“The rumba is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire” [Blogathon 2/12]

“The rumba is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire” [Blogathon 2/12] June 11, 2012

This post is number two of twelve for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.  I’m responding to comments in the “Go Ahead, Tell Me What’s Wrong with Homosexuality” thread all day.  You can read an explanation of the Blogathon and a pitch for donations (even if you’re religious) here.

At some point in the long discussion of homosexuality, I asked why the Catholic church puts erotic same sex relationships and acts in the same category as erotic male-female acts in the first place.  I wanted to know why gay sexuality isn’t more like the tango or the rumba, which is an eroticism that is not directed toward procreation.  Cous replied:

Leah, to respond to your tango objection, if a married man and a woman were using tango as form of masturbation, it WOULD be wrong for the same reasons that that two women having sex is morally wrong – since you’re asking for the Catholic perspective, “Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.” (CCC 2351)…

As Jerry says, the philosophy behind this isn’t just about homosexual sex acts, they’re principles that apply to any activity involving the sexual organs qua sexual organs and/or the pursuit of sexual pleasure. People outside and inside the Church have a hard time believing that she puts masturbation, non-vaginal sex (even heterosexual married couples are not off the hook here), contraception, IVF, fornication, etc. all in the same tent, but she is extremely clear that these are all violations of the same moral principle.

I still find this confusing, because it sounds like there’s an assumption being made that the pursuit of sexual pleasure necessarily involves the genitals, and thus, is masturbation.  But human sexuality is extremely diverse, and genital stimulation isn’t at the top of everyone’s list.

So, if you find something else more pleasurable or erotic, is it off the table as long as you find it equally or more arousing than genital stimulation.  (This is where I start to wonder how much you have to enjoy kissing, fencing, or witty banter before it’s verboten, no matter the gender of your partner.)

I still don’t understand why genitals are qualitatively different than every other part of the body and uniquely problematic.  It can’t just be the procreative argument, because the bits of a woman’s genitals that involve pleasure are not necessary for an act to be procreative.


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