Monthly Archives: November 2007

feminism and porn and prostitution.

Sometimes I read radical feminist writings where the authors decry pornography and prostitution in all forms and it saddens me and destabilizes me at the same time. It’s kind of like the effect of the true feminists can’t shave their legs argument, where I start to doubt to doubt my feminism for a couple hours, days, or whatever.

I have no doubt that most and nearly all (and arguably the totality of) porn and prostitution are misogynist. It is the ultimate objectification of women’s bodies – women only exist as a hole for men to fuck. OK, but I think this leads feminism down a really dangerous track. If porn, the depiction of sex for arousal, and prostitution, the selling of sex, is totally anti-feminism then sex is, too. In fact, there’s already been a lot written about sex oppressing women. I think that’s absurd. Intercourse itself oppresses women because of a subordinate position during sex? Well, I think that subordinate position is equal to a feminine position (because, let’s face it, women don’t have penises), and as long as people equate femininity with weakness, there is sexism. (This is speaking from my heterosexually privileged standpoint, of course.)

However, porn and prostitution don’t need to be misogynist. The current women-hating stems from the basic oppression faced by women in society. Let’s look at these aspects of porn and prostitution:

1. Use of “whore” and “cunt” (etc) as pejorative terms. Incidentally, or consequently, prostitutes are whores and they sell their cunts. And those terms are the worst names you can call a woman.
2. Emphasis on male pleasure in porn. No foreplay, no attention paid to female pleasure, and brutal handling of bodies (treating women like objects). Women have been conditioned from birth that it’s the pleasure of the man that really counts. Outside of porn, women orgasm less than men and MSNBC claims that 10% of women never reach orgasm. Porn reflects this societal attitude.
3. Acceptable violence in porn and prostitution and the overabundance of violence in porn. The pairing of violence with pleasure in the subordinate. It’s ok to beat up women, it seems. But domestic violence has been around for ages – and the violence in porn just adds to rapes and abuses which increases acceptance for violence in porn and… it keeps going.
4. Shame in prostitution. Prostitution is the lowest a person can go, and thus prostitutes disappear from the public eye. Violence is more acceptable towards prostitutes (they’re already worthless, anyway [tic]).

If those aspects were removed, porn and prostitution would be perfectly acceptable, in my eyes. Some people draw a line between porn and erotica, defining erotica as the non-stereotypical and the non-oppressive form of porn, but I think that distinction is unnecessary, in the long run. We just need to work on removing the misogynistic elements from porn and prostitution. That would be a major victory for feminism. (“But is this even possible?” might be a more reasonable question to ask. For later, perhaps.)

Now, as for why I think porn and prostitution are even needed for a functional society… that’s definitely for later. TBC.

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we might get snow tomorrow.

Here’s to remembering autumn, and summer, and warmer weather:

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“this is easy” vs “whoa, that’s hard.”

I had private French lessons today. (If you’re wondering – I take private lessons to supplement French class at my school, because the foreign language department is lacking.) Mme, my teacher, is one of my all-time favorite teachers. She’s so energetic and exuberant and very passionate about French and linguistics. Mme pays a lot of attention to her students. I can ask her a question, and she knows most of the answers off the top of her head. However, if, by chance, we stumble across some problem that we cannot figure out, she always looks it up for me and gives me the answer next lesson. Sometimes, she even makes flashcards for me, with the answers to the questions. But all that takes a backseat to her attitude, my favorite part of Mme. “French is easy!” she always proclaims. “Le subjonctif? Pas problème. Voyez…”

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nude figure drawings.

I went to to the university’s art dept today for some nude figure drawing.

Nude Sketches

A little more that 2 hrs spent on the 5 figures.

I will be back next week. This is good practice for me.

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in French class today:

We were “practicing” want to and ought to. I’ll leave my useless busywork talk for another day. But each group had to present their own examples. One group, of all girls, said, “I want to get married, but I should ask permission from my parents first.”

Well, I wanted to say, dears, you don’t have to get permission from your parents to get married (the girls cleared up that the person in question was over the age of majority). That just reinforces the patriarchy. Gender roles, and all that jazz. ‘Cause, of course, girls can’t decide for themselves whether they can marry a man or not. (Although it is always good to ask for advice. Is this person worth marrying? But, can I marry this person? Is unacceptable and totally unnecessary, in my opinion.)

Which brings me to the curious institution of marriage itself. I don’t believe in the sanctity of marriage. Marriages never used to be about love, anyway, no matter how they’re currently seen. As for love – I believe in the value of loving someone and that person loving me back. I don’t need a societally defined institution to reaffirm my love or my ties. In fact, I think marriages are very binding. And they carry so many connotations of the patriarchy that I hesitate when even thinking about marriage for myself, as an expression of love.

Now, I will probably end up getting married. Because couples living together in the US don’t have any rights worth squat unless they are married. Hospital visitations, rights to pensions, etc. But this is precisely why I don’t like it. It’s such a governmentally defined institution. Here, here is a space for his name and for her name, and please, check the box if she wants to change her last name. Because, when a woman gets married, she gives her identity away and takes on the name of her husband. Willingly. Absolutely and for ever, because she is one of his prized possessions [tic]. Oh, and all the religious affiliations it has. Well, even though people were getting married before Christianity, it has been so warped in the US. Weddings take place in churches, after all. But I don’t need the government or a religion to tell me I want to stay with a person, live with him, be a part of his life.

I just need to come to terms with it myself. And then we will be lovers, because we are in love.

As for marriage saving love – if I don’t love him enough to try to reconcile any differences and compromise sans marriage, then marriage isn’t going to help. It’s a man-made construct. Bound together in the face of law and society. Since when was love about what other people thought?

I think human will is beautiful. And love is just another facet of it. Why use a rigid label to define it? (Marriage marriage, oh marriage. Everyone wants a part of you, but perhaps it would be better if we got rid of you altogether.)

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sketchbook.

From a couple weeks ago:

Sketchbook 11/12

I took the photo of the leaf and the tree, also.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939). The Wild Swans at Coole. 1919.

The Wild Swans at Coole

THE TREES are in their autumn beauty,

The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones 5
Are nine and fifty swans.
 
The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount 10
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
 
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, 15
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
 
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold, 20
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
 
But now they drift on the still water 25
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away

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Norman Mailer and other things.

Self Portrait2

New photo.

Self Portrait. 2007. Approx 2.5’x2.5′, oil on Masonite.

Norman Mailer died. I have The Executioner’s Song checked out from the library, and I have put it to the top of my list of books to read. I need a catalyst to do things, and death seems as good as a reason as any. There’s something very appealing about death to us, even if the man was an extreme misogynist.

I also just finished Hwang’s M. Butterfly. I love it. I think, however, all of its critics would sum it up with this quote:

Helgo asks Gallimard, “Politics again? Why can’t they just hear it as a piece of beautiful music?” [On why Asians don’t like Madame Butterfly.]

Why the big deal about racial stereotypes in Madame Butterfly? Because it IS racist, and we should never forget that when listening to Puccini’s opera. M. Butterfly points that out in a beautiful, darkly hilarious way that I think is lost on many watchers/readers. Every time somebody listens to the opera, the lyrics and events reinforce an imperialistic attitude about the East. And it is deeply insulting, too. People accuse me of being “too serious” about some things. Give it up for a change, they urge, have some fun.

Perhaps I’m passionate about these things. Language and literature are weapons to be handled carefully. M. Butterfly has changed the way I look at Western and Eastern relationships (and the way I phrased that last sentence is a prime example of the current state of affairs. Western before Eastern, and, oh my, “Eastern” is with Europe as a reference frame).

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