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FGF Op-Ed
VIEW FROM THE NORTH
February 14, 2020

St. Valentine’s Day 2020:
Seeking balance in love and romance

by Mark Wegierski
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation

Toronto, Canada — On Valentine’s Day, the subject of love and relationships is on the minds of men and women in society. What sort of societal changes and influences have impacted on the rapport between the sexes? I intend, on this Valentine’s Day, to critique contemporary dualism. My hope is that society might move toward a more holistic and balanced life, rather than the fragmented and disassociated one often seen today.

Love is something that everyone wants and needs. However, many young men and women today are struggling to understand how best to attain it.

Love is something that everyone wants and needs. However, many young men and women today are struggling to understand how best to attain it.

The traditional Christian sexual order provided long-term stability to social relations. Men and women were expected to be faithful to each other, aim for life-long marriage, and have children. Birth control and abortion were illegal. In the wake of the sexual and social revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, the traditional Christian sexual order was radically overturned with numerous negative consequences – fatherless households, compulsive sexual promiscuity, addiction to pornography, millions of abortions, and so forth.

Men and women today are thrown together without any prior guidance into a cauldron of poisoned sexual relations. While living according to Christian precepts can provide great spiritual and psychological comfort, it is not a way of life that is actually practiced by most people today. For example, all the traditional rituals of courtship have been mostly abandoned today. Many men and women today simply do not live up to the Christian ideal. In the wake of the destruction of the traditional Christian sexual order, men and women still have to learn how to “court” each other or at least to figure out how to have the best and healthiest relationships. The author posits that trying to live a more holistic, balanced life, with a focus on genuine romance, is one possible way out of the current-day crisis.

The critique of contemporary dualism, with the hope of living a more holistic, balanced life, is an important aspect of the over-all critique of late-modern society. By “contemporary dualism,” I mean today’s fragmented, disassociated society that carries itself forward on highly contradictory paths. One of the facets of this critique is the fact of the triumph, on the one hand, of excessive rationality (as in the economic and technological spheres), and, on the other, of excessive irrationality (for example, in terms of certain elements of personal lifestyle, in the extremal aspects of some contemporary popular music, and in the burgeoning acceptance of various "occult" beliefs).

An example of excessive rationality in human relationships would be a calculating approach to what kind of financial benefits one could derive from one’s partner.

An example of excessive irrationality in relations between men and women would be wild, transitory romances where the partners are clearly incompatible and have nothing in common.

In the wake of the sexual and social revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, the traditional Christian sexual order was radically overturned with numerous negative consequences – fatherless households, compulsive sexual promiscuity, addiction to pornography, and millions of abortions.

Both these trends seem to increasingly expand at the expense of what was once the rooted ideational center of the society. The center roughly corresponds to the basically Christian outlook. Today, only the fringes or extremes are valorized.

This distinction is similar to Daniel Bell's perception of a rational, economic sphere of society, which is at odds with the antinomian, cultural sphere, as described in his book on "post-industrial" society, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. He posits that while at work we are rational interest-maximizers, at home and in our cultural entertainments we are wildly lawless.

It is also reflected in one of the catchwords of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World: that its denizens should be "adults at work; infants at play." Aldous Huxley meant by this that modern people were rational and competent at work, but their leisure and entertainments were infantile, never getting into serious thinking about society and the future.

Another interesting aspect of this critique is to look at the increasing disappearance of a properly-balanced psychological identity among men, vis-à-vis their methods of courting women. On the one hand, one sees the ravenous, hyper-sexual "stud"; and, on the other, the cerebral and introverted "square" or "geek." What was once the basic traditional male identity in this regard (which might be loosely described as "the hero or knight-errant questing for his lady" – or the ideal-type of the "gentleman") has come under the fire of both radical feminists and "sex-educators," who seek to disenchant traditional gender identities and relations. The balance of strength and sensitivity seems to have split (or been forced to split) into these two oppositions.

It could also be argued that the over-all, heightened sexual obsession of society – for example, especially in “porn” – but also in much of rock and rap music, TV, video, advertising, and film – is a social excess existing in parallel to that of the anti-sexual (or anti-heterosexual) type of radical feminism, both of which feed off of each other at the expense of the rooted conceptual center.

The emerging problem in male-female relationships, for many young women, is that “Mr. Rights” or Knights in Shining Armor are rarely found. Instead the young lady finds opposite extremes: on the one hand, a so-called “stud” who is interested only in a fling or hook up with no lasting relationship; or a “geek” who is respectful but too “nerdy” for the woman to be attracted to.

It is only when the mind, body, and soul of the person can be appreciated in a chaste courting and faithful marriage, that true romance will make a comeback.

Two popular movies which showed "masterful" men with a sadistic streak were 9 ½ Weeks (with Mickey Rourke) and Wall Street (with Michael Douglas). And now there is The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and its various imitators, including Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel. Ironically, the more assertive and masculine man today has overtones of sexual sadism. In earlier times, that kind of amplification of masculinity was not needed.

The phenomena of Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatrical-operatic interpretation of The Phantom of the Opera; the new Batman epics and The Beauty and the Beast television series (1987-1990) – which unfortunately ended in such a pessimistic way; as well as the good knight dressed in black in the 1980s movie Ladyhawke (who fights an evil, heretical bishop dressed in white) could be explained psychologically as representing some of the attempts for "the whole man" to re-emerge, in a world dominated by various contemporary correctitudes. The so-called “real man” has been repressed into the subconscious of society, so that now he must appear as tinged with “darkness.”

In a similar but somewhat less-positive vein, there is as well today the popular obsession with male as well as female vampire-figures, currently typified by Twilight. The vampire has often been a symbol of some type of secretly desired and forbidden sexuality. Nevertheless, the books and movie series were prominently identified as in fact being about the importance of abstinence, about the need to control one’s possibly destructive sexual appetites.

It could be argued that female psychological identity itself (vis-à-vis attracting men) seems to have sharply fragmented into at least three different aspects (although some of these divides were present, to some extent, in many traditional societies) – the faithful wife or companion; the sexual temptress; and the completely independent woman. The synthesis of the positive elements of all three of these aspects seems to occur ever more infrequently. Actually however to live in a life-long, faithful marriage should in itself be exciting – and it is comparatively rare today.

A return to traditional Christian moral norms would be the best option to return to a healthy society.

An interesting phenomenon is that typified in many young adult females, who tend towards incredibly intense obsessions with idealized "teen idols," who are very sexual figures to them, and create too high expectations for the future. Some years down the road, average men who are interested in dating women might be perceived as either too rough or too weak, and generally inadequate. Some males are also obviously prone to highly exaggerated expectations in women’s looks and sexual activities as a result of the continual media imagery of very sexualized and ultra-glamorous females.

It seems clear that in our self-centered, godless culture that genuine romance has been replaced with hedonistic and narcissistic flirtations with no lasting or meaningful friendship. It is only when the mind, body, and soul of the person can be appreciated in a chaste courting and faithful marriage, that true romance will make a comeback.

There are clearly a large number of areas today where the critique of excessive opposing extremes, as in personal psychology, social issues, politics, and culture, can be highly instructive. In the long run, a return to traditional Christian moral norms would be the best option to return to a healthy society.

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View From The North is copyright @ 2020 by Mark Wegierski and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved. Please forward this copyright info and links when sending to friends and colleagues.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer, social critic, and historical researcher and is published in major Canadian newspapers, as well as in U.S. scholarly journals such as Humanitas, Review of Metaphysics, and Telos, and in U.S. magazines such as Chronicles and The World & I. His writing has also appeared in Polish, British, and German publications.

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