Spin, Spin, Spin

Gosh, I do love it when people try to spin things to avoid the obvious. Take for example this wonderful paragraph by Keith Sharpe on his latest Changing Attitude blog.

It is alleged that [Wallace Benn] has on occasions demanded to know if single clergy in his area are having ‘genital relationships’ with lodgers or friends, and then threatens to withhold permission to officiate if the answer is yes or if there is a refusal to answer. The current case of David Page in Winchelsea (CA Blog dated July 13th) is a specific case in point.  David is in a civil partnership and declined to answer Wallace Benn’s impertinent question.  Permission to officiate was then withheld but with the enthusiastic support of his vicar and congregation David continued to minister.  Benn then instituted disciplinary measures against him.

Love it. The corrected, non-spin, factually accurate and unbiased version should read,

It is alleged that [Wallace Benn] has on occasions followed nationally agreed guidelines approved by the House of Bishops. The current case of David Page in Winchelsea (CA Blog dated July 13) is a specific case in point.  David is in a civil partnership and declined to answer Wallace Benn’s completely legal question which, incidentally, all Diocesan Bishops on accession agree to ask their clergy entering Civil Partnerships.  Permission to officiate was then withheld but with the enthusiastic support of his vicar and congregation David continued to minister in direct violation of Canon C 8.  Benn then correctly instituted disciplinary measures against him in a manner recently advised and commended by Commissaries of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Methinks Colin Coward needs to employ a better editor…

By the way, I am simply bowled over by the huge number of comments that the recent Changing Attitude posts of the past week have garnered on their website. A positively vibrant community on a popular website.

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214 Comments on “Spin, Spin, Spin

  1. This is not quite the point, however, is it. Reading the Archbishop’s Visitation report on this topic is rather illuminating. The report cites a number of issues. It seems that PTO was a routine process given to any retired clergy or others who moved into the area, given to clergy with convictions for sexual offences, given to some with restrictions which could not possibly be enforced, and routinely ignored in other cases.

    I suspect the issue with the David Page situation is that there was a massive inconsistency in Wally Benn’s behaviour. It seems that in Chichester they would routinely grant PTO to any straight retired clergy who asked for it, ignore the fact that many officiated without PTO in other cases, yet institute CDM on David Page, who happens to be gay.

      • The Archbishop’s Visitation report states, “It is therefore of the greatest concern that _ (i) at least in some parts of the diocese some incumbents permit those without permission to officiate in fact to do so; and (ii) there are some without such permission who nonetheless have continued to
        officiate3. In our view these matters are examples of the dysfunctionality within the Chichester diocese
        as well as demonstrating a failure to appreciate the connection between safeguarding and the
        proper structures of the Church. In this regard it is irrelevant why the officiating cleric may
        not have a current permission in place.

        In addition, this dysfunctionality is underlined by the facts that a decision was made
        (rightly or wrongly) by some or all of the diocesan safeguarding advisory group to commence
        the procedure to lay a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 20034 against the Bishop of Lewes and that the latter has felt not only that he has been consistently kept out of
        the loop but that he has been made the scapegoat for systemic problems within the diocese.”

        I guess it is possible that all of Wally Benn’s parishes are clean, but that is not exactly the implication is it. I suspect that we will read more about Bishop Wally’s behaviour in the final report.

          • I know it was endemic in his diocese. Let’s not split hairs on details. We also know that it was routine in the diocese to grant PTO to any retired clergy who asked (unless you’re gay).

              • The diocese are finally getting their act together and when they do people start going “Why are you picking on them?”. Either we want Chichester to follow national guidelines or we don’t, but we can’t pick and choose which guidelines we prefer to enforce and which we ignore.

                    • Tangentially, do people down south need to be conviction free to become clergy? I’d have thought that would run contrary to all the “blind but now I see” emphasis on Grace!

                    • Yes, some people might argue that, but charitable organisations have learnt to their bitter cost that we can’t be as gracious as God when it comes to child sex abuse. God knows whether the person will offend again, but, unfortunately, we don’t have that omniscience.

                    • Oh, I quite agree with that instance (although some of the posters on this blog appear to think that checking for “homosexuals” would do the trick), but what about some youthful vandalism from someone who subsequently found Christ and got their life together? Here in Glasgow there was some press attention when a convicted murderer showed up at an evangelical church to give a talk. People exchanging the demon drink for Christ is another common narrative, and Glasgow’s crazy drinking culture is certainly conducive to the odd breach of the peace charge.

                    • Yip, well, coming from a war torn country, I’ve heard testimonies coming from quite a few killers/murderers (it’s a bit difficult to draw the line in a political situation). Murderers tend not to re-offend unless they’re mentally unhinged. However, I get your point. Is it true that *any* conviction (shoplifting age 13) would bar you from the clergy for life?

                    • That’s an excellent point about the political situation. Many a freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist!

                    • The rule is, once convicted of a sexual offence a PTO / licence will not be issued again. It’s harsh, but as FS says the rule is there to protect children and vulnerable adults. The reputational cost of a reoffender who used their PTO / licence to attain a position where he/she could abuse children is too much to bear (as we have seen in Chichester). And that’s before we even begin to think about the children involved.

    • It’s also worth pointing out that Page being gay was never the issue. The issue was that he refused to confirm or deny that he was in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

      • Is it genuinely expected that Clergy in civil partnerships will answer the question honestly, or is not rather a bit of “plausible deniability” obfuscation? Just Good Friends tend not to have Civil Partnerships with each other.

        • Even the Catholic ethicists agree that it is not immoral to dissemble if your conscience tells you your inquisitor has no right to the information he seeks. Hence the abbess in Italy who lied to the back teeth to the SS Sturmbannfuehrer that she had “no Jews here” in her mind reserving the question to the metre radius circle surrounding her person. It’s called casuistry and was developed by the Jesuits as far as I remember.

          • Oh, right. According to Godwin’s law, the debate escalates to a comparison with escaping the threat of Nazi-style extermination.
            A poor comparison since the holy orders didn’t owe canonical obedience to the SS during the Second World War.

            • Godwin’s “Law” is no such thing. It is not an intellectual fallacy, rather an amusing internet conceit as with “Rule 63”.

            • It’s still lying isn’t it? A very interesting ethical question – the Jesuit solution relies on the fact that most people don’t think about the exactitude of the questions they ask of others.

                • But most Evangelicals don’t have a binary view of morality. This Evangelical can foresee situations where dissemblance (or at least limitations in the scope of responses) may be a necessary thing, perhaps even a *good* thing.

                • As Peter says, evangelicals are expedient enough to abandon binary morality when it suits them ;-) I do wonder, given that, in my experience, “situational morality” is almost as pejoratively invoked as “post modernism” or “deconstructionist” by Evangelical thinkers, if such people really think that stealing food to stop a human being from starving is “objectively” wrong. But then most of the “Deconstructionist” bashers did not exactly seem to know what they’re talking about (do they even sell Derrida in Wesley Owen? ;-))

                  • But they do it anyway ;-). Truly, if bearing false witness is indeed a grave moral offence, then evangelicals will have quit the price to pay for all their “gays only live till 40” homo-demonising guff. You’d think they’d have learned a lesson from masturbation. If ‘conservatives’ had just stuck to saying it was morally wrong, instead of inventing all the hairy palms turns-you-bliind stuff then people would take them more seriously today!

          • Yes, it was developed at the time of the Reformation, I think? And Calvinists really opposed it. However, isn’t that lying to a foreign authority that’s been imposed on you that you’ve never accepted in the first place, rather than voluntary submitting to a Church authority and then trying to undermine it from the inside? It’s one way of doing things, but you can’t be surprised if you meet resistance.

            • When in Catholic theology did conscience get to supersede even the Magisterium’s teaching? Obviously hedged with all sorts of provisos, but nonetheless amazing.

        • Your last point about Civil Partnerships is good but since sex is not part of the legal definition as it is with marriage, surely the bishop is going beyond the bounds of respect by raising the question?

          • Not really, because the Church of England has never seen consensual marital sex as sinful.

            When one becomes a priest one accepts that the “bounds of respect” do not cover your sex life when the Bishop asks. You sign up on the understanding you will only have sex within marriage and it is unreasonable to then complain that the bishop asks you whether you are keeping to that promise.

            • But the point is surely that a CP is not marriage and as sex is not part of the definition of validity, it is not a necessary question?

            • Not to be crude, but does that mean that a Civil Partnership situation that DID have a sexual element but now does not (as with Jeffrey John and partner?) is acceptable? How long ago does the sex need to have been? Is there a “three strikes and you’re out style” policy for lapses? And so on. The whole area seems a mine field.

              • The literals always want Jeffrey John to renounce/repent of his “sin” publicly. Do they want heterosexual remarried clergy to get into white sheets and sit in the front row to repent of their adulterous second marriages? Of course not.

                • Indeed. I know of a leading Glasgow evangelical leader who spend years boasting that “marriages don’t fail, people fail” and that nobody who did his Alpha marriage preparation course ever got divorced. One wonders if he’s changed his tune after his marriage went down the tubes; for a while, although ‘separated’, he did technically have a wife *and* a girlfriend!

                  • That doesn’t surprise me. *sigh* However, before I get too judgemental or irritated, I’m trying to train myself to remember that nobody would ever become a leader at all if they were afraid of saying something wrong. (Though I do wish some of them would worry about it a little more!)

                    (The ‘judgemental and irritated’ was aimed at myself, not you)

                • I think the problem Jeffrey John poses for the Church is that he’s very publicly teaching against Church teaching. At the time of the whole excruciating Bishop of Reading debacle it was more the idea of a Bishop teaching that homosexuality was holy that bothered the conservatives, rather than what he was doing himself.

                  Also, I think we’ve discussed the divorce thing before. Christ allowed divorce under some circumstances. The Old Testament allowed divorce under some circumstances. Even the Catholic Church will annul your marriage if they thinks it’s actually abusive.

                  • The media didn’t find the doctrinal issue so interesting. Having said that I couldn’t help thinking Philip Giddings as kingmaker just didn’t like John’s churchmanship and certainly didn’t want another bloody liberal in the model of Harries.

                    • are abusive people necessarily psychologically unfit rather than engaged in free will chosen immoral behaviours? It would seem an error for the Church to capitulate so to the language of secular psychology.

                    • You’ll have to ask the vatican that! As far as I understand it, pleading ‘psychical incompatibility’ is by far the most common ground for annulment these days.

                  • really, FS? How does that square with the sacramental doctrine of marriage – unless perhaps the abuse could be explained as an undisclosed character-fault?

                  • An annulment is not a divorce. It is a declaration that, as the far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the marriage was invalid because of some impediment and therefore never really existed in the first place. The Church will not annul the marriage because it has become abusive: the impediment has to have existed right from the start.

                    • Yes, I understand that it’s different from a divorce, but, unless I’m mistaken, the Vatican has recently relaxed its rules on what constitutes a valid sacrament. So, for instance, if people had come under pressure in some way (perhaps because of unplanned pregnancy) to marry, then they have not made their vows entirely voluntarily, and so that might be ground for annulment. Also, in the case of an abusive spouse, that person is seen as not being mature enough to have entered into marriage vows, and so the sacrament is invalid.

                      I’ve probably garbled it somewhat, but these are the kinds of grounds for annulment.

                    • Yes, but the point is that the impediment has to have been there at the time that marriage was contracted. Some disagreeable factor that comes into existence at a later stage will not do as grounds for an annulment.

                    • Yes, but I’ve just addressed that (3 posts below). Someone who later shows violent tendencies has revealed him/herself to be psychologically unbalanced and therefore not capable of fulfilling the promises made at the time of the sacrament. It is assumed that this psychological imbalance was there at the time of the marriage (if latent), therefore making the sacrament invalid.

                      In practice, however, a lot of people are dissatisfied with the system. They feel like they’re being put in a position where they have to lie and say they were not mature or psychologically balanced enough at the time of the wedding to make the vows, when they know that at the time they understood and meant them. Though, some people find it healing.

                  • But +Rowan was a liberal too, and is now viewed by liberals as a Palpatine style figure! Surely there’s something a bit off about the church having no problem with heterosexual liberals abandoning private views for the party line whilst appearing to assume that gay liberals are incapable of this?

                    • I see what you mean. It is true. Rowan Williams has never actually retracted what he taught about homosexuality before becoming Archbishop. It seems that people can teach heresy, but the Church draws the line at practising it.

                    • do you really regard The Body’s Grace (say) as heretical? I’m not sure if disagreeing with Lambeth Council proclamations warrants such strong language. After all, there was also Lambeth resolutions against the use of anything other than alcoholic wine in communion services (which many a Ribena-addled evangelical church doesn’t mind breaking)

                    • And of course if you do regard same-sex sex as heretical, then note that Jeffrey John and has partner had actually ceased “practicisng” it (anyone else wonder why they’re so many books on homosexual practice and so few on homosexual perfection? ;-))

                    • Can you practice heresy? I thought it was very much a thought crime. Oh, I suppose it is possible because the Catholic Church before Vat II used to forbid even the laity attendance at Anglican services – needed the Bishop’s permission and even then there was to be no kneeling or joining in. It was not strongly policed so even in my Catholic salad days I used to go into Canterbury Cathedral to listen to choral evensong and hear the Red Dean preach, But taking part in a ritual, such as being a godparent or being a best-man did require episcopal permission. Not sure you’d have got it for being a godparent unless the bishop saw you as going in as a fifth-column plant to wean your godchild for Holy Mother Church. It really was the thinking pre-Vat II. And they were most contemptuous of the High Church bunch. They were suspicious of low-church evangelicals though, but thought Methodists were the best of “our separated brethren”, especially after one of them wrote a book about the rosary.

                    • Yes, but the point is that he wouldn’t repent of practising it, and cease to teach that it was right.

                      The whole situation is pretty awful though. The fact that we’re even discussing somebody’s sex life on a blog shows that something’s gone wrong!

              • Yes, it is a minefield. CPs which were sexual but no longer are are acceptable. But (and this was crucial for JJ’s nomination for Reading) to not accept that such previous sexual activity was sinful is clearly a disbar for highest office.
                There is probably at least one serving member of the House of Bishops who fits this scenario (prior sexual activity outside of marriage, now repentance and happy to state it was sinful).

                • So clergy are technically required to state publicly that such arrangements are sinful i.e. merely stopping doing them isn’t enought? Whatever else you might think of the man, John not taking the “Paris is worth a Mass” approach in those circumstances surely indicates a laudable strength of convictions.

                  • I don’t think there needs to be a public repentance. In the case I’m thinking of the Bishop merely changed his position and then began teaching very clearly an orthodox line. When questioned privately he confirmed his position.
                    The problem with Jeffrey John is that he is very publicly NOT repentant.

                • aside from which, i thought the +Rowan line is that he might believe all sorts of things as a liberal catholic, but that he has to go with the mind of the church now. Would it not have been acceptable for John to say;
                  “I was in a sexual relationship which I accept the church currently regards as sinful” i.e. he’s now complying with public teaching irrespective of his own views?

            • Yes Peter, but are *all* clergy asked those sorts of questions as a matter of course? It’s well documented that porn addiction (say) is something that many Christians struggle with, but I can’t really imagine your average Bishop asking straight clergy questions along those lines

              • No, I grant you that equivalents could be found across the board. And certainly, most bishops if they were aware of reports of ‘irregularities’ in a priest’s domestic arrangements would want to find out more.

                • Yes, but surely you can’t have it both ways. If two men living together isn’t necessarily sexual (c.f. the language of ‘lodgers’) then why do clergy in such arrangements get singled out and treated as if such arrangements probably are?

                  • I’m not sure the assumption is that they “probably are”. All the Bishop wants is an affirmation that the relationship is what he expects it to be (and that clergy agreed it should be when they got ordained).
                    It is not unreasonable for a Bishop to insist his clergy conduct themselves with the highest standards expected by the Church.

                    • But if the Bishop is asking of such affirmation of most/all clergy in Civil Partnerships then would that not suggest that he does suspect that CPs are probably/usually sexual? Surely he knows that clergy knows that no-sex CPs are the only kind allowed and that, as you say, clergy already make promises to uphold a standard of conduct?

                    • So the conversations should be quick and easy!

                      We should point out again that nothing a Bishop is doing in asking these questions is anything that the Law (civil and canon) does not permit him to do AND in the case of the Church *expects* him to do (as is very clear in the HoB pastoral letter on CPs).

            • Since sex is not a necessary part of a CP the bishop was straying away from any legal definition into the murky area of “sin”. Isn’t the bishop making an assumption that two men cohabiting must be more than just good friends? What about all that stuff about Newman and Ambrose St John being just good friends as the Pope, his biographer Fr Kerr and Miss Widdecombe (but not the Oxford Professor of Church History) would have us believe? Areas of sin are for confessors, not for bishops to ask intrusive questions outside the confessional. I think both from a moral theological AND a human rights perspective Wallace Benn was in the wrong.

              • Yes, I see your point Tom. Why would the CofE allow clergy to enter Civil Partnerships if they’re going to assume that all CPs are sexual and therefore not something that clergy should be allowed to enter into anyway?

                • Well now, there’s an argument…

                  The problem is that the CP legislation is framed in such a way that one cannot assume the relationship is intended to be sexual. Therefore, one needs to ask the question. I would expect a bishop to do the same for any priest who had a long-term friend/lodger in their house.

                  • To be honest, even if they’re not sinful, I don’t see how conservatives can claim to have no problem with same-sex marriage style permanent relationships even if no sex is currently involved.

                    • Well some do as they see the whole thing as a blatant denial of the God-given states of singleness or matrimony. Others might want to be more pastorally sensitive and try to find ways to help those committed to celibate companionship. I mean, it’s not as if the Church doesn’t have a long history of supporting and celebrating some variants of this (religious orders for example).

                    • I think this reflects the evangelical problem (I’m here talking about wider trends and using the appopriate label, not demonising and generalising in a negative sense) of trying to have their cake and eat it too. In order to avoid accusations of homophobia, they (you!) need to dissociate same-sex sex from the homosocial and homoerotic. This is far easier said than done, if not in fact impossible. Technically a struggling evangelical gay guy could flirt date and (to use Auden’s definition of homosexuality) have his emotional life entirely devoted to a member of the same sex and not be engaged in any “sinful” same-sex sex, but I think you’re representing the conservative position to imply that only actual sex crosses the line. I recall the True Freedom Trust (this was circa a decade ago, so it might have changed!) claiming that “same-sex genital acts fall short of God’s plan”. Does that make kissing – let alone mere hand-holding or dating – ok?

                    • No, I don’t think hand-holding / kissing are OK. In fact, I don’t think anything that arouses or is intended to arouse is OK.
                      I do think though it behoves Evangelicals (and others) to not assume every relationship between two gay people will or should contain these aspects.

                    • Yes, but “intended to arouse” suggests that all such actions are deliberately chosen pseudo-sexual behaviours, rather than arising naturally from affective bonds which are not being condemned as intrinsically sinful. A low cut top or a naughty text might be “intended to arouse” but you can hardly say the same thing about hand-holding.

                    • Tangentially, I recall Gore Vidal describing his early same-sex escapades and the view that many of his fellow boys regarded kissing as something that women invented.One doesn’t want to be stereotypical of course, but wouldn’t you say that there are some behaviours (sleepovers, excessive hugging, having intimate conversations whilst in states of undress, pillow fights etc) that may (in our culture) be non-sexual between women but which, between men, do indeed usually suggest an erotic relationship? As such, shouldn’t you have the honesty that a man having another man as his “significant other” IS ultimately homosexual even if no “overt” sex is happening?

                    • Seems very Catholic – it’s what the moralists call “avoiding the occasions of sin”? Hand-holding and kissing (no tongues) might be venal rather than mortal if they are sins at all.

                    • The homosocial aspects of the religious orders provide support for people who have the calling. I don’t see that in place for Evangelicals (who don’t really *value* celibacy as a vocation the way the Catholic and Orthodox churches do). In fact ordinary parish churches can be very lonely at times for single people. An unmarried lady friend of mine (not lesbian) told me she finds Mothering Sunday one of the hardest times to be a spinster in the CofE….and she’s a really devoted member of the parish, Vicar’s warden and all that, real pillar of the Anglican community.

                    • Ah good point Tom. Evangelical churches in my (I concede limited!) experience tend to be of ,by, and for mental MILFs, and this is especially true on “Mothering Sunday” which in practice is largely indistinguishable from a Family Values secular holiday.

                    • When you talk about MILFs, I assume you’re referring to the evangelical churches being full of ‘Mothers I’ll Love Forever’?

                    • Snoop said this in ’94, we don’t love them hoes ;)
                      I’d imagine our beloved moderator could confirm that, reductionist label wise, I tend to address men as well as women.

                    • Plus, recall that Newman and similar ascetics received much condemnations of their dressing-up and “effeminacy” from the muscular Christianity proponents who today’s evangelicals are similar too. Whist appreciating that many a “orthodox” Christian feels compelled to try and rescue Newman from becoming a gay posterboy, can’t they state that Newman wasn’t in a gay relationship but that the relationship he was in was, to them, still problematic? I think men having other men as their significant other, in and of itself, is surely a challenge to the heterosexism that evangelicals proclaim.

                    • but aren’t there many examples of that in the Bible? and isn’t there the more secularised notion of ‘blood-brother’?

                    • I do think the notion that modern relationships are required to be literally ‘biblical’ in order to be moral is absurd. We do not now regard the notion of women-as-property as moral (and to think you thought me not a feminist! ;))
                      Conservatives would say that Jonathan and David’s relationship is not homoerotic because of differences between their culture and ours; doesn’t that imply that a literal Jonathan and David style relationship in today’s culture *is* problematic?

                    • Well, that’s what I’m asking. In middle eastern culture guys put their arms round one another and call one another ‘brother’. Here we used to have the concept of ‘blood brother’. These relationships can often be deeper than the ones men share with their wives. Is this now completely impossible in this culture?

                      (Yes, lots of people think that feminism is all about power politics, but what I was objecting to is a tendency to see sex from a man’s point of view, rather than a woman’s. I think there’s still a lot of young women ‘capitulating to men’s desires’, as you put it, and that’s something that originally feminism tried to counteract. You don’t have to be a ‘sexless virgin’ to capitulate to male desires’, you just have to be afraid of being dumped!)

                    • Well, we still have the “bros before hoes” saying. Not sure how you’d view that ;-).
                      Interestingly, some authors have noted that young straight men today are much handsier with each other (hugging and so forth) than in previous generations. This is obviously linked to a decrease in societal homophobia – if there’s nothing wrong with being gay, then people have less reason to fear being perceived as such.

                      I think a lot of young women do view promiscuity as feminist i.e. they’ve got as much right to “get theirs” as guys, although societal double standards mean they’ll be viewed as “sluts” rather than “studs”. Interestingly, the most attractive woman I know (I was tempted to convert to Romanian Orthodox Christianity in a bid to impress her. The services are three hours long, presumably because it takes ages to give bible verses and hymn numbers whilst enunciating like Sesame Street’s Count Von Count :) ) said that said double standard makes a degree of sense – i.e. it’s very difficult for a man to have a different girl every night of the week, and one who does so will probably be popular, good looking, etc. In contrast any women who wants to have casual sex can find oodles of willing male partners without much effort!

                      Can I ask what you’d think of the view that male bodies are more suited to promiscuity than female bodies? Sexist imposition of male values or the exact opposite (I’m genuinely curious :-))

                    • The guys in my college had another version of that, which I can’t repeat on this blog!

                      Yes, I think that promiscuity as feminist is a distortion of original feminism. I probably shouldn’t call myself a feminist, as I don’t agree with much of the feminist agenda. However, the mid-late twentieth century feminists promoted abortion, the pill, equality in the workplace etc to give women choices, believing that women were quite capable of making good choices. I don’t believe they had any intention of creating a culture of widespread promiscuity, unplanned pregnancy and abortion.

                      There are a number reasons I think the promiscuity as feminist idea is wrong-headed. To answer you’re question, I think that it’s simply a fact that women’s bodies aren’t suited to it. That’s not a sexist imposition of male values. When women tell me that by not living with my husband before I got married I was conforming to rules invented for the benefit of men I look at them in disbelief. ‘How on earth is it more beneficial for my husband to marry, than for me?’ and they often don’t have an answer. They just seem to have swallowed the idea of promiscuity as feminism whole without questioning it. I’ve actually had women tell me that I’m betraying feminism in the same conversation that I’ve had to console them over a pregnancy scare when they’ve slept with some jerk who’s then gone after another woman the next night. Is this feminism? Is this being in control?

                      Also, women aren’t emotionally suited to it. Yes, there’s always going to be the one ‘Belle Dame Sans Mercie’ that seems to be able to sleep with whichever guy she wants and still keep her cool, but the rest of us mortals don’t work that way, and we’re really better just accepting that and not trying to live ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ style. Most girls I know who are in the habit of having one night stands (rather than having one or two in between steady boyfriends) are not emotionally stable. They’re crying on the phone to their best friend the next day, or, even worse, they burst into tears afterwards and tell this guy they’ve only just met that they’re madly in love with him.

                      I’m not sure why this is, but according to some it’s actually a chemical thing – when men have sex it produces this chemical that makes them feel strong so they can bring home bacon. When women have sex it produces this chemical that makes them want to bond with the man they’ve just slept with. Perhaps that’s junk. I’m no biologists. But from talking to men it seems that it works like this. Guy sleeps with girl. Girl dumps guy. Guy feels sad and rejected and wants to punch someone. However, it seems that for even the most sensitive guy there’s a part of him that says ‘oh, well, at least I had sex.’ It’s just not like that for women.

                      That turned into an essay. Sorry!

                      But am I on to something, or am I just full of something?

                    • We’d have to define what constitutes original feminism. I’d have thought that Germaine Greer’s writing, say, would have advocated for the naturalness of female promiscuity. Similarly, abortion is a totemic feminist issue because it flows naturally from its presuppositions (women should have rights over their bodies etc). Of course abortion is – whatever else one might think of it – an invasive medical procedure, so less are always better, but I do find something jarring about the initial feminists being perturbed by a high abortion rate as the price for female sexual liberation.

                      I always found the popularity of Sex and the City (featuring characters that no self-respecting man would want as one night stands, let alone wives) in young and attractive uni age girls a bit sad. But it’s popularity does seem to suggest that, at the very least, attraction to the *idea* of female promiscuity is naturally attractive to most women, rather than being a “be slutty to get male attention!” Cosmo style advice?

                      I’m not sure if female psychology can be conflated with female bodies – and the former’s a mine field to discuss anyway! But, as a matter of biological fact, the multiorgasmic capabilities of women and the fact that, unlike men, they do not need time to “recharge” between orgasms could be cited to support the notion that female bodies are no less ‘naturally’ capable of lots of sex than men.

                      Another problem is that anectodal evidence is exactly that. I’ve known some (for want of a better phrase) “happy sluts”, and I wouldn’t be confident in assuming that they are necessarily lying to themselves. Churches especially are over and dangerously attracted to spurious pseudo-scientific psychological explanations. Not all women sleep around due to (for example) low self-esteem, any more than gay people necessarily have poor childhood relationships with their parents of the same-sex.

                      I suppose it comes down to saying that there might be merit in some of the generalisations over women being unsuited to casual sex, and we’re arguing over just how accurate said generalisations are? i.e. would you say that most to all women fit into that category?

                      Essays are good! :-)

                    • You think women campaigned for abortion in 60s so that they could have promiscuous sex?!? You really think that! I’m pro-life, and even I wouldn’t accuse them of anything that awful! NO woman WANTS to have an abortion or takes it lightly! Is this really what men think of women? Is this really what men think feminism is?

                    • Calm down. YOU might be pro-life but we were talking about feminism per se which was and is, mostly, not. And my comment was made in the context of saying that the high rate of abortions would not be cause for foundational feminists to abandon their advocacy for women’s rights for casual sex. For example, Germaine Greer said, comparitively recently:
                      ” There can be no gainsaying that women cannot manage their own lives if access to abortion is to be denied, but the need for abortion is itself the consequence of oppression. ”

                      But she also says :
                      ” To be pregnant against your will is to see your life swerve out of control. To become a mother without wanting to is to live like a slave or a domestic animal. Like any other adult, a woman would wish to be infertile and fertile when appropriate: she is led to believe that contraception is her duty and that the available techniques are easy to use and completely effective. ”

                      And goes on to say that more men should have vascecotomies, and that contraception should be more easily available better promoted.

                      It’s ironic that you’re making wild generalisations about what all men apparently believe when feminism is (among other things) a political movement and its beliefs claims and presuppositions can be factually sourced.

                    • Yes, I think that’s why some Protestant Churches have handled the sexuality question particularly badly. They don’t really value singleness, and so all the energy is put into trying to make people straight so they can have to happily-ever-after ending.

                • Godwin’s Law not withstanding, following the example of the abbess, I think they could say “Our CP is not sexual” leaving unsaid “but our relationship is” if their consciences were clear about the non-sinfulness of their activities but they knew that it would be used against them in a bad way.

                    • And when the question is asked, is that it, or is the Bishop supposed to ask questions about the sex lives of those in CPs on a regular or semi-regular basis? This hardly seems an ideal state of affairs.

                    • That’s a very good point! I think the best a Bishop can do having asked the initial question and received a positive response is to impress upon said priest the necessity of contacting him if the circumstances change. But you raise a very interesting issue – renewal of assurances like renewal of CRB checks per chance?

                • Does a gay person who’s never had sex have an ‘erotic’ life? I’d say they do, even if only psychologically, as the presence of such same-sex desires requires them to disavow the heterosexual label. I imagine lots of straight guys are in relationship where they don’t get as much sex as they like, and plainly it’s ungentlemanly just to dump a women if she stops putting out even for a few months, but that absence of sex, in and of itself, is surely hardly sufficient to deeroticise the relationship.

      • A similar situation couldn’t be constructed with heterosexuals? Like “do you practice anal sex with your wife?” Would Bp Benn have the courage/cheek to ask that?

        • The point about checking regularly in case the situation with CPs has changed has been made but no one seems to think that should apply to married clergy.

          Bishop: Q1″Are you still living with your wife?” If no go to Q5Q2″Do you stiill cohabit sexually?”If no go to Q5Q3 “are you mongamous?”Q4″Do you indulge in any sexual practices that may cause the House of Bishops to lose their wigs, such as pegging?”Q5” Have you got a regular girl/boyfriend on the side?”Q6″Are you swingers”….and so forth and so on

      • I do think that heterosexual clergy who enjoy anal sex with their wives could do a lot of good by “coming out”, so to speak, if only in educating the Jills of this world ;-)

  2. Come on Peter, that last line is a bit bitchy! I’m sure a popular liberal blog like Madpriest (say) gets a lot of comments, but changingattitude.org.uk is hardly intended to be judged as primarily a Comment is Free or Right Minds hotbed of chat..

  3. I think that there’s a need to distinguish participation in salvation from participation in ministry.

    Grace holds the door open for all to participate in salvation. All offences can be forgiven. Commitment to Christ can be renewed. The focus is on the individual need.
    In contrast, participation in ministry must balance an individual’s empowerment and aspiration for service with the corporate need to maintain its credibility within whatever community we serve.
    Whether appointing deacons, or bishops, the selection criteria applied by the apostles involved an assessment of their public credibility (martyroumenous – of good report).
    It remains the case that if a person’s reputation is damaged, it will affect their ability to engender communal trust. The early Christians viewed Saul’s conversion with scepticism and apprehension. However immediately Paul began expounding the gospel in Damascan synagogues, it was some time before Peter, John and James gave him the ‘right hands of fellowship’. Eventually, Paul cemented his reputation with Silas: ‘men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. (Acts 15:24). That’s a rare witness today, but one that would allay church fears of recidivism.
    Until then, as Paul indicates before describing the sacrifices of true Christian ministry, ‘We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.’ (2 Cor. 6:3)

    • Yes, but people’s reputations can be damaged for unfounded gossip. The case of the man who committed suicide because he was – innacurately – rumoured to be one of the murderers of Jamie Bulger is a good example. I think smalltown clergy, whether high or low, liberal or conservative, will know of the village gossip types, who think they’ll get to run the church by spreading malicious rumours and hoping for the “no smoke without fire” yokels will be enough to make such lies sticks. Christians are called to forgive of course, but it’s a shame more yokel slanderers aren’t brought to the dock by proper clergy.

      • I’ve never liked the ‘no smoke without fire’ saying. Mainly because when very young I was accused of something awful that I hadn’t done. People are good at putting two and two together and getting five. I now never believe gossip about somebody’s private life. I guess even bad things that happen to us can have some positive effect on us.

        • Yes, it does bug me somewhat that gossip is largely regarded as benign in many a church circle. It destroys lives. Sorry about what happened to you.

      • Agreed. The real damage is when wrongful motives and purposes are assumed and insinuated into an interpretation of a person’s behaviour, or specific words. ‘I saw the vicar leaving the Edwards’ house at 1am. He’s a bit too familiar for my liking and they’re a bit too permissive for my liking’

        However, in most cases, unfounded gossip is just that: the groundless hearsay that cannot be substantiated by another oral testimony. The Christian standard of credible reputation or disprepute is the absence of contradiction among those who might accuse: ‘Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses’ (1 Tim. 5:19). Even when an accusation is entertained, the credibility and agreement of independent oral testimonies should be scrutinised to expose false accusers: ‘By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’ (2 Cor. 13:1)

        • Yes, I know of clergy who avoid being alone with women for just that reason. However obviously such a policy does leave them open to accusations of sexism (which we don’t condone on this here blog ;-))

  4. I always thought it was a bad idea to allow clergy to form CPs. At some point the church and the state are going to have to part. That should have been the moment to stand up against the change in law, because it was obvious that it was going to be pushed to the boundaries. You cannot make a pact with the devil; you will always, always end up dancing to his tune – as these comments show, with the nitpicking, and Keith Sharpe’s tweaking.

    Clergy should set an example to their flock in Godly living. How can they expect others to live Christianly if they do not? Two men (or women) shacking up together hardly does this, whether or not the relationship is sexual.

    • Is there not a case for two men, gay but avowedly celibate, to set up home together to provide mutual friendship and support? A Civil Partnership then offers them all the legal protection they need. What should our attitude be to this couple?

      • Back in the good old days, when we had the great Anglican fudge of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, which sort of worked, people could get away with all sorts of arrangements without too many questions being asked. However, CPs, along with gay activism generally, have forced the ‘telling’, which in turn has necessitated the ‘asking’, which is intrusive and horrible. I don’t suppose the asker enjoys it any more than the askee.

        If CPs had been done properly, to include any two cohabitees, such as siblings, then I think your scenario would be more acceptable.

        • I think you’ll find that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a Clintonian army fudge, abandoned because it didn’t work. To give one example. If someone asked what you spent the weekend doing, I’d imagine you might mention spending time with your husband. Putting the same question to a partnered gay person – which is a form of asking – would preclude them from answering honestly. Double standards.

      • Doesn’t proper celibacy involve a kind of commitment to singleness though? I’d have thought that a conservative Catholic, say, would regard someone who self-describes as celibate but who has an (albeit non-sexual) Life Partner as cheating somewhat!

      • Don’t you as a conservative not regard two, red-blooded gay men living together as making celibacy more, not less, difficult?

    • Come on Jill, why are two men living together in a sexless relationship living ungodly lives? Most young people (for example) don’t have any choice but to have flatmates, and personally I think being in a flat with one close friend (say) looks a more agreeable state of affairs that shacking up with three or four strangers, student style!
      That said, of course clergy should earn enough to not need to flatshare (the evangelical church I went to didn’t even pay it’s proper diocesan quota, but it still had enough cash to build a million quid plus vanity project new church hall, on top of pissing away thousands on wackadoo oversees missionaries, and to buy the lead pastor a west end bachelor pad when his wife left the ‘rectory’) , but surely Newman could have afforded to live alone if he’d wanted to – do you regard that arrangement as non-sexual but still unchristian?

      • I’m guessing they didn’t pay their proper diocesan quota *because* they had that amount of money. They probably insisted on capping it because they didn’t want to be paying loads more than everybody else. Probably didn’t make them many friends in the Diocese which probably has some struggling parishes.

        • Not sure how applicable this is to England, but here in Scotland we have provincial quota and diocesan quota; the church in question pays the latter, but not the former.
          Yes, good point about struggling parishes. I can’t believe how people who boast about the “success” of their churches, based in the wealthiest part of town can keep a straight face. I actually once had to endure someone, who lives in one of the wealthiest parts of Glasgow, boasting about how she lives in poverty (by which she meant that she only has the UK national average wage as her *disposable income*, donating the rest). Not exactly Mother Theresa among the lepers, eh? Another “fond” memory was of an arsehole flashboy surgeon boasting about saving a “few grand” a time because he gets his video cameras (not exactly a life sustaining necessity…) imported from china instead of buying them over here. Even worse, both of these proclamations were given from the pulpit!

          But, on balance, Glasgow church life is good. Pisky wise, we have far, far, far more gay priests than we have evangelical churches. Jill would have a stroke! ;-)

  5. Did Bp Benn’s endorsement of Stephen Green’s booklet Britain in Sin, where he advocated for the legalisation of rape within marriage and the [re]criminalisation of same-sex relationships ever get satisfactorily resolved? According to Ekklesia Benn withdrew the endorsement (not that Stephen Green changed it on the website) when the matter was pointed out to him in an email passed on to him by his bishop. I suppose the most charitable thing that can be said is that Benn hadn’t read the pamphlet through properly – who knows?

    http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16176

    Just checked; it is still there:
    “This makes interesting and disturbing reading. We desparately need to understand, as a nation, that our Creator knows what is best for us, and to return to His way as the best way to live.”
    Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes

      • It’s appalling that the bishop can’t get Green to take down the endorsement now it is withdrawn. He is now misrepresenting him – there is surely a case in civil law?

          • But isn’t it a bit more serious than the mere personal reputation of the bishop? Green is promoting hate and discord and trying to use the Bible to promote it. I am surprised the Bp of Chichester hasn’t been more proactive. I can see there is an argument that Green should be starved of the oxygen of publicity but I thought the BBC played a curve ball when they invited Green onto Question Time…and put that rottweiler Janet Street Porter on with him. His vanity blinded to what the game was…and he didn’t come out of it with a shred of credibility left.

            • How many members does Christian Voice have anyway? 200? Genuine conservatives should surely object to the way in which Green was presented as a Christian spokesman when he’s really rather more the UK Phelps.

    • I don’t think he can have read it – the bit about the right to have firearms, for instance. He probably just read the first sentence about loss of Christian values in Britain, did’nt have time to read the rest, and now is regretting cutting that particular corner.

      I think the Ekklesia website do their own bit of misrepresentation, though. I don’t think yester-Britain was a place where ‘men could easily beat and rape their wives’, more that this was something that the police didn’t get involved in, but left families to sort out themselves. They make it sound as if it was socially acceptable to give your wife a bloody nose! Actually, there’s still a huge amount of violence going on between couples that’s not reported, and, as people become more isolated from families and communities, there’s only the state left to sort it out. Perhaps we should return to the days of Church courts ….

  6. In fairness, “Disturbing” would certainly be one of the terms I’d use to describe Green and his demented outpourings (perhaps the lowest point in this blog’s comments section was when Jill took to defending Green after it was revealed he beat his wife)

    • It is horrific. The idea of forcing yourself sexually on anyone just because your are married is crackers – even if he thinks women “belong” to men and he can find support in scripture. It’s just mad. He has finally stopped sending me emails and postings when he realised I didn’t buy his prophetic pose.

      • *shudder* I don’t find support for that anywhere in scripture. Isn’t Paul’s whole point in the instructions about marriage that a man shouldn’t take advantage of the fact that his wife might in some ways be more vulnerable than him? There’s a passage that says you should give yourselves to one another, but I don’t see how you get from there to rape being ok.

        • If you view women as property then logically “owner’s rights” come into play. One of many reasons why those who bang on about OT moral values are not to be taken seriously. I think most contemporary heterosexual relationships are more like most contemporary gay relationships than they are like OT arrangements, and this is not a bad thing.

          • You’re missing my point, Ryan. I was pretty shocked myself when I discovered how recent the law against marital rape was. But put it this way, if we literally did everything we wanted, as long as it wasn’t actually going to land us in prison, what kind of society would we have? There’s more to the morality of a society than it’s legal code.

            I think Jesus, and Paul after him, made it very clear that the greatest debt we owe is love, not to be demanding our ‘property rights’.

        • Green’s was hardly a minority view. Marital rape only became recognised in UK law in 1994. Worth bearing in mind the next time conservatives are banging on about the Uk’s Holy, God-Given, Self-Evidently Good Marriage Law being under attack by teh evil gays.

    • Yes, I couldn’t believe it either. I somehow couldn’t imagine Mr Jill ever dared lay a finger on her! This is what I meant Ryan when I said sometimes the worst misogyny comes from women themselves.

      • Misogyny seems to have lost much of its original meaning, which was fear or hatred of women. It is now used as an insult to be hurled at anyone who stands in the way, or disapproves of, a radical feminist agenda, such as women priests.

        • Your last point deserves a hearty amen (although I think radical feminism has far more worrying expressions that women priests). So you can see why me and Tom object to Annallees throwing around slurs like “sexism” and “misogyny” instead of actually engaging with points.

      • Is that THE Stephen Green? Wow, this is up there with the time ++Rowan refused to answer my penetrating question on rose vestments and +Gene Robinson accepted my facebook friend request ;-)

        If the story was false, then can I assume that you took legal action under libel laws (not hard to do;as lawyers are prone to remark “London is a town called Sue”) and were awarded significant damages? If not, why not? Afterall, wifebeater is up there with rapist (perhaps a level down from paedophile) in terms of the worst slurs that can be directed at a person.

  7. Anyway Peter, are we not going to get some Doctor Who blogs with the new season starting? Might bump up your traffic to (even!) higher levels!

  8. That means a lot coming from the Stephen Green defender who appears to think that only *gay* men have an interest in pornography and anal sex! ;-) Jill, we’re discussing feminism. If you disagree with the pill, abortion etc then it’s a bid much to blame it on us blokes. Most men, also, want to settle down with a women who will love them and raise their children – not the proverbial “town bike”

    • I did post something earlier this morning, Ryan, but it seems to be ‘under moderation’. I don’t *think* I said anything rude – no ruder than usual, anyhow. I will wait and see if it comes up before I try again.

      • Hope it gets posted – I’m all in favour of the cut and thrust of debate! You might be surprised to hear, but most of my life has not been spent in gay liberal circles but in heterosexist, working class glasweigan ones. I have no objection to strong exchanges of opinion. That’s why we all hang out here! :-)

        • Well, I still can’t see my post, so I took Tom’s advice and clicked on my cute kitty icon, and there it was. Here it is again (in case anybody else is as thick as me when it comes to matters technical):
          It is difficult to determine the sex of violin bows, Fiddle Sticks, so I don’t know which you are – but I must say I agree with you, and that some comments from some of the blokes on this blog make my hair stand on end. They simply do not understand that a woman’s attitude to sex is completely different to a man’s, being complicated by emotional factors such as love, trust, babies etc. This cannot simply be written out of the female psyche by trendy so-called feminists. Every young girl dreams of love and marriage and a happy family, not quick wham-bams behind the bus stop. Some women might kid themselves that this is what liberation is all about, but it is not, and it has led to a lot of unhappiness.

          • Hey Jill I saw that message – reply above. It’s a bit much to blame guys for the pill and the sexual revolution. Sales in Ann Summers are booming, and it certainly wasn’t male viewers that made Sex and the City the phenomena it was.

          • Also, Fiddle Sticks ignored the following point in favour of going in a !!!! and ??? laden huff, so I’ll put it to you.

            it sounds like we agree that some generalisations about women not being suited for emotionless sex potentially have a degree of truth, and it comes down to thinking just how universally applicable such generalisations are. Would you say that women who profess to enjoy no strings sex are in the extreme minority (less than 10%) say?

            In my experience, do women’s tastes not change with age – for example, most guys who went away to uni will have came across (in every sense!) campus hoes in the 18-22 age group who profess to have no interest in marriage and monogomy. The same girls tend to feel a bit diffferent when they hit their mid 20s or later. Do you think women in the 18-22 age group who profess to enjoy casual sex are deluding themselves, putting on a front? (genuine question, I’m interested). It’s a bit unfair that 18 to 22 year old women can have as much casual sex as they want and that, when it comes to responsibility, men get the blame! Again, you will not find many (or any) self-respecting men who watch Sex and the City, read Cosmo or partake in any of the other media that present female promiscuity as natural and desireable.


  9. They simply do not understand that a woman’s attitude to sex is completely different to a man’s”

    Right. So why do you constantly regard things like anal sex, promiscuity, pornography etc etc as being GAY problems rather than male ones? Pornography is not a multi-billion dollar industry because of teh gays.

  10. Fiddle-sticks is, I gather, the new incarnation of Annallees, who said (or implied) that she’d be a bit less prone to fly off the handle. It was nice while it lasted. ;-)

  11. I’m surprised Peter didn’t insist on you calling the character The Doctor! ;-)
    As a feminist, I wouldn’t object to a female Doctor… ;)

  12. No, I’m not phallocentric (or a degree of solipsism being perhaps the human condition, not especially so) Let me stress again that feminism is not your private preserve. I cited actual, relevant evidence to support my very commensensical point that feminism was pro-choice and would not stop being pro-choice due to the current high rate of abortions. If you disagree with me, then the burden of proof is on you to, similarly, cite evidence. Being “shocked” and going in huffs, !!!! and ???? laden swooning emotionalism gets us nowhere. Surely you know there’s a very good reason why, so long after Roe V Wade, the pro-choice Democrat party attracts more women voters than the pro-life Republican one?

    • ‘ Perhaps then you could cite a few, instead of relying on flat assertion. ‘

      I don’t need to as you keep citing sources yourself that completely undermine your argument.

      You argued that women promoted abortion so that they could have promiscuous sex, as though they wanted it as some kind of contraceptive. You then quoted Germain Greer saying that the fact that abortion exists is actually evidence of oppression because men aren’t taking responsibility for preventing pregnancy in the first place. I actually discovered in the last few days that there was a ‘male pill’ invented at the same time as the ‘female pill’. It had far fewer side effects than the female pill, but, guess what? surprise, surprise. It didn’t catch on. All of this supports your point how?

      You keep arguing that feminism is all about women wanting to have promiscuous sex. I keep trying to point out to you why that might not be an aim of feminism. You then link to a site complaining about how women can’t have multiple sexual partners without being called sluts. What they meant by that was a woman sleeping with one guy, the breaking up, maybe sleeping with someone else. This is not promiscuous sex. By suggesting that women having more than one sexual partner is promiscuous or ‘slutty’, you’re rather proving their point that this view is very sexist. If a guy has a relationship with one girl, then splits up and gets into another relationships, you wouldn’t call him a slut, would you?

      So, here’s my point. Feminism is about women having the freedom to make choices – like breaking up with their boyfriend and not being considered ‘damaged goods’ because she’s slept with him. Is this what you define as ‘promiscuous’ behaviour? Pretty sexist attitude! What feminism is not about, is notches on the bed post.

      • That’s a lot of misrepresentation even for you. . Links to studies male pill please? I do hope it didn’t fail because it wasn’t very good, like the “female condom” that was unpopular due its cost and the fact that it didn’t make for a very fun sexual experience?

        And of course I know a number of women who take the pill quite deliberately because it puts THEM in charge, instead of relying on men (condoms fail, you know).

        I do not keep arguing that feminism is ‘about’ women wanting to have promiscous sex. It is about women having control of their bodies and destines INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO BE PROMISCOUS IF THEY SO CHOOSE
        Here’s some quotes from the website you claim I’m misrperesenting: And, no, there is no qualifier that slut shaming only refers to women that move from boyfriend to boyfriend (!) rather than casual sex.
        Put in the most simple terms, slut-shaming happens when a person “publicly or privately [insults] a woman because she expressed her sexuality in a way that does not conform with patriarchal expectations for women” (Kat,Slut-Shaming vs. Rape Jokes). It is enabled by the idea that a woman who carries the stigma of being a slut — ie. an “out-of-control, trampy female” — is “not worth knowing or caring about” (Tanenbaum, p. 240).
        “If all negative connotations are removed from the word, a “slut” is simply a person, most often a woman, who has had sex with multiple partners.”
        Feminism is not your private preserve that means what you want it to mean and neither, unfortunately for you, is slut shaming.
        Wikipedia on slut-shaming: Slut-shaming is the act of making someone, usually a woman, feel guilty or inferior for having strong sexual desires, having “too many” sex partners,
        and a Guardian article:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/09/stop-this-slut-shaming

        If that’s not enough, let me know how many more links you need. 10? 20? Slut-shaming has a specific meaning and, as with feminism, does not just mean whatever you like.
        If a man has sex with 20 women over 6 months he would be called a stud. If a woman had sex with 20 men over 6 months she would be called a slut. That’s a good example of slut-shaming. However I do think you could call both individuals promiscuous – that term, unlike ‘slut’, is not insulting.
        And again, i said that feminists do think abortion is too high a price to pay for women controlling their sexuality. Which is true. Feminism is pro-choice.

        • Perhaps, Ryan, dearest, the difference between us is that I have actually studied various forms of feminism over the past 200 years, and therefore I know that there is not one ‘feminism’, but many different feminisms. Many of the most politically radical ‘feminists’ were ambivalent about, if not postively against, both abortion and female promiscuity.

          More recently, have you actually read ‘The Female Eunuch’? The whole point in that book is that testosterone is the root of all evil, and therefore feminism should be anything but attempting to copy male attitudes, either in war, or sex, or anything else.

          If you can recall, my turtle dove, your original claim was that abortion and female promiscuity were somehow central aims of feminism and necessarily linked. It was this rash statement that produced the ?!? ??? response. Or, as our esteemed reverend Ould would put it, WTF?

          That feminists would reject the ‘slut’ label when applied to a woman who has multiple sex partners in a short period of time was never something that I denied. Nor have I ever denied that the notion that abortion rights, based on the notion of the woman’s need to be in control of what happens to her own body, has now become a central tenet of modern feminism.

          I admit, though, that I am no expert when it comes to contraception or the pharmaceutical industry. It is quite possible that Catholic Answers are also ‘lying morons’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcicDmZcH-E

          • On balance, I preferred your scweam and scweam until I’m sick approach to your patronising camp (turtle dove etc) above.

            Boasting about having studied 200 years (!) of feminism is, again, not the same as actually quoting evidence to support your opinions.

            Horniness is, to varying degrees, the human condition; it is not a “male attitude”

            I tire of your lies and misrepresentation. I think I’ll start quoting some of your prior statements in order to establish this.


          • It is quite possible that Catholic Answers are also ‘lying morons’:”

            I called the Christian Institute ‘lying morons’ – if you’ll recall, I posted links to support this opinion, which you ignored (presumably being in a huff at the time)

          • P.S. It’s the feminism that’s 200 years old. I have not been studying for 200 years! (although it sometimes feels like it)


            • I probably shouldn’t call myself a feminist, as I don’t agree with much of the feminist agenda.”

              I dare say you shouldn’t call yourself an ‘expert’ on feminism either.


            • Many of the most politically radical ‘feminists’ were ambivalent about, if not postively against, both abortion and female promiscuity.”

              Who, pray tell? Dworkin? And of course, finding MINORITY exceptions in no way negates the point that feminism, broadly speaking, is indeed pro-choice.

              • Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)

                ‘Women becoming, consequently, weaker, in mind and body, than they ought to be, were one of the grand ends of their being taken into account, that of bearing and nursing children, have not sufficient strength to discharge the first duty of a mother; and sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection, that ennobles instinct, either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born. Nature in everything demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom do so with impunity.’

                Wollstonecraft’s seminal feminist work. Here she seems to see abortion as unnatural and a result of the degradation of women. Her argument is that as women have come to be seen as sexual objects for men’s pleasure, they have become weaker in mind and body, and unable to function as mothers. What’s interesting about this section on abortion is that Wollstonecraft’s idea of a woman having control over her own body is the exact opposite of what many feminists argue today.A modern example of an anti-abortion feminist is Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland.respect, and those who violate her laws seldom do so with impunity.respect, and those who violate her laws seldom do so with impunity.

                • Ah, 2 centuries shy of modern feminism. Exactly. Perhaps you could elaborate McAleese’s credentials as a feminist thinker (as opposed to ‘successful woman’ ; if that’s the criteria, you could claim Margaret Thatcher as a ‘feminist’)

                  • It depends on how you define ‘modern’ and how you define ‘feminism’. Modern history in England begins with the
                    defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. In Europe, even earlier.

                    However, feminism is a movement that began around
                    the time of the French Revolution. The
                    OED defines it as ‘Advocacy of equality of the sexes
                    and the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of the
                    female sex NB with regard especially to property rights,
                    the marriage relationship, and the right to vote’.
                    Then there’s ‘radical feminism’, which is associated with left wing
                    politics and concerned particularly with the rights of working class women and
                    minorities. Also with the overthrow of
                    patriarchy.

                    Wollstonecraft
                    is generally regarded as the beginning of modern feminism, and radical feminism
                    (as opposed to the more conservative, evangelical movement of the nineteenth
                    century). The title ‘The Vindication of
                    the Rights of Women’ was based on ‘The Vindication of the Rights of Men’, which
                    argued that all men should have equal right based on their common humanity,
                    rather than rank or birth.
                    Wollstonecraft argued that women should also have equal economic and
                    political rights because the common humanity of men and women should come
                    before any difference of sex.

                    So here’s
                    the question: the minority of Western women such as Mary McAleese who argue
                    for, for instance, equal pay and opportunities for women in the work place, but
                    disagree with other feminists on the abortion issue, what are they if they are
                    not feminists? And the Muslim women who
                    are fighting for marriage rights (eg. end to enforced marriage, violence
                    against women) within their own countries and communities, but who cover their
                    heads and oppose the legalisation of abortion and seek instead for better
                    medical care for pregnant women. What
                    are they if they are not feminists? And
                    those who are trying to put a stop to the abortion and infanticide of girls in
                    India. What are they advocating if not
                    the recognition of a woman’s humanity as being equal to that of a man?

                    • Actually, I’m changing my mind. Maybe I will start calling myself a feminist instead of giving it up to a particular late twentieth century, Western form of the movement.


          • That feminists would reject the ‘slut’ label when applied to a woman who has multiple sex partners in a short period of time was never something that I denied.”

            Wrong. You’re lying. This is what you actually said:

            “You then link to a site complaining about how women can’t have multiple sexual partners without being called sluts. What they meant by that was a woman sleeping with one guy, the breaking up, maybe sleeping with someone else”

            Promiscous sex with multiple partners is not “sleeping with one guy, the breaking up, MAYBE sleeping with someone else”

        • “Wikipedia on slut-shaming: Slut-shaming is the act of making someone, usually a woman, feel guilty or inferior for having strong sexual desires, having “too many” sex partners”
          Well that covers a lot more than promiscuous sex. But here’s the interesting point that I want to get to. Is this the same as the male sexual culture? You can have strong sexual desires and not feel guilty about it with only one partner, or with none at all. And when women do sleep with multiple partners, is it the same as the idea of sexual conquest that men seem to thrive on? Or is there quite a different motive.
          I would still also argue that this aspect of feminism (ie. promoting a culture in which women are not judged or made to feel guilty about the number of sexual partners they have) is not a large factor behind the drive for abortion as a human right. Feminists are seeking to legalise abortion in some very conservative countries. Many of the women who have abortions are married, or at least in long-term relationships. I’m against abortion, but I’ll give the pro-choicers some credit – I think their main motivation really is that back-street abortions endanger women’s lives.

          • Slut-shaming’ can indeed cover more than just promiscuous sex; that in no way means that shaming a women for her sexual actions (including promiscuity) is NOT a form of slut shaming. Does the fact that pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry not rather suggest that male sexuality is not primarily about racking up ‘conquests’, Viking invader style? You seem to be proposing a weird double standard where men who enjoy promiscous sex (I find it ironic that you referred to multiple feminism but are confident about making generalisations along the line of “male sexual culture”) are coming as conquerers (in every sense! ;-)) whereas women have unknown but presumably more grown-up reasons for their promiscuity. University campuses are full of (pardon the language, but its offered in the interests of veracity) girls who go out to “score some c*ck” in the same way that guys go out to “score some p*ssy”. Heterosexual ‘pulling clubs” would not be pulling clubs of only the men had any interest in such encounters! And honesty is plainly more moral than dishonesty. A girl who sleeps around because she enjoys it, and says so, is surely preferable to the girl who feel obliged to pretend that she’s looking for a husband via one night stands as a result of societal pressure.

            The point about abortion and sexual promiscuity is that they are both implied by the logic of women having rights over their bodies and sexuality, not that either should be necessarily understood as implying the other. If the average number of sexual partners a woman had (assuming for the sake of argument that reliable statistical data could be obtained for this) was either DOUBLE or HALF whatever the current figure, surely it would in no way affect the opinions of most feminists on the right of women to have an abortion? As for back street abortions, many a Christian would say that abortion is acceptable, and only acceptable, when the life of the mother is at stake. That’s not exactly synonymous with the feminist view.


  13. I think most serious minded feminists realise this.”

    Really. Perhaps then you could cite a few, instead of relying on flat assertion. Feminism is (among other things) a political movement. Its foundational statements are well-documented.

  14. Actually, I think a lot of men would be up for a male pill. If we’re going to invoke anti-male cliches-cum-truisms then what about the one about men not liking condoms because they make penetration less enjoyable? Do you really think the sort of man who enjoys one night stands wants to get girls pregnant? It would put a bit of a crimp in his lifestyle, one would have thought!
    Greer advocating for contraception in no way represents an attack on the foundational feminist belief that women have a right to control their fertility and bodies, and that abortion should therefore be freely available. Abortion is, whatever else one may think of it, an invasive medical procedure so of course we would all like to see less of them.

  15. ” I called ryan a misogynist (it turns out he’s a sensitive soul, poor dear)”
    ” I’m Che Guevara with bling on, I’m complex” ;)

    Or, as the author of The Prisoner of Sex liked to quote,:
    “Do not understand me too quickly”
    :)

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