Monday, January 05, 2009

Not Tonight, Dennis, I Have A Headache

Dennis Prager, a wingnut pundit, has written a two-part series about why wives should spread their legs for their husbands whether they want sex or not. It's great fun to read.

Indeed, I read it so many times that I didn't get to write the tearing-and-rending until today, though really the delay was because I was looking for that one mind fish swimming deep, deep in the murky parts of my head, the one which can open its tiny fish mouth and vomit out the pearl, the gist of Dennis' message to us wimminfolk. That fish woke me this morning.

If you don't care to go to Townhall to read our boy Prager, here is a set of quotes to summarize his argument:

The subject is one of the most common problems that besets marriages: the wife who is "not in the mood" and the consequently frustrated and hurt husband.

There are marriages with the opposite problem — a wife who is frustrated and hurt because her husband is rarely in the mood. But, as important and as destructive as that problem is, it has different causes and different solutions, and is therefore not addressed here. What is addressed is the far more common problem of "He wants, she doesn't want."

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife's refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men's natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman's nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.

This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.

In short, Prager wants married women in heterosexual marriages to have sex when their husbands initiate it, barring perhaps the day when they gave birth or received chemotherapy or such.

Note this, dear wifely persons:

"A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him."

I wonder if an ear or a couple of toes would do? A spare kidney? In any case, the first post in Prager's series argues that men will cry, deep inside themselves, if they don't get sex whenever they want it, and this will ultimately destroy the otherwise happy marriage.

The second post elaborates on all the reasons (eight of them) why women's libidos don't matter in this business of deciding when to fuck. Here's the first reason:

1. If most women wait until they are in the mood before making love with their husband, many women will be waiting a month or more until they next have sex. When most women are young, and for some older women, spontaneously getting in the mood to have sex with the man they love can easily occur. But for most women, for myriad reasons -- female nature, childhood trauma, not feeling sexy, being preoccupied with some problem, fatigue after a day with the children and/or other work, just not being interested -- there is little comparable to a man's "out of nowhere," and seemingly constant, desire for sex.

Don't you just love that list explaining our frigidity? Too much work! Too many memories of sexual abuse! Better just lie there and think of England, because there's no other way for a gal with a husband to get aroused, is there? Hmm.

Prager has most likely written these posts to inflame the minds of goddesses like me. Controversy always pays in these debased times of ours (though all times are debased), and his arguments have all the essential points for controversy about gender roles:

Presenting men as victims of both horrible feminist ideas and their innate animal natures while at the same time demanding that those victims get everything they ask for, including total dominance at home. Women, on the other hand, are not portrayed as victims of their own animal natures (they don't have them) or of late patriarchy. Rather, they emerge as victors, too, though victors who willingly submit themselves to the demands of their husbands. They get to stay married! Happily! Though they have to do sex work.

I wouldn't have given Townhall hits for just the fun of blurting out all that. What makes this post worthwhile is the deeper observation it offered me, chrystalized in these two quotes from Dennis:

Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual nature's desire for variety for the rest of his life. To ask that he also regularly deny himself sex with the one woman in the world with whom he is permitted sex is asking far too much. Deny him enough times and he may try to fill this need with another woman. If he is too moral to ever do that, he will match your sexual withdrawal with emotional and other forms of withdrawal.


Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him? What else in life, of such significance, do we allow to be governed by mood?

What if your husband woke up one day and announced that he was not in the mood to go to work? If this happened a few times a year, any wife would have sympathy for her hardworking husband. But what if this happened as often as many wives announce that they are not in the mood to have sex? Most women would gradually stop respecting and therefore eventually stop loving such a man.

I have bolded the sections of importance in these quotes, and important they are. The first one tells us the sacrifices men make to be married: denying their desire for variety. Note the implicit assumption here that women are not making a similar sacrifice. Thus, this male sacrifice is part-and-parcel of what men relinquish for the sake of a long-term relationship with a woman; something they need to get paid for to make the bargain equal-sided. And that something is those spread legs of wives.

Danielle Crittenden (one of those IWF conservative anti-feminist gals) made a similar argument in a book I once somehow ended up reading: Because men give up so much (those other women) to be married, women must give up something equally valuable. In Crittenden's book it was a career that women should give up.

The bolded part in the second quote above tells us more about what it is that women get in the marriage contract conservatives envision: They get money from the work of their husbands, and just as the husbands are expected to go on working whether they want to or not, the wives are expected to go on fucking whether they want it or not.

That the majority of married couples are not of the kind where the wife stays at home is ignored in that argument, of course. Still, it's an interesting revelation about how Prager views the kind of marriage where the woman works at home. Her work there is not seen as the equivalent of the husband's market work. Her real work takes place in the marital bed.

The conservatives have accused some radical feminists of comparing marriage to prostitution, but here they (or at least two of them) seem to make a very clear case for just that interpretation of marriage: Men give up sex in general for sex in particular. They pay for it with long-term financial maintenance and women are expected to be sexually available on a fairly non-stop basis. How very interesting!

Do you believe in synchronicity? I was reading Evangeline Walton's The Mabinogion Tetralogy last night and came across this quote about the new-fangled idea (in the book) of a permanent marriage in that society:

"No good thing in the end," said Gwydion. "Bondage for the women of Gwynedd such as already lies on those of Dyved. To be bound to one man and from looking at all others, forever, and to have your body always at your lord's pleasure whether love burns in you at that hour or not. That is what they call morality." said he.