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Why not a national masturbation?

By Glenda Buya-ao Claborne
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 21, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Glenda Buya-ao Claborne

It's not only a matter of power, or authority, or ethics - it's also a pleasure," French intellectual Michel Foucault once said on the subconscious pleasure parents derive at watching over their children's sexuality after the 18th century furor over children's masturbation.

If I believe Foucault, it's not hard to imagine that Kenneth Starr must have had an intensely pleasurable ejaculation when his report was finally delivered to Congress. I would think he's also looking forward to the release of the videotaped Clinton testimony today so he can have an even more massive one.

Credit must be given to many Americans for saying, in so many ways, that there is no way they will join Starr in a national masturbation over the president's or anybody else's sexual secrets. I understand that most Americans are fed up with all the unnecessary and unwanted sludge dumped on them.

But if there is anything I have confirmed from this bizarre turn of events, it is that sex is the center of the universe. To shut up about it would be to miss understanding the glue that holds and disgusts us all together.

Let us understand, for example, the seeds of Puritanism in this peculiar American sexual mess we are in now. The Puritans, some commentators would tell us, left Americans a legacy of sexual prudery which has crippled this nation's ability to come to terms with the realities of sex.

Some qualification is in order here.

A careful reading of the history of Puritanism would show that the Puritans, far from being sexually naive, had in fact mulled too much over the realities of sex. So much so that they mobilized their manners and social institutions in order that men and women can enjoy both the carnal and spiritual pleasures of copulation in marriage.

The Puritans' sexual naiveteacute; was not in prudery but in their ambition to integrate the demands of conscience with the pleasures of the flesh. They sought to infuse steadiness into the fluctuations of sexual desires.

Human nature, however, has asserted itself repeatedly to tell us that sexual desire in both men and women can be anything but steady.

Many classical Greek and Roman authors developed a view of sexuality that acknowledged the peaks and valleys of human sexual desire. The classical view that the power of sexual interest lies not in its constancy but in its moments of intense but fleeting lust persisted into the medieval period.

During the medieval era, everyone, from peasants and monks to kings and popes, was expected to fail in their sexual commitments. Some social historians would tell us that the medieval culture of sin, guilt and repentance developed from this expectation of failure.

Perhaps the French retained some of this medieval culture of sin, guilt and repentance, or at least the expectation of failure to have not found it a big deal to see Mitterand's mistress, love child, and wife all at the late French President's funeral.

The Puritan's holy and noble, but emotionally exacting, demands on their bodies and souls may have a parallel in our present-day strivings to make a wife be both a man's home and harem, and a husband to be both a woman's succor and stud. [Picture]

Perhaps the disillusionment with Clinton's character is, at some level, disillusionment with the promise of a truly equitable relationship between the sexes.

The disillusionment can also be a reminder that an Oxford and Yale education and the highest office in the land, such as Bill has, do not the libido tame. Not even a woman like Hillary, who in all respects seems to embody the integration of mind, body and soul that our modern spirituality is assiduously trying to achieve, can satisfy all of Bill's needs.

At this point, I want to propose to Congress the following measures, which would acknowledge a U.S. president's sexual urge while also honoring moral concerns:

1. Institute a Depressurizing Room (DR) by the Oval Office. (Windowless, please.)

2. Stipulate that one of the First Lady's duties is to proceed to DR when necessary. (Come on down, Hillary!)

3. Equip the DR with a Fellating Machine. (First Ladies have to go to Greece or Ireland sometimes.)

4. Throw in a towel and a telephone. (Presidents can't be distracted too long from the crucial task of talking to congressmen with nicknames or to sugar plantation owners in Florida. Don't ask me about the towel, you dummy!)

5. Avoid, by all means, another government shutdown. (An idled presidential mind and an intern armed with intense eye contact, pizza... you know now how those things can escalate to impeachment.)

So there. Sex and morals. We love 'em, we hate 'em, but they keep us going.

But I'm not done yet. Next week, I'll twist Monica's ear (uuummmm! With a pinch.)

Glenda Buya-ao Claborne is an undeclared graduate student and can be reached at Her column, Sitting on the Fulcrum, appears every Monday.