The Bishop’s Wife is a favorite Christmas movie of mine. Made in 1947, It has a deeply spiritual message, without it being overly unctuous or proselytizing. In short, Cary Grant plays an angel (Dudley) who is on a mission to help a Bishop (David Niven) find the true meaning of Christmas. In the process, Grant falls in love with the Bishop’s wife (Loretta Young) and she with him. A sort of love triangle develops, which naturally leads to all sorts of situations, many comical.
Strangely and unexpectedly it has some relevance to modern ideas of “Game” and erotic love which I would like to write a little about here.
It is interesting to apply elements of Game to some of these older movies, especially the ones from Hollywood’s “Golden Age”, because these elements apply quite well. We see Game at work in many older and traditional plots. The writers, actors and directors knew about Game, although it had not been defined as so back then. What they knew were the universal truths that women follow certain patterns of behaviors in the real world of love and romance, even sex; I find these older movies often portray these things better than the more modern, feminist dominated movie world, where the fantasy of how men and women should act is more predominant than the reality. This may seem like a contradiction: we would expect the more modern film world to more realistically portray the relationship between the sexes. And yet, I have found that older movies tend to better tap into the natural harmony between the sexes. Traditional gender roles existed for a reason: they worked. Men were dominant, women more submissive. Men tended toward career, women toward motherhood and child rearing. Certainly there were exceptions. But these are the predominant patterns of behaviors that have sustained all human societies throughout all of human history. It has only been in the last forty years that we have witnessed the total breakdown of this in the Western world. The social ills unleashed by this phenomenon are obvious.
In more modern film, the women tend to be tough, masculine, and hyper sexual. They conquer careers. They sleep with anyone with abandon or real consequences. They are successful and invincible. Men are often portrayed as weak and fumbling and stupid. In older movies the women are also more feminine than most modern actresses. Just compare Meghan Fox with Lana Turner, say. Lana Turner played many femme fatales, but she still possessed a femininity that someone like Meghan Fox lacks. Most men would find that femininity more appealing than the overly masculine nature of most modern women.
In the Bishop’s Wife Grant is at odds with Niven, mostly because the Bishop senses how his wife is more attracted to Grant than to him. Niven is cold, rigid and anal. His wife is unhappy. Grant is fun, open, and exciting. She naturally falls for him. He his powerful. Her husband, though a bishop, comes across as weak and petulant. He often acts like a beta in the face of his difficulties. Given her husband’s lack of passion, his indecisiveness, she naturally develops an emotional relationship with Grant. In one scene, after Grant has taken the Bishop’s wife out for a day of fun, she responds: “I am having so much fun. I feel as though I were doing something wicked.”
How true. Women enjoy being entertained. But they also enjoy, and are turned on, by the idea of doing something forbidden, something naughty. Many good, pious women read my blog because, well, I write about forbidden things. Although the scene and statement she made are quite innocent, the truth she utters is universal, that women are turned on by something that is slightly dangerous, that even a pious wife of a morally upright Bishop is susceptible to falling in love with another man. In short, Grant makes her wet. Her husband has dried up her vagina.
There is another great scene of eros in this movie. Grant converses with old woman, who, although quite wealthy, is cold, bitter and difficult. She is the Bishop’s chief adversary in his pursuit of building a cathedral, in that she is contributing a large amount of money and wants the design of the chapel to honor her wishes. She and the Bishop do not see eye to eye on this. After she meets Grant, she reveals how she once loved a musician, but was afraid to marry him because he was poor, and she feared poverty. The relationship ended, he eventually died, and she ended up marrying another man whom she did not love, but who loved her. Driven by a certain degree of guilt, after his death she tried to preserve his memory. And yet she is clearly unhappy. Dudley coaxes this confession out of her, and this changes her for the better. Afterward, as a renewed woman, she says: “Meeting Dudley has been the greatest spiritual experience of my life”. The acknowledgment of the power of her previous love has made her a better person.
It was the power of love, not simply a pure and idealized love, but an erotic, romantic love of her past life, that she has changed her. Although her love died long ago, the memory of that lost love, and her confession about her later, loveless marriage to her late husband, transforms her into a better person. How many women are in loveless marriages because they married someone out fear and not out of passion? How many men must suffer with such wives? I imagine such situation are rife with problems
At another point in the movie the Bishop is lamenting to a Professor friend of his about how he feels he has lost the love of his wife. The Professor, who as we learn was in his younger days quite a ladies man, retorts that he simply needs to love her: “Julia is a creature of the earth; and you are a man.” Yes, his wife is a creature of the earth. She is a woman, flesh and blood, and he is a man. As a man he should not be afraid to love her. And he needs to act on that love. Eventually, with Dudley’s help, he does.
How do we define this phrase, “A woman of the earth”? To put it bluntly: she has a vagina; her vagina gets wet; she desires sex and love; she needs sex and love; she needs to be fucked and she needs to be fucked hard and often. Let’s not idealize sexual love too much. People want to call it “making love”, but the reality of sex is that it is messy and physical. Bodily fluids are exchanged; sheets get wet; we feel orgasmic pleasure. We become more animalistic in sex than at any other occasion, except perhaps war.
Finally, in the last line of the movie that Grant says to the Bishop about his wife:
“Kiss her for me…”
Remember, this is coming from an angel, but an angel who is on the earth in the guise of a man. But the heavenly angel knows what the earthly man, the Bishop, does not know: Women love to be kissed. Many men do not understand this. Even most game adherents are woefully clueless about such principles of feminine desires.
Game implies that men need to manipulate a woman into sex. This of course has truth, if manipulating women into bed is your goal. However, the best way to get a woman into bed, and to have her enjoy sex as best she can, which will increase the man’s sexual pleasure, is through love. Many people are afraid of love, because they are afraid of the pain and humiliation that comes with love lost. But this is really what women crave the most: love, passion, and the passionate sex that comes through heated love. The great lovers in the world were not afraid of love. Most game advocates, although they may have high numbers, are not great lovers. Even Roissy often waxed eloquently about the pleasures of experiencing a deep love with a woman, and yet many of his followers seem little more than sexually frustrated guys angry at their lack of success with women.
It is through love, the power of love and the mystery of love, that the deepest and most intense erotic experiences are enjoyed. Now I have had many casual and free encounters with women sexually, and have enjoyed those, but rarely I have ever been truly involved with a woman where there was not at least some degree of mutual love. Women love to be loved. In my life, the best sexual experiences are those that occur within the context of love. But it has to be the right kind of love. Women want to be loved not in a sycophantic way, but in a passionate way; they want to feel alive and special and they also want to feel the gina tingle; they want to get wet when they think about you and when a woman thinks about you and gets wet or masturbates, she is most likely in love with you. They want to love your power and strength and masculinity. This cannot be achieved through mere manipulative game alone; principles of game can help you reach that goal, it can get a woman in bed and help increase your count; but ultimately if you are not true in your love, if you are afraid to love, the woman will see through this and eventually it will end and her vagina will dry up.
This all relates to this movie, and Christmas, because Christianity is fundamentally about the power of love and The Bishop’s Wife is also about the power of love and therefore a great Christian movie. As 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love”. This is a profound statement. At the time of the New Testament it was completely radical. But this also relates to our modern world in that most discussions of love, especially in a Christian context, tend to so idealize women and sexual activity as to be completely unrealistic about natural desires and erotic realities. This is particularly true among Christian traditionalists. CL has a good post on this:
Among the religious traditionalists and fundamentalists we get the worst kind of pedestaling and white knighting. The reality of a wet vagina is not part of the dialogue about modern love and romance; but modern love and desire cannot be understood without understanding this fundamental principle of womanhood: what makes a woman wet is what she will love. Game understands the sexual or “wet vagina” part of this, which is what makes game so powerful; but most Game followers often overlook the love element, and thus remain ignorant about an even more important part of the feminine psyche and therefore ultimately negate the most useful elements of Game in the end.
I often write so graphically about sex because I want to get real about sex in a religious or spiritual context and not talk about it in pious platitudes that are divorced from the realities of life. Without trying to sound too boastful, let me say that I have been successful with women in my life sexually and otherwise because I am not afraid to love, including sexual love. I knew pain was possible, and indeed, there has been much pain; but all the pain was worth the experiences of love. In order to enjoy love you must follow a few things, such as: be unafraid of rejection; be confident; be powerful; move on to the next opportunity when one fails, and know, that even a morally pure Bishop’s wife can fall under the spell of romantic and erotic passion if the circumstances are right. After all, even her body craves sexually what all women crave and she will respond sexually and emotionally to the right man. The Bishop’s Wife is a good portrayal of that.
Butterfly Flower said:
[Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, I’ve been very sick 😦 ]
This was a wonderful post; I love how you tie old Hollywood films into modern day issues.
Anyway, since I’ve gotten engaged, I can’t help but ignore every piece of Christian relationship advice out there. I love my fiance, and I won’t use Jesus as an excuse to treat him like cr@p. Somehow “godly submissive wife” has been turned into “lazy gold-digging demanding b!tch”.
I mean, I’m pretty sure sitting around the house all day eat bon-bons while my husband works and then denying him a blowjob when he gets home isn’t “loving wife” behavior. To be honest, I question the state of most traditional Christian marriages. I recently read a study that claimed over 80% of traditional Christian marriages are unhappy – gee, I wonder why?