I am not religious about checking my site meter or my blog stats, particularly when I’m not blogging much, and lately I haven’t been. But I generally try to check them once a week or so, just because.
About a year ago I noticed that there was a lot of traffic to my blog from some site called Real Adult Sex. This totally freaked me out, for so many reasons. First of all, I figured it was a porn site, and I didn’t want to visit it, because (believe it or not) I’ve never consumed internet porn and sort of wanted to keep it that way, plus I have heard that a lot of porn sites infect your computer with all sorts of nasty spyware and so forth. Secondly, I couldn’t imagine why a site devoted to “real adult sex” would be linking to mine, because although I write a lot about sex, I write about things like how it sometimes sucks and how I used to be a prude (and sort of still am--hence the fact that I’ve never visited an internet porn site). I didn’t see why that would appeal to the readers of a site discussing real adult sex.
Then traffic from that site dropped off--though it didn’t go away completely--and I just quit worrying about it. Recently, however, it picked up again, and I thought, all right, I don’t care if it is a porn site; I have to know what’s going on. So I followed the links back.
And it’s not porn. (At least I wouldn’t consider it a porn site, though some people might, because it’s got photos of human bodies without a lot of clothes on.) It’s a blog about sex, written by a straight guy who uses the name Figleaf and takes feminism seriously. He refers to himself as both “a libertine prude” and “a prudish libertine,” which are each a label I think I could apply to myself, so I can see why he might find my stuff worth noticing from time to time. His blog is actually pretty great, and I feel stupid and sad that I missed out on reading it for a year because I was overly cautious about sex, in all the ways my church taught me to be. The most recent link to my blog has to do with cheese and why it’s a nice thing to lick off a body. (Just one more thing I’m really glad to know about--it sounds way better than the chocolate sauce or whipped cream business--but don’t see myself doing any time soon, ‘cause I’m feeling more prudish than libertine these days.)
I added Figleaf to my blog roll, though I had to think about where to include him, because I don’t have a section for sex. I almost went with feminism, because as I say Figleaf writes about feminism and critiques patriarchy, but decided in the end on "not so easily classified" which is not accurate, because the blog is quite easily classified; it just doesn't fit into the classifications I use. (There's a lesson there.)
The other thing showing up a lot lately in my blog stats are a score of google searches for “Ben Christensen misogynist.” Longtime readers will remember Ben--the gay man who married a straight woman in a Mormon temple wedding, wrote a really uninformed and poorly reasoned essay about doing so (which was published in Dialogue), and likes to google himself so he can see all the unpleasant things people say about him and then get angry and indignant and bothered, which led him to my blog, since I had pointed out both the dubious nature of his choices as well as the inadequacy of his defense of them.
Anyway, I’m not sure what’s up with the 20 “Ben Christensen misogynist” searches these days--probably has something to do with the fact that the most recent issue of Sunstone includes an essay based on the paper I presented at the 2006 symposium as part of the panel I organized on marriages between straight women and gay men. The essay appears in an issue foregrounding women’s voices; if you’re interested in Mormon women, you should check it out.
I’m pretty happy with my essay, which is the longest piece in the issue. There’s one subtle thing about it I wonder if anyone will notice unless it's pointed out to them: I tried to include references to lesbian experience wherever possible (which wasn’t so often because the essay is, after all, on relationships between straight women and gay men) and to privilege them whenever I mention them, writing, for instance, “lesbians and straight women” or “lesbians and gay men” or “gay women and men,” etc, so that lesbians always come first. I did this because the more I examine the issue of homosexuality and Mormonism, the more I notice how lesbians and their concerns are excluded from most discussions of the topic--so often it’s as if lesbians don’t even exist, or if they do, their experiences and concerns don’t matter as much as those of gay men. I wanted to show that although I was not focusing on the concerns of lesbians, I was at least aware of their existence and advocate for their rights.
I’m also fairly satisfied with the critique I offer of Christensen’s position, which I purposely kept pretty restrained. I talked to the editor quite a bit about how lousy and misogynist Christensen’s essay was, and how remarkable it was that the editors and respondents at Dialogue didn’t see this. I worried that some folks at Dialogue would be upset by the fact that I also take them to task ever so briefly for not seeing how truly reactionary, conservative and unenlightened Christensen’s essay is, but the folks at Sunstone pointed out to me that Dialogue published it, and they needed to take their lumps.
Anyway, for those of you who are here because you want to know why I applied the title misogynist to Ben Christensen, well, here are a few of the primary reasons:
1. He is so thoroughly the beneficiary of patriarchy that he can’t even recognize where his privilege begins. He can’t see, for instance, as I pointed out in yesterday’s post, that his decision to court a straight woman proceeded from the very beginning from a position of power and privilege.
2. In his essay, he shows that he is concerned only with the ways that hetereonormativity and its attendant customs and practices have hurt him, even though the primary victims of heteronormativity are women.
3. In his comments on my blog, he reveals that he is so indifferent to and ignorant of the impact of patriarchy in the lives of women that he believes, as he states explicitly, he is above it and can define his relationships with women entirely on his own, despite a list of the ways he chafes at how society defines and restricts him as a gay man.
4. As I discuss in my essay, he felt entitled to expect the support of women and feminists for his positions and arguments, just because, even though he never stopped to think about the ramifications for women of his positions and arguments. Seriously: would women’s lives be better if even more gay men decide to court and marry straight women, asking them to agree to lifelong fidelity in a marriage that forecloses the possibility of true erotic attachment, just so the guys can be dads the heteronormative way and "fulfill heavenly father’s plan," which is what Christensen’s argument boils down to? (Why not just let gay men marry and adopt, so they can be dads in a way that has far less impact on women, and makes them happier in the first place?) And is someone who expects the support of women and feminists but never stops to ask a question like that, a friend or a foe of the feminist cause and women in general (however decent or not he might be to individual women)?
5. He doesn’t bother to learn about the context.
6. In other words, he advocates for the continued privileges of men, at the expense of the well-being of women, and he does so from a position of ignorance and entitlement.
Anyway, my thanks to Figleaf for the links, and to Ben, well, I hope you get whatever you want most, because as I mentioned yesterday, I don’t know what to wish for you: that you never fall madly in love and so find it easier to stay in the marriage you committed to (even though you can admit in your writing some of the ways in which it is deficient), or that you do fall in passionately, madly in love but end up dealing with divorce. I want the world to be a place that makes it easier for you to be happy, provided your happiness doesn't come at the expense of someone else's full humanity--actually, that's what I want for everyone. I just wish you were able to want the same for women--but for you to want that, you'd have to renounce the position you took in "Getting Out/Staying In," and I doubt you're ready to do that.