Stef pointed us at this article from last week’s Washington Post. Ariel Levy’s feature is based on her new book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture.
The going wisdom is that we now are liberated enough to get implants, we’re empowered enough to start lap dancing. Gloria Steinem and her compatriots were either wrong about these things, or just reacting to them in a different time, when different rules applied. … The question is, when we pick up that “Porn Star” T-shirt, what are we really buying?
You’ve seen the phenomena Levy is writing about; we certainly have. And one reasonable way to read these trends is as a positive, supportable rise in sexuality and sexuality in women, a leveling of the longstanding (even when infinitely refuted) myth that sexual desire and sexual urges are somehow essentially male. And beyond a doubt that’s true.
Another reasonable way to read the same trends is more like Levy’s analysis: women, especially young women, are somehow learning that looking and acting “skanky,” raunchy, visibly sexy is their best shot to make their mark in the world — which means defining their mark in the world by their effect on men. And beyond a doubt that’s true.
Even in this commercialized, commodified culture, you can’t turn on all of the people some of the time, but you can turn on some of the people all of the time. And every society has its own ways of doing that–some commercialized and some acculturated in other ways. “In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked upon as simply shocking …” and all that.
We want to explore this further, with feedback. Do you this trend in raunch exciting and hot? Disgustingly exploitive? Boring?
And whether you’re teenage now or you were teenage forty years ago, how did you figure out what was hot for you? How much of it seems like it was socially constructed, and how much feels like it would have been inevitable whether you’d been brought up in contemporary America or 16th century Persia? Or on the moon for that matter?