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October 16, 2008

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Susan Sage Heinzelman

Paul suggests that "Men may not be disgusted by what women do because they are too caught up in their own anxiety with their own bodies." Anxiety about the body is, in Pauline discourse, also anxiety about interpretive practices and thus about the power to preach the "Word." For St. Paul, the flesh obscures the visionary in-sight that brings understanding of God's Word. Desires of the flesh produce mis-readings of logos and thus render what should be a spiritual practice an earthly (gross) practice. In alchemical terms, gold becomes dung. In this hermeneutic calculus, disgust is always already a gendered response: women's bodies are the source of all flesh and when men behave like women (as homosexuals are perceived to do), they engender an intensification of the "normal" revulsion associated with the flesh of the woman.

Martha Nussbaum

In his striking book, The Anatomy of Disgust, law professor William Ian Miller argues that both male disgust toward female sexuality and upper-class disgust toward the imagined dirt and filth of lower classes are ineradicable features of human society. Therefore, he thinks, our aspirations to a political culture of equality are doomed to failure. With Paul, I do not agree. While I doubt that we will ever live in societies in which no people at all experience some sort of disgust toward some subordinate group ("projective disgust," as I call it), I think that we can expect the general amount of disgust to decline if, in bringing up children, we present the body in a positive light and encourage good attitudes toward issues of gender and sexuality. We can see this happening around us. Perhaps even more important, we can make sure that the negative disgust-laden attitudes are not dignified by giving them the force of law. One of the important achievements of recent Supreme Court doctrine, I think, in Romer v. Evans, was the idea that a law motivated by mere "animus" (in this case, disgust and loathing) does not pass the rational basis test. To uphold laws such as Colorado's Amendment 2 is in contradiction with the most straightforward and basic meaning of equal protection.

Resveratrol

We can see this happening around us. Perhaps even more important, we can make sure that the negative disgust-laden attitudes are not dignified by giving them the force of law. One of the important achievements of recent Supreme Court doctrine, I think, in Romer v. Evans, was the idea that a law motivated by mere "animus" (in this case, disgust and loathing) does not pass the rational basis test.

Acai

In this hermeneutic calculus, disgust is always already a gendered response: women's bodies are the source of all flesh and when men behave like women (as homosexuals are perceived to do), they engender an intensification of the "normal" revulsion associated with the flesh of the woman.

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