Monday, March 03, 2008

On Honor

Does it ever happen to you that a word clearly tries to climb up your face and into your brain?

The word "honor"* has been knocking on my door for a while now, starting with two posts by Rod Dreher (crunchycon, as he calls himself), a conservative Christian who posts on Beliefnet. The first of these posts "The Bride's a Slut. They Call It Progress" was all about a woman who wanted to get married in a dress which revealed the tattoo on her back. Dreher found this slutty. He would have preferred the bride to act like a virgin even if she wasn't one:

I should be clear that when I said earlier that I missed old-fashioned hypocricy, I meant that I don't really expect brides today to be virgins on their wedding day (though I hope that they are), but I wish that they would still honor the ideal by the way they comported themselves on their wedding day.

He then got some second thoughts after hearing Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist who used to be a Muslim, talk about honor killings, but not enough to retract his condemnation of the bride without honor.

In the second post Dreher discusses men-as-sluts, to be an equal-opportunity moralist, I guess:

UPDATE: What it fundamentally comes down to is whether or not there is any such thing as honor, and if so, whether it has anything to do with sexual behavior. I think the answer to both questions is "yes", and that it should apply equally to males and females.

Fascinating, isn't it? The same post refers to honor in men like this:

Time was a woman might have respected and been grateful for a man who wanted to treat her honorably, according to traditional standards.

Honor clearly has to do with sexuality, but whatever Dreher might say, only for women. Men are not subject to honor killings, and when they treat women honorably the point isn't that they deny women their precious bodily fluids but that they don't insist on receiving sexual access.

So what is this sexual honor women should have? Is it virginity or chastity? Probably, given this little poem:

She offered her honor.
He honored her offer.
And all night long it was honor and offer!

Or this statement:

I'm defending her honor,
which is more than she ever did...

Now contrast all this with the following statement by the front-runner in the Republican presidential primaries, John McCain:

McCain: I want our troops to come home, but I want them to come home with honor and in victory. To concede defeat would strengthen al Qaeda, empower Iran, unleash a fullscale civil war in Iraq that could quite possibly provoke genocide there and destabilize the entire region. The consequences would threaten us for years and, I am certain, would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would impose even greater sacrifices on us.

I doubt McCain was talking about the troops coming home all chaste or virginal. The male concept of honor has to do with great deeds or general upright behavior. The female concept of honor has to do with keeping your legs crossed.

Interesting, huh?
*All bolds in this post are mine. To caressingly pick out the terms of interest.