One of the fabulous subversive words invented by the incomparable twisty — more on her in the "footnote" — is empowerful. Empowerful as in empowered, the prefix em-, like en- or in- denoting that the power is invested in her from without, lest somebody think that females might be naturallypowerful. The distinction matters.
Empowermentis a rather fitting word though, as it is traditionally suggested that the power held by women is sexual power. In other words, sexuality grants women "power" over men who hold actual, real power. Women use that vile witchy power of sexuality to "control men" and channel some of those men's power into themselves, thereby empowering themselves. This obviously is quite different from finding her own power within, that is, actually being powerful by herself, rather than by proxy. It follows quite naturally that the more sexuality a woman can express, the more empowerful she is. It is for this reason that women aide in their own pornification. This pornification, some may say, is reaching new heights both in intensity (in the current fetish fashion and raunch culture) and extent (the pornification of preteens; "corporate paedophilia"). Enough maybe for some to think that it has come to the point where something's gotta give, where only a backlash can follow, but personally, I'm not so sure. That this will happen. That if it happens it will be a backlash that makes things better for women.
This of course means that there are women who don't get to be empowerful: those who cannot or will not conform to beauty standards; those who will not pornify themselves, the fat and the old and the butch and, oftentimes, the poor. It also means that if you end up in one of those groups — by gaining weight, getting old, getting bored with the effort of the performance that is beauty, or otherwise not being a feast for the male gaze and thereby neglecting your duties as a member of the sex class —, you fall out of favour, and lose "your" power, as it is only by power by proxy, and never was yours to begin with.
This is particularly interesting when considering how well we're told many 1st world women do in school and uni in recent years. It would certainly be instructive to investigate to what degree this finding intersects with that that nowadays, we exist to the degree that we exist in the media. Which, if we stick to the modes of expression traditionally allowed to us, reinforces those stereotypes, of course.
And speaking of expression and the media, we already had the bit on fight fucking the other week. I guess we all grew up getting some sex/violence mix from the media, conquering men, virtuous women, coming together in this "passionate meeting," et cetera. So much for the obvious.
Now, the thing that gets me is, we have Swanson, and it's art. Allegedly. We have that "rape chic" ad from D+G, and it’s an outrage. Or that shoot in Vogue Italia with the cops and the models — or any of a ton of other pictures, really.
So where do we draw the fine line? How do we talk about these things that we grew up with and work through them and excise our demons without perpetuating them and injecting that sort of imagery into the next generation? When you're a painter or a photographer or a model or a scriptwriter or an author, is publishing the images that are in your mind an acceptable way of expunging them, or not? Where's the fine line? Where someone could get off to it? Where a lot of people would get off to it? We've seen people in porn make claims like that; what if it actually helps a person to sort through whatever, but would be regarded by pretty much anybody else as perpetuating rape culture?
As a footnote, I already noted that I blame the patriarchy. In fact, I disagree with twisty a lot of the time, sometimes because I just do, and sometimes because she basically says things along the lines of, from A and B we can deduct with relative ease that …, and I'm not even convinced of A or B at that point — but let's be fair, twisty's weblog comes with the caveat"for advanced blamers only", and I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt, i.e. assume that once you have reached the unhappy(?) state of advanced blamerhood (-ship?), A and B are rather basic and obvious. Let's keep in mind that It's not the duty of feminists to drop what they're doing and explain really, really basic things to you. (In a similar vein by the way, Fighting for equal rights does not imply dedicating 50 % of our resources fighting for men's rights. Interestingly people who suggest that never demand that gay people dedicate 50 % of their time to fighting for heterosexual rights — although there may in fact be some assholes who expect black people to fight for white rights.)
Anyway. So, I don't agree with twisty all of the time. Chances are that neither will you. I do suggest though that even if you don't, she will still be worth reading for her prose alone:
"I have entered a phase in my short and unimpressive career as the moderator of an internet discussion group. This phase is characterized by my viewing the enterprise with curled lip and narrowed eye. This morning, for example, after a weekend spent traipsing merrily about the hill country and cramming down the Twisty craw several juicy morsels that didn't suck, I returned to my desk to perceive that about 76, 932 new comments had sprouted on the blog. A sense of foreboding began to engulf my recently de-harshed mellow. Yet how could this be, I asked myself. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the buttcracky plumbers who were supposed to dig up my yard this morning have put it off for another couple of days, and I found a live gecko in my desk drawer. Life is a bowl of Cool Whip. Why should I feel foreboded upon? That's when I realized that being a blogular moderator is bumming me out."
Oh, and since some people seem to've missed it, here's a speech of Joss Whedon's which is also funny while saying important things. (The introduction by Meryl Streep on the other hand is a bit tedious, I'm afraid.)
Addendum. The Patriarchy is probably not what you think it is. It's not simply about blaming all men. It's about distrusting stratification. Layers of privilege. Layers of privilege intersect; rich white males are on top, but that doesn't mean that poor white males don't get a raw deal, or that poor non-white males don't still have marginally more privilege than the poor non-white women at the bottom — adding queerness, disability etc. is left as an exercise for the reader. Part of the problem is that jobs and wealth and dignity are so tightly coupled; dignity doesn't have to be a zero-sum game! (This is also what Joss is referring to when he says that acknowledging someone else's power doesn't have to diminish your own.)
Now playing:Electric Six — Naked pictures (of your mother)
"If itï¿½s so empowering why donï¿½t men do it? Indeed why are one in three women raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime? WHY is rape so popular?"
via Dianora, a good summary on "corporate pedophilia":
As a side-note, I also find more and more twisty-written articles that I both understand and agree with. Shame really, given that it's ignorance that promises bliss.
rosc on :
Quote: 'you fall out of favour, and lose "your" power'
Exactly what are you defining as "power"?
To me, "power" is the ability to confront. To stand up, speak out, enforce your will, uphold your own standards. Draw a line and make sure no one crosses it. Or, if they do cross it, they meet with swift, shall we say, correction (punishment seems a little harsh, but there have been times....) There's more than one aspect of power.
Are you talking about the power to use force? Are you talking about the power of will?
In any case, none of these depend on anyone but yourself. I see no reason women are at a disadvantage in either. Strength of muscles doesn't necessarily mean losing a fight. And then, I wouldn't even define a physical confrontation as a win-lose proposition: If you're willing to inflict pain, most times physical confrontation never happens, just by virtue of showing that willingness (eg, bullies don't wanna get hurt and will pick an easier target if you prove a challenge to them.)
Being fat, ugly, old, objectionable, are not dis-empowering. Letting other peoples opinion of you rob you of your inner strength, THAT is.
If you're going to judge the world based on sex & appearance, then sure all those points you made could be true. If you accept those standards and measure yourself by them.
If the people who judge others based on sex & appearance do not like me, this is a GOOD thing! It's an automatic twit-filter to keep them away from me. I have no need or desire to associate with such people.
There is a better class of people who are not so superficial and those are the kinds of people who seek ME out for the qualities of my character, other than sex & appearance. These are my friends.
Your idea of power hints at being little more than favor-seeking from those who "have." I'd rather build my own little world with the resources available to me on my terms, than play the social-climbing games.
>> 'you fall out of favour, and lose "your" power'
> Exactly what are you defining as "power"?
To quote from the article, ï¿½it is traditionally suggested that the power held by women is sexual power. In other words, sexuality grants women "power" over men who hold actual, real power. Women use [ï¿½] sexuality to "control men" and channel some of those men's power into themselves, thereby "empowering" themselves.ï¿½
> To me, "power" is the ability to confront. To stand up, speak out, enforce your will, uphold your own standards. Draw a line and make sure no one crosses it [ï¿½] There's more than one aspect of power.
Well, I'd think you've got two aspects there, maybe three. a) Autonomy (you're self-sufficient, if people turn away from you because they don't like what you do, well, no skin off your nose); b) the ability to defend yourself (if somebody /really/ doesn't like what you do); c) the ability to impose your will on others.
> In any case, none of these depend on anyone but yourself.
I suppose that's true as long as you live off the land.
Once you acknowledge that money has a direct bearing on a) b) c) and that most people do not exist in a vacuum, it seems to stop being true.
> Being fat, ugly, old, objectionable, are not dis-empowering. Letting other peoples opinion of you rob you of your inner strength, THAT is.
Again, if you live in a cave, or are fabulously rich, fair enough. Otherwise, most people need to interact with others (to leave their mark on the world, or to just get by) and make money (for food, accomodation, health insurance, ...)
> If you're going to judge the world based on sex & appearance, then sure all those points you made could be true.
It doesn't matter what /I/ judge people by. It matters what people I need to interact will judge me by.
> If the people who judge others based on sex & appearance do not like me, this is a GOOD thing! It's an automatic twit-filter to keep them away from me. I have no need or desire to associate with such people. There is a better class of people who are not so superficial and those are the kinds of people who seek ME out for the qualities of my character, other than sex & appearance. These are my friends.
That's fair enough for selecting friends and lovers, but pretty useless when dealing with (potential) business partners, doctors, officials, or even people in the street. Heck, try to get a paper published. Oh, try to get Harry smegging Potter published. ;)
> Your idea of power hints at being little more than favor-seeking from those who "have."
You misunderstand. My point is that this is what we are offered traditionally, and that it's bunk. The entire article is about how this power-by-proxy is faux power.