2006-06-21 - 11:35 p.m.
Okay, so I’ve just read about twenty pages of feminists deconstructing the blow job, and quite frankly, I don’t think I ever want to have sex ever again. Not because of any negative feelings about them or their statements, but because I’m so fucking confused.
For those unawares, the feminist blogosphere has been lit up by the sentiment of one Radical Feminist (“Radical Feminist” in this context means only the bent of her feminism and not a judgement on my behalf. Sorry, I have to pick my words carefully.) She suggested that any woman who engages in oral sex with a man is submitting herself to “submissive sexbot drudgery.” Rage boiled over on both sides of the debate, those defending their night time actions, and others insisting on those actions being strikes against thecause.
This was brought to my attention by a fellow on that to other site I write for. Worthy of checking out, diarylanders, and not for my ramblings.
Now, being of the male hetero persuasion, me laying my opinion in with the apparently thirty thousand others would be most akin to me laying out my feelings about jet engine repair: ill informed, and if taken into action, possibly dangerous.
Still, the discussion has been one that I haven’t been able to leave easily. Probably because I’ve had thoughts about feminism for some time. This, in fact, marks the forth time I’ve attempted an entry on the subject. Most of those occasions I’ve been drunk, and in a flame of inebriated certainty. Thankfully, my muddled mind has erred towards the careful, and thus, I’ve left the entry unposted, reading my badly put statements the following morning in the harsh light of sun-dappled sobriety.
My first reaction to reading all of this is how segmented feminism truly is. Feminism and the Christian faith could easily compete over who has the greater number of sub-sects. The idea of what is good and what is inappropriate for a feminist woman in this century is fervently being debated. While this should be obvious, it stands in contrast to what I can only call “cookie-cutter feminism.” The version of Grrrl-Power that pervades current culture simply states “Women can do, and still be women.” It’s just about that. That’s the message toot-suite. (I have no idea how to spell that, so why not have some fun. Hooked on phonics kinda sorta worked for me!) Actual feminism has branches reaching to race relations, and global economies. Not focusing on the gender wars blindly are the actual feminists. Or at least, as far as I can see. (I wear glasses often so, really, not that far.)
What really struck me about the debate was the adamant nature of it. Hundreds of comments were left on any entry touching the subject from both oral’s defenders and detractors, each firmly certain of their greatly differing opinion. Maybe this is the first time I’ve truly empathized with the struggle these women see themselves in. Too have such debate and quandary about something so seemingly banal as a blow job, I could not help to think, is this what they have to go through for all decisions? Must this debate exist the mind of all enlightened women, constantly questioning what is and what isn’t acceptable for the gender, as a class, to tolerate. It just seemed awful to have to put such things under such a tight microscope to consider.
And to truly take up feminism, you do have to. This is not a cause that is without cause. Violence against women is still prevalent, and studies as recent as a few years back still show women underpaid for equal work to their male counterparts. The gap is closing, but it still exists.
Making it more frustrating is the fact that the source of this lapse in equity is not a person, or a law, but a culture. A culture is not a set rule, but a continuing assumption, neigh on subliminal, that continually acts its will. It’s far more shadowy than a political party, or its figure head. Looking through the lens of behaviorism, lessons learned by external role models, like mass media, can lead to expectation. (I’d try and site this, but there are too many places to start. Plus, some people want seventy frickin dollars to gain access to such papers.)
It’s mind boggling to think of what it must take to fight the nearly unrecognized assumptions of people who, for the most part, consider themselves even handed. (Counting myself in that crew.) Just that fact alone gives me greater appreciation to all those who have actively fought against sexism, or racism, or xenophobia. It is a Herculean task, and one that does not look like it can be accomplished, on any front, in a single generation.
To those who attempt the effort, I tip my hat. Even as the role model for something as simple as your group of friends…to contend with those adversaries and those questions and do so with confidence and empathy is no small feat. I’ve seen you, and I don’t know if I understood, or approached understanding until now. Well done. You know who you are.
That said, I have had problems with feminism as of late. Mainly, I realize now, because of the bastardization of the term. What’s troubled me is this: As I’ve said, feminism is awash in the current culture. It’s certainly not universally accepted, or actualized, but it’s there. “Cookie-Cutter feminism” has made its mark and we all know it. But, despite that, there remains the residue of chivalry, for lack of a better term. Quite a few women I know, seem to hold to the ideas of feminism, of equality, at least in the workplace, but still hold to the advantages that being a woman has tendered them socially. There aren’t many, but they exist.
“Have you ever asked a man out on a date?”
The traditional view of men and women in a relationship has the man in the role of aggressor and the woman in the role of diviner, ready to judge and choose what she accepts and what she denies. While it does render the woman emasculated (Does that term work for both genders?) in as much as she does not have the ability in that equation to enact action or change, it does lend her the veto power to disallow any of the man’s choices.
What this leaves is a passive female gender, judging the active male gender, without having to make the decisions that lay their fingerprint on the relationship. By remaining passive, they allow themselves easy deference to the movement of the relationship. They are not responsible for action, just it’s consequence, and thus default from blame. This idea seems to still be in active practice, if not fully conciously realized.
Allow me to interject with myself on this one…This does NOT apply to anyone in my personal dating history, lest they bear the finger. This is a common trend I’ve noticed in my friends relationships, and in the stories of those I’ve listened to. To be brutally honest, I could mention a few women in my past, while not self-declared feminists, who did but insist to their independence and strength, and still left the decision making in the relationship to me. Still, these do not include anyone who I have called my girlfriend, should any readers raise a brow to my ex’s.
This expectation, to have the man do the asking, do the leading in the bedroom, do the leading in the relationship, only to be critiqued later, seems as pervasive in the culture as the “Cookie-Cutter feminism.” Many a woman I’ve spoken to have copped to it, saying “I'm not a massive feminist, or anything.”
No woman I know has been caught in the hypocrisy that would contain these two trends in one body. Claiming feminism, and expectaion of male responsibility of power. But, it just seems odd to see these two trends co-existing. And at times, it frustrates me.
Warning: I’m about to bitch a little about being a middle class white male. Get ready for it. First of all, before I say anything else, I am aware that bitching as I’m about to is not unlike whining about your stubbed toe when your best friend’s mother has just died. I know they don’t compare, but…my toe still hurts.
The definition of the female gender role seems to be expanding day by day. What women are socially accepted to be capable of is a list the grows by the hour. The female gender role in popular culture, at least with feminism still intact in the conflict, now seems to include almost all things. Women are capable of all occupations, situations and roles. Most people, it seems, would accept any specific example of a women thriving in a traditionally male role. What they say, and what they truly exhibit on a day to day basis is another thing, though.
This is not the same for men.
I hate to quote Madonna, but here goes. “It’s okay for a woman to dress like a man. But for a man to dress like a woman is degrading.”
Our gender role has been increasingly limited. Basically, society seems to say to men, “Could you tone it down a notch or eleven.” Simply put, men don’t know what to be. Overt masculinity seems decried, while appropriation of the feminine (re: Metrosexuals.) seems equally decried. The back-lash has women looking for manly-men. (There was a Post article on this, but I don’t know how to link it. Yes, I know raising a reference of the New York Post is iffy at best, but, I’ll take what I can get.)
Men have no role model for how to be in the new millennium.
There is no pride in being male. Nor is there in being Caucasian. Nor is there in being middle class. Thinking back on it, if any minority, be it women or Native Americans, or Blacks, if any of them were fucked, there was probably someone who looked an awful lot like me behind them.
Why do men position themselves as “a lesbian in a man’s body?” Just so we can not be your average, awful man. (And, well, it’s supposedly subversive, and what’s cooler than being subversive when you’re under twenty five?)
I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be. I know what I’m not supposed to be, but…that doesn’t lead me anywhere. All I have is guilt and shame for the crimes of my gender, my race and my class, without any clear path towards redemption.
Why can’t a man dress like a woman? Why can’t we be feminine without having our peers see us as weak and mocking us? (Please someone else call me gay. It will be new and special.) We should be there. Why aren’t we?
In a rare point of insight, a WB executive said, “There will be more Buffy’s when there are more Xander’s in this world.” Meaning, men who know when to back up and concede authority for a woman as they would do for a man, are the key to the movement.
Why isn’t there a visage of this kind of man displayed, when so much time is spent on perfecting the notion of the female feminist. Arguably, men need more work. Help us out.
To put it in the terms of the site that started this mess, “I blame the Patriarchy.”
Okay, to exemplify that, I will opine on the blow job thing…One commenter mentioned in her post that while fellecio implicated women in subservience, cunniligis tended to make men feel powerful for eliciting such a response. I agree and don’t. Yes, I’ve felt in control when I went down the ladies goodly enough to allow it, but I never really felt power. I was happy to see the big O manifest itself, but it’s like that old baking commercial.
“We made orgasm!”
In the credits of those orgasms, I expect to see my name listed, but somewhere towards the bottom.
Whatever my proliclivities, it remains that what amounts to men and women essentially performing the same function, (Pleasing the other while in a physical state of subservience.) have different reactions. Women feel lessened, while men feel pride.
Without Irony I say: I blame the Patriarchy.
In much the same way women who enjoy sex are labeled “sluts,” and men who enjoy sex are “Players,” the direct and purposeful pleasure of the other has been split and reinterpreted in a horrific way.
Popular culture, in the way of porn and common discourse, has so landed the idea that for a woman to do something sexual is a concession that there is no other possible interpretation for Oral than defeat. Our culture, currently rates men by their ability to please women, or at least, attain them, so oral falls into the realm of lure, rather than submission.
It’s a trick and it hurts both genders.
My own experience laid bare…I like the attention more than the act. On occasion, I want to be sexualized. I want to have someone want to rip of my clothes and want me. Want me to have my moment. I hope the same for the women who wander into my sexual world. In some ways I just wish there were a more readily available way to show attention to the male without the overbearing, porn induced, images of domination. The “I’m gonna fuck your mouth” syndrome that dominates porn. Turning what should be a action of appreciation into something violent and almost abusive.
Hell, sometimes I’d just like a back-rub. I just want the attention from time to time. Let's a guy feel special. Don’t worry, I’ll return the favor as best I can. I enjoy trying. It’s what makes sharing each other physically special, rather than wasteful.
On that note, I close my thoughts…five pages in. I expect to be torn about by feminists and I welcome it. My intention is not to lay down the law of this dialog, but rather invite another end of it.
As someone who doesn’t know how to be, I invite suggestions.
So long as they’re not demands.
As it’s said in the song, and this does apply to both the penis and vagina laden: “You don’t own me.”
For those who fight with these terms and ideals…good luck.
Oh, how this shit isn’t easy. We all need as much help as we can get.
P.S. Neither fellatio, nor cunniligis is in Word’s dictionary.
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