Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Mmmmmm - Fuzzy Gams.

This post initially written as a reponse to this post on the incomparable DawnCoyote's blog, but since it's considered rude to post a multipage comment, I thought I'd shuffle it over here and link to it instead. Her post was actually a followup to this thread on Wikifray (dizzy yet?).

Anyhoo, here 'tis.

When I was in high school, I dated a girl for a while who was a little hirsute. Her cheeks were covered in peach fuzz (not whiskers), and I found the idea of all those follicles, with the sensitivity to touch their presence implied, undeniably hot. She didn’t appreciate it at all when I mentioned my appreciation to her. What a lost opportunity! She’s probably availed herself of the laser by now, and she may never know what she was missing. [I’ve a friend who is transgendered. She talked once about the impact hormone therapy exerted on tactile sensation. She said her entire skin had turned into a giant sex organ.]

All those follicles, all that promise, unacknowledged – suppressed in a shame response dictated by internalization of sexist ideals that, from where I was coming from, didn’t even begin to make sense. What a shame - we could’ve had such fun! She was a Pentecostal, which was a rare bird in Provo Utah in the early eighties. I went to church with her, a couple of times. It was, uhm, enlightening.

Acknowledged ambivalence is a sign of psychological maturity, dear. Confidence either means you’ve thought things through enough you were able to reconcile it comfortably, or you’ve refused to think about it, and you can confidently play out your feelings of ambivalence over time – flip-flopping on issues, rather than maintaining a nuanced impression that has simultaneous desirable and undesirable qualities. Moral conviction is a form of confidence; God save me from morally resolute deniers.

Reading the blamers IS uncomfortable, especially for us penis-wielding types. Reading through that thread, there are some uncomfortable points well made. Though I have made the argument that sexism impacts men as well as women, one commenter notes the implications of such impact are on the order of inconvenience, versus raping/killing, etc. While I might be inclined to argue there’s an underestimation of impact there (thinking about the venerable manly tradition of honorable placement in dangerous situations, such as military service), I must say that in most circumstances, the point is apt.

It seems that the radical feminists only concern themselves with one part of what, for most, is actually a two-part argument. In addition to recognizing and discussing remedies for the various ways in which women are subjugated and objectified, there’s the question about what you, yourself are going to do about it (I think the radfem position is that answer to the second question is identical to the first). So, a woman who was objectified and disempowered, but who has learned to wield the power ceded by men in the course of that objectification, has more to give up than your run-of-the-mill hirsute, uncomely lesbian. Attractive women then get it from both sides – objectified and shamed because of the power they hold (though really given) over men, and shamed for availing themselves of that power. It’s a no-win for the “hot babes” of the world. What a blessing to be born in a physically awkward, esthetically unpleasant and sexually repugnant body! It adds a certain clean simplicity to your life, and you never have to question whether or not the person you’re with is with you for your looks, or “who you are.”

There is something about the blamers that bothers me, though, and it’s the same thing that turns the feminism/attractiveness thing into a no-winner for someone who is both desirable and progressively thoughtful. When you quit with the boy/girl game playing – quit wearing makeup, fixing your hair, dressing provocatively etc., the central theme in your life continued to be the manner in which men looked at you/treated you. It’s the flip side of the same coin – avoidance vs. embracing. But that continues to be a morally inferior position, in the same way that teetotalers continue to be vulnerable to alcohol, or preachers vulnerable to immoral behavior. By continuing to rail against the patriarchy, the blamers continue to reinforce the concept of a patriarchy. We’ll know we’ve gotten past this, as a culture, when the idea of a patriarchy no longer makes sense - just like you’ll know you’ve gotten past the sexism thing when you make decisions about your manner of dress, or behavior, with complete disregard for the behavior of others.

Your description of the man looking at you is telling. This guy wasn’t content with esthetic appreciation, it was a dominance move – he wanted you to know. So that really is a violation, albeit a subtle one. Guys are well aware they are doing this (and actually do something similar in spirit to other guys, though the message in that case is threat/dominance). Responding to that gaze with returned hunger, or anger, fear or disgust feeds the intent behind it – a sexualized dominance move. What does one do about such a provocation? I don’t know the answer, unless it is to remain indifferent. It strikes me that indifference is the proof you’ve either not internalized the gaze, or you’ve grown past that internalization. Confidence means you no longer have to feel threatened.

[Maybe martial arts classes?]

But all that being said, there’s no denying the appeal of the objectification – the appeal of the power in an involuntary response, reinforcing the idea that I am so potent/hot, that people cannot help but respond to me: the appeal of being able to avoid vulnerability while in an intimate position. There is a slavering, hungering part of me that would like to see you squirming like a bug on a pin, overwhelmed by the intensity of your arousal as you sit looking at porn, or thinking of me – objectifying me in the same manner I might want to objectify you. Is this my inner-misogynist rearing his ugly, Neanderthal-like head? Or is this merely my limbic system reminding me of the undeniable procreative imperative, for the moment circumventing the modulating effect of my cortex and jolting me with the raw energy of promised biological satiation?

Hard to say, though denying that this aspect of your post is hot hardly seems like a solution to me. Denial is not liberating. Denial is a conscious abdication, in the face of overwhelming challenge; If denial is what the blamers advocate, then they have also become part of the problem. We’ll recognize the viability of a solution when acceptance of a mindset means the problem no longer makes sense.

I think the blamers are also invested in the Patriarchy. Railing against it gives them power – a power they’d lose if the patriarchy vanished. I don’t think they want to give up their titillating rebellion, any more than many Christians want to give up on Evil – evil can create or intensify so much fun! Part of the intense charge in “progressive” sex is the idea that you’re engaging in something that might be considered shameful. The intensity of the moment when the minister yields to the wiles of the vixen parishioner far surpasses the intensity of (perhaps stale) marital conjugation – now imagine the intensity of you add sodomy to the menu! I’m afraid to speculate what the analogue might be in the community of blamers (or at least afraid to voice my speculations – insert tacky porn soundtrack here).

Christian erotica, eh? I’m glad there are Christians able to acknowledge the virtues of tingly body parts. I’m sort of fond of Christians, and some of what they say makes sense. ”By their fruits ye shall know them” is one that strikes me as helpful, from time to time. One of the fruits of the patriarchy is the forbidden one – an idea that’s provided at least as much titillation and entertainment as shame. But the fruits of the patriarchy are too-often bitter. The fruits of the blamers - arguments like eliminating men from humanity - strike me as fruit both sour and foul. Objectification indeed.

Embracing the tactics of ones opponent is hardly consistent with the pursuit of a morally superior position.

Bondage gear?

PS. If I get aroused when I see the brilliance of someone’s mind, or am taken with the eloquence of their poetry or prose, am I objectifying them? Not like I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid any sexualized appreciation, or anything – just curious about your thoughts.


Catnapping said...

hmm….alluva sudden I wanna talk about the 5th grade, learning about kinetic v. latent energy…

As it turns out, I was quite a stunning woman in my 20s and 30s. If I’d been a rock, I coulda rolled up and down the Himalayans.

...I had no idea. None. I wielded no power, though according to you I had it right there in my back pocket. And looking back, it probably smoothed out few bumps for me. Every job I ever applied for, usually leaving the interview with the welcome packet.

Funny thing though…my looks might have gotten me into a few doors, but that’s about it. My gorgeous, dickless body got in my way, most of the time. Until I went into nursing, I watched idiots hand morons titles to jobs I was already doing.

In the late 70s, was fired from my last job in Retail. I was working at Montgomery Wards. I was next in line for a manager’s position in hardware. I didn’t get it. Some lazy, always-late-for-work, first-baseman-on-the-company’s-softball-league-team got it. The first week he was promoted, he got in my face because I refused to continue some particularly tedious paperwork I’d been doing…work that was not in my job description, but I’d been doing it because I thought it would soon be in my job description…

He said I had to do it, cuz he “was telling me to”

I said, “Cuz you sucked Mike’s dick? I mean that’s why I’m not manager. Cuz I refused to suck Mike’s dick. He asked me to. Said the job was mine if I’d come over to his house the day after C-D pre-inventories, and spend time with him. So I can only assume he made you the same offer. And since you got the job, I can also assume you took him up on it.”

He said, “Fuck you. You’re through here.”

And by that afternoon, I was fired for insubordination.

It’s true - if I’d been homely, I don’t think I’d have been offered the chance to suck Mike’s dick. But still. When it comes to power, I’d say Alan’s dickly jockness trumped my beautiful face, hands down.

TenaciousK said...

Oh, ouch. Ouch, ouch.

One of my favorite movie scenes is Lester Burnham’s extortion of a fat severance package in American Beauty. It capitalizes on something else the blamers were discussing in that thread – the scariness of homosexual men to heterosexual hegemony members. The prospect that objectified might be turned back on them is horrifying. I wondered, reading your comment, whether that scene was satisfying for you, or distressing.

Reading back on my post, it’s a surprising how sexist I sound. That’s something I think I’ll chew on for a while. What I was trying to get to was the manner in which women who are physically appealing tend to get it from all sides. Everybody wants them to do a “job” for them – whether it’s the managers of the world who want to dominate/shame you, or the blamers who seem to be saying “Stop doing that! It makes me uncomfortable!” All of those demands interfere with your ability to feel comfortable with who you are, and find your place, and power, in the world. It strikes me that there’s already too much shame attached to sexuality, and that anyone interfering with your enjoyment of your gorgeous, dickless body, or the manner in which you choose to employ (not be coerced into employing) that body.

I think what the blamers are saying is that it’s impossible to feel comfortable in a world in which you are surrounded by coercive attempts to incorporate you into the ego structure of others without internalizing some of that desire. I guess my only counterargument is that the idea that incorporating other people as props to your ego – getting them to do “jobs” for you – is the problem. Sexual repression/maltreatment/exploitation is one particularly egregious and visible example of it, but the problem is actually more encompassing. So sharing your beautiful dickless body with someone, at your discretion, without strings is something beautiful the rest of us don’t have the right to interfere with. Being in a relationship, however, in which sharing your beautiful dickless body becomes a means by which your partner props up their self-esteem – where even the people you love are relying on you to do a “job” – is not beautiful. It turns a gift into an acquiescence to demand.

I’m going to think awhile about this, and see if I can come up with a better response. Thanks for the thoughtful response, Catnapping. You’ve given me a lot to mull over. As a last thought (for now) – is it okay for me to continue finding beauty in something like this? If so, what about this? Or even this?

PS. Your avatar seems apt.

catnapping said...

i a bit carried away in that response, ey?

i did rather enjoy telling Alan off. he was a little prick, and it was fun seeing the look on his face when i suggested that he might have sucked Mike's dick. ROFL

but i shook the rest of the afternoon. i hate confrontations, believe it or not. i've seldom backed off from one, and i've certainly initiated my share when i believed i was sitting on the higher moral horse...but i've always come away from them, nauseated.

i think the images in those links are beautiful.

TenaciousK said...

You didn't seem at all carried away to me - what your comment has been is thought-provoking. While I can understand what happens to women in a sexist society, I forget - whatever vicarious or conceptual understanding I might muster is the palest shadow of an experience like that one. I don't like to think that I am also a product of my culture, but of course I am.

If my beloved wanted me to dress up in a leather g-string, or wear assless chaps, or participate in some sexualized make-believe, where's the harm? If this becomes a necessary, non-negotiable aspect of our relationship, then who or what exactly are they having a relationship with? I wonder whether or not the blamers are able to distinguish between the two scenarios.

I have a problem with the shaming aspect of radical feminism, but they certainly make some good points. I keep having the feeling like they're being overly specific - not trying to minimize the problem, because the gender-based manifestation is highly visible and particularly egregious, but that characterizing it purely in terms of patriarchal hegemony is an error, and a potentially problematic blindspot.

Some of what goes on between parents and their children, for example, is also horrid but even more mute. It's harder to conceptualize, though, and the manner in which this also cuts against the matriarchy might be unacceptable to feminists.

Anyhow, I always appreciate your comments. Thanks.

Bite oftheweek said...


I haven't read Dawn's writing, and I barely skimmed a bit on the blamer's site.

However, it has been interesting to read the male response on wiki.

It saddens me to see that those who may go over the top on the blamiing allow issues to be laughed at.

You and I know that powere of the patriarchy when the patriarchy is celebrated to the extent that it is here.

Not a General Conference goes by when I do not hear women I know having to give up plans or actions because the "brethren" have advised against it.

I remember how many women gave up bunko because it was condemned at general conference. Women should not be spending time with other women unless it is in the service of the their families or the church. How day they take some fucking time just to have fun with their female friends?

Every conference.

This in a place where nearly half of the adult women have been sexually abused as children.

So when there is bitterness about men, even in the extreme, I don't wonder where it came from.

I have spent my life ambivalent. Betraying myself on both sides.

Whoring myself for a tip in college. Smiling and laughing with the customers after I had to move back from the table because they were putting their hands on me.

Trying to take control of my sexuality, choosing my partners in college, but then feeling used when sex was an act of taking from these assholes.

Never wanting a to alone with a boy in high school. Letting the fear take over.

Wanting to be beautiful, but not wanting to be lusted after by strangers. I remember after I had lost the "baby weight" after my daughter was born. The act of going to the grocery store and walking out. Noticing the man looking at me in that predatory way.

Spending the rest of the day curled up in my chair, wondering why I was so afraid.

When I worked to look good, having my husband be jealous of the attention I got when we were out. When I looked like shit, having him be embarassed that I wasn't more attractive.


It's a no win.

I have often thought that maybe the women in burkas have it made. They can be sexy for their man, but don't have to put up with the others bothering them.

But then they don't have a choice, either. Do they?

twiffer said...

yes, i'm dizzy. my question though, to you and the blamers and, well, everyone is this: who in fuck's name are these men who think it's their right to rape and kill women (or anything)? is this a generational thing?

Bite oftheweek said...

I doubt you could look at any war zone, and see the rapes happening today to the women in it, and wonder if it is a generational thing.

I don't know the answer. Just that so many people seem so fucked up as children/teens/young adults that they cannot have a decent relationship with the opposite sex, even when that person is a decent person.

I don't know the answer. hell, I don't even really know the question

TenaciousK said...

[Sigh...] Well, today I may not be at the mercy of the patriarchy, but I am certainly at the mercy of the western-style post-industrial economics of professional specialization and the sad realities of gender-based sex roles as related to economic activities, like paying bills and stuff.

Great comments. Twif, no it's not generational. In fact, for all the social progress we've made, there's also indication things are as bad as they've ever been.

Bite - is that what happened to that Bunko craze? My church-going relatives refused to give up face card games when they were condemned. I grew up playing Hearts and 500 as a family activity - particularly at family reunions (at which there were members of some local prominence).

A lot of the men are sexually abused too. It's rarely talked about.

I'll have to come back and address this at greater length later. Thanks for the comments, though.

Bite oftheweek said...

Is it the power of the patriarchy that when Catholic priests were caught molesting young *boys* it shocked the world?

Yet molested young girls elicit yawns?

Dawn Coyote said...

Jesus. Bite, you have this way, sometimes, of breaking my heart. I think our experiences have much in common. So, yeah - to bite and cat. Same for me, and more stories that would make your hair curl, of course (and the same for you, I'm sure).

So, why, I wonder, is it that you're not allowed to talk about what it's like to be an attractive woman in the world? You're bragging, posing, etc., if you even talk about your experience living inside a skin that appeals to a significant number of people. So you have this thing that everyone notices and everyone reacts to, and yet you're supposed to pretend you don't have it. You don't get to talk about what it's like to be on the receiving end of all that projection (which started at such a young age for me, courtesy of my parents, that I have a hell of a time separating my sense of who I am—my sense of myself as a person—from how I look). You don't get to own it. Not owning it, you don't get to use it for your own ends. What happens if you stop pretending? When you claim this precious, coveted, obscure object for your own? I've learned to use it like any other attribute: carefully, with integrity, to serve not only my own ends but the common ends of my colleagues and business partners, who are happy to reward me, and to acknowledge ALL my contributions, be they visual or intellectual in nature. That, I tells ya, feels like power. It’s sooo much better than when I was a cocktail waitress, when all the power I had was dependant on whether or not I could get guys hard.

TK: well, if my ambivalence is a sign of psychological maturity (”dear”), may I assume that it also mitigates my hypocrisy?

I agree that it was a dominance move on the part of that man in the meeting, and I did at one time consider taking marital arts, but I learned, finally, to ‘disappear’ people who try that move on me. They become transparent, and I look right through them. This is amazingly effective.

I wouldn’t say your response to me was sexist. Certainly, it was gender-centric, in spots, but I don’t think that’s the same thing.

For instance, my idea of being impaled on a pin has this whole flavor of the terrified and desperate captive about it, little legs kicking in a futile effort to escape, but “impaled” may have a different connotation for you, being, as you said, a penis-weilder. On the other hand, I certainly intended for my post to be provocative, arousing, and for that provocation to be a joke between my reader and I. I think it’s fine to talk about the way these things play out, how you respond to what I’ve written. In fact, it’s interesting and germane to talk about the way they play out in the public sphere (because of course mine is a public pose, and not necessarily the way I am in private). Words are aphrodisiac—to me, anyway. I’ve always been a sucker for a well-turned phrase. Do you objectify me through my words, through the images I string together to communicate something? That’s a good question. It gets at the idea of thought crimes, which is a point the Blamers seem to get stuck on. I see your point that the Blamers are invested in the Patriarchy, but how else could it be? It’s omni-present, like something in the water.

The Blamers make some good points, but they’re still doing the thing that pushed me away from the politics of Feminism years ago: they go around and around, restating the problem, and crying on each other’s shoulders. They isolate themselves from larger society in order to maintain a pristine and unimpeachable position within the sisterhood, and they look down on those who don’t do the same. Well, it doesn’t work like that. Our social selves live in a sea of contradictions, of trade-offs, of sacrifices. Like all utopian societies, the vision of Feminism is too austere, it fails because it cannot address all the many exceptions to the rule. I/we need the Blamers, and I’m still a feminist, but not with the capital ‘F’. I’m probably best described as a situational humanist, and I no longer expect a just world.

The interesting thing on that thread, I found, is that the positions cancel each other out. What does that mean?

I have excerpts I’m going to post as a follow up.

twiff: I want to say something like, “if you can see the rapist in you…”, but I don’t want to offend or insult you. Still, my best answer is that there’s a little piece of the misogynist in all of us. It’s reproduced by mimicry. How do we expunge it? By seeing it, I think.

Dawn Coyote said...

cat: damn. I'm wishing I'd put my catwoman avatar back on for that last comment. We'd be cat-sisters.

Bite oftheweek said...

The worst part, by far is that I betray that strong, independent woman I wanted to be every fucking day.

I betray her if I need my husband, I betray her if I let the past interfere with my sex life. I betray her when I have sex.

I betray her if I screw up my kids, I betray her if I take years off to care for them.

I betray her every time I clean a toilet, I betray her if I don't.

I betray her when I flirt with men, I betray her when I am afraid of them.

and by her, I mean myself, and all women.

Bite oftheweek said...


I think that you are looking at a snapshot of the blamers and thinking it is a movie.

If you are anything like me, you may have gone back and forth on the heavy feminism thing (wait, I believe you did).

We are a contradiction as we try to maneuver our way around life while being in possesion of a vagina.

I doubt anyone posting on that board will feel exactly the same way 5 years from now.
Their thoughts and feelings are fluid, as ours are.

Keifus said...

Interestng thread. I wish I had more time today. It's been hard not to feel defensive and contrarian at a lot of these points, but it doesn't feel fair to the honesty and ambivalence you women are revealing. Suffice to say that generalizations and expectations for male behavior are part of the problem too.

More about generalizations too, but some other time.


TenaciousK said...

DC: I re-read that post after catnapping replied, and I cringed when I read that "dear" - sounds so much more "pat-on-the-head" than endearment I toyed with deleting it.

But I decided trying to hide like that is dishonest, so I left it.

Coping with ambivalence is how you address hypocrisy. Pretending you don't have any is just denial.

Bite: Wow. The level of conflict there makes me sad. Maybe it's inevitable, when you grow up surrounded by adults intentionally blurring the distinction between the person and their action, enforcing seemingly impossible standards regarding those actions, and yet you maintain this "selfish" desire to develop and maintain an actual, autonomous identity.

Which, as I read it, sounds a lot like what a blamer would say. Maybe in areas where cultural prohibitions seem more restrictive than the norm (also restrictive), the issues are just more evident.

There's already too much shame about sexuality. The closet sociobiologist in me (yeah, ok - I can admit it. I read one of E.O. Wilson's books) thinks about animal comparisons - what emotion does the juvenile male lion experience, do you suppose, that keeps him from getting killed or expelled from the alpha adult? If analagous (quite a stretch), that would seem to identify the cultural source of shame as being more a male trait than female (not the subjective experience of being shamed by someone else - the genesis of projected shame, and the ramifications it holds for relationships).

But speculations like that are hazardous, I suppose. The issue, though, is reminiscent of the discussion we were have on the Fray, where you asked about evil. I liked Fritz's answer, and noted (wonder if he took it as a critique) he didn't say anything about self-protection. The point I was trying to make is there's an important distinction between protecting yourself/others, and fighting evil. The motivation matters, because the methods will follow. Shaming is like trying to eradicate evil - there's a primitive rejection of the person involved.

But what's really rejected is one's projection of unacceptability - the source is reversed. I was trying to make a similar argument to John on Wiki lately - that one can make a secular argument in favor of standards of "morality" that mimic some of the ubiquitous religious guidelines. And I wish they would bother themselves to do so, because merely proselytizing is lazy and arrogant (and persuades far fewer people). The problem is, of course, that this might force reconsideration of cherished beliefs. This is problematic, when one is relying on rule-based behavioral guides, rather than attempting to discern the logic behind the rules.

None of the religious people I know seem at all willing to examine the contradiction between the social controls they exercise and the reverent manner in which they purport to hold free will.

Anyhow, more later. Anybody who hasn't seen it should look at Dawn's latest installment.

Schadenfreude said...

Call a waaahhhmbulance, sisters.

Everybody has had a hard life. We all get treated like shit by somebody some time for some reason (fathomable or unfathomable). Some because they're beautiful and some because they're ugly. You survived it. Now, get over it.

TK, you talk too much and think too little.

TenaciousK said...

Schad: Maybe. While I'm open to well-meaning suggestion, however, I'm not so inclined to take it without a case being made. Stylistic difference, or fatal flaw?

Do you have something specific in mind, or is that a general critique?

JohnMcG said...

None of the religious people I know seem at all willing to examine the contradiction between the social controls they exercise and the reverent manner in which they purport to hold free will.

Ah hmm -- that's pretty simple -- free will gives you the ability to choose to do good. Without free will, there can be no good act.

"Social controls" are about protecting justice. Is it a conflict of free will to tell the chemical company not to dump its waste in the river?


I agree that when advocating universal policy, we cannot lean on religious arguments, but in teaching our own children, it is perfectly appropriate, and I will continue to do so wheter you like it or not.

Bite oftheweek said...


Briefly, because I must go get my son for the weekend

That is what I was talking about when I said that too many people are damaged.

I know it is not just women, but universally across the globe, women have far less control over their own lives than men do.

In religious enclaves like the one I exist in, the restrictions on women's power are compounded exponentially.

twiffer said...

my general point: obviously i'm not saying rape & murder don't still occur. that would be stupid. and yes, every male is physically capable of raping someone. but the idea that there is some sort of cultural stamp of entitlement that men can rape/murder/beat women is what i'm reacting against. i don't see it. could be i'm blind, based on experience. all i can go on is anectdotal evidence.

i can't answer for other cultures. i can't answer for war, particularly as war necessitates viewing the enemy as not even human. but in everyday life, now, here. perhaps i've just been hanging out in the right crowd? perhaps it's because every boss i've had so far has been a woman?

it'd be naive to think shit like this is completely eliminated, because there are still assholes in the world. but, as the default position? i don't see it.

TenaciousK said...

"Social controls" are about protecting justice. Is it a conflict of free will to tell the chemical company not to dump its waste in the river?

I agree that when advocating universal policy, we cannot lean on religious arguments, but in teaching our own children, it is perfectly appropriate, and I will continue to do so whether you like it or not.

Of course, John. In fact, rule-based guidelines for behavior are developmentally appropriate. It’s not like you could explain why it’s a bad idea to stick a knife in the electrical outlet.

It’s the manner in which those controls are implemented that I object to. What I’m trying to do is draw a distinction between instilling shame and teaching self-protection. As children begin the process of differentiation, it’s appropriate for them to question all kinds of things coming from their parents.

Around here, that kind of questioning is often greeted with alarm, and encourages kids to either avoid it entirely or be considered outcasts. When I was a child, I was taught that anger was a sin. “Righteous indignation” is somehow appropriate, however. What is a child to make of such a subtle yet artificial distinction? When you promote an impossible standard as necessary to maintain club membership, what you end up with is a bunch of people running around trying to pretend like they don’t live in fear of discovery (generalizing some here). This makes for some problematic social dynamics (witch hunt-type stuff).

It also results in an entire population of people with horrid conflict-management skills.

It’s an issue dear to my heart, after watching (and long reflecting on) the manner in which many of my friends chose to accept the shameful labels assigned them, rather than succumb to what amounts to a loss of identity, and then live up (or down) to those labels. These weren’t bad kids, but some of them certainly went on to do some bad things. It’s a tragic waste of potential that amounts to the hidden cost of social control through the application of shame.

Religion doesn’t have to work that way, and Christian philosophy specifically discourages this type of behavior. But it continues to be pervasive nonetheless.

Why, do you think?

Twif: I’m in sort of a unique position to gauge trends in misbehaviors among teens on a national basis. For the last few years, one trend has been the girl giving blowjobs in the back of the bus/bottom of the stairs/in the parking lot to all the guys – I mean, like hundreds of guys. WTF is that all about? John – the routine response from the moral majority in this country is to shame this girl. While it might discourage the behavior among the population, it comes at her expense (she has to figure out how to reconcile her behavior with a positive self-image). Shaming behavior like this is often viewed as self-protective (from the community standpoint). I’d argue it isn’t self-protective at all, and may in fact serve to perpetuate the problem.

twiffer said...

you know, i try and make a point about how the attitudes of men have improved, and then i read about don imus calling the rutger's women's basketball team "nappy-headed ho's". so, never mind. i'm convinced that any point i try to make will be instantly refuted by some highly visable dimwit.

i'd like to think we're better than we are, in all cases where there has been historic oppression and inequality. and granted, we are. but at the same time we're worse than we are or should be (hope that makes sense to someone besides me). i think we've moved beyond 1 step forward, 2 steps back to 2 steps forward, one step back. i'd like to see the day when one doesn't make an effort to treat someone fairly because they are female, or black, or hindi, etc., because one doesn't have to. instead, one treats all fellow humans as just that.

that's the goal.

TenaciousK said...

Amen, Twif. I hope you're right.

fluffyblackpuppies said...

i have to say [don imus is an old fart], that i'm rather heartened by the younger men i meet. their generation really does seem to be getting better about sexism and misogyny.

hmmmmm, google doesn't like me tonight.

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