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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » being (hetero)sexual and feminist in a deeply sexist world

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Author Topic: being (hetero)sexual and feminist in a deeply sexist world
EliotDorian
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How do you do it? No, I ask in all seriousness. Because the level of misogyny I've encountered from men can be really overwhelming sometimes. Meanwhile, well, I still want to have sex with them! And physically, I have a tendency to be attracted to more "macho" type men, the ones who are the most likely to buy into patriarchal ideas. Just...how do other women do it? And how do I keep my sanity? Also, I'm not sure if this is the right place for this topic. Perhaps gender identity?

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"What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if no one asks to see 'em?"

Posts: 87 | From: Virginia | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ecofem
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I have very carefully and intentionally sought out a career (education) and a community where it's positive (friendships, etc.) and not sexist. It's not to say that there aren't hints of sexism and what not but I have power (in a good way) where I can call it out and hold people to task. I have a boyfriend who is pretty rad but also can say that there have been times or places in my life where I wasn't so happy with the dating options and chose not to take a break from that. It's always been important for me not to "settle" in terms of dating people with oppositional personal/political beliefs.

I am very aware of the horrible sexism that exists in this world: unfortunately, there are a LOT of horrible -isms that persist. I actively seek to make things better in my own everyday way but I also try to focus on the positives and see opportunities for positive change rather than focusing too much on the negative aspects. It's sort of how stories of rape and sexual assault can really, really get me down but, on that same token, it's even more reason for me to celebrate positive shared/individual sexuality!

I'm originally from the same area you are and have had very different experiences so maybe expanding your circle and contacts would help? Not to criticize you for hanging out with the people you do but rather to suggest that there are alternatives. [Smile]

I think there are plenty of so-called "macho" guys out there who are NOT sexist jerks, it's just finding them (I know, easier said than done.) I think of celebrities like Henry Rollins (who is pretty unique, nonetheless) or activists like Jackson Katz's work. I also think of the My Strength Is Not For Hurting campaign (which is in VA, too.) http://www.mystrength.org/ I also think of Julia Serrano's piece "Nice Guys Finish Last" in the "Yes means Yes" book. Have you read it? I think you'd find it interesting and have a lot of good commentary.

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EliotDorian
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I have read it, and "An Immodest Proposal" actually made me think of my first lover and I immediately linked him to that essay. Whether he understood why I appreciated it I'll never know, but I thought of him fondly even though he wasn't exactly a feminist ally, because I remember how visceral my desire to have sex with him was.
I also have this ongoing fantasy where I get involved with a "macho" man and have a feminist influence on him and it's partially through passionate sex and tender pillow talk.

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"What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if no one asks to see 'em?"

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Ecofem
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Yes, "An Immodest Proposal" was my favorite piece in Yes Means Yes! [Smile] I also just thought of this blog entry: On Principles and Desires, which I'm sure you've seen but I think really applies here nicely.

[ 12-18-2009, 01:50 AM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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rambly_rosa
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I'll add my voice to the chorus of people who LOVED "An Immodest Proposal". It left me so inspired to think of sex in new ways.. there is a lot left to discover in that part of my life [Smile]

About the question of being feminist and dating men - I think it's important to realize that a lot of men are blind to their own sexism and male privilege. I believe that most men (even the macho ones) don't truly hate women, and don't really want to be sexist. They just don't have the feminist background that a lot of women have, and so they might be a little slow to pick up on the subtle sexism present in everyday life. I'm female, and it took ME a while to understand the concept of patriarchy and the depth of sexism, so I can imagine how hard it is for a male who is pressured by society to act in sexist ways.

Case in point: my boyfriend is in the army - an institution that can be pretty horrifically sexist - and he has said some upsetting things that made me seriously contemplate whether this relationship could work long-term. But every time I've brought up my concerns with him, and kindly explained why his thought patterns/words are sexist, he has been willing to listen, and usually ends up pretty upset with himself and wishing to change. Misogynist language has been almost completely eliminated from his vocabulary, which is no small feat for a young male in our day and age.

There's hope [Smile] I think feminist women just have to be willing to educate their partners, and understand that sexism can be near-invisible to the segment of the population that doesn't bear the majority of its weight. It takes time for awareness of sexism to solidify completely, and I don't think most men truly want to resist this awareness.

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PenguinBoy
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Hey Rosa... I think to not be sexist is something that we SHOULD expect of men... Plenty "PotentialPartners"(TM) come ready-packed and sexism-free, for interactive mutual enjoyment. I don't doubt that people can learn sooo much, like you and your boyfriend have, from each other in relationships, but also that many others do enter into some really shifty relationship dynamics in the hope that they can change the way their partner thinks and that the relationship will eventually get better... it's amazing when a dramatic change does happen, but as far as I've seen it's actually rare, and usually down to an external unpredicted extreme experience. It shouldn't be up to everyone to educate their partners.

To Eliot, I think that it'd be better to break macho down a bit... macho can mean lots of things, many of which needn't be isolated to masculine territory.

What are the other things you consider macho to mean?

For many I gather that macho also kinda includes other less negative qualities like being confident, jokey and reliable... I know lots of people are able to be those things without being sexist and there isn't actually a gender correlation when I think of it!

I also feel like I shouldn't tell you what to be turned on or not turned on by, from a distance it's fun and safe to have fantasies with anyone, but it's when it comes to in person sexual decision that it really pays to take care.

I'd also say that it's a good idea to keep an open mind there is so much to find attractive about everyone... like NOT being sexist... I mean people can be a turn on when talking about equality! But I think the risk of getting involved with someone who you already believe thinks less of you because of your gender just sounds extremely dangerous to me, and a near impossibility for communicating needs and having those needs valued.

I think it'd be so much more helpful to think of your sexual preference as a combination of all the things that are important to you... rather than seeing it as a battle between your political sensibilities and what turns you on, it'd be better to see the preference as being a result of what comes of considering all the things that are important to you... how's this:

"This dating potential sex partner is hot because of their macho gender performance, but i really don't want to date them because they're made consistent sexist comments which makes me dislike them"

"This other potential sex partner says so much stuff that I agree with and would be a really good understanding partner, but they just don't turn me on so I'm not going to date them"

"This final potential sex partner is both a hotty who does gender in the way I like best and so turns me on, but also is a positive person who believes in good stuff which I find inspiring, so I am so going to date them"


Hope I could help

[ 12-22-2009, 07:32 PM: Message edited by: PenguinBoy ]

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seeksthestars
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Do you know what's even harder? Being a very politically involved heterosexual feminist conservative Republican! People don't get it and it's sad.
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rambly_rosa
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Hi Jacob,

I did not at all mean to suggest that sexism is an inevitability, or that we should expect to be able to change our partners.

It's just that there are a lot of subtle ways in which sexist thinking prevails in our culture. For example - relationship stereotypes about women being nurturing and emotional, and men being physical and promiscuous. Or the long-held belief that the female orgasm is somehow more complicated than the male orgasm. Or the rape culture we live in, that leads to problematic definitions of consent.

Most people I know (who are not interested in feminism) hold subtle, problematic (and yes, sexist) views such as these. It's not at all uncommon, sadly. You may not find a lot of overt women-bashing macho men with a "back-to-the-kitchen" mindset, but you'll find a lot of average joes (male and female) who unconsciously buy into hurtful gender stereotypes. And I don't think most of those average joes are malicious; they're simply ill-informed.

I am not at all suggesting that one should stay in an unhealthy relationship hoping for a sexist partner to change - quite the contrary, actually! I am suggesting that one should always take the opportunity to educate those around you - especially those that you really love and care for [Smile] Because, most of the people we love and care for are not misogynists, they just grew up in a misogynistic culture, and they can benefit from having sexism pointed out to them.

Thanks for pointing out the lack of clarity in what I said - to repeat, I DO NOT advocate unhealthy sexist relationships! We should be with partners who respect our bodies and our opinions... that is NOT negotiable.

Posts: 9 | From: Bay Area, CA | Registered: Dec 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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