For Sister Margaret Farley Responsible Pleasure Is Not a Sin

Nicole Bentley captures Australian singer-songwriter and pianist Delta Lea Goodrem for the July issue of Vogue Australia.

Watching the video — which is quite good — I wonder how many women would be more in touch with themselves and their sensuality, if we allowed ourselves to stand in front of mirrors and make small sensual motions with our body as Delta does here.

It’s long been my contention that in feeling our physicality and seeing our own sensual beauty rather than putrified flesh, we can nurture not only ourselves, but our relationships and the world at large.

Sister Farley Is a Soul Sister

Being so embroiled in sexual politics these days, I can’t help but think of poor Sister Farley, an American nun who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar.

She was denounced last week by the Vatican’s doctrinal office. At issue is Sister Margaret A. Farley’s book ‘Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics’.

In her recent post ‘Is Pleasure a Sin? ‘, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about Sister Farley:

Taking on the Council of Trent and a church that has taken a stand against pleasure, Sister Farley asserts that procreation is not the only reason couples should have sex. Fruitfulness need not “refer only to the conceiving of children,” she writes. “It can refer to multiple forms of fruitfulness in love of others, care for others, making the world a better place for others” rather than just succumbing to “an égoisme à deux.”

Sister Farley makes the core argument for Smart Sensuality women — that being in touch with our sensual selves as Delta Goodrem acts out on video, opens up the door for a liberating form of self love that needn’t become a form of “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the sexiest woman of all? Me, me, me. Let me have sex with every man in sight”

“It is surely the case that many women, following the ‘our bodies our selves’ movement in the fourth quarter of the twentieth century, have found great good in self-pleasuring — perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure — something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers,” she writes. “In this way, it could be said that masturbation actually serves relationships rather than hindering them.”

For Smart Sensuality women, the appreciation — rather than disgust — of our bodies inspires our desire for connection with the world at large. Kind sensitivity to ourselves inspires a desire to care for others, just as Sister Farley writes.

Regular Sensual Rebel readers know that I suffered deep pain this winter, trying to help Bro Dennis-Anthony Wyrzykowski and his mission in Massachusetts. After warning him repeatedly that our collaboration would never fly, I agreed to write our 2 Ps in a Pod blog and promote his skin cream. The experience was devastating on every possible level for me, as I was judged by members of his flock and finally thrown completely onto the street by possible investors in Easeamine. I can only say that I hope he got his money.

Bro Dennis left me hanging completely with no word for almost a month after a highly-emotional phone call. He was busy tending men in prison, he told me. He did text me perhaps a month ago that he prays for me. I don’t know why and think perhaps he should pray for himself because my conscience is clear.

It’s his conscience that should be troubled. Actions speak louder than words. In reading about Sister Farley’s condemnation by the Vatican and her response, I see a true soul sister. Her prayers I will accept.

Maureen Dowd calls Sister Farley “a breath of fresh air in the stultifying church”. Her fight “adds to the picture of a Catholic Church in a permanent defensive crouch, steeped in Borgia-like corruption and sexual scandals, lashing out at anyone who notes the obvious: They have lost track of right and wrong.”

At least we women have backbone, which is more than I can say for Bro Dennis Wyrzykowski. It was I who tried to console this sobbing man on the phone when my integrity was under attack, not his.

The emotion of the moment doesn’t excuse any lack of follow-up with me from the guys at Easeamine, who took advantage of my generosity, kind nature and willingness to enter a zone of psychological conflict triggered by past judgements of my character by the Catholic Church.

Bro. Dennis asked me to remember him in my will a couple weeks after we began talking. I found that odd — given the small time we had known each other.  He told me I was like a true sister, a woman like so few he had known in life — and I believed his words because they were the first kind words about me from the Catholic boys club in decades.

At the end of the day, I’ll bet Sister Farley would agree that I was hustled and preyed upon by Bro. Dennis, just as the Catholic patriarchy always hustles its women. After all, we’ve kept them alive and functioning all these years.

Responsible pleasure is NOT a sin, Pope Benedict. The issue is how pleasure is balanced within one’s total lifestyle, values and actions. To all the righteous men and women of Easeamine who judged me recently, I am proud to stand condemned with Sister Farley and all the nuns under attack by the Vatican boys club.

We ARE the true believers in the power of spirituality in the universe, one that is liberating not full of condemnation and guilt for our status of being (unfortunately) born women destined to take our marching orders from pious men. ~ Anne

via mxo