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Archive for the tag “adultery”

Beebo Brinker: book review

Beebo BrinkerBeebo Brinker by Ann Bannon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Today it is 50 years since I read this book, so I’ll simply quote what I wrote in my diary then, as I can’t remember anything about it, other than what I wrote at the time, 9th November 1962:

Ma says I am a corrupter — possibly so. She moans and makes a big issue of that book I bought, Beebo Brinker. It’s about a female homosexual who falls in love with two women, and makes a big balls-up before she decides who to live with. It was forced upon the stupid bitch in the end when she shacked up with a film star whose husband kicked her out. I don’t blame the husband — not that his marriage was much of a marriage at all — there were about three previous divorces. However the author is obviously a lesbian who is making propaganda for gays. She sanctions the selfish attitude taken by the “heroine” Beebo Brinker, when she expects to get off with a married woman.

Though I wrote in my diary that I bought it, I don’t have the book now. Since my mother disapproved of it, she probably threw it out when I was away at university. So I can’t write anything more about the book itself than that.

What I can recall, though, is why I bought it, and my thoughts about it. I had a couple of friends who were gay, and a couple more who had recently decided to become gay (I wrote something about one of them here). I couldn’t remember who the author was, so I Googled for it, and found this description of the book: “Beebo Brinker is a lesbian pulp fiction novel written in 1962 by Ann Bannon. It is the last in a series of pulp fiction novels that eventually came to be known as The Beebo Brinker Chronicles”. It also said that the author’s real name was Ann Weldy.

I’d read a couple of other gay pulp fiction novels by then, which had been lent to me by another of my gay friends. Back then, both in South Africa and in the countries where the books were published, homosexual sexual relations (at least between males) were illegal, and so the plots of many of these novels revolved around the fear of discovery. They seemed to me to be more propaganda than art, and in Beebo Brinker the thing that struck me most was the essential self-centredness of the protagonist. Books written by gay people don’t have to be like that, though writers in that genre manage to create that impression. Homosexual writers like E.M. Forster and Jean Genet, for example, have written books (and in the case of Genet, plays) of real literary merit.

There have been many stories about adultery, and some of them have also taken their place in great literature. King Arthur was conceived in adultery with the connivance of Merlin. It is central to the plot of Chaucer’s Miller’s tale. But in the case of Beebo Brinker only the Afrikaans word for adulterer seems to fit: eg breker, which literally means “marriage breaker”, and the focus of the story is on the essential self-centredness of the protagonist. I suppose I didn’t like Beebo Brinker for the same reason that I didn’t like Ayn Rand’s books. Beebo Brinker and Dagny Taggart had the same approach to life. Perhaps, since Beebo Brinker, Dagny Taggart and Ayn Rand are female (two fictional and one real), that makes me a misogynist, at least in the eyes of some people. But I suspect that there might be some females, and even some gay females, who would interpret Beebo Brinker in the same way that I do.

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Aids, Atheists, Condoms and Catholics

Some prominent British militant atheists, like Polly Toynbee and Richard Dawkins, have accused the Roman Catholic Church of being responsible for the deaths of millions of people in Africa from Aids, because of their teaching that the use of condoms (and other forms of contraception) is morally wrong. This, claim these atheists, has caused millions of Africans to die from Aids.

Hat-tip to The Pittsford Perennialist: Is the Pope Responsible for the Deaths of Millions of Africans? for the link to this article:

Shameless Popery: What Impact Does Catholic Teaching Have on AIDS in Africa?

This is a common meme. Arch-atheist Richard Dawkins used this same argument to argue that the Catholic Church was in the running for the major institution that “most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world.” So let’s tackle this argument head-on: Is the Catholic stance against contraception responsible for the AIDS-related deaths of millions of Africans?

Well, why not see what the data says? After all, these are the same atheists who routinely crow about being interested in real knowledge and reason, rather than faith. So let’s put their faith to the test. If the Catholic Church’s teachings against condoms are causing millions of Africans to contract AIDS, we should expect to see heavily-Catholic countries with far higher AIDS rates than their non-Catholic counterparts. So I decided to compare the rates by region and by country.

The post is quite interesting for the comparative statistics and graphs it gives for the rates of Aids infection, though one could perhaps argue for a long time over the accuracy of the statistics and the reasons for the differences.

But there is really no need for these statistics to show that the arguments of the atheists are not merely wrong, but also remarkably stupid.

I think it is generally accepted that Aids is a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). And one of the main reasons for its spread is sexual promiscuity.

The Roman Catholic Church, however, teaches that sexually promiscuous behaviour, such as fornication and adultery, is morally wrong. If using a condom is regarded as morally wrong, so is fornicating.

So why should people like Richard Dawkins and Polly Toynbee assume that people who have chosen to ignore their church’s teaching by committing adultery will suddenly start observing it by not using condoms while doing so?

They might well not use condoms while committing adultery, but it is highly unlikely that their church’s teaching on contraception will influence them when they have already chosen to ignore its teaching on adultery.

Or perhaps they think that Tom Lehrer’s satirical song about the Irish lass who murdered members of her family one by one is a serious piece of sociological research:

And when at last the police came by
Sing rickety-tickety-tin
And when at last the police came by
Her little pranks she did not deny
To do so she would have had to lie
And lying, she knew, was a sin, a sin
Lying, she knew, was a sin.

Jacob Zuma found not guilty of rape

Jacob Zuma has been found not guilty of rape.

  • Zuma poised for a comeback
  • Outcome a setback for women, say activists
  • Daughter’s testimony saves the day
  • President Mbeki, political parties accept verdict
  • Supporters celebrate as Zuma is acquitted
  • 1000 celebrate with him at his Forest Town home
  • Acquittal doesn’t mean the battle is over yet
  • Drama of the Zuma camp versus the Mbeki camp has not been fully played out

So read the headlines.

And the editorial and op-ed pages:

  • Judge did a fine job in Zuma trial
  • Not guilty, but not fit to lead

No, he wasn’t guilty of rape. But he was guilty of adultery.

I’ve skipped reading most of the press reporting of the trial, which has often meant starting the newspaper on page 5. The bits I did see didn’t seem very edifying. When the accusation first appeared, it seemed like a put-up job, coming soon after the decision to prosecute him as a spin-off of the Shaik trial.

So he wasn’t guilty of rape. But neither was Profumo, who died recently. Neither was John Prescott, whose behaviour was similar, and led to similar consequences. Should Prescott and Profumo have been reinstated since they were not found guilty of rape?

Zuma was guilty of adultery, but Jesus said of a woman caught in adultery, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Many still condemn Zuma, even though he was found not guilty of rape. But how many people can truthfully claim to be absolutely blameless of any sexual misconduct?

Judge Willem van der Merwe confined his moralising to a Kiplingesque comment, “If you can control your body and your sexual urges, then you’re a man, my son.”

But it might be worth going back a bit earlier in Kipling’s poem, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”

The fact is that we live in a society in which controlling sexual urges is, with a few exceptions, seen as unfashionable, and many seem to argue that it is cruel even to think such a thing. Among the exceptions are those who say that the outcome is a “setback for women”. This seems tantamount to saying that any woman who makes false accusations should be believed.

We live in a society in which sexual morality has become increasingly contradictory, with increasinly harsh penalties demanded for an ever-narrowing range of offences. If you can control your sexual urges when all about you are losing all control, and urge that you do too… you’ll be a freak.

And Jacob Zuma headed up the Moral Regeneration Movement. So what is moral regeneration? Committing adultery and saying that that’s cool, as long as it’s consensual and you have a shower afterwards to prevent Aids?

We may not all be able to control our sexual urges all the time. But the biggest failure is not having a sense of failure when we do fail to control them. Moral regeneration surely starts with repentance — confessing our failure and recognising that it is a failure.

An image of repentance

Yesterday the news media were reporting the death of John Profumo at the age of 91. For those under the age of 50 or so, who probably won’t remember it, John Profumo was the British Minister of War who was forced to resign in 1963 after a the biggest political sex scandal of the 20th century. He was sleeping with a prostitute who was also sleeping with a Russian spy, and that was a big no-no in the days of the Cold War.

I remember some of the jokes that went around at the time, when rumours of the scandal first started circulating, and Profumo was denying them. “Nil combustibus Profumo — there’s no smoke without fire” was one of the wittier ones.

Unlike the present day, politicians who resigned in those days could not easily return to a political career through the back door. Profumo did not return to politics, but spent the next 40 years working among the poor in the East End of London, supported by his wife, who was willing to forgive his adultery.

In reporting his death, the news media dwelt mainly on the juicier aspects of the scandal that led to his downfall, and mentioned his good works only in passing. As Shakespeare said, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”

Nevertheless, Profumo’s later life was an image of repentance, and an example that some of our present-day politicians would do well to follow. Perhaps our own ex-Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, could profit by the example, considering that the media are making as big a fuss over his sex life as they did over Profumo’s.

For those who might like to know more about the more important part of his life, his work at Toynbee Hall can truly be said to be an image of repentance.

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