Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The flip side of this charming worldview..."

(riffing off the same SP post that inspired this one)

I hadn't even gotten into fillyjonk's other point, the one that started me commenting on this piece, before I got distracted by what felt like the main point. Said other point being:

The flip side of this charming worldview, of course, is male anger at women who don’t make themselves available — see many of our friends in that now-closed thread — or women who have the gall to have a body they find unattractive. That’s the real problem with feminism, with fatness, with (for some pseudo-enlightened guys) the extremely thin beauty ideal: it’s a boner-killer, and boner primacy is a paramount law of the dude cabal. You don’t have to read very far between the lines of most troll comments to see that’s what it boils down to: how dare you possess a womanly body I can’t or don’t want to fuck.

One of the -other- charming Tucker Max slogans, by the way, (not sure if it made it to an actual bus ad or not; I wouldn't be surprised) was "Fat girls aren't people." A motto he, like so many of his fellow yrch, upholds faithfully by the same kind of invasive in-your-space crap as goes to the "lucky" "hot girls," except instead of aggressive and hostile come-ons often laced with insults, you get...insults, often laced with aggressive and hostile-come-ons. e.g. (via the same Schmucker-related comment thread, I can't be arsed linking back to the original again):


Of course, this is the same attraction/disgust other "undesirable" women get: the exotically fetishized racial "Other," particularly those whose stereotypes don't map to "hyperfeminine" (i.e. the Asian "Lotus Blossom"); trans women; women with disabilities (viz Fuckhead's charming "I'm two thirds of the way to a Helen Keller"), women who are -too- "slutty" or "low-class," including sex workers; and so forth.

And yes, of course, in this "charming worldview," women are never entirely "people," not -really- (nor for that matter are quite a lot of men, but that's not the subject of this particular post) . Women who're "friends" or "girlfriends" or otherwise "special" may be (sort of) excepted, as long as they don't step out of line or lose their attractiveness and/or utility or make too many demands, like decent treatment. **

But the women deemed "unfuckable" (except, of course, when it's in the name of supposed desperation, or in the interest of gathering exotic/disgusting stories to tell one's friends, or in the dudely bonding activity of attempting to degrade via fucking, or even that the dude in question is secretly attracted but of course can't admit to any such thing in front of his dudebros)--well, those women get to be, shall we say, more -overtly- "not real people." Further objectified. Further dehumanized. Further to fall. Ain't it the way.

One could examine -how- each of these particular ways of being "unpersoned" starts with being "unwomaned." As noted in previous posts and elsewhere, the way trans women are treated perhaps most sharply illuminates this curious phenomenon (i.e. [cis] women aren't -really- people, but compared to people and especially women who get cast outside either the favored or disfavored gender boxes, it's still a lot more "personed"). The "unwomaning"/"desexing" (and/or fetishizing) of women of color and women with disabilities each respectively happens in its own way, within its own context(s), but in service of roughly the same ends.

Fat-bashing and especially fat-woman-bashing is an interesting one, and one I realize I haven't talked about much in this blog, curiously enough, because I am fat. As for the etiology of "fat is a feminist issue," today is my day for quoting Shapely Prose, I guess, because this here is a really good breakdown:

(summarizing themes from feminist philosopher Susan Bordo's book Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body):

-Voracious hunger is considered a sign of manliness.

-Hunger for food and desire for sexuality are constructed as analogous, but this is a gendered analogy. When women are targeted, “their hunger for food is employed solely as a metaphor for their sexual appetite.” When men are targeted, the metaphor goes in reverse: eating delicious food is depicted as a sexual conquest. (The examples for this include hilariously awful ads of men whispering sweet nothings to their Betty Crocker desserts.)

-Female hunger is represented in terms of misogynistic fear: sex is imagined as a form of eating in which the woman consumes and destroys a male object of desire.

...The connection between hunger and desire, especially, can be subterranean: the ideal of thinness, of course, depends on you having the goal of a certain kind of fuckability — but even eating itself is depicted as an act of sensual abandon instead of a necessity for every living thing on earth. As such, men are commended for having hearty appetites — boys will be boys — and women are told to keep their mouths (and their knees) shut.

The quote I highlighted above is the one that was most illuminating to me, because it says (in my non-theory translation) that dieting is the ultimate act of repressive femininity. Essentially, what Bordo argues is that not eating when your body needs food is participating in your own marginalization — but it’s marginalization dressed up as a sexual ideal. This, I think, is why trolls and anti-FA jerkwads are so obsessed with the idea that we want them all to have sex with fatties: fat is, on some unacknowledged level, about sex in our culture.

And of course, while these days women aren't supposed to keep their knees shut, "sluttiness" is still considered degrading, even monstrous, particularly if it's the woman's idea/desire. Also see.

This is all even before we get to: what if the woman desires women rather than men.

Let's skip over the relatively obvious trope of "any woman who doesn't desire the misogynist is a dyke (and probably fat and ugly to boot, and nobody wants those grapes -anyway-), whether she actually is one or not."

Let's start with "yes I am, and especially seeing you represented as the alternative, THANK THE SWEET WEEPING JESUS, because annoying as tolerating your existence is -now-, I can't even imagine what it'd be like to -want- attention from a shitbag like you, which is of course assuming not only straight but either with really low self-esteem or a taste for smug often-not-exactly-gorgeous-themselves mediocrities with more beer than brains."

Not that I am saying that the latter is a small population: hey, it was good enough for Laura Bush.

But the truth is, as much as the political lesbian and other such might like to romanticize the notion, being Sapphically inclined is not actually all that much of an opt-out from being on the receiving end of this sort of bullshit. For one thing, as noted here recently, women, dykes included, can be appalling assholes too. In eerily similar-sounding ways those of the brodudes, even, amazingly enough.

Mostly, though, what happens is, as with any other woman, you're going along your way, minding your own business, and some hairbag or frathole or other form of arrested male development decides to inform you that He Would Not Fuck You Anyway, He Does Not Like You, Spam He Am.

This happens in a variety of contexts, online or off. Occasionally it's completely out of the blue; you just happen to be unfortunate enough to occupy the same airspace (or bandwidth) as the meatsack, and, more to the point, his buddies; you are merely the means to the end of scoring a laugh/bonding moment.

Other times it (also) turns out to be, however obscurely, the meatsack's way of expressing that you have Stepped Beyond Your Place, whatever that entails. A political opinion he does not care for, say; or your not smiling when urged to do so; or laughing too loudly in public (what if it were at him!)

The implication that being adjudged "fuckable"*** by some random wet fart is something one should aspire to in the first place should be as obvious and pathetic as its rough equivalent, the small child changing from "You're pretty!" to "You're ugly! I hate you!" when one tells her firmly that it is past her bedtime (actual experience and Click Moment when I was a young woman of babysitting age).

And yet, as has been the thesis here, grown men resort to this devastating retort all the bloody time. More to the point, they feel comfortable referring to an implicit, sometimes explicit, authority in doing so. "Every straight man with a set of eyes." It's true because it's true, because it's true. Obviously the chode in question is being ridiculously self-absorbed; yes, attraction is subjective, but it's more than that. He's comfortable believing he's the center of the universe because he's -used- to that impression being reinforced. Of -course- he doesn't find you fuckable, unworthy woman; and of -course- this should be something you should worry about. What, you thought your life had nothing to do with the whims and demands of Average Entitled Dudebro? Think again. Attention, attention must be paid.

And sooner or later, the old "just ignore them, dear" bromide being as ineffectual to address the root of the problem--i.e. the misogynistic entitled assholes are being misogynistic entitled assholes, and it's their own damn choice to do so, which is unsurprising because they're only being rewarded for it, by and large--one sighs, and cracks one's knuckles, and puts down one's copy of Fun Home or whatever else was a hell of a lot more interesting than the overgrown fratholes who still run way too much of the planet, and -gives- them some attention.

One trusts the recipients of said troll food attention are suitably appreciative.

**If you're depressed enough already after reading that Gawker piece, you might as well skip the comments, a good chunk of which boil down to,

"I don't believe it, and even if it's true that's not really that big a deal anyway, not like -real- abuse, and also it's her own damn fault for taking so much horrific crap from anyone. No sympathy."

The ex ("Bunny") herself would appear to be largely in agreement with the sentiment that she has/had her own reasons for dating a knob like Tucker, and so forth. And no, the repeated labeling of other women as "whores" and so on isn't exactly endearing, that is true. That said, I find her a hell of a lot more sympathetic than him. For one thing, she's actually a much more interesting writer.

***p.s. in case you didn't get your full share of ugly: not just fuckable, but rapeable.


queen emily said...

"I don't believe it, and even if it's true that's not really that big a deal anyway, not like -real- abuse, and also it's her own damn fault for taking so much horrific crap from anyone. No sympathy."

I never borrowed that kettle from you! And it was broken in the first place!

I love an explanation which cancels itself out...

CrackerLilo said...

This is making me tear up, because I have seen it. It's bringing a lot of high school back, for one thing. I vowed never to date a guy who went to my school, and it was remarkably easy to stick to that vow. This makes a lot of things make sense.

It also accounts for so much of the street harassment my wife and I have gotten both together and separately, and why that guy in the hardware store looked like I'd hit him where he lives when he said "Come on, smile" and I snapped back, "I'm not here for you to look at."

I'm tired, but will have to look at this again with fresh eyes and a clear mind. I'm glad someone's written about it so well.

Crys T said...

I'm just trying to figure out why I spent all that time reading Twisty when YOU exist.

Thank you, thank you: you've given me a lot to think about.

Lili said...

It's complete madness and incredibly destructive. From grade school up until around 25 I was "skinny, flat chested b*tch" and "skeletor".From around 27 to 36 I was "crazy hot" Then later from 35 to 40 I was "fata**", now I'm "gorgeous for my age".

Please...they can all kiss my whatever a**. As my Ma said: Take me or leave me...just don't don't mess with me. Or you'll get it brought to ya decent. (She was Texan so...)

F*ck it. I teach my nieces/nepews/Godchildren daily not to fall for the BS-from stupid men or the women that buy into their craziness.

They are probably the most attitude having little girls and boys in the world. You'll never see them weighing themselves, saying stupid remarks to girls, fighting over makeup, flexing in front of the mirror, trying to get into any clique, or crying for 200 dollar jeans though...

GallingGalla said...

Of course, this is the same attraction/disgust other "undesirable" women get: the exotically fetishized racial "Other," particularly those whose stereotypes don't map to "hyperfeminine" (i.e. the Asian "Lotus Blossom"); trans women; women with disabilities (viz Fuckhead's charming "I'm two thirds of the way to a Helen Keller"), women who are -too- "slutty" or "low-class," including sex workers; and so forth.

From a trans woman who doesn't pass and who is sick of feeling like she is walking a gauntlet every time she passes a group of men, --thank you--. (results of said gauntlet for me have ranged from laughter to assault)

Also, yrch? That is one Sindarin word (singular is orch, btw) that ought to become part of the English language, because it describes the Tucker Max's of our world perfectly.

belledame222 said...

I think I lifted "yrch" from you, actually. so, thank you.

belledame222 said...

hey, welcome, Chrys T, if I haven't said before.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Yeah, I had a troll go berserk on my thread about women going shirtless: But, but, but, I don't want to see ALL women 's breasts! Just the ones I like!!! ARGH!!!! Don't make me look at them ALLLLLL!!!!!

And when we all informed him in unison than we didn't care what he liked or didn't like to look at or not, he seemed to go a little crazy, comparing us to racists who "don't care about others"--really he did. It was something else.

Finally, he deleted all of his comments from the thread. I wish he hadn't now, they were a lesson in exactly what you describe here.

belledame222 said...

It's the same fail as the breastfeeding argument and any number of others, too. There ought to be a maxim:

"When it comes to 'personal rights,' your visual pleasure or lack thereof" does not trump my physical comfort/being in the world. kthxbai."

Crys T said...

Thanks Daisy: been a bit "mehh" today, and your story cheered me right up!

And thanks for the welcome, belledame!

Sarah Goldstein said...

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Read a book on the cultural history of menstruation?
AND loved that book so much you skipped Saturday brunch with friends to keep reading?
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Call me crazy, but I think this book is beyond perfect for your readers. It’s edgy, gorgeous & evocative. Full-color throughout, art quality hardcover; every single person who has seen it becomes a fan.

I’d love to send you a copy in hopes that you’ll feature on your site. I’m also happy to supply authors for a q&a or free copies of book for giveaway for your readers…

Please write!

Sarah Goldstein
Associate Marketing Manager
St. Martin’s Press

Elizabeth McClung said...

Well anytime my comment comes after a book advocating a day reading about mensus I have doubts.

Thank you for including women with disabilities, actually thanks for including all women (I will just throw in small breasted women in case you didn't - since as Daisy DeadHead comments, it becomes QUITE clear who men and WOMEN accept and want to know) - The amount of abuse I, my sister and partner have recieved at the temple of the 'beauty' Victoria Secret by workers there is profound - multiple insults every time we go from attacks on size for my sister or partner looking for panties for me, to attacks on me for well, existing, or having breasts too small or that this wasn't the store for me (while acknowledging being in non compliance of the ADA and indicating the exit was).

OF course, if you want another topic there is the Fetishist, who with disabled women makes the arguement that as a 'devotee', they are the only males who are likely to want to BE with us (so far no female devotees, but also, a huge plate of 'I don't give a damn' from lesbians on accessible spaces - even noted from artists, authors who read to lesbian/feminist crowds and their own partners cannot join them. Current arguement is due to oppression of women have to use smaller venues, up stairs, etc, and someone must be 'sacrificed' - which is the most vulnerable group of women - have noticed lots of excuses to exclude the most vulnerable groups of women - the core aim of feminism surely, inclusion of those vulnerable like those in the post here?).

Back to devotees, the truth is, they are accepted often and even become the professionals which we end up having to go TO in order to get wheelchair seating and other services. Women learn and many make the deal that they know the male with them is only there to objectify them, is eroticized by their helplessness - that they are ever on the edge of abuse (or in it), but who else IS there? I have asked men repeatedly and hetero men say they look at a woman in a wheelchair and think "Too much unknown, too complicated!" and turn attention to the fuckable possibilities around which are NOT complicated.

belledame222 said...

Elizabeth! Hey! Nice to see you.

You know, I can't remember if I wrote this post before or after something ableism-related in this womens' workshop I went to which-I'd really like to post about it, but I think confidentiality agreements probably mean I can't do it justice.

Just-well the salient part, or part of it, involved someone with chronic pain and her making it clear at one point to the other attendees just what a big deal it was to ask her to move from one spot to another, once settled; and the reaction from the other participants, both there and (with a couple of them) later in a rideshare going home. Starting with: the workshop itself was up a flight of stairs and the only reason it was more or less accessible to this woman was because she made it so: she piggybacked up and down the stairs. But how many other people just never made it there in the first place?

And, well, let's just say I was kind of gobsmacked by how baldly people were saying, especially once out of her earshot, that she just didn't belong there, then. I did say something, but I'm not sure it got through to the more egregious one as more than "let's agree to disagree, I don't want anything more to harsh my weekend."

And yeah, as you say, even without that, the whole "well there's nowhere else we can hold this, regrettable really etc" would've been true; and how many other women were excluded from the git-go?

Per small boobs: true. I tend to think-I have the opposite issue, but I still get/would get "no one wants to see that," I think, on account of I'm more Venus of Willendorf than Jenna Jameson. Breasts not only must be large, they must be symmetrical and defy gravity. Free of birthmarks and other blemishes, etc. etc. too bad we don't all come with an equipped RL airbrush/Photoshop.

god, VIctoria's Secret is even more loathsome than I already knew. Also, their quality is crap. Even when I fit into their panties, they fell apart much faster than the three-packs I got from the drugstore for about half the price of one of theirs.

And, heh, yeah, I must've missed the spam publisher first time around-I don't know why people do this. "Yes, please, I'd love to give you free publicity, whoever-you-are..."

belledame222 said...

...maybe for that one I'd at least get a free coupla months' supply of tampons, or a sea sponge, or something.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I completely agree per quality of Victoria Secret panties, and we have had same experience. Your story matches the experiences I had when able bodied toward those, particularly those with 'invisible pain' chronic condition and/or mental health issues including/particularly PTSD. It also matches the stories I have heard from people who have tried to go to events, or who have had partners read in events and my experiences here in town once a wheelie. I mean, the standard picture of the feminist is one who has the muscles and the upraised first - when the early feminists where actually women like Virginia Woolf (mental and social disabilities), Florance Nightengale (PTSD and probably CFS/Fibro amoung other conditions), and Helen Keller. Yes, there were many who took to the barricades and I honor them, but also honor the many who got the doing done with 1/12 the energy and far more pain.

I really want to meet this woman who went to the venue doing whatever it took -that sounds like my type of attitude, I like her already.

Per the advertising, honestly, if a pack of pads, tampons showed up in the post with a 'I wanted to send this to you for your post' - seriously, wouldn't that kind freak you out or leave you wondering if it was an insult or not?

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