A Question about Chastity

In this space, in recent days, there has been a discussion of male chastity and chivalry, and the proper respect due to the fairer sex. Some readers, perhaps those of a feminist bent, objected that to expect chastity from males was an insult to women, or a type of oppression. Other readers, perhaps of an opposite opinion which we might call masculinist, objected that the sins of the daughters of Eve were overwhelming, and that I should not restrict my hard words to the men alone. Some readers said I was a racist.

Being a creature crippled by philosophy, who must crawl from one logical and well-established statement to the next, I have not wings of fancy to leap from conclusion to airy conclusion, and in none of these cases can my slow and groping mind see the connection between my argument and the counter-argument presented by my worthy opponents. I simply do not see what the one has to do with the other: the comments do not seem in these cases to be on the same topic as the topic under discussion.

Such convulsions of mutual incomprehension are to be expected in discussions where the axioms of the two sides are so far apart. There is some basic, unspoken assumption I am making that is invisible to my honorable opposition; there is likewise some basic, unspoken assumption my opponents, both feminist and masculinist, make which is invisible to me.

In an earnest effort to unearth this assumption, let me ask a single question. It is my hope that [info]artimaeus will read and answer, but  I open the question to the general public, and invite any who wish to weigh in to answer.

Given the nature of the male of the homo sapiens, and the nature of reality, it is likely for him to copulate with a woman to whom he is not married without a feeling of contempt, disesteem, or at least blithe indifference?

I am not asking if it is possible under theoretical circumstances — I am asking if, in your experience (both personal and gleaned from a reading of history) if it is the likely and expected outcome that a young man will enter into the embraces of Eros with a young lady of his acquaintance, promising her nothing, vowing no union of souls, and making no provision for the outcome of a possible pregnancy, if his erotic love will blossom into a deep and abiding and eternal affection, or if it will degenerate into indifference or perhaps contempt.

The question is based on the unspoken assumption that there is no third state of mind between a young man who regards erotic love as sacred and sacrosanct, something he shares only with that one true love who is the summit of all his aspirations, and a young man who regards erotic love as not sacred. If it is not sacred, it is shared indiscriminately, is of less worth or no worth at all, or it has the character of an entertainment, a pastime, an alliance of mutual convenience, or a transaction where each side in the partnership gets gain from the deal.

This assumption, as best I can tell, is both self-evident and is resolutely denied by the Sexual Revolutionaries. It is self evident because there is no third option between the sacred and the desecrated: A or not-A. It is resolutely denied, because the unspoken assumption of the Sexual Revolutionaries does not admit A or not-A. They labels this the ‘Madonna and Whore Complex’.

The whole idea of a “Madonna-whore” complex is a rhetorical trick, an invention, a bit of stale propaganda, whose point is to mock the idea that chastity is admirable in women.

The way the trick works is the accuser pretends that someone who has standards condemns unchaste women as whores in an exaggerated and unrealistic way, and praises chaste women as Madonnas in an exaggerated and unrealistic way. In this way the accuser puts over the notion, without ever actually saying the notion (because it is stupid) that a woman who is chaste most of the time and a little bit pregnant with another man’s baby has not done anything so very wrong.

It is exactly like rebranding socialism as a ‘Third Way’ between socialism and capitalism, calling having standards of decency “the Madonna-Whore complex” is merely an excuse to make have low standards or no standards look like the human and human media via between an unrealistically high standard (Madonna) and an unrealistically low standard (whore). The only problem is that it is an argument, and it is ALWAYS an argument for the low standard (whore).

The reason why the argument has to be rebranding into pop-psych BS language (“complexes” forsooth!) is that saying the conclusion in honest English would make people laugh: Only whores are people; only men who treat women like whores have a human and realistic and egalitarian view.

Indeed, earlier in this discussion one of my interlocutors (I will not embarrass that worthy by repeating the name) argued that a young man raised to have standards of chastity and chivalry would have an unrealistically high esteem for women, and would therefore be naive, Quixotic, and foolish when dealing with real women. My interlocutor did not seem to notice that this implied that expecting women to be chaste, and expecting women to be worthy of high esteem, was unrealistic.

In other words, she was arguing that any given young woman was expected to be a wild child, a party girl, a playboy bunny, a demimonde, an “experienced” girl, a woman who did not reserve the offer of her most intimate favors for her true love, but instead cast them into the gutter of the street for the first passer-by to enjoy, and then, with a handshake and a fond farewell, to stroll on his merry way whistling, never to look back.

In other words, she was arguing that women were whores, and that it is unrealistic and naive to expect otherwise — and in the same breath, made the argument that my attitude toward women was one-dimensional, over-sexualized, and contemptuous.

(I will call my interlocutor “she” not because I think her a woman — on the internet one never knows — but because I think my interlocutor a sexless amoeba creature from the planet Eddore who has no knowledge, and has never heard a rumor, of normal human sexual relations. I use the female pronoun because the Eddorean represents the standard feminist partyline, which merits a distaff pronoun.)

If human sexual relations were an arrangement for the exchange of goods and services, or an alliance between sovereigns for some mutual benefit, or a pastime meant to beguile an idle hour (or, in the case of rapid lovers, an idle five minutes) then all the arguments of the Eddorean would have merit.

When you buy shoes from a shoe store, you go from cobbler to cobbler, and you would look askance at a cobbler who demanded that you take of him his shoes, forsaking all others, and worship him with your feet now and forever. The cobbler who expected the winsome yet barefoot lass creeping shyly into his shop to love his shoes with true love and worship and devotion would indeed be naive. The image is absurd. When we are dealing with procuring goods, you go in, you try on shoes, you get the goods, you fork over the cash, and with a handshake and a fond farewell to the cobbler, you stroll on your merry way whistling, never to look back.

Now, taken in this context, the Eddorean’s advice to the barefoot shoe-buyer is indeed the voice of prudence. If the cobbler has a foot-transmitted disease, it is the better part of wisdom to get a prophylactic from Dr. Scholls. If the cobbler, for some odd reason, also tried to hand you a basket with his baby in it, saddling you with the duty to raise, abandon, kill, or otherwise dispose of the child, indeed it would be wise to take precautions to prevent that basket from being handed to you, when all you want is a pair of shoes.

Again, from the point of view of an Eddorean who either knows nothing of human sexuality, or holds it in contempt, or regards it as an imposition on her boundless Nietzschean freedom, there is no error in regarding the sexual congress with a willing John as nothing more or less than purchasing a pair of pretty shoes. They are not, for the Eddorean, the magic ruby slippers which will carry you in three clicks of the heel to where your home is, that place which is like no other. There is no magic in the Eddorean scheme of things. To speak of true love, or even of lasting love, is either blind naivety, or else it is a metaphor for being a wise and careful shopper, one who does not by mistake get a disease nor pick up a baby in a shopping basket.

As far as I can tell, at this point in the reasoning we must reach an impasse. If love, romance and fornication is nothing more or less than buying a pair of shoes, the Eddorean is right, and all that is required of men and women is ordinary prudence. There is nothing sacred, nothing mysterious, and nothing permanent. The link between the act of sexual reproduction and the outcome of sexual reproduction is severed by prophylactics and by prenatal infanticide, and so the mental link must be severed as well (which in turn requires a certain degree of euphemism, if not downright dishonesty, in speech in the hope that dishonesty in thought will follow). On the other hand, if love, romance and marriage are to be lauded, defended even in adversity, and seen as having intrinsic value independent of their service to our pleasures — in other words, if love is not merely a commodity or a convenience — then love cannot be treated as trivially as buying a pair of shoes.

Here is where the logic becomes implacable. No matter what you or I might will or nill, nothing can at the same time and in the same sense be treated as a sacrament and as a meaningless commercial transaction. You cannot have it both ways. Your partner in marriage, the object of your vow to love and honor and worship with your body at bed and at board, and all your worldly good endow, forsaking all others, is a partner you buy with the purchase of Christ, with your whole being paying all you have. It is a sacred union. Your partner in a shoe store gives you something that gives you some pleasure for a season, and you reciprocate. It is not sacred, and it is not a union.

If a woman gives herself to a man as prudently selected as she selects a pair of shoes, one man among many, then he will esteem her as he esteems a pair of shoes. Oh, to be sure, they might be his favorite shoes, but they are merely something he steps on and thinks not long on, and when he wants no more of them, or when they begin to pinch, he casts them over the threshold.

The Eddorean is making the classical Marxist argument, merely applying its rhetoric not to economics, but to sexual morality. The Marxist wants the material goods of life given to those who crave them, but without payment, and without merit. Marx lusts for the unearned. In this case, the Eddorean pretends that a man can, merely by an act of will, hold a woman in the same esteem as a fiancee, lover, or wife, someone to whom he devotes all he has to offer, agape, while actually offering her only friendship, philos, and an hour of bed-sport (or five minutes), eros.

The Eddorean scoffs at the dichotomy of having a man either be chaste or unchaste. There is a third way, so he claims, between matrimony (sex only inside marriage) and fornication (sex not only inside marriage). The third way, upon examination, is merely a claim or a demand for unearned goods. The Eddorean demands a man hold a whore in the same esteem and respect he offers to a virgin.

But what has the whore done to earn the respect we offer virgins? The reason why we respect virgins is because we respect an act of heroic (or heroinic) self-control. You can offer a whore many things, including gold and friendship, but you cannot offer her respect for something she has not earned and had not done. All that happens when you try is like those pathetic children’s games where everyone who plays gets a trophy, losers and winner both — the flattering trophy soon means nothing.

No, the only logical possible alternative is to heap disrespect on virgins, to call them naive and inexperienced, and to heap disrespect on those to speak respect of them, calling them liars and oppressors or neurotics suffering a “complex.” — Which is indeed what we see in the state of the culture.

All this is the unspoken assumption behind my question. I assume that falling in love is not like buying a pair of shoes. I assume that any woman who sells herself for the price of a pair of shoes will be esteemed as cheaply as a pair of shoes, or a mess of pottage. I assume that esteeming true love and a woman as cheap as shoes at the same level of esteem is merely flattery that cheapens love, and makes it meaningless, and lead to contempt and hatred for women of true self-esteem and truly worthy of esteem. I conclude from these assumptions that a woman who holds herself cheaply is a cheap woman, and that a man cannot for long esteem her more dearly, or that if he does he is deceived. I conclude there is an enmity and contempt between cheap women and women who esteem themselves dearly.

And I conclude that this enmity and contempt is shared by the menfolk.

(By ‘contempt’, I do not mean each man wants to push a grapefruit hemisphere into the face of his lover the next morning — albeit most men of my experience do want to — I mean only that he has the cheerful indifference of a man who walks away from a cobbler in a new pair of shoes, whistling, no doubt grateful for the shoes, but not devout.)

Again, the Eddorean argument is that monogamy, chastity and chivalry in men is a sign of disrespect for women: and that when a man comes chaste to his marriage bed, and expects his bride likewise, he is either a fool or an oppressor, or being condescending, or being a hypocrite, or in some other way robbing a woman of her respect and esteem. The argument is that Hugh Hefner, by paying nymphs to dance around in bunny tails, or Bill Clinton, by squirting his semen into the mouth of an intern young enough to be his daughter, and later using the powers of his office to denigrate her, that these men were honoring the freedom and independence of the women they cheapened, and that theirs was the true respect.

I say respect for women is earned when women act respectably, and such respect has no value unless offered by men who are themselves chaste, and pure until marriage. Eddore says that respect for women comes from treating them cheaply. Between these two views there is no possible reconciliation: one excludes the other. The libertarian attitude of letting each man decide for himself the value he places on his own esteem defaults to the Eddorean position.

So that again is my question. I apologize for taking so many words to ask it, but it requires considerable explanation to explain that water will wet you and fire will burn. I ask any who cares to answer: Is it likely that a youth will hold in high respect and esteem a maid whom he deflowers out of wedlock, when she gives herself to him without asking him to make any vow or sign of permanent devotion in return?

I do not ask what is theoretically possible in Cloudcuckooland, or Utopia, on Tellus Tertius or planet Gethen. Can a man get a woman cheaply without regarding her as cheap?

Which of the two mutually exclusive ways of life, the romantic-matrimonial or the commercial-Eddorean, holds the woman in true respect?