Thursday, March 08, 2007

Treating a rant as sensible discussion...

Okay. Yesterday, I referenced this blog post by Ace. Today, well, today I'm still ready to jump on it, but I've decided that I'll actually answer it, as if it were part of a sensible discussion.

It starts with a series of quotes about a book challenging a college culture of "hooking up" for kissing, cuddling or even sex, with no commitment.

The intro to the quote follows:

A WaPo article has dared to offer her opinion that the "hook-up culture" now prevalent in colleges -- with young girls giving it away like it's rotting in the warehouse -- may not be really in women's best interests. Apparently they've decided to become whores because that's the feminist way:

The paragraph starts in right out with what I've seen called "slut shaming". Women who make choices that people like Ace don't approve of should be denigrated.

Is it any wonder Ace doesn't understand feminism? He's just lost any friendly feminist audience he had. Maybe if he was willing to hold off on the attack, he'd find out that the "feminist way" is to make one's own choices about sex, and not to let other people make those choices in your stead; basically, feminism says you should ignore people like Ace who will call you a whore if you have sex often enough without his approval.

Predictably, the Feminists 3.0 at Feministe are horrified by all this damned prudery.

What's driving this, it seems, is the ideological position by feminists that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. They simply do not want to believe they "need" male companionship in the romantic sense, and can be, as Dobie strived to be, as "free" with sex as those "bad boys" at the teen center.

I haven't followed the thread (nor copied the link) to the thread at Feministe. However, I can break some of this apart.

Yes, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. A fish doesn't need a bicycle, and has no reason to have a bicycle... unless there's something that makes that bicycle special to that fish.

It's not the best metaphor in a world; a bicycle would have to be awfully special to be loved by a fish. Nevertheless, the basic idea is sound: a woman doesn't need a man; in fact, it takes work to be able to fit a relationship into a life (just as a fish would have to work to accept a bicycle into its life). A woman shouldn't think of "having a man" as some default state, any more than a fish should think "having a bicycle" is one.

However, while feminism says that, sure, if women choose to be, they can be as "free" with sex as they want, it's not a competition. You should make your own choices. You sure as heck shouldn't try to match "the bad boys at the teen center".

Here's the problem: Dobie might be able to manage it -- she's pretty much an out-and-proud slut -- but most women can't. ZuZu from Feministe and the rest of her merry band of yes-womyn can caterwaul that women can be just as ruthless and coldhearted about sex as a pure convenience, and can use men like disposable stroke mags just as well as men can use women, but the fact is, they can't.

This is all a distraction from the main point, of course. The main point is, feminism says to make your own choices, not to use men "like disposable stroke mags".

But this is one of those things that really shows how insensible our society is about sex. Ace, a man, is saying he knows more about women than women do. It soon becomes obvious that what he's intending to claim is that he knows men better than women do, but how can you know that women can't use men the same way men use women unless you know enough about women? More likely, Ace is thinking of women as fragile beings who can't really make their own informed choices... people who might be crushed the the nastiness that is "men".

We see this for sure in the next bit:

You guys think you can be sexually ruthless? Think you can view another human being as nothing more than a walking receptacle to the degree men can? To quote Niccole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut:


You only.


It's pathetic that this is what is now deemed "progress" among the feminists -- attempting to ape the most selfish, brutish behavior by men and calling themselves enlightened and empowered for doing so.

Actually, ain't no one saying "ape the most selfish, brutish behavior of men". Feminism says "make your own informed choices."

And unless these women are advocating rape - and they're not - they can hardly be suggesting that one "ape the most selfish, brutish behavior of men".

Okay, that was a bit of a cheap shot... I'm sure Ace wasn't thinking about rape at all. I'm leaving it in because it shows that Ace isn't really thinking deeply about what he's saying here. However, from here on out, we're going to keep rape out of the discussion, because I'm sure it's not where Ace wanted to go.

So Ace is preaching. It's wrong for women to be like men. Apparently, this is because men are pigs.

Women only.

Well, men can be pigs. But I don't accept Ace's judgment that women need to follow his advice to avoid being hurt. Yes, men can be pigs. I'm sure some women will find themselves hurt by some of those pigs. And I think they'll pick themselves up, learn what lessons they can, and carry on. You know, just like men do after a bad experience.

But what makes it tragic is that it simply isn't true, and these young women are being told that they shouldn't care about dating and courtship and romance, or even a guy simply liking them very much as a human being, but should simply rack up as high a sexual bodycount as possible, because that shows "independence."

Again, ain't no one saying that. Women should make their choices. Yes, if they want to rack up a high bodycount, they are free to do so. If they want courtship and romance, they can go after that. And if they want a quick hookup, and can find a willing guy, there's nothing wrong with that. And if they try hooking up and find it's not for them, they can stop doing it.

Are they happy?

They seem not to be, by and large. The guys, of course, are thrilled. The male fantasy has always been nearly anonymous, committment free sex as often and as with many partners as possible (witness gay men making this fantasy a reality, with women removed from the equation), and feminists have given men just that.

Herm. Ace must know different gay men than I do.

I will point out that there was a time when gay men were at such risk from being exposed as gay that they had the choice of anonymous, commitment free sex, or none at all. If Ace could only have sex with women anonymously, and without commitment, I bet he'd go for that from time to time, and I wouldn't fault him for it. I'm sure some of that culture still lives on, especially in states that still try to harass gay folks when they can.

But I don't know that I've ever met a gay man who didn't expect commitment from a partner. Men like stability. Well, people like stability, and men are people.

I will point out that, insofar as feminists have made it easier for us guy to get laid, I bless feminism. Hey, I'm honest; I like sex, and I like it when a woman can freely and happily decide she'll have sex with me. Why shouldn't I be happy that feminism is fighting hard to unhook shame from sex, and make sure women can confidently enjoy sex?

And Feministe and the rest can keep claiming that women ought to be happy with this awful state of affairs, but they're not, and they won't be, not until they finally learn to keep it in their pants long enough to discover if their next sexual conquest is even attracted to them.

That's right -- a guy will get so horny he'll have sex with a woman he's not even physically attracted to (let alone romantically interested in), if it's late enough and there aren't any prettier takers around.

It's really hard to keep the mockery in check, sometimes.

Does Ace think women don't know that men will use them for sex? Does Ace think that women can't, or won't, decide to make their own choices after being burned a time or two?

If it were true that young women really didn't want romance or love at all, this might perhaps be viewed as -- if not a desirable state of affairs -- at least one that was, in sexual terms at least, satisfying for women. But it's not. The reason these young women spurn romance and call it "yucky" and make fun of those involved in relationships as "married" is because we are compelled to denigrate what we actually crave but cannot have, and the reason they can't have what they actually want is that they're fucking guys so quickly guys hardly have a chance to catch their names.

Ace is reporting on a book; I hope he's read it. But even if he's read it, I doubt he's talked to these women enough to make such a judgment. In fact, if his judgment is correct, he couldn't know them that well because they're fucking too many guys to have time to talk to people.

However, "we" are not "compelled" to denigrate what we crave but can't have. It happens a lot, but there's no compulsion. I'm sure some women who "hook up" find romance "yucky" given how much time, energy, and emotional strain it can cause. But I'm also sure that the book's author chose the juciest quotes. It's hard to sell a book about how some women are into hooking up, and figure to go for romance when they have time and energy for it.

And, "double standard" or not, it has always been the case, and will continue being the case into the year 3000, that it's rather difficult to work up the enthusiasm to court a girl when she's been nailing everyone you know without such courtship (why should I be the one who has to put in the effort?), and it's hard to have that sense of pride in one's romantic "get" when you know she's been passed around the fraternity like a blunt.

You know... if there's something bad about this woman, and she's been "nailing everyone you know", doesn't that say something pretty bad about "everyone you know"?

No, that's not mockery, that's a serious question.

If a woman has a lot of sex, and that means something terrible about her, well, that means that a man having sex with a woman is doing something bad to her, and as far as I'm concerned, that's bullshit.

Okay, but what if Ace is talking literally, about a woman who has literally been nailing "everyone you know", who has been "passed around the fraternity like a blunt". Doesn't that make her a skank, or something?

You know, she's either got a good sense of boundaries, and has sex if and when she chooses, which brings us back to my point, that a guy having sex with a woman doesn't damage her. You don't want to have sex with her? Well, then she probably doesn't want to have sex with you. So, why lecture her about your standards?

Or, she doesn't have a good set of boundaries, and her sexuality isn't driven by her making solid, well informed choices. Scolding her isn't going to change that. So why lecture her?

These kinds of essays are infuriating to read because they all end up dehumanizing women. They end up suggesting that women aren't intelligent, strong, and able to make wise choices on their own... not without someone like Ace to point out what they really want, what will really make them happy.

Well, I trust people. I assume, sight unseen, that any given person is intelligent, strong, and able to make wise choices. Oh, sure, they'll make some stupid choices too; that's part of being human. But they'll learn from them.

If they can't make wise choices, well, it's not really my business to lecture, unless they come to me for advice.

And most of the advice I'd have is, know yourself, learn about your body, and remember that some guys will do anything to get laid. Past that, make sure your choices are your choices, made because you think they'll make you happy. Don't worry about anyone else's happiness before your own in sexual matters.

It's a lot better than slut shaming and lecturing and claiming that feminism is trying to brainwash women into being sex demons from hell.

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