Blamers, blamers, blamers! Though my blogularity has been in remission lo these past weeks, I have missed you. The blog will return, I swear. Until then, allow me to resurrect one of my favorite recurring features. I allude to the “Hugs, Twisty” feature. You remember “Hugs, Twisty,” right? It’s where I publish a blamer email instead of writing my own essay. I scrawl a few platitudes at the end and sign it “Hugs, Twisty.” The idea being that the wise and mightly blametariat take up the cause in the comments.
Today’s “Hugs, Twisty” comes from blamer B. It appears that B is newly awakened to the horrors inherent in feminist awareness — especially those relating to the dreaded Male Gaze — and is struggling to keep it together.
I’m just so confused and depressed about things and I really want to get your thoughts. I am having so much trouble with all the images and portrayals of women everywhere I look and with all of the male views on fantasy (even without porn) and I don’t know if I’m taking it all too far, or if other women really do feel as affected by these things as I am. When I mention how I feel to other people they tell me that I need to lighten up and that I just have a low self-esteem (which I know I do, so I start to believe them even more), or they use the lines on me about it all being normal for guys to do this or that, and I’m just losing confidence in what I think (or at least thought I believed) and I feel completely alone. To try and find support, I started looking at blogs, but I was feeling even worse because I see so many where the minute a woman makes the slightest indication that something makes her feel bad about herself or insecure, everyone (including women) beat her up with the same things others have told me. I’m new to your site and with what I’ve been reading the last few weeks, I’m finding some reassurance, and wanted to see what your views were on:
1) ads and commercials like Victoria’s Secret, GoDaddy, and Hardees? – Am I overreacting that these bother me?
2) magazine covers like Maxim, Cosmo, Sports Illustrated, Wired (did you see Wired’s December issue cover?)
2) movies like American Pie?
3) does it bother you at all that almost every movie has at least one female topless scene?…even movies like 21 Grams or Open Water…it just seems like it is beginning to be a given thing in every movie. Technically, these movies don’t have to have it in there…I can’t help feeling that it’s just a given to cater to men
4) masturbation? – I hope it doesn’t sound silly … that’s how insecure I am … but when men are blogging out there, or men you know or are in a relationship with, are saying that they are fantasizing or masturbating daily about attractive women they work with or that they see in public or in movies or commercials, and they say that it’s no big deal, but then in the same breath, they tell you that you are the most beautiful woman to them and that they love you more than anything, I just can’t get my brain to think that’s true. Am I overreacting to feel that way? I just see it that men are “consuming” women around them and fantasizing to these “ideal” and “unrealistic” pictures of women that are EVERYWHERE, and I just can’t see how they aren’t possibly considering how “real” women are not measuring up. But again, I just keep being told that I have a low self-esteem, and I have to admit, that because of all of this, I really do. And I’m not finding other women who feel hurt by this.
I have found women who are against porn, which I was happy to find validation on my views of that. But these other topics, especially the fantasizing have me so distraught. It’s difficult for me because it is a private issue, but when you know that all men are doing this all the time and you know that they are looking at women so as to “consume” their looks, I just don’t know how to cope with those feelings, so I am worried that I’ve taken it too far.
I really wish I could find a group of women in my area who feel similarly on some of this stuff as I do and would want to meet maybe once a month to just talk about how they handle all this in their workplace, in relationships and just in their minds. I almost feel like I can’t watch a movie or read a magazine without it all affecting me, and I’m wondering if most women are just “coping” by ignoring it since it’s too ingrained in our society, or if they all feel the same way I do and are finding relationships where others support them.
Thanks for your thoughts on this
Dang. I feel ya. Oppression fucking sucks.
You’re not overreacting. You’re trusting your perceptions. This is essential for anyone who wants to function as a sentient being with personal sovereignty. You have observed that our social order is profoundly misogynistical, and you have chosen truth over complaisance. Well done. Unfortunately, this path, though liberating in a bunch of important ways, can often be pretty difficult and painful in practice.
As a matter of survival, most people — men and women — have a huge personal investment in preserving the social order. This is why they tell you to lighten up when you question the legitimacy of the culture of domination. They don’t want to face the painful truth. Even self-identified feminists do this. Don’t be too hard on’em. The indoctrination is strong within us all.
Pornography is not, as you suggest, a “private issue.” It is the graphic representation of violence against women, packaged as public entertainment. The masturbators you describe are porn addicts. Porn addiction is richly rewarded in our culture, so naturally there are about 12,786 of these knobs on every bar stool, street corner, and yacht.
Quick fix: if some dude makes you uncomfortable, do whatever you can to just stay the hell away from him. If you’re up for a little activism-lite, tell your friends who use pornography why it’s not OK. Boyfriends who use pornography should be dumped without delay. Without delay!
Obviously you can’t stay away from all men all the time, and you can’t change the rotten way men think about women, so the best long-term defense is to develop a real awareness and deep sense of your own humanity, so the withering gaze of dudely pornsickness can’t turn you into a commodity in your own mind.
One way to gain a sense of your own — and all women’s — humanity is to bone up on feminist theory. It’s a disorganized mess, but there’s a reading list link on this here blog of which you might avail yourself, to start with. You might also click on the blamers’ blogs. Many of them share basic feminist views on pornography and other stuff, and reading their blogs might help you feel less isolated.
I wish I could offer a formula that would eliminate the patriarchy for you, but there isn’t one. Well, that’s not exactly true. There is one little scheme, which, if implemented even half-assedly, would pretty much take care of the problem. Of course I allude to feminist revolt. Alas, it’s an idea that never seems to get much traction. As previously noted, antifeminist indoctrination is strong, even among feminists.
We all just have to scrumble by as best we can. The main thing is to keep a sense of humor.
P.S. You’re not alone. This blog, for instance, has like 3 or 4 thousand readers. Or at least it did back when I could be bothered to post.