Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Well, personally,

In answer to this question,

While I’m here, can I ask: why are there next to no “sexy” images of men on sex positive* sites, or sites focusing on porn for women etc? ...

Well, you see--

(reads on)

Not all women are attracted to women…

...o, I see, never mind! It wasn't addressed to me anyway! Well, what else is new.

You know, I like you, Laura, but I have to say the urge to snark is strong with me tonight. Because, you see,

Not all women are attracted to women…

I would have had -no idea,- you know. I mean, from reading sex pos sites, or feminist sites in general, or, well, the entire world, basically. Because if there's one thing I was always confident about, it was that having -sexual- desires for women was totally okay. Why else would a non-heterosexual have been attracted to something called "sex positive" in the first place, if not...

-calms down- Okay, okay, okay. Okay. I know it wasn't ill-meant. I'm in a Mood, and that's probably another post. Let's just move on.

Just seems to me that there’s a bit of the same old woman = sex idea going on here, and while the presentation of the woman and the context in which she is presented may be different from the mainstream, I wonder how radical this kind of approach is if the focus is still on women as the sexually stimulating object or subject.

I may be misunderstanding something here, but "object OR subject"--okay, if -neither- is acceptable, then basically we're talking female-authored m/m slash, amirite?

Which I'm actually fond of myself. F'r instance, along with any number of overwhelmingly female fanfen and smut enthusiasts of varying orientations, I wouldn't kick either of these (canonical) scenes out of bed:

...not to mention any number of considerably filthier fan-inspired um creations of various sorts which I shan't post here; suffice it to say that there's a plethora of "female-gazed" written fiction, anime, photo manipulations or fanvids re-contexting for "subtext," for example:

as I understand it though, there are those who find this insufficiently radical too; go try to please people.

Mostly, though, I'm fairly certain that the only reason there's extremely little porn in the sense of "original film with live actors" catering to these demographics is, simply because, well, women tend not to own the means of production, and it's a hell of a lot easier (and cheaper) to draw, photoshop, or write something than to make an entire original film, much less produce and publicize it on the scale of "mainstream" porn.

Best way to start changing that, it seems to moi, is to figure out, own and name one's desires, then see what one can do about seeing/experiencing them made flesh. Which, one may not be able to do right away given the limited palette of available models, at least the ones that are -overtly- defined and marketed as "porn;" still, well, as you can see here, and as most non-hetero and/or kinky folk know, one can and does find one's inspiration from all sorts of material. Or, for that matter, in the available "mainstream" material, because, you know, in most media, one reads one's own narrative into whatever it is, and yeah, even "bad" or formulaic or sexist/stereotyped porn is not an exception.

But first of all, ime, it helps to not shut oneself down with a "oh, shit, I'm Doin It Rong AGAIN; quick, to the Critiquemobile" but rather, "hey, I'm not seeing what I want here; what DO I want, anyway? Specifically, and without censorship:"

ETA: in response to this, via Lina's:

(Laura Woodhouse emailed me her comment cos she's not got a Blogger account and she's v. busy this morning.)

Laura here - I just want to make it clear that I have no problem whatsoever with "men fucking women onscreen" or sex where the woman isn't on top - I like it, ffs. It'd be nice if people could not assume that because someone thinks x they must also think y and z. Belle - I'm sorry if I didn't make it clear enough that my post obviously wasn't directed at lesbian women.

Laura--I'm sorry for snarking too, but you see, I -did- read that it wasn't aimed at lesbian women and that's precisely what irritated me. I'm sure it wasn't intentional? that you were merely trying to say that it's a given that the sex-positive lesbian/bi/queer sites would have images of women? And that as a straight woman, you don't see yourself or anything that tempts you in what you've seen of "sex positive" culture/sites/etc. And, you know, I do sympathize. The straight female gaze(s) is not exactly catered to either, at least compared to the straight male gaze. I agree.

Thing is, though, when you write it as Not all women are attracted to women, it pushes buttons that were already kind of hard pushed by what -I- perceive to be erasure of lesbian sexuality both within mainstream erotica/imagery and from "radical" feminists who insist that anything that smacks of femme or bisexuality or anything that isn't Clear Eyed Lesbian (tm) Approved isn't -real- lesbianism.

and, of course, the perception that "sex positive" is overwhelmingly heteronormative...along with, well, everything else.

Personally I don't always find what I love within the "sex positive" communities/sphere either, and I am hoping to broaden the range when it's my turn to host the Carnival. And, I mean, yeah, there are some points to be made about the standard tropes of mainstream and even let's call it mainstream-alt porn/erotica, wherein female bisexuality within a certain range of body types and acts and personas and so on is acceptable, even sometimes de rigeur; but male bisexuality or homosexuality is considered a whole separate genre. Not to mention, yes, there's still more taboo on objectifying the male body than the female one, although I'd submit that the past years' worth of advertising has broken that down quite a bit. I do find it impossible to completely separate standard sexism and sex negativity from heteronormativity; I still think I'm part of this conversation though, see.

but...well, again, this is a longer post. Maybe several longer posts.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the hot to start the day off. ;)

belledame222 said...

ETA moar. :)

Vanessa said...

I'm pretty sure I have some shirtless men on my blog like, right now.

Mat said...

And here I was worried that you had bad associations with slash due to the Demonista (who is in my fandom) factor.

Mat said...

That came out worse than I meant, but in general I think that there are a lot of people who end up with bad associations with the whole slashier side of the equation (assuming they know it exists) due to either bad fanworks or annoying fans, or something else of the sort.

belledame222 said...

o no, I'm quite fond of teh slash. in fact...ehm. well. let's just say I'm quite fond of it.

demonista is rather Special, though, bless.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the later reply, I've only just finished finals etc (which also explains why I just stuck that question up without much analysis or explanation - hence your interpretation of it - I should have waited til I had more time to explain myself).

"...that you were merely trying to say that it's a given that the sex-positive lesbian/bi/queer sites would have images of women? And that as a straight woman, you don't see yourself or anything that tempts you in what you've seen of "sex positive" culture/sites/etc. And, you know, I do sympathize. The straight female gaze(s) is not exactly catered to either, at least compared to the straight male gaze. I agree."

That's exactly what I was getting at (though I'm not straight). Basically, I'd been looking over bigger sex positive and porn for women sites (I didn't really mean to question what people do on personal blogs), like the one where the carnival was held, and the lack of images of men was very striking. That's not to say that I have a problem with images of women, just that I think the area of the het/bi female gaze onto men needs to be worked on. I didn't talk about lesbianism because that's not what the issue was about. I wasn't trying to say "sex positive is bad because there are no sexy mens" (which would be heteronormative), rather that I was surprised at the lack of depictions of men within this area - an area that includes het and bi women - and think that this needs to be addressed.

I just have a lot of het female friends who think sexy is all about presenting themselves for men, and very few het male friends who think sexy is about presenting themselves for women - this seems to be a typical assumption, for me it reflects patriarchal values and I think one of the best ways to challenge it is to portray men as sex objects (I don't like that word, I don't mean that they are without subjectivity, but that they can be admired).

I don't think I'm explaining myself very well - I'll try and write a post when I'm thinking a bit straighter.

belledame222 said...

Hey, no problem, and again, sorry for snapping. I do see what you mean; I also think, though...well, I ruminated a bit on what it all might mean, dear, here and over there. Meantime, I posted some Objects of my own, male and female both: have a butcher's if you so desire.

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