Friday, November 17, 2006

Erohooha, pr0n, yadda: coda

One might also go, yesyesyes, but the POINT isn't about the -science;- fine; so some people got it wrong. The POINT is, PR0N HURTS WOMEN. and children. who should always be grouped together, should women and children, in case we're all ever aboard ship and it starts to sink, or something.

ANYWAY. Alex here sums up my feelings best wrt the whole, the dire dastardly insidious influence of pr0n, as in biochemicals or not, it clearly ALTERS and INFLUENCES people in a very concrete and harmful way, sexually that is:

I think that maybe there is something to the idea that people are and can be influenced by ideas-not-their-own, and that some people will absorb certain cultural messages with those ideas. ("Hot sluts beg for cum on their face!" turns into "Men will like me if I let them cum on my face," etc.)

BUT, I think the solution to that is to teach self-esteem and sexual education early in life, both to boys and girls. If we teach girls how to distinguish the things they want from the things they think they should want, that goes far further than destroying the porn industry ever would. Same goes for boys. If we teach frank discussion, without all the silly giggly embarrassed-ness that tends to surround sex, I think the problem would shrink dramatically.


Laura said...

Agreed. The problem is that, as it stands, porn is generally where boys learn about sex, and girls, if they don't watch porn themselves, learn about it from the porn watching boys. If we were all much more frank about sex, if we had decent sex education, maybe more people would recognise the misogynistic nature of much porn and reject it, rather than lapping it up and possibly taking on its values in the process as they have nothing to compare it with.

belledame222 said...

Well--or, you know, thinking outside the box here; maybe "porn" would be something else altogether, you know. I mean, I hear what you're saying, but from my POV it strikes me as a bit, mmm,

"If we all had access to healthy, delicious food, we'd recognize the pernicious nature of McDonald's and reject it."

You know? I mean, yes, perhaps; but is McDonald's the point, ultimately, is my question; do we frame it around McDonald's, or do we concentrate on the not inconsiderable problem of so how do we get to the point of introducing better alternatives so that we can better nourish and pleasure ourselves?

And if we still think McDonald's is a problem in and of itself, the next question is: well, is it really useful to only look at this as an isolated problem mostly focusing on the unhealthiness of the food, the exploitation of the workers, the unsavory conditions, how disgusting it really is; or do we step back and go, no, actually, really this is about corporatization; it is modeled on an ideology of BUSINESS, ultimately, which in turn is based on some core collective truisms that frankly, a narrow focus on any one industry is not really going to address.

belledame222 said...

I mean, well, yes, that's what I was just talking about here, obviously, was the porn. But in general.

well, and okay, as long as we -are- talking about The Eternal Subject, I am coming from a somewhat different perspective here. For me, finding certain kinds of porn/erotica/what you will on the 'Net was kind of freeing, (mostly written, but not all) in that i saw for the first time that, oh, other people think about these things; other people want these things; I'm not crazy, sick, or alone.

which, you know, if you're queer, is rather important. and i am thinking that even for a number of straight people, straight men, even, that this is in fact a factor, not simply "gee, I hate women! how can i best express that hatred? oo, cool porn." yah, that's often there, sure, misogyny in mainstream porn; but by my lights it's there because it's EVERYWHERE.

the problem isn't the porn; the problem is the misogyny.

which, and i'm sure there're few if any people who believe that porn is the CAUSE of misogyny, nor that making porn go away will solve the deep-rooted problem of institutionalized sexism, of itself.

but as for the idea that porn reinforces already-existing misogyny, more so than any other form of media, well, okay, maybe, but two things:

1) If it's THAT monkey see, monkey do, i mean if sexuality is THAT easily determined by this or that media image, then why amn't I straight? Because god knows i got plenty of bombardment from the media--sexual and otherwise--to that end. And yea, the current trend is to believe that gender preferences are hardwired whereas everything else is apparently malleable. I'm personally not at all sure it's that clearcut; I think it's...complicated.


2) I was gonna quote all of Alex's post, actually, but decided not to. But this, you know, i relate to as well. Well, not all of these exact fantasies; in some cases, some arguably kinkier stuff (no, not gonna get into specifics just now), which i certainly didn't learn -from- porn, because i only discovered that in fact other people shared this...bent (this took me longer and was more dependent on 'Net erotica, etc. than did plain ol' coming out gay) years and years after first having the fantasies. anyway, Alex's post:

"Things I fantasized about without any input from men, porn, or other sources of sexual ideas (save for the concept of dildos, which came up in sex ed - from female teachers, always):

-lesbian sex with a dildo/strapon
-double penentration, both by (a) one woman with two toys and (b) two men
-fire and ice used in sexual ways
-any of the above in varying combinations

Hetsex, including hetsex in the two most common positions (man on top, woman on top) and oral sex/manual (digital?) sex [fingering, etc.] aren't on the list because they came up in sex ed. So did masturbation.

And those were all private fantasies that I didn't discuss with anyone until at least a year after having them.

So... was I just a really inventive young teen, or did I somehow osmose ideas about these "horribly degrading things" from the world around me? And from where? I was a pretty sheltered kid. Hung out with guys, but I was the first one to awaken to sexual feelings, as far as I know. Certainly I was the one to initiate discussions about sex and sexuality, periods, STDs, etc. Which we had, often. Usually at my prompting. And it was never weird, after the initial shyness. I didn't watch or seek out porn or erotic images. (Stories, but those came after all the above-mentioned fantasies.)

So, where did they come from? I'd like to think that I went "oh, there are THESE parts on people... and THESE are the toys that are out there. I know that I like the feelings when I touch myself HERE and HERE... if I put THOSE parts by/in THESE spots, I'll feel pleasure. And I'm feeling pleasure just thinking about it." Not that explicitly, but you know what I mean.

I mean, was I just some mini-revolutionary who just had no ideas about the "societal pressures" being put on me to not talk about/think about these things? Or a mini-patriarchy-fucker who just had no ideas about the "societal pressures" being put on me TO talk about/think about these things?

I dunno."


I dunno either, but I relate, so it clearly isn't just that Alex is some kind of special unique snowflake, immune to the pressures that everyone else faces. And neither am I. And neither are a lot of other people; we just--hell, i think many of us--interpret our input in individual ways.

In short, in a way, you know, I think some people actually give porn too much credit.

I think the -real- problem that you're getting at is what -isn't- being taught: not just basic, -real- sex ed (although that'd be good, too, but empathy. Relationship skills. Ways to connect, erotic and otherwise.

It's more complicated, is what I'm trying to say. I get that people have a visceral loathing of porn, I certainly don't think that the bulk of it as it currently exists is particularly great, image-wise; and I am sure that abuses happen within the industry(ies) as well.

But I just don't see it as any more than one small symptom of the greater problem, i guess.

Well, and the other things is: I don't know where you stand on it, but by my lights there's nothing wrong with the act of filming or taking pictures of sex and/or getting off to same in itself. To me it's a natural outgrowth of every other...well, you may not want to call it art, and certainly a lot of it ain't artsy. But people have been drawing pictures and making sculptures and writing stories about every sex act since the beginning of human civilization, if not actually before. Same as they've been telling other sorts of stories and recordings of other facets of human experience (as filtered through their respective cultural mores) since the beginning. Film is a medium that took off like a house on fire as soon as it was introduced for every other genre; why wouldn't it be true for this as well?

Truly, I think that in fact if we had a a healthier attitude toward sex, there'd probably be -more- sexually explicit film, not less. But the -tone- could be very different. Certainly the current "norms" of mainstream porn are, well, -weird,- as I see it. Sure, some people enjoy themselves within it too (viz Renegade), and, that's cool for them; but, well, the conventions are...yeah, strange.

But again, I see that as outgrowth of the rest of the culture; which includes many taboos on openly expressed desire and sexuality (yes, even now) as well as millenia's worth of intitutionalized sexism and rigid gender roles, among other things.

emily said...

Ah pr0n. The problem with porn to me is not so much that's inherently exploitative or degrading (which it may or may not be depending on the person/situation) but that it's just so fucking boring. It doesn't say anything about fucking to me, about what goes on in people's bodies and minds, indeed it's not really supposed to.

So I'd rather read erotica and/or slash. Or write it. But like the grand belledame, I am one of teh queerz, so these discussions never really have anything to do with us, anyway.

belledame222 said...

well, see above post. especially the recent update.

yeh, most mainstream porn gets old pretty fast. and i find the majority of the sex bloggers kind of alienating as well, i have to say. did 'roll some that i did like, though, at the other place (and a few here).

so how do we differentiate between porn and erotica? is it, erotica=written, porn=film/video? or is it: porn=crappy, mainstream; erotica=indie, artsy, better production values, "classy?"
or is it: porn=hardcore, erotica=softcore?
or is it: porn=what they like; erotica=what I like?

i'm thinking you're using the first def here, emily (erotica=written). in which case i tend to agree. not that i don't like visual stimuli; it's just, well, there's a lot more possibility for variety and imagination, and hence what i actually like, with just a keyboard or pen and screen/paper. i'm sure if everyone who wrote sexay had the same access/ability to make video/film, why, we'd see a lot more interesting film and video...

belledame222 said...

>about what goes on in people's bodies and minds

Well, yeah, that's it as well: our cultural relentless focus on what does it look like, not what does it FEEL like. it's possible to make really erotic, sensual filmed stuff to that end, i think, just as it's more than possible (oh boy is it) to write "erotica" that might as well be instructions for programming a VCR. (You do this to me-two-three and I do this to you-two-three...)

yeah, "mechanism" and "utilitarianism" might be concepts worth examining more in depth, soon.

("Deep Inside Cultural Mores")

emily said...

oh yeah, I should have been more specific there on definitions. Definitely the first--erotica as written. In general I'm cool with labelling stuff that *I* like as "smut," though. Some of the hottest things I have read have been PWP (Plot What Plot?) stories that are just sex.

Yes, utilarianism is a good way to describe porn imo. I will tell you a vaguely relevant story:

I read some poems in a queer theory lecture earlier this year and afterwards one of the students came up to me *demanding* "what makes that different from porn?" To which my response was basically that porn is usually an aide d'masturbation, where my poems are supposed to get you off *and* make you think. And as a writer, it's about describing and enacting my own desires.. I'm not sure that necessarily separates me as an erotic writer from porn--or at least, *good* porn..

Trying to find a firm line about what is and isn't porn though is a misplaced enterprise though. As you pointed out, porn is often what other, less tasteful (haha) people like..

Laura said...

"Truly, I think that in fact if we had a a healthier attitude toward sex, there'd probably be -more- sexually explicit film, not less. But the -tone- could be very different. Certainly the current "norms" of mainstream porn are, well, -weird,- as I see it."

Yes, the tone is the issue. I have no problem with sex on film/watching sex on film, nor do I have a problem with any of the sexual activities listed in Alex's post. I do not think they are inherently degrading or sexist, and it does not surprise me that she came up with these ideas before she watched porn - I also had wonderful exciting ideas which I later discovered were enjoyed by many people and were a part of porn. The problem, as I see it, is that these acts, and others, when performed in mainstream het porn (or lesbian porn designed for men in some cases), are given a misogynistic tone and are used as ways to communicate a messgae of hatred and often violence against women.

If we learnt about sex earlier; if - as you suggest - we learnt about empathy and eroticism and respect within relationships - perhaps we would not be drawn to misogynistic porn which reflects the pâtriarchal view of the sexes. Perhaps less of it would be made.

But; yes; we need to address sexism and patriarchy in general in order to get rid of the learnt misogyny which draws people - men in particluar - to the misogynistic porn. Where we differ is that I think porn plays a BIG role in developing this misogyny, and recognising and rejecting the misogyny within it will help combat misogyny in general. I don't know what the best way to do this is, I am troubled by censorship - although I welcome the UK ban on possession of EXTREME violent porn as I don't think it is necessary (forcing my view on others, yeah i know, but i think most of society rejects murder, torture and rape so I dont see this as a problem) - I think Jensen's work is important in that he highlights the misogyny in porn to those who have not recognised it before - and I think this is the best way forward - to get people to recognise and reject it. Of course, this must go hand in hand with promoting women's rights etc in general, otherwise the viewers may not give a crap about women anyway...

As for porn being good as it gave you and others reassurance that you were not abnormal etc - well I think that is a good thing. I'm not for getting rid of all forms of sexual entertainment; I just want to get rid of the misogyny.

I will write a post soon on these issues methinks.

belledame222 said...

>Where we differ is that I think porn plays a BIG role in developing this misogyny,

I guess.

I'm just not sure I'm totally clear on how this would be though; the implication is that either there was actually -less- misogyny before porn became as widely available as it is. Or, I'm missing something, I expect.

I also keep an eye on the correlation vs. causation thing. as in, it may well be that men who watch misogynistic porn tend to be more misogynistic than other men; but did the porn cause the misogyny, or did already-existent misogynistic tendencies attract them to that sort of porn (and their attitudes therein)?

Laura said...

Yeah, chicken egg... All I know is that a lot of my nice, normal, friendly male friends watch or (in the case of boyf) used to watch misogynistic porn, but I wouldn't say they were misogynistic in general. It was what they came across first and they stuck with at as that was what was most readily offered as naked ladies and fucking for them to get off to - they grew up with it and don't (or in the case of boyf, didn't) question it. They then inevitabley bring that misogyny with them into their sexual relations with women because that is how they have viewed these sex acts being performed - hence how they can be friends with me (non hating) yet call the women they fuck dirty bitches and think the ultimate in sex is cuming all over them. They also have V alarming views of rape - ie women lie. All the time. (Yeah I'm generalising here, they're not all like that, but you get the picture). Porn adds misogyny to sex is I guess what I'm saying, and that really hurt me as a teenager - so my experience is v different to yours.

belledame222 said...

hm. well, yeah--for one thing, i'm about ten years older, so the 'Net hadn't really come into play. also, different country, possibly different cultural assumptions.

all I remember is the guys i thought who were jerkiest would quote y'know, Andrew Dice Clay, Eddie Murphy, music videos, mainstream media--they may've also been into porn, but i wasn't close enough to them to really be able to say one way or the other.

what kind of family backgrounds do those friends of yours come from, mostly? just curious.

my adolescent experience of dating...kind of wasn't. I was very shy and introverted, and also already knew I was gay (although was in denial more or less till my early twenties). mostly i just avoided, avoided, avoided. I remember finding the personal ads in the back of the L.A. weekly (like Village Voice, you know)--men for men, women for women, multiples, "anything goes," and feeling like it was a little keyhole view into freedom. i mean the knowledge that such things existed; i lived mostly in my fantasy life.

i also remember all kinds of incredibly mixed messages from all sorts of sources; and eventually second-guessing myself and my own desires to the point where i didn't trust my own feelings, thought i genuinely didn't know what being "attracted" to someone meant, had told myself that this feeling that i thought was sexual turnon was actually due to something else altogether (i had "help" with this one, from a dubious counselor, early on), and my feelings of warm if not particularly erotic liking for a given boy clearly meant that i was attracted to him.
it was, in short, a headfuck.

which, i guess i could blame the patriarchy for it, and in a way that's certainly true; but as you can see my experience of it is very very different. what boys/men did or didn't want simply didn't factor, at least not as such;

or, rather, as with many girls i suppose straight and otherwise, if and when i did go out with a guy, it was because he'd initiated it; i tried to cobble up the requisite feelings to go along with it. since i always erred on the side of extra-high boundaries, this usually just meant if i couldn't actually work it up (which i couldn't) i'd break it off before it went anywhere, and beat myself up about it. i realize a lot of other women just go ahead and have teh sex and feel crappy about it; i suppose that's due to personality and/or other differences.

belledame222 said...

I guess my other question wrt you and your friends--communication. Okay, so say the guy and the girl are getting down to it, and the guy says things like "dirty bitch," or whatever porn fantasy that's alarming and a turnoff. What happens then?

belledame222 said...

>They also have V alarming views of rape - ie women lie. All the time.

And do you think they get that message primarily from porn?

Laura said...

"Okay, so say the guy and the girl are getting down to it, and the guy says things like "dirty bitch," or whatever porn fantasy that's alarming and a turnoff. What happens then?"

Most girls think that's normal, so I guess they get on with it and play the dirty bitch role - I know that's what I used to do anyway.

Yeah, they don't just get the rape thing from porn, but I think porn is a factor - women like being forced, no can easily be turned into yes etc.

I don't actually know that much about family backgrounds - I live in a bit of a middle class bubble, I think they are prob all pretty middle class, fairly liberal backgrounds too. My most feminist, fabulous, genderbending bisexual male friend is from a conservative homophobic v working class background, though, which is interesting.

Sorry about the headfuck and the counselor, that really sucks :( I was in a relationship with the same guy from 15-19 so it was all acquiesing to teenage boy desire and insecurities for me, blergh.

Laura said...

about *their* family backgrounds

belledame222 said...

Hm. I wonder how much of this is (also) the classic "nice girl" training (that's very much a class thing, too, ime): don't make waves, don't hurt so and so's feelings. whether it's sexual or otherwise.

so are you saying you thought that sort of talk/treatment was normal because...that's what everyone else was doing? because he said so? you watched the porn tapes also? it was just sort of in the air?

do you remember how you felt at the time? i don't mean to pry; just, i'm interested.

belledame222 said...

did you feel like the "dirty bitch," yadda business was sort of rebellious, at the time, at all? or was it totally go along and get along?

did you have any idea about what you, yourself, might have wanted, sexually?

Laura said...

No, it's not prying, it's good to talk about these things :)

I thought it was normal because I knew fuck all about sex, so I just went along with what my porn using boyfriend suggested and the way in which he suggested we do things. I hadn't watched porn, but I saw porn type images on the covers and insides of lads mags and saw that these women were desired - were hot, sexy, dirty, engaged in XYZ - and because, like most teenagers, I wanted to fit in and be popular, I tried my hardest to be dirty/sexy according to the lads mags/mainstream porn type view of dirty because I could never look like those women looked - but I could make up for it in other ways. PLus, I obviously wanted to keep and please my boyfriend - what else are girls for? Grrr... Being told I was like my boyfriend's personal porn star was the highest acolade for me. I felt proud and like I had a real sense of self and of worth that I had never felt before - but I was still self harming and having bouts of depression and periods of severe self doubt, and I think now that was because my self confidence at that time was based not on any intrinsic worth I felt but on what my boyfriend and his friends and others at school thought of me (my boyfriend would tell his friends in great detail everything we did sexually and I enjoyed the attention and supposed admiration this gained me from other guys).

Yeah, I felt it was rebellious in the sense that I was now the cool sex queen rather than the geek. And we did partake in things which I myself wanted to try - some pretty nonmainstream things - and I enjoyed it and had a great time. But I let my boyfriend do whatever he wanted and have sex with me whenever he wanted even if I wasn't interested (ie I would lie on my front and watch TV while he fucked me) and I don;t think this was conducive to a good state of mind or self confidence.

With my next (and current) boyf I wanted to prove I could be the dirty sex queen once again - again, wanting to be popular, have a reputation, wanting to create a feeling of self worth (learning from lads mags, porn, TV, music vids whatever that being sexy/good in bed = ultimate in womanhood) - but he wasn't into the same things as my ex and I literally used to beat and hit myself because I couldn't conform to how he wanted me to give him a BJ blah blah. (Some serious entitlement right there that he has now got over).

With him I guess the problem wasn't learning from porn - through him - how to have sex, as with my ex - but from my assumptions of what he expected of me as a woman and my assumptions of what society expected of me as a woman, heavily tainted by constantly comparing myself with lads' mags models.

All this time I have had ideas of what I want/wanted sexually, but they often got entangled with my v low self esteem - ie I like moderate pain/roughness, but because I hated myself it got to wanting to be hit round the face simply because I thought I was a piece of crap.

So that's turned into a looooong piece of self analysis, rather than of porn, sorry. But - because I don't think I'm just naturally mad or anything- I really believe my self esteem issues and consequent destructive behaviour during sex stemmed from the pressure I felt to be this ideal sexy, dirty pornstar type woman (from lads mags, from porn, from my male friends talking about porn, from films etc)- linked with the age old pressure to get a man, to be seen as attractive to men which I learnt from day one. Learning about sex through a guy who learnt about sex through porn certainly didn't help this - hence my original agreement with Alex's post.

Conclusion: yeah, porn wasn't the only cause of my issues, but I don't think they'd have been half as bad if it hadn't existed/wasn't misogynistic.

Sorry for the ramble, but I really appreciate the space to vent, hope you don't mind.

belledame222 said...

No, not at all, thank you, in fact.

>So that's turned into a looooong piece of self analysis, rather than of porn, sorry.>

Truthfully it's this kind of discussion i think is more relevant and interesting than of porn per se, in general. not that we can't talk about porn also, but.

>But I let my boyfriend do whatever he wanted and have sex with me whenever he wanted even if I wasn't interested (ie I would lie on my front and watch TV while he fucked me) and I don't think this was conducive to a good state of mind or self confidence.>

no, i could certainly see that.

so are you saying that these days, in your experience, the pressure among adolescents & very young adults is pretty much one-way--that is, to be sexual? because i remember it--well, out of the loop as i was, but while i do remember pressure on the girls to be sexy, have boyfriends, yadda, and a lot of people were alerady having sex; at the same time, being too openly a "slut" wasn't good. so it was at least to some degree the classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't," I expect. we had one resident "slut," I remember--her name was Carla (well, close enough). whether she actually did sleep around as much as she was rumored to or not, I don't know--in a way it sort of didn't matter, you know; what mattered was someone got to be "it" so other girls didn't have to. today i look back on it and figure there was maybe some sort of class thing going on. although the other girl i remember rumors flying about was a transfer from a private school and visibly wealthy--she brought caviar to some sort of potluck event, i remember--so maybe that, too, was a class thing from the other direction.

it sound like also there isn't much in the way of public sex ed, especially? that surprises me; for some reason i thought the UK was ahead of us in that regard.

belledame222 said...

what about asking for what you want in other areas? in dating or out of it, i mean. did you feel like you were encouraged to speak up for yourself, say "no" and "yes" and mean it?

like i said, in general (with some exceptions), i was always quite good at "no;" it's "yes" that's been the bigger problem with me. i didn't trust easily if at all; well i suppose i had reasons not to.

belledame222 said...

>to be seen as attractive to men which I learnt from day one.

I guess I was lucky in many regards--my mom, while socially conservative in many ways (politically they're both liberal, my parents) i think went out of her way to -not- pressure me into thinking dating and getting married was important. they both valued book larnin', and i know for my mother especially it was a big deal to have gone to university--well, to graduate school, to teach university--she'd been given mixed messages like "study hard, do well" (with the goal of becoming a teacher) and at the same time "when your baby's crying, it won't matter whether you got A's or B's." She was never a feminist per se, but I think that being able to fulfill her intellectual potential, as a woman (who'd been pressured not to) was and still is a very big deal.

so in some ways i took that much at least for granted.

the pressure that really hit home with me was the one to be "normal," to not stand out as too deviant or weird, (or too smart, funnily enough, although i never really connected that with being female till years later; i think it's partly that, at least) to just get by and get through it.

belledame222 said...

I wonder whether it's better or worse to have the confused and often wrongheaded messages about sex than the earlier generations' basically nonexistent messages. hell, there's still a staggering amount of misinformation and naivete. i don't expect the Bush admin's campaign for "abstinence only" education has exactly helped matters.

but i remember when i was doing the LGBT hotline some years ago, i took one call from a high school senior who was having sex with her girlfriend, and wanted to know how likely it was that they could get an STD. In the course of the conversation, it became apparent that she'd never actually heard of the clitoris. she was very excited to learn, though; i remember she got off the phone all eager to run and tell her gf the exciting news (maybe stopping to get a mirror in the process).

strange days indeed. i dunno.

i still think that the only way forward is forward; we need more information and open talk, not shutting down.

Laura said...

Heya, just to let you know I will get back to this, but am off back to England for the rest of the week tomorrow morn and must sleep so will be absent for a while...

You are sooooo right about Pink btw :)

belledame222 said...

Enjoy your trip!

Alex said...

Okay, before I even read any more:

eee, I got quoted by Belledame. Gonna do a little happy dance now.

Okay, now I'm gonna go read the rest of the replies.

Alex said...

I think, BD, that maybe you hit on it with the "i was always quite good at "no;" it's "yes" that's been the bigger problem with me" bit - that was also the case with me.

I had my first boyfriend when I was sixteen or so - "real life" boyfriend, anyway; I was a regular little internet geek prior to that, and had a couple of online girlfriends (who I've met since, and are indeed who they say they are)...

But, anyway. And he did try and pressure me into having sex, over the course of, oh, a weekend or so; he was going to be leaving the province soon, and so... well. But I never had a problem saying no to it. It was not a line I was willing to cross at that time.

So I'm not even sure it's the 'net/non-'net issue that's confounding this, either; not sure about the country issue. o

Or even if the issue is the availability of porn, because I was looking at similar magazines around that time (16ish). And... I dunno. Maybe I was externalizing the misogynistic messages, because I was in "boy mode" at the time (imagininary penis and all); but I certainly didn't feel pressure, either from others or from the magazines, to comply with those things that I didn't already find erotic.

Again... maybe it was because I had near-constant (at least 5 years worth) sex ed. in health class, and I don't remember it even being opt-out; plus my mother was talking about it with me in at least third grade or so.

Again... I think I must have turned out incredibly lucky in the big draw of things; I was much like Belle (a total geek, really), but also WITHOUT the huge stigma against lesbianism/bisexuality; very few of my friends were "against" it (I actually inspired a few other comings-out), and those that (nominally) were changed their minds pretty quickly, at least where it came to me.

Well, with the exception of my mother, but that was later, and now it mostly pisses me off. It's not eroding my identity any, as far as I can tell.

But... I dunno. I grew up with some girls that DID do the sorts of things that Laura describes; or would get drunk to lower their inhibitions; and I remember thinking - and saying, on at least a couple of occasions - why would you do that? Not only from a safety POV, but just from a... not regretting what you're doing POV. I could never understand it.

And, you know, I think I really still don't. And I have a little sister (not so little), that is doing some of these things - not to the point of having sex, but. She is so shy that she feels she needs to get drunk to make out with a guy she likes, and then afterwards feels SO guilty about it...

And I have no framework to talk to her about it. I can try and talk to her about it - have done - but it's like talking to her about her conception of herself as "fat". I just can't seem to get through to her about it. I don't know how. I don't know where the key is, you know?

And THAT, more than anything, pisses me off. Because to me, it's practically elementary. You don't listen to what other people say about your weight, and you pretty much ignore the magazine ads (and I have shown her what airbrushing/touchups does - it didn't seem to stick) - hell, ignore the magazines, there's nothing in there that I or mom can't tell her.

And I seriously have no idea how these messages got ingrained in her, and we were pretty close all through her high school time (and she was pretty close with mom during elementary school).

To be perfectly honest, it sometimes makes me want to shake her. Which is definitely some misplaced anger, but I was never a very patient teacher...

Anyway. That was long and rambly and I'm not even sure it entirely addressed what you three are talking about except in the most roundabout of ways. But it's late, so there's my excuse.