Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘sexualization’

hey ppl!!!!!!!!!!! it’s may!! may is upon us! and the last post was in feb. woah.

looka this: slutwalk

in other news, i used to be this awesome person. WHAT HAPPENED??!??! i have a super corporate jobbbbbb wowowow. and i feel like i can’t even call myself a feminist because i don’t think about feminism. or anything. i, like, struggle to have thoughts about anything. yesterday went to a used sorta radical-benty bookstore w/ bejai and realized there was not a single topic in which i was interested. yikes…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The tagline is "Every rose has its thorns." eheh heh heh?

So I just watched the movie Teeth. This is one rich film for a feminist. I highly recommend watching it. If you want to watch it before I give away the plot, I know you can find it for free at Surfthechannel… or you could, like, pay to watch it. Not like I did, but I’m all for that. SO now, DON’T READ FURTHER.

Okay, spoilers commence here. And, another warning: I’m gonna be talking about rape and sexual assault so, TRIGGER WARNING. This is how I saw the movie.

Teeth is the story of girl in high school who is a teenage advocate for The Promise Ring and boils in her repressed sexuality. She meets a guy at one of her speeches about the values of abstinence and immediately they hit it off–they have that special something. This girl lives at home with her mom, dad, and step-brother (?) who is basically the most misogynistic, horrible, sexual-assault-y dude ever. Her parents seem to be, like, the sweetest people everrr. So, after a particularly disgusting encounter with her brother which ends with him saying something like “you know who you’ve been saving yourself for, all this abstinence bullshit… you want me” the girl storms out of her house and decides that she’s gonna risk her “purity” and go out to the swimming hole with cute guy she met at the abstinence meeting. They dive into the water and (arguably) it’s adorable and romantic and I couldn’t help but want them to get some cause hey, they’re both just so darn conflicted and repressed. They kiss and feel guilty… kiss and feel guilty… then the girl swims further down the swimming hole into the cave where it’s rumored that kids “…you know” (subtext: have the sex). She climbs up onto a ledge in the cave where someone had already laid down a sleeping bag. Oh dear. Boy swims after her but she tells him not to come up there. He says “I’m freezing” in the water and climbs up anyway. They sit together and it’s still cute cause they don’t want to make moves but they can’t seem to help themselves and they get to kissing and touching and mounting. Then the girl stops them and says, “let’s go back down.” The guy says okay. BUT SUDDENLY. He mounts her again and starts pulling off his underwear saying things like “let me just try this” and then shouting at her, “I haven’t jerked off since Easter!” and she repeatedly says “NO! I’m SAYING NO!” It is horrifying transition from cutesy first love to a full-on THIS IS RAPE scene. After about a minute of wrestling and violence, the boy ultimately penetrates her. Then we hear a slicing kind of noise. The boy screams and, with difficulty, pulls himself free, gushing blood. A large portion of his penis drops to the rocky ground. He continues crying/screaming and jumps back into the water. This girl has teeth in her vagina (“vagina dentata”) that are apparently activated by non-consensual penetration.

So if that gives you an idea of what the movie is like… I’m gonna skip around through the rest of the things that I found interesting/disturbing/questionable about the movie.

Every male character besides the rather sweet papa turns out to just want to rape our protagonist. After the incident at the water hole, the girl goes to the gynecologist, who, after examining her, gives a furtive glance and seemingly decides that, since she’s never been to the gyno before, she won’t mind if he lubes up his hand and starts fisting her. She is severely uncomfortable, says so, and after a few thrusts, we hear the slicing noise. The gyno shrieks, four fingers fall to the floor, and as the girl escapes the room, the gyno starts screaming “VAGINA DENTATA! VAGINA DENTATA!” After this, the girl approaches another “nice guy” from school who proceeds to drug her and coerce into having sex, but she’s too drugged to feel threatened (thus, no castration this time). She has sex with him and they both smile and they both orgasm and it almost seems nice if it wasn’t that HE RAPED HER. She wakes up the next morning, has more sex with him, but, mid-thrusting, this guy answers his phone and he says “Hey. Yeah, doing it riiiight now. She’s right here.” He looks at her and says, “Say something.” She is disgusted, says, “no.” and asks him what’s going on. He tells her he made a bet with his friends over whether he could fuck her. After a few more words exchanged, he shrieks and, once again, a penis is severed. There is one more instance of this. Then an implied one in the end of the film. I will say that, from my point of view (and as far as I could see on other reviews of the movie), every person dismembered by the vagina dentata seemed to really “deserve” what they got–the penetrators were rendered utterly detestable.

I wonder about the “female empowerment” of the vagina dentata concept, when obviously any woman put in those situations in our world does not have this power over the penetrator. However, is the fear and discomfort that this film provokes in (reportedly) many penetrators an empowerment in some way? That maybe more people will think twice before they just compulsively penetrate?

I wonder about the genre of this movie and how it excuses certain plot points. For example, as a horror movie, I could say something like, “well, in most horror movies, women are disgustingly shallow characters and are nearly always humiliated in a graphically sexual/violent way, so it’s cool that this one is turning the tables.” And thus I justify the feminist goal of this movie. BUT this is a movie about the oft-ignored topic of rape, and the even more ignored topic of female defense against rape. Are women, as targets of the rapes portrayed, supposed to take heart in that there’s one story about a girl who has the magical power to exact justice on her rapist? What is valuable about this story to feminists and/or rape victims? Is this movie really made for these people? Or is this another kind of band-aid movie… a movie that makes everyone feel good about rape because, in this case, justice was served? I’m torn. I hated the rape scenes, but I learned, through the movie, to start feeling okay about them because I knew those fuckers were about to get their dicks handed to them.

I’m starting to hate feel-good movies.

There is also the sort of subplot about abstinence education. This is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating part of the movie. Our protagonist goes to a school where the sex-ed teacher cannot even bear to say the word “vagina” and the school textbooks have huge stickers pasted over the anatomical drawings of vaginas. It is made very clear that this is a misogynist community. What is the value of having a rather campy horror movie with pretty clear implications that abstinence-only sex education is, at best, painfully ironic? Afterall, the protagonist starts out as a fairly confident spokesperson for The Promise Ring.

So, after this long-ass post, do y’all have any thoughts?

Read Full Post »

Or, alternatively titled: “Making the Brown Sex Week 2010 Poster”

(This is a cross-post from the SHEEC blog/my blog)

My goals were that the poster:

  • Wouldn’t imply a certain relationship status
  • Wouldn’t be objectifying and just like any other ad on TV
  • Wouldn’t be heteronormative (and ideally not homonormative, either, which is…not easy to do–most images out there are very either/or)
  • Would simultaneously bring something “non-traditional” to the fore but NOT in a “LOOK HOW RADICAL I AM!” way or in a “LOOK HOW FREAKY THIS IS!” way
  • Would focus on sexuality and sensuality, but in a fun, not intimidating, fashion
  • Re: above, would also not be too explicit or obviously and “traditionally” sexual, so that it could have more interpretations (including “platonic” ones?)
  • Would reflect an air of inclusiveness
  • Would not represent people from just one ethnic group (and this was the hardest to achieve while still trying to keep to the other points; I resolved this issue by making the skin tones a rainbow)
  • Would not glorify a particular body type, especially one that corresponds to the dominant ideas of beauty in the media
  • Would be welcoming and attractive
  • Would hold all the text necessary!

The RESULT:

Thoughts?

Do you encounter similar situations when you have to do the promotional material for events? How do you feel about the world of advertising/promo in college and/or specifically at your institution of “higher learning”?

Read Full Post »

Everyone seems to be talking about Crystal Renn these days. The New York Times claims she’s “The Triumph of the Size 12s.” Jezebel says she’s not. And commenters think that having Crystal Renn in 8 page photoshoots is encouraging obesity. So here’s my take.

Photographers and Designers told Crystal Renn she was too fat, now they tell her she’s too skinny. I don’t understand why we feel the need to regulate Crystal Renn’s weight. If they’re looking for a different look, why not find a different person? People are constantly surprised that Crystal Renn doesn’t look fat, but why are we so surprised? According to the measurements I’ve found on the internet it would appear Renn’s BMI puts her in the “normal range” not “overweight” and no not “obese” and no not “morbidly obese,” and we already know BMI is kinda bullshit. So what’s with this freak-out-she’s-encouraging-obesity bullshit?

This to me speaks a lot to the way we think about fat. We tend to think in extremely polarized terms. A person is either fat and thus lazy, ugly, gross, insert-negative-adjective-here, or they are not fat, and thus not those things. This to me is pretty apparent in how clothes are organized. I’m an in-betweenie of sorts on the fat spectrum of clothing sizes. I can range anywhere from a 12 to a 16, depending on the make and cut and what part of my body we are fitting. What’s interesting of course is that the 12s are sold in “normal stores” and the 16s are sold in “plus size stores.”  The clothes that are sold in a size 12 are still flattering, they’re “in,” but the second you get into the 16s you go to ponchos and moo-moos and weird drape-y things in horrible giant prints. I don’t really understand why designers seem to give up the second you get above a 14. Folks just need an inch here or there, and excuse me for being so blunt by why the hell is 14 the size in between “normal clothes” and “plus size clothes” when that is the size the average American woman wears? 14 should be the size we design all clothes around and should be the samples runway models wear–not supposed “plus size models.”

Another thing I’m sort of disturbed by is this whole sexualization and fetishization over the white skin of some “plus sized” models like in Renn’s 8 page spread in Glamour, “You’d Look Even Better Naked” or in the recent “plus size issue” of V magazine. I don’t claim to know why plus size models always have to have white skin and lose their clothes for their photoshoots, but it’s making me wonder. Jezebel tries to put a finger on it in their “So, Why Are Plus-Size Models So Often Naked, Anyway?

…This is as good a time as any to address the fact that a large number of plus-size shoots feature nudity. Of course, so do many fashion shoots with straight-size models: but because as a culture we associate larger women’s bodies with different meanings than smaller women’s bodies, photographing a plus-size model naked can have very different connotations. Eroticizing a plus-size model is a pretty easy, and in some ways predictable, choice. Do the images rely on the old trope of the voluptuous woman as sexually salacious? Is it just that the stylist couldn’t (or couldn’t be bothered) to pull clothes in the right sizes?

Personally, I’m guessing there are probably many reasons for this focus on naked white plus size models. One is that I don’t think there are enough awesome clothes made and sold for women of a certain size for which the models can model which I’ve already addressed. And secondly, I think when we add the fact that these women are larger than most models, I think photographers don’t know what to do. We’ve already polarized folks into fat and not fat, good and not good. So inorder to demonstrate that “hey she’s not all those bad things we associate with fat”, they rely more heavily on her female-ness, and her white-ness. Instead of showing actual diverse images of beauty, we just amp up old ideas of about Snow White being the fairest lady of them all who spends her life waiting for strange men in the woods.

If you’re looking for actual diversity in fashion, check out the fatshionista community which describes itself as ” a diverse fat-positive, anti-racist, disabled-friendly, multi-gendered, queer-flavored, politically-engaged community, open to everyone” They’re pretty rad and frankly more useful than any fashion mag I’ve ever seen since it’s real clothes worn by real folks.

Read Full Post »

The racial politics of Avatar

If Jake’s attraction is primarily sexual, it has to be interpreted through the historical White fetishization of women of color. From the slave masters’ midnight visits to the contemporary exoticization of Asian and Black female sexuality, women of color have served as the leading figures of White sexual fantasies.  In this context, when Jake Sees Neytiri (undeniably, a woman of color), how do we know that he isn’t just seeing a hypersexual body that he can use for his own pleasure?

Read Full Post »

'cuz corsets have everything to do with animal rights

Peta did it again. For those who can’t read the fine print, this ad is apparently advertising for “Animal Birth Control”–so simple even playboy cover-girl Dita Von Teese understands how sexy it is. I’m all for preventing deaths of dogs and cats in shelters, but I don’t understand why we need to objectify women to explain why it’s important to do so.

Here’s my list of issues with this ad campaign:

1. Just generally, what do playboy cover-girls have to do with animal rights?

2. Why glorify this completely irrelevant image of a school girl and professor. Why does female education have to become sexualized? When was the last time you wore stilettos and corset thing to class? When was the last time an adult woman opened up a book with the cover of “ABC”. Oh, and it’s heteronormative.

3. What’s with this call back to ’50s fashion? This is a bigger problem than just this ad, but I get kinda creeped out over this fetish for the 1950s white housewives in big polka dot dresses, and bubblegum pink.

4. If you watch the video on the site, in between/during all of Dita Von Teese’s talking about pets, we see her getting her picture taken in various poses. Are we supposed to be listening to her, considering her voice to be important? Or are we just supposed to be drooling at her body? oi.

5. Oh and what a boring typical idea of sexy. Way to perpetuate stereotypical ideas of beauty with body size, race, and gender. woot.

Read Full Post »

Big Trubs, by Allyson Mitchell.

[Woman] can give suffrage or the ballot no new quality, nor can she receive anything from it that will enhance her own quality. Her development, her freedom, her independence must come from and through herself. First, by asserting herself as a personality, and not as a sex commodity. Second, by refusing the right of anyone over her body; by refusing to bear children, unless she wants them, by refusing to be a servant to God, the State, society, the husband, the family, etc., by making her life simpler, but deeper and richer. That is, by trying to learn the meaning and substance of life in all its complexities; by freeing herself from the fear of opinion and public condemnation.”
– Emma Goldman, “Woman Suffrage,” from Anarchism and Other Essays (read here). Found in “Raise Some Hell: A Feminist Childrearing Zine for Everyone,” @ zinelibrary.info.

We used to talk a lot about whether cisgendered feminist women can dress and act the ways that mainstream society expects of us—how our gender presentation and sexuality relate to our feminism. Does normalizing second-wave-style feminist response to social expectations—e.g. refusing to shave and wear bras or makeup—violate individual women’s freedom of choice? Do third-wave-style responses, or “choice feminism”—wearing makeup, wearing typically feminine clothes, etc.—devalue women in society? Personally? Both?

Any monolithic standard of behavior fucks with people’s freedom of choice—no matter how integral choice is supposed to be to the standard. Second-wave feminism (and its offshoots) can make you feel like a traitor to the movement, complicit in your own oppression and others’, for having a femme-y gender presentation. Third-wave feminism makes you feel like an irrelevant troublemaker if your “choices” don’t cooperate with some version of the status quo. I believe that superfemme presentation and noncooperation can be equally liberating for different people, and I think we create false extremes that divide us. From now on, I’m going to try and trust and support you if you want to wear lipstick. But you have to trust and support me in my choice not to.

I’ve recently made very classic dirty feminist-looking choices about my body and my appearance—I don’t shave my legs or pits, wear makeup or sexy clothes, or have pretty hair. In a post-third wave world, this constellation is judged variously as: uninformed, outdated, regressive, gross, pointless, and, frequently, oppressive. I feel like we’ve talked here as well about whether it is oppressive. I’d like to submit: on the contrary! The very, very contrary. And I’d also like to say that I think everyone should think seriously about making second-wave-y choices.

When you think about it, pretty much every physical expectation of women in our society requires us to participate in constructing ourselves as sex objects. Shaving, wearing make-up, having long, pretty hair, attractive clothes, etc… First off, what the fuck. And second, for this post, I will refer to these processes as “sexualization,” but I really mean “mundane sexualization”—in other words, those sexualizing processes that have become part of our standard definition of femininity. Purposeful sexualization for the purposes of turning people on is another topic for another post, to me, anyway. (Also, I’m only going to talk about some very obvious banners of femininity here, rather than deal with newer expectations like surgery, tanning, etc.)

So, the question at the heart of our neverending debate is, should women sexualize themselves in society? Can making yourself look hot or normal be a tool for general empowerment? The societally approved third wave wants us to feel like accepting and performing our own sexualization is an aspect of our liberation. And here’s where Emma Goldman comes in—I think you can exchange “suffrage or the ballot” for “razors or make-up” quite neatly. There is nothing they can do for us that we can’t do better ourselves, and we can never change how they essentially function.

The communities I grew up in, like the communities most people grew up in, were dominated and created by men and other people who value, judge, and commodify women based solely on our appearances. For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I’ve shaved, made myself pretty, showed off my body, etc. because I wanted to be judged positively and seen as valuable by my communities. And that is such bullshit, to drag women into caring about all that crap because it’s the only value they have in some communities. For some time after becoming dimly aware of feminism, I tried to actively choose to do all that stuff, but it just felt like artificial intelligence—like being a dumb robot with the curse of reason, thinking about why it should follow its programming when in fact it has no choice.

Sexualization by choice and sexualization by default are no different. Society wants women to be sex commodities, and because society expects women to sexualize themselves, it will never bother respecting their reasons. That’s just its due. Daily life in the United States is like a giant Miss America pageant. Thinking critically about society’s requirements and continuing to accept them just traps you in the contest. No judge is going to ask or care why you shaved your legs. They just expect it. It doesn’t occur to them that it might be a choice, and I think we need to ask ourselves whether it even is one before we try to go there in society at large. (I do want to leave sexual relationships out in this post. However, let it be said: your partner should want to talk to you about why you do things to your body and respect your decisions, as part of a practice of consent. I think there’s some kind of magic about a healthy, communicative intimate relationship that allows people to critically examine their own expectations much more readily than in society at large. So in other words, I’m not saying it’s a fool’s errand to even make people think about why women are doing things. Your boyfriend should be able to respect your choice to shave your legs as a choice, and if he doesn’t, dump him.)

On the other hand, if you don’t meet the requirements, you’re not even worthy of their attention—and it rules. It seems like most people don’t even want to judge my worth based on how well I’m sexualizing myself, cause I’m so weird and unfeminine, so I don’t have to deal with them expressing their opinions. What’s more, I don’t have to constantly worry about whether they find me acceptable. Hairy armpits disqualify you. You can get off the stage and find some peace and quiet. Free from “the fear of opinion and public condemnation,” you are FINALLY able to actually devote a reasonable amount of attention to the “meaning and substance of life in all its complexities.”

I’m not really going to touch on the other oppressive categories Goldman mentions—the all-powerful State, reproductive expectations, husband/family, but basically, the same holds true—I believe in ignoring what any particular construction (of work, government, age/status in life, family, etc.) demands from you and trying to see things objectively. Most social constructions were created and/or cemented arbitrarily, and whoever did it probably didn’t have you or anyone like you in mind. Following along with them for whatever reason will never do you any good; it only feeds the apparatus that continues to oppress you (whether the agent of the apparatus means to or not). (Following the system can be and is sometimes neutral, and sometimes you need to do it just to get by, though. I also want to add that I’m lucky enough to fly under the radar in many other ways—I’m white, young, cis, pretty, financially subsisting, able-bodied, etc., and I don’t mean to malign the choices anyone makes to survive.)

I just feel so, fucking, FREE. I feel like a person. There is no, “I’m supposed to look…” or “I should worry about…”. I don’t sweat it when I forget deodorant (HA), I don’t shower every day, and I don’t get worried about my mascara smudging, or my hair unstraightening, or my leg hair growing. I never realized how much brainpower those thoughts drain, and it’s a LOT. Sure, there are new expectations of me, but I have more power over them because I’ve purposely bought into these constructions of what a woman can be.

Life is “simpler, but deeper and richer.” There’s so much stuff I don’t have to worry about any more, and so much more time to think and be happy.

I can buy blush, heels, razors, and haircuts, but I sure as shit could not have bought that.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »