Love

One of my favourite blogs to read is by my American friend who goes by the online moniker Otter.  Sometimes he blogs about his experiences as a university lecturer.

I liked what he had to say here.

 

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Posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, in Life, Love and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What a fascinating blog post! Not the one by your American friend . . . this one, by you.

    When I read your poem recently I wasn’t thinking about men’s temptation to impure thoughts, as you can tell from one of my comments I was thinking about violence against women. A woman’s dress should never excuse a man claiming he could not control himself because of her temptation. Those men belong in jail.

    But setting the issue of violence aside for just a moment, might one of the reasons a woman dresses particularly attractively, or even provocatively, might be in celebration of what this professor and his student would consider “Eros”? Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, what with me not having the proper . . . physical attributes to make first-hand comment. But I can speak to what I’ve read from and talked about with women and I don’t think that’s so far off (not as the only reason or the reason all the time but one potential). In any event from your poem I took that you would not a woman should not have to worry about being shamed by men when choosing their dress.

    So then I turn to the professor’s blog post, and the way I take their attitude is that Eros is inherently bad–dividing–while love, altruistic love is for mutual good (with Eros being incapable of such quality) and that this student arrived at this conclusion with the approval of her male teacher. How many steps does it take to get from that concept, from that framework, to sex-shaming, and particularly sex-shaming women? I don’t think it takes that many steps. Eros is bad, and based on visual stimulation (implied from the student’s opening assumptions on division). Altruistic love which is mutual good is not. Men are more visually stimulated. Women should suppress their Eros, and in support of men doing the same should dress modestly. Enshrine that attitude in religion (as has been done so many times), and you create a culture.

    4 steps, with a 5th step to make it stick.

    So I find it interesting because I read your poem and this professor’s post as representative of opposite perspectives.

    Personally I wish we could smash the taboo of Eros. No one group would benefit more from this than women, not the least of which because the suppression of Eros has been used as a tool for the control of women for millenia. I don’t think the world would fall apart . . . certainly we have seen no modern equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah; neither New York nor San Francisco has been swallowed by an earthquake or broken off into the ocean.

    As an aside, I wonder whether the student was Christian. It was just a minor bit, but did you notice that the student refers to God as feminine? Not typical of Christian denominations, but I’m not sure what else she could be since I’m not aware of any major religion that speaks of “God” in the singular–monotheistic–where that God is a she.

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  2. (not that I would accept that, were San Francisco to suffer another significant earthquake, that it represented divine judgement)

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  3. Ok, I have to know how some people can churn out so many words seemingly effortlestly, when I struggle so hard to gather my thoughts let alone put them into coherent sentences.

    “In any event from your poem I took that you would not a woman should not have to worry about being shamed by men when choosing their dress.”

    Sorta. My main ‘message’ – if you can call it that – was to ask the question, “Why is it (within some Christian circles) that young children are expected to exercise self-control and not act on their urges, while grown men have to be shielded from temptation?” The women-dressing-modestly issue is but an example.

    I agree that women do sometimes dress provocatively. Whether or not that is in celebration of Eros, I don’t know. The fact most women wish they had the ‘goods’ to be able to do so would suggest that there is something desirable about being able to ‘turn someone on’.

    “How many steps does it take to get from that concept, from that framework, to sex-shaming, and particularly sex-shaming women? I don’t think it takes that many steps. Eros is bad, and based on visual stimulation (implied from the student’s opening assumptions on division). Altruistic love which is mutual good is not. Men are more visually stimulated. Women should suppress their Eros, and in support of men doing the same should dress modestly. Enshrine that attitude in religion (as has been done so many times), and you create a culture.”

    Hmmm…I hadn’t thought of it from this angle.

    My off-the-top-of-my-head response would be: I don’t think Agape is something that can be enforced. And perhaps this is what Otter’s student was trying to say: when Christians try to ‘force’ others to live a certain way – ‘create a culture’ (if you will) – they are getting it backwards.

    Otter considers himself a ‘non-traditional theist’ and he often refers to the deity as ‘She’.

    Thus are my rambling thoughts.

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  4. “Ok, I have to know how some people can churn out so many words seemingly effortlestly, when I struggle so hard to gather my thoughts let alone put them into coherent sentences.”

    That I don’t know. Often I find that a response to what I’m reading is forming in my head as I’m reading it. If what I’m writing in response is going to be important for some reason I try to let it percolate in my subconscious while I do other things like watch TV, read a book, do something with the kids, or even sleep. If it’s just a casual communication I’m not as worried about that. By the time I start typing usually about 75% of what I want to say is rolling around in my head already (broad topics, analogies, particular phrases) and most of what I do then is organize and edit.

    What I do know is that when I write I can turn people off because while I strive very hard to try to get my point across accurately (which I think I am able to do more often than not) I find it difficult to do concisely (which I find myself unable to do more often than not).

    Go figure, someone who got a journalism degree who struggles to be concise.

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  5. “I don’t think Agape is something that can be enforced. And perhaps this is what Otter’s student was trying to say: when Christians try to ‘force’ others to live a certain way – ‘create a culture’ (if you will) – they are getting it backwards.”

    I just think the starting assumptions are all backwards. In other words I would not agree that the Eros is bad, or even dividing, and that the suppression or denial of it should be considered a moral good. Or, in the parlance of Twitter hashtags, #ithasn’tworkedoutsowellfortheCatholicChurch

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  6. “Often I find that a response to what I’m reading is forming in my head as I’m reading it.”

    I do this, too. But, sometimes, by the time I get to the end, some of my thoughts have become blurred.

    “I just think the starting assumptions are all backwards. In other words I would not agree that the Eros is bad, or even dividing, and that the suppression or denial of it should be considered a moral good.”

    What I got out of it is that God is Love and that that Love is different from that of Eros. Compared to Agape, Eros would seem bad, although Eros is not bad on its own.

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