The Burdens of Self Awareness
Here's a review of a book about the rise of an identified new form of feminism, here coined as "raunch feminism" (RF). Apparently, RF is the next evolution of the oft-debated 90's sociological phenomenon "do me feminism"--in other words sex positivity on steroids *and* E. RFs not only embrace sex (rather than running from it or seeing it as a form of oppression like Andrea Dworkin or Katherine McKinnon) but they exploit it for their own gain by reading FHM, kissing other girls, stripping on bar tops and generally acting like vapid sluts. Anyone who frequents bars on even a semi-regular basis has seen this behavior a bazillion times and it almost seems to becoming the rule rather than the exception to it. This book attempts to define such behavior in terms of power, arguing that perhaps when you look beyond the lip gloss and push-up bras, these women are merely beating men at their own game--objectifying themselves before the guys get a chance to. As big of a fan as I am of one-upping guys at any sort of competition, I must take issue with this theory. For starters, most of the women who engage in this sort of behavior are not doing it for the sake of proving some sort of point for their feminist theory professors. To me this begs an interesting question: Can a form of behavior be assigned some sort of socio-political mantle if it is not done on purpose? Namely, if I shove my tongue down my friend Beth's throat at a bar tonight and a guy happens to see it, am I grabbing power from him even if I didn't do it intentionally, and even worse he didn't even notice that his power was taken? Sure, you can be a racist without realizing it or intending to be, but can you be an accidental feminist?
On the other hand, I've also been hearing a lot recently of women who deny men sex simply because they can, and to remind men that the act, and the social dynamics and signifiers that accompany it, should be consensual and non-objectifying. Yes, a common argument is that they're also denying themselves pleasure and a common rebuttal is that it' s really not denial if you're gaining something positive from it (and if you have a drawer full of toys to tie yourself over). I don't think I've formed an opinion about that quite yet, but it does remind me of a great exchange a friend once told me about. He saw a girl that he was friendly with in the library or some other place on campus at college and said to her, "Hey Ali, what are you up to?" To which Ali (an art major) replied "Avoiding your male gaze." Classic.