Monday, August 16, 2010

Feminist, Heal Thyself!

At first read, the article feels undistinguished, even dated. It is not news that teenage girls, even preteens, are overly sexualized. Nor should it surprise anyone to discover that their mothers are horrified by this development.

Examining the phenomenon in Maclean's, a mass circulation, right-leaning Canadian news magazine, Anne Kingston reports that  women who embraced the feminist cause because they did not want to be taken as sexual objects are now outraged to see their daughters actively try to become sexual objects. Link here.

As I say, it is not news.

But how do these mothers, via Anne Kingston, explain it? Not surprisingly they blame it on the media. Girls growing up today are bombarded with sexualized images from the time they are out of diapers. As one might expect, they identify with Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan.

It's easy to blame the media, an all-purpose whipping boy. There is nothing new about this exercise.

And there is little new in the proposed antidote. According to Kingston and the feminist mothers she interviewed, these girls are slutting it up because feminism's work is not yet done.

If only they had more positive female role models, more female members of the Canadian parliament, more female CEOs, they would stop sexting and hooking up.

I am not inclined to take this prescription very seriously. Those of us who live south of Canada have just been graced by two new female Supreme Court justices. Surely, they are card-carrying feminists.

I don't like to broach the topic I am now going to broach, even with the greatest tack and indirection, but does anyone imagine that young girls are going to take Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as role models?

I would even go so far as to suggest that if these are the role models feminism is providing, they are more likely to run screaming toward their inner vamp.

Of course, these are hardly the only female role models that the culture offers to girls. Yet, when a sexually attractive successful professional woman-- think Sarah Palin-- comes on the scene, the feminist matriarchs shower her with so much venomous invective that young girls know that they must not take her as their role model.

As I say, and perhaps it's just me, but I did not find the Maclean's article especially illuminating or enlightening.

But then I decided to read through some of the comments that Maclean's readers had offered. I do not always read through hundreds of comments, but I had some free time yesterday, and I was curious to see how Canadians would respond to this topic.

In the back of my mind I was thinking of the firestorm that I set off when I dared critique Jaclyn Friedman's article, "My sluthood, myself." I was recalling the attacks I received in the comments section of this blog (and they paled in relation to the attacks that other bloggers received) when I dared suggest that perhaps Ms. Friedman should think twice about advertising her pride in her new-found sluthood, lest young girls try to emulate her example. Link here.

I was shocked by what I found. Compared with the intemperate and defensive  rants of Ms. Friedman's minions, the commenters on the Maclean's site were rational, cogent, and helpful. Another world, indeed.

In general, they taxed Ms. Kingston and the feminist mothers with a failure to understand what feminism had become.

Feminism may have started as a reaction to the sexual objectification of women, among other things, but that was no longer its rationale.

To the commenters the current slutification of teenage girls is a direct consequence of the influence that contemporary feminism exercises in the culture.

Perhaps it was inadvertent, almost surely it was unintentional, but  feminism redefined female sexuality and encouraged women to conduct themselves differently in their relationships with men. They promoted new social policies. Once those policies were put into practice, feminism became responsible for the outcomes. Even if those were not the intended outcomes.

As the commenters noticed, feminism has long confused equality with sameness. If you tell girls that there is no fundamental difference between men and women, then they might well conclude that they have a right to do whatever men are doing.

Anyone who says or thinks otherwise is consigning them to second-class citizenship.

If men are having sex without emotion, then women should be able to do the same, and to enjoy it.

So says Jaclyn Friedman, and so says a recent article in Psychology Today: "Can Women Enjoy Casual Sex? Should They?" Link here.

Note that the author presupposes that enjoyment is the meaning of sex. If so, why should women experience less enjoyment than men?

If you say otherwise, several commenters to my posts pointed out, you are a relic from mid-Victorian times, interested only in restricting the full expression female sexuality and inhibiting  women's full access to sexual pleasure.

God forbid!

If men can easily walk away from the consequences of sexual actions, why should women not have the same privilege? To say otherwise is to consign women to their biology.

Thus, the two major principles of feminist sexual morality are: abortion on demand, and universal condom use.

The message is clear enough to have reached the teen set. Everything goes if you use a condom. If the condom fails, you can go out and have an abortion.

Your mental health, your very sanity, depends on your having tons of sexual enjoyment.

To which the therapy culture has added that no one has any right to criticize your behavior... because you are just exercising your right to pleasure. How you do it is no one's business but your own.

As Psychology Today puts it: "If a woman wants to be a slut while another woman wants to wait for marriage [as though those were the only two options], women should equally support both of them to have the right to make their own decisions."

I apologize for the author's garbled syntax. He, like any denizen of the therapy culture, is saying that human judgment should be euthanized in this brave new moral world where every form of pleasure seeking is equal to every other one.

Add to all of this the insistence that these principles be taught to children as young as five. And that these same children should be taught lessons in in masturbation, oral and anal sex, and correct condom use... all of which are rationalized by arguing that sex is a normal human urge and that all teenagers are going to be doing it anyway.

Present that message to teenagers and they are going take away the idea that if they are not having sex, not trying all of the different ways to explore their sexuality, then they are abnormal.

Put it all together, and anyone who suggests that women exercise  sexual restraint will immediately receive howls of feminist derision, as though he were telling women to repress their sexuality and have fewer orgasms.

As one commenter noted, the concept of  "feminine virtue" has been so often and so roundly denounced, that it is not surprising that girls today have no real notion of it.

Those objections to Kingston's article are just the beginning. Several commenters mentioned the important point, that as you read through the article, fathers are nowhere to be found. Perhaps these women have husbands; perhaps these girls have fathers. If so, the article has nothing to say about them, even to acknowledge their existence.

I have it on good authority that teenage girls are difficult in the best of circumstances. They are taxing on the best of mothers, even more so when there is no father in the home.

So the article gives the impression of teenage girls being brought up by single mothers. And that leads several commenters to ask whether or not these girls are being given sufficient adult supervision.

Have these girls learned about: restrictions; rules; duties; obligations.

One gains the impression that some parents are so afraid of making their children neurotic and so convinced that any form of self-control, any demands that take them away from their sociosexual whirl will cause them severe mental anguish, that they abrogate their authority as parents and allow their children to run wild.

The feminist mothers who are outraged at their daughters' behavior should take a long hard look at how they are fulfilling their parental responsibilities. And they should take a much closer and more critical look at what their children are being taught in school.

1 comment:

Salam Shalom Shanti said...

I'm increasingly finding "sex positive" feminist sex education to be negative.

Check out or to find details about using "butt plugs" and no reference at all to parents in the advice they dish out.

Kids are their own autonomous beings who despite living for free in their parents' home and under the caregiving and guidance of their parents, nonetheless have the "right" to have sex anytime they want have the "right" to have that decision "respected".

I can't make this stuff up.

Since when did having sex become an American legal right?

And since when did it become a legal right for a kid living with his/her parents?