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2006 07 11
Why should ignorance, inexperience, remain sacred?
Popeye rapes the girl with a corncob. (Faulkner’s Sanctuary)
thanx Modern Library
That’s not very nice. Faulkner didn’t mean it to be. His character is impotent, but he wants to get something inside the girl. He didn’t chose a corncob trying to please her. He was trying to hurt her. There are cities around the world these days with sex stores where one can buy dildoes, vibrators … I doubt that any of them offer corncobs: not for insertion around the vulva or into the vagina, or the rectum.
No. Popeye wanted to harm the girl. Rape can be a serious crime. But: at least she couldn’t get pregnant from Popeye’s corncob. She had the indignity, she had the injury; but at least she didn’t also have a child to raise: without paternal support.
In Piers Anthony’s Firefly the little girl begs the middle aged man to show her what it’s like to be a woman. He’s already very close to the little girl. He already loves the little girl. It’s as clear to the reader as it is to the guy that she really wants him inside her. He complies. He’s very very careful. First he eats her, lubricates her. Very gently stretches her. She loves it. She’s very grateful. But then some social interference types get her to tell what happened, seizing only the technical fact of rape from their trick questions.
Again there was no pregnancy, but there was a jail sentence for the girl’s chosen teacher.
Is there any area of human behavior more full of confusion and ambiguity than sex?
If the mugger grabs the woman’s purse, we want to catch the mugger and at the very least, give the purse back. We also want to discourage him from snatching any more purses. If he knocked her down, he should give her more than just the purse back. He should pay for the indignation, the injury … If he can’t pay … if he lost the purse, spent the money, put it in his arm, has no property to seize, no prospects to hock, and yet he hurt the woman, why then we want to hurt him. And I agree. But I don’t want to hurt the guy convicted of rape for cooperating with the little girl who wanted him so badly to show her.
Things used to be simpler. Humans came in two colors: children and adults. If you’d had your period, you were an adult. If your voice was cracking, you were an adult: no invented ambiguities about being a teenager.
Morality is inextricably caught up with economics. If I cheat you out of a dollar, I owe you at least a dollar. If I seduce you, and knock you up, and abandon you … and am caught, I owe you at least some abortion money, or support of the child, and rent … for the use of your body …
Tradition regards a girl’s virginity as part of her family‘s property, since the family can sell the girl in marriage. In cultures where the female owns no property, the girl’s virginity isn’t her own, it’s her father’s: her family’s. The family — male and female — can own property; without a male there’s no such thing as family: in our traditions. The rapist rapes my daughter, destroys her virginity, he’s harmed the potential value of MY property.
whoops, missing cute chattel pic
I’m sure this will need to be rewritten. The first draft is just notes, some experimental prose, maybe a happy accident or two. I expect to be able to follow what I meant when I rewrite; you try to follow how it could be rewritten yourself as you read. Rewrite it yourself — and share your rewrite with me (maybe we’ll then share it with the world). Point is: the law, custom, etc. mixes real harms, real solutions, with imaginary harms, with logical substitutions (the father for the girl, the state for the father …), with technical harms … till it’s a mess. It’s damn hard, but important, to try to sort through the tangles, to try to fashion sensible sense, sensible custom reform …
I am against the brute raping the girl; but no more than I am also against the culture keeping the girl ignorant of messages she’s broadcasting with her developing body. I believe in punishing the rapist (so long as the state is kept out of the affair. I don’t trust the church either).
Communities must learn to take their own back: and try their own forms of law, of punishment, of morality …
I am against confusing sex instruction with rape.
If Uncle Albert introduces the girl to her sexuality … and to his phallus, that in itself is neither bad nor good until we know more about whether or not he was deceiving her while doing it, how many lies were told (by either of them), how much and why her parents were included or excluded from knowledge of the activity. Whether or not Uncle Albert came inside her vagina. …
Anthropologists have reported cultures where the young are put together at puberty to figure things out on their own. The culture is prepared to welcome the fruit of all unions: the tribe will embrace the new births. The community “pays” for the fertility.
Anthropologists have reported other cultures where the young are matched one to one with an older “uncle” or “aunt.” The old teach the young to appreciate what they have between their legs: and what to do with it.
Eloise’s father entrusted Eloise to the monk Abelard, told her to do whatever the monk told her, put him in total, unquestioned command. But then papa had a fit when he learned what Abelard had told her: Suck on this, now sit on it. Lie back and … Christian culture (a bedlam of mixed attitudes) wanted Abelard to teach Eloise, fine, then it has no right to bitch about what he taught her. And if Eloise had picked it up instead from the fourteen year old next farm over, her own farm should have embraced both Eloise and her child.
In other words, I approve of exposing kids at puberty to sex instruction: but the best instruction would come from an Uncle Albert: showing one girl at a time, showing her personally. This instruction should be known of by the community; unless the parents are hopelessly confused Christians! Then Uncle Albert should show little Eloise whatever he can, careful not to impregnate her, and hope he doesn’t get caught … and ready to help if she does conceive.
In other words, fertile love should be distinguished from infertile love. Allowance should be made for teaching accidents. And the whole society should take responsibility for its fertility: so long as the state is allowed no part in it: and not the church either.
Don’t for a minute think I approve of primitive practices automatically over ahem civilized practices. Cultures have always been nuts, especially modern cultures, especially where sex, property … and authority are concerned.
Summarize: I believe that young girls need private sex instruction from older men more than young boys need private sex instruction from older women. EVERY girl should be familiar with male orgasms, jetting jism, BEFORE they’re fertile. Every girl should know that if she takes the squirts onto her chest, onto her belly, over her buttocks … in her hand, in her mouth … she will not get pregnant. Every girl should know the sight, the smell, perhaps the taste. Every girl should have the option of saying no (until she’d thirty; then if she’s still saying no, the Pope should rape her). note Every girl should have the option of saying no — but know, and know well, what’s in the boy’s pants — just in case he doesn’t respect her no.
And I believe that every girl should have the option of knowing every kind of orgasm — and whether or not she’s yet capable of them — long before she plans a family.
Gary Jennings had a wonderful section in his Marco Polo novel where the journeyer winds up hidden in the harem, where some virgin princess sits on his face while her crone auntie sits on his erection. She knew everything; but had to preserve her cherry for the shah. Cultures with an insane devotion to the hymen may be allowed such princesses; though I think that just worrying about who’s pregnant in terms of who’s going to pay is saner.
It’s up, I’ve read it. Not too bad. In golf you try to hit it long first, straighten it out later. The straight, short hitter is permanently short; the wild long hitter may learn to aim. Today I could worry about composition and also hope for my inspired blurts. Scoop the white water first, build the sieve second.
I also plan to coordinate some of the rewriting with statements already made on the same subjects: sex education and young girls: why should ignorance, inexperience, remain sacred?
The Pope Should Rape Her:
I hope everyone knows Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale (from The Canterbury Tales). Two guys want the one girl. They’re knights, so they’ll fight for her. It’s so delicious: this is the Renaissance, remember: or the late Fourteen Century, anticipating the “Renaissance.” Chaucer pretends that the tale is being told by a Christian knight; but of course it’s a pagan tale. Still, an assumption that God approves of trials by combat, that God will see to it that the “right” combatant wins, carries over. One knight prays to Venus, the goddess of Love! Please let me get the girl. (The Inquisition stays out of it. Venus is allowed to answer.) Venus says Yes. The other knight prays to Mars, the god of war: Please let me win the battle. And Mars says Yes.
The girl … remember the girl? The girl prays to Diana, virgin goddess of the hunt and of virginity. (Proof positive that the gods are mythical and not actual is that Diana is still a virgin after millennia!) The girl prays to be left solo. She doesn’t want to be the doxy of either knight: and not of some third knight to come along either. (In fact she’s thinking of taking up tennis and going pro.) The goddess Diana says Yes.
Chaos solves all.
We’ve got a problem: The King has agreed that the victor will get the girl. No one has consulted the girl. Mars has promised victory to Tweedledum: therefore, he must get the girl. But Venus has promised the girl to Tweedledee. And Diana has promised that the girl would be left alone. The gods get in an uproar. So Saturn, one of the deposed Titans, gods older than the gods, has to step in. There’s an earthquake. Tweedledee wins the battle, but dies. Therefore the king gives the girl to Tweedledee. Both Mars’ and Venus’ promises are honored.
Chaos solves all.
Chaos solves all except for Diana and the virgin. Diana it turns out has no power, no respect: not from the king, not from the knights, not from Jupiter, not from Saturn either. Nor from Chaucer. And none from me. Or only a little: Let the girl say no for a given period; but then her uterus reverts to the species. If more babies are needed, then she’s drafted, before it’s too late.
If lightning hits me, I have no quarrel with the lightning. If death grabs me, I have no quarrel with death: though I might have a quarrel with the trigger-man if it’s a shooting! Nature, the gods, are exempt from my quarrels. I still seethe though at remembering being drafted by the state, for the army. Feminists claim that they own their bodies. I know some anarchists who claim that they own themselves. I don’t buy it. If we’re “owned” by anything it’s by nature, by the gods, by fate … But I’ll be damned if I’ll accept being owned by the state. I sympathize with the feminist would-be self-owner only up to a point. If I have to chose between the species and the feminist, I’ll choose the species. If I have to choose between the anarchist and the species, I’ll chose the species.
Whew: now it’s even more important to me that I rewrite this note on The Knight’s Tale than that I rewrite the above module on decriminalizing private sex education. It’s been decades since I’ve taught a formal class, thirty-seven years since I’ve taught Chaucer: and I don’t think I’d ever taught The Knight’s Tale! much as I love it. Next try I’ll do much better with both.
2013 09 02 (Oh, and note: I’m teaching it now!)
One night in the 1950s, ’57 or ’58ish, I was in the Whitehorse Tavern, at a table in the back, and someone pointed out that the dude with the white moustache standing at the bar was William Faulkner. I’d read a little of him around 1957 or ’57, but didn’t really come to know the work until the summer of 1969 where I read a major Faulkner novel a day for several days, then read the major major ones a bit more slowly: Light in August, Absolom … Btw, that Modern Library edition is the exact copy I read then and still have now: a bit roach-ragged and mildewed, alas. That’s what happens when you’re an enemy of the society, a friend of God.
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