Here’s a blast from the past for those of you who were old enough to watch movies in 1989:
This movie came out when I was 10 years old, and I remember watching these opening credits and being like, “Wha…?!?!?”
The Story I tell myself about sex and gender is…
Unlike the last couple clips in which the journey of sperm towards the egg was seen as an epic journey, fraught with pitfalls and dangers, this time around the whole thing is one big party!
And, as usual, this version of things reflects both truth and untruth. Let’s take a look.
Story #1: From the man’s perspective: Impersonal Pleasure is equated with Joy
The man in this case (played by Bruce-Willis-sperm) is basically a party-boy: He’s out for a night on the town with his buddies, looking for a good time. The problem with this depiction is that it falsely equates pleasure with joy.
For sure, sex is pleasurable and fun. In some ways, it can be like a big party. But this video also communicates a bit of flippancy about the whole thing. Sex, in this case, is a fun affair, but it can’t properly be called “joyful” because it lacks the undertone of dignity that true joy requires. To illustrate this point, I’ll quote C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory, since C.S. Lewis is the greatest theologian who’s ever lived when it comes to matters of joy and desire:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. … It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics…
“This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
In the above clip, the man is out for a good time. But it’s a flippant kind of fun, that may exclude an acknowledgment of the beauty and significance of sex.
Story #2: From the woman’s perspective: Subtle misogyny
In this case, the story of sex from the woman’s perspective is… no story at all. She’s not even present! There’s not the slightest hint that there’s a real female person involved in this story. The sperm (who is depicted as male) is active and sentient, out to have a good time. But the woman is an impersonal object: She has no voice and no personality, and there is no hint of how she feels about any of this. The man in this case isn’t looking for intimacy or connection; he’s just looking for a good time.
So what do we learn?
Hey, I’m not trying to be a wet blanket here. There is joy and fun and even humor in sex, and I’m not really offended by the video. But this video does remind us of two important truths about the real story of sex:
Number one, sex is fun! It’s meant to be. Hooray.
Number two, sex is supposed to be personal. Sex becomes degrading when it is more about pleasure than about intimacy. The husband who uses his wife for pleasure in this way – without caring if he actually connects with her or not – is not loving her. And the wife in this case may be a victim of her husband’s objectification, or she may be equally guilty – if she offers her body but withholds her true heart (i.e. “Ok, let’s just get this over with”). This, also is not love, for it lacks true generosity.
(And by the way, the gender roles in this case may be reversed: The wife may objectify her husband and the husband may withhold his heart. I just describe it this way because that’s how it happened in the video.)