13 November 2006

On display

I'm tired of silly articles like this that regard testosterone as a toxin.

You may have seen small children go into shops and grab things that appeal to them. Sometimes they do this in private homes. The lesson that responsible adults should be trying to teach them is: just because something is on display doesn't mean it's on offer.

We live in a society drenched with consumerism and sex. We are constantly told: if you want something, you can go out and get it. Sex can be a commodity in our society to some extent, but that doesn't mean it has to be - and religious organisations should be more helpful in helping people get over this than they have been.

None of the prophets of the great religions just shrug whenever a man caves to his desires, sexual or otherwise. After Hilaly's comments there were a lot of women being offended at being compared to meat, but what about men being compared to animals? The whole idea of religion, any religion, is to help you rise above your basic desires. Whether people lust after cleavage and long legs, cars or bling or drugs or whatever, the lesson should be the same: just because you can see it, and it's enticing, doesn't mean that you can just go and have it. Being a slave to your desires is a poor life, and in realising this, the laws of Australia should be the least of your worries.

So it is with "provocative dressing". It's one thing to see a woman walking down the street and to be titillated. It's another to think: even though she shows no interest in me, she really does want me to go after her, and that you can have a woman in the same way you can steal property. The man who gives into his desires in this way has failed as a man.

The religious leaders who failed to address this have failed their people. Part of the problem with a commitment to medievalism among the major religions - where nobody has any knowledge not sanctioned by clerical authorities, and where consumerism, sex and other temptations are simply wished away by ritual imprecations - is that they can't help reinforce the strength of character needed to resist the very real temptations we face in various ways. They can't reinforce that strength because that same strength might be used by followers to identify and stand against any clerical measures that go against their faith. They'd rather abandon a few desire-plagued sinners than inspire a bit of self-discipline: the best kind, it beats any other discipline imposed from without.

Nobody dressed "provocatively" in the Middle Ages, so railing against this is part of the retreat of religious leaders from helping people where they're at. It also shows what happens when you exclude women from developing clerical thought, but that's another matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment