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June 11, 2008



Great post, Mary. One of the saddest indictments against our generation is that we have traded the best that we can have for a cheap imitation.

Everyone agrees that those that have lasted together for 50 and 60 years show a love that is tremendous and enduring, yet our culture promotes getting together for a few minutes one night as a route to satisfaction.

We've been sold a bill of goods, and the culture tries to cover over any regret by telling them to get their next fix.

Tom Babcock

What a beautiful presentation of this concept. Women do differ from men, but I would propose that men, also, are unable to separate the physical "moment's pleasure" from the emotional "lasting treasure". There are many times this becomes ever so obvious, often in tragic and/or misdirected ways. I do not condone stalking, but is this inappropriate behavior, in part, a manifestation of this same hope, albeit channelled thorough manipulation, control, and domination.

Another not too infrequent situation is that of a man thinking he is only after a "moment's pleasure" but afterwards is willing to throw away a marriage to transform that new pleasure into a "lasting treasure".

My point might be that playing with sex can be dangerous if we ignore the emotional bond involved, the emotional bond that can develop even if we did not intend that to happen. Some try to downplay or scoff at the monogamous nature of the male of our species (I think Wendy and this site deal excellently with the monogamous nature of women), but do not nearly, if not all cultures have formalized norms and institutions to deal with this very issue?

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, among the ten, we have two commandments: Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "Thou shalt not covet thy neighnor's wife".

It is a very heavy read, but I would invite people to look at "Love and Responsibility" by Karol Wojtyla (yes, that Karol Wojtyla). Prior to becoming Pope, he spent a lot of time with young adults, and a lot of time dealing with their human sexuality. In anticipation of the challenge, what can a celibate know about sex? Well, what can a doctor know about disease? As a married man, I know, in depth, about only a single marriage--mine; and one person's issues and struggles in dealing with human sexuality--mine.


Not to get too far away from your great example but I'm reminded of a similar song with unfortunately less wisdom than Carole King though it hits on similar themes: "Say Goodbye" by Dave Matthews Band which talks about being lovers, just for the night, with some kind of understanding by both sides:

"Go back to being friends, but tonight lets be lovers, we kiss and sweat
Well turn this better thing
To the best
Of all we can offer, just a rogue kiss
Tangled tongues and lips,
See me this way
Im turning and turning for you
Girl, just tonight

Float away here with me
An evening just wait and see
But tommorrow go back to your man
Im back to my world
And were back to being friends"

Here, while supposedly wracked with emotion, what Dave's talking about seems almost transactional, where there's no deception involved: "I'll get mine, you'll get yours tonight and then tomorrow, we'll act like nothing happened." -- sounds like a SUPER plan.

Marcia Wilwerding

I don't think anyone could read these lyrics and *not* come away with the truths you have pointed out. Hearing the lyrics as a song is another thing. I've heard this song a gazillion times and never really registered what the lyrics were saying. It just makes me wonder how many other songs are out there which make the same point over and over again without being noticed. Thanks for your thoughtful insights. I really love and appreciate your work. You inspire me.

Modest Marilyn

No Mary, I don't think your reading too much into the song. I agree with you. Song lyrics can hold powerful messages and can be very representational for people. Plus, it does sound like that was what the song was about. No one wants to be used for sex, but that tends to happen a lot.

I honestly believe that the confusion between love and sex is one reason why teenagers are having sex in high school. I should know, I'm still in school.

Rofigo de la Mancha

Anyone have anything to say that isn't just self-affirmation? We can pull art from anywhere to justify anything till the cows come home, if we really wanted to.

* * *

It's possible to not lose respect for someone if you sleep with them. It really depends on the guy here. If the guy sleeps with her, and does so only because he can't imagine having sex without loving [her] to begin with, then yes, he will "still love [her] tomorrow". It's really just a matter of hoping that his love isn't just infatuation...

These days, though, lust is marketted more than love, so that's the idea extolled to youth. The things you hear the most in so-called "love" songs are mostly just euphemisms of sexual attraction. Combine that with vivid music videos, and boom, you have some pretty brainwashed adolescents.

* * *

By the way, back off the Amy Winehouse presumptions. I'll admit, she ain't the most modest dame, but even the most immodest lady deserves to be treated with civility. "(??!?)", really? Geez lady, it's as though because she's living a life that harms her-according to the modestly minded-you presume she doesn't "merit" singing that song. For those of you who like that Jesus Christ guy, I recall being told he hung out with whores, because even they deserved respect and compassion.

indecorous doris

i think that your post is a massive oversimplification. i think that some *people* suffer emotional consequences after every sexual encounter, and that some *people* expect that love and a relationship will follow such encounters. it is not a "woman" thing. it is a pretty man-hating stance to take that there is an innate, biological difference that keeps a man from wanting to respect and love the person he has sex with. that "truism" seems more like a crock that most people aren't buying anymore, because it's been proven wrong too many times. people feel all kinds of ways about sex, regardless of gender. can we start acknowledging that a certain amount of socialization may play into the fact that some men act like sex has no emotional implications?


Rofigo has a point or two, and I personally get tired of seeing the same straw man arguements over and over again. You ladies are capable of so much more.


I should point out here that Carole King wrote the melody: the words come from then-hubby Gerry Goffin, though it's reasonable to assume she had some input.

That said, you're not reading too much into the song: all of that is there, and then some. (Nor is it, despite the plethora of recordings by women and the relative dearth of recordings by men, at all gender-specific; we'd all like to know if we're being used.)


wow that is a wonderful example to use. I have always liked that song since I was a child before I even understood what it meant (yeah my parents weren't too strict with the music in my house!)

now when I read those words I wish someone had explained them to me at a much younger age! it could have saved me so much heartache.


An interesting observation and song. You wrote that it is "old-fashioned" then you follow by saying that despite this it is not "incorrect". Today we often assume what was "old" is "wrong" because of the hegemony (control through ideas) in our culture. When really, thoughts and actions of people are neither "good" nor "bad", but bring us closer or farther away from human moral perfection. For this reason sex needs to be apart of life where we do not use the other for our own pleasure's sake. Someone wrote about Karol Wojtyla's "Theology of the Body" before...It is a great book hands down. I can't get enough of it!


The lines "Tonight with words unspoken / You say that I'm the only one" really bother me. So basically, he says *nothing* about this being more than sex or anything about love, and she deludes herself into believing he's in love with her? If she wants someone to love her in the morning, she should look for someone who actually, you know, loves her the previous night.

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