Thursday, October 29, 2009

Caught in a trap?

There is a group of younger and more radical feminists who are focused especially on sex liberation. These feminists are getting very angry, because society hasn't moved the way they thought it would. They are trapped in a losing situation because the beliefs they are committed to create the outcomes they are enraged by. And they can't, or won't, see the connection between the two.

It helps, I think, if I give some background to what has happened. As I've argued previously, all societies have a culture of relationships and this culture will be influenced by marriage, by romantic love and by sex. In earlier societies, the balance was tilted toward marriage. Then from the 1800s, romantic love played a larger role. Since the 1960s, there has been a shift toward sex.

Second-wave feminism played a role in this last shift. In the 1970s feminists demanded the sexual liberation of women, which really meant the pursuit of relationships by women for sex alone, without regard to marriage or romantic love.

Sex liberation feminists were therefore committed to two things. First, they had to reject the predominant emphasis on romantic love. Men who grow up in a culture of romantic love will tend to idealise women and be focused on feminine beauty and goodness. Therefore, feminists who wish to show that they are liberated from romantic love will present a markedly non-idealised version of themselves: they will act coarsely, without the feminine graces.

Second, sex liberation feminists will want to break any limits on how they can act sexually. It will be important to them that they can have sex however they choose without consequences. So they won't think of some sexual situations as being dangerous or risky, but will consider it entirely the fault of men if these sexual encounters turn out badly (leading at times to an obsession with the issue of date rape). Or they might wish to pursue sex work, without recognising the psychological fallout this is likely to bring on. Or they might treat abortion as a positive sign of commitment to a liberationist politics. Or they might act loudly and deliberately (i.e. in an exaggerated way) against the instinct to sexual modesty.

When I reached my late teens (in the early 1980s), romantic love still played a major role in the culture of relationships. So the teenage schoolgirls I went out with still tried to live up to an ideal of feminine beauty and goodness. But by the time I went back to uni in my mid-20s, things had changed. It was the high point of third-wave feminism. A culture of feminist sexual liberation had set in on campus.

The expectations of young men and women at this time were set a long way apart. I'm guessing that a lot of men were, like me, confused by what was happening. Uni women dressed in a plain, mannish way, cut their hair short and wore no jewellery or make up. They had started to drink heavily and to swear in public. I remember women coming into tutorials and describing loudly how they had gotten drunk and picked up men the night before.

These women thought, perhaps, that all that was required to attract men was to unbutton a top at the appropriate moment - and I suppose that if relationships only exist for the purposes of sex that there is a certain logic to this. But I found the women too unappealing to pursue.

What then happened? Over time, the expectations of men and women were realigned. Romantic love was no longer such a part of public culture. Men began to be oriented more to the ideal of sex liberation and so valued women more for hotness than for beauty and goodness. The focus on hotness began to influence the way women presented themselves to men (it influenced the culture generally - consider some of the more controversial changes to the fashion of young girls).

All of which enraged the more radical feminists. They wanted women to set the terms of engagement between the sexes. They certainly didn't expect, as an unintended but logical outcome of their own sexual revolution, that women would be valued in terms of their hotness (that women would be "sexually objectified").

Feminists are now in a predicament. They don't like a culture of male sexual liberation. But they are still wedded to a culture of female sexual liberation and therefore stridently reject the alternatives. As an example of this predicament, consider the story told by Hannah M. about her conversion to feminism. She was upset by the raunch culture she experienced when she went to university:

I don't think it hit me entirely until I'd spent a few weekends visiting my boyfriend, then a fresher at a different university. He was also in halls and lived on a corridor with a big group of guys who were mostly single. Many of them made it quite clear that they considered me a hindrance to his university experience, to the extent that they encouraged him to get rid of me so he too could play the field at the union every Friday night. To top it off they were big fans of porn and lads' mags.

But at the very same time that she objects to a culture of male sexual liberation, she also makes it clear that she thinks women should behave sexually as they want without consequences:

I despised how this culture made me feel as a woman. I knew I was worth much more than how many boxes I ticked on the list of 'conventionally attractive attributes' and how many men wanted to have sex with me. It depressed me that so many people, male and female, were clamouring to be a part of a culture that encourages women to do all they can in a neverending quest to appeal to men yet berates them for what they wear, how much they drink and how they behave if they become the victim of sexual assault or rape.

A more extreme example is that of Penny Red. She wrote an article recently which seems a bit crazy on the surface. Nonetheless, it follows the themes you might expect from a modern sex liberationist feminist. The idea that women should be able to act freely sexually without consequences is represented by Penny Red's immodest talk about sexual relief, by her complaints that women who sleep around are considered slutty, by her admission of having worked as a stripper and so on. At the same time, she is enraged by the ideal of sexiness in society:

I am personally, right here and now, sick of being objectified by this culture, sick of denying my selfhood and performing for others and apologising for my wants and needs and desires ... As a woman in my 20s I am told that I should constantly aspire to look sexy - but I shouldn't sleep with too many people, I shouldn't sleep with anyone on the first date, I shouldn't appear too keen, I shouldn't be 'slutty'. I am an object; I should aspire to be the best possible object I can be.

THAT is what objectification means. It's a denial of selfhood and sexuality and identity ...

Well, I'm sick of being an object. I'm sick of apologising for my 'frigidity', for my feminism, for my rage at not being allowed to express myself sexually and yet being expected to perform and bullied if I object to men, strangers or otherwise, treating me like chattel. There's something thundering inside me about to be unleashed, hemmed in by anger and the bawling of stupid, ignorant misogynists. I feel like my anger could howl away inside me and consume me if I don't let it out. I want to scream. I want to hit things. I want to climb on some high roof and yell that I'm a person, that all women are real people who deserve to be treated like human beings, until they come and drag me off for being 'hysterical'.

I wish she would understand that she wants contradictory things. She wants a culture in which relationships are pursued for sex, without regard for love or marriage, but in which the appeal of women is not based on their sexiness.

I think she's going to be left howling at the moon.

34 comments:

  1. One of the recent movements in mainstream feminism has, I believe, been back towards a more conservative view approving of monogamy and critical of what's termed as 'raunch culture' - I think Ariel Levy came up with the term. Most of the younger feminists I know also tend to be critical of polyamory, sexual liberation, and the trivialisation of sexuality that it tends to result in.

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  2. Wow I wish my brain could interpret "culture that ... berates them for ... how they behave if they become the victim of sexual assault or rape" as "I want lots of consequence-free sex".

    PhilH

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  3. Phil, it's possible for women to act foolishly when it comes to sex by putting themselves in risky or vulnerable situations with men.

    I'm talking here, for instance, of a woman who gets drunk, accepts an invitation into the bedroom of a group of drunk men she doesn't know, accepts a certain amount of sexual activity, which then leads on to other acts she doesn't want, which therefore becomes assault.

    Yes, the men are at fault. But the woman has nonetheless acted foolishly in putting herself in such a risky and vulnerable situation.

    Sex liberationists don't see things this way. For them it is a woman's right to act as she pleases sexually without negative consequences. So there is a condemnation of the idea of female prudence in sexual matters - it's labeled in highly negative terms as blaming the victim.

    Instead, the focus is on date rape as a coercive denial of women's rights, or as an aspect of an oppressive male society. It becomes politicised and dwellt on obsessively at some feminist sites.

    Some feminists even seem to go out of their way to put themselves in dangerous situations as an assertion of their rights.

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  4. It sounds to me as if that last woman just wishes there weren't any men around.

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  5. Penny Red seems to imagine a lot of people doing things to her that probably aren't really being done.

    that all women are real people who deserve to be treated like human beings,
    If we are autonomous individuals and there is no absolute truth then how does one determine what "treated like human beings" specifically entails? Does she want to be ignored, worshiped, desired, spoken to, flirted with, what would constitute being treated like a human being in her mind?

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  6. If we are autonomous individuals and there is no absolute truth then how does one determine what "treated like human beings" specifically entails?

    Good point. Feminists can't, and don't, recognise an objective morality, so there's no sexual activity that's inherently wrong for them. What matters for them is that it's done autonomously - independently of men - that it's not done to appeal to men or to what men might like, but that it's "empowering" for them as women.

    Which leads to some anguished and contorted moral reasoning. There's an ideological reason for feminist women to express themselves sexually without regard to morality, but at the same time they can't be seen to be "complicit" in a mainstream culture of sexiness. So it all comes across as anything but free.

    And, of course, men and women are in practice influenced by what the other sex is selecting for. So it becomes impossible for feminists to hold the line in the general culture.

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  7. Feminists can't, and don't, recognise an objective morality, so there's no sexual activity that's inherently wrong for them.

    In the perverse world of feminists, whatever a man does is "inherently wrong" if a woman decides it is.

    And best of all, she can change her mind at any moment!

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  8. "It sounds to me as if that last woman just wishes there weren't any men around."

    They don't want all men to disappear or turn gay, just the men they aren't sexually attracted to.

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  9. No one is doing anything to—as opposed to for—people like Penny Red. She and her ilk are paranoid narcissists. They act out like spoiled children, and project onto other people their acting out, so as to support their claim that they are “victims,” when in fact it is they who are terrorizing other people. They are antinomian beings, in the senses of: 1. A revolutionary morality, overthrowing all tradition (but refusing to be honest about it); and 2. A self that is cut off from all external objective reality and objective morality, such that it can “prove” anything and its opposite. (Number #2 is my interpretation of Kant, though he’s probably spinning in his grave, shouting “God save us from such friends!”) The political expression of such a sensibility will invariably be some form of totalitarianism.

    During the late 1970s and early 1980s, I had a very close friend at school who was like Penny Red. She came from great privilege, and was treated accordingly by her professors. She got automatic As in all her classes, and although only a sophomore, was given an office to share with Ph.D. students in the History Department. She responded to her treatment, in 1980, by leading a takeover of the Administration Building, and making a long list of non-negotiable demands of our school president. And yet, she complained of being “oppressed,” and circa 1980, wrote an irony-free essay entitled, “Good Girl or Bad Rebel?,” which argued, against all of her real experience, that she was expected to act like a demur, quiet, “good girl,” and punished for failing to embody said stereotype. I suspect that over the past 35-40 years, millions of spoiled young Western feminists have written virtually identical essays--and been praised for them!

    During the 1960s, a phrase was coined, I know not by who, to describe black militants who had seen all their prayers answered, yet who complained all the more for it. Today, it would apply to most blacks, and to virtually all feminists: “People who won’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.”

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  10. "Most of the younger feminists I know also tend to be critical of polyamory, sexual liberation, and the trivialisation of sexuality that it tends to result in."

    Agreed the political women tend to be quite uptight about sex. Its the non political girls who openly embrace the "girls just want to have fun" motto.

    "The political expression of such a sensibility will invariably be some form of totalitarianism."

    Its quite terrifying to fall before the goon squads when their blood is up. Legal and administrative hatcheting is not just a feminist phenomenon and is a worrying trend.

    "During the 1960s, a phrase was coined, I know not by who, to describe black militants who had seen all their prayers answered, yet who complained all the more for it. Today, it would apply to most blacks, and to virtually all feminists: “People who won’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.”"

    I think this is why a lot of young women today don't like to be openly called feminists now.

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  11. On a ligter node...

    --few weekends visiting my BOYFRIEND---

    Who would be interested in being a boyfriend or husband to a male hating feminazi?A wimp? A fool?A gay

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  12. On a ligter node...

    --few weekends visiting my BOYFRIEND---

    Who would be interested in being a boyfriend or husband to a male hating feminazi?A wimp? A fool?A gay

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  13. I think what they really want is to be consequence free for their choices.

    Which is an absurd position, there are always consequences for everything you do, and don't do. Choices are made, prices are paid.

    As for a return to monogamy, I think less and less men are going to buy into that with the way they are being burned by women.

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  14. If you are a man why would you ever go within 300 yards of anyone who claims to be a feminist?

    The reason most women don't give themselves that title these days is simple. It stops you having any meaningful relationships with the opposite sex.

    What pathetic manner of male would commit the equiv of cutting off his own privates with broken glass that would be any relationship with a feminazi?

    In my experience self described feminists usually have no boyfriend, or if they do they behave in a manner quite different around him than around her feminazi friends.

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  15. "If you are a man why would you ever go within 300 yards of anyone who claims to be a feminist?"

    In that respect I sometimes wonder about people like Ron Kirner - husband of Joan "Mother Russia" and "Emily's List" Kirner.

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  16. And here's a perfect real life example...

    http://inequality.posterous.com/salon-blaming-the-gang-rape-victim

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  17. Most of the younger feminists I know also tend to be critical of polyamory, sexual liberation, and the trivialisation of sexuality that it tends to result in.

    But they aren't critical of those things because they consider them wrong in and of themselves, but because they aren't as much to women's advantage as they thought they would be. Feminists are first-class narcissists, everything they do is about themselves.

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  18. Well, yes, of course women are caught in a trap. Haven't we feminists been saying so all along? (The trap is called "patriarchy" -- i.e. the set of beliefs and customs that privilege men's wishes and desires and opinions above women's)

    But I don't think the solution for women is to bat our eyes demurely at Oz Conservative and his friends, and hope they approve of us.

    For me, practicing sexual liberation turned out to be a far more sensible, personal solution to the "trap". As a lifelong feminist, I never once believed "sexual liberation" to mean "do anything I want." I always understood it to mean a liberation from double standards and a belief in my right to conduct my sex life as I see fit within the boundaries of the golden rule. So what does that mean?

    1) That means I am to treat my partners with respect. I am not to engage in sexual activity with another person without that person's enthusiastic consent; if he's not into it, I stop. I do not lie. (For example if I know this isn't going to be a relationship, I oughtn't to imply that it will be. I don't say I have had my tubes tied if I haven't.) If I have promised a monogamous relationship, I do not break that promise. I do not treat my partner with contempt.

    2) Sexual liberation means I expect the same from my partner(s). I will not continue to date or sleep with a partner who does not treat me with respect. I will not be shamed by a partner who applies a sexual double standard to me. I would prefer to remain single and celibate than tolerate disrespect. (In fact remaining single and celibate has not proven necessary in my experience. There are plenty of nice men so I married one.)

    3) Sexual liberation includes the right to choose lots of wild and crazy sex AND the right to say no to sex AND to right to remain a virgin if one chooses AND everything in between. As a sexually liberated woman, I won't allow myself to be shamed for my "vanilla" preferences and relatively conservative sexual history any more than I will allow myself to be shamed for the premarital adventures I did have.

    4) Sexual liberation takes into account the risk of rape. But it doesn't allow others to dictate to an adult woman what risk analysis she should apply in a given situation. The choice is hers. If I go to a man's room alone, there is a possibility that I will be overpowered and forced to engage in sex acts without my consent. Of course, come to think of it, this is also a risk when a woman gets married. It is up to the individual woman to decide how much or how little she wants to circumscribe her life in order to avoid such risk. There is a cost to the woman either way -- either she has a risk or she has to circumscribe her preferences. The choice as to which cost to pay must be hers alone because it is her cost -- just as the choice is yours when you decide whether to go out at night to a bar or stay inside with the doors locked.

    Oz, I understand that women's sexual liberation means that women sometimes act in ways that you and your friends don't find attractive or appealing. But the solution is simple: don't sleep with or date or marry those women.

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  19. "But the solution is simple: don't sleep with or date or marry those women."

    If it were only that simple. Once a lifestyle reaches a critical mass, it becomes the new norm. As a single man, I remember being told by woman after woman, that I was 'weird' to set marriage and family formation as a goal. Many thought that having children was a stupid, old-fashioned idea. Most didn't believe in marriage. They would point to friends who had gone through several live-in relationships. Why couldn't I be like them?

    Like you, I used to believe in the whole ideology of letting people treat marriage as just one life choice out of many. This may or may not be workable on an individual level. On a societal level, it's disastrous.

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  20. Canadian, a good response which I'd like to expand on.

    Margaret seems to think that sexual liberation means choosing anything as an individual, even romantic love or marriage.

    It doesn't. As I've tried to explain, every society has a culture of relationships. There are always three inputs into this culture, namely marriage, romantic love and sex. But the balance between the three changes significantly.

    Most traditional cultures make marriage predominant. But when I was growing up in the 1980s, romantic love was predominant. By the 1990s, sex was predominant.

    This is a shift in the public culture of a society. It represents a general shift in "orientation" when it comes to relationships.

    The sex liberationist feminists of the 1970s were not neutral when it came to marriage, romantic love and sex. They rejected marriage as a patriarchal institution. But they attacked even more strongly the then dominant culture of romantic love.

    When romantic love is the predominant input, men idealise the goodness and beauty of women. The 1970s feminists attacked in the strongest terms the putting of women on a pedestal. They began to act out against the romantic ideal, in the way they dressed, spoke and behaved.

    Nor did they seek some kind of parity or balance with men. There was to be no golden rule. Sex liberation was to be on the terms of women.

    Saying all this doesn't mean that there are no women who are uninfluenced by marriage or love. These inputs will always exist and will be stronger in some individuals than in others. But it's still possible to recognise shifts in the public culture.

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  21. "There is a cost to the woman either way -- either she has a risk or she has to circumscribe her preferences. The choice as to which cost to pay must be hers alone because it is her cost -- just as the choice is yours when you decide whether to go out at night to a bar or stay inside with the doors locked. "

    Choices have a way of spiriling into expectations and then claims. I chose to have fun, I expect to have fun, why can't I have fun? So in this environment we have an expectation of fun and are then suprised when things don't work out, (for instance dating a thuggish man see the last post).

    Oh well that's her choice, yadda yadda. We don't chose things in a vacum we're part of a culture or society. For you to chose something in a relationship the other party has to be willing to play ball. So in our culture everyone wants choice (ie to do their own thing) and are then suprised when other people don't want to play by their rules. Do we get a culture of mutual suspicion then?

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  22. Margaret, you have thrown down two strong criticisms on two dated threads and received comment from no less than the author of this blog. We wait patiently for you to reply to the counters and hope that you are willing to debate, not just snipe and run.

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  23. Jesse,

    After checking back for a couple of days and seeing no response to my comment, I assumed that the thread was already dead and stopped checking. I do appreciate the responses that have been left since then and will attempt to reply shortly.

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  24. Canadian, I agree with you that once a particular lifestyle or set of values reaches a critical mass, it becomes the new norm. I suppose that is why feminists, anti-feminists, religious people and other cultural critics try to influence culture so that their respective preferences become the norm. I include myself in that number.

    So you are correct that my comment was limited to simply addressing the individual dilemma faced by someone whose preferences are out of step with currently predominant values. I was responding to comments that seemed to relate to commenters' personal preferences regarding women, and that was why my comment addressed personal solutions, rather than societal solutions.

    Whether sexual liberalism is good for society is another question (though, yes, I think it generally is).

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  25. Jesse,

    I STRONGLY agree that you can't assume that you will find someone else to play ball with whatever relationship you hope to have (whether it is a traditionalist relationship or a feminist relationship). That's life. Marriage is never a guarantee. My advice not to date or marry anyone you don't like was not meant to be snarky. It was how I myself lived my life when I was young (and would still be living that way but for the sheer dumb luck of meeting my husband).

    Yes, it IS harder to find someone when your values are outside the prevailing norms. I think feminists and anti-feminists are in the same boat in this respect because the mainstream norm is sort of part-way between both camps (though I happily acknowledge that relationships are vastly more feminist now than in the past).

    On the other hand, on an individual level, the world is diverse enough that most people can manage to find like-minded souls somewhere, even if it takes a bit of searching or a bit of luck. There are plenty of traditionalist women, just as there are plenty of feminist men, as long as you look in the right places.

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  26. Mark,

    You are quite right that the 1970s feminists contributed to a shift in the culture by rejecting "marriage as a patriarchal institution" and rejecting the "then dominant culture of romantic love." Again, where we differ is whether that's a good thing! The feminists of that era certainly have my everlasting gratitude.

    Of course, the key thing to note is that the feminsits were critiquing marriage and romantic love as these things was conceived at that time. That's not the same thing as being against marriage and romantic love altogether.

    Given today's industrialized economy and women's ability to control their fertility, women need not be dependent on men. Without being dependent on men, there is no incentive for us to subordinate ourselves to men as in traditional marriage. A woman like me, and most women I know, would never sign on to a marriage that requires our subordination because there is no benefit to us. (There is also a danger to our children. If one spouse is dependent, it makes it harder to protect or provide for the children if the more powerful spouse abuses or abandons the children.) Reconceiving marriage as an egalitarian institution has allowed marriage to continue, because women can still get married without becoming second class citizens in the process.

    As for romantic love, a man's idealization of the goodness and beauty of women is not a particularly good thing for actual, human women (or for the men involved, who are bound to be disappointed). The idealization of women only creates an impossible standard that no human being can meet. Moreover, it hampers intimacy between the sexes. Who wants to be loved under false pretenses? How can you feel comfortable with someone who has you on a pedestal, or with someone whom you have placed on a pedestal? Last, and perhaps worst of all, the pedestal has historically been used to women's detriment to keep women out of many jobs and to keep women from political power.

    You say with regard to feminists:

    Nor did they seek some kind of parity or balance with men. There was to be no golden rule. Sex liberation was to be on the terms of women.

    I am not exactly certain to what you are referring. Engaging in mutual consensual sex without shaming women for their participation pretty much IS the golden rule. I am not sure what part of that is somehow unfair to men.

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  27. "Whether sexual liberalism is good for society is another question (though, yes, I think it generally is)."

    One of the earlier posts "Can women set the terms of sexual liberation?" stated that sexual liberation comes with practises viewed as absolute bugbears for feminists. Notabley porn for men, viewing women according to their "hotness", dating younger women, looking for quick flings from women only, a reluctance to commit that can make women miss out on childrearing and as stated recently an increase in the social acceptance of infidelity which can now lead to financial standing in the courts for mistresses.

    The point that sexual liberation is essential to women's freedom and helps dismantle patriarchy seems to overlook the many recent complaints leveled against sexually liberated men.

    Assuming you don't believe that men should do whatever women want at all times and that that should be basis for the new relations between the sexes how can you say that sexual liberation doesn't have important negative consequences for women and not just society?

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  28. Margaret wrote:

    "the key thing to note is that the feminists were critiquing marriage and romantic love as these things was conceived at that time. That's not the same thing as being against marriage and romantic love altogether."

    But the feminists were in fact opposed to marriage and romantic love altogether. They wanted relationships to be pursued for sex, without regard to marriage or romantic love, on the terms of women alone.

    Why do you think feminists acted so strongly against any kind of romantic ideal? If these women wanted to inspire any kind of romantic love in men do you think they would have acted the way they did? They weren't after romantic love at all. They wanted to obliterate it in the way they dressed, spoke and behaved.

    And they largely succeeded. Where they got it wrong was in thinking that sexual liberation would happen solely on the terms of women. Over time, men adapted to seeking women for sex appeal and hotness alone and women then adapted to what men were now selecting for. And so you arrive at the current situation of a highly sexualised culture - which feminists get upset about despite being partly responsible for what happened.

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  29. Jesse,

    I am not sure that the feminist bugbears you list are really such feminist bugbears.

    The biggest one you mention is porn, an issue that has not resulted in a strong consensus among feminists. The so-called "sex positive" feminists like me tend to see nothing inherently wrong with looking at images of attractive naked people engaged in sexual activity. However, like any other aspect of culture, porn is a legitimate focus of feminist criticism (just like novels, situation comedies, music, etc.) when it endorses the humiliation, coercion, or infantilization of women.

    The question really is: Is the desire to dominate and/or degrade women an inherent part of male sexuality, or is it a product of cultural beliefs of women's inferiority? If the former, then women are going to have major problems with men no matter what, even if we all arrive at the altar as virgin brides. If the latter, the problem is not so much sexual freedom as it is patriarchal cultural beliefs.

    As for the other "bugbears" -- meh. It has never occurred to me that quick flings or men's alleged reluctance to commit are particular problems. (I suspect the latter is a media-driven complaint. In my experience, men seem to be just as lonely and desirous of relationships as women.)

    The only one I see as a particular problem is men viewing women solely for hotness. That's okay in the context of a fling (that's the whole point of a fling), but not, say, when a woman is trying to get a job or running for high political office. But I don't see the sexual revolution as causing this phenomenon. Hotness has always been the main criterion for judging women. For example, my mother was told in the 1950s that she was too pretty to need a college degree. Sounds like she was being viewed solely for hotness.

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  30. Mark,

    Our disagreement may be semantic. If romantic love is defined as men's idealization of women, then yes the 1970s feminists opposed that. And so do I.

    But that's not the same thing as being opposed to intimacy with men. Even Gloria Steinem got married. Most feminists, unless they are lesbians, have had long-term intimate relationships with men.

    I am not overly concerned with whether women are trying hard enough to provoke "romantic love." Heterosexual men and women will always want to be together. It often amazes me how men and women naturally pair up, no matter how unconventional the subculture involved.

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  31. "I am not sure that the feminist bugbears you list are really such feminist bugbears."

    Are you kidding?

    First on the porn issue, yes modern porn has a disturbing tendency to be humiliating to women. I would argue that this has not always been the case. In the past attractive shots of women would have been sufficient now its often more "hard core". As men are marginalised within relationships they "escape" to the world of porn where they can win and have revenge so to speak. Is this healthy? I don't think it is but it can't be extracted from the war between the sexes. You say this is patriarchy, either men are on top or they're nothing, which doesn't say much for men. I would argue that rather than feeling on top, or fighting to be on top, men feel frequently humiliated and are required to walk a very fine line to not be considered total bastards on the one hand or complete whimps on the other. Humiliating the other is not the way to equality. Oh men feel humiliated what a bunch of suckers ...

    While you're at it perhaps you can explain, if you can, why women often like to be treated roughly in bed, and this is not just a male fantasy. Does unconscious sublimation of patriarchy explain all of it? (And that is really all I'd like to say about those two topics).

    Yes women get the shits when men won't commit to serious relationships and only want flings. You might be a muscled up woman who the men die for but plenty of women want a man who will treat them well and not screw around.

    No doubt many men are very lonely and desirous of relationships because men by instinct are often only comfortable in the company of women. The idea that men can treat their male friends the way women treat their girlfriends is still largely abhorrent to the ideal of masculinity. An ideal which I would argue has strong functional benefits for society. Women have an advantage in relationships because men want sex and also emotional companionship. They also frequently use this advantage to wring concession after concession from men. The biggest defenders of women and female behaviour are always men (with a joke or two given).

    The idea of the male dominating society I would argue seems foreign to the practise of many men today, (regardless of what is said about famous examples such as wage inequality which is an issue discussed here on a previous thread). Historically yes women are ingénues to the centres of power but that argument can only be used for so long. Sooner or latter you're going to have to say you've "arrived" and endlessly looking for examples of female disadvantage to perpetuate the myth or female inequality will not be satisfactory.

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  32. Should read "a" myth of female inequality.

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  33. Marriage was invented as a way of oppressing women’s fertile bodies. By forcing them to be monogamous, and kept into a domestic lifestyle, and legally unable to own property, they were trapped. This meant that their bodies were trapped: they were powerless in their ability to control their sexuality.

    But then along came the pill. All of a sudden the power of sex and fertility belonged to women; they could control what they did and how they did it; they were finally free.

    The powers that be are extremely frightened of women who can control their bodies; because without controlling women’s bodies, they cannot control the population level; and without control the population level, they cannot control the number of the labour force; and without controlling the labour force, they cannot control the wealth production in society.

    The powers that be thought to themselves: ‘There must be a way of using propaganda to brainwash women into getting married and staying monogamous.’

    And then the answer came to them: ‘Make women scared of sexual freedom’.
    The ingredients to make this happen are:


    1- Lots of sex; in advertisement, television, comedy jokes, and music videos; put sex wherever possible. Shove penises and breasts into the faces of every woman who steps outside their home.

    2- Circulate the debate, confusion and alleged-myth around the female orgasm. All of a sudden women don’t know how to achieve sexual pleasure in the first place. As far as I know, very few people have ever addressed this problem (Oprah).

    3- Make society believe that sexual pleasure is only for men. Instead of women using the pill for their sexual freedom, men are using it for their freedom. All of a sudden, men can have sex with women without worries – this is done when sitcoms show men ‘playing the field’ and catching some foolish naïve young woman and taking advantage of her innocence.

    4- Emphasise a black-and-white lifestyle. Either women are raunchy, polygamous, experimental, constantly available to do anything… or they are virgins, chaste, fridgets, scared weak little girls.
    There is no grey; no healthy balance of women using sex as one aspect of their happy lifestyle.

    5- Lots of crime shows: Law and Order SVU; a woman was raped by her well-meaning husband. Make women come to the conclusion: all sex will lead to ‘sex gone wrong’.

    6- Certain religion figures saying that all lust is sin, even mutual healthy pleasurable sex. They say that any sex will lead to an addiction to hedonism, causing mental and social breakdown.

    7- Instead of sexual pleasure being seen as mutual and cooperative, make women believe that men are the only ones who benefit from sex.
    In other words, the ‘objectification of women’ or ‘raunchy culture’: women are prostitutes, available upon request of men; women are posing nude on magazines, men can use that picture as they so chose; women are strippers; women are models, judged by how attractive they look; financially struggling women are forced into pornographies; beauty magazines say that only attractive looking women are proper women.


    With all of these ingredients in a pot, women can easily come to the conclusion that the sex world is horrible.
    And that’s when the ‘family values’ advocates come to their door. They say, ‘You don’t have to be involved with sex. You could get married; be involved in opposite-sex, chaste, monogamous, lifelong, domestic relationships. Here, you’ll be safe from all that bad sex.’
    And women take them up on the offer. And that’s how to oppress women despite them having the pill and being sexually free.

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