Friday, May 1, 2020

Sound Thinking On An Emotional Subject From An Unexpected Quarter

     I’m not knowledgeable about porn and porn stars. Occasionally, a name will become famous enough – Jenna Jameson is one such – that even a dried-up old Catholic will have heard it. But until this morning I wasn’t at all acquainted with Brandi Love:

     Good-lookin’ woman, eh? And at age 48, at that. As it develops, she’s got more than just an attractive face and figure. Miss Love has penned an article of considerable import that appears this morning at The Federalist. But before we address her article, have a gander at what triggered it: this piece by a supposed U.K. conservative:

     Every now and then, the modern world produces a trend so ghastly you can’t help but sit back and think, would a global Islamic Caliphate really be that bad?

     One such fad is the sudden growth of OnlyFans, a monthly paid subscription content service, which has turned hefty chunks of the young female population into amateur pornographers.

     The premise is simple: start an account, set the price, and then drip-feed content to monthly-paying subscribers.

     The site doesn’t exclusively host sex workers; home-baking mothers and some fitness and yoga businesses also use the platform to market their services. But its model is similar to that of once-popular social media site Tumblr; once the porn goes, it’s finished.

     The platform has around 17.5 million global users and over 70,000 content creators, who have received over $150 million since its launch. The Huffington Post reported that it has enjoyed a 75 percent spike in new users during the COVID-19 shutdown.

     Lots of its users are making a lot of money. Some have so many online admirers that they are able to turn their business into real estate.

     You’re not imagining the tone of envy and resentment in the above. The article goes on in an even more bluenosed fashion. Feel free to read it all, if you have the stomach for that much whining.

     But what, I ask you, is author Charlie Peters’ prescription? Censorship? Prohibition and prosecution? Or just that we deplore something for which he has no taste? He never musters enough testosterone to tell us explicitly what he favors.

     Herewith, Miss Love’s reply:

     How does someone call himself a conservative and then dismiss the First Amendment? Regardless of how people feel about adult entertainment, it is clear from U.S. Supreme Court decisions that the modern court believes the Constitution protects expressive conduct, and does not equate nudity and or consensual sex with obscenity.

     The First Amendment protects more than political speech. In a powerful 1948 passage supporting freedom of speech, the court wrote in Winters v. New York that it did not accept the argument that “the constitutional protection for a free press applies only to the exposition of ideas.”

     In an oft-cited passage, the majority declared: “The line between the informing and the entertaining is too elusive for the protection of that basic right. Everyone is familiar with instances of propaganda through fiction. What is one man’s amusement, teaches another’s doctrine. Though we can see nothing of any possible value to society in these magazines, they are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature.”

     The First Amendment protects speech on a wide variety of nonpolitical topics. These include but are not limited to the arts, entertainment, and movies (see Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, 1952). The First Amendment serves as the blueprint for personal liberty. To restrict freedom of speech only to political matters would severely narrow our freedoms.

     Indeed. It’s a solid piece from first to last; please read it all. But Miss Love’s response is about the rights involved. The subject is wider than that.

     Many faiths, including my own, condemn porn as if it were equivalent to adultery. But as I’ve pointed out more than once, if the Redeemer had meant to condemn every form of sex, sexual conduct, and parasexual self-expression, He would not have stopped at Thou shalt not commit adultery. Adultery is the violation of one’s marriage vows, nothing more. Etymologically, the word adultery means to another. It does not apply to the unmarried and unbetrothed. One of the most piercing statement about the abjuration of sex appears in Robert A. Heinlein’s early novella If This Goes On:

     “Shut up. Take sex away from people. Make it forbidden, evil, limit it to ritualistic breeding. Force it to back up into suppressed sadism. Then hand the people a scapegoat to hate. Let them kill a scapegoat occasionally for cathartic release. The mechanism is ages old. Tyrants used it centuries before the word ‘psychology’ was ever invented. It works, too.”

     And not just secular tyrants, Gentle Reader. Religious tyrants have done the same, mostly to the same effect, with an additional motive in the mix: Sex is a competitor that clerics have always feared. It reduces the time and energy – perhaps other resources as well – that their communicants have available for the church! Ban it! Anathematize it! Cram it into the smallest corner of human life possible. Make it licit only within marriage, and only for breeding purposes. That will keep their pants belted and zipped!

     Another of Heinlein’s characters has something to say here: “If God hated flesh, why did He make so much of it?” And answer comes there none.

     Our current era is one in which the sexes have been induced to mistrust one another. While members of both have behaved badly, the greater part of the odium belongs to women, who have bought into the “war between the sexes” cant promulgated by feminist activists and have founded a great deal of ugly, vicious, and self-absorbed behavior on it. A novel by a favorite writer makes passing note of this, in a context far from our own:

     Teaching men to subserviently kowtow to a woman’s every whim, while the women are taught to harshly scrutinize their partners for any possible fault, is not a recipe for happy relationships….
     In contrast, with Tina everything was easy. She’d been raised to believe that the best way for a woman to get by in the world was to marry a good man and keep him happy so he’d want to take care of her. She was perfectly happy with this, contrary to what a modern feminist would expect, and her innocent eagerness to please was terribly attractive. Granted, she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but so what? She was still better company than ninety percent of the people I’d ever met.

     Tina, the character mentioned above, knows that:

  • She’s moderately attractive;
  • She lacks merchandisable skills that would support her;
  • The world she lives in is massively threatening even to strong, capable men;
  • Marrying a good man and sincerely striving to keep him happy is a reliable script in that world.

     Women in our world have more options, but many who follow a careerist script find it ultimately unsatisfying. As a spear-shaker character in one of my novels says:

     They talked to a woman from New York City. While still young, she had thrown herself wholesale into the corporate world. “One moment I was just graduating from law school,” she said. “I looked down at my desk, blinked, looked up, and suddenly I was an old woman with nothing in the world but money and work.” She had had brothers who were dearer to her than life itself, but had lost contact with them after college and somehow never managed to reestablish it.

     While there are “Tinas” in our world who regret or are disappointed by their choices, there are fewer these days than the careerists. But this is a side issue. My point is that the possibility of “traditional” intimacy between a man and a woman is rarer, more difficult to kick off, and more fraught with peril of many kinds than has ever before been the case. This impels men to seek substitutes – and those substitutes don’t necessarily have to be “in the flesh” to provide at least a modicum of relief from the sense of isolation and futurelessness so many men suffer today.

     He who condemns such a substitute is likely to be among the luckier few who have what they want and need in an intimate relationship.

     Not what you might have expected from a dried-up old Catholic who’s not sure he remembers how to spell sex, eh? But there it is. Thou shalt not commit adultery: no more and no less. And by the way, Love your neighbor as you love yourself, or in an equivalent, equally compelling formulation, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Judge not, for you shall also be judged, and the measure you use, whether it be stringent and unforgiving or tolerant and understanding, will be the measure you receive.

     Miss Love, a conservative and a Christian, understands this. Charlie Peters does not.

     Have a nice day.


Tracy Coyle said...


Nominal conservatives should be on the side of defending individual rights pretty much without exception - the only exception I acknowledge is 'to the limit it doesn't harm or interfere in the rights of, others'.

Too many fall back on 'tradition' or Scripture. I get it, but opening that door opens it to the Caliphate...

Ms Love's points put the focus right where it belongs - liberty.

Even if YOU (the generic, not you Fran!) disagree with how others live their lives, support the RIGHT of them to do so.

Thanks Fran.

Asdf said...

Very interesting!