Friday 2 December 2011

For pudding is the pan…

         Have you sent in your submission on same sex 'marriage' to the Scottish government yet? See previous post and  here

As I’m just putting the finishing touches to my submission to the Scottish government consultation on same sex ‘marriage’ (due in before 9 December) feverish thoughts of straight pride marches or other street protests cross my mind as the next step in the campaign. Straight pride marches? Might get Tesco sponsorship?The men could all dress up in straightforwardly manly apparel such as tweed suits whilst, to celebrate their complementarity, our lemans could be at our side, chastely but pleasingly dressed, followed by our scholae of homeschooled children.

In between the staple of Gregorian Chant (CanticumCanticorum?) we could sing rousing choruses of Purcell’s ‘Man is for the Woman Made’. (Straight priders of slightly Jansenist leanings might well prefer to translate the lyrics into the decent obscurity of Latin…)

All together now!

Man is for the woman made
And woman for the man.

As the spur is to the jade,
As the scabbard for the blade,
As for digging is the spade,
As for liquor is the can,
So man is for the woman made,
And woman for the man.

As the widow, be she maid,
As the wanton, be she staid,
Be she well or ill arrayed,
Queen, slut or harridan, So man . . .

As the sceptre to be sway'd,
As for night's the serenade,
As for pudding is the pan,
As to cool us is the fan, So man . . .

A serious point behind all this is how deeply the relationship and complementarity of man and woman is built into high Western culture. To view that encounter between man and woman as simply part of a smorgasbord of ‘whichever bits of our bodies we chose to stick in other people's bodies’ (in the words of Suzanne Moore) is not just to abandon a particularly satisfying type of groping but to find oneself exiled from a sensibility which has provided most of the greatest art of the West.

There are arguments for doing that. (I’d regard them as bad arguments and the abandonment of that sensibility as indeed ‘cultural vandalism’.) But whatever else needs to be said, it is not a negligible choice, but a highly serious one. It is certainly a choice that requires a greater cultural attention than the sort of fluffy romanticism  devoted to it at the moment.

Intimacy and types of intimacy matter. What one chooses to love is both a symptom of and a basis for a sensitivity which structures much of how we live and see the world.



  1. Straight people don't have to advocate the type of sexual activity that is chosen, naturally and without pressure, by the vast majority of mankind. They select what Lazarus calls 'a particularly satisfying type of grope'. But what about that small number for whom such a grope is not only unsatisfying but, in all truthfulness, is impossible. Apart from that difference, these are people who may also honour fidelity against promiscuity. We cannot suggest that marriage as understood by the Church is open to them. However we can welcome a secular recognition of a permanent relationship. It doesn't help to belittle their genuine difference.

  2. Frederick, first may I thank you for your critical comments! I've been venturing out into the Scottish non-Catholic blogosphere over the weekend and getting a good kicking in the comboxes. Your polite but challenging points are a welcome chance to engage with a differing point of view at a level beyond that of the nursery.

    Your comment here deserves a fuller response than I can give it just now (anyone else is welcome to of course!). I will return to it in a full post this week, I hope. One of the blogposts that best resembles my own views is It's well worth reading in its own right, quite apart from it being a suitable (but temporary and partial) response to you.