A 21st Century Madonna/WhoreApril 13, 2012 No Comments
This week I had a meltdown. In its wake, the remains of a Very Nice and Thoughtful Man who (I once spent a weekend with) (and) happened to be in the wrong email conversation at the wrong time, was being a bit flippant about the thing that was upsetting me.
Let me give you some background. I grew up in an oppressive religious community, where great emphasis, (sometimes backed up by violence/always backed up by hatred), was placed on the sexual behaviour of women. After a lot of time and effort, I replaced those ideals with my own ideals, of women as human beings who are capable of sexual autonomy without the judgement of patriarchal society. This in combination with friendship, motherhood, sisterhood, work, happiness, sadness, anger. In short, neither a Madonna nor a Whore, but a Person.
Along that road I’ve fucked, loved and almost loved lots of men. Good and bad, as you might expect. A lot of enlightened, kind men. But these days I am weighed down by the fact that a lot of seemingly well-intentioned men idealize, and therefore dehumanize women. For example, men looking for an invulnerable woman, the men I often get involved with, are often repelled by vulnerability. Not the end of the world in a lighthearted sexual relationship, but when emotionally attached, a tragedy. A signal that only a part of me is wanted.
Dehumanized. Less than human. That is a fact, I’m certain of it, yet the use of the word inspires all sorts of nasty. From the less-than-recommendable men I’ve been involved with, the use of the word triggers anger followed by absence. This is often packaged in a tirade about my tendency toward drama. Yet, I am not a dramatic person. I mean what I say.
This week’s meltdown is an extension of the same meltdown I had a few months ago when I went to see Shame. You know the film, it’s about sex addiction and Fassbender’s cock. But for me, the ejaculate that hit closest to home wasn’t the central character’s compulsive knobbing to the point of rawness, but his alienation from women. To the extent that the only woman in the film he was unable to fuck was the woman he knew. Knew like a human.
Let me be clear. My meltdown isn’t about sex. This is about emotion. I’ve never felt degraded by sex, but I have frequently felt degraded by the way my emotions are abused, ignored or viewed through a prejudiced gaze. And while I’m aware that men as an entire group are capable of better, at times like these, it feels hopeless.
It’s a tragedy, and while I feel badly done to, when I look at the larger picture, it’s all of us who suffer from the moralization and hypersexualization of women.
So if you’re reading, Very Nice and Thoughtful Man…well, you know.
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