RESCHEDULED: Pruss Event this Friday

This Friday February 7th at 4:30pm in McCormick 101, Professor Alexander Pruss, a philosopher at Baylor, will be visiting Princeton’s campus to givea public talk about Christian Sexual Ethics and its philosophical and theological foundations. After the talk, a  group of Anscombe members and Christian student leaders will meet with him for dinner. We’re really looking forward to the talk and dinner because Professor Pruss is one of the most brilliant Christian philosophers today.

We’ve invited him to speak about sexual ethics because he’s recently published a book One Body on the topic. Professor Robert George called this book “quite simply the best work on Christian sexual ethics that I have seen,” and we recommend this review on Public Discourse to get a sense of it.

(Pruss’ lecture was originally scheduled for December but due to inclement weather and flight cancellations we had to reschedule for this week)

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Please check out the Facebook event for the talk itself! Also have a look at Professor Pruss’ blog, which he updates almost daily with interesting philosophical posts.

Black Swan

by T.A. ’13

Natalie
Portman stars as a ballet dancer in one of the biggest movies of 2010 – the
critically and highly acclaimed film Black Swan. Billed as a
psychosexual thriller, the movie combines reality and fantasy to create a very
artistic piece of work. Especially praised for their performances were lead
actress Portman, who plays the character of Nina, and supporting actress Mila
Kunis, who plays Lily, a rival dancer and Nina’s alter ego.

                While
the film definitely had its high points, it was very disappointing to see the
subject matter portrayed as radically hyper-sexualized. Lily’s seduction and
eroticism are constantly juxtaposed against Nina’s more reserved demeanor,
which the ballet director constantly tells Nina to abandon. Throughout the film
Nina is told to be more sexual, more sensuous, and more seductive. Lily and
Nina go out to a bar where they pick up two guys, and Nina returns home
(blasted drunk) boasting to her mother that she slept with them. In one scene,
Nina and the director are in his house, where he asks if she is a virgin. She
insists that she isn’t, to which the director replies, “Well then there’s
nothing to be ashamed of.”

                I
am not ashamed to admit that on at least four separate occasions, I closed my
eyes in the theatre because the sexual nature of the film was obscenely
graphic. Nina is shown masturbating multiple times, and in one particularly
disturbing scene she engages in a sexual act with Lily. It speaks volumes about
the callous attitude our culture has towards sex for such acts to be shown on
screen.

                The
shocking and the sensational have increasingly become a staple of the media,
but this film unabashedly overstepped even existing boundaries. While I felt
that the story was in general well told and the acting was in general good, it
became very difficult to enjoy the film given the perverse attitudes it took
towards sex and sexuality. It is disappointing that Kunis and Portman (no doubt
actresses capable of acting well) must receive their first Golden Globe (and,
probably Oscar) nominations for such a disappointing film.

 

Virginity Added to List of Sexual Disorders in DSM-5

5586-VH.billboard-thumb-200x150-5585.jpg

No, I’m kidding. Don’t believe everything you read online. The 5th edition of the APA’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” due out in 2013, will include no such entry. But riding back from NY on the train recently, I had a glimpse of what such a future might look like: on the walls of many of the train platforms, there were ads in plain black and red print blaring, “Still a Virgin? For Help Call 888-743-4335.” Some Googling revealed that it was a promo for an upcoming movie called “The Virginity Hit,” co-produced by Will Ferrell. According to the movie’s site, the R-rated movie is “a comedy about three pals documenting the progress of their socially-awkward friend, who tries desperately to lose his virginity.”

It may be true that the “Virginity Hotline” (see here for details about what happens when you call it) and the movie are just for laughs. But they are laughs that require the audience to buy into the idea that there is something pitiable and almost shameful about being a virgin, especially a male virgin. When I first saw the ads, I was relatively sure they were a joke, but what made me pause was the chord of familiarity they struck in me – I had heard this message many times before, especially on campus. The message generally takes the following form: “The only reasons you could have for being a virgin are 1) outdated religious hangups or 2) your incompetence – you tried but no one would take you.” It’s by no means a universal sentiment at Princeton, but I’ve encountered it often enough, especially through my involvement with the Anscombe Society, to be thoroughly tired of it and amazed at how stubbornly people hew to this belief. To see this message reinforced by these movie ads brought the alternate reality of this entry’s title another disturbing step closer.

It’s too soon to come to a final verdict about the intentions behind “Virginity Hit” and the effects it will have on social perceptions of sexuality, since the movie hasn’t been released yet. Perhaps the movie’s directors and actors will have found something different or even insightful to say about virginity by the end of the movie. However, you’ll forgive me for not being terribly optimistic.

Brave New World and the Commodification of Sex

by Shivani Radhakrishnan

5333-brave-new-world-thumb-100x152-5331-thumb-150x228-5332.jpgIn an effort to catch up on some summer reading (and to fill gaps in my own reading), I started Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World a few days ago. I was surprised to find just how pro-family the book is, particularly as the commodification of sex is presented as an especially dystopian aspect of the “brave new world” that Huxley describes. 

Huxley’s state eagerly rewards pursuing sex without commitment–characters like Lenina find it unthinkable that someone would require exclusivity or permanence before sex. But the heroes of the work are Bernard Marx and the Savage, two characters who find Lenina’s view of sexuality disturbing. Marx, for instance, wishes she wouldn’t consider herself just “another piece of meat.” The Savage, too, finds Lenina’s view inhumane–he consistently constrasts her lack of sexual restraint with the love of Shakespearean characters.

Huxley’s cautioning of a sexuality removed from permanent and exclusive commitments in marriage is articulate and insightful. 
Brave New World is certainly worth a read (or a re-read) when you get a chance.