Monday, January 26, 2009

Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?

Discuss: What do women want? Do we want everything, indiscriminately (even bonobos)? Do we get off on being desired, and is that narcissistic? Are we more attracted to the person than the gender? Or is our burning love of hot male bodies just dampened by culture?

Jezzies weigh in.

Amanda Marcotte:
I can testify that it took me years to get past my cultural training that put all of men’s allowable physical appeal above the neck. “He has nice eyes/hair,” was the extent of girl talk about men’s physical characteristics. Now I’m happy to talk about men’s legs or ass or what have you, but I think that puts me on the far side of the “slutty” scale in our culture, still.

Honestly, with “being aroused by men’s bodies” taken off the table, and with much of your life being dedicated to living up to the image of a sexually attractive woman, is it any wonder that women eroticize being desired so strongly? Most women spend much of their time looking at themselves and trying to imagine what a straight man would see, because it’s our social duty to be sexually attractive.
How is a woman's arousal at witnessing a man turned on by another woman's body narcissistic? Why isn't it simply that she's delighting in female sexual power? Is it necessarily narcissistic to enjoy driving your partner wild?
It’s not narcissism. It’s a lifetime of experiencing the world secondarily, and seeing ourselves through male eyes; it’s the lack of agency and power that comes with being an object to be looked upon.
Did the NYT piece fairly represent how you, the female readership, perceive your sexuality? There were some parts that I found unsettlingly close to home. And is there any way to tease out the effects of culture? Should we even bother? Do we care what some theoretical Culture woman would want, or what a real 21st c. woman wants? Or is this just defeatist cultural essentialism?

UPDATE: Jesus, this is so damn sad:
I have a very hard time believing in feminine sexual desire, even though I know that’s unfair. I think it’s a matter of enculturation. This isn’t, by the way, a product of not being lucky with women, before other commenters chime in. It’s just you’re taught, as a man, that men desire and women are desired, and being in a situation where you genuinely believe that a women desires you is a rare and wonderful feeling.
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