August 29, 2008
“A woman is a sex object when she wants to be”
So, again, I haven’t been writing like I’d like to. Classes start next week and I am very busy prepping for those. I hope to start posting more than once a week within the next month. I was browsing through the new edited book Men Speak Out, and I came across this provocative snippet from one of the articles that is quite pertinent to the themes of this blog, so I thought I’d share. From “Trying To Be Sexy and Anti-Sexist….At Exactly the Same Time” by Andrew Boyd:
And that seems to be the basic rule: A woman is a sex object when she wants to be. Not when I want her to be one, not when the culture wants her to be one, but when she wants to be one. When she chooses to be a sex object, she is deliberately adopting a limited part of who she is. She’s playing a role and she’s looking for someone to play with.
That seems pretty in-line with much of what I write here. It’s so simply, and so obvious, yet so opposed to our cultural ideology of women’s sexuality. This is the response to those who don’t get it when they say, “well, what’s so wrong with appreciating sexy women?” when they watch they watch beach volleyball at the Olympics to check out the ladies’ butts, or by consistently recognizing first the desirability of businesswomen and female politicians. This is what’s so troubling about Playboy drawing attention to the female bloggers they deem to be “sexy” as worth reading, or offering them cash to pose nude (since I guess they’re not truly useful to modern men until/unless they’re nekkid, since the next logical thing after discovering an interesting and intelligent woman who’s decent looking is to request–and expect–to see her naked). This is what’s so wrong with photographing a woman’s body in public, sexualizing it, and distributing it all over the internets.
It’s not that there’s something inherently “wrong” with seeing women’s physical sexiness as desirable and beautiful. But denying her agency by imposing it on her when she wishes to be a whole human being, or even more, when she’s “deliberately adopting”, as Boyd phrases it, another part of her person that is not her sexuality (say, in politics, acting, art, sport, etc.), is where the “wrong” lies. Part of what’s so fucked up is that sexuality has become synonymous with female personhood and value that we–as people and as a culture–seem utterly incapable of separating them. Indeed, often we as women cannot separate them either, or many times even when we can, we know that it is to our social advantage not to. The recent Olympics is simply an obvious case-in-point.