Liberating Sex, week 3

Originally created for the Iliff School of Theology course: Liberating Sex by Dr. Miguel De La Torre.  The assignment was to read Take Back the Word: a queer reading of the Bible and watch the lecture video below.

The lecture video opens and closes with humor about impossible expectations for social practices/performances of gender.

[Cut to me at the top of the Denver Public Library rotunda. Dressed as Rod Serling]
The Bible is riddled with inapplicable messages that are discounted when we read it literally (video, min 1). Yet, there is something seriously funny when we run into the contradictions of applying literature from antiquity to our modern reality. While jokes have been used to oppress (Gross p.27) they’re also used in the movement toward liberation. In our modern social discourse, film often plays the role of trickster (p. 13). To celebrate humanities ability to laugh at very serious issues I want to mention three films that find humor in discontinuity (Gross p. 24).

First, Saved! demonstrates the impossibility of forcing gender norms onto people, especially high schoolers. Also see: Camp (2002)

The second film is (Not safe for work) Aubrey Plaza’s The Little Hours.  This film reflects on the narrative that women were objects/property. And plays with the more full understanding that just because slaves/women were property doesn’t mean they didn’t have agency (Video Min 8-9ish, 17, ?).
The third film looks at “the relief theory” (Gross p. 23). The Purge, while not classically considered comedy, shows similarities to Elizabeth Stuart’s mention of The Feast of Fools, “outrageous buffoonery in which the lower clergy ridiculed the higher clergy, dressed as animals and women, ran around the churches, brayed like donkeys, and mocked the liturgy…By barely tolerating this annual eruption, the hierarchy actually managed to keep order the rest of the year.” (p.25) In these feasts, laughter is a gut reaction and cousin to the gut-retching violence portrayed in horror (Gross p. 26). The Purge films relieve society’s angst by being an “(un)embodied celebration” of violence (Video min 11). While the film plays on the anarchistic threat of chaos, it does so to mock and ridicule our modern hierarchy (Gross p. 16). Also see: Battle Royale
To conclude

Shirt I saw at the Great American Beer Festival

Impossible expectations…Maybe we fantasize about Jesus as a virgin (who totally ‘never’ had sex with a man) the same way we fantasize about Mary being impregnated without sex (Video min 14). It’s hard to take it literally unless it a joke. Although, if Mary was impregnated without sex than it’s reasonable to think that Jesus could impregnate a woman without having sex with her. I mean he is his father’s son…or is he his own father?…Anyway, the important lesson here is that humor and sex are really all about timing.

Given the similarities between American “Bro culture” to Dr. De La Torre’s example of Latino culture surrounding male sex (min 21) and Dr. Erickson’s example of warrior culture in the Hebrew Bible (Min 22) would I be out of line in assuming that homosexual activity in the United States military is under-documented, unreported or at least “not explicitly stated”? (Min 22:40) Hopefully, they are practicing more hospitality than is reported/documented about women’s experience with sex in the military.

Thanks for reading,
Emily Nagle

Photography by Seth Nagle

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