Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A little dignity, please?

I understand the purpose of the exercise. The teachers in question were hoping to help straight students better understand and accept their homosexual counterparts. It's a noble gesture, and a kind thought. I have issues with whether or not one can "educate" or "enlighten" by subjecting students to what can only be classified as sexual harrassment. But other, better blogs have dealt with that aspect of the story. I prefer to deal with this one:

Asking people very personal, intimate questions, is RUDE.

We used to know this. You would no more ask someone how they know they liked guy bits, than you would ask a lady how much she weighs. At one time, there were limits on what was socially acceptable. The discussion of deeply personal, private affairs, was limited to ones mate, and the closest, most intimate friendships in ones life. A new bride might discuss her wedding night with her best friend, her husband, and in rare instances, maybe her mother. The only quizzes on the subject might be filled out furtively in the pages of a Cosmo magazine.

But she'd be unlikely to discuss the matter in a public, classroom forum, with her teachers and her classmates. Even today, such raw, personal frankness is unlikely to be warranted amongst certain levels of society. I did not grow up particularly well-off, nor did I grow up in a ghetto. But no one I grew up with would have ever had a friendly chat about their sexual predilections in a high school classroom. It was not done.

Of course, most of us would never have felt the need to march down Main street in a purple thong, groping our significant other, either. Most of us do not need to identify ourselves by our sexual history and choice of partners. Ones worth and value is predicated upon more concrete things- family, religious affiliation, community ties, employment capacity, and the magnitude of one's own character. But across the board, a certain segment of humanity now revels in matters once too ugly to discuss in polite society. It's an entire substrata of our culture. One afternoon watching daytime talk shows is enough to illustrate this; indeed you can turn on Maury Povich and see scores of women shamelessly declaring that they've bedded so many men they can't account for the parentage of their children. You can take a seat on a park bench in any town and overhear the coarsest of language coming out of adolescent mouths. You can spend an afternoon in your county courthouse and see no end of men being charged for making unsupported babies with women they never had any intent to marry. And even nice people, decent people- who would never discuss their own sex life in public- will speak frankly about birth control, venereal disease, and the lewd sexuality of others. Their own pecadilloes need never see the light of day, but their eyes glint enthusiastically speculating about celebrity bastards and Who Might Have Died From Aids.

We as a society have lost all sense of decorum. We need to rediscover the virtue of personal dignity, to stop poking our noses into everyone else's business, and to stop airing dirty linen in public- our own dirty linen, and anyone else's. Who you sleep with and why, should be of interest to only yourself, and your lover. Everyone else's concern about it can only be prurient, and demeaning.

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