[Trigger warning: rape, sexual abuse; General Warning: graphic sexual language]
To summarize, the debate revolved around this quote from Douglas Wilson (who has been so ungracious in his response that I'm not even going to link to him):
However we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.My husband and I observed the debate over these words from a distance. Honestly, it was a lot less stressful that way. :-)
But as time passed, the words in question began to sound vaguely familiar to me. And then I remembered...
Nearly 10 years ago, during my freshman year at NYU, I sat on my bed in my shoebox-shaped dorm room, and I read something very similar for my Intro to Gender and Sexuality Studies class.
Now, for those who aren't familiar, the NYU Gender and Sexuality Studies department is about as likely to agree with hierarchical Christian men as, well, I don't know... Mark Driscoll is to agree with Rob Bell? John Piper is to agree with Joel Osteen? No, no, seriously, um... I can't even think of a comparison. Let's just say that we're talking about two groups of people who do NOT see eye to eye.
So today I finally decided to find the original words that I remembered. And find them I did!
From The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir (383-385):
However deferential and polite the man may be, the first penetration is always a violation.... In coition man uses only an external organ, while woman is struck deep within her vitals.... She is overpowered, forced to compliance, conquered.Now, I'm not going to pretend to be a De Beauvoir expert, but the shared perspective of intercourse as conquest is too haunting for me to ignore. Honestly, it leaves me with more questions than it does answers. But here are some initial thoughts:
1) I am ready for people to start seeing sex as more than intercourse alone. I don't want to get too nitty gritty, but I believe that sex happens more often than intercourse. Sure, intercourse is one type of sex, but it's not every type. And until we start seeing those other acts of sex as sex as well, I'm going to have a hard time being on the same page as you. Goodness, when you go to donate blood and they ask if you've had unprotected sex, they're asking about all of it, not just intercourse. Let's all get on board with a broader definition. If we start to see sex as the full experience it is, I think it's hard to say that it's inherently hierarchical.
Here's a small test to give yourself to start thinking about the term differently: If the man orgasms, do you think sex has occurred? What if the man does not orgasm but the woman does? What if no one orgasms?
2) I think both De Beauvoir and Wilson are right about intercourse in some key ways, but they are reflecting only the Fallen nature of intercourse. (One aspect of this Fallenness is the restrictive view that sex equals intercourse.) As a Christian, I would expect Wilson to teach a redeemed view of sex and sexuality, but instead, he seems to embrace Fallen sex as if that's how God intended it to be. Honestly, this just makes me sad. Christian men and women, let's not be the ones perpetuating the muck of the world, okay?
Now, like I said, I don't have much else to offer. Those are my two main thoughts after making the connection between Wilson and De Beauvoir, and I still have a lot of processing to do. This processing probably won't happen quickly, but I do welcome your feedback on the matter. I'd especially love to hear your thoughts if you have studied De Beauvoir in depth. I certainly have not.
So, your thoughts on this intersection of these two usually-disparate worlds?