Overkill In the Battle of Love and Relationships

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By Maria Padhila

You know that point when you’re arguing with someone and it starts escalating? And both sides start digging in their heels and pulling in more and more supporting examples, and expanding the argument, and making more points and counterpoints until you’re shouting “This all goes back to your being a carbon-based life form!” and your partner is shouting “We’re not going to settle this unless we blow up the universe and start over!”

Poly Paradise at Burning Man. Photo by Eric.

Typical. Some people think you can solve anything with another big bang.

I think this is the point we’re reaching with the sex and relationship wars. We’ve escalated into overkill. At the same time as we’re seeing increased civil rights and changes in policy and legislature, and increased acceptance everywhere around us, welcoming different identities and relationship forms, we’re seeing an opposite reaction that’s so over-the-top it verges on parody.

Check out this case in point. But don’t be sipping your tea while you watch it. It’s a spit-take waiting to happen. Brigham Young University in Idaho released a helpful video cautioning against porn and masturbation that uses images and language comparing touching your dick to being shot at in the trenches on the front line. Or, as one commenter put it, to being in “the Battle of the Bulge.”

The jokes have abounded about this one. Even Jay Leno talked about it on The Tonight Show, re-titling the video “Saving Ryan’s Privates.” But The Daily Beast won the headline award. Here’s their take:

Self-Love is a Battlefield

The temptations of the Great War are many. The battles are real, and the strategies are clever. The enemy is cruel, ruthless, and relentless. We must not underestimate the danger. We must be vigilant… and valiant.”

Confused? So are undergraduates at Brigham Young University’s satellite campus in Idaho. A motivational video released by the school’s Housing and Student Living office urges students to report friends, roommates, or themselves if they suspect that they are masturbating too much. Hoping to combat the “social stigma against those who speak up in the face of evil,” the video urges BYU students to not leave the wounded on the masturbatory battlefield.

The video’s protagonist, a “lonely, confused young man” whose roommates ignore his onanistic impulses until he becomes addicted to pornography and quits attending church, is shown injured on a World War I-style battlefield. His friends, after hesitating for fear of being a “tattle-tale,” rescue him in the midst of heavy crossfire and celebrate his return with a round of (non-pocket) pool. The reformed porn addict shares a knowing look with his roommate, who is always there to lend a helping hand.

We need a tissue.

Others have said they find the video a trifle homoerotic, and as someone who prefers gay porn for its generally great-looking guys, I have to say I agree a little bit, and give a big thumbs up!

Most reactions centered on the disbelief that people can still “think this way” in our enlightened times. After all, didn’t we see, just in the past few weeks, all kinds of advances in LGBT civil rights, including a mass marriage on prime time television? An NFL draftee who came out as gay? Facebook changing to allow gender identity variations? LGBT leaders, entertainers and bestselling authors giving speeches in the nation’s capital? And a lot of people are pretty much yawning at it all, or saying sure, or applauding.

Just the other day on a poly forum, people were discussing whether being poly could affect your security clearance (an everyday deal in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia area), and the answers were that no, it had never been an issue, as long as you were out, because the sticking point has always been whether you can be blackmailed, and others said being poly hadn’t had career repercussions. How’s that for a big “you’re poly, so what.” I love it.

But we’ve also seen attempts to limit not just abortion rights, but birth control rights, and such attempts are serious and ongoing. We’re watching a televised sports spectacle occurring in a country where it’s illegal to be gay. We’ve seen reports of gay people imprisoned, starved and whipped in countries under religious law. The thought of those men sneaking into the Nigeria prisons to bring food and news makes me want to weep.

It’s on, all right. And it’s deadly serious. But one way you can tell that this one is winnable — even in those places under disgusting and horrifying religious law — is that those who are oppressive are so over-the-top. You don’t get that heated and crazy unless you know you’re losing. And if they use that kind of energy in the skirmish, the opponent just has to stay cool and let them burn themselves out. Just keep making the points and hold the line in the human rights laws, just keep jabbing at the lies and pretensions, just stay strong and honest. Just keep laughing.

That’s not going to turn the situation in Nigeria around. But the saner we are, the crazier they look, and the harder it gets for them to justify their position. The wing nuttiness is getting intensively crazier and more destructive as it burns out, but it’s dominating a smaller and smaller space. What did they say against marriage equality? That it would mean “the death of the family.” Overkill again. Who says things like that? Who imagines that that’s rational or effective as an argument? Eventually, it’s being proven wrong and absurd.

The Mormon video is a lighter example, and really, in some ways, I’m inclined to say let everyone have their propaganda. Because progressives will always make better movies, ones that will make everyone change their minds all over again. We’ll always be better artists. We’ve won that battle right out of the gate.

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10 Responses to Overkill In the Battle of Love and Relationships

  1. pam says:

    Maria, on reflection it could be that vieux con implies old romantic (stretching the absurdity definition)?

    you need a french native!

  2. pam says:

    S’il vous plaît technically but (and thanking you for the courtesy) tu for me: s’il te plaît

  3. pam says:

    perhaps better than ‘If it doesn’t’ is ‘In any case’

  4. pam says:

    and not only about oneself – the song again – and one’s experiences but until one is no longer ‘con/ne’ one isn’t even very useful as human being

    In french con isn’t literal, but often used casually to indicate something wide/general like stupidity or unawareness or even absurdity.

    This is not very well expressed

  5. pam says:

    (sorry that sent itself – perhaps you can cut and paste and delete this one if you like?) the authenticity stuff is my ‘take’

    If everyone is as authentic as they can be wherever they are your level of authenticity evokes the same in who you are talking to (usually). If it doesn’t it is a matter of increasing your authenticity in the ensuing debates or wherever stuff takes you

    happy sunday!


  6. pam says:

    Maria I can’t translate to do it justice it isn’t so much in the literal translation as what is meant and that is a transposition that you probably have to do in your mother tongue? It is a song about rites of passage, losing innocence and naîvete (I don’t know how to spell in english even) being real and not unrealistic. And until you have had an experience(s) which really crash all your ideals and expectations you can’t think other than in your own box and so you can do a load of careless stuff (like everyone does) until you know better and align yourslef with what is the best good (not necessarily your own best good which before you weren’t aware could be different, or in any case your own best good was always the priority.

    If everyone is as authentic as they c

  7. mariapadhila says:

    translation, s’il vous plais! see, i’m not even sure if i have that phrase right 😉

  8. pam says:

    ps possibly we are all des cons d’autrefois: we didn’t ‘know’. When you ‘know’ you stop being inappropriately. Since knowing is a moment to moment thing – it is always possible to not know.


  9. pam says:

    Maria I’m not sure. Perhaps enough to get ‘over’ ourselves and get sober

    I heard this song today which seems to fit: Brave honest sober generous

    Tant qu’on ne sait pas, qu’on ne sait rien
    Tant qu’on est de gentils petits chiens
    Tant que la petite santé va bien
    On n’est pas la queue d’un être humain

    Tant qu’on ne sait pas le coup de frein
    Qui vous brule à vif un jour de juin
    Tant qu’on ne sait pas que tout s’éteint
    On ne donne quasi jamais rien

    Tant qu’on ne sait pas que tout éreinte
    Tant qu’on ne sait pas ce qu’est la vraie crainte
    Tant qu’on n’a jamais subi la feinte
    Ou regardé pousser le lierre qui grimpe

    Tant qu’on n’a pas vu le ciel d’étain
    Flotter le cadavre d’un humain
    Sur un fleuve nu comme un dessin
    Juste un ou deux traits au fusain

    C’est une chanson, une chanson
    Pour les vieux cons
    Comme moi, petite conne d’autrefois
    C’est une chanson, une chanson,
    Qui vient du fond, de moi
    Comme un puit sombre et froid

    Tant qu’on ne sait pas qu’on est heureux
    Que là haut ce n’est pas toujours si bleu
    Tant qu’on est dans son nuage de beuh
    Qu’on ne se dit pas je veux le mieux

    Tant qu’on n’a pas brulé le décors
    Tant qu’on n’a pas toisé un jour la mort
    Tant qu’on a quelqu’un qui vous sert fort
    On tombe toujours un peu d’accord

    C’est une chanson, une chanson
    Pour les vieux cons
    Comme toi, petit con d’autrefois
    C’est une chanson, une chanson,
    Qui vient du fond, de moi
    Comme un puit sombre et froid

    Tant qu’on ne sait pas ce qu’est la fuite
    Et la honte que l’on sait qu’on mérite
    Tant qu’on danse au bal de hypocrites
    Qu’on n’a jamais plongé par la vitre

    Tant qu’on n’a pas vu brûler son nid
    EN quelques minutes à peine fini
    Tant qu’on croit en toutes ces conneries
    Qui finissent toutes par “Pour la vie”

  10. Judith Gayle Judith Gayle says:

    Well written and provocative, as usual, Maria — thanks!

    I once asked my [bi] ex what he thought of the movie The 300. He’d seen it, I hadn’t and I’d always found the Spartan story intriguing. He said it was eye candy. Ditto the Mormon movie, I guess.

    Isn’t it interesting how being uninitiated equals “purity” while being experienced means “polluted?” And the Fundy’s think Sharia law is evil, while they seek to perpetrate their own version on us all. Bah humbug!

    Thought this guide to the 51 Facebook Gender Options would be enlightening to post:


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