Ye Ladies of Easy Leisure

by Kieran Healy on October 20, 2005

So by now everyone and his same-sex partner knows that Maggie Gallagher’s stint at Volokh is one long struggle between her strong argument that marriage has many benefits and her handwaving about gay people bringing down the Roman Empire. As I said originally, if you think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, you probably believe that same-sex marriage is the least of the threats to civilization-as-we-know-and-like-it. Well, via Lawyers, Guns and Money here is Leon Kass—Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and The College at the University of Chicago, and Chairman of the President’s Commission on Bioethics—in the first of a three-part series on what’s really wrong with America:

Today, there are no socially prescribed forms of conduct that help guide young men and women in the direction of matrimony … most young women strike me as sad, lonely, and confused … today’s collegians do not even make dates or other forward-looking commitments to see one another; in this, as in so many other ways, they reveal their blindness to the meaning of the passing of time. … Here is a (partial) list of the recent changes that hamper courtship and marriage: the sexual revolution, made possible especially by effective female contraception; the ideology of feminism and the changing educational and occupational status of women; the destigmatization of bastardy, divorce, infidelity, and abortion; the general erosion of shame and awe regarding sexual matters, … widespread morally neutral sex education in schools; the explosive increase in the numbers of young people whose parents have been divorced … great increases in geographic mobility, with a resulting loosening of ties to place and extended family of origin; … and an ethos that lacks transcendent aspirations and asks of us no devotion to family, God, or country, encouraging us simply to soak up the pleasures of the present.

Now that’s more like it. The end of bastardy! The rise of female contraception! Divorce! Sex education! Cars! Maggie Gallagher could learn a thing or two from Leon Kass. If you think society is being dragged to perdition by a bunch of car-owning, pill-popping, body-piercing, career-oriented, degree-granted, sexually confident, frequent-flyer, atheistic sluts then just come out and say it. And the best part is, Leon is just warming up.

He continues:

The change most immediately devastating for wooing is probably the sexual revolution. For why would a man court a woman for marriage when she may be sexually enjoyed, and regularly, without it?

Well, it’s not as if I’m going to make my own pot roast, now is it?

Many, perhaps even most, men in earlier times avidly sought sexual pleasure prior to and outside of marriage. But they usually distinguished, as did the culture generally, between women one fooled around with and women one married, between a woman of easy virtue and a woman of virtue simply. Only respectable women were respected; one no more wanted a loose woman for one’s partner than for one’s mother.

Those were the days. Men could be men, and women could be modest—except for the ladies of easy leisure, who were available for extramarital sex, backalley abortions, syphilis, etc.

The supreme virtue of the virtuous woman was modesty, a form of sexual self-control, manifested not only in chastity but in decorous dress and manner, speech and deed, and in reticence in the display of her well- banked affections. A virtue, as it were, made for courtship, it served simultaneously as a source of attraction and a spur to manly ardor, a guard against a woman’s own desires, as well as a defense against unworthy suitors. A fine woman understood that giving her body (in earlier times, even her kiss) meant giving her heart, which was too precious to be bestowed on anyone who would not prove himself worthy, at the very least by pledging himself in marriage to be her defender and lover forever.

Except for understandable lapses—see above re: women of easy virtue.

Once female modesty became a first casualty of the sexual revolution, even women eager for marriage lost their greatest power to hold and to discipline their prospective mates.

Because of course being subordinated in this manner, and having all of the negative consequences of sexual activity fall entirely upon you, and living under an all-pervasive double standard is of course the greatest kind of power that anyone can have. It’s like, Inter-Continental Ballistic Modesty! Men wish they had that kind of power. But, alas, we are weak beings:

For it is a woman’s refusal of sexual importunings, coupled with hints or promises of later gratification, that is generally a necessary condition of transforming a man’s lust into love.

In fact, we are so weak that even our self-control is entirely your responsibility.

Women also lost the capacity to discover their own genuine longings and best interests.

See above re: pot roast. Also Valium.

Apparently this is the first of a three-part series. You know, the sad thing about this sort of thing is that the entry of women into college and the workforce since 1945, the sexual revolution, and the increase of geographical mobility really are huge social changes. They really have had tremendous consequences of all kinds for individuals, families and whole societies. Entire branches of social science are given over to trying to understand them. Leon Kass’s horror at the way the world has turned out is unsurprising. His desire to return to some kind of Victorian nightmare is just about understandable. But it’s bad sociology and it’s appalling moral philosophy as well.

{ 4 trackbacks }

cinematic::rain » an ode to victoria
10.21.05 at 9:26 am
Noli Irritare Leones » Blog Archive » Radical feminism
10.21.05 at 10:15 am
CMoore.com » Thus spoke duhbya’s Bioethicist
10.21.05 at 12:21 pm
Crooked Timber » » The craving for forbidden fruit and the craving for legality
10.24.05 at 12:44 pm

{ 226 comments }

1

dearieme 10.20.05 at 11:21 pm

“most young women strike me as sad, lonely, and confused … today’s collegians do not even make dates or other forward-looking commitments to see one another”. Put aside his explanations – is he right in his description?

2

Delicious Pundit 10.20.05 at 11:32 pm

Most young women strike me as sad, lonely, and confused…

I don’t wonder. If I had to sit through a lecture like this, I’d be sad and confused, and I’m an old fat man.

Prof. Kass is getting the “lonely” vibe, I believe, because the friends of the young women he talks to tend to flee when they see him approaching.

3

'As you know' Bob 10.20.05 at 11:42 pm

Kass says that as if it was a bad thing.

4

Isaac 10.21.05 at 12:00 am

What about male sexual virtue? What’s happened to that in the last 60 years? Why is it all about the women?

I demand equal attention.

5

Clayton 10.21.05 at 12:01 am

Ah, the wisdom of the repugnant. If only he’d let us clone him.

6

talboito 10.21.05 at 12:04 am

The girls I know in and out of college don’t seem any more depressed than anyone else. They’re just regular people.

Maybe the dating scene is a tad different than in Mr. Kass’ day, but that’s just because he is a tired, old man.

As to marriage, Now that we’ve all graduated there seems to have begun a storm of weddings. The whole business took everybody by surpise.

Maybe it was all those serious (and sexual) relationships they were involved in during school.

7

cornellian 10.21.05 at 12:14 am

There are still people in college who date and look forward to seeing their signifigant others, which given the course loads said seeing has been far to infrequently as of recent…..

8

mobilis 10.21.05 at 12:20 am

Sad, lonely, confused, and not dating? At the University of Chicago? Who’da thunk it?

On the other hand, Kass seems to be attributing this sad condition to hedonistic indulgence in the “pleasures of the present”…whoah, dude, are you an ethnographer? Just what sort of methodology is it you guys are practicing these days on campus anyway? (And just what the hell _is_ Social Thought? I’ve never been able to figure that out.)

9

Neil 10.21.05 at 12:25 am

There is a large body of empirical research on happiness (search under the heading ‘subjective well being’). What it reveals is that, in general, people across the western world report higher levels of happiness today than in the past, and are optimistic about the future. Only in countries in which there have been significant declines in economic and social conditions are people less happy today than previously (the former Soviet Union being a case in point).

Of course, Kass would reply that this is even sadder: people are unhappy and they don’t even know it.

10

Alfredo Perez 10.21.05 at 12:50 am

That excerpt is from an old (1997) article in The Public Interest.

http://www.thepublicinterest.com/notable/article7.html

Kass ends the essay with these words: “Men, as Rousseau put it, will always do what is pleasing to women, but only if women suitably control and channel their own considerable sexual power. Is there perhaps some nascent young feminist out there who would like to make her name great and who will seize the golden opportunity for advancing the truest interest of women (and men and children) by raising (again) the radical banner, “Not until you marry me”? And, while I’m dreaming, why not also, “Not without my parents’ blessings”?”

Ah, but there is! And her name is Wendy Shalit. She is all the rage in conservative circles, and wrote a book called “A Return to Modesty.”

11

ogmb 10.21.05 at 12:51 am

Sad, lonely, confused, and not dating? At the University of Chicago? Who’da thunk it?

Zinger!

12

Realish 10.21.05 at 1:04 am

I’ll give anyone here ten to one odds Kass has some deeply repressed and freaky sexual urges. I bet he watches hentai.

13

Jerome 10.21.05 at 1:11 am

realish: hahahaha, I thought exactly the same! That’s one old frustrated guy speaking.

14

djw 10.21.05 at 1:12 am

I’ll no longer be able to think about Kass without thinking about his views on ice cream, which I had the odd experience of learning about for the first time in our comments section.

Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone –a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many reader, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the view that eating in the street is for dogs.

15

lemuel pitkin 10.21.05 at 1:44 am

Kass had something of a cult following when I was an undergrad at the U of C. It’s not hard to see why — in his insistence on a positive notion of human wellbeing and the good life, there are points of contact with someone like Marcuse or Fromm.

Even the ice cream thing isn’t necessarily so silly. Eating is a fundamental act, something you should take seriously and devote your full attention to, something that needs to be cultivated to appreciate and do well. Isn’t there some truth to that?

Not to say he isn’t nuts, of course.

16

Neil 10.21.05 at 1:48 am

Eating is a fundamental act, something you should take seriously and devote your full attention to, something that needs to be cultivated to appreciate and do well. Isn’t there some truth to that?

Um, no. How does it follow from the fact that eating is in some sense fundamental that we should devote our full attention to it and do it well? Compare breathing, or digestion.

17

notsobright 10.21.05 at 1:54 am

car-owning, pill-popping, body-piercing, career-oriented, degree-granted, sexually confident, frequent-flyer, atheistic sluts

Did you steal this from my craigslist want ad?

18

lemuel pitkin 10.21.05 at 1:58 am

I wasn’t making an argument, I was describing a reaction. Either it resonates with you or it doesn’t.

19

filkertom 10.21.05 at 2:00 am

So, on top of supporting misogyny, shaming people publicly for something not their fault, ignorance of science, forced emotional suffering, and superstition as social programming, and thinking sex is Just Plain Icky…

Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone—a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many reader, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the view that eating in the street is for dogs.

… he’s got a problem with the restaurant industry. At least with Dairy Queen.

What is it like, I wonder, living in Mr. Kass’s head — to be offended by and fearful of damn near everything?

20

Neil 10.21.05 at 2:11 am

Okay, I see that. It almost resonates with me. Kass has a characteristic move, which is to appeal to this kind of response. But if that’s all he has to offer, then he has nothing, since it is also easy to come up with gut reactions that oppose the ones he wants to invoke.

21

smartalek 10.21.05 at 2:17 am

And don’t even get him STARTED on HOT DOGS… and GIRLS EATING hot dogs…
in PUBLIC!

22

Aaron 10.21.05 at 2:24 am

and fun! Kass forgot to mention the negative effects that fun has had on civilisation since it has been liberalised by such dangerous movements as the Fun Revolution and the widespread sale of Fun Pills.

23

Seth Finkelstein 10.21.05 at 2:48 am

Hmm … he reads to be about one genuflection short of a full bow from going into a harangue about the shameless hussies who reveal their faces in public instead of modestly wearing their burhka as The Prophet intended, by Allah!

Though it does help one understand some reasons that viewpoint has a following …

24

james stevenson 10.21.05 at 2:51 am

I first suspected that the ice-cream quote had to be made-up but no, there it is right there on page 148 of Kass’ The Hungry Soul. Goodness gracious, it must be difficult for someone of such rarefied and exquisietly attenuated sensibilities to be an inhabitant of this planet. His elucidation of the ars amatoria is a case in point:

For it is a woman’s refusal of sexual importunings, coupled with hints or promises of later gratification, that is generally a necessary condition of transforming a man’s lust into love.

Does this seem a plausible accounting of love? Perhaps it’s what P.G. Wodehouse would call “the gruesome early Victorianness” of it’s diction or perhaps it’s the way this quote gives one the sense that Mr. Kass has only experienced human amatory interaction as an impartial observer, (perhaps from an unpopulated mountain or through an inexpensive telescope) but I would say no, it does not convince. The word sociopathic is perhaps too strong a term, but it captures the flavor of the passage. For, as other commenters have implied, a creepy, lascivious undercurrent is running all through this viper’s nest of weirdness.
Seriously though, Mr. Healy may be inclied to mock pedants like Kass but I prefer my bigots like him, which is to say loud, proud and out of the crankcase closet. Fly your freak-flag proudly Mr. Kass, it’s that much easier for me to cross the street should I see you coming towards me on the sidewalk.

Much more troublesome are those who are the like of Maggie Gallagher and who insist that,

For many people this [homophobia] is the main issue. It’s just not my issue.

The odd “…cf. the Roman Empire…” moments aside, she seems to want to arrive at her destination (anti-gay-marriage) without ever having traveled through anti-gay to get there. It’s a circuitous route indeed and I think that goes a long way to explain the tortuous quality of her reasoning. But the fact that one has to strike such poses bodes well for gay marriage in some ways. There was a time not so long ago when it wasn’t the least bit necessary to represent your argument against gay marriage as being motivated by anything other than a dislike of gays. It’s funny that what Gallagher so genteely characterizes as this “overlapping and parallel moral debate” seems to be pushed further and further towards the fringe with each passing season. It takes a certain amount of clumsiness to make Maggie Gallagher’s arguments seem sophisticated. Mr. Kass, though, has managed it.

25

Brackdurf 10.21.05 at 4:01 am

Eating is a fundamental act, something you should take seriously and devote your full attention to…

I believe the opposite end of the alimentary process is the more literally fundamental act, although even there, though I take it seriously, I prefer to devote my full attention to a magazine.

26

Alex 10.21.05 at 4:16 am

It’s not even the opinions that get me – it’s the bloated, farting, tumescent pomposity. Point, and jeer.

27

ed 10.21.05 at 4:31 am

Gosh, I liked the prose. It’s refreshing to see someone deploy archaic words correctly and effectively.

I also admire Kass’s intellectual consistency. The ice cream quote is evidence, I think, of an acute and rigorous mind following some of the assumptions and principles behind the earlier passages to their right and proper end.

Trampling Mr Kass is a bit like trampling Henry James. He shouldn’t, clearly, be in a position to make decisions on bioethics or influence policy in our time. But he *is* quaint, and I kinda like him.

28

snuh 10.21.05 at 4:33 am

on the other hand, kass has finally proven that south park republicans do exist. for his essay is surely influenced by cartman:

“You get your bitch ass back in the kitchen, and make me some pie!”

29

dp 10.21.05 at 4:42 am

What unbelievably confused and misogynist drivel this guy writes! I feel very sad for his wife – or whoever counts as female companion. It’s all about sexual mauevering, eh? Nothing to do with compatible aspirations, interesting personality, attractiveness and suitability as regards other qualities?

I’m not about to go read the book, but I’ll bet that he overlooks the ‘free market’ as regards marriage (eg Russian/Thai/etc brides), and how prostitution has been around for a long time, including right through the golden age of church-sanctioned marriage. These two things need to be reconciled. According to the ‘thinking’ evident in the above excerpts, marriage is licensed prostitution, so I’d expect him to deliver a substantial argument along that line.

30

justathought 10.21.05 at 5:00 am

This guy is the Chair of the Presidents’ committee on bioethics?

Geez, I think I can see where that’s going:

Mr Pasteurs’ theory of very small animals as disease carriers, and his experiment thereof will only lead to men in our society being more confused and depressed about the wooing of sheep than they already are, for if sheep are seen as throwaway animals simply to be “experimented on” who knows where it may lead?

31

zoe kentucky 10.21.05 at 6:19 am

Shorter Kass: we need to bring back the sexual oppression of women as well as the notion that a woman’s entire character should be measured by one thing– the status of her virginity before marriage.

Yes, let’s bring back the double sexual standard that good girls don’t and the girls who do are dirty, ignorant sluts; men can do whatever they want, have sex with the disposable sluts to score manliness points and marry the virgins for breeding purposes.

Ok, grandpa, whatever you say. Sounds to me you’re just jealous that you’re missing out.

32

buckyblue 10.21.05 at 6:24 am

Sounds like not very well researched shouting. Going on assumptions about what is thought to be common knowledge of an earlier time. No body had pre-marital sex before the sexual revolution? Some statistics I have read have said that nearly have of the births in Victorian England were out of wedlock. Besides, look at the liberal Europeans and their relaxed concepts of sex. They seem to be able to do that and have a stable society. Go figure.

33

LowLife 10.21.05 at 6:33 am

If it wasn’t for sad, lonely and confused girls I never would have gotten laid. It helped if they were drinking alot. So what’s the issue here?

34

Joe Bills 10.21.05 at 6:57 am

THe exerpt had a lot of talk about the good old days and how it used to be. It is also true that in America it was common in the old days that people would have sex before marriage, in fact waiting to see if the woman could get pregnant to determine her suitability for marriage. Also true was the pervaisiveness of prostitution, the wife as property and beatings. Woo woo! Let’s go back in time.

35

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 7:26 am

re 29 — there is nothing to be reconciled afa prostitution goes — Kass clearly states the virgin/whore divide when he says “they usually distinguished, as did the culture generally, between women one fooled around with and women one married” — whores are a necessary part of the system here. If there are no whores how can there be virgins? Brides-for-hire is another question but I don’t know how much it interferes with Kass’ argument fantasy, I think the mail-order bride industry is a fairly recent phenomenon and I’m sure Kass considers them to fall on the whore side of the distinction.

36

Steve LaBonne 10.21.05 at 7:30 am

What’s really wrong with America (among other things, of course) is the fact that an irrational nincompoop like Kass can actually be taken seriously as a bioethicist. It’s like taking advice from George W. Bush on how to succeed in the oil bidness, or in foreign policy.

37

ET 10.21.05 at 7:40 am

OK I am a 37 year old single female – I am not sad, lonely, or confused. I am however a bastard and my parents were divorced. Guess I am one of those things that is helping to bring about the end of civilization.

Oh yes I have a Master’s degree, my ears pierced and I have been known to wear shorts – Let’s not forget those.

I “love” how he longs for the olden days when men were men and women were worse than second class citizens. When they had no real outs if they were in bad marriages and were frequently in jepordy when their family died on them and there was little to protect them. Those were the days when the lives of women were completely left to the whims of fathers, husbands and fate. Yes I want to go back to those days. NOT.

38

david 10.21.05 at 7:51 am

This is an argument against tenure, and against the U. of C. What a pervert Kass is. Sounds like Limbaugh talking about blow jobs.

39

David W. 10.21.05 at 8:01 am

“Women also lost the capacity to discover their own genuine longings and best interests.”

To the contrary, women have gained more freedom to direct their lives than they have ever had back in the days when a patriarchial society dictated what women were allowed to “discover” and what was in their “best interests” as men saw them.

40

Tyler 10.21.05 at 8:04 am

Let’s not forget all the young men who seek the solace of other young men because they’re not getting the goods from the virtuous young ladies.

Sigh. Those were the days.

41

Rob Levine 10.21.05 at 8:22 am

Don’t forget Kass is a “fellow” at the AEI – profile

42

a different chris 10.21.05 at 8:32 am

Did you steal this from my craigslist want ad?

Apparently, as mine had “discreet, bisexual” in it.

Man, so what exactly do blue balls secrete that, given sufficient time, alters the brain to change “lust” to “love”???? That’s a new one on me, for sure. Howcome I love my kids? I’m not a pervert (at least in that manner), so it isn’t sexual unavailability. Does Kass want to bone his mother?

This guy is really, really messed up.

PS: Ice cream cones are over 100 years old at this point, FWIW.

43

Micah Weinberg 10.21.05 at 8:32 am

Ah, remember the good old days when jackasses extraordinaire like Kass were just the folks that sat in the back of the classroom and grumbled and were generally shunned by others? Now they’re running the country. But a serious question: what do we do about this?

44

Belle Waring 10.21.05 at 8:48 am

God, what an incredible, spectacular, overbearing asshole. I was about to say, “fuck Leon Kass to the power of 10,000″, but then I realized I mean “don’t anybody, ever, fuck Leon Kass, to the power of 100,000,000,000.”
Signed,
a pill-popping, body-piercing, career-oriented, degree-granted, sexually confident, frequent-flyer, atheistic slut.

45

Glenn 10.21.05 at 8:48 am

I can’t believe that somebody actually made the “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” argument — dressed up in slightly nicer, if less colorful, wording — in a supposedly serious discussion.

46

Lollius 10.21.05 at 8:51 am

So Ignatius J. Reilly finally got his PhD, did he? How nice for him. Now if only people would read more Boethius…

47

R.Porrofatto 10.21.05 at 8:58 am

…an ethos… encouraging us simply to soak up the pleasures of the present.

It’s Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Philosophy in a nutshell. Who knew Hugh was such a slutty feminist!

Would you believe that Kass is bandied about by neocon loons as a possible candidate for Surgeon General?

A small pdf file showing Leon at the biggest radical conservative money teat getting his just rewards.

48

Dave 10.21.05 at 9:04 am

Where is the love?

I will probably be skewered for saying this, but instead of discounting Mr. Kaas because he offends our post sexual revolution sensibilities, we should listen.

I believe he is making a valid point. He believes that something important to the relationship between men and women and to our own happiness has been lost.

I disagree in the way he is trying to make his point. Mr Kaas’ return to modesty and virtue, as they were acted out in his day, is no more pleasant to my mind than today’s drivel about “negotiating relationships”.

Mr. Kaas’ talk about modesty and virtue is really about finding protecting and fostering love. To my mind, his world is closer to the mark of what we should be talking about, than our talk of today about “having a heathly realtionship”.

Its about love dammit! We don’t discuss love in America. We talk about being healthy. Of being in a healthy relationship. Of negotiating with our partners. I want what I want and you want what you want, so we will negotiate a compromise.

Love is secondary in our world, it was of primary importance in Mr. Kaas’ world. In my mind, Mr Kaas is at least pointing in the right direction.

49

Poppy 10.21.05 at 9:08 am

“most young women strike me as sad, lonely, and confused”

Maybe ’cause his classes suck and they are all sad and lonely sitting in them, and confused because he can’t teach?

50

Steve LaBonne 10.21.05 at 9:16 am

I do not love thee, Dr. Kass.
The reason is, that you’re an ass.
And this I know, and hold it fast,
I do not love thee, Dr. Kass.

51

Mick 10.21.05 at 9:16 am

Shorter Leon: Cow? Milk.

52

tristero 10.21.05 at 9:16 am

Ah, he’s just jealous he didn’t get any when he was a kid.

53

Steve M. 10.21.05 at 9:19 am

For it is a woman’s refusal of sexual importunings, coupled with hints or promises of later gratification, that is generally a necessary condition of transforming a man’s lust into love.

What the hell is his evidence for this? It certainly doesn’t jibe with my experience. Does he have a footnote for this? Is it to The Rules?

54

Grand Moff Texan 10.21.05 at 9:19 am

And don’t even get him STARTED on HOT DOGS… and GIRLS EATING hot dogs…
in PUBLIC!

And corndogs. Don’t forget the corndogs, redolent of race-mixing owing to the difference in color and … er, size. And the copious use of mustard. Clearly meant to acclimate us all to the notion of alternative modes of penetration and to ensure that it’s seen as “just as good as” normal modes, by which I mean “mode,” of course. (It’s a subtle argument. You may see it from time to time.)

Oh, they’re tricky, those liberals.

I believe he is making a valid point.

About what? His fantasy world? Does he see these unhappy women, those who have “lost the capacity to discover their own genuine longings and best interests” all the time, or just when they’re not bobbing for extra credit in his lap?
.

55

David in NY 10.21.05 at 9:21 am

Well, my son is seriously considering attending the University of Chicago for college, but if I show him this nonsense, I bet he’ll be a lot less interested. The University should be ashamed.

56

scory 10.21.05 at 9:22 am

Having been in several of his classes at the University of Chicago, I’ll put forward that Leon Kass is a truly gifted teacher, a graceful and talented writer, and a moral philosopher whose premises are all based on ideas that were really last “current” a thousand years ago. To Professor Kass, St. Thomas Aquinas is a modern philosopher.

I love and completely agree with ed’s comments from above:

“Trampling Mr Kass is a bit like trampling Henry James. He shouldn’t, clearly, be in a position to make decisions on bioethics or influence policy in our time. But he is quaint, and I kinda like him.”

Kass is a great man to have an argument with, and a nice counterpoint to us relativist humanists, but the thought of him being Surgeon General is terrifying.

57

Avedon 10.21.05 at 9:24 am

If you’re still making the “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” argument about courtship, you’re definitely not talking about love. You also don’t know much about what men want from women, either. Sex may be the big motivator when you’re 15, but if you’re still thinking that way when you’re 30, you still aren’t old enough to make a decent marriage.

58

e 10.21.05 at 9:25 am

Please remember that one of Mr. Kass’ goals is to ‘offend’ and turn off the ‘unserious.’ He is a Straussian-extrordinaire, therefore he is writing esoterically. His over-the-top crabby old man statements are meant to get people all riled up on the surface, but he expects the serious reader to look past all that.

Let’s pretend he deserves a serious reading and what he’s trying to get at: I think it is that he believes true friendship can only exist between men, and that having women running around pretending to be equal just makes society too hard to control. Since he believes (like Strauss) that there really is no ‘natural’ order to things besides the strong doing what’s to their advantage, he thinks men should get back in control (by *persuading* the women that it’s in their best interest).

I also think he really believes that men cannot control their sexual desires without the help of ‘virtuous women,’ or at least that they have no reason to. In this, he is not so different from the orthodox Muslims who believe every piece of skin must be hidden.

In any case, try not to be distracted by what he means to distract you with: the liberals’ reaction to the ice cream comment is exactly the sort of thing Straussians laugh about behind closed doors.

59

Nominal Chtulu 10.21.05 at 9:25 am

Why do I keep rereading The Handmaid’s Tale between the lines of this sort of drivel? Why do I keep feeling I’m living in Germany in the summer of 1933?

I’ll just say it, with no apology or explanation: Kass is a nazi.

60

Dave 10.21.05 at 9:26 am

Let me guess, in part two he starts in on those uppity Negroes?

61

Doctor Jay 10.21.05 at 9:31 am

I really appreciate Kieran’s last paragraph. These changes have been really wrenching. It isn’t fun to have all the rules of courtship change out from under you.

I don’t see young women as lonely, sad and confused though. What I do see is that they are independent and responsible for themselves. Which means that they are not always happy and comforting.

So sometimes they are loney, sad, or even confused. Just like me. The difference is, I like women who are independent and strong.

62

citizen k 10.21.05 at 9:32 am

Kaas fails, somehow, to condemn the live-for-today ethos of ecclesiastes.
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God. And also eating ice cream and doing the wild thing is not so bad. So be not a cramped U of C loser or the pit awaits you, dumbass.

63

jlb 10.21.05 at 9:34 am

Dave, I don’t really think Kass is pointing in the right direction – but you are. Avedon is right too. The problem is always the superficial twits and poseurs of the world, whether it’s an era of getting-to-know-you sex or Victorian “property management.”

64

vetiver 10.21.05 at 9:35 am

I think the mail-order bride industry is a fairly recent phenomenon

In the 1800s, there was a market for brides in the thinly populated west. I can’t remember exactly who advertised or what the terms tended to be (and I’m about to be late for a meeting) but, basically, once a deal was struck, a lady from the east would embark on a grueling weeks-long trip to meet and marry the man she would spend the rest of her life with.

Let’s play word association! Name the first three words that come to mind when you think of Leon Kass. I’ll start: doddering, impotent, bughouse crazy. Okay, four words.

On preview: Oh, Dave. That’s so very thoughtful, and so very wrong. I’d reckon that love, as you describe it, has wrecked more lives than it’s enriched.

Now I am late.

65

Grumpy Physicist 10.21.05 at 9:38 am

Yeah, he kinda reminds me of my parents (and here, I’m probably old enough to be a parent to most of YOU), ragging on how everything started to go downhill when the kids started that horrible practice of….

….GOING STEADY! Zounds! The end of civilization as we know it!

66

kc 10.21.05 at 9:38 am

For it is a woman’s refusal of sexual importunings, coupled with hints or promises of later gratification, that is generally a necessary condition of transforming a man’s lust into love.

Shorter Leon Kass: “Being a pricktease pays off.”

67

Barry 10.21.05 at 9:38 am

“And don’t even get him STARTED on HOT DOGS… and GIRLS EATING hot dogs…
in PUBLIC!”

Posted by smartalek

Or this scene I saw last week, where a mother and her toddler son were…. (sob, the horror)… SHARING A HOT DOG!!!!!!!!!

Barry

68

Grand Moff Texan 10.21.05 at 9:40 am

Hasten to add: of course, once alternative modes of penetration, not to mention corndogs with lots of mustard, are seen by society as being “just as good as” normal modes, including hot dogs, the normal mode will no longer be enjoyable.

Just ask this woman.
.

69

DAS 10.21.05 at 9:41 am

I think the mail-order bride industry is a fairly recent phenomenon

I don’t think so. I am sure that as soon as the instution of marriage developed, men got brides sent for them. Come to think of it, it’s in the Bible: Abraham sent a servent to search for a bride for his son. Pretty similar to getting a bride via the mail in some sense, nu?

As to Kass’ argument about “good” women civilizing men through witholding of sexual gratification: I have heard this before from people accross the socio-political spectrum and, it may in fact be true in terms of human evolution. But what does this argument say about marriage? That men are in it just for sex and women in it for control? That married women use sex to get what they want from men?

Seems to me that far from promulgating a virgin/whore dichotomy, the “traditional” view of marriage expounded by Kass and people like him views all women as whores: a married women is just a prostitute who gets paid a salary (she gives sex in exchange for support from her husband) rather than an hourly wage.

I would dare say the views of people like Kass are not only anti-women but also anti-marriage.

*

On a related note: I went to college … I wasn’t getting any. I always wonder about the “Charlotte Simmons” readership — how do they have this image of college as a place where sex is so freely available and happening and so hard to resist? I guess maybe it would be for an attractive young person with so many horny folk around, but for an average bloke like me, you would really have to make some effort to get yourself involved in sexual shananigans. So how do some people have this image of college where they had to use all their reserve to stay “pure”? Is this some sort of displacement or wish-fulfilment or other term I ought to remember from cognitive science and/or psychobiology class?

70

cavjam 10.21.05 at 9:44 am

I wonder if the good professor is familiar with the life of Émilie du Châtelet.

Regardless, there appears to be, for accurate description’s sake, one too many letters in the gentleman’s surname.

71

John Gillnitz 10.21.05 at 9:49 am

And don’t even get him STARTED on HOT DOGS
Posted by smartalek

This guy is the real life Ned Flanders.

“No footlongs!”

“I wish it were more like the old days, the simpler more moral days that only existed in the minds of us Republicans!”

72

K. Hannigan 10.21.05 at 9:51 am

I should start by saying that I know Leon Kass and his family. I have been a guest at his house and he at mine. His wife, Amy, also a professor at the U of C, is the finest teacher I have ever known. So, discount what I have to say as you see fit. I am certain that Leon fully expected to catch flak for his comments. Whenever you enter into public discourse, you have to expect some pie-in-the-face (or should I say, ice cream?) reaction. He doesn’t need me to defend him. But I’d like to defend him nonetheless, at least against the personal, ad hominem attacks that he’s caught, here and on other sites.

What you might want to understand is that his stated concerns for young people generally, and young women particularly, are sincere and carefully considered, not code for a desire to demean and subordinate women. His relationship with his wife and daughters is respectful, loving and equal and I suspect that, if you knew them, you would like and approve of their family. Naturally, my assertion that Leon is a good man with a good family doesn’t provide a shred of support for his argument, but I don’t want the attacks on his character to go unrebutted.

See, what happened with Amy and Leon was they saw all their favorite students spending tremendous effort and thought on how to advance their careers or get into grad school or improve their minds but hardly any on who to marry. They believe (as I do) that the decision as to whether and who to marry is the most important choice a person can make and that the smart, talented young people they saw on a daily basis were messing it up. Being from the U of C, they naturally concluded that what everyone needed was a 636 page tome of assigned reading in the classics. So they assembled a book, “Wing To Wing, Oar To Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying.” It is about what you’d expect from two lifelong U of C scholars tackling the subject of marriage. Lots of different authors with different, interesting takes on the topic. In their own words, the book was offered “in wisdom-seeking rather than wisdom-delivering-spirit, as writings that make us think, that challenge our unexamined opinions, expand our sympathies, elevate our gaze, and introduce us to possibilities open to human beings in everyday life that may be undreamt of in our philosophizing.” pg.19. If you are honestly interested in the subject or what they think, I recommend the book to you.

So disagree with his fundamental points all you like. Tell him you think that, for all the problems that he elegantly identifies in today’s young people, his diagnosis is flawed and his prescription is wrong. I have, to his face. But, before you impugn his motives or attack his character, consider that you really do not know what you are talking about.

73

Winston Smith 10.21.05 at 9:53 am

When are you people going to learn that sex is filthy? FILTHY!

74

mwg 10.21.05 at 9:54 am

Might be kind of fun to see him up for Surgeon General. Well, as long as I see that ice cream quote plastered everywhere, and as long as he slinks back to Chicago in defeat.

75

Padraig 10.21.05 at 9:55 am

I can;’t beleieve this guy teaches at U of Chicago. Now I’m GLAD they didn;t accept me!

That last bit about women not knowing their own minds – it sounds like some old-school Marxist explaining the proletariats greater interest in a house and health insurance than in revolution by saying ‘a, well that’s just false-consciousness! That’s why they don’t do what I think is good for them’. Only the Marxist has more going for his argument than this schmuck.

76

Dave 10.21.05 at 10:04 am

The first step to self-knowledge is knowing that you are ignorant.

You folks, with all your snarky comments, have any of you read a book on love? Studied the nature of love? If you had, then you would understand where Mr Kaas was coming from. Notice, I did not say that you would have to agree.

But, at least you’d be able to make an argument that wasn’t just an attack on Mr. Kaas.

Pathetic. You wear your ignorance like a shield and sustain it with you outrage that someone dares to question the nature of things.

77

Brian C.B. 10.21.05 at 10:04 am

I’m assuming Part II of Mr. Kass’s tripartite essay will be titled something like, “Honor Killings: Really So Bad?”

78

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 10:12 am

K. Hannigan — to my mind, saying that people should spend time thinking about whether and who to marry is completely unobjectionable. I’d like to know though what you think about Kass’ motivations in the “women one fooled around with and women one married” crack — does he consider his daughters the type of women one marries or one fools around with? Do you not see just how objectionable it is to say that dichotomy is a good thing? Or how disrespectful of women? To say he is a good husband and father seems kind of pointless to me — a good father doesn’t spend his time fretting about his daughters (or other people’s daughters) remaining virgins until they marry.

79

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 10:13 am

“have any of you read a book on love?”

Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

80

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 10:14 am

Chapter 1 you tell her, you love her with all your heart
Chapter 2 you tell her, you’re never never never never never gonna part
Chapter 3 remember, the meaning of romance
Chapter 4 you break up, but you give her just one more chance

81

nano 10.21.05 at 10:15 am

All this would be kind of alarming, you know the part about “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” argument…

except among my mother’s generation(people approaching their 80’s), none of my mom’s friends was a virgin when she married…

and my prudist grandma was named as an adultress in granddad’s divorce case in the early 20’s.

I guess there are people who actually believe the propaganda that “good girls” waited for marriage in the 20th Century.

82

Pentimenal 10.21.05 at 10:16 am

At the risk of debasing this eloquent discourse, to paraphrase the words of Paulie from “The Pope of Greenwich Village”, “Leon, you sound like half a fag.” Why are the most repressed the most deviant? Is it not more important that our society glorifies violence and abhors sexuality? I can not go to Blockbuster and rent a video where a partially clad woman is filmed engaging in a real, consenual sex act, but I can go to Blockbuster and rent a movie where a partially clad woman is engaged in a simulated sex act, and then subsequently has her head “non-consenually” removed by a sharp instrument. Go figure. Europeans, discounting the Germans, of which I am not far removed, and who seem to have a similar fascination with nationalistic violence and perverted sex as we do, seem to have a much more healthy view of sexuality and violence. Alternately, to pander to Leon…..

Charlie: I didn’t do anything, Paulie. I didn’t hit her. I didn’t do nothin’.

Paulie: You can’t do that man. I mean you don’t abuse ‘em once in a while they’ll shit all over you. I don’t mean you walk around morning to night whackin’ ‘em upside the head like someone from the other side but you terrorize ‘em once in a while just to keep ‘em in line. Know what I mean?

What would it take to change the mores of our society, where violence is bad and sex is good? If I beat up that ice cream cone in public would that be acceptable?

83

Thlayli 10.21.05 at 10:18 am

[T]hey usually distinguished, as did the culture generally, between women one fooled around with and women one married, between a woman of easy virtue and a woman of virtue simply.

And it was easy to tell them apart — just look for the scarlet letter ….

84

J. Ellenberg 10.21.05 at 10:19 am

“But, before you impugn his motives or attack his character, consider that you really do not know what you are talking about.”

This is certainly correct, as regards my knowledge of Leon Kass’s personal character. Surely it is equally correct as regards Leon Kass’s knowledge of the “necessary conditions” for men to truly love their wives, or the nature of women’s “genuine longing”, let alone whether “most” young women are in fact “sad, lonely, and confused?”

85

Grand Moff Texan 10.21.05 at 10:20 am

But, before you impugn his motives or attack his character, consider that you really do not know what you are talking about.

Since the man himself knows sweet fuck all about what he’s talking about, and passes himself off as an intellectual, I’ll impugn every aspect of his being as I see fit. What could lead such a vacuity to overreach, and why in that direction? Like slowing down to look at a car wreck, I must see. It’s grotesque, yes, but that’s the point.

You wear your ignorance like a shield and sustain it with you outrage that someone dares to question the nature of things.

Was that irony or stupidity? You contributed nothing when you pretended we contributed nothing. That idiot hasn’t questioned anything, though he has made his own psychosexual dysfunctions disturbingly clear.

We’re questioning him. Get it? Actually, I don’t give a fuck if you do. Piss off.

Geeze, these lightweights really stick together, don’t they? Then again, I guess they have to…
.

86

Grand Moff Texan 10.21.05 at 10:22 am

I’m assuming Part II of Mr. Kass’s tripartite essay will be titled something like, “Honor Killings: Really So Bad?”

Assuming that he counts as well as he reasons, parts four and five of same will be “The Other Side of Bigotry,” and “Human Rights: Why Bother?”

[with apologies to the residents of Tuna, Texas]
.

87

Jeff 10.21.05 at 10:25 am

Hey, I went to the U of C. “Impughing his motives” and “attacking his character” are the first things they teach you if you study with a Straussian. Of course, they wrap it up in the pretty paper of “challenging our unexamined positions.” But the Kass virgin/whore idea is pretty clear from his own argument. Basically, if the profs in Social Thought could just get the world back to the the way the Greeks ran things–when men didn’t really need women for sexual pleasure, just procreation–they would be much happier. They should should all just come out of the closet.

88

Dave 10.21.05 at 10:26 am

Funny, jeremy osner.

But I would start with Allan Bloom’s “On Love and Friendship” It’s not an easy read, but it does have a lot of humor, so you might like it. It also gives a good overview on the nature of love and how it has been discussed and thought of over the centuries.

89

Diana 10.21.05 at 10:27 am

This guy is definitely into the “honor killings” mentality. In hiw world, what would a father do if it turned out his daughter was one of the sluts instead of one of the virgin brides?

As for the line about the cow and milk,the best response is the line in the Spike Lee movie, when one of the punk kids is taunted with it because he’s marrying a girl who’s slept around, he answers, “Maybe I like the cow.”

Do you want the cow for the milk, or because you like the cow? Isn’t that the real difference between lust and love?

90

Elin 10.21.05 at 10:27 am

Just remember for 6in of sausage you don’t need to buy the whole pig.

Realistically, this betrays a very low opinion of men suggesting that the only reason they have for committed relationship is sex. Sad.

91

Leon 10.21.05 at 10:28 am

You guys are not too quick on the uptake, are you? It’s SARCASTIC. Chuckle, chuckle. Sorry I can’t hang around – gotta ponder stem cell research.

92

Dave 10.21.05 at 10:30 am

And to you grand moff texan, I’d suggest Bloom’s ” The Closing Of The American Mind”

93

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 10:32 am

Thanks Dave, I’ll take Doo-wop over Bloom any day of the week, and multiple times on Saturday. My American Mind is closed to Straussian bloviation.

94

Uncle Elvis 10.21.05 at 10:32 am

Dave,

You say “The first step to self-knowledge is knowing that you are ignorant.

You folks, with all your snarky comments, have any of you read a book on love? Studied the nature of love? If you had, then you would understand where Mr Kaas was coming from.”

Isn’t it ignornat to assume we haven’t? Maybe we’re just “snarky” because we have.

95

vast deferans 10.21.05 at 10:34 am

love? where do i begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be?

nothing like a knee-jerk academic. also, please read allen sherman’s “rape of the ape (american puritan ethic.) the best history of the sexual revolution.

96

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 10:34 am

(And I wonder wonder, mm-bop a doo-wah, who, wah, who wrote the book of neo-conservatism?)

97

Locutor 10.21.05 at 10:37 am

#77

Wow, Dave, so all of us posting here “wear our ignorance like a shield”??

You know what materials we have studied and also our levels of mastery, and conclude sagely that we-all is jus’ ignernt.

Well, thank you for the enlightenment.

now bite me.

98

Fred X. Quimby 10.21.05 at 10:40 am

Male sexual modesty prevents me from describing the vast number of sad, lonely, and confused unmarried women I have sexually enjoyed, and regularly too. But to be fair, I was sad, lonely, and confused when it was their turn to enjoy me.

99

DAS 10.21.05 at 10:41 am

all their favorite students spending tremendous effort and thought on how to advance their careers or get into grad school or improve their minds but hardly any on who to marry – K. Hannigan

Actually, back in the old days, men and women didn’t generally think at all about whom they wanted to marry as that decision would be made for them.

My experience in college was that many people were thinking very much of marriage even if, in reality, their future marriages would have been better served if they would have spent more time developing their own selves, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually, and getting around to searching for a spouse when they knew themselves and their wants and needs better, rather than trying to find the ‘right’ (i.e. “someone my parents will hate, but someone who I can feel indignant about my parents hating because I know that they would like him/her if they were not so close minded about things”) partner right in college itself.

And yet, Kass deals in precisely the kind of stereotyped thinking about gender roles that leads to students thinking as they do about marriage …

100

roger 10.21.05 at 10:43 am

According to Stephanie Koontz’ book, Marriage: a history, Kass has it pretty much wrong all the way around. The first wave of discontent with marriage, in the teens of the twentieth century, was associated with feminism — the second wave, in the twenties, came at a time when the suffrage movement was exhausted — the third wave, in the late sixties, was centered not among the hippie dippy teens, but among the marrieds of the fifties. In fact, the fifties acually was the peak period for marriage, and since then marriage among the adult population has reached the same levels as it did in the forties. As for the premise that women’s control of their sexuality would be matched by male loyalty, that didn’t pan out — those fifties marriages were broken up by the male part as much or more than by the female party. In fact, the wiser move by women is not to expect a constant male partner, and to hone her skills accordingly. Love — if love is defined as defining one’s life around another person’s emotional response to oneself — is certainly not the best basis to build one’s emotional, sexual and economic life around. However, as long as you prepare yourself for the consequences of having your love life interrupted, it is eminently affordable.
Mr. Kass needs to meet that other U.of C. conservative prof, Gary Becker.

101

Stephen Frug 10.21.05 at 10:43 am

his stated concerns for young people generally, and young women particularly, are sincere and carefully considered, not code for a desire to demean and subordinate women.

I don’t think that his writings are code for a desire to demean and subordinate women; I think that he is openly stating his desire to demean and subordinate women. That’s what makes his piece so remarkable really: how open it all is.

Also, to those wondering what will come in part two, take a look at Kass’s 1997 article that Alfredo Perez linked to above (here); so far as I can tell, his new “End of Courtship” piece is taken word-for-word from the beginning of his old one, so presumably the other two parts will simply reproduce the rest. (This is based on a quick scan… I’m not interested enough to read the !@#$% thing twice! But certainly many sentences are identical.) At least Kass is consistent in his ideas: he’s reprinting the same piece eight years later!

102

DAS 10.21.05 at 10:45 am

Love is secondary in our world, it was of primary importance in Mr. Kaas’ world. In my mind, Mr Kaas is at least pointing in the right direction. – dave

I agree that love is more important and is given short shrift in relationships today (btw — why does it have to be a man wooing a woman? why can’t a woman woo a man?) … but the relationship described as ideal by Kass doesn’t sound like love to me … it sounds like as much of a business transaction as prostitution with an added dash of manipulation on the part of the woman guaranteed to turn the man into a blithering misogynist: a man gets sex in exchange for a woman getting whatever she wants from her husband. And should the woman be dissatisfied, she withholds sex until she gets what she wants from the man.

That doesn’t sound like love or anything that would turn a man’s lust into love (and what of the woman … what turns her lust into love?) to me … it sounds like a recipe for exploitation and bitterness.

103

pdf23ds 10.21.05 at 10:45 am

dave said:
“Mr. Kaas’ talk about modesty and virtue is really about finding protecting and fostering love.”

I think I understand what you mean (but you probably won’t agree), and I think it’s wrong. I think what you’re saying is really the idea that relationships can work if only the couple has real, true love for each other. The idea that nothing else is really necessary.

The fact that you look down on partners negotiating with each other about their mutual needs–as if this were a distastful part of a relationship!–clearly shows to me that these ideals are every bit as fictional as the rest of Kass’s lost-age-pining. If you feel that this sort of thing is icky, I don’t think you’re in any position to judge what love “really” is.

Real relationships really are about meeting each other’s needs, and part of that is being aware of each other’s needs, and being aware of which of them each is willing and able to fill, and which must be taken care of outside the relationship. It’s very messy, compared to fiction. But instead of being a letdown, I think it’s much more beautiful than your idea of what love is.

Maybe part of your distaste for it is a perception that it involves a certain amount of distrust of the other, so that one holds on to one’s autonomy. Instead of relying on one’s nebulous intuitions and irrational attachments to guide one to a relationship, one tries to judge potential partners on pragmatic grounds of suitability. But again, while this may be disenchantment at some juvenile level, that this would be distasteful to you (if it is) suggests to me that your ideas here are immature.

104

Brian C.B. 10.21.05 at 10:48 am

Do you want the cow for the milk, or because you like the cow? Isn’t that the real difference between lust and love?

Dude, you gotta get off the farm. Conversely, I could hook you up with some websites. Or some rich creamery butter.

105

DonBoy 10.21.05 at 10:51 am

In the 1800s, there was a market for brides in the thinly populated west.

“The bluest skies you’ve ever seen…in Seattle.”

(This knowledge may be age- and nation-specific.)

106

Dave 10.21.05 at 10:52 am

Well Locutor, you are right. I do not know what everyone has studied and mastered. Perhaps if folks wrote more thoughtful responses, instead of just attacking Mr. Kaas, I would.

107

superactionGO! 10.21.05 at 10:53 am

dave: yes, I have ‘studied the nature of love’ or as I like to call it, ‘been in love.’ I continue to be in love. And that love, a marriage of 14 years based on a mutual respect, an ability to make fun of each other, and a love of the other and everything that makes them up, for good or bad, has in no way led me to ‘understand where Mr Kass is coming from’ except perhaps in the sense of a sad man who cannot accept that the world has grown far past him. Yes, people are enitrely free to question the nature of things, just as I am entirely free to then point out just how idiotic I feel someone’s conclusions might be. He may feel that his ideas are correct but that doesn’t make it so, any more than ham-fisted blanket statements about anyone who dares to react negatively the this ‘great man’s’ ideas mean that we’re all ignorant phlistines.

All that said, something about this man reminds me of something that Bill Hicks used to say about Jesse Helms, summed up by a statement that possibly only fans of his will understand: “I always wondered about Jesse’s collection of little shoes…”

Meanwhile, all “pill-popping, body-piercing, career-oriented, degree-granted, sexually confident, frequent-flyer, atheistic sluts” may feel free to contatct me at any time.

108

DAS 10.21.05 at 11:01 am

Real relationships really are about meeting each other’s needs, and part of that is being aware of each other’s needs, and being aware of which of them each is willing and able to fill, and which must be taken care of outside the relationship. It’s very messy, compared to fiction. But instead of being a letdown, I think it’s much more beautiful than your idea of what love is. – pdf23ds

Bingo.

Part of the reason why college kids are having difficulties in the relationship world is that too many people don’t realize what a relationship is actually about. Too many college kids conceptualize relationships in terms of romantic comedies, etc. … in fictional terms. They do not understand that the beauty of a relationship is not some guy wooing some gal and sweeping her off her feet, but two people who care deeply for each other, who are responsive to each other’s needs and who are comfortable enough with each other to communicate their needs to each other.

From my experience, the “traditional” view of dating and marriage espoused by Kass is far from dead on college campuses but rather is what is doing damage to dating and marriage … if only because people, stuck in their traditional views of what a relationship should be like, are missing what really would be the best relationships for them. Just because a guy sweeps a girl off her feet doesn’t make him the best guy for her … it may be her best friend, whom she has mentally desexualized, because he’s approached her as a friend rather than as a suitor, and enframed as someone akin to her “brother” who would really give her what she needs, both sexually and emotionally, in a relationship, while the guy who has sweeped her off her feet even as she played “hard to get” might not really respect her needs (after all, he pursued her even as she was ostensibly communicating she wasn’t to be gotten) or might just be interested in playing games (e.g. she was playing “hard to get”, so maybe he was merely playing “suitor” … all without realizing it).

The sexual revolution has still not lived up to its promise of liberating relationships. In part because some people do think “why buy the pig when the sausage is free” or “why buy the cow when the milk is free” … but really a large part of the problem I saw on my college campus was that too many people, even in an age where sexual mores are in some sense looser, were still stuck in stifling sex roles which inhibited their ability to search for and find truly loving and mutually respectful relationships.

109

Locutor 10.21.05 at 11:06 am

Ok, Dave, fair enough–I suppose Mr. Kass is honest in his clumsy attempt to revive Victorian sexual mores, and perhaps we are being a bit harsh on him.

But, honestly, what can you expect in this kind of situation? The views he espouses are not just antiquated–they are pernicious. Whenever we humans link together sexuality and morality, the results are lamentable. By this, I mean the tendency of conservatives, especially religious conservatives, to equate one’s ethical standing with who and how one fucks.

This leads to all kinds of horrible outcomes: the Scarlet Letter type scenarios, persecution of homosexuals, abusive marriages, etc.

Most of us here really, really don’t want to go down that road again.

I’m glad that women don’t have to choose between having a (very risky and socially condemned) sex life and being chaste anymore. I’m glad that adults no longer have to conduct consensual, non-traditional sexual liasons in dark alleys and hidden places anymore. Those were “the bad old days” and may they never return.

Morality is about how you treat other people, especially in avoiding harming them as much as you can. That is the basis for judging a person’s character, not their sexual history.

110

robert green 10.21.05 at 11:08 am

Is now the same as whenever mr. kass grew up (the 1930s?)

if the answer is no, his observations are worthless without acknowledging that fact. if he states that “women are in the workforce” that is not a neutral fact in the context of his argument, it is part of a greater societal change that, were he to discuss it, might color the rest of his train of thought. but that’s inconvient to his argument. now, he a brilliant guy i assume, so therefore such an elementary mistake strikes me as willfull, or to put another way, he’s a another asshat republican putting his conclusion before his facts or logic.

let’s take it further. all his chivalry shit is very modern indeed. for most women for most of history, marriage meant very simply–how many sheep could you family afford to give away to get rid of you to whomever was interested. oh, and by the way, if you were known to be a woman of “loose virtue” (read, raped) then it was going to take more sheep.

again, i’m sure mr. kass knows this. he’s such a fucking lying sack of shit it makes me want to vomit. trying to defend this tripe makes YOU a lying sack of shit as well. come up with a better argument grounded in reality or piss off, sez me.

111

djw 10.21.05 at 11:10 am

Hmm. So what if I thought long and hard about who I wanted to marry, and kept coming to the conclusion that I wanted to marry another man. How would the good Professor council me?

112

Dave 10.21.05 at 11:11 am

Pdf23,

I have been in love. The sweetest love of my life. While in the midst of it I realized what bunk all this talk about needs fullment was.

I knew, with all my heart, that he would never ask me for anything that I wouldn’t give, nor I of him.

Knowing that he existed and loved me calmed my heart and made everyhting else in life easier.

Yes it ended, badly and messy. Perhaps it was all just a fiction inside my head, but what a grand fiction it was.

113

Maximus 10.21.05 at 11:11 am

Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone—a catlike activity…. I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many reader, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the view that eating in the street is for dogs.

Wait, it it cat-like or dog-like? I’m confused.

Also, this guy sounds like T. Herman Zweibel.

114

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 11:14 am

I like where this thread is going… somewhere deeply bizarre and surrealistic.

115

theorajones 10.21.05 at 11:20 am

Of course, Victorian attitudes like these–the division of women into whores and virgins–don’t have any real consequences, right? I mean, it’s not like a society that treats women this way is going to dismiss violence against woman as something they “must have had coming” due to their behavior.

Nope, no consequences for women at all.

116

LittlePig 10.21.05 at 11:20 am

Dang, here I am, married for 22 years, and it turns out I’m just an anachronism. And I’m morally reprehensibile and everything.

Where I did go wrong?

117

Dave 10.21.05 at 11:23 am

P.S. Folks.

I am not now nor have ever been a communist, oops! I mean conservative. I am not advocating a return to earlier times.

I am simply suggesting that when we close our minds to other ideas we stop searching for the truth and it negates us having to articulate a valid argument.

Now, I am off to work.

118

R.Porrofatto 10.21.05 at 11:23 am

I’ve got to see this Book of Love
Find out why it’s true.

Thanks jeremy. Hadn’t thought of that one for ages.

119

pdf23ds 10.21.05 at 11:25 am

“because he’s approached her as a friend rather than as a suitor, and enframed as someone akin to her “brother” who would really give her what she needs, both sexually and emotionally, in a relationship, while the guy who has sweeped her off her feet even as she played “hard to get” might not really respect her needs”

I’m everything you want
I’m everything you need
I’m all the things inside of you
that you wish you could be

I say all the right things
at exactly the right times
But I mean nothing to you
and I/you don’t know why.

120

Rumblelizard 10.21.05 at 11:26 am

Brackdurf: chortle!

121

J. Ellenberg 10.21.05 at 11:28 am

This thread gets better as it gets more emo.

122

Belle Waring 10.21.05 at 11:29 am

jeremy, you’re a pervert.

123

Dave 10.21.05 at 11:31 am

P.P.S.

Jeremy, you’re funny and witty. I’d love to show you a few tricks from my Book Of Love.

124

CrackWilding 10.21.05 at 11:33 am

I have to point out that Kass brings out the best in all of us: a few of these comments almost made me spew Coke on my monitor.

125

Anaxamander 10.21.05 at 11:34 am

Millions of people get married every year… why would they do that with all the easy sex about? Hunh. Maybe… just maybe… there’s more to marriage than sex. And maybe waiting until you are old enough to know that makes for more successful marriages, better adjusted children and less divorce. You know… maybe.

126

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 11:39 am

Ooh, flirting now too! Shouldn’t you be at work?

127

Brian C.B. 10.21.05 at 11:39 am

I could be swung to Mr. Kass’s side if it means I get some sweet, sweet dowry action.

128

Molly, NYC 10.21.05 at 11:47 am

Dave, why on earth would you–or Kass–assume any of us had no knowledge or understanding of love?

Unfortunately, (w/r/t Kass, at least) it’s what we’ve come to expect from conservatives–the just-too-precious-for-words belief that they alone possess any finer or nobler feelings. Aside from making them feel oh-so-special, it also helps to rationalize all that racism and cultural insularity.

129

Kaleberg 10.21.05 at 11:51 am

And no one mentions how the late, sainted Ronald Reagan irreversibly forced women into the workplace by cutting white male wages below the “family wage” level. For a good understanding of why this is irreversible read Vonnegut’s short story, The Foster Portfolio.

I always considered Ronald Reagan a feminist icon, in that he put the nail in the stay at home mom’s coffin. The stay at home mom is now an expensive luxury that only the very well off can afford. For most women, staying at home is not an option.

I also consider Reagan to be the last Communist. Even when the highest ranking party members in the USSR considered Communist ideology just a polite obeisiance on their career tracks, Reagan actually regarded Communism as a viable system, though perhaps as much as a full percentage point less effective than capitalism. He alone regarded the creaking, wheezing Soviet Union as a serious economic and military threat.

130

Stevan 10.21.05 at 11:51 am

Did anyone notice the small print in the upper right corner of Leon Kass’ website? It’s a link that says “A Website of Focus on Family”. Yup, this is more Dobson propaganda.

131

Anaxamander 10.21.05 at 12:03 pm

To Dave – Just because he has a lovely marriage of equality doesn’t mean that those who follow his prescription also would. Women who use sex as a bargaining chip generally wind up in unhealthy relationships.

Women who depend on men economically, without having the wherewithal to make their own money if necessary, make themselves subordinate necessarily. They cannot get by without the man, so he gets to make all of the decisions when they disagree. Sure, he may be full of largesse, giving her her way on many occasions just to make her happy, but that’s quite different than negotiating a compromise that respects both people. he has the power, and she must beg for what she wants.

Finally, his viewpoint relies on the notion that men have no desire to get married, only to have regular, reliable sex. That notion is false. Men like to get married even when regular, relaible sex is available to them as singles. And women like to get married even when they can make their own living in the world. People gravitate to families naturally. They need not be forced by one another’s coy games.

132

Aaron G Stock 10.21.05 at 12:10 pm

I understand this is merely part 1 of Kass’s essay, but unless he is to add other angles to the other 2 parts, he makes an unnecessarily reductive argument that sex is the consideration in courtship and marriage. Kass has so far ignored the elephants of finance and nonsexual control in the relationship (though I admit that many issues surrounding control can’t be easily separated from other issues). I hope Kass expands his essay along those lines. For anyone who discusses the causes of, say, marriage and divorce rates without discussing the economics behind them is being irresponsible.

But for now, on to what he has discussed:

Anyone who seriously contemplates the present scene is — or should be — filled with profound sadness, all the more so if he or she knows the profound satisfactions of a successful marriage.

Kass then goes on to describe terms of a “successful marriage” that, I daresay most, women would consider a failure now, and probably did in times when that form of marriage was more common (if it was ever).

While there has always been sex without love, easy and early sexual satisfaction makes love and real intimacy less, not more, likely — for both men and women.

Can he back this up? Can you? My experience has not borne this out. I think it depends on the person. Some people are prepared (as much as they can be) to handle or at least adjust to the mental requirements of casual sex with different partners. Some people are prepared for sex with their respective singular partners until they die. Some are prepared for celibacy.

I certainly agree that one benefits from more thorough consideration before choosing. Reserve is a great idea if one is not developmentally (or otherwise) ready to handle a particular kind of relationship, be it a fleetingly or long-term sexual one, a marriage, a platonic one, etc.

I think it is best when one may choose when to give and receive pleasure and the context in which one does so. If anything, I think people show a greater respect for marriage by avoiding it until they feel they’ve lived up to it. It may be that they need to alter what to expect from marriage, and further, what within themselves is capable of adjusting to marriage, but those are different topics than the one in which Kass has so far engaged.

133

Daniel 10.21.05 at 12:13 pm

I sort of speed-read this bit, but thank God somebody is speaking up about the shameful state of modern prostitution. The lack of professionalism and courtesy in today’s brothels is a national disgrace. I’m not necessarily sure that I agree with Mr Kass that more and better prostitutes would spark some kind of national social regeneration, but at least somebody’s noticed that there is a problem here.

134

Mike M. 10.21.05 at 12:19 pm

I love his weird assertion that there’s no reason for men to marry because it’s just so easy to bed a woman you desire, pretty much any time you’re feeling desirous. Where does Kass get the idea that getting laid is that easy? Is he a super stud? Do women swoon around him and lose all sense of reason? Because of if I polled all of my single friends, men and women, none of them prudes, I doubt any of them would say it’s quite so easy as Kass implies.

And, hell, even it it were, I’m not sure why that would stop anybody from getting married because they, you know, fall in love with somebody else.

135

Dave 10.21.05 at 12:19 pm

“They need not be forced by one another’s coy games.”

Anaxamander,

Ha!

Ya know, one of the bonuses of being gay is being an outsider to the straight world. Most of my 20’s were spent exclusively among gay folk. It wasn’t until my first year of law school that I spent any amount of time as an adult with straight folk.

It was an eye opener the first semester of law school to watch the men and women interact. I was astounded! You guys play so many coy games with one another just to get together, its a wonder you ever get together.

The coy games are still there and I must assume they are there for a reason.

136

N.Wells 10.21.05 at 12:24 pm

The multitude of failings of modern morality are all the fault of those Victorian fashions that started to display the female ankle. The next thing we knew women were in bloomers riding bicycles, which was tantamount to admitting to the entire world that they had two legs that could be spread apart. The freedom of the bicycle led to the horrors of unchaperoned picnics, and sped women down the road leading to the backseats of automobiles. It’s been downhill ever since.

137

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 12:25 pm

[...] This is where I would trackback if I knew how to do it. [...]

138

JaDe 10.21.05 at 12:34 pm

Eating is a fundamental act, something you should take seriously and devote your full attention to…

ONLY when a major portion of the day is consumed in procuring food. Food is a necessity of life, it should not be an obsession.

Eat to Live, don’t Live to Eat!

139

Hogan 10.21.05 at 12:39 pm

The coy games are still there and I must assume they are there for a reason.

You think it’s easy to make an offer and accept a rejection in such a way that you can pretend no offer was ever made? As our preznit would say, it’s hard work.

Come to think of it, it’s also a useful skill for future lawyers.

140

Hershele Ostropoler 10.21.05 at 12:39 pm

If I could go way back up to #48 …

Dave, what does the word “negotiation” suggest to you that you think has no place in relationships? To me it seems like avoiding abuse and rape, at worst, and one partner feeling taken advantage of or taken for granted even in the best cases.

141

Aaron G Stock 10.21.05 at 12:41 pm

And may I simply add, “What das said and agreed with.”

142

dw 10.21.05 at 12:50 pm

This is amazing – it is EXACTLY the same argument that the Wahabbi Sect of Islam (Saudi Arabia) uses to justify the idea that women be kept covered in a black tent from head to toe in order to keep good muslim men virtuous.

143

Aaron G Stock 10.21.05 at 12:54 pm

#118
littlepig,

You went wrong in surmising that any of us here think you are “an anachronism. And… morally reprehensibile and everything” for being married for 22 years.

Unless that is you coming to your own realization about yourself. In which case, I apologize and sincerely wish you and yours the best in coping with this newfound revelation.

144

Grand Moff Texan 10.21.05 at 12:58 pm

And to you grand moff texan, I’d suggest Bloom’s ”The Closing Of The American Mind”

You can’t be serious? Or is the reference to protesting the closing of the American mind to closed-mindedness another attempt at irony?

I never felt the need to trade in my intellectual self-respect in order to be able to trade on my “white” male identity. I’ve also never been impressed by the use of Roget’s as a strap-on to sodomize the crone of archaist escapism that is the limit of conservative social imagining.
.

145

lemuel pitkin 10.21.05 at 1:13 pm

I’ve also never been impressed by the use of Roget’s as a strap-on to sodomize the crone of archaist escapism that is the limit of conservative social imagining.

I’m not sure what this means but I like it.

146

anthony 10.21.05 at 1:16 pm

“the destigmatization of bastardy”

that’s the twat point for me

147

Redleg 10.21.05 at 1:17 pm

That’s pretty sorry commentary coming from a University of Chicago professor.

I guess we small-time regional university professors don’t have the prestige to offer our uninformed opinions to the world as the Leon Kass types do. Instead we have to toil away with academic scholarship since our opinions have less value.

148

catherine liu 10.21.05 at 1:18 pm

maybe we’ve figured out why men don’t want to get married, but I recently heard from a friend that married women do an average of 14 more hours of housework a week than their unmarried peers…ESPECIALLY if they were married to Republicans! So for one or two times a week of conjugal sex, you get 14 added hours of housework??? Not a good tradeoff!

all kidding aside, Kass and company should decamp to Saudi Arabia where I hear female modesty is still highly prized…look how well they’re doing as a political community…

149

Dave 10.21.05 at 1:21 pm

Hershele,

I believe that the process of trying to articulate what we experience, groping for the words, forces us to examine ourselves and leads to self-discovery.

Here’s my beef. In our society we do not talk about the nature of love becuase that would involve making judgments. Instead we talk about having a “healthy” relationship, of negotiating, etc etc etc.

What the fuck does health have to fo with love? Some of the greatest love stories, that speak far more to the nature of love, where not exactly what we would call healthy. Romeo and Juliet being a prime example.

We have jettisoned centuries of romatic literture and discussions on the nature of love in favor of healthy realtionships and negotiation?

The words we use are important becasue they can reveal our experiences or lead us astray.

I beleive our present language has led us astray and blinded us.

150

Dave 10.21.05 at 1:25 pm

Damn! Should have spell checked.

151

J. Ellenberg 10.21.05 at 1:34 pm

Just out of curiosity, Dave, if your fourteen-year-old son fell in love with a girl at his junior high school, mistakenly thought she’d died in an accident, and subsequently killed himself, would you feel you’d done a good job teaching him about the true meaning of love? Or might you feel like there was something to be said for “health”?

I think most modern-day humans have big enough brains to encompass ideas about health, negotations, and all-out mind-blowing romance, all at the same time, when we think about our lives with our spouses.

152

janet 10.21.05 at 1:38 pm

I would just like to note that I’m glad to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my husband’s motivation for marrying me didn’t include the idea that marriage was the only way he could get into my pants.

153

T.W. McKinney 10.21.05 at 1:40 pm

As a recently matriculated PhD. student at the U of Chicago, I am officially embarassed for my school.

154

Colin Danby 10.21.05 at 1:42 pm

I dunno, K. Hannigan. Nobody could possibly object to:

“writings that make us think, that challenge our unexamined opinions, expand our sympathies, elevate our gaze, and introduce us to possibilities open to human beings in everyday life that may be undreamt of in our philosophizing”

And in between hoots of laughter, folks have pointed out that Kass holds fast to unexamined opinions, has narrow sympathies, is unable to elevate his gaze, and cannot see “possibilities open to human beings in everyday life … undreamt of in [his] philosophizing.” Part of the trouble with his writing on this topic is its utter banality. It may be the banality of another age, but its fustiness doesn’t make it smarter.

And for someone who believes that love springs from sublimated lust to accuse *other* people of having a limited view of love is a little too much.

In addition to their banality these ideas do have consequences in the blighting of lives, so yes people will respond vigorously, and if you choose to make uninformed, broad-brush arguments about sexuality and bring back the virgin|whore dichotomy etc. etc., one of the responses you can expect is merciless ridicule. Some of it’s over the top, yes. Most of it’s pretty entertaining.

155

x 10.21.05 at 1:45 pm

“all their favorite students spending tremendous effort and thought on how to advance their careers or get into grad school or improve their minds but hardly any on who to marry. They believe (as I do) that the decision as to whether and who to marry is the most important choice a person can make and that the smart, talented young people they saw on a daily basis were messing it up.” – This seems like a nice, innocuous, gender neutral statement, until you notice that Kass has put all the onus on the women to “fix” this relationship situation. Which strikes me as odd, as under all statistical studies I’ve heard, single women are happy, healthier, etc. than married women, while single men are sadder, and die earlier, than married men. So if the situation is such that folks just aren’t getting married like they used to, it likes like it would behoove the menfolk to figure out what the career-oriented, degree-holding, atheistic sluts might think is worth marrying for, otherwise they’ll keep living short miserable lives. Viva l’liberte!

156

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 2:03 pm

under all statistical studies I’ve heard, single women are happy, healthier, etc. than married women

I believe Kass addresses this when he points out that “most young women strike me as sad, lonely, and confused” — the single women may think they’re happier; but they lose “the capacity to discover their own genuine longings and best interests.”

157

mnvnjnsn 10.21.05 at 2:03 pm

22. and fun! Kass forgot to mention the negative effects that fun has had on civilisation since it has been liberalised by such dangerous movements as the Fun Revolution and the widespread sale of Fun Pills.

I think Kass was caught taunting Happy Fun Ball one too many times.

158

Uncle Kvetch 10.21.05 at 2:08 pm

Dave, did you read the entirety of Kass’ article? Specifically, did you notice the following?

Even if it is true that the great majority of Americans still profess a belief in God, He is for few of us a God before whom one trembles in fear of judgment. With adultery almost as American as apple pie, few people appreciate the awe-ful shame of The Scarlet Letter. The sexual abominations of Leviticus—incest, homosexuality, and bestiality—are going the way of all flesh, the second with religious blessings, no less.

(Emphasis mine.)

You may find Kass’ arguments about “love” compelling, but you have to also acknowledge that in Kass’ view, what you and your ex-boyfriend felt for each other wasn’t love–it was a sickness, and it was repugnant.

Good ol’ Alan Bloom felt the same way, of course–in public, at least…

159

djw 10.21.05 at 2:10 pm

Which strikes me as odd, as under all statistical studies I’ve heard, single women are happy, healthier, etc. than married women, while single men are sadder, and die earlier, than married men.

I thought that both sexes recieved a statistical happiness boost from marriage, but it was much smaller for women than for men. Isn’t that what Kieran said recently?

Still, point well taken.

160

Zap 10.21.05 at 2:30 pm

Seems to me that Margaret Atwood might be able to go after Kass for plagiarism.

161

Cal Gal 10.21.05 at 2:31 pm

e said “the liberals’ reaction to the ice cream comment is exactly the sort of thing Straussians laugh about behind closed doors.”

Kinda like little kids saying “pee pee” and then covering their mouths and running away giggling.

Well, we sluts and the guys who lust after us have much more exciting things to laugh about behind closed doors.

162

thomas 10.21.05 at 2:34 pm

As a child of the sixties who still beleives in the great benefits of the sexual revolution, and as a gay, out and proud man who has had both a lot of casual sex and two long-term very fulfilling gay relationships (not to mention one marriage with a lovely Belgian female when I was very young), I find Kass’s philosophy and stance regarding modern sex in america – BULLSHIT.

163

pdf23ds 10.21.05 at 2:53 pm

I’ve heard (in a Psychology Today article?) that you don’t receive a happiness boost from marriage if you have a good social life beforehand, but if you’re more of a loner, marriage is a lot better for you. They didn’t break it up by sex though.

164

dh23 10.21.05 at 2:54 pm

hey, the title of the piece………..taken from the Pogues’ song, no? cool.

165

pdf23ds 10.21.05 at 2:56 pm

Oh, and it’s really annoying how comments that go through the moderation queue don’t get stuck at the end of the thread when they’re approved. They just sort of get lost in the middle (messing up the numbering of the following comments), so that the only people that read them are people that haven’t been keeping up closely with the thread before the comment was approved. It was annoying when it happened to me, and it’s just as annoying to me when it happens to others’ good comments. Can this be addressed, CT admin? An approved comment’s timestamp should be changed to when it was approved, so it goes to the end of the thread.

166

lemuel pitkin 10.21.05 at 2:56 pm

In our society we do not talk about the nature of love becuase that would involve making judgments.

Damn! Should have spell checked.

Or seen a movie, or read a book. Love figures prominently in a number of them.

167

sara 10.21.05 at 2:57 pm

What’s most alarming is that Mr. Kass is a bioethicist. Therefore he should know about the sexual double standard in Victorian times, and how many women’s “female troubles” were caused by their respectable bourgeois husbands bringing home gonorrhea and syphilis, and probably HPV, from brothels.

I suppose this is a liberal myth, and the Victorians were all squeaky clean. /snark/

168

BazzaQ 10.21.05 at 3:15 pm

Another example of someone who confuses morality with sex. Sex outside of marriage is not Evil, although I can see how confused thinking would lead someone down that path.

A deeper view of morality is when it is directly linked to compassion. How much compassion we have for others defines our own level of morality, and this is the essence of the teachings from Jesus, Budha, Ghandi, Krishna and the few enlightened spiritual teachers.

Cheers
BazzaQ

169

Uncle Kvetch 10.21.05 at 3:18 pm

Assuming we’ve finally said all that can be said about Ladies of Easy Leisure, can we please move on to Rambling Boys of Pleasure? That’s the part of this discussion I’m really looking forward to.

170

the exile 10.21.05 at 3:20 pm

So Administration bioethics policy is being set by Andy Rooney. That makes me feel better.

Seriously, such ideas are not “quaint,” they are dangerous. My wife’s grandmother, in El Salvador, was either seduced or raped by a rich man (we don’t know which it was, but to tell the truth, at that time there was no meaningful line separating seduction from rape). She had her reputation destroyed, could never marry, and was forced to live her life in poverty. Kass blames her for her fate. Fuck Him and his mother!! Every serious historian knows that this was the dark side of Victorian “morality”– rich women had the power to protect their virtue, poor women did not. I’ll take the present, with its alleged morality crisis, over that past any day.

171

jonquil 10.21.05 at 3:48 pm

“We don’t discuss love in America. We talk about being healthy.”

Speak for yourself. I’ve been married 25 years in June, and I say “I love you” constantly. And I somehow managed to marry him even though I didn’t withhold the goods until the wedding night.

172

Grand Moff Texan 10.21.05 at 3:59 pm

Uncle Kvetch, together we’ll face the world.

Gah! I hate that song.
.

173

Nick 10.21.05 at 3:59 pm

Yeah, uh, Dave… seriously, who the @&%$ would want to go through what Romeo and Juliet went through (yes, they were in a difficult situation, but GAWD, they acted like teenage idiots)? If that’s what you mean by “love”, well, I’d much rather take negotiated companionship any day.

As for today’s college students, all I can go on is my own experience at an Ivy League campus a few years back, where I’ll admit, people (including myself) really had trouble holding down relationships, etc… The single biggest cause of this, however, is that everyone THOUGHT too much. Most were still caught up in this adolescent idea of “passionate love,” and either became cynical when it didn’t pan out (as it won’t unless you actually put some work into a relationship or pick very wisely) and decided to last out college by means of a string of hook-ups, or continued to “fall in love” with pretty much everyone they slept with, leading to more unhappiness than us cynical folk. In short, it is the very idea of love you seem to espouse, Dave, that is the problem (and as pdf pointed out earlier – it is immature).
One caveat – my school was by no means representative, and our problems with relationships were probably not mitigated by the general nerdiness and fugliness of the student body (especially b/c everyone was simultaneously super-ambitious).

Finally, this whole intellectual “openness” to new ideas you advcate is downright dangerous. Discourse is power and constructs society. The Republicans know this and have been very successful at turning up into down. Even giving this U of C clown the benefit of a “fair” hearing legitimizes his discourse at some point, and helps to empower his patriarchical and frankly backassward (to use a technical term) ideas and world view. I don’t give a damn if he thinks he’s doing this out of the goodness of his heart. He’s a danger to society nevertheless.

174

Uncle Kvetch 10.21.05 at 4:03 pm

Are we thinking of the same song, GMT?

175

aretino 10.21.05 at 4:05 pm

#100

Well, Mr. Quimby, does male sexual modesty also prevent you from describing the vast number of sad, lonely, and confused *married* women you have sexually enjoyed?

176

emjaybee 10.21.05 at 4:11 pm

And to those who defend this dinosaur, his personal charms are irrelevant to the views he expressed. Perhaps he is a benevolent dictator to his wife and daughters–that doesn’t make his dictatorship ethical.

And speaking of love, how can anyone say he knows anything about it whatsoever? Subsumed lust is not love. It’s nowhere close to it.

And his last fallacy (a common one) is in assuming that his acquaintance with *college students* gives him any real insight into how functioning adults work in our society. College students are in transition, still making their personalities, easily swayed by their heroes, and for the most part, utterly ignorant of the real world and real relationships, because they haven’t been on their own yet. It is an irritatingly common failing of many academics, to think that what they observe in students rarified lives can be extrapolated to the majority of the population.

177

a different chris 10.21.05 at 4:29 pm

I have been in love. The sweetest love of my life. While in the midst … made everyhting else in life easier….Yes it ended, badly and messy.

I had the same experience. But I’ve managed to see it in a much more positive light – the ability to fully give your self to more than one love-deserving individual from puppy box to euth needle is on balance a positive outcome of the vast difference in human v. canine lifespans, if a little hard emotionally on the human side.

Damn women, though, they live freaking forever.

178

a different chris 10.21.05 at 4:32 pm

>Well, Mr. Quimby, does male sexual modesty

If Mr. Quimby isn’t still around to speak for himself, I would venture (not having any such experience myself, mind you) that Lawyers, Guns and Money might be more overriding concerns in that particular case.

179

W. Kiernan 10.21.05 at 4:34 pm

When I read this stuff it jumped out at me that this mental case Kass (watching kids eat ice-cream cones gives him the jibblies, sheesh) is talking about what we’ve all lost since the fifties, that is, he’s looking back to Chuck Berry’s world:

You know I’m almost grown
Yeah ‘n’ I’m doin’ all right in school.
They ain’t said I broke no rule.
I ain’t never been in Dutch.
I don’t browse around too much
Don’t bother me, leave me alone
Anyway, I’m almost grown
I don’t run around with no mob
Got myself a little job
I’m gonna buy me a little car,
Drive my girl in the park
Don’t bother us, leave us alone
Anyway, we almost grown
Got my eye on a little girl
Ah, she’s really out this world
When I take her to a dance
We steady talk about romance
Don’t bother us, leave us alone
Anyway, we almost grown
You know I’m still livin’ in town
But I done married and settled down
Now I really have a ball
Cause I don’t browse around at all
Don’t bother us, leave us alone
Anyway, we almost grown

What exactly is it we have lost? I’ll tell you what: the sense of not being in Dutch (every last schoolboy is guilty until proven innocent by this week’s piss test, and strip-searched on a whim), a fair shot at that little job and that little car (the job has been outsourced or downsized out of existence, gas is $3.09 a gallon), the right to take your little girl to the park or to the dance (impossible in the modern panopticon), and finally the prospect of settling down in that little house in town (say, what’s the average house in California cost again?).

Think about it: none of this has to do with the natural desire to make love (which, after all, is none of neurotic Kass’s business anyway, don’t bother us, leave us alone!) No, no, it’s all capitalism’s fault!

180

a different chris 10.21.05 at 4:35 pm

Speaking of songs, BTW, there is one great benefit to me from being exposed to this idiocy.

I used to want to stick a fork thru my frontal lobes anytime I was forced to listen to “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights”, but now I’ll think of Mr. Kass’ demonstrated unworldliness and just howl with laughter all the way thru it.

181

Another Damned Medievalist 10.21.05 at 4:47 pm

Belle’s got piercings?????

Something I don’t think anyone pointed out yet — the idea that a woman only give’s one’s kisses (or body) to the man she loves. I’m calling anachronism here — In the world to which Kass wants us to return, sex was a duty. Love wasn’t necessarily part of it. Often, it wasn’t. Not to mention that he’s talking about a relatively small cross-section of society. One has only to read accounts of the lives of working-class people to realize that, for the majority, the virgin/whore dichotomy simply did not exist.

Interesting that he left the poly people alone — maybe because the dichotomy does work for some groups … fundamentalist Muslims in some countries, outcast Mormons …

182

Chuck 10.21.05 at 4:50 pm

Fuck you all. Its obviously much more fun and “liberating” to make fun of this guy than to address any of the points that he is making, or to wonder why these topics might be important.

A society is only as good as the families that hold it up. With the sexual revolution of our society came a whole bunch of weird shit that has affected our nation in a lot of different ways.

Are they good, bad, hard to say? I dont know. But I find it hilarious that no one wants to admit that Kass might have a point about how unrestrained sexual activity will negatively impact a society as a whole.

183

Milo P. Lutz 10.21.05 at 5:27 pm

“For it is a woman’s refusal of sexual importunings, coupled with hints or promises of later gratification, that is generally a necessary condition of transforming a man’s lust into love.”

So the whole Clenis thing was Monica’s fault?! Wait- Now I’m confused….

184

deja pseu 10.21.05 at 6:01 pm

“all their favorite students spending tremendous effort and thought on how to advance their careers or get into grad school or improve their minds but hardly any on who to marry. They believe (as I do) that the decision as to whether and who to marry is the most important choice a person can make and that the smart, talented young people they saw on a daily basis were messing it up.” – This seems like a nice, innocuous, gender neutral statement, until you notice that Kass has put all the onus on the women to “fix” this relationship situation.

Bingo! Once again it’s the women who are supposed to clean up the “mess” (for those who believe there is a mess). With these folks, it’s always about the women changing their behavior, not the men.

Woo hoo! Let’s bring back the double standard! That sure made everyone happy and women’s lives hunky-dory!

185

jimbo 10.21.05 at 6:20 pm

Men and women today are fundamentally unable to form lasting relationships. I don’t think anyone would seriously debate this, given existing statistics.

Is that REALLY leading to greater overall happiness? For men and women? For children?

Does an increase in opportunities for promiscuity truly compensate for that?

If people were fundamentally happy, would they continually be getting married, divorced, and remarried?

Maybe you think Kass is fundamentally wrong about the causes of all this. But from his viewpoint, marriages were objectively more successful in his day, so he is associating the social conditions of his time with lasting marriages compared to the social conditions of today. So if Kass is wrong about the reasons, why do modern marriages fail more often?

I guess you could say that marriage is an unhappy state for human beings that we have been liberated from. But then why do people continue to get married? You could say social pressure, but isn’t exactly the lack of social pressure for marriage that Kass laments and those of you criticizing him say is a positive development?

186

lump516 10.21.05 at 6:39 pm

So let’s see; a “virtuous” woman is one who treats the man in her life as a pathetic animal who can be controlled and exploited by the strategic deployment of her sexual favors, while a woman who has sex because she likes it and likes and/or loves the other person is a dissipated whore bound for eternal damnation. I’m not against virtue or modesty, I like them in men and women–but Kass’ definition of it reeks of fear and dislking of ALL women (the virtuous ones who control him through sex and the “slutty” ones who may either reject his overtures or laugh at this incompetence as a lover). I guess I KNEW there were people out there like this–it’s just sort of depressing to have the evidence rubbed in your face . . .

187

Ba'al 10.21.05 at 6:41 pm

Herr Doktor Professor Kass also said

Thus how shallow an understanding of sexuality is embodied in our current clamoring for “safe sex.” Sex is by its nature unsafe. All interpersonal relations are necessarily risky and serious ones especially so. And to give oneself to another, body and soul, is hardly playing it safe.

Sexuality is at its core profoundly “unsafe,” and it is only thanks to contraception that we are encouraged to forget its inherent “dangers.” These go beyond the hazards of venereal disease, which are always a reminder and a symbol of the high stakes involved, and beyond the risks of pregnancy and the pains and dangers of childbirth to the mother. To repeat, sexuality itself means mortality—equally for both man and woman. Whether we know it or not, when we are sexually active we are voting with our genitalia for our own demise.

The shorter version: “I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration , Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids… “

188

DLacey 10.21.05 at 6:46 pm

The “hah hah I was being sarcastic” remark strikes me as marking Kass as a troll.

You know, the kind who post incendiary remarks to stir up hornets’ nests in newsgroups and on message boards all over the internet?

“Straussian” is academic-ese for trolls, it seems.

189

SteveGinIL 10.21.05 at 6:54 pm

Ozzie Nelson Kass forgot to mention that the REAL start of all that was World War II – yes, that moment in history of “The Greatest Generation”.

It was the generation that saw horny young red-blooded American males transported overseas by the millions, where they got exposed to young horny European women, which women came (no pun intended) with very un-American attitudes (for the times) toward their genitalia and what they did with them.

(Remember the bemoaning of the WWII British male?: What’s wrong with Yanks? They’re overpaid, over-sexed and over here.)

But on the other side of the big pond, it was the era of Rosie the Riveter, who DIDN’T get knocked up by horny young red-blooded American males, because all those horndogs were overseas getting sex education the European way – hands on (again, no pun intended). And what was Rosie doing? Learning that she could stand on her own economic feet – that she didn’t NEED a man to support her or bring home the bacon (again, no pun intended). Rosie learned that she could go out and get her own damned bacon (again, …) And, working in blue collar job or white, Rosie found out that there was more to life than being barefoot and preggers over the stove. Rosie also found out that in a world where so many horny young red-blooded American males were overseas, there was a lot of competition for the few within arm’s length, and that she had better be less modest if she was aiming to be in the company of one of the cherished few.

By the time those horny young red-blooded American males returned, now men of the world, the entire equation had changed. Yankee Joe, meet Rosie!

And the world will never be the same again.

After all, their had to be a market for The Pill, didn’t there? Why do you think someone was WORKING on developing it?

No matter WHAT the 16th century mind of Leon Kass thinks, he is living in the wrong millennium. He’d be so much happier in the 8th century.

BTW, I live in the Chicago area, and I assure you that he doesn’t represent even 2% of the population of the area, as conservative as it is. He is so out of touch with reality, circa 2005 Chicago, that he needs to move to Kansas.

It is a Friday evening here, and he is probably the only male in Chicago who isn’t going to get laid this weekend. . . WHY?

BECAUSE THE WHITE SOX ARE IN THE WORLD SERIES!

190

Kathleen 10.21.05 at 7:05 pm

Amen Janet, (#155) I would just like to note that I’m glad to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my husband’s motivation for marrying me didn’t include the idea that marriage was the only way he could get into my pants.

I could make numerous comments about Mr. Kass and his article, but I really think that Janet’s statement says best my reaction. and this: Kass you don’t know jack shit about love.

191

Temperance 10.21.05 at 7:18 pm

Yeah, let’s re-stigmatize bastardy. “Hey! You! Yeah, you, the 5-year-old kid with an unmarried mom! You’re a bastard and that means you’re no good! We righteous, good people have every right to make you wear a big scarlet B to show how good we are!” That’ll sure teach the right lesson to everybody. [/sarcasm]

192

ben wolfson 10.21.05 at 7:35 pm

Basically, if the profs in Social Thought could just get the world back to the the way the Greeks ran things—when men didn’t really need women for sexual pleasure, just procreation—they would be much happier.

All the Social Thought profs, huh? Like, say, John Coetzee?

193

ben wolfson 10.21.05 at 7:36 pm

Social Thought faculty. Danielle Allen might be surprised to learn of her position from you.

194

Kim Lyvang 10.21.05 at 8:34 pm

When I was young a male fooling around was “sowing his wild oats” and a woman fooling around was a “slut”.
This is what the conservatives embrace?
Whatever happened to equality?
My wife is my equal. I do not talk up to her or down to her. She is my equal!
She is better at some things than I am. I am better than her in some things.
We know our limitations and we accept them.
The conservatives don’t know their limitations, (like Limbaugh the uber sexual male).
Get out of our lives and govern the country!

195

raisin 10.21.05 at 8:38 pm

He’s gay.

196

deja pseu 10.21.05 at 8:48 pm

To respond to Jimbo’s comment, marriages lasted longer because there was greater social stigma on divorce, not because those marriages were happier. Granted, this is anectdotal, but I’m 49, and can remember when the word “divorce” was whispered around children, and recall with great clarity a friend’s grandparents, who hadn’t spoken to each other in decades. They were miserable, but they stayed married, by God because that’s what people do. People stayed in abusive marriages “for the sake of the children.”

I also had at least three friends my age who discovered at some point that their parents’ wedding date was only 6 or 7 months before their birthday. ;-)

197

loregasm 10.21.05 at 8:54 pm

This dude’s read too many romance novels.

198

Hershele Ostropoler 10.21.05 at 9:21 pm

Dave, I just read 116 … given that you don’t believe in communication, or even in the plateau phase of relationships, I imagine you have a string of ex-boyfriends.

199

Another Damned Medievalist 10.21.05 at 9:53 pm

Um … maybe it’s just me, but the “he’s gay” and “he’s not getting any” arguments seem pretty lame for a CT thread.

200

Jeremy Osner 10.21.05 at 9:57 pm

What pdf23ds said at the comment currently identified as #168.

201

Kim Lyvang 10.21.05 at 10:13 pm

I’m still maried after 32+ years. I’m not religious.I love my partner, no matter what her/my problems are.
We work together and solve our problems. Not like governments do!
They want our votes and they complain about each other?

202

Hodgepodge 10.21.05 at 10:23 pm

“I guess you could say that marriage is an unhappy state for human beings that we have been liberated from. But then why do people continue to get married? You could say social pressure, but isn’t exactly the lack of social pressure for marriage that Kass laments and those of you criticizing him say is a positive development?”

Well, does a relationship you only stay in due to social pressure sound like a very happy one to you? If marriage is currently an unhappy arrangement, making people feel really guilty for not being happy and making them feel worse if they leave is hardly going to make it any better.

203

ben wolfson 10.21.05 at 10:31 pm

ADM: unfortunately they’re about par.

204

sm 10.21.05 at 10:40 pm

How long did those old marriages last, given a different lifespan?

205

Aquaria 10.21.05 at 10:46 pm

#199

Let’s add to that the fact that divorce was also a hell of a lot HARDER to get even into the 60s and 70s. In some states, one had to prove adultery or insanity to get a divorce. And, funny, that usually only worked if one could prove that the WOMAN had committed adultery or was off her rocker. Why? Well, gee, guess who had the frickin’ MONEY and POWER?

206

Kalkin 10.22.05 at 1:44 am

“Fuck you all. Its obviously much more fun and “liberating” to make fun of this guy than to address any of the points that he is making, or to wonder why these topics might be important.”

One… what points? The essay was built on an utterly fantastic notion of how relationships work both today and historically.

Two… not wrapping your argument in incredibly sexist bullshit (blaming everything on women, the open endorsement of the promiscuity double standard, and on and on) ought to be a prerequisite for being heard in our society. That shit is not harmless and not acceptable. Go ahead, accuse me of being close-minded… I’m not sorry that I think open sexism should be as much a disqualifier from the public discourse as open anti-semitism. The appropriate tone for an argument with someone like this isn’t respectful dialogue, which merely legitimizes what they’re saying, it’s “crawl back under your rock.”

“Men and women today are fundamentally unable to form lasting relationships. I don’t think anyone would seriously debate this, given existing statistics.”

Give the statistics, then. “There exist statistics!” is not a particularly persuasive argument. I know plenty of men and women in lasting relationships. Until I see some reason to believe otherwise, I’m not going to take them as bizarre exceptions.

207

W. Kiernan 10.22.05 at 7:28 am

Chuck: I find it hilarious that no one wants to admit that Kass might have a point about how unrestrained sexual activity will negatively impact a society as a whole.

Also, the “Time Cube” guy might have a point, how there may be certain flaws in quantum electrodynamics, but because he’s nuts and his own ideas are rubbish, that point is lost.

Fuck you all.

Kiss my ass, Chuck.

208

sylvia 10.22.05 at 12:07 pm

I think the guy has a point. I am an attractive, intelligent (if I do say so myself) unmarried woman in her late 30’s and I AM a little sad and lonely to be honest. I have been bounced around from long term relationship to relationship – always with a guy who wasn’t “sure” if he wanted to commit. And I know lots of girlfriends like me. Look at all the Hollywood stars for example who don’t have children cause the men keep dumping them. Granted we women have high expectations and want to be treated well. But if this continues, and men remain unevolved nincompoops, the western world will die out, slowly. And, wait, I think it is already. Women have had our evolution and I am glad for it. But unfortunately, we have evolved without the corresponding evolution of the men. Something has to change between the sexes- or we will just fade away, a footnote in history.

209

clevergirl 10.22.05 at 1:45 pm

My husband courted me and very successfully.  He said from the moment he met me he knew I was “the one” and long before he knew I was a virgin.  Since I was 30 when we met, he was quite surprised.  He is an officer and a gentleman and proven to be a generous, patient, and wonderfully teasing lover.  He is my partner, my helpmate, and my great love, and I know myself to be a very fortunate woman.

Most people are not looking for clinical modesty but a love match.  Virginity should not be a bargaining chip in the battle between the sexes.  It should be the state that one transitions from at a time when the TWO parties involved are prepared to take on greater responsibility… for one, the greatest responsibility in this society, raising our children.  Too much discussion in this country stresses entitlements and rights… not enough on duty and responsibility.  Marriage is not about about procuring rights but taking on shared responsibilities.  To suggest otherwise is rather short sighted and selfish.

Sex, on the other hand, is something we crave and to deny that craving takes motivation and sacrifice.  Celibacy is not unlike vegetarianism; the people who are most successful at it embrace the lifestyle and don’t feel bound by it.  It was a very personal, private journey to be celibate as I was for 34 years and the benefits for me came from learning about myself and my sexuality at my own pace.  Now I am enjoying a loving relationship with my husband and am anticipating motherhood.  But that doesn’t mean life is all sunshine and roses, baby.  Although one of life’s greatest blessings, it is never an easy thing to have children and it is a great comfort to have this dedicate man at my side.

Times change, but the virtues of monogamy and the power of love over adversity are enduring.  This is what we hold to.

210

Jeff 10.22.05 at 3:13 pm

Ben Wolfson: I absolutely overstated my case by smearing the entire Social Thought faculty, and I stand corrected. I would still argue that a lot of ridiculous ideas about sexuality/culture still emanate from the Bloom/Straussian wing of that department, regardless of who else they hire.

211

sennoma 10.22.05 at 11:53 pm

Dave, I’m really interested to hear your answer to uncle kvetch at #161.

212

dave gwydion 10.23.05 at 12:21 am

Kass’s argument–not uncommon in American conservative circles–can best be understood as an attempt by gamma males to change the sexual rules of a game that they are losing to alpha males. Under rules that allow sexual experimentation, a woman can sleep with multiple partners and weed out the impotent, the premature ejaculators, and the sexual unimaginative. Many American conservatives find themselves disadvantaged under such rules. They seek a return to rules of courtship and abstinence that protect them from competition against the more sexually successful alpha male.

213

piotr 10.23.05 at 1:43 am

One can find many contemporary attitudes imperfect etc., but it does not mean that Dr. Kass has a point. This is a weird mental activity. Not science, not philosophy, it is supposed to be “thought”, except that it is thoughtless because by design it is devoid of originality, of inquiry, of speculation.

Someone repeated conservative phrase “A society is only as good as the families that hold it up”. Dickensian England perhaps had “strong families”, at least in Kassian terms, but it was well, quite Dickensian. When Portugal was ruled by fascists, they “protected families”, run petty repressions at home and colonial wars. Now we are ruled by protectors of families who run a little experimental concentration camp, play guitar when a city is drawning (very, very classic!), sell legislations to the highest bidder, defend marriage and in general, fight for morality.

Ah, they object to make certain contraceptives available over the counter because it could “increase sexual activity of teenagers”. Or kill a clump of 4 cells, I do not know which is worse.

Morality is the set of sex taboos and our divine right to screw other people.

214

Mirra 10.23.05 at 3:38 am

This article ain’t about love, baby.

Kass bemoans both Enlightenment values and the civil liberties of American women:

“The celebration of equality gradually undermines the authority of…husbands over wives and fathers over sons.” (and one presumes, fathers over daughters.)

And he believes that the right of women to control their own bodies is a causal factor in the destruction of marriage and courtship:

“…our liberal approach to important moral issues in terms of the rights of individuals… [birth control] [abortion] and procreation as governed by a right to reproduce — files in the face of the necessarily social character of sexuality and marriage.”

Kass’s argument is a great example of the philosophies of the radical christian right.

He hides behind romantic flurishes about “love” and “courtship” but don’t overlook his argument that places the blame on “A nation dedicated to safeguarding individual rights to liberty and the privately defined pursuit of happiness…”

Personally, as a pill popping, car owning, frequent flyer, degree granted, athiestic slut, I’ve never found my personal liberty (as found by SCOTUS in the “liberty” clause of the 14th Amendment) to be incompatible with romantic courtship or love.

Money quote:
Last night walking out of a restaurant my husband said “I’m happy to be married to a pill popping, ect. ect.”

215

MDP 10.23.05 at 5:52 am

Why are the most repressed the most deviant?

Why are the most shallow so impressed by this cliché?

216

Lis Riba 10.23.05 at 10:37 am

217

Eleanor 10.23.05 at 11:28 am

How long did those old marriages last, given a different lifespan?

Off the top of my head*, for at least part of the Victorian era the average duration of marriage in Britain was 12 years. Of course one major factor in that statistic was high maternal mortality, just one of those things that the availability of contraception has helped to reduce…

[*will try and find data if I have time and if anyone's interested]

218

John 10.23.05 at 11:39 am

This is the standard Straussian U of Chicago line about women. ie that modern society has ruined the relationship between men and women, reduced it to casual and base sexuality (just like the end of the Roman Empire– remember by the way that that is a piece of ‘history’ provided by Edward Gibbons, to spin his line that immorality destroyed the Empire).

Here’s the subtext. Strauss’ greatest proponent was Alan Bloom. As depicted in Saul Bellow’s novel Ravelstein (where Paul Wolfowitz has a walk on part) and in fact, Bloom was a flamboyant homosexual, famed for his toy-boy conquests. This was the great irony of Closing of the American Mind: a best seller condemning liberalism (sexuality, rock music, etc.), but omitting all discussion of homosexuality.

Even before ‘Closing of the American Mind’ was written, Bloom was a star speaker, lecturing to hundreds at Cornell and U of Toronto, receiving adulatory reviews (from men and women). His charisma, I can personally attest to, was quite palpable.

The real subtext here is a miscogynistic dislike of the sexual power women (allegedly) wield over men. Good looking young men date women, not powerful middle aged male professors. I can’t say this is a common sentiment amongst homosexual men, but it is some subgroup of them.

Two sources:

- Ravelstein by Saul Bellow – a thinly disguised account of the last days of Alan Bloom

- Leo Strauss and the Politics of the American Empire by Anne Norton – an insight into the Straussians and their interpersonal relations as well as their impact on US foreign policy

219

hoi Polloi 10.23.05 at 1:04 pm

For my part, ever since I stopped coming on to anything that moved women, and I mean virtuous, even classy women, have been beating a path to my door.

Kass fails to recognize that as soon as men, and by men I mean manfully, manly men, stop giving away to these post-modern hussies in tanktops and convertibles with all their sad, lonely and confused come-hithers and everything will be right with the world again.

Got to run; one of the gals is taking me out for dinner and the opera–and no, not ever on the first date.

220

bordenl 10.23.05 at 6:49 pm

It does not matter if it is the man or the woman. But if someone has the sense to say no, then two individuals pay attention to pursuing the relationship of two souls instead of using the relationship of two bodies as a substitute.

221

burritoboy 10.23.05 at 8:04 pm

“Strauss’ greatest proponent was Alan Bloom”

Not really. Certainly, Bloom was a very prominent first-generation Straussian (people who studied directly with Strauss) and the best known popularly. But Harry Jaffa, Joseph Cropsey, Harvey Mansfield, Roger Masters were all equally or more so prominent. Cropsey is Strauss’ literary executor and was the editor of the omnibus anthology History of Political Philosohy, not Bloom (who did contribute an article to the anthology, however).

“This was the great irony of Closing of the American Mind: a best seller condemning liberalism (sexuality, rock music, etc.), but omitting all discussion of homosexuality.”

If I remember the text of Closing of the American Mind correctly, Bloom actually spends a good deal of time discussing his view that post-sexual revolution sexuality was a whimpy, pale and pathetic imitation of real sexuality. You don’t have to agree with that (I don’t necessarily buy it myself), but Bloom is fairly forthright in that he wants better sex. His route and your route to that might be different, but it’s the same goal. The book also pretty transparently has homosexual hints even if you don’t know that Bloom himself was gay.

“The real subtext here is a miscogynistic dislike of the sexual power women (allegedly) wield over men. Good looking young men date women, not powerful middle aged male professors. I can’t say this is a common sentiment amongst homosexual men, but it is some subgroup of them.”

If I’m not totally off-base, Bloom was very aware that handsome young men and beautiful young women were not attracted to the ugly and elderly. Bloom had a specific riff on Lysistrata’s scene where the elderly women demand the attentions of the handsome young men. Besides, he himself had no trouble catching handsome young men.

222

jimbo 10.24.05 at 9:52 am

“Well, does a relationship you only stay in due to social pressure sound like a very happy one to you? If marriage is currently an unhappy arrangement, making people feel really guilty for not being happy and making them feel worse if they leave is hardly going to make it any better.”

But you ignore the fact that single people get married, then divorced, then remarried, etc.

It seems people are profoundly unhappy with singleness and with marriage. Which pretty much equals being fundamentally unhappy, by the law of the empty remainder (or whatever that logic rule is called).

If people were fundamentally happy being single they wouldn’t marry. If they were fundamentally happy being married, they wouldn’t divorce. They seem to be just plain unhappy.

223

jimbo 10.24.05 at 9:58 am

#212:

You seem to be trying to disagree with Kass while your life seems to confirm all of his points.

First, you state that your husband COURTED you. One of Kass’ points is that far fewer people are courting or being courted by anyone anymore.

Secondly, if I don’t misunderstand you, your husband may have not known you were a virgin, but he did know you weren’t sleeping with him, no? So, while you profess that the fact you weren’t sleeping with him had no bearing on the passion and effort with which he courted you, how do you know?

224

moonbiter 10.24.05 at 12:28 pm

Shorter Leon Kass: Young women these days, what with their dating and sex and threesomes and all of that! Why when I was young blah blah blah …

225

commenter 10.24.05 at 11:52 pm

Leon Kass would, I’m sure, be overjoyed to learn that everyone is judging the U of Chicago by his example (and by the example of the Committee on Social Thought in general). I’m sure he’s a great teacher, and I’m sure I would have left his classes with my skin crawling the way I left half my classes as an undergraduate at Chicago, but he’s spent most of his career not only writing this sort of mind-bending ghastliness but trying to put the name of the university behind him in everything he does. I left that university shuddering and swearing I would never go back; it was only later that I realized I had let this sort of bad apple ruin what should have been, and at times was, an amazing experience. I don’t know what it is about the place that allows the worst to be so full of passionate intensity; certainly it isn’t the lack of alternatives — the professoriate as a whole, I think, isn’t that much more reactionary or irrational than the average. Provocation and “uncommon knowledge” are very highly prized, as is tradition — so perhaps these retrograde screeds fit the otherwise counterposed goals of the school quite well.

This certainly isn’t the first time I have wished that some academic authority would shut up about the sex lives of college girls. But then, I wish everyone would shut up about the sex lives of college girls, college girls possibly included. It’s too bad the world seems increasingly reluctant to value them in any other way. I see some of the skankier posts from male-presumably-academics on bulletin boards like these, and I despair: “girls can do anything, as long as they’re hot” is the worst fucking compromise formation ever, but it seems to be where mainstream “feminism” is headed.

226

jennifer 10.25.05 at 5:55 pm

As much as I would like to see as marginal this man’s delicate sensibilities and antediluvian yearnings for a better patriarchy, a quick Google search confirmed that his conservative views did not go unnoticed by the Powers That Be, and he has been scooped up for the War Upon Us All. On the plus side, I learned he and his wife of forty years are avid bird watchers.

http://www.crisismagazine.com/june2002/feature3.htm

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