The Sexual Revolution: Your Thoughts
Our episode with Louise Perry stirred up a lot of dissent and other commentary from listeners, including Rod Dreher. I reply at length.
A listener writes:
Thank you for giving your full-throated defense of — no, paean to — masculinity and the male sex drive! That it had to come from a middle-aged gay man is a sad commentary on the cowed submissive state of the progressive heterosexual males of the Professional Managerial Class (PMC), especially the castrati of academia. They wouldn’t have DARED say out loud that sex is inherently invasive.
That observation made this next listener understandably uneasy:
I very much enjoyed your episode with Louise Perry. However, I became uncomfortable with the discussion around violence/violation as a necessary and desirable part of intercourse. From the perspective of a gay man, that may make perfect sense.
However, for most women I know, the very best kind of relationship is one where the greater strength of the man is acknowledged, but this is held in check and used gently out of respect and love for their partner. In my experience, what women most often love and admire about men is their ability to do this, both in intercourse and as part of the wider context of a man using his power to sustain and support his family, rather than to dominate and overcome them. You did not seem really to listen to Ms. Perry on this topic.
I am a rape survivor. So I felt this part of the conversation strayed uncomfortably towards the acceptance of violence in intercourse as normal. This is widely promulgated in our society, often through pornography, and I believe it needs to be forcibly challenged. In my view, this is one of the most damaging areas of misogyny in modern society and is hiding in plain sight. We can think, for example, of the messaging amongst Metropolitan police officers and the appalling crimes of Wayne Couzens, as well as the crimes of R. Kelly. This, in my view, is why Ms. Perry’s book is so important.
Of course I agree. But I stand by my point that the sheer act of repeated, rapid penetration of another person’s body — which is intrinsic to humans and not all animal species — is inherently a form of violence. All the more reason to be extremely careful with it.
A recommendation for another Perry pod:
Earlier in August, Louise Perry and Jill Filipovic were on Bari Weiss’s episode entitled “Sex, Porn, Feminism: A Debate!” I commented that the next time the topic includes men, sex and porn, it would be best to have at least one man to offer the male perspective. I think women have difficulty understanding men’s sexual appetite, porn and masturbation. You challenged Perry way more than Weiss did, and that forced her to think more about her position and dig deeper into her reasons for the conclusions she makes.
Rod wasn’t a fan of my position:
What is astonishing — and depressing, as someone who likes and respects Sullivan — is how completely consumed he is by sexual desire, such that he believes the world should be ordered to fulfilling his sexual desire.