Also, Feminism Is Not Responsible For Girls Gone Wild

by Belle Waring on March 6, 2007

I should note here that this post contains strong language, and thus probably makes the Baby David Broder cry. Consider yourselves warned.

Some time back a reader chastised me for making fun of Ross Douthat. (Hmm, that makes her sound completely insane, but she was actually rather polite in the thread. I promised I would address her points in another post “soon”, but I did not do so because I am fundamentally an indolent, unreliable person.) The complaint Douthat was making is one that is heard a lot in anti-feminist circles, and often in a doubly irritating concern-troll fashion. It boils down to this: sexual liberation has paradoxically furthered mens’ interests at the expense of the hapless women it purported to be liberating. This is because all men want lots of commitment-free, anonymous sex with lots of different women, while all women want to be taken to the State Fair and have their special man win them a giant, plush, pink teddy bear which will fill the car with the etiolated scent of frying fat while she gives the guy a hand job. I believe it all goes back to life on the veldt, when our proto-human female ancestors needed to eat the pink, heart-shaped fruit of whitmansampler africensis in order to have the energy they needed to bear young.

Dolorous, yet strangely salacious hangwringing about “hook-up” culture is de rigueur at this stage of the argufment. Wait—let’s just turn to the Ace of Spades here to explain it all. (Via Amanda at Pandagon. I’m personally kind of glad she’s doing this job.)

A WaPo article has dared to offer her [sic] opinion that the “hook-up culture” now prevalent in colleges—with young girls giving it away like it’s rotting in the warehouse—may not be really in women’s best interests. Apparently they’ve decided to become whores because that’s the feminist way….

Now, gentle reader, I must take a detour to quote from the Post article itself, by Laura Sessions Stepp, author of the roundly derided Unhooked:

[Prof. Schell’s] female students loved to discuss the chick-lit book “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and the sexual follies of Jones and her boss, Daniel Cleaver. But they were not enthralled with Edward Rochester’s lengthy courtship in “Jane Eyre.” Quick flings, or hookups, were okay, “but love was rarely mentioned in class discussions,” Schell says.

I don’t know how to bring this up, but there’s this little, teeny, mad wife locked in the attic detail that may have soured some less perceptive young readers on the mode of courtship Rochester employs. Let’s pick up Ace’s raving about “hooo-ers” where we left off. He’s incensed that the Stepp’s book has been widely mocked, as in this perfectly straightforward review, also from the Post:

The author resurrects the ugly, old notion of sex as something a female gives in return for a male’s good behavior, and she imagines the female body as a thing that can be tarnished by too much use. She advises the girls, “He will seek to win you over only if he thinks you’re a prize.”And goes on to tell them, “In a smorgasbord of booty, all the hot dishes start looking like they’ve been on the warming table too long.”

I think it’s clear from the tasteful rotten-fish allusions above that all this regrettable staling of the once-fresh female body is a source of concern for Ace. And really ladies, he’s looking out for your interests in a way these so-called feminists are not. Because that’s just how Ace rolls:

The guys, of course, are thrilled. The male fantasy has always been nearly anonymous, committment free sex as often and as with many partners as possible (witness gay men making this fantasy a reality, with women removed from the equation), and feminists have given men just that….

If it were true that young women really didn’t want romance or love at all, this might perhaps be viewed as—if not a desirable state of affairs—at least one that was, in sexual terms at least, satisfying for women. But it’s not. The reason these young women spurn romance and call it “yucky” and make fun of those involved in relationships as “married” is because we are compelled to denigrate what we actually crave but cannot have, and the reason they can’t have what they actually want is that they’re fucking guys so quickly guys hardly have a chance to catch their names.

And, “double standard” or not, it has always been the case, and will continue being the case into the year 3000, that it’s rather difficult to work up the enthusiasm to court a girl when she’s been nailing everyone you know without such courtship (why should I be the one who has to put in the effort?), and it’s hard to have that sense of pride in one’s romantic “get” when you know she’s been passed around the fraternity like a blunt.

This is a crass, unpleasant version of the point Stepp gussies up in her book. It always goes back to two points: a strong belief that men are slavering idiots ruled by the tyrannical and capricious whims of their cocks, and a deep conviction women don’t like having sex. The first point is something which, as many have pointed out, is a much bleaker condemnation of men than anything you are likely to get from an actual feminist. This great post “I am not my cock” from 2005 deserves wider airing, and I really recommend you read it all. Sample:

I want to go on record as saying a big, mean Fuck You to every single man who has ever claimed that men are incapable of stopping themselves when pussy is on the line. Here’s why:

I have never raped anyone. I have never hurt someone because they wouldn’t put out. I have never gang raped someone. I have never died from blue balls. I have never exploded because some sideboob accidentally came into my line of sight. I have never raped anyone. Shockingly, I also think this is a pretty normal state of affairs.

This isn’t something I’m proud of. That’s because I can’t be proud of not raping people anymore than I can be proud of not shitting on myself whenever I laugh. Not being a rapist is the default fucking setting.

Oh, yeah. The second point, that women don’t like sex, is an undercurrent in every discussion of this type. Not even an undercurrent: a foundation stone for the whole creaky apparatus. Now, I think most people take it for granted that on average men want to have sex more than women, that their sex drives are stronger. Various not-totally-implausible sciency things support this, such as the effect of testosterone on male and female sex drives. On the whole, I lazily incline to assent to this view. But the truth is that there’s really no way to assess the truth of it.

What would a world look like in which women who had sex whenever and with whomever they want were never called sluts? Never judged by strangers and friends? What would it be like if girls were never told that they had to be gatekeepers for their bodies, defenders of castle walls that are always under assault by men wanting sex? Not to put too fine a point on it, what would the world be like if there wasn’t the pervasive threat of sexual violence? What if a woman could confidently go anywhere, dressed however she pleased, and not be afraid of rape? (Now I’ll just briefly note that someone will analogize walking down a dark street at night wearing a miniskirt to leaving one’s expensive car parked in a bad neighborhood with the keys in. Here’s the thing: women aren’t inanimate objects. No, it’s true. My desire to be able to walk safely around my city is not analogous in any way, at all, with someone’s desire to park his Porsche someplace ill-advised.) This sounds crazy, but the plain truth of the matter is that rates of sexual violence are quite variable across societies. There are places where there are fewer rapes, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t want other nations to become more like them in this respect. And there’s no reason at all to think that we have, after feminist struggle of so short a duration, and so narrow a scope in the developed world, gotten to what we might consider the “natural, background” rate of rape in any given spot. And even if it could somehow be proved that the extent of sexual violence now was either commensurate with or lower than in the past, we should still work to lower the rate, just as we don’t tolerate other social ills of long-standing, such as slavery, and think it right to imagine we can eradicate them completely.

This is all a long way of saying that we are currently so far from living in a society in which women’s sexual desires aren’t hemmed in and rechanelled in a thousand ways ranging from brutal violence to mild indoctrination—so far that I think we really can’t say whether men in general like to have sex more than women, or not. We look at that hypothetical society of true equality and freedom for women in this intimate realm across a vast gulf. We don’t know at all what that place is like.

But here are two things to think about. One is that women do feel lust, and all discussions of this type minimize or ignore this. I’m not giving any feminine secrets away, I’m just saying. Women feel lust for someone they can’t have but must see anyway, and feel all the side of their body exposed to the one they want burned with lambent fire. They masturbate in angry frustration. They get horny and decide they want to have sex with someone and don’t particularly care who. They look around the elevator and rank all the prospects for a hypothetical fuck. That’s because women are actually a type of human being. You can look it up in Wikipedia.

Secondly, and I think this point is often underrated, just consider the vast, soul-crushing apparatus that has been constructed over the years for the purposes of restraining or subjugating female sexuality. Like, all of human society, right? Think of the arguments made in traditional societies about why women have to be kept separate from men, have to cover their bodies, have to be kept relatively ignorant. Sure, part of it is premised on the first point: men are vile brutes who are incapable of putting even modest restraint on their appetites. But I often think this is something of a dodge, because men don’t really, at some level, think as badly of themselves as this line implies. And so…

Who builds a wall a mile high, topped with razor-wire and extravagantly electrified? Who but a man very afraid of something terrifying and powerful on the other side?

{ 5 trackbacks }

Αντιφεμινισμός 2007 at Σπιτάκι
03.06.07 at 7:04 pm
Blog of the Moderate Left » Belle Waring Knocks it Out of the Park
03.07.07 at 4:42 pm
Eunomia · What If?
03.07.07 at 11:05 pm
Gender Roles « Seeking Progress
03.10.07 at 1:34 pm
The Romance of Lust § Unqualified Offerings
03.14.07 at 2:34 pm

{ 144 comments }

1

Rasselas 03.06.07 at 3:50 pm

Who builds a wall a mile high, topped with razor-wire and extravagantly electrified?

Someone who would rather build a wall than build anything else.

2

e oliviere 03.06.07 at 4:24 pm

There was an article about the WaPo writer’s book in last week’s NYTimes Thursday-Silly section, which I know I shouldn’t read, but end up skimming through anyways, despite the guaranteed irritation it causes. At any rate, the article stated quite clearly that actual, empirical research fails to support a core thesis of the book: that “hook up” style sexual activity is injurious to young women’s self esteem. However, the article blithely noted, the book’s author found these results contradicted by her own “anecdotal” research. ???

Also consistently missing from the elaborate, over-determined rhetoric about the “natural” state of human sexuality is any appreciation of the immense and very *erotic* power of lots of sex with someone you know really, really well. Mmmmm.

3

nolo 03.06.07 at 4:31 pm

Brava.

4

rea 03.06.07 at 4:42 pm

“The male fantasy has always been nearly anonymous, committment free sex as often and as with many partners as possible (witness gay men making this fantasy a reality, with women removed from the equation)”

Let me point out in passing that this man is not only a sexist, but also a homophobe. “Anonymous, committment free sex as often and as with many partners as possible” certainly does not describe my life as a gay man, nor the life of any gay man I’ve ever met . . .

5

Daniel 03.06.07 at 4:51 pm

it’s hard to have that sense of pride in one’s romantic “get” when you know she’s been passed around the fraternity like a blunt

has the author of this passage ever seen a naked woman?

6

ben alpers 03.06.07 at 4:57 pm

Excellent post!

Not to get all evolutionary psych-y on you (and I share your negative view of most evolutionary psych just-so stories), but wouldn’t male desire to control paternity be an important element in the history of these structures set up to limit female sexuality?

7

Guest 03.06.07 at 4:58 pm

Fucking beautiful post.

8

Daniel 03.06.07 at 5:00 pm

Seriously, this offends me as an economist. Where is the rigour in gaily asserting a theory which has as one of its implications that a huge segment of the population are freely and reflectively making choices that are systematically and obviously wrong? Shouldn’t there be at least a prima facie assumption that people who appear to be enjoying what they’re doing, are in fact enjoying what they’re doing?

In any case, nobody at all is proposing any legislation which could enforce any behavioural standard at all in terms of consensual sex. So what is the point in having political opinions about something which cannot possibly be the subject of politics? It’s a form of ideological masturbation, which is likely to be much more corrosive to moral wellbeing than the normal kind.

9

MFA 03.06.07 at 5:02 pm

Excellent post, a worthwhile contribution to the sexuality/sex roles/social policy discussion.

I would add that discussions based on generalities (Women are/are not… men are/are not…) are little more than fun. They can be userful in informing conversations about sexuality/sex roles and attendant social policy, but they cease to be useful at all when applied to an actual individual.

So the assertion that members of the opposite gender, as a group, have lesser or greater sex drives than my own–even if it were true–is irrelevant when discussing any given Joe or Jane. Unless one ‘hooks up’ with a statistically significant number of partners, one’s milage as to their sex drive vs. one’s own will vary. It cannot be assumed or predicted. So you simply can’t proscribe Joe or Jane’s behavior based on perceived group tendencies without a violation of their essential liberty.

10

Daniel 03.06.07 at 5:03 pm

Not to get all evolutionary psych-y on you (and I share your negative view of most evolutionary psych just-so stories), but wouldn’t male desire to control paternity be an important element in the history of these structures set up to limit female sexuality?

there’s nothing sociobiological about this story; everyone, including Sigmund Freud, agrees that there are sexual drives and an instinct to control paternity, but having started from this (broadly) evolutionary fact, all the further mechanisms of control are social, not biological.

11

monkey.dave 03.06.07 at 5:10 pm

and the reason they can’t have what they actually want is that they’re fucking guys so quickly guys hardly have a chance to catch their names.

This is one of my favourite quotes, evar. Those poor, poor, passive men who somehow find themselves getting f*cked and having no idea how it happened, or by whom.

12

Adam Kotsko 03.06.07 at 5:12 pm

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the ruling class in the ancient world, but I do see how something like patriarchy made sense on a practical level given the extremely high death-rates they were facing back then. (Other options: not trying to have an empire, not constantly going to war as if it were some kind of sporting event, etc.)

But things have changed pretty considerably since back then.

13

Peter 03.06.07 at 5:15 pm

I think there’s a big problem with your post, Belle. The problem is, the underlying criticism of ‘hooking up’ is at least partly, potentially right. Parsing out the places where sex-as-empowering and afraid-of-women’s-sexuality are distinguished is the hard part, though. That is, I think that part of what you are saying is spot on – the people you are addressing your argument to are wrong.

So let me say up front, I don’t think the problem is an assertion of women’s sexuality, or men’s assumed sexual rapaciousness – neither of those things are natural, historically consistent, or dichotomous across men and women. I think that’s what Douthat and Ace of Spades think is the problem, but I don’t really care much about them.

What I do care about is that there is something troubling about the assertion of women’s sexuality in absence of a politics of feminism or equality. Not that women and men shouldn’t have sex until after the revolution, that’s not what I mean. But frankly, this is not a new argument, and it’s been made by real progressive men and women – sex-as-liberation and sex-as-dangrerous is a pendulum that you know has swung back and forth from late 60s/early 70s (sex as liberation!), through 80s (sex as danger!), and back now.

The problem is, my students, who see themselves as (and are) strong, feminist women, now see feminism as asserting the right to put photos of your ass on Facebook. This is ‘claiming sexual power’ in 2007. Kudos, and I think this is indeed empowering, but it is assumed to be a substitute, not an instigator or complement to, arguments and actions aimed at reducing the big fucking structural inequalities between (many) men and (many) women. That this book or article hasn’t been written, and that the debate seems to be happening between progressive women who are pro-sex and right-wing jerkoffs who are afraid of women’s vaginas, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something important and worth grappling with out there.

14

roger 03.06.07 at 5:18 pm

I loved this post until Belle got to the question of whether girls love sex the way boys love sex – one of those ill formed questions whcih Western Civ seems condemned to drag along with itself century after century. There’s even an answer, back there, in Greek mythology, given by Tiresias… But we all know that the question is as stupid in the aggregates it chooses to compare as it is in the idea that “sex” has an unambiguous extension – which every advertiser, poet and desperate housewife knows is a crock of whitmansampler africensis. It is like asking which sex has a favorite song.

But this is mere bitching – kudos on the funniest post ever to appear on this blog, Belle!

15

Maria 03.06.07 at 5:29 pm

Absolute cracker of a post. Thanks, Belle.

16

ben alpers 03.06.07 at 5:57 pm

…all the further mechanisms of control are social, not biological.

Absolutely, Daniel. I certainly don’t want to be misunderstood as suggesting that, because there’s a biological root for these controls, the controls are in any sense “natural,” let alone desirable.

17

Uncle Kvetch 03.06.07 at 6:01 pm

This is because all men want lots of commitment-free, anonymous sex with lots of different women, while all women want to be taken to the State Fair and have their special man win them a giant, plush, pink teddy bear which will fill the car with the etiolated scent of frying fat while she gives the guy a hand job.

Magnificent. Color me bedazzled.

If there were any justice in this world, Belle would be the one with the seven-figure book deal popping up on CNN and MSNBC 3 times a week, and Ann Coulter would be living under a bridge, eating roadkill and screaming “FAGGOT!” at passing cars.

18

Shelby 03.06.07 at 6:15 pm

Broadly speaking, I’m with you, Belle. I think that although much of what you quote from Ace is silly (especially the smorgasbord bit), you appear to link him unfairly to the rape/violence/force issue — that’s not what he’s arguing. He’s concerned with sluttiness and its effect on traditional male courting effort, not induced assault.

Second, I don’t think you should ignore the extent to which women — both peers and mothers/matriarchs — enforce codes of sexual or courting-related behavior. It’s not just guys saying how to behave, and I’m not sure to what extent the female enforcement can be said to simply reflect male power. Aren’t women behaving differently often seen by other women as rocking the boat, or even undercutting the other women’s social position?

19

a question 03.06.07 at 6:29 pm

“What would a world look like in which women who had sex whenever and with whomever they want were never called sluts? Never judged by strangers and friends? What would it be like if girls were never told that they had to be gatekeepers for their bodies, defenders of castle walls that are always under assault by men wanting sex? Not to put too fine a point on it, what would the world be like if there wasn’t the pervasive threat of sexual violence?”

For this thought experiment to work, don’t you have to talk about more than just the distorting affects of sexual violence and judgmentalism, and also talk about the fact that women have a uterus? Much of what you say is true, but the fact that nowhere in your post do you mention how the reality that women can get pregnant and men can’t must also at least sometimes contribute to keeping women’s sexual preferences “hemmed in and rechanelled in a thousand ways” seems noteworthy, somehow. It may be that those who are repelled by the hook-up culture are less antifeminist than simply accepting of biological determinism.

20

John Emerson 03.06.07 at 6:30 pm

Prairie Home Companion alert: In a smorgasbord of booty, all the hot dishes start looking like they’ve been on the warming table too long.

In some nonsexist cultures, such the Inuit, th Vietnamese and the Icelandic, rotten fish is regarded as a delicacy. Mmmmm.

21

jim jay 03.06.07 at 6:34 pm

Excellent post – really, really good!

22

lemuel pitkin 03.06.07 at 6:36 pm

Anyone else rememebr that book Sperm Wars? It argued that, in fact, the natural hominids-on-the-savannah state of things was indeed lots of commitment-free sex with multiple partners. And that women especially needed to have sex with different men in short time spans to see who had, well, the best sperm. Offered varius more-or-less plausible biological arguments.

Just as silly as other evolutionary pyschology in the end, but interesting in that it exactly reversed the usual judgements about “normal” behavior.

Anyway, great post.

23

Richard J 03.06.07 at 7:03 pm

I’m reading the late Roy Porter’s Flesh in the Age of Reason at the mo. There’s an interesting section in there about an late 17th century English writer who came up with a surprisingly modern theory about the social evolution of sexual roles and mores.

24

Dæn 03.06.07 at 7:18 pm

Where is the rigour in gaily asserting a theory which has as one of its implications that a huge segment of the population are freely and reflectively making choices that are systematically and obviously wrong?

I would guess that the author imagines her work as somehow illuminating a hypothesized gap between the goal of “true” happiness and the unsuitable methods some use in pursuit thereof. This highly paternalistic line of argument is logically equivalent to that of false consciousness, though I highly doubt Stepp would be too eager to embrace the isomorphism.

25

Steve LaBonne 03.06.07 at 7:21 pm

The complaint Douthat was making is one that is heard a lot in anti-feminist circles, and often in a doubly irritating concern-troll fashion. It boils down to this: sexual liberation has paradoxically furthered mens’ interests at the expense of the hapless women it purported to be liberating.

This all too widespread meme, irritatingly, was about all there was to the “argument” in Russell Arben Fox’s recent post on abortion that Harry so unaccountably found “thoughtful”.

26

Wild Pegasus 03.06.07 at 7:32 pm

But I often think this is something of a dodge, because men don’t really, at some level, think as badly of themselves as this line implies.

I don’t think of myself or my friends quite so badly, but I’m not so trusting of other men.

- Josh

27

leederick 03.06.07 at 7:45 pm

I have two problems with this sort of thing:

(1) Like it or not, feminism is responsible for Girls Gone Wild. The sexual revolution did happen and feminism was a big part of it. Also, Britney would not currently be going around flashing herself had feminism not not been in with the sexual revolution. I don’t understand why modern feminists are so committed to denying that lots of current sexual mores they don’t particularly like are a result of feminism active influence on the culture. The impression I get is that plenty of feminists seriously think ‘modesty’ culture was Patriachal and that Girls Gone Wild is Patriarchal, and that the transition between the two was totally spontaneous act of oppression and nothing to do with feminism. It wasn’t, there’s a direct historical causal link.

(2) There’s something dubious about playing this as feminisms on one side and anti-feminist concern-trolls on the other. The fact is many feminists think “sexual liberation has paradoxically furthered mens’ interests at the expense of the hapless women it purported to be liberating”. Sheila Jeffreys is the most obvious example. But don’t mention this: it’s stop you from putting feminism on the side of liberation and anti-feminism on the side of repression.

This post is just a reflection of whatever culture-war US feminists are currently using to define themselves. But there’s plenty of stuff that has to be brushed under the carpet to do this(feminist make the same argument, feminism did actually cause lots of stuff modern feminists object to).

28

Michael Bérubé 03.06.07 at 7:52 pm

Like it or not, feminism is responsible for Girls Gone Wild. The sexual revolution did happen and feminism was a big part of it. Also, Britney would not currently be going around flashing herself had feminism not not been in with the sexual revolution.

I can’t believe leederick didn’t manage to work Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith in here. C’mon, that’s not even trying.

29

feminibitch 03.06.07 at 8:11 pm

What the fuck are you guys talking about here? I don’t get any of them. Whooo!

Basically, feminists are those girls who adore or have been gone crazy. Got it?! ha ha ha…

30

Hogan 03.06.07 at 8:12 pm

The sexual revolution did happen and feminism was a big part of it.

Can you sketch out the timeline here? The Kinsey reports come out in 1948 and 1953, Playboy starts publishing in the mid-’50s, the birth control pill comes on the market in 1962 or so, and the feminist movement is . . . where exactly?

You could just as well say that the industrial revolution did happen and labor unions were a part of it. Doesn’t mean that the relationship was monotonically supportive.

31

roger 03.06.07 at 8:16 pm

Actually, since we are crediting feminism with such a massive effect on sexual mores, lets credit feminism for the massive drop in rapes over the past thirty years in the U.S. – pretty much an unprecedented occurence, especially in respect to other crimes. I’m not sure why this story isn’t more reported – and it isn’t as if feminists discourage the reporting of rape – in fact, rape was probably much more severely underreported pre-feminism than post-feminism. In years like 2005, for instance, when all other violent crimes were up, rape continued to fall.
Here’s a recent l.a. times piece about it:
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/
commentary/la-op-males18feb18,0,7287489.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

Feminism – healthy for your sex life, and stops crime too!

32

Jim Harrison 03.06.07 at 8:43 pm

Relative to their ancestors, most American men are strongly committed to feminism. Marginal ideologues aside, who is against female sufferage or opposed to equality of educational and economic opportunity? Who supports the right of husbands to beat their wives, something that was taken for granted in many parts of the country not so many years ago?

Obviously a great many factors contributed to this shift in attitudes, including the increasingly important role of women workers and the shift to smaller families; but one crucial fact is that men have discovered how agreeable it is to share their lives with a self-respecting and affectionate partner. Among other things, the sex got better. I don’t think we should discount the affective side of Enlightenment. It’s emotional payoff for both men and women. I’m old enough to make some fuddy-duddy noises about girls gone wild, but I bear in mind that there is no worthwhile liberty that doesn’t have some license in it.

33

Kelly 03.06.07 at 9:06 pm

Oh, lovely! Now if only you’d manage to work my favourite Cate MacKinnon quote in (“man fucks woman – subject verb object”), you might have gotten a standing ovation in the O’Hare Chili’s. ;)

More seriously, I think that a lot of people who are anti-hook up “culture” are still thinking along the lines of the fluid, leaky body as bearing pollutants. So a woman is dirtied by sex, by harbouring the fluid of a man. A man can wash her fluids off, but there is this belief of the woman as sponge, just soaking up sperm happily – and that the more and varied the sperm is, the dirtier she is. Permanently dirty. Woman: biological weapon.

Liz Grosz runs with this, and points out how leaky and impermeable and fluid our bodies are, but I don’t see that particular essay getting a lot of play outside certain scitech pomo classrooms. (I’d love to see it more consistently paired with Joan Scott or Judith Butler.)

Okay, plane wants my attention. Or my leaky, polluting body, anyhow.

34

Hogan 03.06.07 at 9:12 pm

Who builds a wall a mile high, topped with razor-wire and extravagantly electrified? Who but a man very afraid of something terrifying and powerful on the other side?

Churchy: So how do you catch an animal for the circus?

Bun Rab: Well, first we dig a big hole, and when it falls in we beat it with sticks and then lock it in a cage and feed it slops. Is this a wild animal you’re trying to catch?

Churchy: It’s sure gonna be wild when you’re done with it.

35

mpowell 03.06.07 at 10:13 pm

Just because there are side-effects to a cultural or political movement does not mean the movement should be criticized for them or associated with them. Sure, if the women’s rights movement hadn’t happened, maybe Britney Spears wouldn’t have flashed the camera- so what? The feminist movement has made a lot of progress on women’s issue and the benefits far outweigh any temporary negative side effects. Britney Spears is not the be all or end all of feminism. She is at best a distraction along the way. So to anyone who looks at stuff like that and responds: “dear god, feminists, what have you wrought?” a big fuck off is in order.

36

misterc 03.06.07 at 10:29 pm

Two points:

1) Feminism didn’t “cause” hook-up culture or Girls Gone Wild. (And I dare say those who are inclined to say so were probably anti-feminist before those things existed!) Fine.

However, it was a necessary condition for them to arise that women achieve more freedom and power than they had before feminism. Oh, well.

2) We may not ever be able to know what humans would be like in a perfect world, but we are not so thoroughly benumbed by modern civilization as to not be able to say with confidence that by-and-large males and females are different in other ways than their overt anatomy– providing for the old bell shaped curves and/or spectrums among both male and female attitudes and preferences.

Probably there are a lot of bell shaped curves and spectrums to consider, and so a whole bunch of kinds of mens’ and womens’ sexuality, and a lot of overlap. And far be it from me to discount the role of socialization. But the socialization is working on real animals with real brains. Let’s not pretend that if it weren’t for socialization men and women would be no different, sexually or otherwise.

Finally, put points 1 and 2 together, and probably some young women are more well-suited to hook-up culture than others. Men, too.

37

leederick 03.06.07 at 11:00 pm

I’m not sure what Britney and Paris get up to are side-effects of feminism or shouldn’t be associated with feminism (though I think Anna Nicole may well have happened feminism or not).

Feminism, along with gay pride and free love, was a big part of the sexual revolution and actively promoted sexual liberation. I’m not saying this is terrible, or votes for women are not worth having if means Britney’s going to go around exposing herself. I am just saying the commonly expressed view that feminism isn’t responsible for Girls Gone Wild or ‘hook ups’ or Britney flashing isn’t as true as those who go around saying it wish it was.

Feminism historically made a big push for sexual freedom which dramatically changed our culture. As a consequence we’ve got a lot of sexual freedom, it’s not a side-effect or an epiphenomenon of feminism, it’s something feminists wanted and actively made happen. I’m not making any moral judgements – except that is seems a bit disingenuous for feminists to so easily write it off as nothing to do with them.

38

MR. Bill 03.07.07 at 1:00 am

“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”- Jane Austin, Emma

39

dr ngo 03.07.07 at 1:05 am

The belief that men want sex more than women do is far from historically constant, even within Western “civilization.” Through much of the middle ages (IIRC) the presumption was exactly the other way – that women were insatiably “lusty” and that only men, who had Reason [TM], were capable of any kind of restraint. (cf. The Wife of Bath in Canterbury Tales?) Because men are (of course!) superior. Just in a different way. Patriarchy is nothing if not adaptable.

This has, of course, just about zero evidentiary value with regard to what human sexuality is actually like. But it is, perhaps, a useful corrective to our assumption that our assumptions are universal.

40

David W. 03.07.07 at 1:09 am

I suppose the next thing we’ll be hearing is that it was giving women the right to vote that led to looser sexual mores for women in the 1920s, but it’s fairly easy to imagine that happening anyway even if women hadn’t had the vote. So I’d be careful of making “side effect” arguments when it comes to feminism and GGW. I mean, c’mon now – Gilligan’s Island wasn’t exactly inspired by feminism now, was it?… :-)

41

SG 03.07.07 at 2:33 am

# 27, I agree. And further I would add that that article pretty clearly stated that putting limits on the availability of abortion could be used to control women`s (and therefore men`s) access to easy sex. Charming logic which shows how these concern-trolls view women`s vulnerability.

Belle, I don`t know what the world you describe would look like but I live in a country which manages to come pretty close to this part:

What if a woman could confidently go anywhere, dressed however she pleased, and not be afraid of rape?

I see continuous examples of this in Japan. It is a constant mystery to me why Japan particularly has this property (I have never seen it anywhere else in my limited experience of travel), but whatever it is I would love to be able to explain it to the rest of the world.

42

Ryan Miller 03.07.07 at 2:36 am

Contra the economist up at the top of the thread, I’m not sure why we’re so reluctant to say that many believed pleasures are in fact antithetical to true happiness. We have no reason to believe that biologically or socially, human societies have been set up to be happiness-maximizing for the majority.

I don’t think I necessarily buy the “men want sex, women want to withhold it” business either…but I do think that having a lot of sex with a lot of people is doing a good job of destroying romantic possibilities for both sexes. Sluts, male or female, are people who are rightly despised not because they have icky leaky bodies, but because they don’t take intimacy seriously, and realize that those leaky bodies have serious and deep interactions with their mushy brains which are deeply damaging outside committed relationships.

I don’t have the data to say whether that is slightly more injurious to girls or somesuch as the NYT author claims, but I think it’s clearly deeply injurious to both men and women. Learning to date without having sex is a prerequisite for the feminist revolution coalescing to a happy state of affairs (which is not to say I’d want to go back before it–I can’t imagine marrying someone not my equal in intellect or force of will).

43

lemuel pitkin 03.07.07 at 2:44 am

Feminism, along with gay pride and free love, was a big part of the sexual revolution and actively promoted sexual liberation. I’m not saying this is terrible, or votes for women are not worth having if means Britney’s going to go around exposing herself. I am just saying the commonly expressed view that feminism isn’t responsible for Girls Gone Wild or ‘hook ups’ or Britney flashing isn’t as true as those who go around saying it wish it was.

This seems far from obvious to me. Women have always had roles defined by sex — it’s not for nothing that prostituion is called the oldest profession. Feminism hasn’t produced Britney Spears or Paris Hilton — you can find the exact same promiscuous stage performers and heiresses in the 18th century or whenever you like. It’s the chance to have a public role that’s NOT about sex that feminism is responsible for.

44

Jacob T. Levy 03.07.07 at 2:54 am

this post contains strong language, and thus probably makes the Baby David Broder cry

by itself confirms Belle’s status as one of the sharpest wits on the interweb…

45

Marcella Chester 03.07.07 at 2:56 am

It always goes back to two points: a strong belief that men are slavering idiots ruled by the tyrannical and capricious whims of their cocks, and a deep conviction women don’t like having sex.

When boys are given the green light to be slavering idiots who don’t care whether the girl or woman they are slavering over is willing, of course those girls and woman aren’t likely to enjoy the sex pushed on them. That’s why it’s called rape.

46

Georgiana 03.07.07 at 2:59 am

Brava to the post.

And to #44 who pointed out that feminism was about fighting for women’s rights to be recognized as fully human, not just sexual objects.

Besides the author is really charmingly naive as well as wrong. I looked at the insert: the author is a bit younger than I, and yet clearly isn’t aware that ‘hooking up’ was already not uncommon among some when I was a grad student, cough, 18 years ago.

47

Mary Catherine Moran 03.07.07 at 3:56 am

To say that feminism is responsible for Girls Gone Wild is surely to overstate the case. But I do agree with leederick that it’s a bit disingenuous to deny any sort of connection. At the very least, I’d say the GGG phenomenon is an unintended consequence (which is not quite the same thing as a “side effect”) of a sexual emancipation project in which feminism has played a quite significant role.

Secondly, and I think this point is often underrated, just consider the vast, soul-crushing apparatus that has been constructed over the years for the purposes of restraining or subjugating female sexuality. Like, all of human society, right?

Looking back over the years (and we needn’t go back to the veldt, we need only turn to the fairly recent past that predates the invention of modern contraception), what I see is not only female but also male sexuality being restrained, hemmed in, and subjugated to aims and purposes which, when viewed from the perspective of modern self-actualizing individuality, now look utterly strange and perplexing, but which once upon a time did have a compelling cultural (not to mention social and economic) logic. Back in the day when Hannah Goodwife was being lectured and scolded into modesty and chastity, well, it’s not as though Jeremiah Younghusband was being urged to go out there and play the field. Not hardly. Nobody was telling Jeremiah to “party on, dude!” To the contrary, Jeremiah was being exhorted to keep his trousers buttoned up, or face the inevitable (pre-contraceptive) consequences. Indeed, the sexual mores of today’s GGG- video-viewing male college student would be utterly bizarre and incomprehensible to young Younghusband, and it’s not at all clear to me that Jeremiah would see the GGG thing as some sort of laudatory liberation of eros, any more than would Hannah Goodwife (which is just to say that I think male sexuality is every bit as socially constrained/constructed as female sexuality).

But despite all the social constructionist stuff (which I pretty much believe: I mean, I don’t think there’s any sort of latent, baseline sexuality that just is, or that just would be, if only we could free it up and liberate ourselves from the contraints of social life in order to achieve peace on earth or the warm, happy afterglow of a global simultaneous orgasm or something), in the absence of reliable contraception, there really was this inescapable biological fact that having sex meant having babies. Lots and lots of babies, which tender offshoots then had to fed and clothed and sheltered and provided for. Provided for with an “aliment,” as the language once went, and from whence “alimony,” because once upon a time, even to feed was to perform no mean feat. So there was the issue of paternity, obviously. If you were going to be socially and legally bound to devote much of your time and energy to the care and feeding of ten or twelve children or so, I guess you’d want to know that the little tykes were really your own offshoots? Call me crazy, but I know I would, no matter how primitive and atavistic that makes me sound. And in the days before DNA testing, the only way to ensure paternity was to place all sorts of restrictions in the way of those practices that pretty much inevitably led to the production of those mouths to feed.

Those restrictions weighed more heavily on Hannah than on Jeremiah, and there’s no question there was a double standard (an infraction on the part of Hannah Goodwife was seen as more serious than an infraction on the part of Jeremiah Younghusband), but again, it’s not as though Jeremiah was being encouraged to watch GGG videos. And to turn the question around just a little bit, as someone has already mentioned above, it’s not as though women didn’t also participate in the construction of such norms/restrictions. To say otherwise pretty much amounts to a massive denial of female agency in history, and anyway, it’s not all that difficult to see what kind of stake women had in enforcing the norms that now look so female-unfriendly. If you’re the mother of ten or twelve children or so, well, let’s face it, you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. It makes sense that you’d want some help, yeah? It even makes sense that you’d want to ensure exclusive access to the fruits of someone else’s labour: namely, to the fruits of the labour of a legally wedded husband, let’s call him Jeremiah Younghusband, who would be legally bound to provide for your offshoots, in exchange for which, you’d agree to the restrictions that would ensure Jeremiah that the offspring he was providing for really were his own.

I am vastly oversimplifying, obviously, but I just want to get at the logic of the exchange.

And so we now have birth control, and Hannah and Jeremiah now look like slack-jawed yokels and/or the hapless victims of a sexually repressive regime that never allowed them to global simultaneous orgasm…And yet, at the same time, we now have Girls Gone Wild. Which, at the very least, should make us uncomfortable enough to ask some uncomfortable questions, I think.

48

Jackmormon 03.07.07 at 4:37 am

Well, let’s all remember that the Girls who Go Wild probably go back to being normal people, subject to the same conventions of shaming, once the cameras move and the drunkenness passes.

49

Rosalynde 03.07.07 at 4:59 am

“Various not-totally-implausible sciency things support this, such as the effect of testosterone on male and female sex drives.”

Ah Belle, you disappoint, you disappoint. When will feminists approach the problem in a serious way?

Who turns away, with a nervous giggle and coy, quavering quip? She who fears that the “sciency things” on the horizon do not carry the flag she’s raised.

50

TW Andrews 03.07.07 at 5:02 am

For all the laudatory comments about the actual post, Mary Catherine Moran at comment #48 absolutely blows away Belle in terms of perceptual depth. Nice.

51

daelm 03.07.07 at 5:40 am

someone should point out to the (seemingly mostly male) critics, that feminism is about more than the right to get laid. if ‘masculinism’ were ever a movement, it might need only address the lack of available sex, but feminism has a wide-ranging task list.

sorry if someone’s already made that point.

52

kth 03.07.07 at 5:47 am

Saying that feminism caused Girls Gone Wild is like saying the civil rights movement caused gangster rap.

53

Harald K 03.07.07 at 7:24 am

“sexual liberation has paradoxically furthered mens’ interests at the expense of the hapless women it purported to be liberating.”

That statement doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to me after reading “Ehen in Roten Sturm”. When there was a free sex culture in the communist party, despite this meaning that women had to have several surgical abortions per year, I suspect that in this case, liberation of women was something men defined and (communisty party) women just accepted. Note that I’m not blaming feminists, I’m blaming Lenin.

54

daelm 03.07.07 at 7:26 am

“it’s rather difficult to work up the enthusiasm to court a girl when she’s been nailing everyone you know without such courtship (why should I be the one who has to put in the effort?), and it’s hard to have that sense of pride in one’s romantic “get” when you know she’s been passed around the fraternity like a blunt.”

am i the only person who finds this particular sentiment odd? can’t the guy see that the argument from courtship can never be divorced from the argument from chattel? surely he understands that the idea of ‘courtship’ is built around the idea of women as utility? and that common decency requires that notions of human beings as mere utility not be given credence? its not a male/female thing. this is elementary ethics.

does he not understand that “passed around like a blunt” presumes her passivity in that process and, apart from undermining his prior argument, it takes for granted her status as goods. if he was really concerned about *that*, he’d surely be pro-feminist?

basically, he seems to be saying (in the most charitable formulation) that [a] feminism has achieved many things, and [b] amongst these is the introduction to women of the concept of sexual freedom and [c] this clashes with traditional ideas built on women as trophy, giving rise to [d] behaviour i don’t like or find tasteless.

and he thinks the problem lies with [a] and [b] and the solution is doing away with them.

huh? am i missing something?

55

Daniel 03.07.07 at 9:12 am

tangentially, Ross Douthat’s nickname should surely be “Ross ‘Iwoulddoanythingforlovebutiwont’ Douthat”.

56

Scott Martens 03.07.07 at 10:19 am

I think there is a questionable model of causation at work here. Yes, I think feminism has enabled women to fell more comfortable with the expression of sexuality, and I suppose “Girls Gone Wild” is in part a consequence. Everything has unintended consequences. I think a far more interesting and important thing that might be laid at feminism’s feet is the decline in the quality of American public schools – because in the days when few trades were open to women, and teaching was one of the more socially acceptable trades that women could have, teaching attracted the most talented women. Now that other trades are open, it tends not to attract them anymore.

But really, this isn’t much better than Islamic arguments that the hijab liberates women by protecting them from the lascivious gaze of men. I don’t think “Girls Gone Wild” is by any stretch of the imagination the worst unintended consequence of feminist empowerment. Men have been getting off on fantasies of available women since time immemorial. I doubt that anything is likely to change that.

57

bryan 03.07.07 at 11:04 am

hmm, I think they are anagolous in a way since the wish to park in an ill-advised place is a wish to exercise ones rights free from crime. Of course the crime of rape is quite a bit more heinous than the crime of stealing the porche.

That said: why will the teddy bear fill the car with the scent of burning fat?

58

bryan 03.07.07 at 11:06 am

“it’s rather difficult to work up the enthusiasm to court a girl when she’s been nailing everyone you know without such courtship (why should I be the one who has to put in the effort?),”

is this an existential complaint against an unjust universe that has caused one to be unattractive in some way?

59

Cirkux 03.07.07 at 11:15 am

Surely Britneys being turned into an object for male fantasies and girls gone wild are symtoms of the low esteem women are held in rather than a result of feminism?
I just cannot see the logic behind making that connection.

60

chris armstrong 03.07.07 at 11:42 am

I agree that even if feminism is part of the story, it’s not necessarily even the biggest part in explaining changes in sexual behaviour over recent decades. It’s really hard to trace the causation here, as has already been pointed out, but presumably you’ll want to accord a role to economic changes (increasing economic independence for at least some women, a (somehow linked) shift in the average age of child-bearing to later in life, and so on); social changes (such as the absorption of women into higher education – the original article was about students, right?); cultural changes which cannot be tracked back to feminism (such as the increasing proliferisation of highly sexualised images in everyday life – but let’s leave the ‘pornographisation of society’ thesis alone for a minute); and so on. I don’t have an account of how these changes inter-relate; my point is that attributing primary causation to feminism without attending to these other kinds of change is naive.

61

Russell Arben Fox 03.07.07 at 1:37 pm

You know, way up in #26, Steve Lebonne brought up my post on abortion, the one which included some ambivalent thoughts on abortion from Harry, as an another example of the Ross Douthat position which Belle is arguing against, and since then I’ve thought a couple of times about throwing in my two cents to this thread. Not because Steve’s claim is, I think, correct–given that 99% of my post was about my problem with the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels, and particularly the flawed conceptual territory which I believe is implicitly staked out by the latter, it’s doubtful that an argument about feminism and sexuality was really “all there was” to my post–but simply because…well, in for an inch, in a for a mile, right? So sure, I said to myself: why not expose yourself to some more (probably justified) abuse by pointing out that, as correct as Belle’s general observations are, it remains true that at least one small aspect of the ideology of sexual liberation really has rebounded in such a way as to undermine what used to be a legitimate source of security in the lives of women–and thus also men, and the family–in society?

But then, I noticed that Mary Catharine Moran said all that needed to be said on that subject, and probably with a lot more wisdom and care than I could muster, in comment #48. So I’ll just leave it at that. Thanks for the terrific, thoughtful, challenging comment, Mary!

62

Russell Arben Fox 03.07.07 at 1:39 pm

Excuse me, “Labonne.” Sorry, Steve.

63

chris y 03.07.07 at 1:43 pm

harald k @54. You can blame the Communist Party all you like, but you can hardly blame Lenin, who was a notorious prude and AFAIK only ever fucked two women in his life. I think you’ll find the chief advocate of free love in the Russian revolution was Alexandra Kollontai, who had two X chromosomes.

64

mb 03.07.07 at 2:04 pm

Wait — feminism isn’t responsible for Girls Gone Wild? So much for my support for feminism…

65

harry b 03.07.07 at 2:35 pm

Yes, mary catherine moran is very helpful. But I’m a bit surprised by the confidence so many people have in judging the sexual experiences and mores of pre-1960s men and women. I wasn’t around then, and frankly don’t feel able to make very confident judgements about the people around me now. But at least some reading about, for example, the Puritans, suggests that marital relationships at least may have been more egalitarian and less sexually repressed than some on this thread assume.
Not an argument against feminism, at all, in fact not an argument, just a call for caution about assessment of the facts.

And I’d like to see more discussion of what ryan miller said in #43

66

Russell L. Carter 03.07.07 at 2:44 pm

48:

“And so we now have birth control, and Hannah and Jeremiah now look like slack-jawed yokels and/or the hapless victims of a sexually repressive regime that never allowed them to global simultaneous orgasm…And yet, at the same time, we now have Girls Gone Wild. Which, at the very least, should make us uncomfortable enough to ask some uncomfortable questions, I think.”

I’m not agreeing with the supposed sophistication of this argument. I think it can be shortered into something close to:

“freedom enables people to make mistakes–this is bad, and must be prevented by (somebody|something).”

It’s already been pointed out that the “preventing” function is already supplied by shame. So what if that is an imperfect mechanism.

67

stostosto 03.07.07 at 2:47 pm

“Also, Feminism Is Not Responsible For Girls Gone Wild”

But, so what if it is? I am not at all convinced there is a problem. First, I doubt the charicature of “GGW” is very widespread in actual fact as opposed to exhibitionistic TV shows and material for handwringing editorialising. (I haven’t met any myself, sadly). Second, I don’t believe any proxy GGW girls are particularly miserable in their lives — as compared with Girls Gone Prudish, or with earlier generations of women.

The whole premise has such an overwhelming penetrating smack of moralising scaremongering with a painfully transparent reactionary agenda that one is led to conclude that that is in fact what it is.

68

Steve LaBonne 03.07.07 at 3:12 pm

What Russell Carter said. Garden-variety rightwing bluenosery is not somehow made more attractive by being dressed up in lots of verbiage. It’s pretty sad that anyone would mistake that for “sophistication”.

69

Russell L. Carter 03.07.07 at 3:19 pm

… and to add, the mechanisms that provide the preventing detailed in #48 were only largely effective against misbehaving by the poor. We’d hardly have any literature at all, otherwise. In fact, I think that rather than #48 being a comment restricted specifically to gender issues, it’s more accurately seen as the sort of marmalade that Belle’s other half brilliantly vivisected here.

Where did those Donner Party people go, exactly? They went to Girls Gone Wild!

70

Laura 03.07.07 at 3:54 pm

Did feminism lead to GGW? The goals of the feminist movement has always been about more than mucho, pre-marital sex. I don’t remember Betty Friedan ever giving speeches that women should be bearing their breasts in bars for leering men. There were bigger issues to tackle – equal pay for equal work, freedom from domestic drudgery, political representation, yadda yadda.

Is GGW an unintended consequence of feminism? Maybe. That’s the problem with increasing freedom; someone’s always going to abuse those freedoms.

We’re a stuffy lot here. All too proper (and old) for multiple partners and frequent one night stands. I think we all agree that access of birth control and increased employment opportunities for women have decreased the staggering costs of having a child out of wedlock. This is a good thing. I don’t believe that rampant promiscuity is now or ever has been a major goal of feminism.

(good comment, MCM.)

71

turkey 03.07.07 at 4:57 pm

Sexual liberation is pretty much like economic liberation – people compete (by the crudest means) into being very rich and very poor. Web nerds are typically poor in the sexual economy (to coin a euphemism), and semiconciously want to go back to the kind of cartelized one-for-you-one-for-me of religious morality and economically disempowered women, where they would be in the sexual lower middle class again. Any talk about liberation being bad for women is smoke – it’s just a very raw competition (and not for old time security, but for sexual adventure) and like all competitions is bad for misfits and losers.

72

Patrick 03.07.07 at 4:59 pm

While the people who write articles handwringing about tend to be giant douches, I’d still like to toss out my (obviously anecdotal) experience.

1) Women who have sex with lots of guys, in my experience, don’t tend to be highly empowered people taking a mature pleasure in their sexuality. They tend to be unhappy. This is obviously not a natural, immutable state of affairs, this is probably an unfair social arrangement, and obviously I can imagine a world in which this was not the case. But as a practical matter, its what I see.

2) And the “women aren’t inanimate objects” thing regarding the “leaving your keys on the seat” analogy- a decent argument when it comes to making aspirational claims about whether women *should* be able to “walk down an alley in a miniskirt” or whatever your analogy du jour happens to be. Its a really, really shitty argument about what *individual women* should do in alleys *in real life.* It creates this sort of weird argument where you seem to be using philosophy to claim that women should submit themselves voluntarily to known dangers because the world should not be such that the danger exists.

Let me rephrase that… my mother teaches women’s self defense courses. She’d completely agree that we *ought* to have a world in which becoming intoxicated in the presence of strangers did not create an unacceptable risk of rape. But if a student came to her and said that they intended to go out and get intoxicated around strangers at a frat party because they firmly believe that in an ideal world this ought to be a safe thing to do, she’d slap them upside the head.

73

Steve LaBonne 03.07.07 at 5:08 pm

Women who have sex with lots of guys, in my experience, don’t tend to be highly empowered people taking a mature pleasure in their sexuality.

If you’re talking about young women, it’s not too surprising that they lack maturity, is it? On the other hand, being a divorced middle-aged geezer myself, I have certainly met some women in their 50s who have had a substantial number of partners in their maturer years and who very definitely are strong, empowered people. One must be careful with generalizing from limited samples.

74

Katherine 03.07.07 at 5:08 pm

I should just like to make the following point:

Girls Gone Wild = Men Behaving Normally, at least at college, without analysis or deep concern.

If you’re all going to tut tut about the unintended consequences of feminism being so terribly bad, could someone please apply that analysis to male college hooking-up behaviour. For every random shag a women undertakes there is, presumably, a male involved. Or are we not judging men by the same standards after all?

Also, whoever said “Sluts, male or female, are people who are rightly despised” – nuh huh. Which society are you living in that judges promiscuous males as harshly as promiscuous females? Male “sluts” (nb no such word actually exists) aren’t called sluts. They’re called studs, lotharios, playboys, lady-killers (shiver).

Care to take a look at the equivalent female list?

slut
slag (UK)
hussy
bimbo
floozy
harlot
tramp
loose
fast

The nearest male equivalent is the “himbo”, which really is used to apply to brainless rather than sexually profligate.

I think that continuing this discussion without ignoring this double standard is to miss a huge point.

75

brooksfoe 03.07.07 at 5:13 pm

Speaking as a f***ed-out old rent boy, I resent the implication that spreading your legs for every ass-starved horndog who propositions you is not a deeply rewarding lifestyle.

76

delagar 03.07.07 at 5:15 pm

Can I also step in to disagree with the idea that either Hannah and Jeremiah kept it “buttoned up”? It’s a pretty idea, I agree, that our pre-feminist society had it all worked out and neither men and women in that golden age did any sleeping around, but if someone would care to check the actual historical record, not so. There’s a reason STD rates back there were at the rate they were; and something like 1/3 of all first-births in 17th century marriages were “premature” or (in fact) took place before the couple were wedded. And I’m sure y’all know about the DNA tests that show that X% of kids aren’t the child of the husband — you don’t think that got invented in 1960, I hope? Jeremiah has been boffing Rachel over in the next valley, not to mention Lila next door and for all I know Jed over in Salem since we landed on the shore.

77

Patrick 03.07.07 at 5:15 pm

“One must be careful with generalizing from limited samples.”

Fair enough. I was addressing women of college age, who seem, in my experience, to have multiple partners not out of any sort of liberation, but rather out of an inability to resist pressure and a desire to be liked.

I can’t talk about any “hook up culture” though because I think that’s a made up phrase and that no such culture exists. Its just kids at college.

78

Matt Weiner 03.07.07 at 5:22 pm

I’ll add to the chorus of those not particularly impressed with Mary Catherine Moran’s comment. First of all, the last paragraph is too vague to discuss. “We now have birth control… And yet, at the same time, we now have Girls Gone Wild. Which, at the very least, should make us uncomfortable enough to ask some uncomfortable questions, I think.” Do say what those questions might be, and what you think the answers might be, and why this isn’t just a post hoc ergo propter hoc. I have no hesitation in saying that if Girls Gone Wild is the price to be paid for feminism and birth control, then it’s worth it; but it also seems possible that in a world in which men still have much more power than women, some of the results of feminism wind up getting channelled in patriarchical ways. That’s hardly the feminists’ fault.

As for Hannah and Jeremiah — well, what’s the point, really? It’s true that back in the day men’s sexuality was also more hemmed in than it is now. It also seems quite plausible that women’s sexuality was much much more hemmed in than men’s was, and that women bore the burden of restraining men’s sexuality much more than men did. This MCM alludes to with the double standard, but that seems to be a significant fact. Were men who had sex with prostitutes stigmatized to the same extent as the prostitutes themselves in most cultures? Was it women or men who were required to cover up and restricted to the home in various ways in order to restrain both sides’ sexuality?

This goes back to Ryan Miller’s comment in 43, which Harry thinks we need to discuss more. Ryan says, “Sluts, male or female, are people who are rightly despised….” And hold it right there. Because I don’t think men who have sex with lots of women are despised. They’re called studs, not sluts, and they’re looked up to. And this is part of a pattern: Much more social energy has gone into restraining women’s sexuality than men’s. And still does. (It doesn’t matter if women’s disapproval is part of this restraint.) So Belle’s original point stands, that we don’t know what women’s sexuality would be like in the absence of this soul-crushing societal apparatus.

79

brooksfoe 03.07.07 at 5:26 pm

Feminism, along with gay pride and free love, was a big part of the sexual revolution and actively promoted sexual liberation. — leederick

As I understand it, feminism was more like a REACTION to the sexual revolution. Like, as I dumb it down for mnemonic purposes, the sexual revolution happened in the ’60s, feminism (as we know it) happened in the ’70s. And a lot of what led to that second-wave feminism in the ’70s was anger at the self-serving male chauvinist excesses of ’60s “sexually liberated” men.

Now you can all beat on my head with your actual knowledge of what you’re talking about.

80

Matt Weiner 03.07.07 at 5:33 pm

I have been pwned by Katherine.

Since Harry called for more discussion of Ryan Miller’s 43: It’s by no means clear that sex outside a committed relationship is deeply damaging. (Lord! There must be a lot of damaged souls wandering around.) From my brief outside observation of a dating scene in which sex was forbidden (from an LDS friend in Salt Lake City), it was as full of infatuation, heartbreak, and false hopes as any other. It wasn’t a very feminist environment either.

81

Sexo Grammaticus 03.07.07 at 5:46 pm

Excellent post! I do think, however, that this conversation would benefit from someone’s pointing out the fact that there are more types of sex than “casual” and “non-casual.” One thing that is giving ammo to the antihookupites may be the fact that a lot of the women who are strong/assertive enough to go out and get sex may still not be strong/assertive during said sex, i.e. even with strong, modern women, the sex itself is often about pleasing the man.

It’s not enough to tell girls it’s okay to have sex–we also need to tell them it’s okay to control sex. If “Girls Gone Wild” still featured drunk college chicks getting naked, BUT once naked, those girls threw the nearest man to his knees and screamed “please me or I’ll rip your nuts off, worm!”, I don’t think that would be something that the left would need to feel conflicted about.

Read my take on it at http://www.the1585.com

82

Njorl 03.07.07 at 5:48 pm

‘Can I also step in to disagree with the idea that either Hannah and Jeremiah kept it “buttoned up”? ‘

I remember my surprise when I found out “wife-sharing” was a common practice in the American colonies. There were so few women that men shared. It was probably one of the few times and places where polyandry was much more common than polygyny

83

novakant 03.07.07 at 6:05 pm

Secondly, and I think this point is often underrated, just consider the vast, soul-crushing apparatus that has been constructed over the years for the purposes of restraining or subjugating female sexuality. Like, all of human society, right?

Is women’s (or by Moran’s extension men’s) sexuality really being restrained or subjugated in modern, liberal societies? I just don’t see it. Maybe it’s because I spent my adult life in european metropolises among liberal arts and media types, but I have a suspicion that a good part of the problem could be solved if people stopped caring so much about what others say.

84

14All 03.07.07 at 6:15 pm

So, Ace…if women are fucking indiscriminately in order to find twoo wove and lasting happiness, that must be why men are doing it, too, huh?

Or maybe all those loose and uncommitted female collegiates just read that study showing that married women have a shorter life expectancy than unmarried women, while the opposite is true for men.

85

Rosalynde 03.07.07 at 6:19 pm

Laura wrote: “I think we all agree that access of birth control and increased employment opportunities for women have decreased the staggering costs of having a child out of wedlock.”

Laura, I’d agree if you’d rephrase this way: Access to contraceptives has decreased the RISKS of promiscuous sexual behavior for women. The COSTS of unsupported pregnancy and child-rearing remain staggering for all women (although, of course, some women are able partially to offset those costs with material and personal resources).

What we see, though, is that while the risks of promiscuous sex for women (unintended and unsupported pregnancy, principally; I’m not persuaded by arguments about “self esteem”) have probably decreased overall, they have also been redistributed unevenly over class (and ethnic) categories. While privileged women enjoy a lower risk of unsupported pregnancy, underprivileged segments are now at a higher risk.

Frankly, I don’t shed too many tears for the GGW girls or even the next Pussycat Doll. They look to me mostly like middle-class college girls who have the resources, material and cultural, to minimize the risks of promiscuous behavior. I’m not so sure about the youngest and most vulnerable girls who are consuming the glamorized images of, say, the Pussycat Dolls on mainstream television.

This is where feminism has had the greatest effect, I think, however unintended. Because it’s clear that feminism has supplied the vocabulary of empowerment that has purchased mainstream legitimacy for these highly sexualized images of women. Without the master tropes of empowerment and freedom that structure feminism, the neo-burlesque would have remained in the marginalized cultural position that—it has rightly been observed—it has long occupied. Now it’s on network TV.

86

brooksfoe 03.07.07 at 6:44 pm

If “Girls Gone Wild” still featured drunk college chicks getting naked, BUT once naked, those girls threw the nearest man to his knees and screamed “please me or I’ll rip your nuts off, worm!”, I don’t think that would be something that the left would need to feel conflicted about.

Oh, great – so now I not only have to take my clothes off and act like I’m totally into pleasing this guy, I also have to act like I’m totally into forcing this guy to do all sorts of shit to please me. And I have to make my voice sound convincing when I yell at him and shit. And I guess I have to act like I’m being pleased by him, or else like I’m not being pleased by him and am angry about it…

“Down, dog!” How was that? Did that look good on camera? Do I look sexy this way? Am I empowered yet?

87

BG 03.07.07 at 6:52 pm

Am I missing something, or isn’t #48 simply an argument that birth control contributed to producing GGW, not that feminism helped to produce it? I don’t see any argument that feminism specifically caused GGW; #48’s argument is based — as far as I can tell — solely on the premise that fear of pregnancy restained sexual behavior in the past.

88

Sparks 03.07.07 at 7:12 pm

I’ve been a feminist for over 30 years, and once I would have thought as Belle. Sex and lust are great stuff and just as much a part of the female experience as it is for men. But now I ask, how many of you who believe in the hook-up culture have two or more small children at home? Kids change your perspective.

The hookup culture is a luxury for young, unhitched, middle-class women trying to prove their strength. Personally I find true strength and liberation comes from raising healthy kids and excelling at a male-dominated profession.

But if feminism today is all about unlimited, uncontroled sex, then maybe I am no longer a feminist. Apparently I think more highly of women than Belle. I prefer to think we can strive for something a bit deeper and more profound than merely sexual liberation.

89

Matt Weiner 03.07.07 at 7:48 pm

Because it’s clear that feminism has supplied the vocabulary of empowerment that has purchased mainstream legitimacy for these highly sexualized images of women. Without the master tropes of empowerment and freedom that structure feminism, the neo-burlesque would have remained in the marginalized cultural position that—-it has rightly been observed—-it has long occupied.

Going back even before Playboy, which as Hogan observed in #31 antedates second wave feminism, weren’t pin-up girls mainstream? It seems very dubious that feminism is responsible for mainstreaming highly sexualized images of women; leaving aside the questions of whether such images are responsible for higher risks of unsupported pregnancy among underprivileged women, or whether there really is a higher risk right now.

90

Stuart 03.07.07 at 8:01 pm

Re this:

Women feel lust for someone they can’t have but must see anyway, and feel all the side of their body exposed to the one they want burned with lambent fire. They masturbate in angry frustration. They get horny and decide they want to have sex with someone and don’t particularly care who. They look around the elevator and rank all the prospects for a hypothetical fuck.

Where were these women back when I was in my late teens-early 20s and needed them?

91

djw 03.07.07 at 8:10 pm

In addition to Katherine and M. Weiner’s questions about the alleged profundity of MCM at 48, we need to, others have added, question here historiography. It’s as if prostitution didn’t exist in Hannah and Jeremiah’s world, which seems problematic.

92

feminibitch 03.07.07 at 8:12 pm

Excuse me. As to the pregnency, you can use condon in bed, babe. It’s nothing to do with FEMINISM, or whatever -ism, my dear.

Feminism is just a whole bunch of political discourses which is going to empower women, whether political, economic, social or cultural status and resources. Well, yeah, they may become sexier or more attractive when they earn stronger subjectivity by getting more power in them-selves.

Do not get stuck by those responsibility doctrine. As a woman, you just have to learn how to get powerful and then attractive before you actually go dealing with the shits. Got it?!

Nevertheless, it’s good that you know how sexy that feminists are. That is worth a deep kiss. :)

93

dsquared 03.07.07 at 8:14 pm

have Girls Gone Wild. Which, at the very least, should make us uncomfortable enough to ask some uncomfortable questions, I think.

I agree with Matt here. What freaking “uncomfortable questions”? This kind of political-ethical prick-teasing is much more objectionable than the normal kind.

btw, here’s my discussion of post #43

I don’t have the data to say whether that is slightly more injurious to girls or somesuch as the NYT author claims, but I think it’s clearly deeply injurious to both men and women.

well, if you don’t have the data, you’re flapping your gums. Sex is not “clearly injurious to both men and women”, or it wouldn’t be so popular. If we were talking about any other field of human activity, devices like “it’s clearly”, wouldn’t be tolerated and I don’t see why they should here either.

94

Steve LaBonne 03.07.07 at 8:20 pm

To add to Daniel’s critique of #43,

I’m not sure why we’re so reluctant to say that many believed pleasures are in fact antithetical to true happiness.

Usually we’re reluctant to say it because it’s bullshit peddled by meddling puritans who should mind their own business.

95

Rosalynde 03.07.07 at 8:27 pm

Hi Matt—

Your best question is whether there is a correlation between girls’ consumption of represenations of promiscuity and promiscuous behavior itself. I don’t know whether there is. (Note that I did not argue that feminism is the primary cause the proliferation of these images; only that the vocabulary of feminism has been appropriated to legitimize them. This is a much weaker kind of causality.)

Your final question—whether underprivileged women are at a higher risk for out-of-wedlock childrearing—is an empirical one, and the data are there. Your first question—whether the burlesque has become more mainstream—is historical; I’m persuaded that it has, but I’d be interested in evidence that it has not.

96

salmineo 03.07.07 at 8:43 pm

#90 wrote: Sex is not “clearly injurious to both men and women”, or it wouldn’t be so popular.” But replace “sex” with “fast food” or “cigarettes”. This is a bad argument.

I agree with Harry that Ryan Miller’s comments in #43 are well worth talking about. Let me excerpt the part I find the most talk-worthy: “Sluts, male or female, are people who are rightly despised not because they have icky leaky bodies, but because they don’t take intimacy seriously…”

I agree with #43 on this. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched “American Pie” and “Lost in Translation” over the last week, but I think it’s remarkable how much our popular art reflects both the urge for, and the sense of loss of, intimacy. I think “hook-up” culture is what happens not just when sexual taboos are lifted, but in addition when we feel that human intimacy is either undesirable or out of our grasp. I am not sure what feminism has to say about this. (I wonder if Douthat might not have this in mind, rather than the mere prudery you folks seem to be accusing him of.) I think intimacy is a basic human value, tied to the value of community and companionship. I think it’s the glue between those. But to explain that I’d have to say much more, and I’d rather hear from others on the intimacy points.

97

harry b 03.07.07 at 9:05 pm

I doubt there’s much point in saying this, but, putting aside all questions about whose to blame for what, isn’t it possible that the public endorsement of or indifference to certain practices have effects of leading some people to behave in ways that are quite damaging to them. EG, gambling, heroin use, alcohol use etc. I see no reason to presume that, for example, promiscuous sex is not one such practice. While at the same time I can also see that strong norms disapproving of non-emotionally-intimate sex might also have quite damaging effects on some (usually other) people, as matt suggests. Sure, daniel, there’s not going to be much data here, but that’s because we don’t have much of a sense of how to operationalise the questions we’re asking. I wanted discussion of #43 because it seems to me that there might be real issues worth thinking about. I’d like help thinking through the possible costs and benefits (and their distribution) of different norms regarding sex. I agree that people on the whole do what they want, but I reject the claim that that is always what’s good for them, and also the claim that what they want has a lot of authority with respect to the evaluation of social norms in a world in which their preferences are highly sensitive to social norms.

98

Hogan 03.07.07 at 9:38 pm

Note that I did not argue that feminism is the primary cause the proliferation of these images; only that the vocabulary of feminism has been appropriated to legitimize them. This is a much weaker kind of causality.

In the sense that it’s not causality at all.

99

ogged 03.07.07 at 9:38 pm

I think it’s very brave of the men of the internet to defend the practice of breast-baring by college-age women.

100

David Moles 03.07.07 at 9:40 pm

Thank you, Katherine. (And thank you, Belle.)

(Everyone’s talking about Girls Gone Wild as if there’s something wrong with it!)

(Well, okay, there is, but what’s wrong with it isn’t about actual girls actually going wild, which ought to be entirely their own business.)

101

David Moles 03.07.07 at 9:46 pm

Ogged:

To paraphrase:

This isn’t something I’m proud of. That’s because I can’t be proud of letting women make their own decisions anymore than I can be proud of not shitting on myself whenever I laugh. Letting women make their own decisions is the default fucking setting.

102

ogged 03.07.07 at 9:51 pm

Letting women make their own decisions is the default fucking setting.

This is just self-on-back-patting. The fact that a twenty-year-old woman makes a decision doesn’t make it, ipso facto, the right one. We make judgments all the time about whether the behavior of other people is good for them, good for us, good for society, a good example for others, etc. To say that we just let people do as they please is untrue, in addition to lazy–it avoids those uncomfortable questions that MCM rightly says we should be asking.

103

Hogan 03.07.07 at 10:48 pm

To say that we just let people do as they please is untrue, in addition to lazy—it avoids those uncomfortable questions that MCM rightly says we should be asking.

Such as?

104

Matt Weiner 03.07.07 at 10:56 pm

Hi Rosalynde–
a) What Hogan said; if feminist vocabulary hadn’t been appropriated to legitimize GGW (to the extent that it has been; I’m not sure that feminist tropes really form a big component of their marketing or the decisions of those who air them) something else might have been. And given the lack of evidence that Girls Gone Wild is contributing to the sexual activity of the women you’re concerned about, we have a very very tenuous connection between feminism and unsupported pregnancy. So I’m not sure why we should talk about this in a discussion about the effects of feminism.
(And I believe feminists do some hard work to try to mitigate the problems of unsupported pregnancy — working for effective child support, etc. It’s worth looking into.)
b) I may not have been clear when I asked “whether underprivileged women are at a higher risk for out-of-wedlock childrearing.” What I meant was whether they’re at a higher risk than they were before whatever time it is that you’re talking about; before racy pictures were mainstreamed, or before feminism, or what have you. To look at the data, I’d have to know what date you meant. So, what I’m saying is, more specificity and a citation, please. And even then it would be hard to say whether this was to do with feminism or the attack on contraception and abortion services, the decline of manufacturing, etc.

105

Jackmormon 03.07.07 at 11:05 pm

All of the people worried about young women’s ability to form emotionally intimate relationships might bear in mind that there is more to intimacy than sex.

There are intimate relationships that do not revolve around sex (siblings, parents, roommates, friends). There are sexual relationships that do not involve intimacy. There are relationships with complex intertwinings of the two.

That is has become possible to disentangle what is merely sexual from what is nurturing, intimate, and profoundly personal strikes me as a good thing—because it helps a couple entwine them in positive and loving and CHOSEN ways.

106

Matt Weiner 03.07.07 at 11:35 pm

I missed comment 99 before.

isn’t it possible that the public endorsement of or indifference to certain practices have effects of leading some people to behave in ways that are quite damaging to them. EG, gambling, heroin use, alcohol use etc.

Absolutely…

I see no reason to presume that, for example, promiscuous sex is not one such practice.

But there’s no reason to presume that it is. The practices that you named before are all physically or financially harmful. Sex need not be. We could ask the same questions about gay sex, or practicing a religion other than the dominant one. All you seem to be doing is suggesting an inquiry into the effects of the norms, which is fine, but Mr. Miller was “clearly”ing away the answers so as to put the burden of proof on pro-sex attitudes. And that’s not fine. Why should we suppose that having sex without intimacy damages your ability to have intimate relationships?

strong norms disapproving of non-emotionally-intimate sex might also have quite damaging effects on some (usually other) people, as matt suggests.

I do endorse this but it’s not exactly what I meant about SLC LDS dating — it didn’t seem radically more heartbreak-prone than other kinds, it’s just that it didn’t seem any less. I’ll credit Scott Lemieux:

You know what else can hurt a young woman’s heart? Marriage. Long-term relationships. Not getting laid at all. You know can also experience emotional trauma from all of these things? Men. Nobody’s saying that freedom and equality means a world free from pain.

107

desperate non-housewife 03.07.07 at 11:51 pm

The Second Wave of feminism was a reaction to the Sexual Revolution of the ’60s, i.e. the Men’s Movement. Men decided that they weren’t going to keep their end of the deal: lifetime financial support in exchange for sex, but still wanted sex, housekeeping and other support services. Since women couldn’t get men to support them they, reasonably, campaigned for a fair shake in the labor market–and the battle continues.

There’s no point in women not hooking up these days because you can’t play coy to get men to marry you and guarantee lifelong financial support.

Personally, I once tried to get pregnant in order to trap a guy into marriage–though I didn’t manage it. Nowadays neither this nor the business of teasing and playing the guy on the hook until you can trap him works. There is simply no way to get a secure career housewife job–if there were, I’d have done it. My job’s ok, but I’d much rather be a housewife.

108

harry b 03.08.07 at 12:53 am

Fair enough — no reason to presume either way. and But lots of reasons drawn from experience of real people talking about their lives to note that people do get emotionally damaged in various ways, and that is worth thinking and talking about. As a parent, with a responsibility to my children’s propsective emotional wellbeing, do I encourage my daughters to become sexually promiscuous, or not? Is there no possibility of discussing what might be emotionally healthy approaches to sexuality? Sure, we shouldn’t “clearly” away anything. For me, that includes not “clearly” awaying the possibility that the norms and practices that surround GGW (whatever that is, I confess I am writing in complete ignorance) damage people. Some on this thread are so keen to rubbish the prudes that they seem to me anyway to be clearly awaying that possibility. I have no anti-feminist agenda, or even an anti-sex agenda (though I am anti-basketball if that’s involved). Just surprised by the determination of some to assume there is nothign to judge here.

109

dsquared 03.08.07 at 12:54 am

#90 wrote: Sex is not “clearly injurious to both men and women”, or it wouldn’t be so popular.” But replace “sex” with “fast food” or “cigarettes”. This is a bad argument.

fast food is not particularly bad for people. And cigarettes, fair enough but it is your only data point. And, correctly, before people started doing a big deal about cigarettes being bad for you, they collected a lot of evidence that cigarettes actually caused lung cancer. I could turn this round; if you compare the strength of the evidence that cigarettes cause lung cancer with the strength of the evidence that feminism causes misery through lack-of-romance, then your, and post #43’s case looks really quite pathetic indeed.

110

brooksfoe 03.08.07 at 1:49 am

if you compare the strength of the evidence that cigarettes cause lung cancer with the strength of the evidence that feminism causes misery through lack-of-romance

You know, there is no evidence whatsoever, absolutely none, that watching a lifetime’s worth of jingoistic movies and television shows in which various “enemies” are depicted as subhuman vermin while “our” soldiers are applauded for slaughtering them en masse leads to jingoistic, militaristic, xenophobic attitudes towards foreign policy. Absolutely none.

And yet, the above proposition is generally held to be true by anyone who is not a freaking moron. Or a big-budget Hollywood producer, which amounts to the same thing.

Obviously the statement “feminism causes misery through lack-of-romance” is stupid. “‘Independence Day’ caused the invasion of Iraq” would be a stupid thing to say, too. But “The feminist discourse of women’s sexual empowerment is very often applied to justify conduct which should be seen as male sexual exploitation of women, for anyone who believes that the word ‘exploitation’ has any meaning” — this is not a stupid thing to say.

111

brooksfoe 03.08.07 at 2:06 am

After all, when two women are surrounded by a gang of men screaming “Show us your tits!”, and they ultimately both hike up their shirts and show us their tits — aren’t they, as mature adults, entitled to the presumption that they just really wanted to show us their tits? Who are these puritan busybodies insisting there’s something exploitative about that situation?

And who are you to make me feel ashamed of my rampant double-posting?

112

Matt Weiner 03.08.07 at 3:15 am

For me, that includes not “clearly” awaying the possibility that the norms and practices that surround GGW (whatever that is, I confess I am writing in complete ignorance) damage people. Some on this thread are so keen to rubbish the prudes that they seem to me anyway to be clearly awaying that possibility.

Well, I can’t speak for the whole thread, but this isn’t the position I’m defending and I don’t think it’s the one Belle’s defending either. Someone like Stepp literally thinks that women cheapen themselves by having sex; in addition to the prize and smorgasbord metaphors, she compares having sex to throwing a rock through the window of your first home. (Or of someone else’s first home? Anyway, damaging the merchandise. I admit I haven’t read these in context.) And the feeling here seems to be something like, men don’t value women who’ve had too much sex, or who are too willing to have sex; and women aren’t getting much out of having sex unless it’s a means to getting a man into a long-term relationship. (Read Douthat’s followup; it’s about the difference between a naturalist vs. sacralist vision of sex, where if you follow his links sacralist means that extramarital sex is destructive.) And I think we can clearly this away: This is clearly a conception of sex that is harmful to both men and women. Men at least should prize women for their intrinsic qualities, not for the labor value embodied in the seduction; and women in the actual world do enjoy sex, and might enjoy and pursue it even more if not for our elaborate structures of slut-shaming, and shouldn’t be forced to use it as a bargaining chip for a relationship. Of course it is wise for women (and men) to navigate the existing sexual mores carefully; you’ll notice that Belle didn’t actually say that women should disregard the threat of rape. But that doesn’t mean that these mores shouldn’t be criticized.

As for people getting emotionally damaged; yes, it happens. It happens no matter what the prevailing sexual mores are. You’d be wisest to counsel your daughters in the way that you think will help them avoid emotional damage. But the question here is whether relatively free sex is more emotionally damaging than any other system, and there’s not much evidence that that’s true in general. Stepp’s book, from all accounts, looks only at women in college; there’s just no way to draw any conclusions about the effect of college sexual encounters on long-term relationships from that. And given the amount of guff that’s talked about women’s sexuality, I think we should take doomsaying pronouncements about this with a pitcher of salt.

113

ddkropp 03.08.07 at 3:40 am

“And, “double standard” or not, it has always been the case, and will continue being the case into the year 3000, that it’s rather difficult to work up the enthusiasm to court a girl when she’s been nailing everyone you know without such courtship (why should I be the one who has to put in the effort?), and it’s hard to have that sense of pride in one’s romantic “get” when you know she’s been passed around the fraternity like a blunt.”

This is actually quite true. It is how men feel about women, and it will always be this way. The post does not substantively address this wholly correct obvservation in any way.

114

roger 03.08.07 at 4:01 am

Out of maybe 20-30 million “girls” – I’m assuming an age range from 18-25 – how many have gone wild? Why should I take them as typical, in any way, of the sex lives of ‘girls’ in general? There is something about this argument that seems lunatic – not only is there no girls gone wild evidence, like, from the mouths of the girls themselves about what they are doing (minor detail, but I suspect nobody on this thread – this includes me – is or has been a girls gone wild), there is no consideration of setting – which includes the bar, the advertisements, the drinks, competing entertainment, the section of town, etc, and which is a huge factor in leisure behavior in general, and there’s no consideration for what seems pretty obvious to me – most sex isn’t done publicly, which would make Girls going Wild pretty much an outlier. This is also why sexual behavior can be so easily and routinely lied about. I don’t know why one would trust a man who talks about a woman being “nailed’ by a lot of other men, now, than one would trust your average fanatic about cuckoldry in a Restoration play – both are giving vent to personal and sad fantasies. However: I think Crooked Timber should definitely call for papers on this topic from Girls who have gone wild, and see what they have to say about it. I think you all should put an announcement in the Journal of Girls Gone Wild, c/o Department of Information and Girls Gone Wild Studies, Swizzlestick University, Oshkosh, Applachia.

115

Mary Catherine Moran 03.08.07 at 5:30 am

What freaking “uncomfortable questions”? This kind of political-ethical prick-teasing is much more objectionable than the normal kind.

Well, I wasn’t winking at you, Dsquared, I really had my eye on the guy just next to you. But actually, I didn’t see myself as addressing an exclusively, or even a primarily (and certainly not a primarily more important), male readership in the first place. I, a woman, was responding first and foremost to some interesting comments put forth by Belle, also a woman; and though I did want to query or challenge some of what this highly intelligent and articulate and makes-me-think-about-the-issues woman had to say, I really wasn’t trying to “tease” her in the manner you have so revealingly (and, if I wanted to go all feminist theory on you, I might even say, so phallocentrically) suggested.

Do you really not see the uncomfortable question that is running through this entire thread? It is pretty much built into the very title of this post: feminism is not responsible for GGG, which is already to respond to an assertion, about which there is, apparently, some sort of question, which question makes at least some of us, well, at least a little bit uncomfortable. The assertion that feminism is responsible for GGG is most frequently, or at least most loudly and crudely, put forth by male wingnuts in support of various and sundry other agendas … and yet, believe it or not, there are people (many of them women, and some of them even self-identified feminists) who exist outside the realm of right-wing nuttery, who yet dare, on occasion, to raise questions between sexual emancipation and GGG. There are women who at least silently, in their own minds, do raise such questions. But, given the current gendered balance of power and etc. and etc. (not to get all feminist theory on your arse, and seriously, darling, I really am not trying to “tease” you), it’s often a bit difficult for a woman to raise such questions in a public forum. The woman who has the temerity to raise such questions is apt to be accused of prudishness, puritanism, bluenosery…and maybe even to be compared to David Frum, and who the hell but a card-carrying member of Wingnuttery Inc. wants to be associated with the likes of David Frum? But I guess brooksfoe has said all of this much better than I can.

The discomfort, to again vastly oversimplify in an attempt to get at the underlying logic, comes down to something like this: The wingnuts tell us that there is no middle ground between Victorian angels in the house and drunken, possibly underage, bikini-clad babes flashing it for the camera, and dear god, but what if there’s a kernel of truth to what these wingnuts so boldly and baldly proclaim? I mean, I want and I need to believe that what the wingnuts say couldn’t possibly be true: there must needs be, I need to believe, some sort of middle ground between these equally unpalatable options. But, eh, I think Joe Francis of GGG is, at the very least, a statutory rapist (now, go ahead and call me a bluenose and a puritan…it’s okay, I’ve already been compared to the likes of Frum, so I think I can take it).

“Sex” (as if there’s just “sex,” abstracted from any and all other considerations) cannot possibly be injurious because it is so “popular”? Yeah, and I’m told that working at substandard wages for no benefits at all is also quite “popular” (well, I mean, people from all around the globe do engage in this practice, and there’s populism for you), and just so long as it’s their free choice to make their own decisions, and blah blah blah and etc. etc. well, who could could possibly object? and let’s not talk about complex, and yes, even uncomfortable assymetries of power or anything.

116

Matt Weiner 03.08.07 at 6:33 am

It is how men feel about women, and it will always be this way.

Thanks for lending us your crystal ball! Have you seen Iris?

117

David Moles 03.08.07 at 9:31 am

Ogged:

The fact that a twenty-year-old woman makes a decision doesn’t make it, ipso facto, the right one.

No kidding! Also, the fact that I might have an opinion as to what I would do in her place or what choice might be most likely to lead to her long-term happiness doesn’t, ipso facto, mean that her decisions are any of my goddamn business.

We make judgments all the time about whether the behavior of other people is good for them, good for us, good for society, a good example for others, etc.

Yes, we do. We also make judgments as to what to make judgments about.

When society takes an attitude toward women’s sexuality I am, as a man, not the one who has to live with the consequences. It therefore ill behooves me to dictate what that attitude should be.

Furthermore, as a thirty-four-year-old man who’s grown up in the society Belle describes, I judge that where the sexual behavior of some hypothetical twenty-year-old woman I have never met is concerned, I am, (1), very likely to be burdened by any number of biases, conscious and unconscious, complementary and contradictory; and, (2), extremely unlikely to be in possession of all the facts.

I therefore suspect that my judgment on this subject is likely to be rather poor.

To say that we just let people do as they please is untrue…

Which isn’t to say that we couldn’t work harder at it.

…in addition to lazy—it avoids those uncomfortable questions that MCM rightly says we should be asking.

About what? About women’s agency in the Victorian era? Those questions aren’t uncomfortable, they’re fascinating — especially when you start comparing the Victorian era with earlier eras, and also start unpacking how much of our idea of what the Victorian era was and how it worked was shaped by the post-Victorian backlash of folks like Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf. Doesn’t have a lot to do with prescribing social norms for the college students of today, though.

118

Katherine 03.08.07 at 9:41 am

Yeah ddkrop, glad to see that you consider women to be good that are “soiled” once they’ve been “used” by another man. I’m pretty sure that there are men out there who don’t think that way, having met them, so your “it is how men feel about women” is, in fact, a crock.

119

SG 03.08.07 at 10:03 am

Could someone please explain to me (and this isn`t a trick question) what is wrong with Girls Gone Wild, and how it can be criticised effectively without subscribing to some extent to the kind of dirt/shame models which feminism has been trying to undo?

120

David Moles 03.08.07 at 10:48 am

Are we talking about the behavior, or the video production enterprise? If it’s the latter, I’d say the primary thing wrong with it is that the workers don’t control the means of production or enjoy the fruits of their labor. (Also, I think watching Girls Gone Wild is kind of tacky and sad, but I suppose that’s a matter of taste.)

121

Daniel 03.08.07 at 10:49 am

Mary, is it at all possible to express the uncomfortable questions concerned in a simple sentence ending in a question mark? I have a feeling that placed baldly, and stripped of all these innuendoes, they might not look so uncomfortable after all, and might indeed be susceptible to a short, one-word answer.

122

David Moles 03.08.07 at 10:51 am

(By the way, let me note that just because I don’t think what these hypothetical girls do is any of my business, that doesn’t mean I do think it’s my business to decide whether it should be Belle’s or Katherine’s or Ms. Moran’s business.)

123

brooksfoe 03.08.07 at 11:07 am

When society takes an attitude toward women’s sexuality I am, as a man, not the one who has to live with the consequences.

Uh…men aren’t affected by how society constructs its expectations of female sexuality? Wow, that’s a novel one. Burqas in Afghanistan, public group sex in Florida — whatever; I am, as a man, entirely unaffected.

124

brooksfoe 03.08.07 at 11:20 am

what is wrong with Girls Gone Wild,

Substantially the same thing that was wrong with, say, the “Jerry Springer Show” in its heyday.

and how it can be criticised effectively without subscribing to some extent to the kind of dirt/shame models which feminism has been trying to undo?

I shouldn’t feel ashamed of being dirty? No more showers for me!

Get this clear: “Girls Gone Wild” is not about liberating sexuality. It is about extending the tyranny of a social regime of on-camera mass-audience performance aesthetics into one of the last remaining spheres of personal privacy and autonomy. It is part of the increasingly universal requirement that individuals regard themselves as entertainment commodities, performing artists, brands.

Much of what is being written on this thread reminds me of the aphorism of a Southern lady depicted in the great mid-80s documentary “Sherman’s March”: “What’s so bad about slavery, anyway? If someone wants to be a slave, let ‘em be a slave!”

125

Colin Powell 03.08.07 at 12:01 pm

Brooksfoe, your complaint seems to be about decency, not feminism. If the shame is just that people are exposing their private lives too much, I don’t see that it is feminism’s responsibility. There has to be something about this phenomenon which is harmful to women particularly, and in some way related specifically to women’s increased freedom. And a feminist critique should describe this problem without resorting to double standards about women’s role or sexuality.

126

SG 03.08.07 at 12:02 pm

Sorry, that was me. Something went wrong with my computer skills there.

127

brooksfoe 03.08.07 at 1:10 pm

And a feminist critique should describe this problem without resorting to double standards about women’s role or sexuality.

Well, you’ve conjured up the ancient issue there, right? — difference feminism versus…sameness feminism, or whatever it is; equality versus equity. I tend to be persuaded by the argument that women are different from men, and that an equitable treatment of both in society requires some “double standards”. In sort of the same way that guaranteeing civil rights may require different treatment for minorities than for majorities.

The expansion of the pornopticon into everyone’s bedrooms and onto our beaches falls inequitably on men and women. There are major asymmetries — no gangs of women on the beaches of Florida are pressuring heterosexual guys to tongue-kiss each other or perform oral sex on each other. To wish such asymmetries away, or (as Belle does) to speculate as to what our sexual regimes might look like if the entirety of human social history were to be somehow erased, seems pretty silly to me. If feminism isn’t about examining how differential treatment of women in social (including sexual) behavior affects women’s civic and social (dis)empowerment…then what exactly is feminism about?

128

Russell L. Carter 03.08.07 at 2:55 pm

“But, eh, I think Joe Francis of GGG is, at the very least, a statutory rapist (now, go ahead and call me a bluenose and a puritan…it’s okay, I’ve already been compared to the likes of Frum, so I think I can take it).”

As the Frum thrower, I think it’s important for me to note that I doubt anyone who knows the particulars disagrees with your assessment of Joe Francis.

But the larger point is the sort of behaviour associated with GGW is not isolated to Francis’s commercial enterprise. It’s called debauchery, and it’s an old vice.

For a reason you might be able to guess I’ve got an extremely interested stake in how women act on their own when they’re young and stupid. And at this point you’ve not provided any reason to change my mind about my default response were I to learn that (say) my own emancipated daughter had just done a weekend session at GGW, which would be something like:

“That was pretty damn stupid kiddo, I suggest making sure there aren’t any long term consequences. If there are, you’ve just embarked on a hard journey in this part of your life.”

That’s the problem with freedom, you get to make mistakes. And, since I’ve been mired in an argument over the significance of hijab, I’ll add that ogged’s desire to protect women for their own good is a pretty damn classic patriarchal response.

129

harry b 03.08.07 at 3:06 pm

matt — I take it that you are very gently telling me that I’m off-topic, which I can believe, and helps me to understand better some of what has been said. I guess I’m not interested in the topic of the thread, just in many of the things that have been said off-topic. I’ll shut up now.

130

David Moles 03.08.07 at 3:09 pm

Brooksfoe: Burqas in Afghanistan, public group sex in Florida—whatever; I am, as a man, entirely unaffected.

Let me try an analogy:

So, there was this farm. And on this farm there was a hen, and there was a pig. And one day the hen says to the pig: “Hey, I’ve got a great idea!”

The pig says: “What’s that?”

“Let’s start a restaurant!” says the hen. “We’ll call it ‘Ham ‘n Eggs’. After our signature dish.”

“Hmm,” says the pig. “I’m not so sure about that.”

“Why not?” says the hen. “We both chip in, we split the profits — we’ll do everything together. It’ll be great!”

“Yeah, together, right,” says the pig. “Thing is, sure, we’d both be involved… but I’m the one who’d be fully committed.

If society tells women they have to wear burqas, it’s not men’s personal liberty that’s being taken away. If society tells women they can’t wear burqas (yeah, that’s been tried, too), again, it’s not men’s personal liberty that’s being taken away. Men might be annoyed. Men might be inconvenienced. Men might be pleased. Men might be excited.

But to say that the stake men have in those decisions compares with the stake women have is as obscene as the extent to which those decisions are so commonly made, and enforced, by men.

And the group sex shouldn’t be anybody’s business but the people having it. If you’re not having any, you’re not having less because somebody else is. If you want to make an argument about “public”, go ahead, but if you think you can do that while supporting different standards for women and men, I’ll be interested to watch you try.

131

David Moles 03.08.07 at 3:11 pm

(Hmm… blockquote and paragraphs apparently don’t play well together, although they worked fine in the preview.)

132

David Moles 03.08.07 at 3:14 pm

Brooksfoe: Much of what is being written on this thread reminds me of the aphorism of a Southern lady depicted in the great mid-80s documentary “Sherman’s March”: “What’s so bad about slavery, anyway? If someone wants to be a slave, let ‘em be a slave!”

Yeah, it’s amazing how the range of choices available to women in contemporary society corresponds to the range of choices available to African-Americans in the antebellum south.

133

Marcella Chester 03.08.07 at 3:30 pm

“it’s rather difficult to work up the enthusiasm to court a girl when she’s been nailing everyone you know without such courtship (why should I be the one who has to put in the effort?),”

To reflect what is often the ugly reality behind this statement, I would change the above to:

“it’s rather difficult to work up the enthusiasm to court a girl when she’s been raped or exploited by everyone you know without such courtship (why should I be the one who has to get her consent?),”

To talk about how fully-consensual sex damages young women while avoiding talking about how non-consensual sex damages young women shows incompetence at best.

Sexual exploiters turn, “women have the right to say yes” into “women who can say yes don’t have the right to say no.” Then they turn around and say, “Feminism made me do it.”

Uh-huh.

134

Matt Weiner 03.08.07 at 3:37 pm

Harry: I take it that you are very gently telling me that I’m off-topic

Oh foo, I didn’t mean to do that. I’m hardly the one to tell anyone that they’re off topic, in many ways (as a non-owner of this blog, as someone who goes off-topic all the time, as someone who thinks off-topic things can be more interesting). “The topic of the thread” hardly seems to refer uniquely.

What I might say is that, given the way the thread started, I can be a bit oversensitive about concern about whether you should encourage your daughters to participate in the hook-up culture (descriptions of which I suspect are slightly exaggerated, but I wouldn’t know) seeming to lend support to sacralism.

dsquared, I think Mary Catherine Moran isn’t too unclear here—if I may project, her question is “Is Feminism Reponsible for Girls Gone Wild?” And I think (he says, piling on in a cowardly fashion) she’s right to be pissed off at you for saying “pricktease.” I think the answer is “probably not in any meaningful sense”; as Russell Carter says it’s debauchery, not feminism. Or I might say, the sexual liberation associated with feminism created the conditions necessary for Girls Gone Wild, which was created by people extremely hostile to feminism; but then the Jewish population of Germany was necessary for the Holocaust, which was perpetrated by people hostile to the Jews, and that doesn’t make the Jewish population of Germany responsible for the Holocaust.

I’ve Godwinned the thread! Does that mean I win?

135

Daniel 03.08.07 at 3:46 pm

I thought that the “uncomfortable questions” category might be a subset of “rhetorical questions whose obvious answer is ‘no'”.

136

Rosalynde 03.08.07 at 6:42 pm

Hi Matt, and Hogan, way upstream, if you’re still reading—

Hogan, to my assertion of weak causality (of feminism on “The Next Pussycat Doll”, that is), you responded that weak causality is no causality at all, to which I respond: Sure it is! It’s what attorneys call cause-in-fact or “but-for” cause: but for sex-positive feminism’s handy phrasebook of “empowerment” and “liberation,” “The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll” would not have have the cultural purchase to appear on network television. But-for cause is relatively easy to establish, and it does not assign culpability: I’m not saying that feminists or feminism are at fault for producing the Dolls. But I’m saying that it, among several other cultural and structural factors, was a relevant antecedent.

Now you may very well be right that some other cultural coattail would have been caught to pull soft-core images of young women onto primetime, had feminism never happened or had it strenuously resisted the appropriation of its vocabulary. In truth, I’m very sympathetic to a complex historiography in which many different factors—cultural, structural, technological, demographic—interact unpredictably, and from which clear causality is difficult to extract. Indeed, I think it’s plausible that the etiologies of, say, hookup culture and GGW are entirely distinct: hookup culture may be less ideological than demographic, responding to the higher proportion of women on college campuses. The permissive sex-positive culture for which GGW has been standing as synecdoche is in fact a massive and only-very-loosely organized social phenomenon, and I doubt a single master-narrative can account for (or change) it.

Of course, if one begins questioning classic social constructionism—that is, if one begins to doubt the straightforward corespondence between ideology and subjectivity/behavior (for instance, between consuming representations of promiscuous behavior and actually behaving promiscuously), if one begins to allow a greater role for structural, demographic, and biological factors—then one must also question Belle’s fundamental (and fundamentalist) presumption, which she shares with most feminism, that the bad parts of our current sex culture are an expression of residual bad old patriarchal ideology, and that if we just get the ideology right then everything else will fall into place in our brave new sexual utopia. This I doubt very highly.

137

paul 03.08.07 at 7:38 pm

Some of the comments about the Industrial Revolution strike me as apposite, not so much for the bits about unions, but because it’s probably only with the rise of the lower middle class that the notion of woman as sexually-shy retiring flower really became pervasive. Chaucer would have laughed the idea out of stableyard, and Boccacio would have gleefully stuck a knife in its back. Shakespeare would have cudgeled it to death.

The idea that women only engage in sex to aquire other goods is obviously an important meme for people who use women and their children as mechanisms for distributing property, but that’s only been a vanishing fraction of the population until sometime in the last few centuries. Can we trace the point where the notion of women as earthy types who would have (at least) as much sex as men when they could get away with it went completely out of fashion? Did it happen at the same time as pink for boys?

138

JMW 03.08.07 at 8:43 pm

In response to comment 13 (way back when), is it ok that I’m not a “right-wing jerkoff who (is) afraid of women’s vaginas” but that I think anyone of either gender who considers putting a photo of their ass on Facebook to represent any kind of empowerment is a jackass?

139

Hogan 03.08.07 at 9:05 pm

Rosalynde:

Hi! We’re back live.

The thing is, this is America. Empowerment and liberation are our bread and butter, or vice versa, and choice is the cream in our Coffee of Autonomy. The feminist movement didn’t invent such discourses; it just reframed and redeployed them for its political purposes, like many other political movements. And holding the feminist movement in any way responsible for advertisers’ and marketers’ exploitation of such discourses seems to me like holding St. Augustine responsible for Valmont’s use of soul-saving language in his seduction of Mme. de Tourvel in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. It not only ignores the unscrupulousness of seducers in choosing their tools, it comes close to blaming the victim for the behavior of the seducer. (If we’re looking for an -ism to blame for GGW, I think capitalism is a much more likely candidate. And yes, some feminists are not as anti-capitalist as I would like them to be, but at the level of abstraction we’re speaking at here, so what?)

I’m all for complex historiographies of cultural phenomena, but I still have a near-antiquarian respect for timelines: the sexual revolution began roughly a generation before the launching of anything we would now recognize as “the feminist movement.” Maybe there’s some other definition of “sexual revolution” that doesn’t incorporate, e.g., Kinsey, Hefner, and the pill; we could talk about that. But until I see such a definition, I’m going to keep insisting that “feminism was an important cause of the sexual revolution” is bad social history, and not because of implicit prudery, but because it fails a basic test of historical explanation: sequence.

As for Belle’s peroration, I think you’re confusing a question with an answer. Belle is (oh God, here I go) trying to problematize traditional notions of the nature of male and female desire by pointing out that all the desire with which we have experience and on which we base our ideas of tradition and nature comes to existence under a regime of male privilege and heteronormativity (whew). Unless you want to argue that those two conditions are “natural” in some way that is synonymous with “immutable,” then Belle’s question is perfectly appropriate: in the absence of those constraints, what would female desire, or even female social behavior, look like? The point is, we don’t know. And the answer “it would look like young women flashing their boobs at Joe Francis’s camera” is sillier and more unimaginative than most.

140

Hogan 03.08.07 at 9:07 pm

Strikethrough unintentional.

141

r4d20 03.08.07 at 10:01 pm

with young girls giving it away like it’s rotting in the warehouse

Where are these young girls located and how can I get there?

142

Rosalynde 03.08.07 at 11:22 pm

problematize traditional notions of the nature of male and female desire by pointing out that all the desire with which we have experience and on which we base our ideas of tradition and nature comes to existence under a regime of male privilege and heteronormativity

LOL! I guess I can’t blame you too much for that; I couldn’t avoid “appropriate,” “ideology” or “subjectivity” in my own comment. Makes me glad I’m out of grad school, though.

Take a look at this NYT review of the Pussycat Dolls television show; it’s a good example of what I’ve been suggesting (which, again, is NOT a conflation of the sexual revolution and feminism—but that sex-positive nineties feminism, some years after the advent of the sexual revolution, provided the vocabulary for the mainstream entree of a promiscuous female sexuality.)

143

Sexo Grammaticus 03.09.07 at 1:15 am

#88’s response to my post(#83) brings us to an interesting point about whether “empowerment oneupspersonship” actually gets us anywhere.

By way of responding to the fact that straight men enjoy watching submissive women engage in sexual activity, I suggested that women still engage in sex, but be assertive/domme-ish rather than submissive. #83 countered by saying that straight men would STILL enjoy watching it just as much. Touche.

I guess I should have clarified that I was talking about ALL sex, not just sex-on-film, be it GGW or otherwise… but anyway, here we are: regardless of whether a woman is submissive or assertive (whether the sex is man-centric, woman-centric, totally symbiotic, etc.), the sexual act is always something that straight men would enjoy watching (assuming that the woman is decently attractive); hence it is always “potential porn,” even when it is not actually being filmed.

Okay, fine. The logical next question would be, is it also something that straight women would enjoy watching, provided that the man is decently attractive–i.e. the same old “would women like porn as much as men, if the men in porn were ever good-looking?” question. The only answer I’ve ever found that satisfies anyone is “some would and some wouldn’t.”

To reestablish the relevance here: #88 seemed to be saying that sex is always a “performance” for the woman, regardless of how she acts, ergo the submissive/assertive distinction is an illusion.

I disagree, because I wasn’t talking about “Art for Art’s Sake,” here; I was talking about actions designed to lead to results–i.e. the woman getting off vs. not getting off.

In a back-and-forth about the same subject on my site, a woman reader objected to my defense of hookupism on the grounds that most men are bad at pleasing women. But this is not a problem about sex, it is a problem with men. So, my point is, if the problem with casual sex is that men are bad at it, then isn’t the obvious solution “women should make men be good at it,” rather than “women shouldn’t have sex?”

My site, for those who are interested: http://www.the1585.com

144

SG 03.09.07 at 2:56 am

Brooksfoe at 130, I don`t think the affirmative action approach to minorities is necessarily meant to represent a permanent response to their inherent difference to the majority – it is a simple temporary response to redress past inequities of wealth. Are you suggesting that the “difference” of women from men (I presume you mean something like “physically weaker”, “emotionally more attaching” or other such ideas) is analogous to the “difference” between, say, blacks and whites? I don`t think that`s a good analogy, and I would argue that that understanding of affirmative action is incorrect.

As for your second paragraph, you give (through satire) the example of gangs of men “pressuring” women to tongue kiss each other on the beach. But do you know that this is pressure? I don`t know if this has been established clearly. It could be that you are looking at young women choosing to use their freedom to express themselves in a really stupid way, and assuming they must be being forced. But if feminism has succeeded this is not necesarily the case is it?

For example, we could have a situation where feminism has succeeded so women feel safe and empowered doing whatever they want; but women are inherently different (as you suggest), and the way in which they are inherently different means that their sexuality will always be more publicised and on display; so obviously in this case they will be safely engaging in public displays of sexual activity.

(I`m not saying I believe this, just trying to create an example).

Its also possible that these women are trail-blazing, just as previously women trail-blazed by getting jobs (and being abused by the men they worked with); joining the army (and being abused) and so on. In this case they are being publicly shameless as men have always been able to do, and in the process of trail-blazing this frontier of feminism they are copping some abuse. Sure that`s bad, but that`s not the fault of feminism.

But it seems to me that you are saying you expect women to be inherently more vulnerable than men, and that shamelessness by women is inherently worse in some sense than shamelessness by men. I don`t care to dispute the former because I thought all forms of feminism said that this is irrelevant, and men should change their behaviour in accordance with any such vulnerabilities; but the latter just seems to me to be a straight out double standard. If a man can show his arse out the window of the sports team bus and it is just stupid and silly, then a woman showing her arse (and I would argue her tits too) should also be just stupid and silly. And as women do this more and more, we should take it as evidence that they feel safer in public, and we should applaud it as an achievement of feminism. The same goes for group sex with the football team, in my view.

Comments on this entry are closed.