Sunday 21 March 2010

Was Tolstoy right with his Kreutzer sonata?

This is a cover anyone who knows the book should have least expected. It is the first hit in the search engine: Leo Tolstoy's Kreutzer sonata. It was one of the first novels I read by the Russian count at the time I was discovering Christian anarchism and I thought it wildly eccentric, or rather: unacceptable. From the first biography I read in the same days I understood Tolstoy was practicing what he preaches in the book and his wife "had to accept it". Since the author of the biography was a prominent female religious anarchist from NL herself I thought this way over the top and offensive to Tolstoy's wife.
You can read the Kreutzer sonata online if you wish, here.

There we have it: Count Leo had a life of hunting, of shooting as an army officer, of sleeping around, also with prostitutes, behind him and suddenly he saw the Light and his wife had to comply. All sexuality is violence, that is what the Kreutzer sonata comes down to. Is it? Even though the authoritarian way in which the patriarch of Christian anarchism decreed it may be reprehensible and I still tend not to agree with him I have been growing more understanding about his point of view.

I once followed a reading tip from our friends at The Christian Radical to be confronted with the message
Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist,
Oh, don't they? Well, I probably am not "a guy" (don't like the word anyway and I should be too old to be called by that name). But I never watched pornography, just as I never went to a prostitute either. And I refuse to accept this qualifies me as not being "normal". As far as I am concerned it is still the other way around.

I realize I have angrily and impulsively written about having experienced assault by a man. There was an offensive prerson around this area who sang praises of gay porn which this guy presented as liberatory and all loveydovey, as a comment to the story of our sister Rebecca Mott who was called a heterosexist, whatever that may be. After the attack on Mott he withdrew his comment. Living in a country where the official gay movement is advocating the xenophobic proto-nazis who are making NL infamous these days I see no reason to agree with stories about the inherent liberatory character of being gay. Even if I thought the "actors" in gay porn are "acting" completely voluntarily, which is simply incredible. Gays are not naturally saints. They are human males, socialised with the idea of domination.

Men get raped too. Most often, they are raped by other men. However, there have been numerous recorded incidents where a man has been raped by a woman.
Because of the socialization of what it means to be “a man,” men raped by men
are reluctant to disclose having been raped for fear of being labeled homosexual.
Men raped by women fear being treated as less than a real man for allowing
themselves to be overpowered by a woman. One survey found that 7 percent
of men have experienced at least one episode of forced sexual contact. Among
college students, the incidence of sexual assaults of men by acquaintances is
much higher.
(from the cache of the New York Institute of Technology site)

It is mainly a male problem. As is the idea of violence. I think. But perhaps what Tolstoy has to say calls for more thought or scrutiny than I thought when I first came across it.