Archive

pornification


We live in an increasingly homogenized, blinkered world. A Big Mac has become so ubiquitous you can usually count on it being the same from Beijing to Buenos Aires. We watch the same blockbuster movies, we aspire to the same objects of desire, whether it’s iPads, Louboutin shoes or Xboxes. We can instantly share whatever grabs our attention on YouTube in seconds of watching it, we can trade any information at any time at the speed of light. Newsfeeds and blogfeeds can be tailored to our personal tastes and interests, so can any kind of advertising.

These days, even the erotic – surely one of the most diverse of human preoccupations – has been standardized to such an extent that even ordinary women are feeling the heat to conform in order to aspire to being desired. There’s room for everyone and something for everyone, too – with a few provisos. Be young. Be blonde, if you can. Make sure your mammary glands are of a pleasing proportion and height. And for the love of dental floss, woman…would you please devastate that rainforest you carry around between your legs?

So you do just that. Stock in Gillette soars, and the lady with just the right deft, torturous touch with that hot wax knows more about you than even your sister can manage. You slather yourself with snake oil in jars to ensure you are as smooth and line-free as a virgin piece of paper. The only hair left on you is the hair you want to be there. You work out or you run or both, you buy other, different kinds of snake oil in many colors to accentuate and present your improved, desirable self.

And disaster strikes. One day you discover a tender spot that means an ingrown hair is making your overstressed life a misery, especially in jeans. But it’s located somewhere you can’t quite see, so you grab your magnifying makeup mirror to have a closer look.

OMG! How could you have lived all these years without knowing this…that you look nothing like those porn movies you have been known to watch? Those images in anatomy books with their clean lines and their perfect snatches – they ain’t you, baby. That…thing, that semi-hidden area of your body you have carried around since birth and had a wary relationship with since puberty, that source of pleasure and pain…is a bit less than perfect, even with a Hollywood wax job. It looks like an alien life form and not at all benign. It needs a face lift. And you need a Xanax at least. If you’re that ugly, that deformed, that hideous, how can anyone ever want you again? That’s just not…normal, is it?

Stop right there. Take a deep breath. Sit down. Calm down. Chill. Your life already sucks hard enough.

We live in an age that does everything to encourage serious body dysmorphia. No matter what we do or how we look, it’s never…good enough, which usually means we’re never good…enough. We constantly compare ourselves to other females in particular, positively convinced that they somehow have it all together, they have their lives, their souls, their traitorous, treacherous bodies under control in a way we can never quite manage ourselves. And it’s only getting worse.

So for the International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Danish Center for Information about Gender, Equality and Ethnicity decided to grab that thorny bush by the roots and instigate something…different. Something that would celebrate womanhood in general and women in particular, something that would quell that ravening industry-fed monster that feeds our perpetual insecurities.

To that end, they created an alternate kind of photo booth. Built and engineered by two female students of engineering design, constructed to look friendly rather than intimidating.

Here’s the deal: You enter a booth with a fully closed door, remove your undergarments and sit down on a specially constructed chair. Immediately below it is a light and a camera that for free and completely anonymously will take a photo of your private parts and upload them to a web page – so you can see for yourself that you’re nowhere such a freak as you think. I’d like to point out that this is completely anonymous, the photos are very tightly shot and really, ladies – who will know it’s you, even?

By taking our private parts completely out of any kind of sexualized contex and presenting them as such, we’re encouraged to talk about ourselves, discuss ourselves and maybe embrace ourselves and appreciate our own diversity.

Celebrate the different! That web page proves without a doubt that women and their parts come in as many shapes, sizes and versions as their owners, and demonstrates how far removed we are from our very selves in that perpetual quest for homogeny – a homogeny defined by a porn industry that’s fully aware of its own entirely artificial ideal – and that’s the point of it to begin with.

You realize of course, that the more you concentrate on looking, acting, embodying that very ideal is the time you’re distracted from how much inequality, how much misogyny still exists, don’t you? And perhaps being motivated to change what you can?

Once upon a time in the Western world, only burlesque dancers would ever dream of waxing. I once came across a French postcard from the Twenties or Thirties, judging by the hemlines and the cloche hats. Seven women – at every age and in several sizes – had lifted their skirts and undergarments to show – and show off – their luxuriant, exuberant bushes. Every single one of those women laughing – not in an artificial, posed manner, either. They were happy to celebrate their differences, happy to show off, happy to be there in that moment with each other, sharing one common secret – that they were all women, but not at all alike.

Once upon a time not quite so long ago, I sat backstage after a show with a dedicated libertine and lead guitar player in a semi-notorious American band. As we worked our way through a bottle of Jack Daniels, we discussed female anatomy, among many other topics. “You know,” drawled the libertine and passed the bottle, “I kinda wish so many women didn’t shave or wax so much. It takes away the mystery, that thrill of discovery – that you can never be sure of what you’ll find until you get there.”

I took my own swig off the JD’s and handed it back. “What about that involuntary dental floss thing?”

That made him laugh. “Battle wound, baby! Women get that, too, ya know. But the thing is…you don’t dare complain about it!”

I liked that guy, I really did.

Just as I like this initiative to celebrate our differences in any way we can.

The truth is, if we were absolutely convinced we were loved and adored for our true selves, we’d go out in to the world barefaced and unadorned. Instead, we rail and rant against headscarves and burqas and female circumcision, and are all too likely to forget that even in the liberated, secular West, we have it in different forms – that porn-star ideal of perfection, that eternal quest for perpetual youth, that constant pain of never being good enough, symmetrical enough, smart enough, pretty – enough.

But life isn’t perfect, the world isn’t perfect and neither are we. And neither is anyone else!

So you can conform at your peril and a not insignificant expense, or you can focus on important things instead – and change the world, or just the world you live in.

What have you got to lose?

Image: Georgia O’ Keeffe, Jack-in-the-Pulpit IV, 1930

Add to Technorati Favorites

blogarama - the blog directory

MoltenMetalMama – another of my many titles – is a self-professed slut. If you’ve read anything on this blog, you’ll know. If you’ve read my blog serial “Quantum Demonology”, you will know that the protagonist and I are, in fact, not so very different.

Now, there are sluts, slags, skanks and even slut wannabes. My personal definition of slutdom is as follows:

A slut is a woman of any sexual orientation who takes control of her own sexuality, is not afraid to use it, is not afraid to venture into uncharted territory for kicks or revelations, cares nothing for convention or morals defined by anyone other than herself, and above all else, shows a certain discrimination. In other words, she’s smart enough – yes, a slut has brains, surprised? – to settle for what she wants, and she doesn’t want just anyone with a certain appendage, no matter the persuasion. Sluts are selective.

Skanks and slags, on the other hand, will do anyone, will put out for anything. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what they want.

Sluts, however, are rarely that desperate. Even at my age, which takes both self discipline and dedication. Especially at my age.

World-class sluts, the ones who have thought about it, and many of us do, know that the war of the sexes – or should that be the War of Sex? – comes down to six words.

We’ve got it. They want it.

Or so I thought until yesterday, that is.

Welcome to the world of dick. The d in that last word should, by rights, be capitalized, but I refuse. I refuse to give that level of credence? Credibility? Credit? To that kind of…how shall I put it…

Satire would be the correct word, I guess. If by satire you mean the kind of vitriol that sticks in your craw and refuses to budge no matter how hard you swallow (and I do!), the sort of verbal poison that rubs you down like a Brillo pad on tender membranes, then yes – I’ll be generous, wtf. Satire.

Satire of a sublimely, nay, supremely asinine kind.

Yesterday, by accident, I came across the website of the notorious, nay, infamous! – Dick Masterson.

I should have known there would be trouble with that for a pseudonym. I should have known, when the URL is…
menarebetterthanwomen.com

O…K. One of THOSE…

Now, readers, I am no stranger to misogyny, and I have the albums to prove it. But metal misogyny, as I’ve noted before, is of a particular, not-quite-convincing sort, the kind not even the performers themselves can deliver without planting their tongues somewhere in someone’s cheek. (If not always their own.)

So, back to the…erm…satire. I somehow make my way – planting indelible cast-iron doorstops on the doors of my mind to keep them from slamming shut from the backdraft – through part 3 of “Why Women Hate Sex”, and I’m sorry to say it but I’m still none the wiser, and remember, I’m a slut and frankly, surprised. I am, after all, a) a woman, and b) a slut who loves sex. Supposedly, we hate sex because it means we have to lose control. We hate it because we’re allergic to the effluvium that comes with it.

Well, blow my mind! And here I am, using condoms all these years, so how the fuck would I know?

Um, yeah. About that…loss of control Thang. That’s like, totally the point, right? Or is that another obvious oversight on my pathetic part, since obviously, I come with a built-in manufacturing defect – being a woman and all. Did I mention the part about men loving fast cars and “loose women”? Errr – contradiction? Ya think? Since he spent all those words explaining Why Women Hate Sex? If “loose women” are women, after all, shouldn’t they hate sex, too? Or are they only after the tip you stuff into their pasties after a lap dance? In other words – you’re paying for attention? But that’s OK. You’re a MAN.

Uh-huh. I rest my case.

Satire. OK. So out there, you – nor I, apparently, not that I have any IQ worth mentioning except in a negative sense – simply cannot and should not take it without at least a ton of salt – kosher or non, sea- or rock, your choice.

So why don’t I think it’s funny? Have I misplaced my sense of humor? Dislocated my sense of irony? Have I proven without a doubt now that I really AM an inferior species of being without a brain?

Actually, I think what gets my goat is the fact that this – exemplar of the “hypermasculine” variety, although not my kind – is making a bomb and a name for himself by capitalizing on the inherent misogyny of this so-called best of all worlds, by giving himself free reign to state the kind of locker-room drivel most of the men I hang out with will only say after a bottle of Jack D’s and only to get my goat, but then again, I have a thing about guys with brains, who apparently have a thing for short, busty sluts with large vocabularies and short fuses.

My rant would have ended there, but this morning, yet another internet mind bomb went off in my sorry excuse of cerebrum. A famous Danish feminist wrote in a national Danish newspaper this morning how she’s considering cancelling her membership to a nationwide gym chain, because they’re now offering “strip fitness” classes. She objects to the pornification of women.

In other words, ladies and gents, a backlash of a particularly nefarious and insidious kind. Not enough, that we have to look like porn stars to be considered desirable – there went any illusions I have ever owned as to my now disreputable “desirability”. Then again, I’m well past the age of 35, so according to Dick Masterson, I’ve apparently lost my “whore pass” a whopping twelve years ago. Not enough, that all body hair beneath our upper hairlines has to be removed in a painful or repetitive fashion. Not enough, that our racks are not big enough (call in the saline implants, pronto!) or else too big, too low, too saggy, too old. Not enough, that practically every teenaged girl I know hates her body with a purple fashion, because it’s not pornified enough.

The power has been returned to its “rightful” owners – men. Men who get to define desire, men who get to demand pornification, men who get what in art history is called The Gaze returned to them, and let the ladies run around like headless chickens to conform to that near impossible ideal. Let the ladies attend strip fitness classes, so they know what to do with a pole longer than ten inches. Let those ladies grovel in the face of awesome masculine superiority. Shove those pretty, Botoxed faces right where they belong, and any guy worth the name knows where that is, just so long as they get to grab her by the hair and show her who’s boss.

Or else just – reject it altogether. Maybe I should, seeing as I’m too old. I don’t look like a porn star, but I still have my moments.

Even if I do think that any pole longer than ten inches is an awful waste!

————————————————————-
Image: pibillwarner.wordpress.com

Add to Technorati Favorites

blogarama - the blog directory