Laurie Toby Edison

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Conversation with the Comments

Well, the raunch article is getting all kinds of attention, both on our comments list and in the blogosphere. We were going to write more of our own responses, and then we decided that everyone else’s comments deserved a post all their own.

Here’s a fascinating sample.

Jessica at Feministing is the first reference we found.

“It seems to me that Levy is simplifying the issue–it’s like she’s combining the very different views of different women into this big old glob of naive pro-raunchiness. She uses language associated with younger feminists (i.e., empowerment) while describing actions like buying a “Porn Star” shirt at the mall.

“There’s a big difference between a younger feminist who is trying to understand the complexities of sex work and how it informs her politics, and a young woman flashing for Girls Gone Wild cause boys will like her. And this is not even to say that one pro-raunch action is “better” than the other–I’m not going to fucking lecture some 19 year-old about who she wants to show her tits to. I just think it’s a bit condescending to assume that any kind of pro-pornography perspective is uninformed, and that they’re all the same.

“I just think it’s a bit condescending to assume that any kind of pro-pornography perspective is uninformed, and that they’re all the same.”

On the other hand, And Lizzie has a simple, declarative response in another direction: “I find it disgustingly exploitive. But I’m a humorless ’70s style feminist. ”

Jadelennox comments on our site: But on the other hand, they are also designing clothes for men that sexualize, that outline the body, that make men into more Objects of the Gaze. And I… well, I enjoy looking at men, so I enjoy the fact that now men are wearing sexy clothes.

“That being said, I understand that it is not healthy for people to be trained into thinking of themselves at all times as Objects of a Sexualizing Gaze.”

Amanda at Pandagon riffs off of Jessica’s post above.

“I think it’s also perfectly natural that women put on a degrading, objectifying point of view, because it’s not a male way of thinking so much as it’s the way that people in the patriarchy are supposed to view women. There’s a subtle difference, but I think it’s important, because women enforcing patriarchal standards is hardly a new thing or unique to our culture. This is just a different version of it.”

“But I think there’s a way that sexual display can be framed that isn’t degrading, and I have to say that I know a lot of women who found raunchiness to be a great way to overcome certain insecurities. In fact, from my own experience, raunchiness can be a great way to subvert male dominance, especially if you turn that shit back on men and objectify them a little.”

Lynne Murray has a comment on our site that relates to Amanda’s post:

“A Sluts-R-Us t-shirt will get the wearer attention in a more positive way than an in-your-face political slogan that might force the wearer into an unpleasant dialogue with a (possibly hostile) person who disagrees. So you get much more of a certain kind of power (personal power over individuals) with a sexy statement than with an intellectual or politcal statement. From the perspective of age, I can see that this is a brief moment, but a young person high on the attention has no way of knowing that it can (and will) cease.

“Without any context, awareness or alternative avenues of self-development, a young woman can become addicted to this kind of attention and spend a lifetime trying to re-create it. The male equivalent is the high school jock whose life peaked at age 18.”

We’ll be posting more on this; it’s not too late to join the conversation.

3 Responses to “Conversation with the Comments”

  1. Lynne Murray Says:

    A couple more random thoughts on the way boundaries have shifted in our culture, and the intensity of statement you have to make to get attention. In mystery fiction we see a major upping of the graphic gore that seems to correspond to the poor sales result across the board. I think it’s desperation to grab audience attention on the part of authors and publishers.

    I wonder if sexuality develops a different meaning for a generation that has seen simulations of sexuality everywhere in the mass media. Grammar school children probably know more about the mechanics of sexual intercourse than I did when I actually did started doing it!

    This grabbing for attention with the lowest common denominator also reminds me of junk food, where the result is a degradation of taste sensations, as the junk food goes unerringly for the hyper-sweet and very salty.

  2. Laurie Says:

    Lynne,

    I think sexuality has some has some differences that are generational. Among many other things, there is a lot less “mystery” from lack of information than there used to be.

    But for sex. unlike mysteries, “lowest common denominator” doesn’t feel right. 1950′s idealized virginity was also an attention grabber. I have trouble classifying either the 50′s “virgin”or the millenial “porn star” as lower than the other. And as constructed images they both took/take a lot of work.

  3. Pearl Says:

    The raunch at workplace office for women strikes me as being the equivalent of guys who pretend to be cowboys with high western boots. It’s a trying to distract for attention. I’d guess perhaps its kneejerking very far away from the opposite pole: (staid/modest/bland = less intelligent, less creative). They want to distinguish themselves as an individual not afraid of conforming and being a person not a uniform? Just an idea. Haven’t polled anyone who dresses provocatively to find out.

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