisis, every human being in the United States has the chance to move from the path of contingency to the path of marital fidelity except homosexuals. Gays and lesbians are banned from marriage and forbidden to enter into this powerful and ennobling institution. A gay or lesbian couple may love each other as deeply as any two people, but when you meet a member of such a couple at a party, he or she then introduces you to a "partner," a word that reeks of contingency.
That's all well and good, but as John T. Kennedy and Lynette Warren point out, it's institutional thinking:
If marriage is truly a sacred bond, as Brooks claims then what power can the state have over it? Why would you go to the state for the sacred? Why not simply marry your beloved and introduce him as your husband, the state be damned? Or else recognize that you are an Institutional Man. (my bolding was italicized in the original)
The lack of legally recognized marriage didn't stop this woman and it shouldn't stop anyone else.

This is actually something that I've given a fair amount of thought to. Traditionally, marriage has been almost entirely considered from institutional paradigms, be they religious or statist, but neither of these paradigms seems particularly relevant to me. I won't discuss the religious angle, but, as for the other, the simple question is this: "What business is it of the state who I marry?" Is there any good reason why I should have to get the state's permission to marry someone? Again, to quote Kennedy and Warren:

The Sovereign Individual argues instead, that one must simply evict the state from one's own marriage. Your marriage is not properly a matter of public debate so don't treat it as one. Take and keep private what ought to be private. And all of your life is your private affair.

Leave the institution of marriage to the Institutional Man.

Now, I recognize the fact that, within the current context, there are practical reasons for obtaining a legally-sanctioned marriage. Two acquaintances of mine who think along the same lines as I do who had been together for years got legally married because doing so improved their college financial aid packages considerably. Similarly, in the case of couples with different nationalities, getting married might help considerably in maneuvering the bureaucratic hellhole of immigration restrictions. So I'm not saying there aren't good reasons for obtaining a legal marriage, but most of the ones I can think of, like the ones listed above, are relevant only to a relatively small number of people. From my perspective, at least, in most cases the costs of making your private life public are greater than the benefits of obtaining that institutional stamp of approval.

There is, of course, one objection that I haven't addressed yet. That is, of course, the contractual nature of marriage. Institutional marriage serves as a sort of standardized default for solving any number of issues that arise from failed marriages. However, even aside from the fact that this default standard is seriously flawed, especially as regards child custody and asset distribution, the fact of the matter is that smart people get pre-nups. The advantage to this (one still available to people not legally married) is that the expectations and ramifications associated with the marriage are explicitly considered ahead of time and personalized to each unique situation, rather than implicitly trusted (should anything go wrong) to a generic, homogeneous, impersonal legal boilerplate. I think the relevant 90's buzzword is "empowering".