Zinka and Deep Secret

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Fri May 2 09:41:07 EDT 2003

On Fri, 2 May 2003 Philip.Belben at eme.co.uk wrote:

> Now I've got into trouble before, on this list, with my views on men's
> lib., but I'd like to put up one point for discussion.  The idea that
> Zinka might put a spell on a young man in order to seduce him is not (it
> seems to me) presented as very shocking, apart from her being married at
> the time.  On the other hand, the idea that a man might put a spell on a
> young girl in order to seduce her would seem a lot more shocking.  Is
> that just me, or does this asymmetry of attitude still prevail.

	Yes, I think it does & I think there are some sound biological
reasons for it as well as various cultural prejudices. Sex often has much
more serious consequences for women than it does for men & young women
are/are widely believed to be more likely to be damaged by unwanted sex
than young men are. This is not to belittle the issue of male rape, I have
met men who were highly disturbed by being at the recieving end of
unwanted advances or sexual violence, but of the four who come to mind at
the moment, only one of them was the victim of a woman. I'm not saying
that women *can't* be sexually predatory and thus injure men, I'm just
saying it's not as common as the other way around. And there is a strong
prejudice in society to make men's sexual vulnerability very much a har
har har nudge nudge wink wink joke rather than take it seriously, which is
devastating for the men in question. I don't think the primary drive to
this prejudice comes from women though, I think it comes from men, who are
whistling in the dark to keep the demons at bay. *Much* nicer to think
that this sort of devastation could never happen to them.

	Just my take on things.

> [*] While I think of it, this is a good moment to raise the question of
> What is marital fidelity?  It may sound obvious, but I find an
> increasing attitude that it simply means not having sex with anyone
> other than one's spouse; while I think that "faithful" ought to mean a
> lot more than that.  Besides which, historically, adultery was strictly
> forbidden anyway.  So a vow made at marriage to "be faithful" merely
> meaning "not commit adultery against one's spouse" would be somewhat
> redundant!

	It's an interesting point. Personally I would probably think that
Zinka was being faithful to Simon if he knew & agreed about any little
extra-marital escapades of hers. I don't think I'd want an open marriage
myself, but if others want one it's up to them. But if she's sneaking
around behind his back she's being really unfaithful, not just adulterous,
in that she is breaking his confidence & trust in her.

	I can't remember who it was who commented on the ambiguous nature
of the scene where Simon tells Rupert he's married, but I agree with her.
I believe the bit about Simon being married for three years, but I'm not
sure if the rest of what he says is reliable, the passage strikes me as
being authentically brotherly communication: not much said & most of that


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