Re: Celibacy: Everyday Presentations

Douglass Drozdow-St.Christian (stchri@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Mon, 11 Dec 1995 16:25:31 -0500

apropos of bob's comments on celibacy, a few questions:

first, the leap from celibacy to spouselessness is one my mind won't make
and so i am not certain i follow bob's reasoning in his off the cuff
typology. the spinster, the homosexual and the catholic preist may have
many things in common but celibacy seems not to be one of them.
spouselessnass perhaps, except that not too many north american gay men
or lesbians would agree. rather, their spouses just have the wrong bits.

now celibacy, as i understnad it, refers to the voluntary refusal of
sexual intimacy and as such seems to be person centred rather than
derived from its relationship to soem other practice [ in this case, bob
seems to suggest that celibacy in everyday life is a reaction to or
explanation for reproductive failure]. what bob seems to me to have
categorized are discreet classes of 1] the unwed and 2] the
heterosexually inactive. Since the celibacy of the catholic priest is a
mystical vow, of the spinster is either a refusal or failure of marriage,
and of the homosexual is the absence of heterosexual sex, i wonder if bob
is typing too varied a cluster of phenomenona.

and betraying a curious but not uncommon bias which overdetermines issues
of sex or lack of it in heterosexual terms.

let me offer a different "typology" of the celibate, from a limited
fields of experience, whre celibate means the refusal of sexual intimacy,
not sim0ply its abseence. i would exclude the accidentally celibate, such
as bob's virginal spinsters, since they would appear to be celibate in
deed only...

1. the spiritual - such as those priest, celibacy as an expression of or
as part of the pursuit of some spiritual state [or grace, superiority
[not the catholics who have long acknowledged that celibacy actually
hinders their capacity to minister to their flock in some ways]

2. the self-improving - celibacy as a kind of kinky yuppie exercise to
make one either a] a better more focussed person or b] more sexually
focussed by avoiding wasted pleasures

3. the pathological - literally, a fearful retreat from sex as something
either materially or psychically dirty

4. my celibacy, my gift...a kind of saving it the right one model of
refusal where having saved it is more of a gift than what was saved

5. to avoid danger...celibacy as a strategy of avoiding the dangers of
sex [ of which the anthropological literature is rife with examples]

6. the guileless...the celibate who doesn't know he or she is celibatre
because sex just seems never to have taken hold in their maps of the world

anyway....none of these need be spouseless...indeed, having a spouse and
being celibate are not necesarily incompatible

dougl st.c.

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