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Say What You Really Mean

I suppose it goes without saying that a Thelemite would look at the recent tsimmus over John Edwards' private life as an exercise in hypocrisy and self-delusion. As our holy books say, there shall be no traffic in human flesh: "The word of Sin is Restriction. O man! Refuse not thy wife, if she will! O lover, if thou wilt, depart! There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse."

What records we have indicate that the majority of married men engage in extramarital sex sometime during their wedded lives with the remainder either unmotivated or jealous of the majority. Women like to think that they are somehow immune from such diversions but divorce records and Dan Savage's column prove otherwise. Let's face it, people: sex is a drive as natural as our need for food, rest and other biological functions. Add in various life stressors, and you might as well tell your cat to stop stropping its claws (or to stop anything else for that matter). Give it up, let it go: it's not betrayal any more than engaging in other contact sports or having outside friendships. That's not even getting into crises that can drive people to do things they otherwise wouldn't have, especially when they have only a primitive and cruel religion for guidance.

But what do I expect of the profane? Certainly not such an obvious and simple solution.

What I do expect is for adults to at least be honest, with themselves if not with the outside world. Two cases in point, one from a man and the other a woman. After much arguing with the man, it turned out what really bothered him was that Edwards was obviously a tyro and truly repentant. Contrasted with Bush's calculating and cold-assed statement about his various misadventures and substance abuse: "when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible," this man felt Bush's clear lack of repentance to be a superior reply. Well, I do confess it was much more advantageous politically to brush everything under one rug and stonewall, but it revealed an interesting underlying truth: that he emotionally preferred people who feel no remorse over someone who does.

The other example comes from a woman who, while trying to sidestep her own prurience, claimed that Edwards could have damaged the party had he become its nominee (or that his second place finish in Iowa prevented Hillary from becoming the nominee?). Perhaps memory fails me but I seem to recall that the Gennifer Flowers revelation only shook the Bill Clinton campaign briefly, that the latest McCain pecadillo (I'm speaking of the lobbyist one, not the one he left his first wife over) was forgotten in a day and a half, that the big story in Bush Sr. was Dukakis firing the staffer who leaked the open secret of Bush's longtime mistress. And who knows what secrets lurk behind the Obamenon? So, get over it, sister. You're just a prude who has come up with a politically correct, if historically insupportable, reason to be pissed.

So other than that, this deponent saith not. It is not my business to weigh in or sit in judgment on the Edwards' family. Only they have that right. The rest of us have our own failings to cover up or confront though it seems we're too busy looking for stones to cast instead.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
the_angelus
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
The act of having sex, or really really enjoying it, isn't the issue people seem to decry. It's the breach of a relationship covenant.

I don't question the parameters of anyone's relationships. Polyamory / polyfuckery, monogamy, or any other defined parameters are between the people involved, and should be respected as such. I may not subscribe to such parameters personally, but far be it from me or anyone else to harsh on anyone's romantic arrangements.

A lot of Americans seem to equate marital infidelity with a lack of trustworthiness. The argument seems to be, "can we trust an elected official to remain loyal to the needs of the constituents, when s/he won't remain loyal to his or her spouse?"

It seems a flawed concept to me, comparing extramarital activity with professionalism, unless the subject is in the sex industry. :-P

As an aside, I think I disagree with your assessment regarding primal drive and motivation. Animals, including people, can quite often be conditioned or self-conditioned to alter their behavior without adverse reaction.

Good to see a post from you, btw.
senryu
Aug. 11th, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
Again, since we are not privy to anyone else's "relationship covenant" we are hardly in a position to comment as to whether a breach occurred. And your statement that many Americans equate marital infidelity with a lack of trustworthiness is largely negated by the very facts articulated in my initial post. Bill Clinton's serial "infidelities" had no impact on his popularity, which remained consistently high throughout his tenure, nor did any of the other high profile ones enunciated above. Again what people "say" and what is really going on in their squirrelly noggins or in their actual political agendas are very different things.

And as for your claim that people can be conditioned to deny primal urges without adverse reaction, it has not been either my observation for many, many years in the Catholic community or the hard evidence of, say, the pedophile priest scandal (I'm not talking about giving up brownies for Lent here or partaking in regular exercise). Waterboarding ekes out confessions (whether they are true or not is another story) because no one can deny the primal urge to survive, no matter how well trained. Nor is it the predominant view of our culture considering, for instance, the draconian laws related to crimes in general and sex crimes in particular, the latter of which now require all those convicted and released to register wherever they go (the remainder are held indefinitely as irredeemable "sexual predators"). The most I can say about people who engage in real self-abnegation (as opposed to those who are simply unmotivated) are so rare and tend to exhibit personality problems, depression and anger management issues that we tend to ostracize them or they ostracize themselves.
the_angelus
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
Again, since we are not privy to anyone else's "relationship covenant" we are hardly in a position to comment as to whether a breach occurred. And your statement that many Americans equate marital infidelity with a lack of trustworthiness is largely negated by the very facts articulated in my initial post.

I think you misunderstand me - I think a considerable amount of Americans feel that way, regardless of the hypocrisy inherent in the sentiment. I also agree that since we are not privy to the terms of their relationship, we (and I mean myself as well as others) don't have grounds to pass judgment on anyone. Well, there are other reason for not passing judgment, but I'm qualifying my earlier statement.

Again what people "say" and what is really going on in their squirrelly noggins or in their actual political agendas are very different things.

Absolutely!

And as for your claim that people can be conditioned to deny primal urges without adverse reaction, it has not been either my observation for many, many years in the Catholic community or the hard evidence of, say, the pedophile priest scandal (I'm not talking about giving up brownies for Lent here or partaking in regular exercise).

I wasn't saying ALL primal urges and drives should or even could be conditioned counter to the instinct. It was my intention to point out that being discriminate in one's liaisons with a regard to a commitment to relationship parameters was quite different from not having sex at all. People are different in their needs and desires. Some people have an emotional need for monogamous relationships that surpasses their need for noncommittal sexual relations. The action of sex is simple, base and very natural, but if taking the action in a given circumstance violates an agreement with someone else, that's betrayal.

I don't believe the commitment to monogamy is the problem. I believe that sort of commitment isn't for everyone, and shouldn't be expected of everyone. And if someone fails in that commitment, it's nobody elses business but the concerned parties.

As an aside, please excuse the slight lack of coherency in my replies. It's been a while since I've had this sort of dialog. :-)
senryu
Aug. 12th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
No problemo. I've been arguing with lawyers lately which tends to bring out my alpha dog tendencies. Thank you for the clarification.

And some people have greater needs in some areas or at certain times than their existing relationships allow, which is when these sorts of liaisons tend to occur. As I said in my initial post, I don't believe the sharing of bodily fluids is significant enough to constitute betrayal. I don't think people can contract for slave relations from another: that's not love in my opinion. It may constitute breach of contract, but that's about it.

A friend just sent me an email with the line: "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." I think that's what's missing most in our culture.

Edited at 2008-08-12 06:22 pm (UTC)
sal93
Aug. 13th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
excellent post and follow-up discussion.

i think what's unfortunate is the frequent presumption of behavior when no contract is discussed or agreed upon. rare is the person who deconstructs faithfullness and fidelity, physically and emotionally, so that the contract may indeed be ratified by both/all parties. even the slightest incongruent belief can result in feelings of betrayal.

this public "outrage" is so misplaced, given the multitude of betrayals over the last eight years -- with real casualties no less.

btw, senryu, love the icon.
senryu
Aug. 13th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
Which one? Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop blasting away or the muted posthorn from Tom Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49?
sal93
Aug. 13th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
bebop -- particularly for this post. excellent.

Edited at 2008-08-13 06:54 pm (UTC)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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