The Right Coast

January 21, 2004
Pillars of modern morality
By Tom Smith

Reading the New York Times is like eating a big dish of pasta, knowing that somewhere in the midst of the tasty stuff there is a small pebble which sooner or later you will crunch painfully between your molars. I got all the way to the Arts section the other day before running into anything unusually objectionable. Then there was this. This review of the new Showtime series "The L word" which sports cavorting lesbians but which is really about how darn loyal and wonderful those beautiful, affluent, career-minded, did I mention beautiful?, lesbians can be, did not bother me for the usual reasons. The decline of public morality, blah, blah. What struck me was this little gem:

To some, that can seem like an oxymoron. There may be nothing wrong with performing Sapphic acts to entice the opposite sex, but it is hard to reconcile such tableaus with gay or feminist ideals of independence and self-respect.

Lines like these are a Times speciality. Let me see if I understand. Perish the thought that anyone would suggest it is immoral for say Mrs. Jones to have over her doubles partner so they can go at it until Mr. Jones feels ready. But wait, is this sort of thing consistent with feminism? Oh dear, we seem to have here a genuine moral conundrum, on the scale of those great dilemmas of freshman philosophy. It is sexually arousing, therefore good. That is one of the bedrock principles of Hollywood morality. And yet, it is perhaps inconsistent with feminism, which is, whatever else it is about, not about arousing men. I'm afraid this is all pretty deep water. Thank goodness we have the Times to guide us.