Sex

Wendell Berry on commoditized sex:

To make sex the preferred bait of commerce may seem merely the obvious thing to do, once greed is granted its now conventional priority as a motive. But this could only happen after a probably instinctive sense of the sanctity and dignity of the body- the sense of its having been ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’- has been destroyed. Once this ancient reticence had been broken down, then the come-on of the pimp could be instituted as the universal spiel of the marketplace; everything could be sold on the promise of instant, innocent sexual gratification, “no strings attached.” Sexual energy cannot be made publicly available for commercial use- that is, prostituted- without destroying all of its communal or cultural forms: forms of courtship, marriage, family life, household economy, and so on. The devaluation of sexuality, like the devaluation of a monetary currency, destroys its correspondence to other values.
***
What we are actually teaching the young is an illusion of thoughtless freedom and purchasable safety, which encourages them to tamper prematurely, disrespectfully, and dangerously with a great power. Just as the public economy encourages people to spend money and waste the world, so the public sexual code encourages people to be spendthrifts and squanderers of sex. The basis of true community and household economy, on the other hand, is thrift. The basis of community sexuality is respect for everything that is involved- and respect, here as everywhere, implies discipline. By their common principles of extravagance and undisciplined freedom, our public economy and our public sexuality are exploiting and spending moral capital built up by centuries of communitiy life- exactly as industrial agriculture has been exploiting and spending the natural capital built up over thousands of years in the soil.
***
Starting with economic brutality, we have arrived at sexual brutality. Those who affirm the one and deplore the other will have to explain how we might logically have arrived anywhere else. Sexual lovemaking between humans is not and cannot be the thoughtless, instinctual coupling of animals; it is not “recreation”; it is not “safe.” It is the strongest prompting and the greatest joy that young people are likely to experience. Because it is so powerful, it is risky, not just because of the famous dangers of venereal disease and “unwanted pregnancy” but also because it involves and requires a giving away of the self that if not honored and reciprocated, inevitably reduces dignity and self-respect. The invitation to give oneself away is not, except for the extremely ignorant or the extremely foolish, an easy one to accept.

Love Wins

Advertisements