OMNI ESSE DEO DVBITANDVM
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I present to you one of those Only in San Francisco topics of political contention which will also allow me yet another opportunity to plug my book. This topic came to my attention in the first place due to it being the latest cover story of one of our local alternative rags, that being SF Weekly. The title of the article is Overexposed, and it details an apparent civic paroxysm (one I must admit that I was not entirely aware of) involving public nudity in the Castro neighborhood. If this controversy seems counter intuitive to the perceived libertine atmosphere that enshrouds the City, believe me you would be absolutely correct in thinking that it is a ludibrious concern. At its heart though, there is an interesting inquiry to be found in this disputation; an inquiry that is discussed in one of the essays in my first book. Exploring this issue rather quickly proffers forth a question. Why does America take such umbrage with the penis? I would venture the assumption that most educated individuals are well aware of America’s puritanical view of sexuality. But I have noticed ever since I was a kid that there is a special animus poured upon male genitalia, especially if a penis makes a public appearance. In my essay, I explore the antecedents of this neurosis which is so acute here in this country and the answers that I came up with are quite germane to this current controversy here in San Francisco. Before I share my phallic trope though, I should give you some of the back story of this provincial uproar.
Being a gay man here in the City, I of course have familiarity with the Castro. But I also think that being a gay man who is also a native to the City probably best explains why I was not so aware of this controversy. As a libertine, I will just have to admit that what ever any of my fellow citizens wishes to do (as long as it does not involve me) is fine with me and public nudity falls under this rubric. So obviously I have been well aware of the fact that in the past couple of years I have noticed every now and then whenever I am having a cigarette outside of a bar, that there have been groups of naked men (of varying ages and physiques) nonchalantly walking around the neighborhood. And because so many of these men are of a type that I have no wish or interest in seeing nude, guess what my reaction is? I DON’T LOOK. Believe me when I say that this is not a difficult action to take. But what the SF Weekly article elucidates is the fact that as of late, there have been more resident complaints to the police about these men and that this is occurring even though San Francisco law clearly states that public nudity is not a crime unless you are found committing lascivious acts or any other form of putanism. What is causing me to repine though is the common excuse given for this reactionary view of public nudity. It always manifests as the pallid and vapid question, what about the children?
To the chagrin of many of us in the neighborhood there has been a steady influx of children into the Castro. You are much more likely to run into a child on the sidewalk than you would have been fifteen years ago. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am all for and support the approbation of gay adoption and I am also well aware that this explains some of this puerile deluge. Yet this contingency can not and should not change the inherent flavor of the neighborhood which has long been an adult one. Just because many gays and lesbians are trying to assimilate themselves into a bourgeois banality does not give them the right to deny me a child free Castro. And let me just say that whenever an individual or group starts to whine about any controversy under the auspices that they are protecting the children, I guarantee you that they are not at all concerned about the children; their goal in point of fact is to administer their moralism onto the rest of us. To me it is this kind of surreptitious attempt at moral legislation that I find so fulsome. In this particular case, it appears that the children must be kept from knowing about the existence of the penis, even though half of the children have one between their legs. What could be more preposterous. The reason that this country has so many sexual crimes and proclivities committed in it is largely rooted in the long extant puritanical fear of sexuality combined with our inability to be honest and frank when teaching our children about sex. As with so much nocent human behavior, religion’s malign influence can be clearly felt in this fear and attempted nullification of sexuality. A little research will quickly illuminate the reality that it is in the puritanical foundation of this country in which the locus of America’s acidulous relationship with the penis is to be found.
Since it has been Christianity that has been the dominant religious force within the history of our republic, in my essay I focus most of my attention on the christian phobic relation to sex and the organs that are involved in all forms of sexual congress . Luckily it is quite simple to find the source of this christian psychopathology; the source being found in the writings of Saul of Tarsus and Augustine of Hippo and to some extent in the writing of the equally invidious Thomas Aquinas. For example, it is within the repugnant Confessions of Augustine where you find his sexual psychopathology so egregiously on display. His utter contempt for his penis, or demon rod (to use his appellation) is where I see our still extant American animus for the penis issuing from. Augustine felt that the capricious nature of the penis—especially in regards to the varying stimuli which in turn induce tumescence—is what clearly demonstrated the influence of Satan on mankind. So within his logic, it was through the nullification of sexuality and the punishment of the genitals in which one could achieve a greater state of unctuous piety, this being the cardinal virtue for any eschatological pornographer such as Augustine. There even was a craze for self-castration throughout Christendom in the fourth century which was derived directly from this Augustinian masochism. Within the purview of all of this historical precedent, how can anyone deny that this diseased view of sexuality could only have manifested from religion? A view I might add that is completely antithetical to the natural one a man has towards his dick.
The fact that this antediluvian mindset is still with us in the twenty first century only furthers my contention of the insalubrious nature of religion. Yet going back to the public nudity issue here in San Francisco, I am glad to see that the secular law is being upheld and that anyone who receives a complaint about their nudity can not be arrested just for being naked. More than ever I am seeing this nudity issue as a matter of free expression. But more importantly, I wished to shed some light onto America’s sexual hang ups and illogical fear of the penis and also to show that this neurosis is very well ingrained within our culture. After all, if it can be found here in progressive San Francisco, then we have a long way to go in achieving an exculpation of our sexuality here in America.