Friday, 3 December 2010

Circle in a spiral

This reminded me of arguments surrounding the panic about girls and very young women's sexual awakening and sexuality. It's one I've watched from a distance. It's funny, I feel strangely ill qualified to comment on it, because I feel its about things about women's sexuality that I've only really examined closely in more recent times. I've never been able to muster much enthusiasm for sexual theory, the idea of intellectualizing sex felt out of place.

I also cannot abide the concerned parent, mother especially, going off on one every time her daughter appears to be growing up too soon and how we ought to be protecting young girls etc., I just feel like that's making it about their reactions rather than the girl/young woman herself and I think we need  to hear those voices coming through and listen.

The trickiest bit centres on concerns about whether the use of the term 'sexualisation'-as in "young girls are being sexualised too early", due to say a fashion for certain styles of clothing-sidelines their sexuality by projecting a version of it on to them, treating them as sexually inanimate. Then there's this current vogue for complaining about 'slut shaming' especially from feminists. Something that feels like it has nothing whatsoever to do with people like me. For the same reason I cannot identify with the cries of 'body shaming' issues, as its basis is that your body is not shameful, like for instance, a fat one.

'Slut shaming' is more a concern for those deemed 'pure' enough to be labelled slut, if you are not it's kind of implied. In the same way a fat body comes with certain assumed implications. I also find it hard to give a damn about it because the kind leading the charge were very happy to insist other 'lower value' women were definitely sluts, in the same way they insist the poor definitely don't know how to eat 'clean food', when they were still playing chaste.

Now they've decided sexual liberation = having lots of sex, slut has become an outrage. Also fat women are now the 'sluts' and they're pretty happy with that in the main. Quite a lot of the slut shame protesters not only deal in fat shaming and resist any examination of it, they are aware of this as one for one swap, fat for slut, it's easier to use fat women to draw energy that would fall on the sexually active, or those pretending to be.

Thing is, to me the projection and assumed passivity of young girls and women of the 'sexualisation' tag, reflects the definition of both 'slut' itself which means that a woman is dirtied by sexual contact with men-and how female hetero sexuality especially is defined in general, woman as vagina sheath for the sword.

Lesbians sexualities, provoke a seemingly weird one (among many) in men, they wish to 'join in' or own and witness it for their own edification, which seems an extension of the previous impulse, although I understand some of it, maybe it is in part, curiosity, trying to figure women out more. Which would suggest an awareness of distance and disatissfaction, as well as a contempt for that passively defined sexuality. I wonder too if some part of them can imagine themselves as one of the women and wants a similar connection with women they have sex with.

So although possibly empowered by the arrangement, they are also missing a certain something.
Strange is the seduction of an arrangement you don't feel like letting go of, yet, yearning for things you cannot get without that. Again, that comes up elsewhere too.

A woman cannot be defined as a slut without referencing the view of her sexuality, beforehand therefore the term both speaks of and is that definition. It is solely about what men do (or do not do) not with to her. She is reduced in value by it, because she is changed from her passive innocence and pure state to one that isn't-hence why some girls and women are never called sluts because they are never 'pure'. I'm not saying that term isn't used and doesn't do damage, but it is more a question of stages, rather than either/or.

They are not allowed to be seen that way, for reasons that are about their use as adjuncts to raise the value of the pure. ever be seen as pure and/or innocent enough to be, also projection of course and often facilitating of and encouraging of abuse as 'slut' is. So the term 'slut shaming' is itself perplexing and has been rightly criticised as problematic in itself as the term slut is supposed to be objectionable, so what is the meaning of shaming a disgusting conceit?

But the underlying issue remains, where is an independent female (hetero)sexuality in all this? One that exists without reference to any other? How does a woman who sleeps with men have a kind of sex that is a meeting of two, rather than as a passive receptacle or sheath for the one that exists it its own right?

Men can be green, boys can be innocent, but they are not exactly 'pure', if they are, it's not for long. They are not sullied by any number of female sexual contacts, although their motives and capacity to 'commit' may be questioned, their value isn't. And they are not seen as 'fair game' for potentially dubiously or non consensual entreaties for sex, no matter how many women have ridden them.

Their sexuality is affected by contact with women, but exists independently of it.

So the assumed abscence of female sexual agency that underlies and creates the term 'slut', is far more important than how it affects your status with that construct.

We are told these kind of terms exist to control women's sexuality, but are they even more about defining men's? This is not a popular type of question because of potential WATM overtones, however it seems to me that defining men must be more important, controlling women is the means to that end, not the purpose. I know a lot of people have trouble seeing it this way and prefer not to.

I've wondered more than once why men are not exercised by the fact that they are cast as the 'sullier' of purity, especially in these days of looking at men and issues of masculinity and how mens sexuality is demonised-often anti-porn/sex (interchangeable, apparently!) feminists are cast in this role.

Without exception thus far, they avoid the question totally, preferring to bring it back to the insult to women, if they acknowledge that. Fine though that might be, I'd expect at least some of them to make more of a show of caring. I do feel they are avoiding it, possibly because it serves in some way.

Perhaps seeing men as dirty-in many senses of the word-or some how toxic (potent?) is a way of dealing with a product of being set up to represent certain tings. I always assumed that the feeling against men being seen to be overly concerned with personal hygiene was about manual labour being seen as more manly (and economically beneficial). Now I wonder if it's elevation's downside, that implicitly states that there is something wrong with what and who you actually are-that it is not good enough as it is.

Perhaps being dirty is a way of containing and dealing with that positively, that if men see themselves as a bit shabby, dirty, roguish, it deals with this peculiar deficiency by using a sado masochistic principle of using 'pain' to invoke pleasure, but in this case its an association of pleasure with something that might otherwise be painful. A bit like taking something that is an insult and by using it, changing it to a more positive meaning.

Women's answer to this has been to want equality with this kind of definition of sexuality, or to deconstruct sex or to want to liberate female sexuality. It's worth saying because men do not seem ready to go there just yet so its on the women.

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