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January 30, 2013

The Worst Thing I've Ever Linked*

* But I Have To, Because It's a Thing

Before linking this, let me supply content warnings for the actual link. And in fact I'm going to bury the rest of this post, describing what you'll see only below the break, if you're inclined.

So, a girl -- who I don't want to be all judgy about, because I pity her -- did a very stupid thing. I assume she did this thing, as many sad girls did, for the purposes of attracting male attention.

What she did was video herself extracting a tampon from herself, and then sucking on it. And she posted all this. You can find it if you search.

The only point I'd personally make -- apart from the strictly obvious ones -- is that feminism needs to do better by young girls. Especially of this sort.

Now I said I wouldn't be judgy-- and I won't. But I'll be something worse, piteous. Pity is really the cruelest insult, and I do not mean it to be cruel; but that's the feeling I have, pity.

Here's how I connect this to feminism: Look, there are many people, both younger men and girls, who are not really stand-outs in any aspect of their lives.

You can see this girl, while not ugly or anything at all, is also not a beauty queen. Given her stunt here, I'm going to hazard a guess that she's not a National Merit Finalist, either.

Feminism is pushing, lately, a very dopey line: That sex is empowering.

Now, sex is empowering. There are few women -- and fewer men! -- who don't have sex at least partially for the feeling that "I won on that one. I was attractive, I sealed the deal. That person sure thought I was somethin' special."

But this constant drumbeat that "Sex is Empowering" and "Women Should Claim the Power of Their Sexuality" and the rest of the dumb cavalcade of empty slogans: What effect does it have on a girl like this?

Because girls like this do not have many ways in which they can be otherwise empowered.

But there is always a very simple and fast shortcut for a girl to feel better about herself, isn't there?

Yes, pretty much any girl, no matter how average (or, painfully, just a little bit below, average just tantalizingly out of reach) can sure feel like the belle of the ball, at least for a couple of hours, by playing for male attention of (I hope we can say this) quite the wrong sort.

Any girl can play this card, really.

Do we really wish to sell the idea to them that a sort of Adventurous Excellence, the type of Heroic Awesomeness that otherwise eludes them, can be had so cheaply by stunts like this?

I'm not saying that feminists can't continue with their cant about Sex Being So Incredibly Empowering, if they like.

But could we perhaps add some caveats to this bumper-slogan? And perhaps begin pushing First Wave feminists ideas that excellence can be had in other -- more difficult, but also more rewarding -- ways than by, well, what I'll neutrally term Sexual Openness.

Girls are boy crazy. Always have been, always will be. (Well, the girls who are boy-crazy are boy-crazy, I mean.) Not only is there a matter of a thumping biological imperative towards sex, but sex promises that most important thing to all people, that feeling, if only for a few minutes or a few seconds, of validation.

That you're Special. That other people find you Special.

This constant drumbeat for girls to "Take Charge of Their Sexuality," I think, offers a very easy-- and I would argue personally destructive -- way to a cheap, five minute validation.

And I cannot help but think that most girls who choose this path -- this being the very, very easy path to garnering attention and admiration -- will not be inclined to chose more difficult paths.

More difficult paths which I had thought feminists would be more interested in promoting.

People are people, and people have a strong (and, I think, logical) preference for the paths of least resistance.

I can only assume that a girl who gets some of the validation and ego-boost she craves from popping a used tampon in her mouth will not likely be spending hours pouring over her history textbook to gain validation by that pathway.

The Fame Bug: Kathysayso argues:

I wouldn't lay this at the feet of the feminists. I would suggest it's the pure desperation of this younger generation (both genders) to do something - anything - to get attention. The more outrageous, the better.

I answered her:

Certainly, undeniably, the Fame Bug has infected people, and that is definitely in the mix.

Still. The stunt has a sexual component. It seems pretty obvious to me that this girl views herself precisely as the feminists don't like men to view girls: As nothing more than an object for the sexual gratification of men.

Along with all of this empowerment stuff, and all this anger about "slut-shaming," perhaps there's some room to discuss the ways in which sexual adventurousness (to use the feminists' preferred sort of neutral terminology) might in some cases not be "empowering" but rather degrading, and a self-destructive flight from one's actual problems or the reasons for this craving of easy-peasy external validation.

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posted by Ace at 05:29 PM

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