Thursday, March 4, 2010

Feminists Gone Wild!

Feminists are losing their grip. They are losing their grip on young women's minds and bodies. More and more young women are listening to their emotions, not their feminist masters.

In particular, Jessica Grose is worried. She is upset because young women are being influenced by: "... some new wave of anti-orgasmic sexual conservatism that makes you hate yourself for what you did last night." Link here.

After all, what else could make you ashamed of your latest anonymous, random hook up?

Here Grose has conflated hook ups with all casual sex, with all forms of premarital sex, and with all means of achieving orgasm.

I could be wrong but I doubt that young women find hook ups the best and most efficient way to have orgasms.

But, is feminism really in the business of encouraging women to engage in as many random, anonymous sexual encounters? Does Grose really believe that the research shows that: "hooking is not psychologically damaging?"

Those who do must be: "purity-ring-clutching evangelicals [who] believe that it's wrong to have sex before marriage."

Hooking up is one thing; sex before marriage quite another. What purpose is served by confusing the two?

If the research does not distinguish between unmarried couples in established relationships having sex and hooking up, then I would question its value.

In fact, Grose's friends do not seem to agree with its conclusions. One of her friends has expressed regrets about having had so much sex with a bunch of "losers and perverts."

Grose is surprised. Perhaps she feels that the ultimate in feminist sexual liberation is having lots of sex with losers and perverts.

But, she is really surprised that this women can feel shame. "Why would she be ashamed? After all [she] is a feminist who doesn't believe that there is anything wrong with casual sex?"

Grose's friend feels badly for having had sex with a man who: "now doesn't seem to care you're alive." Does Grose feel that her friend should feel good or indifferent about what she did withthe man who doesn't care about whether or not she is still breathing?

More amazingly, Grose seems to believe that if you do not believe that there is anything wrong with your behavior then there is nothing wrong with your behavior. As an excursion into moral reasoning, this leaves a great deal to be desired.

It would be good news for sociopaths, to say nothing of the NAMBLA crowd... which insists that it it fully convinced that there is nothing wrong with child molestation. Do you feel better knowing that these men do not feel any shame for molesting children?

Shame, of course, concerns how you look to others, how others see you. The salient term that was invented for the aftermath of hook ups was "the walk of shame." When a women is making the walk of shame the fact that she does not think that she did anything wrong is not likely to be a great consolation.

But what happens when your shame is telling you one thing and your feminism is telling you something else? Grose seems agitated that young women would listen to what their shame, that is, their own feelings, is telling them and ignoring what their feminism is saying.

If you have made a mistake your shame is telling you not to repeat the experience. It is telling you to mend your ways and to esteem yourself sufficiently to refrain from having sex with men who do not care if you are alive the next morning.

If Grose's friends are an indication, their shame is also telling them to take a step backward, to regain control of their behavior, to recalibrate their sexual sensitivities. This will help them to recover their equilibrium and their self-respect. Apparently, they have sacrificed their self-respect on the altar of feminism, and now they are trying to regain it.

But why does Grose make such a sharp distinction between feminism and the ability to feel shame for having made a mistake? Is she such a cult follower that she cannot respect women who listen to their own feelings and make their own moral choices about how they should and should not live their sexuality? Are high moral standards inimical to feminism?

Didn't feminism tell women not to allow themselves to be used as sexual objects? When women consent to hook up, aren't they allowing themselves to be used as sexual objects?

But what is wrong with hooking up? And why should women feel ashamed of themselves for doing it?

Shame is a universal emotion. It is not a social construct. It does not merely exist where people believe in it. And it does not cease to exist because some women are willing to override their sense of shame in the interest of earning a living.

Shame involves exposing intimate aspects of your body or your self to people who have no right or business to seeing them.

Shame does not involve breaking rules, or transgressing a taboo. Grose's friends feel shame, not guilt, and that means that they know that the did not break any rules.

Shame is visited on those who have compromised their dignity. If they do not grasp the ethical dimension of their behavior, shame is at the ready to remind them.

Grose seems to be suggesting that feminism favors hook ups. If that is so, the reason must be that feminism is pathologically repelled by the notion that male and female sexuality are fundamentally different. If so, feminism must believe that if men can engage in hook ups without feeling any shame or guilt, then women should be able to do so too.

Shame is telling women that the feminist view is a bunch of bunk. Women who hook up feel shame because their actions belie their being as women. A woman who is forcing herself to behave as though she were a man does not know who or what she is. Her shame is trying to remind her.

Jessica Grose does not agree. But she notices that feminism is not a lot of help. All it can do for the woman on the walk of shame is to redouble her shame. This means that the woman who has hooked up with a loser or a pervert will learn from feminism to feel ashamed of herself for feeling ashamed.

She feels one kind of shame for her own behavior; she feels another kind of shame for feeling ashamed of her own behavior. Or better, she feels the first kind of shame because she is a woman, and she feels the second because she feels that the first shame means that she is not a good feminist.

If this is the best that feminism can do, I think it's long past time that it stop pretending that it is a friend of women.


Robert Pearson said...

The link goes to the NY Post story "Dreier's Wife off the hook" and while I'm sure she is, you seem to have meant to link to something else...

Susan Walsh said...

Hi, I've recently discovered your blog. You have no idea how this post felt - like a balm to a ravaged soul. I really, really like what you have to say about women. I blog about relationships and sex in the hookup culture. I started writing for college-aged women (especially my 20 year-old daughter), but it's been a year and now I've got all kinds of people weighing in. Please come by and have a look!

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Robert... I just fixed the link.
And thanks Susan, too. I'm posting about your blog and will include a link that works.