When I was in college, I fought alongside my sisters for Suffrage! Okay, it wasn't that long ago, it just feels that way. I took some Women's Studies classes, which of course opened young Jayne's eyes. Being a woman was a highly emotional and weak (in terms of feelings of personal power) state for me, back then.
I felt personally persecuted and victimized, everywhere I turned. If I read about eating disorders, campus date rape, sexual harassment, you name it, I personally identified with the victims and hated the white male patriarchy for perpetuating the beauty myths and the sexualization of women and girls.
In law school, my Rosie the Riveter sisters and I (okay, again, not that long ago) studied critical legal theory and deconstructed white maleness. We learned how being white is like having an "invisible backpack" of privilege that one carries around everywhere. The privilege to have ones leaders and heroes look like you, to not be followed in a store, etc. I wrote a paper on the privileging of white male violence in this country, from pornography to sex and hate crimes.
Somewhere between then and now, I stopped identifying with victims. Events still trigger compassion, sadness and sometimes rage, but it is no longer personal.
Some may still view me as a "radical" feminist. However, things like keeping my name when I got married, earning my own living and demanding equal pay and respect, being assertive, challenging the status quo, standing up for my rights seem quite normal, not so radical to me, But I am a pro-woman, pro-male, pro-sex, pro-gay, card-carrying, dyed in the wool feminist. Deal.
Yes, we live in a hyper-sexualized culture. Yes, there are consequences for that. We have a criminal justice system to prosecute those who abuse and take advantage of others.
However, I do not believe female (or male) sexuality should be locked away in a closet. I believe that sexuality, like money or power, is inherently neutral. It is the intention, emotion, use of it that determines whether it is harmful to oneself or others.
This brings me to another of my favorite "demotivators" from despair.com (Power: Power Corrupts. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. But It Rocks Absolutely, Too).
Coming from that place, where I do not feel threatened, where I do not need approval from anyone, is true liberation.
It is from this place where the natural child inside is free to create and play, without limits.
When liberated sexuality (such as taking off your clothes, dressing up pretty, dancing and laughing, acting "sexy" for yourself or anyone else who is around, celebrating in others' inner and outer beauty and sexuality in whatever form it takes) comes from a light, yet powerful, loving, fun, self-determined place, why do some people still wring their hands in dismay?
I'm not putting on the burka, people. Yes, some women still imbue their sexuality with desperation, victimhood, hunger for approval, competition with other women, adherence to strict, tired gender myths and ideologies.
But I believe the alternatives today outweigh the outmoded vision of femininity. There are wonderful alternative blogs, such as 2 Hot Chiks, that advocate for powerful, sex-friendly female voices. I read BUST magazine and am amazed by the prevalence of pro-women, pro-sex alternative pornography out there. If you haven't heard of Good Vibrations, the women-owned sex shop in San Francisco, check them out! Do you think the majority of these women depicted in these pages and sites really are "victimized" or "objectified?"
Could it be they are just having fun and exploring their sexuality in a natural, healthy, stereotype-crushing way?
There are so many fun, feminist websites out there, that shatter the whole "victim" role. My favorite? This spoof mail order bride website, wherein you can order yourself a lovely "lotus blossom" such as this:
CHOICE is the greatest gift we have in this country.
And if you are truly pro-choice, doesn't that include every woman's (and man's) choice, to engage in whatever she or he deems right for her at the time? The choice to be a nun, a witch, a slave, a master, a CEO, a housewife, the President, a lawyer, a helicopter pilot (like one of my friends, who is also very "girlie,") a priest, a criminal, a stripper, a soldier, gay, straight, poly-amorous, a mother, child-free, a teacher, a prostitute?
The last reminds me of the sex worker advocacy group COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) that calls for respect, decriminalization and fair pay in sex industries.
When I was a manager, I learned to ask my employees to "turn their complaints into specific requests."
My complaint is I hate it when other people impose their own personal values, expectations and old tired ethics upon my choices. My request? Back the fuck off. Pretty please. (Not you, darling, gentle readers. You know, the Man.)