Friday, January 2, 2009
On women's moods, men's moods, and being "in the mood", or Part 2 on biting a penis
An explanation of why this image is here appears later in the post.
Reflecting on the title of Dennis Prager's piece, "When a Woman Isn't in the Mood: Part I", I find it curious, in the sense that I find it remarkably misogynistic, that colloquially, a woman being "in the mood" means she wants to have sex with a man: she's not in A mood, mind you; she's in THE mood. I have heard predominantly straight white men talk critically about women's moods when a woman's social or interpersonal world doesn't put her in THE mood. When these men have spoken of women's states of being they have always used "moods" as a synonym for women's ways of behaving and women's emotional states that men find distasteful or upsetting, frustrating or aggravating, annoying or worthy of a contemptuous retort that almost always involves her being called the b- or c-words by him. And forget about him understanding any of her behavior in terms of enduring all the CRAP dumped on women daily. (Generally, we men don't get it, literally and figuratively speaking.)
A note on sexism in phrasing and beyond the realm of language alone: in popular culture women "b-word" (as a verb) while men "complain". Sometimes moody men complain about women being "too nice" or "too deferential". Recently a man told a heterosexual woman friend of mine he liked women who were both independent and dependent. In my experience of heterosexual men, that means "independent" when he doesn't want her around, and dependent when he needs her. But even then, curiously, "independent" never means "not needing him at all". He enjoys her independence precisely to the degree it does not leave him feeling lonely, bored, anxious, jealous, or enraged. He wants her to be how he wants her to be, however that is.
There is a bold and brazen assumption by men about the whole matter of moodiness. As men with various forms of privilege are encouraged by their brethren to be astoundingly self-unaware, these same men seem not to notice that they, too, have moods other than THE mood, despite the fact that popular culture pretends men have only "a one-track mind". I cannot, at the moment, think any single mood that women have that men do not also have--moodiness being a primarily human attribute, rather than a completely gendered, lunar, or menstrual one. I have met and known men who were occasionally or chronically irritable, emotionally unstable, fragile, weepy, stubborn, scary, enraged, pissy, petty, vengeful, and obnoxious.
No, readers. That was not the new list of names of Disney Dwarfs who encounter the racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist, and ageist animated version of the unnatural while politically correct-sized woman, Snow White.
Note in the images (including the one at the start of the last post) the demure posture; the neverending cordial smile; the implicit function of her being: to be in blissful service in various ways to men of various shapes and sizes.
Snow White displays the moods which men do not generally complain about when they occur in women, as represented in the photos of Disney's S.W. in the previous post, above, and below. It is usually a combo platter of the "other" states of being--those not associated with Snow White--that straight men I know complain about most. (And, it must be mentioned: men disproportionately and overwhelmingly complain about such moods in women while these same men ignore or treat these moods as "just how men are--boys being boys" when they show up in men, or boys.
We are brought to this matter, once again, by a news story about a woman who apparently bit hard on a man's erect penis, because she didn't want to have sex, according to her. I find it entirely plausible that a woman would not wish to have sex, or continue having sex, with a drunk or non-drunk man, regardless of her level of inebriation. What is abundantly clear is that the man did want sex, hence he allowed his penis to be on the interior side of this woman's mouth. (It's a safe bet that it didn't get there without his will, desire, and verbal or non-verbal guidance, perhaps assisted with force.) That men willfully, and with desire, bite hard or otherwise harm women on various parts of women's bodies, particularly breasts and genitals, is apparently not newsworthy, but, rather, simply another created-to-be-arousing-to-straight-men feature of corporate pimps' stories about what women want from men: violence which often leaves a mark. Allegedly, marking women in any number of ways is yet another way "boys will be boys", or men.
The woman who leaves her mark on the man is, by definition, problematic, cause for ridicule or rejection. Men who are physically or emotionally marked by women are called penis-and-hubris-deflating terms by other men, after all. "P*ssy-whipped", for example. The thinking goes something like this: "How dare she have had the audacity", which is to say the legitimate humanity, "to have a negative effect on me". Women hurting men in human ways often puts men in a very bad mood, sometimes a scornful mood that lasts for years. I am thinking now of a heterosexual woman who asked her boyfriend to leave her apartment, where he was also living, after he had been, in too many ways to note here, grossly insensitive, and aggressively irritable, while simultaneously projecting so much of what he hated in himself onto her that she had little choice but to send him to the curb. (He was not into going to groups or individuals for help modifying his behavior because he didn't really get that there was a problem with his behavior.) He carries this hurt as if it were a banner and a shield. He uses it to snow-job others to feel sorry for him and him alone. In his moral world, his hurt matters; hers does not compare (or even exist) in his mind as actual human hurt.
I have witnessed many men in various bad moods and none of those men consistently hold women in any place of respect or dignity. Women, of course, are expected not only to tolerate (or, gag, sooth) hubby's bad moods, however recurrent or ceaseless they are. Historically in the West, and currently according to Dennis Prager, it is a husband-bound woman's religious duty and social obligation, to "stand [or, is that kneel?] by her man" especially when his mood is down or his penis is up. A man standing by his woman when she is down is spoken of romantically in marriage vows by the U.S. groom, but is not, in reality, quite so common an occurrence as women putting up with men's bad moods and other bullshit for way too long. Almost without exception, the women I know who are or were married to men look back on their lives and wish they'd left the jerk much sooner, as many as thirty years sooner. Why didn't the men leave? They would have not had clean underwear, or a cooked meal, or a made bed, not to mention other "services".
Well, I'll mention one. Among the more disturbing ways a man-dating woman is both requested and required to keep the boyfriend or husband in a good mood is to make sure she is, at least on occasion, performing fellatio.
Heterosexual men have noted to me, with notable and enthusiastic exceptions to be sure, that they do not like to go down on a woman. The men who don't like performing cunnilingus say the reason they don't like it is because that area of the body is, according to these men, sensorially unpleasant to various degrees--this is only said by men in the rudest and crudest of ways. This vulgar rumor of "how women smell down there" is amplified in the minds of men who imagine that women's genitals should perenially carry the aromas of fragrant flowers, or fresh morning dew, or baked apples with cinnamon. These ridiculous expectations, sold to women in stupid and unhealthy ads for "feminine hygiene products", makes men think that the vulva and vagina is, somehow, akin to a fruit pie or meadow.
The main character in the American Pie film series apparently got confused by this sort of stupid cultural training.
Any heterosexually active woman I have known who does not like to have cunnilingus performed on her usually has one of two reasons. The first is that she is very self-conscious or self-denigrating of her own body--this is practically a prerequisite for being a woman-in-patriarchy. Self-love and loving other women is not a prerequisite and is in many ways forbidden. Loving men is the rule. As some passages in the Christian Bible state, Let our love forever floweth to our Lord, Savior, and Master. Yeah, well, fuck that.
Given the number of misogynist lies about women, including about their bodies, it's no wonder that heterosexual women, compared to straight men, disproportionately hate their own bodies. Let's keep in mind that men are not sold "masculine hygiene products" or reminded by mass media that they ought to be preoccupied with what their own crotches smell like. When anyone remarks that "it smells like a men's locker room in here, the response of the men I know is to shrug or not care. It is not feeling self-conscious or mortified.)
The second reason I've heard for turning down cunnilingus is that she's aware that he doesn't know what he's doing along with the fact that he isn't graciously accepting of even rudimentary instruction. Factor in heterosexual men's political entitlement to not have to do what they don't want to do, sexually, and you've got a serious imbalance in who gets orgasmic pleasure from oral sex.
Returning for a moment to the matter of men's crotches, I must testify that our own genitals, and the surrounding region of men's bodies, are very often sensorially unpleasant. This fact apparently does not routinely occur to heterosexual men, as a rule, who have sex when requesting or requiring other human beings to place their faces in that vicinity.
On the issue of technique and men's regard for other people who come into contact with the adult penis, it is really quite appalling that men use their penises the way some birds use beaks or sticks, however stubby and dull, or narrow and pointy--to poke and prod in the hopes that something good-for-them will happen. It is quite atrocious that men sometimes use their penises as if they were grand swords or knives, or, well, pocket-knives--to injure and stab. Men-who-poke, foolishly or fiendishly, woefully or wickedly, is assumed to be among men's many moods-in-motion, acted out often and naturally. But penis-as-willful-weapon is a social-political reality, not a biological or natural event. Many animals engage in aggressive and harmful sexual activities, but only humans have social mores and institutionalised customs to reinforce or challenge the harmful acts as such, along with a human conscience combined with language and culture infused with actual anti-woman force to make such acts more or less likely.
Meanwhile, women's vulvas and vaginas are seen as deterring or dangerous to a man only if other men have had contact prior to him. (Such women are stigmatised as many awful things; it never occurs to men to stigmatise one another similarly.) The so-called virgin, when female, poses few problems for men who want to fuck her.
Vagina-as-site-of-danger is especially evidenced in men's histerical fear that the vagina may possess a functioning set of teeth. That men misuse women's mouths in precisely the ways they misuse women's vaginas is perhaps one explanation for this confusion about "where the teeth are". That it is far more likely that men's teeth clench onto areas of a woman's vulva is, apparently, irrelevant to the facts of the misogynistic matter.
Oral sex, if left decontextualised, is generally understood to mean a heterosexual blow-job: her going down on him. In Western male supremacist cultures, reciprocity of oral sex, heterosexually, is not mandated by law or custom; nor does it routinely occur out of common courtesy. Reciprocity is, rather, a rare feature of partnered heterosexual oral sex, particularly when it involves girl-hating, horny boys and woman-hating procuring men who are more than willing to let girls or women perform oral sex on them, regardless of whether or not the girls or women enjoy doing so. That many girls do so to be liked by a boy, or in order to gain some status among boys, is not seen as a sufficient reason for the boy to refuse, not request, not demand, or not force the act. The common law, if not also the legal one, is that if there's an opportunity to get your dick sucked, go for it; meaningful consent be damned. But regardless of consent, the penis carries worth and status, and those who, enthusiastically or not take one into their bodies risk loss of political worth and social status, among hetero/sexist men.
The fact is that it is, as noted earlier, "performed". There is often great anxiety about "how well it should be performed" as if "the act" were a recital before a panel of music professors. But a penis, while used for many things by men, is never used as an oboe, clarinet, or other woodwind instrument, despite the inference in the term "blow-job".
The image atop this post is similar to one from a deleted scene in "East of Eden", which producers found to be too homoerotic for the cinema-seeking public to endure. In the movie still (a copy of which is nowhere to be found online, it seems), the image also has the brother Aron (played by Richard Davalos) lying shirtless in his own bed next to the bed where Cal (played by Dean) sits, as I recall with a recorder in hand and mouth. Two men, no shirts, and a recorder at the mouth of one man. Surely something must be done to stop these sorts of images from being in movies! But symbolism is not the issue here: the literal world is. James Dean, on and off-set, DID enjoy playing the recorder, if ya know what I mean. Studio heads took great precautions to make sure the public didn't know this, hence audiences were not allowed to see that Dean-scene on the big screen. This is not to say that all gay sex is consensual, or that all men who enjoy sex with men also enjoy performing fellatio.
But women having contact with a penis is not ever out of bounds, especially in the world of pornography. Women are routinely directed to "perform" fellatio in front of a pimp's video, and the sometimes experientially gross aftermath of this act is now a genre in mainstream pornography. The woman degraded by contact with the penis is not only allowed, but enforced. It's the degraded status of the female that's important to maintain in our male supremacist society, by any means necessary, including by violating and torturing her body. And those of us men who have enjoyed fellatio with another man, are often stigmatised as being unmanly--not that traditional "manliness" is anything worth cheering about, imo.
I am reflecting on my own history of engaging in fellatio with men. It used to be something I desired to do, when my sense of self was low, and when my understanding of myself as needing to please men was high. I have almost always not welcomed any man to go down on me quite possibly because one man did exactly that when I was pre-adolescent, and it was horrifying. I am capable of being triggered when men engage me in any sexual activity, but regardless of that, I find that the way men want to have sex, or do sex, or perform sex--oral or not, isn't to my liking in that it is not gentle enough or communicative of deeper levels of being, or intimate, or even fun. So, stated in the U.S.'s dominant cultural parlance, I abstain.
I highly recommend abstaining from having sex with men. That recommendation is extended to any female, male, trans, or intersex person who has been traumatised by men, sexually or otherwise. Liberatory abstinence is nothing like the old-fashioned ABSTINENCE professed as "good" and "holy" by right-wing parents or religious fundamentalist preachers (never mind what they are doing behind the curtain of their frocks). If you practice it for appropriate personal-political reasons, it can do wonders for one's sense of self-worth.
But, to return to the opening theme of the previous post, if a penis finds its way into your mouth in ways that you do not welcome or want, bite that thing off and spit it to the ground. As the male commenter above notes, that may actually have the effect on men, collectively, of providing meaningful accountability.
In summary, men ought to put their mouths where they too often put their dicks. Or just keep both zipped altogether.
Should men wish to indulge their fantasies, Snow White has something for you. Be careful, boys--it's just out of the oven.
Posted by Julian Real at 1:55 PM