Sunday, August 13, 2006

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Finally managed to coalesce some thoughts wrt the school of feminism that says, basically, this or that sexact or mode of adornment is wrong because it *hurts women,* in some general, collective sort of way.

Well, a couple of things.

Ultimately, you know, I think basic communication is a really good thing and would be a great part of feminism as well.

Because, see, one of the other tenets of feminine training, I gotta say this, is the expectation that if someone -really- loves us, they'll know what we think without us having to, like, tell them. And vice-versa.

and no, sadly, lesbians are not exempt from this, p.s.

There was a woman somewhere on one of the major feminist blogs who had a line related to this, something about, how did it go: well, okay, say -some- woman -really does- like deep-throating (anal sex, something, whatever it was the implication was she didn't really get how -anyone- could actually enjoy it); but then she breaks up with the man and now the next woman he dates (i.e. me) he'll expect her to perform the same actions; and then what, huh?

And I am sitting here thinking: okay. This is a -hypothetical scenario.- So presumably this is a guy you'd -want- to be dating, not a rapist, not some creep; it's your imagination, you can imagine this however you want. And in all your -feminist- imaginings, of -all- the scenarios that come to your head, you can't or aren't conceiving of oh I don't know something that goes like:

"Honey? I know your last girlfriend really liked anal sex, but I don't."

"Oh, okay! Thanks for telling me. Well, let's not do that, then."


And, see, the other thing is, if you -are- talking that bluntly and clearly about what you do and don't want and yer partner still isn't respecting it; well, you know, -that- is a bigass problem;

but maybe, you know, in that case, the problem isn't -actually- about sex, but something more fundamental?

Just putting it out there.

And on that note:

One of the tenets of abuse, or at minimum manipulation,in any form (of which male-to-female abuse is certainly one big component), is this transation:

"If you REALLY loved me, you'd ____."

Which could include such things as: anal sex, wearing those godawful heels, deep-throating, whatever it is that you find degrading and awful and he's just not hearing. Or even stuff that doesn't seem to directly affect him -at all- but would make him "happy;" i.e. you stop seeing that loudmouth friend of yours. Stop reading those books. Quit your job.

Well, I get that. Bigtime.

It's creepy. And wrong.

But here's the thing.

Those let's say relational patterns? They don't just disappear and go away because we've gotten out of that particular abusive relationship. We can, in fact, do unto others what's been done to us. And no, in fact, the fact that whatever-it-is you're supposed to have done is now completely off the menu doesn't mean you still can't be abusive or at least manipulative/controlling wrt something -else.-

So this is how I read that whole list of: wearing lipstick, shaving, this or that behind closed doors, what you -think- about, being "not feminist," how we really ought to at least think long and hard about these choices and -consider- maybe giving them up (not that we're forcing you or pressuring you or anything):

"If you REALLY LOVED women (including me), you'd do this for me."

You know what, though?



And if that means the end of the relationship, despite everything else we've had, well, too bad, but: so be it.


Alon Levy said...

I think that the best argument against this line of thinking comes from within rape feminism: it makes women responsible to men's sexual behavior. It's your responsibility as a woman to wear a burqa, not flirt or give off the impression that you're flirting, and not have unapproved sexual acts.

Sara E Anderson said...

Whatever happened to "there are other fish in the sea?" Not all fish will break up with you if you don't take it in the butt.

I kind of think there's a current of possessiveness going on here that when I'm feeling insecure I can lapse into, where some women want to be enough to satisfy any appetite that their lover has. This is especially foolish if you also want to be paired with a guy who will be attracted to you if you gain a few pounds or age 15 years (and therefore has the capacity to be attracted to all sorts of different things). You're just not going to be all things to your lover, so you might as well make sure to connect on a few really good things, and leave the miscellaneous incompatibilities to memories of old girlfriends or fantasies of imaginary ones.

A White Bear said...

I'm with you here, Belledame. Sexual piggishness and compulsory behavior is a problem, especially for young people who are still figuring out what they do and don't like or want in their partnerships. When we're still experimenting, we date a lot of the wrong people who don't care about our happiness as much as they want their own pleasure, so much of sex at that stage feels forced, compulsory, even abusive, because the relationship itself isn't based on mutual happiness. I'll say it again, that almost everything that I found uncomfortable, forced, and unpleasant sexually at age 20 with a man who hated me has become something that I really love doing at 26 with someone I love and trust. Dare I say it? Sex isn't inherently abusive, though sexual partners often are.

It's possible that the easy road of condemnation is condemning the act, while the more difficult condemnation is of the choice of people who don't care about us to perform those acts with. If there's something we should be teaching our young women, it's not to never give blow jobs; it's not to voluntarily accept assholes as partners.

belledame222 said...

> it makes women responsible to men's sexual behavior.

Well, exactly. Except in this case the proponents of this sort of thinking swear up, down and sideways that this is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what they mean.

what it really amounts to, though, i think, is...yep, pretty familiar. only difference is that instead of putting the focus on the men per se, the men are a sort of..conduit through which one is attempting to bring other women into line.

either way, the man is effectively reduced to a dumb animal, whose only responsive, if to anything, to the crudest of behavioral "training."

which, never even mind that this is insulting to men; this is -exactly the same line- that comes out of much of the "patriarchal/rape" culture supposedly being decried.

belledame222 said...

>If there's something we should be teaching our young women, it's not to never give blow jobs; it's not to voluntarily accept assholes as partners.>


And not in a shaming/hectoring way, either. Field guide to recognizing assholes from quite a long way away. Including when -you're- being one. That would be good.

and for men as well.

A White Bear said...

Alon, I think that makes sense, but only if you're equating rape and sex. Since not all women experience all sex in the context of rape or as rape, I think it's important that feminists empower women to make self-assertive sexual choices when we can, not to assume that all sexual experiences are by nature rape, which robs women of any agency in sex whatsoever.

belledame222 said... other words, assertiveness training.

See, this is what I don't get: how there seems to be this tacit assumption, amidst all the internal shaming and scolding of women, that actually -talking directly to the men in question- as if they were rational adult human beings is, well, out of the question.

presumably this is based on experience of a fuckload of men with whom this doesn't work; nonetheless it is neither helpful nor accurate to assume that therefore the solution is to write off -all men- as impossible to even -talk- to (note that I am not saying "have a relationship with," even), ever.

Seriously, I get separatism and/or separate space in the sense of taking a break, perhaps a permanent one, if that's what you need;

but when you've gotten to the point where you're basically going on and on -about- men, and trying anything and everything to try to influence their behavior -except- for direct communication...maybe, you know, that is something of a problem, at that.

A White Bear said...

Whoops! BD covered my last. Ignore.

BD, I think we're all still doomed to date assholes, field guide or no, but at least we could care enough about ourselves to leave and not, like, marry the SOBs.

Bitch | Lab said...

here's the exact quote:

I wouldn’t lecture anyone about how to fuck or how many people or in what position. But I still think it is worth it to recognize the underlying dynamics of what induces people to behave the way they do, particularly about things that become fads. Brazilian waxing is a good example of that. I don’t think that getting Brazilian bikini waxes, etc. will make “our hard-won feminist gains”, not at all! But aren’t many of us pressured into believing that our pubic hair is gross and shameful for example (let’s say a whiff of it peeping from the bikini)? Some of us don’t like to deep throat or take it up the butt (it hurts after all), aren’t we afraid we might be considered prudes by our sexual partners and other women? I think it’s always legitimate to ask, when following a fad or trend, how much of it is an informed, empowered personal choice. Otherwise why would you have any problems with Muslim women wearing burqa’s. Why is one an acceptable or even “liberating” personal choice, but the other has got to be a result of coercion or ignorance? I completely agree that “Having a full range of sexual options should be a high-priority feminist goal”, that’s why I am uncomfortable with a culture in which the only “fashionable” form of sexual expression for women involves putting on a performance for men. As a woman who loves sex, but not with women, and isn’t really exhibitionist, there just isn’t a lot of appealing imagery out there for me. No, I don’t think it is time to put the debate to bed.

she didn't say what I said she'd said exactly. That was me kind of laughing at what she was saying. In order for it to be an issue of pressure, it has to be made public -- in the context of the article to which she was responding (Lusty's Lady's piece on submissive sex)

Which is where Amber (and I) have trouble: because what she seems to want is that no one talks about their sexual desires, lest men learn that some of like the things they desire.

So, there is (to me) an element of *shhhh*. Don't talk about it because, when you do, men get the wrong idea and where does that leave me.

As I'd already said at amber's, the point would be to make sure men understand that women are different!

A White Bear said...

I'd like to add, also, that I know the typical response to the fact that I might, for example, change my mind about oral or anal sex from "no" to "under the right conditions" is simply a product of my forcing myself to accept the unacceptable in order to become a "good girl" who does, rather than a "bad girl" who doesn't.

This assumes I have the intelligence of a pin or a complete lack of interest in my own pleasure.

The reason I might be willing to engage in certain acts under the right conditions is because "the right conditions" includes "pleasurable for me," and those conditions are extremely narrow. Having met those conditions, however, who I am I to deny myself new kinds of fun in the name of someone else's idea of feminism?

belledame222 said...

BL: I agree, but see the thing is there's a fine line between "examining the practice" and "shaming other people for doing it."

And no, "love the sinner, not the sin" doesn't cut it.

It really is gonna have to be a different sort of language/communication to usefully talk about this shit.

A White Bear said...

And no, "love the sinner, not the sin" doesn't cut it.

Nope, instead, I'm afraid we must embrace the opposite, equally conservative language of the NRA:

Blowjobs don't oppress people; people oppress people.

belledame222 said...

Well, I think there are two ways to go about it, I mean in-depth discussions:

One is to take a very clinical, academic tone, without, insomuch as it's possible, personalizing it at all. Certainly at least without going to "you" statements. That would be the more I guess sociological approach.

The other is to adopt a kind of group-therapy speak for the purposes of consciousness-raising. To wit: again, avoiding "you" statements. Speak from the "I;" avoid "you" and particularly "you should." Also see: "I relate to this," or "I don't really relate to this, because..." and related phrases. Makes some people roll their eyes; but you know what, the shit works.

In, er, my experience.

Renegade Evolution said...

I tell my man all the time if he really loved me he'd empty the fucking dishwasher...

No luck with that yet.

belledame222 said...

BL: and you're right to repost: it was sloppy of me to just take it thirdhand and run with it. thanks.

I will say, though, that I have seen stuff said that was actually a lot closer to your/my paraphrase. certainly the business of "expectations" comes up a lot; esp. wrt porn.

and it's like: the porn, the porn, O.K.; well, if you're concerned about the women actually making the porn, that's one argument; this is now a separate argument. and essentially what you are saying is: monkey see, monkey wanna do.

monkey in this case being of course the male; because of course the woman is not gonna watch the porn tape of her own volition, much less think "hey, that looks like it could be fun, maybe!" of her own volition.

but you know; don't blame the men for being major-grade unsocialized asshats/abusers who won't listen; don't even blame the porn for being crappy and unrealistic; blame it for being Teh Evol Influence.

EL said...

Wow, belledame. This is it.