Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On Being Anti-Sexy vs. Anti-Sex: a Radical (Pro)Feminist Perspective

[image of the not-so-many physiques and poses that are socially enforced (read: patriarchally/politically correct) for women to take if they want to be socially considered "sexy", is from here]

When a phenomenon such as pornographised "sexiness", vs. for example, Audre Lorde's envisioning, experience, and description of eroticism (see *here* and do a search in the bar to the left for "Uses of the Erotic", if that isn't already visible, and read pages 53 to 59), takes over dominant and non-dominant cultures, across regions, nations, and continents, it becomes very difficult to even have a conversation about sexual politics without someone claiming you are "anti-sex". I'm not entirely sure what people mean when they say radical feminists are "anti-sex" but a common denominator seems to be the following--one is anti-sex if one participates in any combination of the following:

Critiques of rape and rapism; activism to end gender and genderism, race and racism; political perspectives that call out sexual exploitation as harmfully misogynistic, racist, classist, and anti-Indigenist; work to challenge the mass production of corporate sexxx on the grounds that it is oppressive to women: sexist, racist, heterosexist, classist, and anti-Indigenist; the view that C.R.A.P. (see glossary to the right) is quite literally and very figuratively invested in the systemic, mass marketing of what "sexy" is, means, feels like, sounds like, looks like, tastes like, and smells like; a psychology and sociology promoted on television talk shows supporting hegemonic views of "sexy" thoughts, desires, fantasies, dreams and practices as unrelated to what pimps do, what white supremacists work to accomplish, and what heterosexists need in order to be aroused at all.

I'll make this statement, which I think is about as socially evident as observations get: our clothing selections, relationships, activities, politics, tones of voice, appearance, manner, disposition, senses of self, levels of empowerment, and frames of reference for understanding anything are, currently, not generally understood to be impacted by coercion, force, and trauma: patriarchal coercion, racist and genocidal force, woman-hating trauma.

The extent to which CRAP's version of "sexiness" (and one has to wonder: is there currently any other version that is socially viable?), rules us, cannot, in my view, be underestimated. I think in post-industrial societies this is particularly intense. The more industry there is, the more corporations pump out products for us to buy, the more "sexiness" is regulated. In the past, dominant religious institutions had a great amount of power to regulate what was considered "good" and "bad" about sex, and those institutions still do their work, oppressively. But Western capitalism is now far more powerful than white Christianity--to the extent they are not one and the same thing; and that's a scary thought. Not a sexy one. To me. How about you? Get back to me after reading Lorde's essay and this post. Okay? I'd like to know what you think.

What follows is a cross post from *here*.

Not Anti-sex. Anti-SEXY.
January 25, 2008, 3:42 am
Filed under: Antibodies, Grab a shovel, PUKE, gender pimps, rape extinction
I cannot imagine dedicating an entire post to why I am not anti-sex.  No one should have to be so bored, so futilely engaged.

If what I am about to object to is seen as synonymous with sex then you and I live on very different planets heading in two very different directions.  And I am not averse to telling you I think mine is more right.  If right is free, if right is a right turn out of Patriarchy Lane, that is.  

  I am anti-sexy.  

Anti ANYTHING that takes a form as sexy or trying to be sexy, or, only-succeeds-when-found-sexy.  I am anti use-sexy-to-get-rewards sexy.  Anti want-to-be-considered-sexy sexy.  Anti want-to-consider-others-as-sexy sexy.

I don’t agree with jobs that rely on sexy.  I don’t agree with exchanges that rely on sexy.  I don’t agree with sexuality that relies on sexy.  I don’t agree with institutions, businesses, constructs that need sexy for existence.

You might not be surprised then to find I am anti porn, stripping, BDSM, prostitution, hotness, objectification, cosmetic surgery.

I don’t need to hear about how you reclaimed sexy in porn, BDSM, stripping, prostitution, hotness, objectification, cosmetic surgery.  Sexy is not in your hands.  Sexy is the invasive appropriation of each others’ bodies and externalities.  Sexy is the lens you are forced to look through.  Sexy is the lens your are forced to be seen through.

Sexy is a constant state of against-your-will, without-consent, what’s-yours-is-mine, without-permission.

I don’t need to hear how you feel sexy when you are reading a good book.  I don’t need to hear how your so-and-so thinks you’re sexier when you don’t have on make up or haven’t worked out in a little while.  Sexy does not care.  Sexy is only accounting for the role you play when you ignore your full human capacity.  Sexy assumed your role all along.  Sexy will still be there when you want out. 

I don’t need to hear how you are helping young girls who have otherwise been abused and tortured and slain by patriarchy regain their “sexiness.”  Sexy will not help. Sexy entitles our pleasure centers to others.  Sexy is the visual rape primaries.   

Stop with the Sexy already.  

To those caught up in trying to Save the Sexy, reshape The Sexy, regain, reclaim, refresh The Sexy—please, we are feminists—we’ve got enough to do.

To those enslaved by sexy, beaten by sexy, afraid because of sexy, hidden by sexy, appropriated by sexy, employed by sexy, abused by sexy,… my sincerest apologies. We are working on it.

2 comments:

MS82 said...

Gah. I can't read pages 53 forward "Uses of the Erotic"... they're excluded on that link.

Without reading the material (going to comment anyways, unprepared :P), this is an interesting subject.

Seeing as sexiness currently caters to a majority of immature, twisted, poor role-model, poor parenting, irresponsible, entitled, sexist goons... I keep my everyday-type of "sexiness" to a minimum.

In spite of the free-spirited intentions of the naked, close-to-naked, "sexually liberated" women on magazine covers, that material will inevitably be selling themes encouraged and perpetuated by gross, icky-like-sexist-men - thus, counteracting and poisoning a healthy view of female sexuality.

I agree with the writer, when she says:

"Sexy is the lens you are forced to look through. Sexy is the lens your are forced to be seen through."

However, it wouldn't be correct to say that women should cover up, for that reason alone, either, right??? What if a woman just wants to be sexual, in spite of it all?

Leave it to the discretion of the woman, is my best thought, at this point.

But, I really agree with the writer, overall. "Sexy" is just not a good thing, right now, any way you look at it.

Julian Real said...

Hi MS82,

I'm pretty much on the same EXACT page you are: it is for each woman to determine her own meaning and expression of what is currently called "sexiness" and "sexuality" and, well, just the expression and trajectory of her Being, inclusive of and well beyond how she experiences herself sexually. Her own spiritual-material being.

Write to me at my email address (approximately the top right corner of blog) and I'll find you a complete copy of the text of the essay.