January 1, 2009

Why social conservatives should not argue — as Dennis Prager does — that a woman should have sex with her husband whether she's in the mood or not.

And by "social conservatives," I mean, specifically, persons who oppose homosexual relationships or, at least, same-sex marriage.

Here's Dennis Prager's much-mocked Townhall column. He says things like "Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him?"

Prager's position throws away the most persuasive argument that marriage, limited to the relationship between a man and a woman, is the basis of civilization.

Do you see my point? I'll elaborate later, but I would like you to think about it on your own before I explain what, in my view, is obvious.

LATER: Okay, here's my point. Prager sees the differential sex drive of males and females as a problem that should be solved by wives going along with sex even when they are not in the mood. But why do social conservatives see heterosexual marriage as the foundation of civilization? I thought their idea was that various male urges were controlled and sublimated through marriage to females. There is a civilizing effect — I think the theory goes — as the natural impulses pressure a man to do what he can to impress and please the woman. This process is undermined if the woman simply accedes to his sexual impulses. The pressure must be kept up. The man should be required to understand the woman and figure out how to do things that will make her desire sex with him. Or he can sublimate his urges, and pour his energy into great architectural and scientific achievements and the like.

So Prager should not want sex to become more efficient and more in line with the male biological drive. If that is the goal, he ought also to favor sex between 2 men. Homosexual sex is a solution to the problem he identifies. It should be favored. To remain socially conservative, it is necessary to honor the female fussiness about sexual intercourse, because it inspires the male to work harder and to acquire greater self-control. This is the reason for thinking of heterosexual marriage as the foundation of civilization.

Note: I'm not a social conservative, and I support same-sex marriage. I just want to clear away some of the obfuscation about marriage and this often odd-sounding notion of "defending" it. Something important happens when men and women get together. I don't think that means same-sex couples should be disrespected any more than I think it's wrong to remain single.

140 comments:

Tom said...

I don't agree with Prager, but I fail to see how his position undermines the argument that marriage is between a man and a woman.

blake said...

Nope. I don't. I'll think about it some more, though.

Pogo said...

"...the most persuasive argument that marriage, limited to the relationship between a man and a woman, is the basis of civilization."

I have raised that issue here, several times. Most treat it like the rant of a madman.

Why bother trying to save marriage?
What's to save?
What good did it ever do?
Why not just live for yourself, for a lifetime?

I have come to believe the battle was lost before I was born. I'll try to instruct my own little platoon, hoping one day marriage is restored.

Original George said...

His essay reminds me of the countless essays by Islamic "scholars" describing how and when good Muslims should engage in relations....

"The Prophet (s.a.w.) also told the men not to leave their wives before they too had been satisfied, as is their right. The man should not surprise his wife by starting the intercourse suddenly, since that is harmful to her, and the consequences could be harmful to her faith. He should get acquainted with her and should make her feel comfortable instead. "Not one of you should fall upon his wife like an animal; but let there first be a messenger between you." (Zawaj.com Editor's Note: this "messenger" consists of sweet words and caresses).

And Imam al-Ghazali says: "Sex should begin with gentle words and kissing."

The Prophet (saw) said: "The best of you, is the one who is best to his wives, and I am the best of you toward my wives." (At-Tahaawi: Saheeh )

And Allah knows best."

Freeman Hunt said...

Nope. I don't. I'll think about it some more, though.

Same. I've now read the full column, enduring the overwhelming browser lag of Townhall, but I'm still not seeing it. I look forward to reading it though...

Alex said...

To hell with misogynists like Prager. Just trying to visualize the fat fuck forcing his wife to have sex is a war crime.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's an important hint: Prager is trying to solve the problem of the difference in the nature of male sexual desire and female sexual desire.

Tom said...

Uhhh, Pogo, most people worlwide and in the USA do believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, so I don't see how the battle is lost. just because th NY times says so?

Artificial birth control has done more to promote gay marriage.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

What is the difference between male sexual desire and female sexual desire?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't agree with Prager, either. And like Tom, I see no connection between Prager's prattling and any refutation that marriage is between and man and a woman.

As to the sex.....come on ladies. Just give it up. After all what is it? Maximum of 5 minutes out of your day? Think of England or shopping or something.

LOL...joking.

I do agree with point number 8.

8. In the rest of life, not just in marital sex, it is almost always a poor idea to allow feelings or mood to determine one’s behavior. Far wiser is to use behavior to shape one’s feelings. Act happy no matter what your mood and you will feel happier. Act loving and you will feel more loving. Act religious, no matter how deep your religious doubts, and you will feel more religious. Act generous even if you have a selfish nature, and you will end with a more a generous nature. With regard to virtually anything in life that is good for us, if we wait until we are in the mood to do it, we will wait too long.

If you wait until everything is perfect and the timing is perfect to do things in life, like have children... the moment will never arrive and you will never have lived.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

As someone who does it with another male I tend to have a decent idea of SOME males sexual desires but don't have a good understanding of the difference between male and female sexual desire?

That is my excuse when presenting my sexual escapades. It is not the gay that is sexual it is the man. Chris Rock said that straight males are only as faithful as their options and that if straight males had the options of gay males they too would have many other venues to sex and act upon them.

Is the "nature" between the two that males want it all the time and females rarely want it? That is what is sounds like.

Alex said...

I can't believe anyone would argue that a woman should ever grant a man sexual favors out of a sense of duty. That is just medieval.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Prager is trying to solve the problem of the difference in the nature of male sexual desire and female sexual desire.

This assumes that there is a gender difference in male and female sexual desire and that all men are the same and all women are the same. I don't believe that to be true. The difference is how society conditions us to think about these things.

Individual people have differing levels of sexual desire that varies from time to time. Men can be "not in the mood" to perform the sex act just as much as women can be not in the mood. Granted, it is a bit more difficult to perform for the man not in the mood than it is for the woman.

Neither party should be forced to do anything they don't want to do. Although. I have found that a person might "think" they aren't in the mood, but with a little gentle persuasion, that can be changed. :-)

In any case, this has nothing to do with the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

I don't know who Dennis Prager is but did take a look at his picture.

It is difficult to read a screed like that and then take a look at the person's face that is writing it.

Freder Frederson said...

Uhhh, Pogo, most people worlwide and in the USA do believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, so I don't see how the battle is lost.

Considering that throughout history in most of the world, polygamy has been accepted as a normal marriage arrangement, and still allowed by many religions, this statement is far from accurate.

Alex said...

Titus - exactly. Only young hard bodies should be allowed to even contemplate sex.

Palladian said...

"Titus - exactly. Only young hard bodies should be allowed to even contemplate sex."

Well from what I know about the real Titus, he's certainly breaking that rule.

Palladian said...

"Considering that throughout history in most of the world, polygamy has been accepted as a normal marriage arrangement, and still allowed by many religions, this statement is far from accurate."

Do you support polygamy Freder?

TitusHapyNewYear said...

Palladian you are so mean.

Freder Frederson said...

Here's an important hint: Prager is trying to solve the problem of the difference in the nature of male sexual desire and female sexual desire.

You are way off base Ann. Prager's argument is exactly one of the classic social conservative arguments for allowing only heterosexual marriage. By marrying women, men's animal desires are contained to the marriage bed and women act as a calming and civilizing agent on men. But of course, if men can't get enough at home, this positive effect will be diminished, and men will be forced outside the home to satisfy their lust. And of course it is all the fault of the frigid (selfish and feminist) wife. Hell, it might even cause the man to experiment with gay sex.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

I sent a picture to Palladian of me in my BMW with one of the rare clumbers head out the window and he concluded that I am gross.

That hurts. I am a little devastated. I would be more devasted though if I still wasn't able to get quality hog. That day has not happened yet but I am sure it will sooner or later.

Palladian said...

Have you ever noticed how only Liberals are allowed to argue "morality"? Not that I even like Dennis Prager or agree with him on this point (I don't and I don't) but whenever anyone who is perceived as even slightly conservative makes a moral argument, it's mocked and derided. But today's liberals seem to argue EVERYTHING from the position of morality, from junk environmental science to the war in Iraq to acceptable light bulbs to Barack Obama's divinity. I suppose morality is only acceptable when it comes from the left sort of people.

Freder Frederson said...

Do you support polygamy Freder?

I don't know why you assume that when I point out that others have their facts wrong that makes me a supporter of something.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

And when that day happens I will either be paying for it or have a booth at the Dore Alley Fair.

God how depressing.

Maybe my New Years Resolution should be to actually try to have a relationship. God, that sounds depressing just writing it.

Tom said...

Dear Fred

I hope anthropology is not your major, because you are mistaken to say that

"throughout history in most of the world, polygamy has been accepted as a normal marriage arrangement, and still allowed by many religions,..."

Really? Which religions? i believe even in spme Islamic countries it is banned.

Palladian said...

"I don't know why you assume that when I point out that others have their facts wrong that makes me a supporter of something."

Heh. I love the idea that you're the arbiter of incorrect "facts".

There are no facts in historical anthropology, Freder, only narratives. Surely a good po-mo lefty should know that.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

polygamy has been accepted as a normal marriage arrangement, and still allowed by many religions

Polygamy is still between man/men and woman/women. Not man and man or woman and woman.

Try to run the concept of one husband and a bunch of male "wives" past the Mullahs and see how far that one goes. The only culture that I can think of that ever had anything like that was some tribes of American Indians who allowed the gay guy to hang with the rest of the family as a pseudo wife. However, the relationship was NOT sexual and more mystical or shamanistic.

Freder Frederson said...

Have you ever noticed how only Liberals are allowed to argue "morality"?

No I hadn't. The right argues morality constantly. And ridicules the left for being amoral or immoral. What the hell are you talking about?

Prager's argument is repulsive.

michaele said...

Seems like Prager is putting the emphasis on sex for pleasure and not sex for procreation...

TitusHapyNewYear said...

Do you think I am gross Palladian?

Before you answer it is New Years Day and I am sure you don't want anyone to cry.

Thank you for your empathy and compassion you little cutey.

Synova said...

I've no idea at all what this has to do with gay marriage.

I do think that different people just might have different ideas about what "in the mood" means.

Does it mean you're hot and ready to go?

Or does it mean you don't care either way but are willing to be persuaded?

Does it mean you're "doing something" and don't want to be interrupted in order to pay attention to your spouse?

Or does it mean you feel like crap, you're sick or exhausted, and really really don't want to have sex?

I don't think that anyone is suggesting that it's not legitimate to be in the fourth category and not have sex.

But if you don't think that you ought to have to bother with sex unless you're hot and ready to go before you even *start*... then you're just a selfish SOB who shouldn't be pretending to love the other person.

Palladian said...

"Maybe my New Years Resolution should be to actually try to have a relationship. God, that sounds depressing just writing it."

Have you ever had a "relationship"? Why don't you just not define it that way? I think of my relationship with my adorable 22 year old latino boyfriend as "OMG HOW AM I SO FUCKING LUCKY?!1" and leave it at that.

Palladian said...

"Do you think I am gross Palladian?"

The picture wasn't good enough to make that determination.

I do think you act gross, or at least you write gross, which is a mortal strike against your desirability in my estimation.

Synova said...

Uhhh, Pogo, most people worlwide and in the USA do believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, so I don't see how the battle is lost.

In what possible way does the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman prove that the battle over the value of marriage is not lost?

Do heterosexuals in the United Sates value marriage in any discernible way?

Freder Frederson said...

Polygamy is still between man/men and woman/women. Not man and man or woman and woman.

And where did I say otherwise? "Traditional" marriage when it is used to argue against gay marriage is held up as an institution that has been immutable and constant throughout history and based on one man and one woman in romantic love. This is of course nonsense. Marriage, based on the notion of romantic love, is a relatively new phenomenon. Marriage, throughout most of history, has been more about solidifying alliances, property transfers, ensuring heirs and lines of succession and bonding groups than a lifelong commitment of a loving couple. To pretend that one archetype of marriage is the basis of civilization is just silly.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

Hugs Palladian. I was already to say but the picture was not good. I was in a car. I had a hat on. I was wearing sunglasses.

I know I am not gross. I am not way hot but I do get some hotties so I must be ok. That is what I think-I am ok.

Yes, I have been in a relationship. I already discussed this indepth here. He died and since then I have been a mess. I I took care of him through his entire illness. He was only 26. It was 13 years ago so you think I might snap out of it but I haven't.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

Happy New Year Synova-big hugs to you.

I think when my partner died it fucked me up forever.

I don't believe in therapy because I think it is bogus. I think about ways in which I should improve myself all the time.

But I am a good person people. I am honest, hard working, a good son and brother, wonderful dog owner and good friend.

I do know that I have much more to offer than a hard hog.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

I think everyone around here needs to give me a big group hug.

I am ready to be received. Go for it people. I am ready. Let's begin.

rhhardin said...

Women don't credit the advantages to them of males having low standards.

So they think that sex in marriage has become a low priority issue; not realizing that their marriage follows.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

rhardin this thread is about me now.

Focus please.

Enough about Prager.

I am waiting for the special internet hugs that are coming my way.

You may all begin and bless you one and all.

Synova said...

I wanted to say, too, that the feminist idea of obligation-sex as rape has legitimate roots. One hears horrific stories of husbands demanding the the sex they are entitled to even when their wife is seriously injured. The idea that a man *can't* rape his wife is a terrible one but seems to have been common enough at one time.

Is this what someone is talking about when they suggest that it's not fair to withhold sex from your partner and expect your partner to do without?

I've often thought that in cases where a woman doesn't want sex, the most likely explanation is that the man is doing it wrong. But also that "doing it wrong" may be failing to realize just how exhausting small children can be or not doing what can be done to help out so that a woman doesn't feel like she can't take that time out of her day.

OTOH, sometimes people need to be reminded that it's okay to lock your bedroom door, mid-afternoon, and take a time out, even when there's work left undone. It's okay to be late to appointments. It's okay to eat overcooked dinners.

rhhardin said...

Civilization is based on domestication.

Wm. Kerrigan:

We are men and women. It almost always matters which we are. Men and women are aggressive. Their regard for each other is clouded by grudges, suspicions, fears, needs, desires, and nacrissistic postures. There's no scrubbing them out. The best you can hope for is domestication, as in football, rock, humor, happy marriage, and a good prose style. Jokes trade on offensiveness; PC is not a funny dialect. The unconscious is a joker, a sexist and aggressive creature. Our sexuality has always been scandalous.

Beldar said...

I think that there are arguments to be made to the effect that any adult romantic partner -- married or not, part of a conventional male-female relationship or not -- ought to consider agreeing to his/her partner's suggestion of sex. Basically those are arguments against being selfish.

But I frankly see no reason why such arguments are especially appealing or persuasive when the reluctant partner is (a) married or (b) female.

And I think that in any context, such arguments should be taken merely as suggestive, not prescriptive. Married or single, male or female, straight or gay, there's some point at which everyone is entitled to say, without guilt or blame, "Not tonight, dear."

Beldar said...

(BTW, I don't see mine as being either a particularly "liberal" or "conservative" position. I do think it's a position that avoids sexism and anti-gay bigotry, but then I don't associate "conservatism" with either sexism or anti-gay bigotry.

Michael_H said...

Nope. I don't. I'll think about it some more, though.

Same. I've now read the full column, enduring the overwhelming browser lag of Townhall, but I'm still not seeing it. I look forward to reading it though...


Ditto here. Amy Alkon has an interesting take on it here.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

Simulated hugs are currently waiting. Go ahead don't be shy.

Little bouncey smiling faces are good too.

So are special lips blowing me a kiss.

And before I receive all of the adulation, compassion and passion I want to give you all a special thank you. You shouldn't of...really...you are too kind. Enough, already, please. You have gone too far. This is much more than I expected.

Synova said...

Okay. It's the New Year. Here's a hug for you Titus.

{{{Titus}}}

TitusHapyNewYear said...

Should a man have sex with a wife whether he is in the mood or not or is he always in the mood?

What is sex like between a husband and wife?

TitusHapyNewYear said...

Thanks Synova and a big hug for you.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

No one answered my earlier question is the nature of sexual desires different for a husband (man) than a wife (woman)?


My sense would be it depends on the man or woman, correct?

Not all men have the same sexual desire and not all women have the same sexual desire.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

I have a couple of gay friends who married women.

They are what I call "asexual gays". They never really had sex with other gay men but they met women that they fell in love with and got married. They never had children and I don't think but don't know if they have sex.

They just have a companionship with these women. The companionship seems to be enough for both of them. The men were never sexual to begin with. The women know and seem to be ok with it as far as I know. The two couples that I am thinking about have been together for a long time too. Both over 10 years.

What do you guys think of these kind of relationships?

blake said...

True, Titus, which brings me to Alex's issue:

I can't believe anyone would argue that a woman should ever grant a man sexual favors out of a sense of duty. That is just medieval.

One wonders if Alex feels the same way about a man granting a woman sexual favors out of a sense of duty.

Prager is talking about a specific, real issue, i.e., the partner who underestimates the drive and importance of sex to their mate.

This is stereotypically the wife neglecting sex after marriage, but there's another (equally valid) stereotype of the husband who becomes too involved in his work.

And that's just one possibility out of the many.

The same article could've been written for men about their wives, with a probably smaller--but just as real--audience.

blake said...

Titus,

There are many, many relationships that work beyond the romantic, super-sexual monogamous hetero idea.

As I've said before, in the past, gays very often married and had children because that was what was expected. Some led relatively sexless lives and some had secret lives.

Who are we to pass judgment?

ricpic said...

I am glad Dust Bunny printed out Prager's point #8, because it is profound.

Do a thing, despite your inner doubts, reluctance, or even distaste for doing that thing, and the doing will turn that thing into a plus.

In the case of marriage the plus in a woman's agreeing to sex when she's not in the mood will go to the marriage itself, which, of course, will also be to her benefit.

Dust Bunny adds in another post: "I have found that a person might 'think' they aren't in the mood, but with a little gentle persuasion, that can be changed."

A version of Prager #8.

Darcy said...

Agreeing with Dust Bunny Queen and ricpic on Prager #8.

Especially this comment from DBQ:
If you wait until everything is perfect and the timing is perfect to do things in life, like have children... the moment will never arrive and you will never have lived.

Pogo said...

That's quite true, blake, and I took that as the main message.

Jason said...

According to Prager, if two people are married the amount of sex that occurs is determined by the person with the greatest libido. Because... sex is the basis for marriage?

TitusHapyNewYear said...

I am not passing judgment Blake, not sure if you thought I was.

If this relationship works for my friends and their wives that is ok. It seems to because they both seem to be happy. Sure, they aren't having sex but sex was never important to my friends and they told me their wives felt the same way.

They enjoy the companionship and that seems to be enough for them. Because the husbands are gay they tend to like activities that perhaps some straight men would not like (not all straight men). They go antiquing and out to fabulous dinners and wine tasting events and other crap. As a gay man none of that would interest me. I hate antiques and wine.

Chip Ahoy said...

The most interesting person at the party last night was a 6 month old baby. She didn't say a single word.

The parents wheeled in a covered pram. When I handed the father a Newcastle I mentioned, hoping not to offend but I must state honestly, I think most newborns are actually rather ugly. Wrinkly red little prunes. He laughed and agreed. I asked if I could see their baby. Both parents were delighted to oblige. This woke up the little darling, and OMG, that baby was the cutest little thing I ever saw. A living doll. Right there. Anyway, to compress an uninteresting story, observing this fascinating creature made me want one. But then I thought, "High maintenance." These two people were totally into it, the commitment to total long-term maintenance of this little pet, an adorable and endlessly interesting play thing. It occurred to me in those moments of awe-struck observation, this is what marriage is for -- buttressing the complete and absolute commitment required for such a project. It seems to me, at this moment in time, any other reason for a religiously performed and state-backed marriage is more akin to goofing around, by comparison and by contrast.

I realize this has little to do with what Prager is saying, but screw Prager, I have my own personal insights and intuitions.

TitusHapyNewYear said...

After reading many of your postings Chip Ahoy I assumed you were a father.

Why don't you have any children?

Eli Blake said...

As a liberal, I only think this underlines the fact that the marital relationship, like most other things in life, has evolved over time.

A couple of thousand years ago (i.e. in the days of the scriptures, when social conservatives seem to think set the model for everything), marriages were arranged. A rich or powerful man might have some influence in choosing his wives (yes, that's in the plural) but a poor man had no such influence-- if he even was fortunate enough to have a wife-- and women-- well, forget about it. There was no such thing as spousal rape, and if a man got tired of his wife he might (emphasis might) be able to divorce her (either that or kill her legally) but then she would be permanently 'put away' and not be able to marry again. Women were bought, sold and traded like property (and things still are this way in many parts of the world). A woman was expected to do everything her husband asked of her and essentially be his slave in all things-- housekeeping, lovemaking or anything else he desired of her.

Prager seems to be at least in the degree he can get away with it hearkening back to that time in a desperate attempt to argue against the evolution of marital standards (because, after all, if one accepts that marriage can evolve, as I and most thinking people do, then the whole 'sanctity of marriage' argument goes out the window-- i.e. I accept that marriage is sacred, but don't understand why if two people of the same gender get married it can't still be sacred.)

TitusHapyNewYear said...

I don't know how I would define myself?

I guess I am a liberal. I am pro-choice and support gay marriage so I guess that makes me a liberal.

But I am liberal about some stuff and conservative about some stuff.

Prostitution-liberal
Death Penalty-conservative

Synova said...

I think you're wrong about History, Eli.

We tend to take the worst examples and act as if that was the norm. I don't think it was. Sure, life sucked for a lot of women but there is no way whatsoever to argue that it didn't suck just as badly for men. And even then, people got married for love and respected each other. Arranged marriages were usually arranged with the approval of those getting married and women had authority in their households and in family businesses, just as they do now.

Original George posted about the directions in Islam concerning sexual relations, and Jewish and Christian traditions and scripture aren't that different, so blaming religion is missing the truth of it. After all... husbands are supposed to submit to their wives every bit as much as the other way around and the whole last chapter of Proverbs describes a business woman with authority.

If a woman was expected to be a slave to her husband... what is it called when a person is forced to labor and give what is earned to someone else for his or her upkeep? The same cultures and societies that had a strict role for women as dependent, also had a strict role for men as required to support a woman and family, if he had the means to do so it wasn't optional, and what would you call that? But even *then* it was mostly certain social classes that were so strict.

Pogo said...

If you pick up a golf club and swing at the ball and observe none of the rules of golf, say, by kicking the ball into the short grass, or dropping it on a better lie, you can still call it golf, but it ain't golf.

Same with marriage.

John Althouse Cohen said...

The problem for someone making this argument who's also against same-sex marriage is that if (1) the ideal is for both partners to have compatible sex drives, and (2) men tend to have dramatically higher sex drives than women ... well then, what kind of marriage would best reconcile those positions??? Gee, how about a marriage where both spouses are of the same gender! Two men -- both will have high sex drives, so they're compatible. Two women -- both will have low sex drives, so they're equally compatible. It's those crazy man-and-woman couples that have a problem. (I'm not saying I agree with those generalizations about sex drive, of course.)

This is such an obvious point that I'm surprised so many people are taking the trouble to post comments saying they see no contradiction.

Now, if it's inconsistent to both oppose same-sex marriage but think women should conform their behavior to men's sex drives, you might ask: "Wait, if you disagree with both of those, then doesn't that logically mean you're inconsistent too?" But no, that wouldn't follow -- even if you share Prager's assumptions about men's and women's sex drives. You have to look at the specific underlying principles. People who both favor same-sex marriage and disagree with Prager's column can appeal to sound, consistent principles: (1) everyone is equal regardless of their identity categories (gender, sexual orientation, etc.), and (2) people should pursue happiness insofar as there aren't overly negative side effects from doing so. Both of those principles explain why people should have the right to marry someone of their own gender and why wives shouldn't be subservient to their husbands.

cubanbob said...

Its funny how girlfriends somehow seem to be in the mood pretty often unlike wives. You can date for years and still have a physical relationship. Even if you have kids with her. But put the ring on and soon after the honeymoon is over so is your psychical love life.

We all do things for others that we are not in the mood for. How many men actually enjoy all of the chores they do for their wives? Obviously there are jerks who demand the ridiculous of a woman such as sex when she is injured or ill, those jerks should be castigated, but why a woman believe that a healthy male who already has shown her to have a strong libido before marriage all of a sudden be fine with a sexless marriage? Its as if the woman are doing the man a favor, the man they married and presumably love. Was it all an act just to get the guy to marry? Why bother?

With woman like these, its better being single and having a girlfriend. You get the loving more often and with less pre-conditions and no legal raping that can occur in a divorce settlement.

The match sites are full of woman seeking average guys, especially if you are a guy in your mid thirties to late forties. The requirements the woman want aren't all that much, a steady job, reasonable personal hygiene,not deformed,crazy or having a substance abuse problem.Not too high a hurdle.

And the woman in that age category are the ones who got divorced in part because they made their ex-husbands feel they were doing them a favor. So what do these woman do? They diet, work out and do their best to look hot just to find a guy who in the end is really not all that much different from their ex-husband and screw the new boyfriend silly.

Moral: guys stay single and get a girlfriend, you will both be happier.

blake said...

JAC,

First of all, it's not true that same-sex marriages don't have the sex-drive difference issue. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, the idea that it's always male-over-female is incorrect. What Prager is addressing is the fact that the male view of sex is something women often don't get.

Second of all, this falls back on the idea that marriage is primarily about personal fulfillment. Prager warns wives of negative consequences from neglecting a husband's sex drive--but I guarantee you he doesn't approve of adultery.

Too much is being made of this as "wives being subservient to their husbands". Partners are subservient to each other, to some degree. Not just marriage, but everywhere. A partnership--any partnership--says "I'm willing to accommodate you and your needs because as a group we can do something greater."

The perverse suggestion here--repeated often--is that two people in a partnership should be able to act as completely independent individuals without regard for each other's needs.

On what basis do you have a partnership then?

Synova said...

I suppose I don't think it's a "problem" of sex drives and that if sex drives was the argument that no one would suggest that someone have sex when they aren't driven.

It's not an argument *for* equal sex drives that I can see.

And perhaps I'm old and jaded, but I don't see how that's possible anyway, over the long term. There will always be a discrepancy one way or the other, certainly even in same sex relationships. And if there isn't enough of a discrepancy *now* to be an issue there most certainly *will* be a discrepancy in the future... if the idea is a long term relationship. Libido is something that changes for both men and women over time and circumstance. It's *not* going to stay the same.

blake said...

If it were as simple (or even significant) as same-sex marriage equalizing sex-drives, why do I hear from lesbians about mismatched sex-drives. (I mean, a lot. Maybe it's just a statistical anomaly.)

Eli Blake said...

Simon,

It was only back as far as my maternal great grandparents (Jewish immigrants from Russia who came through Ellis Island with my grandmother in the early 1900's) that I had arranged marriages in my lineage. Luckily they liked each other, but my great-grandmother never met my great-grandfather until their wedding-- and if they hadn't gotten along nothing would have been different because divorce was not an option. Their families arranged everything and they had zero say in it. All they had was a name. So no, it was not done with the consent of the married.

And look at the way things are today for that matter in a lot of places. For example in places like Pakistan bride burnings are still quite common for wives who are less than 100% obedient or who are suspected of even the smallest of moral transgressions. If a married man has an affair with a married woman, she will be stoned to death and he will be flogged-- but if her husband finds him and kills him later the punishment will probably be light.

Things were like that all over the world a couple of thousand years ago, and it is only in more enlightened socieities that things have changed, albeit slowly (for example, in contrast on my father's side I'm American all the way back to Plymouth Rock.) On that side of my family there were no arranged marriages but it was only over time that women got all the rights and privileges that they have now. Let's not forget that adulterers and especially adulteresses were put in stocks to be spit upon, kicked and beaten with sticks not that many generations ago in the colonies.

John Althouse Cohen said...

JAC,

First of all, it's not true that same-sex marriages don't have the sex-drive difference issue. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, the idea that it's always male-over-female is incorrect. What Prager is addressing is the fact that the male view of sex is something women often don't get.


Well, I specifically said that I'm not saying I agree with Prager about sex drive. I simply didn't say what you're saying I said.


Too much is being made of this as "wives being subservient to their husbands". Partners are subservient to each other, to some degree. ... The perverse suggestion here--repeated often--is that two people in a partnership should be able to act as completely independent individuals without regard for each other's needs.

The problem with Prager's column isn't that he's saying partners should compromise. I agree with everything you're saying about how partners mutually serve each other and they're not just "completely independent individuals without regard for each other's needs." I'm not sure when anyone ever suggested otherwise.

The problem with Prager's column is that he singles out just one of the two spouses in a marriage to serve the other. That's why what he's describing is better described as "subservience" than "compromise."

Eli Blake said...

John Althouse Cohen:

(2) men tend to have dramatically higher sex drives than women

I'm not sure I agree with that. Men (who produce practically an unlimited supply of sperm) are wired by nature to be less selective than women (who produce one egg per month and then if successful are pregnant for most of a year) so, for example, I'd expect that women would be less likely to be interested in casual sex-- but once the selection is made I tend to believe that women are just as involved as men.

siyeh pass said...

To A's 'important hint', I'm seeing a relation between like desires. There's simple, general difference in desires between the sexes - culturally & physiologicaly based. Prager seems to want a 'like' automatic reaction to his desires.

About item 8, I, too, agree there. It's the axiom 'to act as if'. If there's a behavior you want to change, act as if you know what you're doing. Eventually, you teach yourself an alternative.

David said...

Hey, Palladian, Titus does not write gross. He writes directly and without euphemism. He also writes without self pity and without making cheap political points. These qualities are all rare.

Titus--we all decline from our moments of maximum desirability and for some the decline is steep and far. That is one of the problems of age.

I am now well past my maximum but not past enjoyment of sex and physical closeness. Fortunately I have a wife who loves me and who likes sex and who thinks the best I can do is good enough.

Perhaps this is another argument for gay marriage.

Eddie said...

I'm sending you a big virtual hug, Titus.

rhhardin said...

It might help to say that the guy isn't looking for gratification. He's looking to get rid of an obsession.

An obsession he is wired to have.

Palladian said...

"As a liberal, I only think this underlines the fact that the marital relationship, like most other things in life, has evolved over time."

Lord, not only do liberals believe in the "Living Constitution" but apparently in the "Living Marriage License" as well.

mcg said...

The problem with Prager's column is that he singles out just one of the two spouses in a marriage to serve the other.

Yes, but he is only discussing a single, particular marital issue. He's not suggesting that the same spouse serve the other in everything. Marriage is not just about sex.

Palladian said...

"Hey, Palladian, Titus does not write gross. He writes directly and without euphemism. He also writes without self pity and without making cheap political points. These qualities are all rare."

Sorry, vulgarity isn't rare. You seem to have the same warped view of art that has so coarsened our culture: that "honesty" and "realness" are qualities that somehow justify any artistic effort. After all, if some is "keeping it real", who am I to judge?

I'm not interested in reading graphic details about someone's bowel movements and their pilates routines and their anonymous sexual encounters (real or otherwise). I avoid reading it if I can, but the volume and frequency (and the repetitiveness) of it makes it difficult. But I digress.

And he does make cheap political points, when he gets angry. You seem to have missed those less-than-stellar moments. Althouse even thought the current "titus" was an impostor for a while.

garage mahal said...

Count me in as one that would rather read Titus describe his shitting patterns than read Palladian incessantly whine about phantom liberals. At least there is some variety with Titus and his bowel movements.

somefeller said...

What is sex like between a husband and wife?

I don't know, my wife won't let me do that ever since we got married.

Ta-dum-pish! Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all weekend. And please, try the veal cutlets, they're great.

blake said...

Well, I specifically said that I'm not saying I agree with Prager about sex drive. I simply didn't say what you're saying I said.

Well, heh, I specifically never attributed you with the viewpoint you were stating. I simply addressed the viewpoint.

The problem with Prager's column is that he singles out just one of the two spouses in a marriage to serve the other. That's why what he's describing is better described as "subservience" than "compromise."

Someone linked to Amy Alkon, who felt the need to preface her support of Prager's column with a couple of reminders that she does not, in fact, advocate rape.

I mention this because, in order for communication to occur, we have to have a common reality. In this case, that reality has to include the notion that there are not a lot of pro-rape people in the discussion, that marriage is more complex than just different sex drives, and that the usual reasonable restrictions (serious injury or illness apply).

I say make the pro-rape all-sex types identify themselves, rather than requiring everyone to address all possible negative angles of all issues at once.

Prager is saying, simply, men view sex differently from women and women would do well to understand and act appropriately. (Not all men all the time in all situations, etc.)

Not only should this not be controversial, it should be considered banal or trite.

Its relationship to gay marriage is probably limited to the useful recognition that this doesn't occur just between men and women.

Jason said...

JAC,

"The problem for someone making this argument who's also against same-sex marriage is that if (1) the ideal is for both partners to have compatible sex drives"

Sorry, but this isn't part of Prager's argument. His article assumes couples wont have the same sex drive, or if they did, that the woman's sex drive would change over time.

Even if you heard social conservatives say it's ideal for both partners to have compatible sex drives they would mean "ideal" as in "it would be nice" not "the most important thing."

Maybe YOU put sexual compatibility high on your list (I know I do), but for social conservatives sex is not supposed to be the purpose of marriage.

John Althouse Cohen said...

"John Althouse Cohen: (2) men tend to have dramatically higher sex drives than women

I'm not sure I agree with that. Men (who produce practically an unlimited supply of sperm) are wired by nature to be less selective than women (who produce one egg per month and then if successful are pregnant for most of a year) so, for example, I'd expect that women would be less likely to be interested in casual sex-- but once the selection is made I tend to believe that women are just as involved as men."


Please read my comment more carefully. I did not say what you're saying I said.

I was clearly paraphrasing Prager's views, and I specifically said I'm not endorsing those views.

Michael_H said...

Typical Althouse blog thread:

Topic - An article describing how observing the speed limit may reduce accidents.

Commenter 1: I always drive at the posted speed limit.

Commenter 2: I always speed a little bit.

Commenter 3: I once got a ticket for speeding. I wanted to do the cop.

Commenter 4: Speeding is one more reason why we need gay marriage.

Commenter 2: You're a left wing fuck, asshole.

Commenter 5: Antonin Scalia speeds, a lot. He was a Bush appointment, I think.

Commenter 3: I just took a shit. It was incredible in its dumpness.

Commenter 6: The Jews are responsible for speed limits, and own the judicial system, along with the banks.

Commenter 7: This makes me so mad I just made chicken cacciatore for dinner. Photos are on my website.

Commenter 8: Chicken Catcha Torre? Wasn't that Joe Torre's nickname when he played for the Milwaukee Braves?

Commenter 3: I'd like to do Joe Torre. He's hot, for an old guy.

Commenter 9: The speed limits are Bushitler's fault. And Cheney's. If there is a god, both will be in jail by the end of 2009.

Commenter 2: I just got back from a Women's Speeding Support conference at the law school. Andrea Dworkin handed out vibrators and told us to buzz away our malecentric speeding tix.

Commenter 3: Andrea Dworkin is a dried up old hag. I'd never do her.

Commenter 6: Fuck you, left wing assholes.

Commenter 10: OT question-Did anyone watch Regis and Kelly this morning? I thought the interview with Tony Danza was awesome.

Commenter 3: I'd do Tony Danza.

Commenter 9: That was Tony Orlando. Tony Danza died last year.

Commenter 4: See, premature celebrity death is one more reason why we need gay marrage.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Sorry, but this isn't part of Prager's argument. His article assumes couples wont have the same sex drive, or if they did, that the woman's sex drive would change over time.

OK, you may be technically correct that he doesn't think couples will end up actually having the same sex drive. But he advises them to change their behavior in a way that suggests he views compatible sex drives as an ideal to be aspired to. That's all I was saying in the post you're responding to, so I don't understand where you come up with "Sorry, but that isn't part of Prager's argument."

I didn't say he imagines heterosexual couples actually having the same sex drive. My point is that he is clearly very interested in compatibility of sex drive, believes men have far higher sex drives than women, and sees this as a problem to be solved.

I mean, Prager isn't exactly taking a unanced position that requires lots of textual analysis. He writes: "In Part I, I made the argument that any woman who is married to a good man and who wants a happy marriage ought to consent to at least some form of sexual relations as much as possible. ... In Part II, I advance the argument that a wife should do so even when she is not in the mood for sexual relations." I think it's pretty clear what he's saying, and I'm not seeing any actual disagreement about it in this comments section.

John Althouse Cohen said...

nuanced, not unanced

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Two men -- both will have high sex drives, so they're compatible

Once again trying to prove a stereotype that all men or all women are at the same level of sex drive. Men being higher or more active than women Not necessarily so.

In addition, our levels of sex drive, sexual energy change over time and not always at the same pace. It can be the woman who has more "interest" than the man or vice versa and it can vary from month to month, year to year.

Part of being married is being able to recognize your spouse's needs or lack of needs. You BOTH need to be accommodating and respectful of the other and to remain faithful to your partner, even if you aren't getting all the nookie you want.

I also go back to the literal definition of marriage. To take two different things and create a new thing. In jewelery making it is silver and gold: married metals. In wine or liquor making it is two types of spirits.

Optimally, in human life it is a man and a woman to make a new thing......a child.

I have zero problem if two men or two women want to live together in a loving relationship and make a wonderful life for themselves. But it isn't marriage in the definitional sense.

rhhardin said...

You BOTH need to be accommodating and respectful of the other and to remain faithful to your partner, even if you aren't getting all the nookie you want.

You can always get some on the side.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Two men -- both will have high sex drives, so they're compatible

Once again trying to prove a stereotype that all men or all women are at the same level of sex drive. Men being higher or more active than women Not necessarily so.


You are responding to what I wrote as if I was actually taking the position that all men have high sex drives. If that was your impression, I urge you to re-read my original comment.

I'm surprised my comment has confused so many people, since I explicitly said I'm not endorsing the idea that men have higher sex drives than women. I was very clear that I was just criticizing the consistency of other people's views, not taking a position on people's actual sex drives. Is this thread screwing with people's minds so that they're losing their reading comprehension?


I also go back to the literal definition of marriage. To take two different things and create a new thing. I have zero problem if two men or two women want to live together in a loving relationship and make a wonderful life for themselves. But it isn't marriage in the definitional sense.

What are you basing that on? If your answer is just that it's not marriage right now in most states in the US, then yes, you're right. But that begs the question whether marriage should be so restricted. In the past in the US, you could have said that marriage "is" between two people of the same race. In many parts and times in the world, you could have said that marriage "is" externally imposed on girls without their consent. But I doubt you'd approve of those laws. Just because something's the law doesn't mean it's a good law. (And if you say you're concerned with social norms, not the law, I'd say -- whose social norms?)


Optimally, in human life it is a man and a woman to make a new thing......a child.

Surely you don't seriously believe that all opposite-sex married couples have children, or that same-sex married couples can't have children. I'm sure you're aware that a gay couple can have children -- adoption, surrogate motherhood, etc. And I'm sure you wouldn't be in favor of a law prohibiting an infertile straight couple from having children.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You can always get some on the side.

No. Not if you want to remain married.

If you don't consider marriage and being in love with your selected one important enough to work at the relationship and feel it's ok to trash and trample on the feelings and self respect of your partner...... you should consider not being married at all.

It's and either or proposition for me.

Seven Machos said...

I think that all women should be willing to have sex with me, at the time and place of my choosing, in the mood or not. The world would be a much better place.

Seven Machos said...

I don't think that men have a higher sex drive than women. I think they have a higher drive for more women.

No matter how hot she is, there's some dude who is sick of her. That's how the old saw goes, for a reason.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Surely you don't seriously believe that all opposite-sex married couples have children, or that same-sex married couples can't have children.

Surely you can read and understand the meaning of the word...optimally.

Of course not all marriages result in children for a lot of reasons and many older people get re-married who are past child bearing age.

Biologically, we are not meant to live as long as we do and childess older marriages were unheard of, mainly because we were mostly DEAD by the time your hormones quit. This is also why men have historically been more likely to marry after the first few wives had expired.

We are geared to procreate at a very young age. If it weren't for society's rules, people would be creating babies by the age of 13 and no later than 15 years of age. If you were lucky enough to live to the ripe old age of 40, you got to be a glorified babysitter for the younger generation.

I have no issue with stable couples of any sex adopting or with infertile couples adopting.

It still doesn't change the definition of the word marriage.

rhhardin said...

Not if you want to remain married.

Those are the stakes. Ignore how men are built at your peril.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm surprised that Prager's column is seen as controversial. Seems like common sense advice to give to any low sex drive person who is married to a high sex drive person.

He addresses it to women because they're more likely to be the ones on the low sex drive end, but I know of couples where the opposite was true, and the wife found the situation extremely frustrating.

I would still like to know how his column throws out the "basis of civilization" argument against gay marriage.

And JAC, I understand what you wrote, but I don't think it makes sense to say "This is an ideal to strive for in marriage," and then draw from that that it is the penultimate ideal on which marriage should find its basis. I don't think Prager is saying that.

blake said...

My point is that he is clearly very interested in compatibility of sex drive, believes men have far higher sex drives than women, and sees this as a problem to be solved.

Where does he say he is interested in compatibility of sex drives?

What he is interested in is letting women know that men view sex differently, and to take the drive (where it exists) seriously both in that it may be higher and different from theirs.

Again, pretty banal stuff.

Ralph said...

he views compatible sex drives as an ideal to be aspired to.
No, I think you've misread Prager. How can someone change his sex drive to be compatible? He realizes incompatibility often exists and asks for some accommodation for the higher drive, which is usually the man.
So many people seem to jump to forced sex from that.

Perhaps it's the give and take that makes a marriage stronger--if both parties banged away all the time (or rarely banged at all), would they appreciate each other after a while?

Jason said...

JAC,

I don't see how a social conservative giving marital advice to couples about sex leads to inconsistencies with opposition to same-sex marriages. That's what you were trying to show originally.

Social conservatives oppose same-sex marriages, among other stated reasons, because for them marriage isn't about sex, it's about having children or doing God's work. "Sex" is what social conservatives believe gay marriages would be about.

Prager becomes inconsistent in solving the problem (mismatched libidos), not in recognizing it. He has the person with the most libido decide how much sex the couple will have and makes men sound like sex crazed monsters. ("Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control.")

He spends two articles telling women to have sex when they don't want to. He tells men they may have to settle for sex, but not "intercourse." Think about what he means by THAT. Women can only get out of sex if it would hurt them physically or emotionally. Great quote: "Your man knows you love him by your willingness to give him your body."

If you ask me, Prager does think marriage is all about sex. And more than that, how can he force same-sex couples to control themselves when straight men can't?

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Saying that an "optimal" marriage would include reproduction between the two spouses doesn't work as an argument against legalized gay marriage. It only works as an argument that gay marriages are not "optimal," unless you would argue that infertile straight couples (and other couples that you don't consider to be "optimal" for whatever reason) should not be legally allowed to marry.

Freeman Hunt said...

I thought their idea was that various male urges were controlled and sublimated through marriage to females. There is a civilizing effect works — I think the theory goes — as the natural impulses pressure a man to do what he can impress and please the woman. This process is undermined if the woman simply accedes to his sexual impulses. The pressure must be kept up. The man should be required to understand the woman and figure out how to do things that will make her desire sex with him. Or he can sublimate his urges, and pour his energy into great architectural and scientific achievements and the like.

This assumes that the theory summarized in the first sentence holds celibacy as an ideal; that under that theory, the less sex, no matter how much less, the better. I'm not sure that that is actually what such theorists believe. Might they argue that there are diminishing returns to a reduction in sexual activity?

Also, Prager specifically notes that he is referencing couples where the husband is productive and good to his wife. If that is the case, doesn't that then limit his argument to husbands who are performing well, and who, under this sublimation theory, should then be rewarded with sex to ensure that their optimal performance continues. The theory would break down if the men sublimated their desires, acheived great things, and then received nothing in return.

(Note: I'm not endorsing this sublimation theory.)

Alex said...

I'm shocked nobody is discussing the single biggest reason why married couples stop having sex, namely women let themselves go completey and man doesn't like making love to a fat cow.

Ralph said...

Getting fat also reduces the sex drive.

Chip Ahoy said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. This is so funny I'm compelled to slice a cucumber, de-seed it and consume it.

peter hoh said...

My initial thoughts, without looking at the "later" part of the post or reading the comments.

If marriage is primarily understood as an expression of love, then it becomes hard to argue that the pairing of male and female is fundamental to marriage.

Simon said...

Eli Blake said...
"Simon,"

I think you're talking to someone else, I hadn't commented on this post when you wrote your comment. :)

AJ Lynch said...

Michael H:

Thanks for your good belly laughs to kick off my year!

Simon said...

Ralph said...
"Getting fat also reduces the sex drive."

To what extent? How fast? In what ratio? What's the mechanism? I've gained close to forty pounds in the last ten years - I was rail-thin in college - and I wouldn't say that my sex drive has dropped during that time.

Alex said...

Simon - it's more of an issue for women who get fat. Especially after pregnancy. There are some yuppie women who manage to always shed the preggie weight and keep themselves attractive to their rich husbands, but that's a very tiny %.

blake said...

unless you would argue that infertile straight couples (and other couples that you don't consider to be "optimal" for whatever reason) should not be legally allowed to marry.

As I've pointed out (repeatedly), childlessness has traditionally been grounds for annulment. Infertile women and sterile men are not traditionally in high demand.

And, I have no problem with the legal definition of marriage being tied to reproduction, heterosexuality and monogamy. (Man marrying woman, till death do they part, is close enough for government work.)

PJ said...

I saw it immediately, but I read it too late to post.

In fact, I didn't bother reading it at all. I'm with Alex. I knew where this guy was going and I don't want to think about Prager underlining the Bible with a yellow marker pedantically searching for verses to show his wife why she needs to submit to his sexual will.

The very thought makes me never want to have sex again - which supports Ann's point. Prager needs to learn what he did to shut his wife down and *stop doing it*, not override her natural reaction.

Maybe he should go find a self-hating gay man on the side.

blake said...

Fascinating how many people go right to the ad hominem on Prager.

Gina said...

I'm also surprised that this is controversial. It seems to me that feminism has built in this hysteria-trigger that gets tripped really easily, at least when it's a conservative making some comment about women. It's tedious.

Eli Blake said...

JAC:

Yup, you're right. I didn't read your comment thoroughly enough.

Simon:

Yup, you're right too. I was responding to Synova.

I should demand a refund from the Evelyn Woods speed-reading school.

Alex said...

All this late middle age sex talk makes me amused. Young fit people don't have any issues. In fact nature never intended people to have sex after 40.

Alex said...

What I meant was that women were not meant to have sex after 40. Men can have sex until they drop dead.

PJ said...

It's not feminism - it's my Mother and my Father. Her whole life was dedicated to making sure I didn't get into a situation like this with a prat like that. Thanks Mom.

I only had to glance at the first few paragraphs to recognize the tone. I've since read through it and there's nothing new here. The response is kneejerk and tedious because he's bringing back rationales that were rejected 25 years plus ago and so invoke the same. tedious. repudiations. as they always have and deservedly so.

He's not moving the dialogue forward.

Alex- most guys can't have sex until they drop dead w/o Viagra even if they have the desire. Women on the other hand can indeed have sex until they drop dead - desire or not.

I think you were thinking of having children.

reader_iam said...

Is it possible that Prager's advice applies to whom it does, and that it doesn't apply to whom it doesn't?

reader_iam said...

(That explicitly is not a response to Althouse's initial query, nor her update, which latter I only just saw when I came in to post a comment here.)

MayBee said...

I thought their idea was that various male urges were controlled and sublimated through marriage to females

No.
I don't think that's their idea at all.
People control their urges. Or not. Nothing controls it for them. If men are going to control their urges, it is their own task to do.
His wife can choose to be a participant in his attempts to be monogamous, or she can make it unrewarding. It never gives a man a reason to stop controlling his urges, nor does it cause him to stop controlling his urges.
It just makes life nicer, in a world where options are endless and self control should be rewarded.

Ernst Blofeld said...

Ann Althouse's argument is not very persuasive.

The problem arises when the woman simply cuts off all sexual access for weeks or months at a time. In this case no amount of male preening is going to get him some release. As a result, he's likely to start looking for it elsewhere. As some husbands have put it, "I'm going to have sex. Whether or not you're involved is up to you." In effect, the grand sociobiology bargain of current human male-female relations--the male gives support and protection to the female in exchange for exclusive sex--breaks down when one party reneges on the deal.

Needless to say, the ensuing drama is not conducive to stable family relations.

And anyway Prager's argument is not that marital sex has to be identical to male desires. It's that it has to be compatible with male needs.

Homosexual sex is, well, not, for most men. The argument is, in fact, kind of goofy.

Synova said...

Maybe it would help to think of it this way...

Suppose a man gets his balls blown off. Sucks to be him for sure. And he's not going to be "in the mood" for sex again.

Should his wife or girlfriend or whomever, expect him to satisfy her out of love in the absence of a sex drive? He can do that a number of ways, if he chooses. Or should she expect nothing from him for the rest of her life?

Synova said...

PJ, it's not your mom and your dad if you are with a nice guy who loves you.

But if he has to prove his love for you by adhering to your moods and your moods only...

Do you love *him*?

Jason said...

Synova,

Suppose a man gets his balls blown off. Sucks to be him for sure. And he's not going to be "in the mood" for sex again.

Actually, hormone replacement therapy would probably take care of that.

But let's assume the therapy doesn't work. If the wife is a social conservative she shouldn't consider filing for divorce, or cheating. Marriage isn't about sex after all. So it sucks to be HER.

amba said...

Titus: Males want it straight up and females want it roundabout -- and that refers both to "want" and "it."

amba said...

Women have low sex drives??

amba said...

On the labyrinthine quality of female desire: I've had the funny thought, I'm so glad I'm not, for the most part, a lesbian and don't have to figure out how to please a woman. That's a man's job. Poor men!

amba said...

Tony Danza died last year. Andrea Dworkin died, too.

amba said...

Yes, but he is only discussing a single, particular marital issue. He's not suggesting that the same spouse serve the other in everything. Marriage is not just about sex.

"I'll screw you if you'll take out the garbage"??

Synova said...

Well, golly, Jason.

Don't you realize all the ways two people can give each other pleasure? But go ahead, please leave your lover if something happens to him or her.

What a world you live in.

Women have low sex drives??

Hah! That's been my reaction this entire subject thread.

That and the silly assumption that men's sex drives are always higher than women's.

Ralph said...

Prager isn't addressing just female fussiness (which does socialize men), he's talking about female denial, which is apparently a problem in many marriages. Until the 60's, most women held out til marriage, now some put out til marriage.

How does the perpetual horniness of two men socialize either of them, since they know the other's game whenever they are, no preconditions?

rhhardin said...

Imus's Bernard McGuirk:

Q: When does a Jewish man stop masturbating?

A: When his wife dies.

The problem is institutionalized in a joke.

Pogo said...

"I thought their idea was that various male urges were controlled and sublimated through marriage to females."

I think this is quite wrong.

Freeman is correct, in noting that sublimation of animal impulse is insufficient to explain why marriage would be considered the bulwark of civilization.

In modern culture, universal egotism reigns, where where any and all boundaries, moral and traditional, are obliterated in favor of informal arrangements based solely on the belief that doing so will make oneself happy, which is the highest goal.

In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke wrote "To love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of publick affections."

That is, family (as well as neighborhood, professional organizations, and the like) are the glue that holds society together, bulwarks defending civil society against despots and revolutionaries.

Families are the most revolutionary of all arrangements, for the state has great trouble controlling it. That is why totalitarian states of all stripes have sought -and sometimes briefly succeeded- to abolish the family.

Being a parent is quite difficult, however. Samuel Johnson wrote, "In families, where there is or is not poverty, there is commonly discord: if a kingdom be ... a great family, a family likewise is a little kingdom, torn with factions and exposed to revolutions."

Marriage between a man and a woman has served this vital function of liberty, of true freedom (as opposed to the mere ability to avoid any and all restrictions on behavior), and proved to be useful in others, both economic and pedagogic. But it's aim is not happiness, though it can be happy.

But the marxist aim at destroying the family has succeeded, I believe. Ibsen described marriage as a financial bargain, a poor one, that made women no different from whores, and any apparent happiness is a facade maintained by arbitrary social pressures. Happiness, then, involves deconstructing those barriers.

Instead, a family is anything you wish it to be, a frat house with revolving doors, guided by personal autonomy as a first principle. Happiness, it is believed, will come by following the heart’s inclinations.

This marxist worldview endorses "the elevation of emotion over principle, of inclination over duty, of rights over responsibilities, of ego over the claims of others; the impatience with boundaries and the promotion of the self as the measure of all things." (Dalrymple)

In rejecting the voice of tradition, or even (as is now occurring) denying that it ever existed at all, families will die. And with it, Western civilization.

DaveW said...

The argument is, in fact, kind of goofy.

Agreed. What a leap this is.

Going from 'wives should really consider having sex with their husbands every once in a while' to 'well then you should support gay marriage' is really inducing a what?!?

At least one other commenter noticed so I can't be the only one, but 'social conservatives' (if Prager is one, and I do not know that) is code for religious people. And I guess it needs to be pointed out that religious people have objections to gay marriage beyond the idea of mutual gratification.

I also agree with folks that are laughing at the basic idea that men want sex more than women. When men are young they tend to have higher sex drive, true, but women have a higher sex drive as they get older, also true.

Why do people think Viagra runs all those ads? Do you honestly think so many men suffer from a real life medical condition called erectile dysfunction?

I'd just take sex out of it to clear out the fog. We're married. That means we are partners and care for each other take care of each other's needs. If the toilet needs to be fixed (or pick anything) I'm going to fix it whether I feel like it or not. Or mow the grass, or clean the kitchen or bathroom, or cook a meal, or get the oil changed.

Marriage is work in many ways, just as life is work. If you want to be happy in a marriage you'll go overboard to make sure you are pleasing your partner. People that do not do this end up in divorce court whether the issue is sex or fixing the fence.

Prager isn't talking about rape either (sigh). Taking his column and jumping to rape!! is like me jumping to slavery!! when the house needs to be painted.

Paco Wové said...

"But let's assume the therapy doesn't work. If the wife is a social conservative she shouldn't consider filing for divorce, or cheating. Marriage isn't about sex after all."

I suppose it would mark me as a hopelessly old fart if I were to bring up that whole "...in sickness or in health, till death do us part" thing here.

Unless they rewrote the vows to say, "...until something bad happens to us, then I'll ditch your ass."

Melissa said...

I know that I'm late jumping in here, but where did this idea that, "to a social conservative, marriage isn't about sex at all" come from? That's never been my understanding of social conservationism (didn't we discuss that preacher with the bed just a few weeks ago? I assumed that he was a social conservative). I don't know that Prager is the quintessential social conservative, but I've always understood him to be one, and that is certainly not what he is arguing.

Seems to me that this idea was completely invented out of whole cloth, and for some reason, folks here are running with it.

Ann Althouse said...

"Going from 'wives should really consider having sex with their husbands every once in a while' to 'well then you should support gay marriage' is really inducing a what?!?"

Do you think I said that? I didn't.

"Where did this idea that, "to a social conservative, marriage isn't about sex at all" come from?"

Do you think I said that? I didn't.

Ernst Blofeld said...

To be a little more precise, AA ascribed to social conservatives an inaccurate precis of what they think about sex and marriage, then proceeded to make an even more illogical connection about what they should therefore believe based on the initial, incorrect premise.

Jason said...

Sorry AA,

You asked a really interesting question and we worked out a different answer than you got. We went all over the place.

For the record, I don't think Prager is much of a social conservative. I've read some of his articles on homosexuality and he seems to have reasoned opposition to certain pro-gay positions. The reasons seem kind of flimsy, but they are reasons, not emotions.

I'm sure if he met some nice same-sex families he would change his mind on same-sex marriages. He's probably like that on many issues: on his way to becoming more liberal, but treading very carefully.

Maybe that's why we can find inconsistencies in his positions.

DaveW said...

Do you think I said that? I didn't.

I was paraphrasing to make a point. If you think it was unfair I apologize.

I wasn't trying to stuff anything in your mouth (or, heh, keyboard). Sorry if it felt that way.