The Individualist Response to the Male Gaze

I had really hoped to close this issue the last time I discussed the male gaze and how it relates to feminism, but that post was too brief and simplistic to really close the case.

This discussion came up once again, not surprisingly, on the pseudo-feminist Women’s Rights News page on Facebook, in the form of this inane meme.


Also unsurprisingly, the meme was immediately rejected with hundreds of comments, as trivial, uninformed and out-dated in its dogmatic rhetoric. Of course the word “unfeminist” also does not exist, and for a good reason, as was pointed out in the comments. I was relieved to see that a good majority of feminists today do not espouse this limited view. And yet some – a very small minority, still do. It irked me to see these comments.







I’ve come across this view before – on threads, in private conversations and in articles. I’m going to attempt to summarize it: It is a given that feminism is about free choice and I support this choice. However, it behooves women to explore the reasons for their choices. The ones who do so will inevitably realize that their choice to wear [blank – insert heels, make-up, corsets, bras, dyed hair, lingerie – depends on how far you’re willing to take this] stems from the conditioning they have received in our male dominated society. Therefore the “feminist” thing to do is to reject this conditioning.

While it is obviously fair to say that none of the feminists supporting this view would ever subscribe to legally banning high heel shoes, etc, it is also fair to say that many of them vehemently reject women who wear these things as feminists. Remember the hateful comment tirade generated by the Facebook meme quoting Dita Von Teese saying, “You can’t dictate to a woman what should make her feel sexy”? They may pay lip service to choice, saying they support it, but in the same breath claim to be more informed in their personal choice to reject these things and even accuse others of perpetuating sexism/patriarchal norms.
So let’s get to the bottom of this. If we all truly believe in personal choice, where is this anger coming from? Why the need to judge another as “less informed” or not a “real feminist” or narcissist who just “does what she wants”? If feminism is really about choice, what is wrong with doing what one wants and in what way is it hurting feminism? The argument I have heard is that feminism is not just about individual choice but also about a collective equality. It is then assumed that individual choice is at odds with this idea of collective equality. This is in some ways a valid argument, in that the collective has always been at odds with the individual. When we join movements we do in fact compromise our individualism to a degree in order to achieve common goals. We could not have a successful strike or boycott if not enough people are on board. So let’s extend this paradigm to the above context. We have a norm that dictates that women must look a certain way in order to be considered sexy by mainstream society – otherwise known as the “male gaze.” It is also assumed that all women must strive to be “sexy.” This norm is oppressive and it really does behoove us to look into it and process our own personal relationship with it. At the end of this process we should be able to make personal and informed choices of how to present ourselves and our sexuality. But what if we do all this and still choose to wear those heinous “stripper shoes” (that Gail Dines so proudly put on the cover of her book Pornland,) are we undermining the solidarity with our sisters in our goal to collectively resist the oppression of the norm? The answer is yes. What we essentially have here is a boycott of the male gaze. The boycott doesn’t work so well with only a handful of people participating. One woman cannot dismantle social norms all on her own. Being that I answered yes to the above question, you might wonder where my disagreement lies. You see, my objection is to the question itself. It’s to the fact that collective rejection of social norms is seen as a goal of feminism. I see the goal of feminism as two-fold: 1. A collective struggle for equality 2. An individual struggle for personal empowerment. The two often get confused and intertwined in a way that is messy and counter-productive. When it comes to the first point – we’re talking about legal equity and social equality. This constitutes laws, political involvement, fixing the pay gap – things that are very tangible and not just a matter of mindset. The second point deals with cultural biases and social norms, body image issues brought on by advertising, the effects of slut shaming and other social pressures and judgments – pressures that influence our decisions but do not DICTATE them the way church and state do. In the model presented by radical feminists who seek a collective rejection of these forms of oppression, there is no room for an individual path leading to individual rejection or acceptance of each specific norm or manifestation of patriarchy. In order to have a successful boycott of the male defined beauty standard it is understood that we must all agree on what that standard is and what part of it we are willing to reject. This is simply not viable, being that there are as many opinions on this as there are women. But even if we could magically all agree on some sort of manifesto, rejecting the beauty norm – I reject such a manifesto as a goal of feminism, as it is contradictory to the primary goal of feminism, which is creating an environment that allows, encourages and respects free choice for women, regardless of what the choice is. It should be our goal to reject the rigidity of social norms, not create new ones to replace them! Feminism is supposed to liberate and empower women, not create lifestyle police in our heads, questioning “the fuck out of us” to quote Emily.

Granted, no modern feminist has expressly called for such a manifesto. The fallacies in it seem to be clear to everyone. As a result you have the in-betweeners – “intermediate” feminists, as Emily put it. These are folks who believe in free choice but claim that this choice can only be considered feminist if it is “informed” – i. e. conscious of patriarchal conditioning. While I agree that one cannot be considered a feminist without being informed about feminism, judging another’s level of information is problematic. This means that we can only judge our own level information. As a feminist, I can ask myself – what are the motivations behind my choices? But only I can answer that – no one can speak for me. The solipsism of this paradigm makes the question, “Is it anti-feminist to wear [blank]?” entirely meaningless. The real question is, “Is it anti-feminist for YOU?” and the answer depends entirely on YOUR motivations and level of self-awareness. And it is entirely anti-feminist for others to make this assessment for you. I’d like to point out that the [blank] above doesn’t have to be a glamour item. As much as it hurts me to say this (and that’s how you know I’m not letting my bias guide me here) – it can be a burqa! If a woman converts to Islam all on her own and chooses to wear a burqa while also claiming to be a feminist – who am I to dispute this! Of course I’m using a hypothetical case here. Most Muslim women were born into it, and there’s no telling how much of what they do is driven by familial pressure. I’m simply using this clear-cut example to show that there are possible situations under which the burqa is not forced. Hypothetical as it may be, it’s enough to make me withhold my judgement when seeing a woman in a burqa walking down the street in New York. So you might say that I am a moderate feminist, for lack of a better term, but a radical individualist, and therefore radical in my commitment to personal autonomy and individual agency. If we are really to claim bodily autonomy as a focus of feminism, it would be a shame to allow the feminist response to the “male gaze” be defined collectively or through academia. Empowerment does not come from following a manifesto written by someone else. It can only come from a very real sense of one’s own agency and self-worth. When you attain that sense, it is easy to see clearly what you want for yourself and what is just societal pressure. And when these things become clear – there is no longer a need for any kind of collective manifesto or boycott. Suddenly, there is nothing to boycott – you just make a choice for yourself and know it works for you. You see, when it comes to that first point of feminism – we do need collective efforts. We couldn’t resist anti-choice laws, for instance, without being organized. And so we organized – and it was awesome! But the second, the one dealing with social norms, works on the individual level. I think it is safe to say that women in the US have enough freedom/power to challenge social norms and not be heavily penalized for it. There is not one dress code that all women must adhere to. And speaking of heels – you really don’t HAVE to wear heels. Plenty of women don’t and don’t have a hard time getting dates, which means that men accept it. In this light it seems entirely inappropriate to call these choices into question. Women DO have agency and are using it to make choices – some choices not all will approve of. Calling those choices into question and denying agency even in oneself only perpetuates the state of ineffectiveness – a self-fulfilling prophecy.

All this individualist talk is great, you might say, but how can you affect REAL change without an organized, collective ideology? My answer is: one individual at a time. It sounds slow, but it’s actually not – given our social media age. So instead of organizing around academic essays and manifestos, we organize around tweets and blogs. Anyone can have a blog and everyone has Twitter. This makes it really easy for grassroots efforts to go viral and develop organically and naturally and in a more egalitarian manner. So, Gail Dines, dear, this really isn’t about reading 30-year-old academic essays on feminism. This is about sharing ideas on current issues with our peers online.

But back to our subject – the female beauty norm. Suppose a woman were to go bald as a feminist statement. How much adversity would this cause her? Would some people stare? Probably. Depends on where you are. Would some people assume she is a lesbian? Possibly. But how difficult, if at all, would this adversity be for the woman? The answer to that depends entirely on her motivations. Did she do it solely as a statement of solidarity and defiance or does she genuinely believe she is beautiful that way? Of course only she can answer that. If the answer is the latter, she can resist all judgement and societal pressure. And that’s because you are not doing it as a sacrifice for the collective boycott. You’re doing it as a personal statement and self-expression! Of course it also helps to have a network of support – to connect with women who are also bald, but there is no need to make this a standard for all feminists because long hair capitulates to the male defined beauty standard. I happen to know an amazing inspiration of a woman who did just that. Her name is Sharon Blynn. Sharon had ovarian cancer in her late twenties and lost her long hair through chemo. She decided to never grow it back – not even a buzz cut. She now is a bald model and a cancer activist, and above all a living example of how Bald is Beautiful – encouraging women with cancer to embrace their baldness proudly. Never have I heard Sharon attempt to set in stone the bald look as a look for all feminists to adhere to or judge someone for wearing a wig through chemo. Now that, ladies and gentleman, is “what a feminist looks like” – a feminist who doesn’t preach feminism, but lives it, and inspires others to live it.

16 Responses

  1. Rich B. says:

    Well, I don’t think you are truly a feminist. I know, you use the word “Patriarchy” and even used the term “Male Gaze” but you seemed to defend the truth that there is a choice to either wear the stripper heels or not. You want to appeal MORE to the demographic that you are targeting then it is ideal to dress for success, but in the case of men we will go for most women anyway.

    The thing is, you actually care about the masculine as well as the feminine, this is a trait I have never honestly seen among feminists. I see the sister in the back seat accusing her brother of everything and playing on her charms when it comes to feminism. I don’t see people like you who genuinely fight for choice.

    This was a wonderful piece of work and think about it this way, you don’t HAVE to dress in a way that stimulates a man, but why not do things that make others happier? You don’t HAVE to but why wouldn’t you WANT to?

    What’s the terror in putting a smile on a man’s face? By that regard, why can’t more men open doors or buy flowers? Today I opened a door for a black man at a gas station on the way home, it wasn’t much but I know it made him realize that some of us have love for everyone and I saw he was carrying two bags of ice so it made things easier.

    If it makes a woman feel special that a man brings her flowers, it isn’t an insult to her, it is just trying to remind her that we think about her, her smile is reward enough.

    Call me a crazy person, but wouldn’t the world be better if we just followed the golden rule? No religion needed, just the karmic philosophy so to speak, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction so pay it forward.

    As for Sharon, if she stands with cancer patients then that is wonderful. Baldness itself isn’t the beautiful thing to me, the strength these people have is beautiful. Also beauty and often sex appeal can be found in almost anyone if you look hard enough. If Sharon gives cancer patients confidence, then she is an angel in my book.

    • feminazislut says:

      I am most certainly a feminist, being that feminism is about gender equality and interested in the well-being of both genders. Perhaps you missed the part in the post that said there was an overwhelming number of comments rejecting the idea of a feminist being against heels? The comments presented here were from only two women. I picked them out in order to comment on them. Most modern day feminists are in agreement with me on this subject. However your response also tells me that you might be unaware of how uncomfortable high-heel shoes can be. Many women do in fact suffer wearing uncomfortable shoes just due to peer pressure. I’ve seen girls in a club in six-inch heels, pressed up against the wall, unable to dance. But I don’t think someone’s level of comfort is up to anyone else to judge.

  2. Lila says:

    “If feminism is really about choice, what is wrong with doing what one wants and in what way is it hurting feminism?”

    Well, first off if feminism was truly about having the choice, there wouldn’t be a huge need for feminism. We already had the choice to wear heels or corsets or anything you can think of. My problem is that in a movement that is trying to strengthen women, heels in a literal sense weaken them. It weakens your legs, it makes it more difficult to walk and balance, you can’t run in them, and people call them “femininity.” Yet men used to wear them. Considering we don’t come out of the womb with heels on, it’s safe to say they are not an innate signifier of femaleness. Why is it, truly, that even given the choice, all men I’ve talked to have laughed at the idea that they would ever wear heels, even IF the stigma was removed?

    They couldn’t see the point of them. I’ve seen women trip and fall on their heels, just walking around the mall. At prom I remember girls taking off their heels but I remember no boys taking off their (sensible flat) footwear. Why did they take them off if they were such an “empowering choice”? Discomfort! Why are so many subjecting themselves to discomfort and increased debilitation.

    This does not mean I believe a woman who wears heels is weak, but the “choice” argument bothers me. It seems wrong to simplify feminism to “choice” when a choice is not necessarily always good. I agree with Emily, and I find the objectification comment to be disturbing. Objectification is to degrade to the status of an object. Do people want to be objects with no sense of feeling?

    • feminazislut says:

      “Well, first off if feminism was truly about having the choice, there wouldn’t be a huge need for feminism. ”

      Your logic is a bit circular here. The reason there ever was and is a need for feminism is that women are entitled to choice, however choice is not always available. The goal of feminism is to make choice available, not get rid of choices deemed bad, replacing old dogma with new dogma. So that making the choice still remains an individual struggle. No one can do it for you.
      If you ask me personally – I find that the shoes I’m comfortable wearing depend on what activities I’m involved in that day. Obviously I won’t wear heels while running or hiking, or wear 5 inch heels dancing. However I do wear 4 inch heels dancing and I’m comfortable with that. Sometimes I wear flats. I’m not limited in my shoe choice based on ideology – only self-image and comfort – it’s a balance. I do like the way I look and feel in heels. That in no way undermines my comfort or my feminism. I would never let heels get in the way of life.

      “This does not mean I believe a woman who wears heels is weak, but the “choice” argument bothers me. It seems wrong to simplify feminism to “choice” when a choice is not necessarily always good. I agree with Emily, and I find the objectification comment to be disturbing. Objectification is to degrade to the status of an object. Do people want to be objects with no sense of feeling?”

      Well, you see “objectification” can be defined in different ways. If we define it as a sort of sexual dehumanization, where the “object” is a person who is forcibly sexualized and pigeonholed – that is of course unethical on the part of the objectify-er. An example being when a boss demands a sexual favor. But objectification can also be defined as a recognition of the body as sexually desirable. This happens every time and both ways during sex. Women objectify men too. There is nothing wrong with this when it is consensual. In fact claiming your body and making fully conscious decisions about your sexuality is quite empowering. You’re not actually objectifying yourself – more accurately, you’re objectifying your body. It is yours after all! In the above context, when you know you are choosing to wear make-up or heels because you WANT to, and not because you’re pressured into it – it makes all the difference. As for comfort level – no one can answer that better than you. I just don’t see the use in policing what other women wear.

  3. Lila says:

    Another question to ask: why do women feel “sexy” in heels to the exclusion of other clothing. I don’t see men saying they’d feel sexier in high heels.

    • feminazislut says:

      Ok, wow. Where to start…
      I will be the first to admit that none of us develop in a vacuum. Everything we are – our tastes, opinions, even what I’m writing right now, are to SOME degree a result of our conditioning. We must approach this conditioning critically and shed parts that are harmful and unnecessary. But in the end we can’t escape it completely. In fact if we try REALLY hard to escape it – all we end up doing is spending our energy reacting to it. Shouldn’t our actions come from within and not be reactionary?
      I will not for one second pretend that female hetero sexuality and male hetero sexuality work the same way. For one, men are more visual. Women as a group tend to be more turned on by words – hence the popularity of written pornography among women. I believe those things are biological differences. The goal of feminism is not to erase them or pretend they don’t exist. It’s to recognize that there is fluidity there. Gender is not binary. Sexuality is not binary. That doesn’t mean we’re all the same or that generalizations cannot be made.
      With that in mind – you ask why [straight] men don’t feel sexy in heels. Well for one, it is impossible for men to imagine not having the stigma. (That’s part of the whole conditioning thing.) Secondly, men’s bodies are not fetishized by women the way that women’s bodies are fetishized by men. Women don’t tend to enjoy watching a man fetishize his own body the way that men do. This is why male strip clubs are not as popular among straight women as female strip clubs among men. I recognize this fact. No disagreement there. I just don’t think it is the goal of feminism to change the anatomy of sexuality. Politics tends to mix very badly with sex. You end up with a voice in your head while you’re fucking, “Are you sure this is a feminist thing to do?” Dare I say – that’s what happened to Emily and her case of closet heels.

      • feminazislut says:

        (I don’t think I posted that comment. What I’m referring to here is Emily’s admission that she buys heels but keeps them unworn in the closet because she “questions the fuck out of [herself.]” That’s exactly the mind police I’m talking about. All that tells me is that she hasn’t found her comfort zone yet. But that’s no reason to make judgments about others’ choices and their degree of feminism or how informed they are.)

      • Lila says:

        My problem is this: the logic of choice feminism seems to be “blame the oppressor, not the oppressed.” That’s all fine and dandy to just adopt the weapons of the patriarchy as empowerment, but if everyone did that, there would be no social reform or change! I find it a bit pathetic women are willing to walk around (or fall around, ahem, girls at the mall) in stilettos for male attention while men don’t. I’ve never talked to a man who desired to wear heels, most claim that they look uncomfortable and rightfully so. I believe, in this context, men are quite a bit more empowered than women. I’m hesitant to chalk this down to a biological difference. I suppose I respect the sensible male perspective far more. I’m also willing to acknowledge biological differences in arousal, but fetishizing the female body to the extreme has wrecked society. I’m tired of seeing scantily-clad women being used to sell absolutely everything (but oh, it was their choice). I’m so fucking tired of women who don’t wear makeup being taken less seriously at job interviews because apparently they look too “unattractive” or “not serious enough about their work to look presentable”. It makes me sick how I get whistled at or asked inappropriate questions simply walking down the street. This difference justifies nothing.

        “Politics tends to mix very badly with sex”
        This is because politics oftentimes determines sexuality. Trying to take the political out of the person is futile. I know the voice you’re talking about, but fortunately that little voice helped me question pornography and the rampant degradation behind it (which is truly a representation of internalized misogyny, societal shame and Puritianism). Frankly, I see no problem with having that voice- otherwise, we’d have little girls and boys growing up thinking certain pornographic acts have no societal implications and that that’s what all normal adults do. If you read Freud’s studies of a Victorian-tinged America vs. societies that do not hide sex from kids, from giving them extensive talks to outright having sex in front of them in their little one room huts, you see that when normal sexual behavior is not treated as a “dirty little secret” there’s less internalized shame or humiliation, and thus no humiliation desired in sexual acts. He believed this was part of what led to repression and certain more degrading sadomasochist acts, and I tend to agree with the psychoanalytic perspective being a psychology student myself.

        “But objectification can also be defined as a recognition of the body as sexually desirable.”
        I would consider that sexualization, not objectification. It’s bastardizing the word’s original meaning. I would then consider sexualization inherent to sex and certainly not wrong. I would consider literally degrading or objectifying a human being wrong in every possible context due to motivation (a bit of Kantian ethics in me).

        Of course, I certainly don’t shame women who wear heels. I see the struggle of the self to interact with society while retaining individuality; I would argue that this is not ever literally possible. But we can do our best in a highly-consumerist society that tries to police our actions, a pornified culture that has used a medium that could have been used for good and turned it into a primary function of patriarchy and female oppression (some pornographers have admitted to making porn more and more degrading because the male audience wants to watch hateful acts against women), a patriarchy that tries to talk down to me, and a rape culture that would shame me for being sexually active prior to my assault. I know it’s difficult.

        That doesn’t automatically make my choices good. If every choice I made as a feminist was empowered, I would be a saint. I believe some choices are not feminist, and to say all choices are informed and feminist leaves a huge grey area. I see things from a psychological perspective. It’s easier just to give in. It’s harder to find against the tide. I revere the fight.

        Thank you for answering! 🙂

        • feminazislut says:

          “My problem is this: the logic of choice feminism seems to be “blame the oppressor, not the oppressed.” That’s all fine and dandy to just adopt the weapons of the patriarchy as empowerment, but if everyone did that, there would be no social reform or change!”

          It seems you’re missing two things here. 1. No one is saying we should ALL do the same thing. That’s the beauty of choice. 2. I don’t believe “adopt the weapons of the patriarchy as empowerment” is a fair description of the sex-positive ideology. Empowerment comes from inner conviction. What you see on the outside is simply the outward manifestation. A woman is not empowered BECAUSE she wears heels. But a woman who is empowered may or may not wear heels. A woman who is unempowered also may or may not wear heels. By that token, a woman who is empowered is empowered with or without heels. For instance, I only wear make-up on some days. But I don’t feel unempowered when I don’t wear make-up. I take equal pride in my choice on some days to wear make-up, some days not.

          ” I’m so fucking tired of women who don’t wear makeup being taken less seriously at job interviews because apparently they look too “unattractive” or “not serious enough about their work to look presentable”. It makes me sick how I get whistled at or asked inappropriate questions simply walking down the street. This difference justifies nothing.”

          All these things are valid points but do not negate the validity of individual choice.

          “Of course, I certainly don’t shame women who wear heels. I see the struggle of the self to interact with society while retaining individuality; I would argue that this is not ever literally possible. But we can do our best in a highly-consumerist society that tries to police our actions, a pornified culture that has used a medium that could have been used for good and turned it into a primary function of patriarchy and female oppression (some pornographers have admitted to making porn more and more degrading because the male audience wants to watch hateful acts against women), a patriarchy that tries to talk down to me, and a rape culture that would shame me for being sexually active prior to my assault. I know it’s difficult.”

          You mention a bunch of things here. When you say pornified, are you by chance referencing Gail Dines? I would never support the kind of porn you’re talking about. However I don’t believe in banning porn completely. All that would do is drive it underground and take agency from porn actors. As for “highly-consumerist society that tries to police our actions” – again, the answer to that is individual empowerment. You don’t need a collective boycott to drive Victoria’s Secret out of business so that they stop “policing your actions.” You can simply choose to not buy from Victoria’s Secret if you don’t like their marketing. Advertising is not the same as policing. Policing is when you get arrested or ostracized by your family/community.
          Collective efforts IMO are better left for things like campaigning for reproductive rights or equal pay. These are legal issues that actually require a collective impact.

          I really like your quote from Freud and agree that fetishes and power play are usually based on some form of repression. However it doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them. (I’m a mild submissive and like to be tied up.) Sex games are just that – games. The way to tell the difference between abuse and consensual rough sex or BDSM is consent and consent only. I most definitely do not need the judgmental feminist voice in my head to know what I want and don’t want and to tell consent from lack thereof. Those things are black-and-white and crystal clear to me. The bottom line is all sex is ethical as long as it’s based on mutual informed consent.

          Let me finish by saying that I’m ecstatic to be having a conversation of this depth with a complete stranger in the comments of my blog. Please feel free to read and comment on other posts. I’d be curious to see your perspective. They all revolve around similar themes. Btw how did you find this blog? Just curious.

  4. Lila says:

    First off, I’m skeptical of choice for reasons that are more philosophical than feminist. I do believe an intelligent woman can wear heels; to say otherwise is an insult. I also wear make-up, though I refuse to cover my “blemishes” and self-harm scars with foundation. When I wear make-up, it’s usually for color or black lipstick. And I certainly thank the feminism I was introduced to in high school for reminding me I don’t need to hide, especially with how shattered my ego was on some days.

    I also do not believe in banning porn. I believe porn, like art, film, and various other mediums, can be used for good and bad. It’s unfortunate that’s it come down to what it is today. I’ve seen quite a bit of porn that I did not find degrading; I think Erika Lust in particular is noteworthy based on what I’ve seen. I believe sex is neutral, just like porn. It can be hot, and it can make you want to take a shower afterwards. And I was referencing Pamela Paul, actually! I also don’t have a problem with fetish, though with my psych background what it is, the similarities between certain acts intended for degradation and self-harm are too closely-knit to miss. I believe a great deal of BDSM is emotional regulation and defense mechanisms; I also agree with sex-positive feminism that to say it’s the result of the patriarchy is far too simplex. I disagree with certain practices not on the basis of feminism but because they’re generally utilized to avoid coming to terms with emotional conflict and to self-injure. I cannot agree with you that wanting to be called a “worthless whore” and etc. is not abuse; it’s often self-abuse, and a man who wishes to call a woman that along with other radically (seemingly! misogynistic) behaviors might just be the nameless animal that walks, quacks, and looks like a duck.

    In fact, the way some people wish to be shamed before being degraded entirely echoes the thought processes of a teenage girl who calls herself worthless before she cuts herself. This, along with other theories, is why I believe it is, like so many ways humans can be masochistic, is emotional regulation. Think of humans as containers- some of us can hold more pain than others. But eventually we have to let it out! The internalization of pain is often sexualized as a coping mechanism (reaction formation at its most base). S&M is how some let it out, but unless I can also justify self-injurious behaviors, I can’t entirely justify some sexual acts…that are often not sexual in etiology at all. However, I’d like to differentiate between bondage, spanking, sensation play, light flogging, and anything not done for humiliation and the more hardcore acts. I’m into BDSM myself, though I’m fully willing to admit that I wouldn’t desire to be whipped as much as I had in the past if not for my mental disorder, and that ever since I went into therapy my desires have waned.

    I agree that simply not buying from Victoria’s Secret is more realistic, though I tend to see things collectively. Perhaps the individualist view is more popular before of America being an individualist culture- maybe in Japan they have a whole other take on sticking it to the man.

    I found your site on Feminist Current. Yeah, nice to see some people don’t have to results to petty insults! :’)

    • feminazislut says:

      Ha! I’m glad my shameless self-promotion has paid off. I get the things you’re saying about the psychology of BDSM, but I think that it’s dangerous to judge that in others. Yes, it can be like what you’re describing – self-abuse, but I think that;s very individual. Obviously I can’t speak for others, but for me bondage is about giving up control. I don’t find that pathological or self-abusive. I find it ecstatic to be at the mercy of someone else. I also like being spanked. All that’s pretty vanilla and was among the things you listed as acceptable. However, as vanilla spanking is – it does border on humiliation, and it’s obviously derived from the scenario of a parent spanking a child. It would be silly to deny the Freudian implications here. But the question is – does it make it abuse? I think not. So then where we draw the line for abuse becomes totally arbitrary. I for one, don’t enjoy being called a “worthless whore.” However, “slut” turns me on. Even “whore” would be fine without the “worthless.” Is that self-abuse? Is it self-abuse for a woman to say “use my pussy”? Cause if it is, then how about when my boyfriend says, “use my cock”? He does all the time. This is what I mean by objectifying one’s own body without it being degrading.
      I totally get the point that power play in sex comes from some form of repression. I’m just not willing to give it up because it’s too much fun.

      • Lila says:

        I did say in my post that I wanted to separate bondage and the like from the other activities. People like slut, whore, whatever because it’s internalized hate-speech; women learn that those are the women enjoying sex. Of course, those words are not always used hatefully now so whatever. I used to watch porn but stopped after being frustrated at how the women constantly referred to themselves as “dirty whores” and said, “oh, I’m such a slut for liking your cock!” which is in itself sort of offensive as it implies only a “slut” likes cock. Same old labeling, repackaged. Funny how the men never refer to themselves as whores. It’s really just ridiculous “dirty” talk; they can do what they wish. It’s not necessarily done for humiliation, so it’s different in my eyes. Nothing you said sounds pathological at all.

        I have a main problem with humiliation and by humiliation I certainly do not mean spanking. I mean degradation in the true sense of the word. Roleplaying punishment (which is often really just silly) is rarely humiliation because you’re not truly feeling humiliated.

        If you want a good taste of what I’m talking about, look at this and tell me this doesn’t resemble self-harm.

        There is no feminist out there who can change my mind on this because I don’t believe most people are very aware of the implications of certain behavior. There is no difference between being degraded in the bedroom and being degraded in another area of life because that’s implying sex is a whole other sphere that is unconnected to “reality” and plays by its own rules which is just not true. Our attitudes and personalities shine through everything we do in life and sex is just another realm to show them.

        It’s frustrating when I hear some liberal choice-feminists go on about “you can do whatever sexually and it says nothing about you and it’s empowering” when not only does that make no sense psychologically, they’re putting a false binary on sexual life (or fantasy) and everything else. I’ve read some sad stories online about guys writing about how their girlfriends can only cum nor request that they say they hate them and spit on them during the act; comments underneath say something along the lines of, “she’s so kinky, do what she wants!!” and I can only cringe at their ignorance. It’s worth nothing that women are more prone to depression and self-harm, and it’s often women requesting these activities.

          • feminazislut says:

            Obviously there are extremes I don’t want to explain away or understand. I definitely would not want someone to spit on me and tell me they hate me, nor punch me or even do anything remotely painful. For me it’s more about the power/control dynamic. But my boyfriend has also asked to reverse it, and I tied it him up. (lol I kinda hope he doesn’t read this.) But anyway, it was good. It brought balance and was fun.
            As for “slut” – come on! It’s been reclaimed a million times. Have you read The Ethical Slut? That book is feminist and slut-positive. Or followed the Slutwalks? And btw gay men use it with relish. That’s because gay men don’t have the feminist voice in their heads.
            Honestly – I believe you about the degrading stuff. There is really sick porn out there. I don’t really want to watch that kind of porn. The men in my life don’t watch it either and think it’s gross. But what I do like is some stuff on It’s kinky alright, but it’s all about the female orgasm – it’s an actual live orgasm. It isn’t scripted and faked. The difference between good porn and bad porn is that in good porn the women are enjoying themselves and it is very clear. And yeah, I like “dirty talk.” And no feminist is going to convince me there is something wrong or self-abusive about it.
            And finally, let me leave you with this:

  5. Lila says:

    Yes, slut has been reclaimed but that doesn’t change what bothers me about it. I don’t hear straight men in porn refer to themselves as sluts or whores yet porn titles perpetually refer to the women as “sluts get gang banged” and what not. It’s the word’s origins that bother me; it’s far too female-centric and I would never personally let anyone call me that in a serious way because it triggers connotations of societal repression and double standards. You can reclaim something all you want, but that doesn’t change that the gender-dynamic there shouldn’t be in place and is inherently repressive. And what about men who want to refer to women as sluts? I doubt many of them are thinking whoa man, so liberating. I think they probably just have a toxic view of sexual woman = slut. Sexual man = sexual man. Self-abusive though? I never said it was. I also don’t believe there’s anything “dirty” about it, which is really just Judeo-Christian thought infiltrating our thinking. Sex is dirty, sex is bad, blahblahblah. I know that’s not what you meant, but ergh that irks me, it’s so engrained we refer to it as “dirty talk”.

    Also, they’re actresses. I don’t think they never enjoy themselves or cum but keeping their job titles in mind, it’s likely they’re just acting much of the time. And I’m not strictly anti-sex work, people should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies but expect to be judged, as people as judged in every aspect of life. Don’t cry every time someone doesn’t take you seriously. It comes with the territory. Prove them wrong with being very intelligent and well-spoken. I respect people for who they are, their morals, and their strength, nothing to do with their jobs.

    That was an interesting video; I liked her views until I read her cam model “what turns me on.”

    “What Turns Me On
    I love tease & denial, ass worship, feminization, gags, oral sex, deep throating, crying, BDSM, sweet submission, objectification, biting, boys in frilly panties, having my holes used, being served and obeyed, & exploring the edges of your sexual desires.”

    Crying? Feminization? For one thing, if you look up crying porn it’s almost always women being called dumb counts while they’re getting hit with dicks and told they’re good for nothing whores and oh yeah, take it, and stop crying you sissy, and NO. Feminization? Yeah, that’s generally used to humiliate men because it’s oh so embarrassing to be a woman because women are inferior. That’s one of the MOST misogynistic practices. If she means feminization without that, then okay. I’m iffy on the objectification as well, not sure what she means by that but once again, possibly bastardizing the word.

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