Saturday, March 22, 2008

Women and Sex: The Great Divide

I had mentioned earlier that in the last few months I have been doing a great deal of reading about feminism. After several disconcerting run-ins occurred in my daily life and after being on the sidelines and frontlines of internet battles, I wanted to explore my own life from the ground up and regain a sense of self that wasn't defined by a preconceived perception that I had gained through society's dictates and the incessant need to be popular.

So I read and read.

My conclusion is simple. Feminism is not the throbbing, living system of empowerment that our foremothers had laid the foundation for. We are not fighting for our right to vote or the right to have a job. We aren't praying for the ability to not be ruled by a tyrant husband or trying to focus on raising a family to better the generations that come after us.

We are too busy fighting about sex in all it's forms.

There is a great divide in feminism. The cracks first appeared in the 1970's when a group of women came forward with the "sex is power argument". There was dissent from another group of women who felt that sex was a sacred, private thing that was used for its original intention of populating the earth. Sex wasn't meant for public consumption but for the greater good.

Needless to say, these ladies couldn't agree. This has led to a splintering of the feminist core value. There are those women who think that feminism is being empowered by their right to hit a strip club, get a lap dance, drink whiskey, and smoke a cigar, while still being unfettered by the need for a man yet still receiving validation from said male. The other extreme of womankind hates the "nakedness" and titillation of society and is calling for a return to a more Victorian time.

Who is right and will we ever agree? That is the one billion dollar question.

Somewhere in the middle, most of us reside in a truce of sorts. While not a strip club patron, or a highly sexualized person, I still like to believe that my private life and sexual doings are my own choice, and a right I have, regardless of what other folks think. As a non-prude but a mostly modest woman, I spend a great deal of time battling my place in the feminist pecking order. It is through the realization that being true to myself if the only possible answer to my self doubt, I have achieved a sense of self and a kind of freedom that I can enjoy. Screw it if you don't like me. That is the bottom line.

Seeing the women online going through a change of sorts during this time has been a bit ironic. We have the ladies who have been blogging for a longtime staking their claim to supremacy while the younger, brasher model begs to differ. It is sad in many ways, but also shows that the many facets of feminism will never allow women to truly band together in a unified manner.

That isn't to say that men are exempt. God knows I have dealt with more types of men then I can shake a stick at. I work with "macho men" who are country bred and proud. They want to be the breadwinner and take care of their wife. They want to have a whiskey, cuss, and tell dirty stories before retiring to bed. Then there is the extreme I see at the gaming shop. Mostly minimum wage earners who would love to find a "sugar mama" so they can continue to fund their habit, these are the guys who wouldn't talk to me when I was single but can't seem to shut up now. Don't even get me started on all the types of guys I see at the gym.

Do these men agree with each other? Do they interact? It seems that they do, but then they do what we all do. They make fun of each other behind their backs. I have seen many a cowboy laugh at a guy on the street wearing a pink shirt after slapping his back and wishing him the best. Men are certainly not exempt from this whole mess, they just have their own set of problems, whether it is worrying about hair loss, the flabby belly, or how to make a living worthy of their father's era. That is a whole other subject, and one that I don't want to delve into here.

Where am I going with this? The conclusion I have come to is that we are all unique but are all grasping to find our place in this world. Whether it be as a feminist who goes to the extreme to show her comfort in a strip club or a gaming guy who professes to not care about having a girlfriend, we are simply trying to find our niche. That is why I am not surprised that we can't find a unity.

My attempt at putting a positive spin on things is this: find a cause you are passionate about it and support it until the end. Even if there are those who don't agree with you, stand your ground. God knows it is the hardest thing to do, and I freely proclaim that I have had a tough time with it as well. It is all about doing what you think is right. While we as women may not be able to agree on what is sexist, the best thing we can do is at least hear each other out.


Swinebread said...

Women are raised to believe or are innately (jury is still out) focused on the idea on the idea that a flat structure exists in which all women are equal and thus should have the same/similar goals. Conflict arises when one woman is seen as having or aching more than the group or stepping out of excepted norms. (In your case reading comic books.)

Men or more attuned to the concept of the pecking order and accept that others will be under and over themselves in social position. For men, conflict arises when they (men) are forced to see each other as equals.

Of course these are general concepts and we’re all human so male and female have the capacity for both but it’s a good starting point. The problem for women, I think, is the illusion that they all have and should be on the same page all the time and so they end up fighting each other.

david brothers said...

I've been following your blog for a while (long time listener, first time caller, etc etc), but I just wanted to pop in and say that this was a fascinating post.

I don't really have anything to add. I just wanted to show some support.

Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said...

I've been following your blog for a while (long time listener, first time caller, etc etc), but I just wanted to pop in and say that this was a fascinating post.

Ditto. I think you are hitting on some of the things that are causing most women to say that they aren't feminists despite the fact that if you ask women (or men) specific questions about the more universal feminist goals, most women (and men) would agree with them. It doesn't seem to be the goals so much as the theory or methods that so many women object to. That says something. I'm not sure what, but something.

s1rude said...

Nice post.

It helps me to remember that at the base of this and any other issue are human beings (regardless of gender) trying to meet their own needs. A woman that parties like a rock star at the strip club and a stay-at-home mom who has only ever had sex with her husband are both doing so for their own reasons, and the greater cause of feminism is simply a rationalization of those reasons, not a real factor.

Of course, the more psychologically sophisticated a person is - the more aware they are of their needs and what they do to themselves and others to meet those needs - the more capable they will be of having a meaningful discussion about their needs. And meaningful discussion, as you so correctly call for here Heidi, is the starting point for addressing misogyny, racism, the patriarchy and all the ways we harm each other.

Carl said...

The unvarnished truth? I have little or no respect for what's called "the modern feminist movement". To me, it's "I-can-behave-in-anyway-and-you-can't-judge-me-or-even-question-it". You want to go to strip clubs, smoke, drink, have sex with as many partners/sexes as you want? Go ahead, but don't expect me to treat you like a lady, especially if you rub this behavior in my face. Let's turn this around. An "empowered man" goes out with his friends, drinks, screws around, smokes, goes to the strip club and on and on. Do I find this guy to be a man of the world? Nope, I'd find him pretty damned boring, he's living out a stereotype. And if a woman wants to live out a male stereotype instead of be her own person and say screw you to what other people think, sure, go ahead if you want but you are a weak, lesser person in my eyes.
And also, pretty much Bill Clinton and his harpy wife destroyed any political character the women's movement had. They screamed sexual harrassment for years and years and destroyed anyone percieved as this kind of man..... UNTIL Bill Clinton. Apparently, he was needed for the movement and the women he abused and sometimes destroyed their lives apparently were not as important as their "empowerment". So much for that...

Heidi Meeley said...

Swinebread, you amaze me with your insight here. I think you have nailed it. Men do order themselves differently then women do. I see it in the weight room at the gym when observing the guys doing bicep curls with 60 pound dumbbells versus the fella using 15 pound ones. They are polite, but do not go overboard to interact.

Women, on the other hand, try to have conversations observing the social convention while doing a set of reps. It is an odd thing to behold.

Your last paragraph really rang home with me.

Heidi Meeley said...

David brothers, thank you for the kind words! It really made my day. Sometimes when I put something out there, I really wonder what the feedback will be, so it was pleasant to see your comment here!

Heidi Meeley said...

Scott, I appreciate what you said. God knows I have questioned myself many times on my "right" to consider myself a feminist. It is easy to get insecure when caught in the web of the "hive vagina" mentality that tends to permeate the so-called feminist blogs. That is when I feel the need to step back and evaluate myself and the basic values that I have chosen to follow. I would imagine other women do the same, but that is just opinion.

Sometimes trying to make change for the sake of a cause tends to send personal conviction to the sidelines, and I think that is a problem as well. There is also that pesky little "will I get linked" mentality that really throws a wrench in the works. It makes me wonder what is real and what is done for attention at times.

I appreciate your sentiment, and know what you mean.

Heidi Meeley said...

s1rude, thank you! Your thoughts are greatly appreciated and I agree. It isn't until we find an enlightenment in which we can hold to our own convictions that we can begin to push past preconceived notions and attention getting stunts. To get to that point is an incredible amount of work, and a person has to really have the desire to "go there". It is a daily battle for our own souls!

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, I see your point here. That is one thing that I have learned through my reading and research. There are always going to be extremes, and many of us are going to be living in that middle "gray" area. It makes it tough- we can't all be Madonna, you know? LOL!