Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A qualified defense of rejecting Reese Witherspoon lookalikes

A lot of folks are talking about this passage from Ross Douthat's college memoir:
One successful foray ended on the guest bed of a high school friend’s parents, with a girl who resembled a chunkier Reese Witherspoon drunkenly masticating my neck and cheeks. It had taken some time to reach this point–“Do most Harvard guys take so long to get what they want?” she had asked, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I wasn’t sure what to say, but then I wasn’t sure this was what I wanted. My throat was dry from too much vodka, and her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to breathe. I was supposed to be excited, but I was bored and somewhat disgusted with myself, with her, with the whole business… and then whatever residual enthusiasm I felt for the venture dissipated, with shocking speed, as she nibbled at my ear and whispered–“You know, I’m on the pill…”
As one commenter noted:
What strikes me about that passage is that Douthat was almost precisely re-enacting the behavior of a sexually conflicted, conservatively-taught young woman who gets bedded while drunk (or even gets drunk in order to go to bed with someone) and doesn’t do anything about contraception because that would imply an intention to sin. Except his takeaway is that the partner who took responsibility for making sure there was no offspring is yucky.
Agreed. But a lot of the comments criticizing this excerpt are themselves really sexist: Men are perfectly within their rights, and perfectly normal, if they don't want to sleep with women who want to sleep with them. The reasons behind the refusal may be objectionable or gross (and here it sounds like they were), but the whole "real men never turn down sex" meme is itself pretty nasty.
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