2. Reality Blockers and Sexual Language

Article Abstract

Building on the concepts introduced in the preceding article like “reasoned reality and “reality blockers,” the article shows that sexual language ‑ with or without “reality blockers ‑ can be used to describe actions or situations that have nothing to do with sex, and readers understand the meaning because there is an implied “reality blocker.” Using narratives from the Bible, the author shows that “reality blockers” are literary devices used by ancient writers to describe “reasoned reality,” in other words, the text presents different ideas rather than what the apparent words seem to suggest. The use of these devices is shown to be quite common, not only in the Bible, but also in the ordinary language today as well. The narrative used to illustrate this is the story about the destruction of Sodom, where, despite of the homosexual language used, “reality blockers” are used in the story that show the story is not about sex, but about violence toward foreigners and murder. Then, the article shows that ancient writers understood that there were two kinds of reality: the reality of the things which “were out there,” and the reality of what we humans “think and feel” about the things out there. While the former is already known as “objective reality,” for the latter the author coins the term “reasoned reality.” Ancient writers not only understood both realities, but they also knew how to indicate what kind of reality they were talking about in their writings.  In order to show that sexual language is used even today without “blockers” to refer to violence and not to sex, the author mentions the final match of the 2006 Soccer World Cup between France and Italy, when the French captain was eliminated after hitting an Italian player with a head-butt in the chest. This violent behavior was a reaction to the Italian player’s use of sexual language as a way to insult the French player. Further, the article shows that modern scholars usually misinterpret ancient texts when they confuse sexual language with the reality of sexual behavior. When postmodern scholars, claims the author, are not able to identify literary devices such as “reality blockers” when interpreting ancient texts, they seem to use quite frequently an interpretive procedure that the article labels “reality emphasizer,” that is, to bring out the sexual reality behind the biblical texts even when no such reality is assumed by the text. As an illustration, the author uses the passage from the book of Numbers in the Bible about a ritual used by a husband who is taken over by jealousy for suspecting that his wife had been unfaithful to him. A well-known article by the feminist scholar Alice Bach illustrates how scholars see everything in a text as being about sexual behavior and sexual abuses because they lack concepts such as “reasoned reality” and “reality blockers.” Therefore, in order for ancient texts to be properly understood, modern readers need to rediscover the concepts that ancient writers used when producing their texts.

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