Friday, December 2, 2011

Sex Addiction vs. the Virgin Mary's Belt: If you doubt that men and women are really different...

The other day my Fave Radio Host spent an hour talking about sex addiction, the cover story of Newsweek Magazine, and the subject of a movie he had to watch tonight called "Shame."  As callers spoke about the slippery slope from internet porn to action, I listened  at home while reading the newspaper--a story in the New York Times headlined "In Russian Chill, Waiting for Hours for a Touch of the Holy."  Horrible puns aside, I was struck by the accompanying photo, captioned "Day and night, tens of thousands of Russians have been lining up outside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior for a glimpse of a religious relic."  The picture showed a grand Russian cathedral, illuminated in the night, behind a crowd bundled up against the cold.  The crowd was comprised entirely of women.

All this reminded me that men's natural inclination is to the physical, while women's is to the spiritual.

On the radio show, Fave Host reported statistics that 90% of those treated for sex addiction are men.  In contrast, pilgrims viewing the Virgin Mary's belt on display in Moscow are overwhelmingly female, not only because the belt is said to help with fertility (along with all other ailments), but because women tend to have more of a spiritual affinity. A 2009 Pew poll found women in the US more religious than men on all of the six measures they queried, including certainty in belief about God, daily prayer, saying religion is important in their lives, and church attendance.  Of these, prayer is likely the best indicator, since it provides no public recognition; while 49% of men say they pray at least daily, 66% of women do.

I learned that the Cincture of the Virgin Mary is a camel's hair belt said to have been worn by Mary when she died. She soon disappeared but then re-appeared to Thomas, to whom she gave the belt.  It's been hiding out in a Greek monastery where women are forbidden, until its present tour of several Russian cities.  The Cincture attracted two million Russian faithful even before its current, last stop in Moscow--where 280,000 mostly-women per day wait an average of 24 hours outside in bitter cold to touch its glass encasement.

This, of course, is probably of far less interest--at least to men--than sex addiction, which is being considered for inclusion in the new revision of the psychological disorders bible, the DSM V.  Sex addiction is likely to be defined as a driving requirement for sex of any type that interferes with everyday activities like work.  A Time Magazine article on the topic earlier this year described programs to treat the problem, which, it noted, is poorly understood.  It suggested that physical urges like eating and sex are usually treated in a 12-Step, AA-like process, which is difficult since these natural functions, unlike drugs, cannot be completely eliminated.  I find this interesting, because it is possible to live without drugs and also without sex, but not without food...but in any case, the overwhelming majority of patients for such treatment are male.

The difference between men and women is recognized in Jewish law, where women are excused from time-bound commandments, not only because they're busy nursing or caring for children.  Tradition suggests that women, being more inherently spiritual (after all, women, like God, create life) have less need than men for connection to religion. Among "connectors" are prayer (where men are required for the prayer quorum of 10) and wearing phylacteries, physical reminders to dedicate mind and strength to godly purposes.  In traditional Judaism, synagogue service leadership goes to men not because they're superior, but actually the opposite--they are inferior in their natural religious inclination, and the camaraderie of "shul" encourages their participation.  In egalitarian synagogues, often women dominate the organization as well as its leadership.

Tonight my husband saw "Shame," the Michael Fassbender, Carrie Mulligan graphic movie about sex addiction, and I was careful to stay out of ear-shot of the room where he screened it.  I don't want those kinds of images in my mind, like many women I know.  I focused instead on the stage production we saw together tonight beforehand--Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.  I much prefer a colorful musical with the ending--the same one religion offers, actually--of "happily ever after."


  1. Wow, Diane, thanks for the fascinating post! I didn't know about women being exempted from some of those commandments - and I agree that women are more inherently spiritual. In the LDS faith, men receive the priesthood - the power to act in God's name - for the same reason: it connects them to God and in service to others (since they can't use it to serve themselves). Feminists have been up in arms about how backwards it is that women don't get the priesthood, but the reasons are precisely what you said. It's not that women aren't deserving of it; rather, we don't need it like the men do. Anyways, interesting distinction. Thanks for bringing that to light!

  2. How utterly tormenting it is to see this sex addiction rising. Perhaps there exists a desperation in our American men toward this behavior as it has become "fashionable" or "fad".
    As with regard to Russia , I have many Russian, Ukraine , Belarussian and Serbian contacts. Of the exact "authenticity" of this supposed healing icon I cannot be sure of. But many contacts hate the USA and NATO because of KOSOVO,VIETNAM AND IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. They all tell me that the Clinton Administration conspired with OSAMA BIN LADIN and that the US Killed our own people in the 911 disaster.
    On YOUTUBE exists many many graphic uploaded photos of the victims of KOSOVO and extremely disturbing images of physical deformities stemming from the US using depleted Uranium which has increased radiation poisioning world wide because the reading was that for millions of years this "chemical" exposure will be circulating through our planets air. Having been a loyal listener of SRN news and Michael Medved, I wish to raise the alert that the east is accusing the US of deliberately "de-stabilizing" the middle east. Now also exists major financial treaty between China and RF as well as FSU coutries with China contribuing vast amounts of dollars to the Russian economy. China is also a fiancial contender for the US involvement in Africa.
    Russians and former FSU contacts believe they wish to re-unify but not as Communists but as a strong USSR as was before.
    Also , since Uranium depletion syndrome has also caused our IRAQ veterens serious exposure and many have cancer and tumors.
    So also as a mother of an autistic daughter with severe behavioral problems I also face a daily struggle as my Russian husband abandoned us. The financial devestation of single parents raising children on the Autism Specturm is ACUTE. I tell you with absolute truth. And I wonder if Uranium exposure has contributed to AUTISM WORLDWIDE??? As I continue to pray and hope for our America. I assure you that times are changing drastically. "Graphic pictures of Hillary Clinton are on streets of FSU countries with her dressed and superimposed upon HITLER. They claim we and NATO should be destroyed. Always there must be the constant inquisition in pursuit of truth of our media in America. I have a strong faith in Michael Medved compared to any other debator on politics. God Bless OUR WORLD, NOT JUST US BUT OUR WORLD. Maybe our new ICON should exist a graphic "blown up" Earth from view from space.
    I hope that Michael Medved will be able to console my worried mind, heart, body and soul. Thank You.

  3. Diane:
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights. Tell Michael I am a Roman Catholic lawyer, with some training in Jewish theology, and I have been a big Michael Medved fan for a very long time. You two are wonderful family role models.

    Allen Browning

  4. I loved this post, I too am LDS, (along with the first comment). I found this very interesting and I am in agreement about those images, some movies I have seen, I wished I never had, they bothered me so much more than my husband. I prefer the light hearted comedy of a good Cary Grant movie.