Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sex as a Weapon and the Zen of Judgment
Like most web-charmed folks, I follow a number of news sources, and the "look at me" headline yesterday was Reille Hunter announcing that she and the deceitful Mr. Edwards were no longer "a couple."

My first thought was, Fires are burning up the mountain west. People are starving in Africa. Our military is still embroiled with the Taliban. And the news centers around this twit? Call me when she pulls a Mother Teresa.

My friend Carol Casara wrote about it better, although she chose to spread the blame a little further than me, when she blogged about Reille Hunter & the real story.

Me? There were only two people dancing the horizontal mambo. I'll stick with the ol' saw, It takes two to tango. And that means there are two guilty parties when adultery is committed. 

In fact, I told Carol "I think you're too easy on Reille Hunter. I think she knew she carried around a powerful weapon (her sexuality) and used it on an easy target."

I went on to suggest there is little reason to either condemn or commend  Elizabeth Edwards, but "Thank heavens that Reille's ambition exposed John Edwards' stupidity."

That was on Facebook, a place where people whom don't know you are likely to meet you when you're expressing an solid opinion rather than shaking hands and exchanging names and commenting on the weather.

One of Carol's readers noted "I take extremely strong exception, Gary, to the concept that a woman's sexuality is a weapon."

I thought that naive at best, and anti-male at worst. 

I wasn't speaking in generalities. I simply formed a judgment, based on flawed media reporting, that a particular woman used her sexuality as a weapon to take something she wanted. 

To deny that sexuality (male/female) can be used as a weapon is to deny human nature, for humans are terribly flawed creatures.

After I posted a longer version of that idea, the reply came, "What you are saying reduces the other person to 'helpless victim' status. Unless there force or is an underage child involved, people make and are responsible for their own sexual choices. If everybody else could get over their need to judge and blame people for this, there would be no need to see sexuality as a weapon."

My first thought was one of relief, At least she doesn't think me a chauvinist. I see too much misogynic discrimination as my wife moves through executive positions in a multi-billion dollar industry.

But how can not "judge and blame" be anything other than the engine of the moral order?

How else to determine a transgression?

Moral order (at least, the benign, democratic sort) is central to a stable, humane society. Otherwise the world will consist of numerous colonies of Zen monks refusing to lay blame anywhere, at least until it becomes time to self-immolate because those who are not monks are members of feral, anarchic gangs.

Judgment can sneak up on the best of us. John Edwards can testify to that.

But this argument about judging someone's sexual behavior is not a valid argument against the idea that sex can be used as a weapon.   

Sex isn't neutral, devoid of meaning or consequence. Sex is personal interaction at the most basic level. As long as one person wants to gain advantage over another, sex can become a lever. 

For that matter, friendship can be used as a weapon, and without the expense of a condom.

It is, of course, boorish and ignorant to dredge up archetypical stereotypes—a female who sleeps her way up the corporate ladder or the gigolo who seduces and abandons. But, stereotype or not, I do not believe a sophisticated person can reach maturity without acknowledging that people of both genders are capable of using sex for profit, power, or position.

  • And, yes. I found a certain inherent irony in being judged for making a judgment about the activities of the soon-to-be-forgotten Reille Hunter.

1 comment:

Lynne Hinkey said...

I can't agree with you more that sexuality can be used as a weapon, Gary. The woman who took offense and said, "Unless there is force or an underage child involved, people make and are responsible for their own sexual choices" misses one of the most obvious requirements for people to make their own reasonable and responsible choices: honesty. Each person has to be open and upfront about what they expect from the consensual sexual relationship in order to make an appropriate choice for themselves. Clearly, someone who has an ulterior motive isn't telling the whole truth. To me, that sounds like being tricked, meaning someone is a victim and someone was the perpetrator who used their sexuality (or just the lure of sex, love, a relationship) as a weapon.