lunadelcorvo: (Grrrrr!)
[personal profile] lunadelcorvo
So two stories came up on my FB feed today, and together, they made me see red. They are unrelated stores, and I will link to them both:

The first is about a heroic teen who saved a friend from a drunk driver: ”Teen saves friend from suspected drunken driver, gets hit instead”

In the first story (which was also carried on other news outlets), the main takeaway seems not to be that a teen boy risked his life by pulling a friend out of the way of a drunk driver, saving her life at the cost of some serious injury to himself. No, the takeaway is that that poor kid saved the bitch’s life, and STILL ends up in the ‘friend zone.’

And the second wasn’t a story, but a video someone shared: ”The Sex-Starved Marriage: Michele Weiner-Davis at TEDxCU”

If you don’t have the stomach for watching the TED talk, I can summarize: wives, stop mistreating your husbands, if he wants sex and you don’t, just live by the Nike motto, and 'just do it.' Yes, she actually said that. Just do it. In the comments, she said “What's 15 minutes out of your life when you consider the great benefits to your spouse, your relationship and your well being?” She did say it’s not just a problem with women, but I all her examples were women, so….

Now the problem with the friend-zone is one I have been railing about for a while. The “friend-zone' is essentially the idea that women are sex-dispensers into which so-called “nice guys” put niceness coins and therefore rightly expect sex to pop out. And if a woman is not romantically interested in a guy, even if he is (always by his own assessment, I notice) a 'nice guy,' he has been unjustly consigned to the ‘friend-zone,’ a pitiless realm where good men are denied sex by the women they desire. It’s misogynist claptrap of the highest order, but it simply won’t go away.

The fact that roughly half of the comments on the first story revolved around how the “poor kid” was “friend-zoned for life” reveals the horrifying prevalence of the idea that there are times when a woman, not otherwise interested in a man, is obligated to give them sex. This is simply wrong. What’s more, it’s a prime specimen of sexist troglodyte rape culture.

There is NEVER an occasion in which a woman (or anyone) is obligated to have sex if she does not want to. There is NO amount of emotional blackmail, guilt-tripping, whining, or false entitlement that makes that expectation OK. Period. Full stop.

Now I am not saying that the kid in the story is guilty of this; the interviews don’t say. But certainly this is how this incident is parsed in the public conversation, and therein lies the problem.

So how does the second item figure in? This woman, who claims to be a sex therapist, essentially accuses married woman of friend-zoning their husbands. She doesn’t use those terms, but it amounts to it. She says that the person who wants less sex/sexual contact needs to just do it. Just do it. If you don’t want to, if your sex drive suffers from age, hormones, fatigue, whatever? Too bad. Do it anyway, you might even end up enjoying yourself. Isn’t it worth a few minutes of your time if he’ll be happier and easier to live with?

I can’t begin to say how wrong this is. This IS rape culture. Yes, she claims it’s not only women, but all her examples are women. And honestly, while I do know that men can suffer from low desire, I’m guessing the numbers are far from even. (I’d be delighted to be proved wrong; Medscape says 26-43% of women experienced low sexual desire compared to 13-28% of men; Archive of Sexual Behavior reports a far higher lifetime prevalence of low sexual desire among women (16%) than men (4%)) So please, spare me your slipshod veneer of ‘I’m speaking to guys, too.’ Shall I define ‘privilege’ for you?

Essentially, what this woman is saying is that if you are a woman who has a lower sex drive than your spouse, you are broken, you are selfish and unfair, and you are hurting him and courting divorce. (The entire video, outrageously, is couched as divorce avoidance advice; don't get me started). Spouses are entitled to sex, so you have to provide it. In this formulation, being married is only one more set of circumstances in which women are obligated to put out whether they want to or not, and in this case, their relationships, home, and family may depend on it. ‘How dare you expect a man to stay in a relationship with you if you won’t give him sex? It’s only 15 minutes out of your day…’ HOW IS THIS EVEN OKAY?!

Gee, wait a sec, don’t we have some word for unwanted sex? Let me think…oh, yeah, RAPE. Oh, it’s a choice? It’s a choice to provide sex in exchange for financial, emotional or social stability and security? Oh, that is different. But don’t we have a term for exchanging sex for some other consideration? I know there’s something….oh, yes; we call that prostitution. A man doesn’t have to leave a $50 on the dresser for a woman to be aware that she is prostituting herself.

Having known women who struggle with unequal desire in their relationships, I have seen the damage this does. Women who struggle with this end up trying to ‘just do it,’ and end up feeling cheap, used, objectified and ashamed, to say nothing of losing trust and intimacy with their partners. They struggle with feeling defective, broken, and unworthy because society (and, often, their spouses) tell them the inequity is their fault, and that it is their responsibility to fix it, to pay up and put out. They struggle with spouses who equate sex with caring, and use guilt and emotional manipulation to make them feel that ‘if they really cared, you’d be willing to have sex as often as I want it.’ It’s toxic, and it’s regressive, and we, as a society have to stop perpetuating this idea.

What is so terribly, horribly hard to understand here? What is so complex about women having sexual agency that is so hard to wrap our heads around? Are there actually men out there that WANT women to ‘put out’ when they don’t want to? (Don’t answer that; the obviousness of the answer is the whole problem!) But haven’t we fought this out by now? Hasn’t it been established that no, women do not have to lie down and shut up when men demand it, no matter the circumstances? Haven’t women struggled long enough with blame, guilt, and labels like ‘frigid’ or ‘cold fish?’ Do we really expect women to simply accept that dispensing sex is their function in life, and is more important than their own self-worth, their own sexual selves and sexual agency? Because I thought we were in 2014, not 1714. (I’m beginning to think I’m mistaken on that point, however….)

Off Latest Things page

Date: May 23rd, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
needled_ink_1975: A snarling cougar; colored pencil on paper (Default)
From: [personal profile] needled_ink_1975
(first, the link to the vid is html!faily. I had to do a copy-link-edit-paste to get it to work)

I......
I......

Y'know, TED talks have set my teeth on edge since I first came across them. There's a bunch of them that basically amount to people thinking they've found The Solution! But what they're talking about is really obvious to people who are:
a) more practical;
b) have less time to ponder problems and have to fix them NAOW;
c) don't generally indulge in navel-gazing;
d) don't usually stick their heads up their asses in order to peruse the inner workings of their minds;
e) all of the above.

So I see "TED" and my icon borrows your icon's sound effects.

But *this* TED talk? "Just do it?" And only 2 or 3 sane commenters on YouTube?

I.....

I want to cry. I also want to break things. Mostly because how the fuck are we gonna fix this if *any* WOMAN is saying, "Just do it" and what she means is that female spouses/partners should permit rape or actively prostitute themselves just to keep their husbands/partners happy.

There's nothing worse than a feeling of helplessness commingled with one of betrayal.

Thanks for posting, and ranting (I agree with everything you say, but I'm beyond the point of ranting coherently myself, so having someone else say it is appreciated).

–Nici

Date: May 25th, 2014 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toll-booth.livejournal.com
Two nights ago I wound up having a rather impromptu but really hot date. We went to a restaurant. We went for a walk in the park under the stars. We kissed several times (AFTER I asked for permission to kiss). Eventually, I worked up the courage to ask her back to my place...and she said no, I haven't fed my dog all afternoon and need to get back to him.

My response was, "Hey, it's okay. You're under no obligation to."

It doesn't matter whether the dog thing was an excuse or not. It doesn't matter that she had been holding my hand as we were walking around the park. It doesn't matter that I was turned on as hell. If I were really that sexually starved, then that's what masturbation + porn is for. Seriously--we need to destigmatize that as an effective method of self-relief. Because anybody who gets worked up about that but not about sexual assault is maintaining the rape culture, pure and simple.

P.S. The evening ended on a very pleasant note. I texted her yesterday, and she said, yes, she had an awesome time as well. :)

But...

Date: May 28th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elyssacousland.livejournal.com
The friend zone thing is crap. Heroism doesn't guarantee you a girlfriend. I imagine if you are attracted to someone, it'd be frustrating and sad that they don't return your feelings; learn to cope. You don't get everything you ever want. That's just not how the world works.

For your second point, I'm the example the woman in the TED talk should have used. I get what you're saying. And no means no, and that is final. But that said...

A marriage is a meeting between two individuals, who agree to certain basic tenets for their relationship. It's unfair to expect that you can just change something fundamental to a relationship and not have some fallout. I'm not saying 'just do it' or 'you're a bitch', I'm saying see a doctor, get counselling...figure out a way for you and your spouse to get back on the same page. It's not fair to a spouse with a higher sex drive just to have to live without sex forever, either.

I'm probably an anomaly. I have a much higher sex drive than my husband. He finds sex annoying and not worth the effort. Without sex, at least occasionally, I feel unattractive, unwanted, and alone. Why be married if there won't be any sex? Just be room-mates for financial benefit. Maybe if we had an arrangement where I could go elsewhere for satisfaction, I'd feel differently. But not only does he not respect my desire for intimacy, he expects fidelity. And it's not that I want to be with someone else; I am no cheater. But I can understand being sick of being alone in a marriage.

That is not the same as when dating someone, or just meeting someone. I'm talking about a situation where you have married someone based on a certain expectation, and they refuse to consider that changing that expectation has consequences. When my husband and I got married, sex was daily. At least. I expected the frequency to decline with time, but not like it has. I never agreed to life without sex. And I can tell you, if it continues forever, I won't be the first person to leave their spouse for lack of intimacy. So yeah, he has the right to say no, but I suppose, I also have the right to find someone who will say yes.

Date: May 31st, 2014 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nygoldfish54.livejournal.com
I've been reading about this a lot lately. great post.

I'm noticing the on-going pattern here that this kind of thinking only lines up if women are not viewed as people with (sexual) agency but merely as pieces of meat to be poked at and prodded for the pleasure of men.

It's horrifying that we're still at this point. And for the record, guys, just because you haven't actively called for women to be barefoot and pregnant and to get back in the kitchen, doesn't mean you aren't misogynistic and/or that misogynistic attitudes have completely disappeared.

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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

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