Thursday, May 14, 2009

Miranda Devine, Rugby League footballers, Twilight, and the vampires who refuse to suck blood or have sex or enjoy raw meat

How is it that Miranda Devine can manage, in her own resolute way, to be offensive at the drop of a hat?

I'm reminded of the story of the scorpion and the frog, beloved of Orson Welles, and often mis-attributed to Aesop. The short Wikipedia version  runs thus:

The story is about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The frog then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them. When asked why, the scorpion explains, "I'm a scorpion; it's my nature."

You can string this out, shaggy dog style, or put a turtle or a fox in place of the frog, but in essence, once a jerk always a jerk.

Without having actually been in that now notorious motel room in Christchurch, Miranda the Devine manages to slag off everybody and everything about the Cronulla rugby league group sex saga, with Catharine Lumby and "fellow feminist academic" Kath Albury collecting collateral damage along the way.

While giving short shrift to now sacked footballer Matthew Johns - and who could defend him - Devine's column - Morality code kicked into touch - actually reads more like a chance to deliver payback to the sisterhood that consorts with rugby league players, and in particular their efforts to teach them how to relate to women.

This is of course a sisyphisian task, since by definition, and with a few rare and honorable exceptions, rugby league footballers are creme de la creme boofheads, selected for their physical strength and physical skills, with that natural selection placing intelligence way down the evolutionary scale. Which is how they can play such a mind numbingly dumb game, where the plays are scaled down to a contest about as subtle as an episode of American Gladiators. (You really need to watch some American football to appreciate a game where physical prowess and skills are balanced by the need to play a kind of pigskin game of chess).

But what gets the Devine going isn't the boofhead culture of rugby league, but the way the sisterhood seems to accept sex in all its diverse forms, with Lumby having gone on record saying that "the idea that group sex is aberrant is a very particular view", and both Lumby and Albury contending at last year's Senate inquiry into sexualization of children that the then rampant hysteria on the subject (since died down) was something of a moral panic.

Well that's a red flag to our lad and ladette loving Devine, who believes after all that women should learn the the benefits of sewing and  modesty, a position that puts her closer to the Taliban than she thinks (she hasn't called for the banning of licentious music just yet, but give her time).

So instead of those lax libertarians, what kind of sexual interaction does the Devine favor?

The zeitgeist is captured in the staggering success of the Twilight series of teen vampire books, which sold 22 million copies worldwide last year alone. The first of four books, Twilight, introduces Edward, the handsome lead vampire who heroically restrains himself from sucking the blood of his girlfriend Bella, and turning her into a vampire. She wants him to give in to his bloodlust, but also trusts him not to hurt her. The book depicts a chaste but passionate erotic relationship.

The popularity of the books among young teenage girls gives a profound insight into their enduring emotional needs, lately suffocated by a heavily sexualised culture which cheapens their natural modesty and intense romantic longings.

Ah yes, here we go with the natural modesty and intense romantic longings of women. A chaste but passionate erotic relationship? So we're back in the world of abstinence and yearning and denial and vampires who refuse to suck blood, which admittedly is a safe way to approach the question of how best in a healthy way to exchange precious bodily fluids.

And not content with chaste virginity for women, the Devine sheds a tear for men.

It also reflects the postmodern expectation of men that they exercise the tortured superhuman restraint of an Edward, or be branded a barbarian.

Would they perhaps be tortured because of their supposedly, filthy, uncontrollable sexual desires, which leads them to want to ravish women like barbarians?

It is unfair to expect men to bear full responsibility for sexual mores as the boundaries of acceptable practice are blurred. Young women are told they can act and dress any way they please, and it is men, alone, with their supposedly filthy, uncontrollable sexual desires, who must restrain themselves.

Now please explain what this has to do - or how it bears in any way - on the subject of a young woman going into a motel room with a couple of footballers? What is the Devine actually saying, or suggesting? I'm not sure but it seems that, if young women dress and act any way they please, it puts enormous pressure on young men, who must restrain themselves.

What a terrifying, heart breaking situation. So what's Devine's solution to the current  problems in men-women relationships in rugby league?

There is no understanding that female sexual attitudes have always been the most successful regulator of male sexuality - not politically correct re-education programs that are exercises in legal risk management for the NRL.

Female sexual attitudes? Oh yes, it's worked terribly well, explaining no doubt why sexual assault is now at a record low (it isn't? Never mind, why let facts get in the road of  prejudice).

I guess what Devine wants is for young women to adopt a natural modesty, not wear slutty dresses, but act in a restrained way, like a ladette turning into a lady, and realize that if they don't act in a chaste way, they're likely to make it terribly hard for men with their tortured, desperate attempts to restrain their filthy, uncontrollable, barbaric sexual desires.

And at the heart of it all, though the Devine can barely bear to articulate the deep dark problem - feminism, that satanic desire of women to be in control of their bodies, their lives and their destiny!

It turns biology and the history of humanity on its head, and creates particular problems in multicultural societies. Our era's turning point in sexual politics confuses women as much as men.

Poor confused women, poor confused men. Heed the Devine's call for chastity and sort out your biology, a particular problem in multicultural societies.

Come to think of it, I've heard this advice before.

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it...whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem." 

Australia's highest cleric and Egyptian born Mufti, Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali added, "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred." He added women were "weapons" used by "Satan" to control men. "It is said in the state of zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement (igraa)", said the Mufti.

Poor Lumby and Albury, trying to knock some sense into boofheads, and confronted by the mufti and Miranda the Devine, determined to return the world to the Victorian age (though perhaps Jane Austen is a tad too flirty and decadent for the mufti).

Miranda the Devine fears she'll be labelled as moralising and prudish and out of touch with modern mores. Well no more than Sarah Palin and her bizarre abstinence campaign, conducted in the shadow of an unmarried daughter with child as a result of unprotected sex ... 

I guess Bristol Palin should have got a little more into that vampire movie and passionate but very chaste erotica. As for sex education, forget it. Especially for footballers. Miranda the Devine says so, it's just a legal exercise in risk management.

Now here's some advice for confused young men. Think you should treat all women with respect and understanding, and expect they'll do the same with you? WTF, haven't you been listening?

Never try to understand young women. They are chaste, pure creatures with a love of unicorns - and vampires who'd prefer to starve than suck their blood. They're as sweet as the driven snow, and as pure as a drop of evian water (unless of course they dress like sluts, in which case evian will not act as a sponsor).

So instead take a football (pictured below for those lads who prefer the arts), go out into the park with some other lads and spend a couple of hours in hearty physical exercise punting the ball around. Hopefully this will exhaust you so that you can sleep well, but if you have a nocturnal emission never mind, it's natural and the best way to deal with that beastly erect barbaric beast "down there". (The Catholic church promotes this as the best and most relaxing form of sex for their clergy).

Whatever you do, don't masturbate - you'll grow hairs on the palms of your hands, go bald, and feel weak, insipid, dirty and guilty. And as you gradually begin to take on a wild, haunted, intensely romantic look, with pale skin and a desperate air of chaste, superhuman restraint, the girls will love you. Sure, you might also go mad, but it's a risk you just have to take if you're to score with some of that raw meat.

Confused? You're men, live with it, and welcome to the new era's sexual politics, as charted by that irrepressible scorpion, Miranda the Devine. It's in her nature ...


MisterAndrews said...

It’s not Matt Johns who should be lynched. It’s Catherine Lumby.

Associate Professor Catherine Lumby is the official sexual ethics consultant to the NRL. On ABC Radio's on 6 March, 2004, she preached her gospel of consent:

CATHERINE LUMBY: I think that there's no problem with any behaviour which is consensual in sexual terms, many people would disagree with me. But if we're talking about rock stars having sex with a range of women they're not married to, people do not, generally speaking, think that's outrageous.

Lumby's mistake was making the ethical framework to be all about "consent." But Matt Johns acted with consent. The New Zealand teenage acted with consent. They believed the Gospel of Consent and they are both, today, deeply damaged people.

The only framework that works is personhood. The woman in the hotel is not a body who didn't say no. She's someone's daughter, girlfriend or sister.

I don’t blame Johns so much. I blame Lumby. She’s given the guidelines to follow. And they lead to destroyed lives. Lumby should be fired. Not Johns.

dorothy parker said...

Thank you for your contribution to loon pond. It's as interesting a twist as any I've heard to blame Catherine Lumby for events which allegedly took place on February 15th 2002 on the basis of remarks made you say on 6th March 2004.

Perhaps you meant to say that the only framework that works is personal responsibility, in which case perhaps we should give some of the actual credit for the incident to Matthew Johns. I don't recollect Catherine Lumby actually being in the room urging on Johns and the Cronulla team.