Rejoice with the wife of thy youth
Naomi Wolf has some interesting things to say about life in a sex saturated culture in New York magazine:
Pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.
Other cultures know this. I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding female sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time. In many more traditional cultures, it is not prudery that leads them to discourage men from looking at pornography. It is, rather, because these cultures understand male sexuality and what it takes to keep men and women turned on to one another over time—to help men, in particular, to, as the Old Testament puts it, “rejoice with the wife of thy youth; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times.” [Proverbs 5.18] These cultures urge men not to look at porn because they know that a powerful erotic bond between parents is a key element of a strong family.
And feminists have misunderstood many of these prohibitions.
I will never forget a visit I made to Ilana, an old friend who had become an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. When I saw her again, she had abandoned her jeans and T-shirts for long skirts and a head scarf. I could not get over it. Ilana has waist-length, wild and curly golden-blonde hair. “Can’t I even see your hair?” I asked, trying to find my old friend in there. “No,” she demurred quietly. “Only my husband,” she said with a calm sexual confidence, “ever gets to see my hair.”
If this wasn’t such a sad story, I might get more schadenfreude out of it. As it is, I came to similar conclusions myself some time ago. It lead to the shocking realization that popular characterizations about traditional social mores are wildly superficial and inaccurate. To name two, there’s the misplaced idea that all religious people have always been literalists on every line of the Bible, as well as the idea that past social norms are always arbitrary.
Subscribe to comments with RSS.