Friday, January 22, 2010

Again on sex and the role of women

After my previous post on this topic, I had the pleasure to receive many interesting papers from friends and colleagues (some of them are still unpublished or unfinished and their authors asked me not to discuss them on the blog). One of them is a passage of Shaji George Kochuthara's PhD thesis about woman/man relationship as depicted in the Genesis account. The author extensively quotes from many authorities, but as a reader grown up in a Catholic country I have been strongly impressed by his conclusions, as if they vividly contrasted with the common assumptions of what one unconsciously identifies as Catholic. The following ones are a couple of my reflections determined by Shaji's pages.
1) Physical contacts –maintains Kochuthara together with many contemporary theologians– have a (positive) place of their own in the Bible and in the Christian faith. Love, I would add, is not the veil which makes them appear nicer and, hence, legitimates them. On the other hand, love is important insofar as it makes one abandon one's defensive attitude towards the Other. Thus, love makes a true sexual encounter possible.
2) Kochuthara strongly emphasises the companionship between man and woman as depicted in the Genesis account about Adam and Eve. However, much of this has been lost in the subsequent centuries and women/men relationships have often been devoid of friendship and of mutuality. In this way, contemporaries now accept, many women have been deprived of their "freedom" (whatever this means). But it is not just that. The segregation of women also meant (and means) that women have been talking and sharing their inner world with other women only, thus depriving men of an important component of their lives. Men segregated themselves while segregating women. They unconsciously chose not to enjoy the friendship of human beings with which they were anyway spending much time together. In some email exchanges, Kochuthara seems to be even more definitive than I am about this point. I am, instead, not sure whether men need women in order to be full human beings. Possibly, friendship with other men may also help. But, overlooking the possibilities of what one already has (a wife/a sister/a daughter…) seems to me anyway a waste of emotional energies. In persons not used to dedicate much time to personal relationships (such as the man-to-man friendships hinted at above) it may also mean that one has NO chance at all to experience a true friendship.


elisa freschi said...

I should have added, beside relationships with other men, also relationship to God and other non-human beings. But I am hardly convinced by the idea that an authentic religious belief does not express itself also in one's relation with other human beings.

VS said...

I would differ with some of your observations.

There is one point of love enabling a true sexual encounter. Unless there is a definition of what a true sexual encounter is, discussing this point would be difficult.

Have you also considered that even women have made true interactions between men and women difficult? That men to men interactions do not require much effort is also something difficult to agree with. The point being that men interact with more men as compared with women and they bond with the ones with whom they share same vibes. The same logic holds for women.

elisa freschi said...

Dear VS,
thanks for your criticism. You are right, I let a metaphysical entity such as "true sexual encounter" undefined. What I meant was: S.G.K.'s position is that only through love does one abandon one's fears (etc.) and one can hence deeply enjoy a sexual encounter. But one could object further, since this presupposes that confidence is important for sexual enjoyment, and this could be not the case for someone.
As for your next point, you might be right, but women-men relationships have been (and often are yet) asymmetrical for many centuries. Women had to have to do with women only because they had much less chances to socialise. This entailed that also men had less chances to socialise (since there were hardly women around), but their position was felt as the superior one.
Your hints seem to me, hence, to suit better today's situation. Why don't you let me (and other readers) understand more about how women make relationships more difficult?

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