Sexualized Conservatism

Via Pam Spaulding at Pandagon, we can find this sharp, pointy, paragraph-like object wedged near the tail-end of a 1991 article from Bush's new Surgeon General nominee:
At our Boston meeting, we spent some time discussing the complementarity of the human sexes. Although one could gather from the discussion of the consultants in scripture, theology, and Christian ethics that there may be some lack of assurance that the human sexes complement each other, I believe that it is possible to argue succinctly from an anatomical (structure) and physiological (function) point of view that the human sexes are indeed complementary.
According to Dr. Creep Me The Hell Out, I can see that what the Wife of Bath argued over 600 years ago is still under debate in some circles which he happens to frequent. Further, as Digby notes, Roger Simon's manlust over Mitt Romney's physique, while not equally creepy, is certainly both quite odd and also widespread among many conservative pundits:
This is on top of his earlier embarrassment from a few months back:

But Romney is so polished and looks so much like a president would look if television picked our presidents (and it does) that sometimes you have to ask yourself if you are watching the real deal or a careful construction.

Romney has chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest. On the morning that he announced for president, I bumped into him in the lounge of the Marriott and up close he is almost overpowering. He radiates vigor.


But, hey, at least Romney actually is a handsome, chiseled fellow. When they start going on and on about the babe magnet Fred Thompson or the hunky Giuliani I have to shake my head in wonder. There's something wrong with them and it has nothing to do with being gay or straight. This is way deeper than that --- so deep, in fact, that someone should do their psychology thesis on the subject. Why do so many male Washington courtiers have giggling mancrushes on phony Republican politicians? A question for the ages if there ever was one.
Conservatism is heavily sexualized, and these two examples are just the tip of the, um, uh, iceberg. From impeaching Clinton over sex, to making gay marriage the centerpiece of the 2004 campaign, to protecting child predator Mark Foley in order to try and hold onto FL-16, conservative politics has a tendency to be extremely sexualized. As I wrote two years ago:
If you hadn't already noticed, the modern conservative movement wants to control every aspect of sexual activity and intimate relationships. They want to control marriage, they want to control women's fertility, they want to keep teens from knowing about sex, they want to stop gay people from doing it, they want to ban contraceptives, they don't want anyone to talk about masturbation, and they certainly don't want to see boobs on television.
The conservative obsession with sex and the body is directly connected to their identity politics and cultural supremacist ideology. The identity they seek to force upon the rest of the country (and, indeed, the world) is not merely white and Christian, but also in line with "traditional" views of sexuality (which are often contradictory and nebulous). This presents progressives with a huge wedge opportunity, not unlike the immigration wedge (which is also identity-based) that is currently wrecking havoc on the Republican Party. Simply put, most people who vote Republican are not in line with theocon movementarian views on sexual identity, and if these theocon were somehow foregrounded in our national political discourse, it could create a long-standing, nearly permanent wedge within that party. Apart from the occasional Mark Foley type scandal, I don't necessarily know how this can best be accomplished, but it is worth thinking about. Many theo-conservatives want to find your porn, show it to your mother, and then tell her which positions she and her husband are allowed to engage in during sexual intercourse. It may sound creepy, and it isn't the sort of subject people enjoy discussing in public, but that many social conservatives hold such creepy beliefs would cause them a lot of problems if this sort of thing was discussed in public. I have to wonder if the conservative movement has long benefited from relative progressive silence of sexuality.

Tags: Culture, Ideology (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

Re: Sexualized Conservatism

Other than some event producing this wedge (ala Foley, but it would probably have to be worse) the way to drive this would be to have someone on the left act as a worthwhile standard-bearer.

There are plenty of spokespeople and activists who could fill this role -- e.g. look at what Jessica Valenti did without (really) trying -- but my guess is that most electeds are too risk-averse to back anyone's play; although, after watching the last debate, it seems that Democrats have realized that hatred for teh gay is not going to kill them. Maybe I'm wrong on this.

by Josh Koenig 2007-06-06 04:06PM | 0 recs
There's this ad idea I've had

  A married couple arrives home from an evening night out. The husband and the wife are feeling a little frisky and getting in the mood.

  A few seconds of mild, PG-rated foreplay follow.

  And then, just as it's about to get to second base, the wife gets an Oh Wait I Just Remembered look on her face. She pulls away from the husband and runs into the kitchen. The husband hears her making a phone call.

  The wife walks back into the living room, glum. "I'm sorry, honey. [Local Republican officeholder] just said not tonight."

  Voiceover: "Is this the world you want to live in? Don't give [Republican officeholder] a chance to do this to you...."

by Master Jack 2007-06-06 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: There's this ad idea I've had
Ha! If only there was some advocacy org that would run an ad like that. I bet something along those lines would be quite effective.
by Chris Bowers 2007-06-06 04:34PM | 0 recs
Producing It Couldn't Be That Expensive

Then debut it early on the web against one incumbent, and build on that.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-06-07 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

i don't really see how this is a great wedge issue.  within the conservative coalition, the non-theocons tend to be pretty pragmatic.  they may find the theocon issues silly or even embarrassing, but they recognize that a) indulging theocons is necessary to win elections, and b) they'll have no problem living their own lifestyles no matter how kinky or perverted they are, so who cares what laws the theocons get passed?

by corn dog 2007-06-06 05:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

Sexualized or not, Romney is still a draft dodger. Cheney had "other priorities" to avoid serving in Vietnam, Romney had 2 years of Morman missionary service in France.

Why didn't the Morman Church send him to Dien Bien Phu? That was the battle that was the undoing of the French in Vietnam.

Perhaps France was a little safer, and religion is always a good con job when wanting to avoid life-threatening situations such as serving "God and Country" in a combat zone.

by Hempy 2007-06-06 06:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

I'd guess because not that many Mormon missionaries were trained paratroopers. And because Mormonism and supporting French colonialism aren't the same thing. And because Romney was 7 in 1954 when the Viet Minh took the town.

Sure, maybe he avoided serving in Vietnam, but this is a bizarre way to put it.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-07 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

I think this has a lot more to do with christianity than is mentioned. Religion has always been about controlling behavior and if you control sex, you control the people. Take a look at how the bible treats sex, and how republicans today do, and tell me there isn't a connection.

by Nautilator 2007-06-06 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

Agreed.  When I read Orwell's 1984 for the first time a few years ago, one of the things that really stood out to me was the part about a much-anticipated scientific breakthrough:  the elimination of the orgasm.

by bartcopfan 2007-06-07 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

Having taught college and university undergraduates on and off for the last 15 years or so, my completely unscientific impression is that so many more of them are for at least some form of gay rights than was the case in the early 1990s, and so many more of them are now antichoice. I have no idea why that divergence has occurred.

by Aunt Martha 2007-06-06 06:56PM | 0 recs
Yup, I think they have

I have to wonder if the conservative movement has long benefited from relative progressive silence of sexuality.

But one thing we need to remember is that sex and sexuality is a double edged sword. It can burn brightly and warm us, but it can also burn out of control.  

by northcountry 2007-06-07 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

The conservative obsession with sex and the body is directly connected to their identity politics and cultural supremacist ideology. The identity they seek to force upon the rest of the country (and, indeed, the world) is not merely white and Christian, but also in line with "traditional" views of sexuality (which are often contradictory and nebulous).

I've been thinking this over for a while and this is the first time I've posted it anywhere.  I think it ties in well with biblical dominionist thought:  White, Christianist men have been regulating (and/or desiring to regulate) reproduction for centuries (millenia?).  

Think animal husbandry (no, the kind that increases beef, milk, and pork production!), selective breeding, and all that stuff.  

Gregor Mendel, who researched genetics/heredity?  A monk.

I'm sure y'all can come up with numerous other examples.  But it sure strikes me as from the same mold.

by bartcopfan 2007-06-07 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexualized Conservatism

Oh, and Master Jack?  I think your proposed ad is an excellent idea with a lot of potential.

With youtube on Teh Internets now, I think it could be shot and marketed virally for almost no money--plus it would bypass the MSM who (I predict) won't run it (where are all the condom commercials to this day?).  

To do a higher quality version couldn't be terribly expensive; you're just talking about a couple of (no-name) actors in a domestic setting and a phone for a prop.  You'd hardly need any CGI!  ;-)

As with the very effective Michael J. Fox/stem-cell research ad last campaign season, once it takes off, it could be easily modified for a multitude of other races, as you suggest.

Keep talking that up, MJ!

by bartcopfan 2007-06-07 01:10PM | 0 recs

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