Thus Spake Zuska

What does it mean when a woman ogles a man in the patriarchy?

Reader RichB commented:

…men being looked at as sexual objects increases their power, but women being looked at as sexual objects decreases their power.

Reader Hope isn’t buying it:

Really? So if I ogle a man, I’m increasing his power? If a man ogles another man, he’s increasing that other man’s power? Or is it just that I, as a woman, have no power to objectify a man? No power, period?

What’s the answer? Can a woman objectify a man, or not?

Yes, she can – under certain conditions. If she’s his supervisor or superior in a work or educational situation, and the behavior is making him uncomfortable and is interfering with his work or learning, if he’s being forced to submit to the behavior as a condition of his work or learning, then it’s objectifying, and sexual harassment, and illegal.

Otherwise, in general, in social situations, women checking men out and ogling them adds to their sexual power, whereas men ogling women diminishes their status. That’s how patriarchy works. Objectified women may have their status as sex objects increased, but the status of female sex object is not a high one in a patriarchal society.

What about men ogling men? Again, depends upon context. If you’re in a gay bar, then no doubt the ogling would likely be desired and welcome. If you are in a workplace, once again, all the issues of non-professional behavior and status differentials relating to sexual harassment exist. On top of this, however, the extremely high levels of homophobia among straight men comes into play. Straight men feel more virile and sexually powerful when they are being checked out by straight women, but attracting the attention of another man is a terrifying threat to straight male masculinity that cannot be tolerated. In fact, some straight men have experienced this threat so strongly that they find violence and even murder to be necessary remedies.

Allan Johnson talks in The Gender Knot about how patriarchy is “organized around an obsession with control”. Control is a valued concept – control of self, control over emotions, control over others – and it is an important component of heteronormative masculinity. Ogling – the male gaze – can serve to express that one is in control of one’s self and of the subject of the gaze.

I wrote about women, men, control, ogling, and the power of the gaze in my essay “Suzy the Computer’ vs. ‘Dr. Sexy’: What’s a Geek Girl to Do When She Wants to Get Laid?” for She’s Such a Geek! You may find some of what I wrote to be of in interest in our ongoing conversation. The text presented below is slightly different than that which appears in the book’s essay. The last sentence of the fourth paragraph, and the paragraphs that follow it, did not appear in the book.

We’re led to believe that the erotic and technologic are in opposition…The hyper-mathematical weed-out curriculum, with its emphasis on discipline and control, facilitates the divorce of the erotic from the technologic. It makes men out of the boys, and nerdhood then becomes a way of doing masculinity.

When Nerds are only men, then women can only be Whores. Consider the TV reality show “Beauty and the Geek”, where all the geeks are men, and all the women are “beauties”. Visit its website and click on the link for “How Geeky Are You?” [This text describes the show's website in 2006. The image and text described here are no longer available.] You’ll find the image of a woman clad only in underpants, lips parted, and her breasts replaced with a set of black plastic glass frames, out of which stare two male eyes. The sexualized female body is the object of the disembodied, cerebral male gaze. The producers say they recruited “eight women who are academically impaired and eight men who are brilliant but socially challenged.” The contestant profiles reveal that one of the women is actually a dental assistant. Nevertheless, on the message boards, her professional training and skills are ignored, except as vehicles for male sexual gratification — “she could do oral work on me all day”, “I would drool…she would have to wipe it off as I look down her shirt”. Sexual attractiveness in women negates their competence and proves that they are, in reality, dumb.

The producers of “Beauty and the Geek” say that a future season will reverse the genders, with female geeks and male beauties. Would this help any? In a word, no. The idea of the female geek seems to be a stereotype-buster. But in fact, the figure of the female geek reproduces and reinforces all the negative stereotypes about individuals with an affinity for technology. And because she needs a modifier (female geek) while he does not (geek), she also reinforces the primary notion that technologically competent people are male. She’s just a Nerdonna to his Nerd, and neither of them is getting laid.

In addition, the reversal is not truly equal. A man ogling beautiful women is a commonplace of our society, and it is a hierarchical activity – the ogler is an active agent, more powerful than the object that is ogled. A woman ogling a man seems amusing, and possibly whorish, but her gaze does not confer power. Think again about that website photo. What shape would a reversed-gender image take? Female eyes gazing out of geeky glass frames don’t have the same cultural cachet as the male gaze. Where would you put the eyes — superimposed over his balls? An image that evokes the idea of a female head positioned near a man’s penis doesn’t make the woman dominant; it suggests she’s about to give him a blowjob.

What if our female geeks are pinup material? The “Geek Gorgeous” calendar offers photos of women provocatively dressed and posed, draped in technological objects. (See the sample page, in which March’s model is wearing ethernet cable wrapped around her breasts.) Lilac Mohr, the calendar’s producer and a software engineer, believes that the calendar shows women proud of who they are. She asks “What is so wrong about intelligent women showing the world that they can be just as sexy and comfortable with their bodies as the bimbos, but hold careers where they are valued for nothing more than their brain power?” [Note: the "Geek Gorgeous" calendar site seems to no longer be available online. However, this site talks about it and has a reproduction of the back cover of the calendar.]

Despite Mohr’s insistence that the calendar does not objectify women, March’s model is posed nearly identically to the cover girl on Playboy’s “College Girls Spring 2003″ edition. [The link I used in 2006 for this is broken and I did not feel like searching the Playboy store again, sorry.] Presenting technically competent women as sexy bimbos in the manner of familiar male fantasies does not “take the power away from men to view women as one-dimensional sex objects.” [quote from GeekGorgeous.com, 2006] It encourages all of us to view technically competent women as one more variation on the male sex object – a Whorish Nerdonna. It is for this reason that the “Geek Gorgeous” calendar does not represent a positive development for women in technology.

What thoughts does this text provoke in you? How do you understand the asymmetry between the male and female gaze as described above? How do you understand a show like “Beauty and the Geek” or a calendar like “Geek Gorgeous” in the context of the patriarchy as we discussed it in the first Gender Knot Post? Is “Beauty and the Geek” any better or worse than the original it plays off of, “Beauty and the Beast”?

Or what other interesting questions would you like to pose and answer?

Comments

  1. #1 Comrade PhysioProf
    June 16, 2009

    I have had some very interesting experiences in gay bars/dance clubs as a heterosexual male. A few times I have gone with a group comprising both gay and het friends, and a few things stood out:

    (1) It seemed clear to the gay patrons of these places that some of us were het, and which of us were which.

    (2) When some of them paid attention–i.e., ogled–those of us who were het, some of us (myself included) enjoyed the attention.

    (3) It seemed that the oglers were enjoying the fact that some of us het d00ds were enjoying the attention.

    (4) I suspect that much of this relates to the possession by everyone involved of male privilege.

  2. #2 Hope
    June 16, 2009

    I’m still not buying it, Zuska. I agree with you about the workplace stuff, but then you write about social situations:

    A man ogling beautiful women is a commonplace of our society, and it is a hierarchical activity – the ogler is an active agent, more powerful than the object that is ogled. A woman ogling a man seems amusing, and possibly whorish, but her gaze does not confer power.

    It seems to me that you are saying that a woman cannot objectify a man in a social situation because the man is always more powerful than the woman. Perhaps this was true in years past when a woman needed a husband in order to have a life. But I don’t need a man to buy me my drinks or pay for my dinner. For all I know, my salary may be twice what the guy that I’m checking out makes. So if I ogle a guy, have a one night stand with him, and then send him packing, how exactly does this guy have power over me? And since I’m looking to get laid, why would I not find his ogling me “desired and welcome,” just like the gay men in the bar? (Though I have to wonder, do gay men in bars always enjoy being ogled?)

    I do agree that the power relationship is important — which is why it was that much worse for PBM to ogle a student. It’s just that I think that women today are a lot more powerful than they used to be.

    Finally, speaking of TV, what do you make of the character of Samantha on “Sex and the City”? Do you find her “amusing, and possibly whorish,” but socially powerless?

  3. #3 thoughtcounts Z
    June 16, 2009

    I think it’s interesting that in both “Beauty and the Beast” and “Beauty and the Geek,” the man is portrayed as something *bad* which the woman has to fix. (Sure, I guess in Beauty and the Geek part of the point is that the women supposedly not intelligent, but as you pointed out from those comments, it really doesn’t matter to the viewers.) I think it’s interesting that a premise that says “woman=good, man=bad” can simultaneously mean “woman=object for possession, man=powerful possessor.”

  4. #4 Katherine
    June 16, 2009

    thoughtcounts Z, I understood the premise of Beauty and the Geek to be that both sides had something “wrong” with them, and that each group would help the other group to improve themselves. I do think it is ridiculous that they would include an intellegent woman, as that violates the premise (as I see it).

    Hope, I think what Zuska is saying is that a lot of people, or perhaps men, see Samantha and others like her as “amusing, and possibly whorish,” but powerless to make a man feel objectified. I’m not sure though.

  5. #5 becca
    June 16, 2009

    Hope, Zuska did say “in general” wrt social situations, and the quote you give does not contain absolutes. It’s perfectly possible for a woman to objectify a man. But it’s a bit funny/unusual? Or maybe it’s just me that thinks it’s rare enough to be hilarious… (e.g. a woman hands a man a drink in a bar, then interrupts his attempt to respond with: “No, don’t speak! You’ll just ruin the effect- right now you’re almost perfect. All you need is to be naked in my bed.”- I mean, I could imagine Samantha from Sex and the City saying that, but no one I actually know)

    Anyway. I’m still ambivalent about what it means when a woman oggles a woman. When rivalry and attraction mix, power dynamics can be complicated.

  6. #6 jc
    June 17, 2009

    I just saw this on Samia’s blog… yowwee! http://im-geiste.blogspot.com/2009/06/yes-male-gaze-is-alive-and-well.html

    She gives this link which changes out magazine ads using men and women:
    http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreete/powerpose/index.html
    Click through the pages. Here’s an excerpt:
    “Rather, the problem is how beauty is being defined: as a means to male power through strategic deference. It’s not simply sex or sexiness that’s at stake here, but a particular construction of sexiness in terms of a power relation of male dominance and female subordination.”

  7. #7 Cara
    June 17, 2009

    So if I ogle a guy, have a one night stand with him, and then send him packing, how exactly does this guy have power over me? And since I’m looking to get laid, why would I not find his ogling me “desired and welcome,” just like the gay men in the bar?

    The original “Professor Breast Man” thing was about leering AT WORK. The power differential stuff still applies in social settings, but it’s not the same thing at all.

    I’m constantly flabbergasted by all the “what if” and “not me!” stuff that comes up in these discussions.

    Why is it so impossible to accept as given the very basic premises that:
    1)Women as a class have less societal power than men do, and
    2)Though men are taught from the cradle that they have the RIGHT (nay, the OBLIGATION) to titillate themselves however and whenever they can,
    2a)it’s not REALLY a RIGHT, and
    2b)if it makes someone uncomfortable it’s tacky, and that MATTERS because
    2c) women really, truly, are PEOPLE, just like men are, and
    2d)it’s wrong to upset people?

    I’m becoming fascinated. It’s like an alfalfa plant. The fricking root goes down ten feet and WILL NOT WILL NOT WILL NOT COME OUT so you can be rid of it. Why, even when feminists discuss it, are there so many caveats and “but…but…but” statements?

  8. #8 Cara
    June 17, 2009

    In other words (I guess), why is this such a personal topic for people? Is everyone so afraid they’re doing something offensive they can’t just say, “Oh, I guess I’ll be more careful at work, and also pay more attention to how other people react in social situations”? Are people afraid they’ll never get laid again if they do something different?

    I mean, if it were strictly the trolling mouthbreathers, it would make sense to me, but it’s ALSO people who seem used to discussions about privilege and power who are doing all the “what if”ing.

    What the hell is going on?

  9. #9 JessSnark
    June 17, 2009

    This question is addressed in Susan Faludi’s book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male too. She talks about how in the past few decades men’s role (in terms of jobs and how they’re portrayed in magazines and movies and TV) has shifted to become more “ornamental” rather than “utilitarian” and this basically puts them in a similar situation to what women have experienced: being the object of a gaze rather than the subjects of a meaningful narrative. Read the book, because my summary doesn’t do it justice. I think she’s right, but we shouldn’t misread this to say that women and men are now equally objectified- history doesn’t get erased that quickly.

  10. #10 abb3w
    June 17, 2009

    Cara Why is it so impossible to accept as given the very basic premises that:
    1)Women as a class have less societal power than men do

    First off, because there’s not yet a clear definition of “power” in the social context. From GRRM’s “A Clash of Kings”:

    “May I leave you with a bit of a riddle, Lord Tyrion?” He did not wait for an answer. “In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I ciommand you in the names of the gods.’ ‘ Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me—who lives and who dies?”
    [...]
    “The king, the priest, the rich man—who lives and who dies? Who will the swordsman obey? It’s a riddle without an answer, or rather, too many answers. All depends on the man with the sword.”

    “And yet he is no one,” Varys said. “He has neither crown nor gold nor favor of the gods, only a piece of pointed steel.”

    “That piece of steel is the power of life and death.”

    “Just so… yet if it is the swordsmen who rule us in truth, why do we pretend our kings hold the power? Why should a strong man with a sword ever obey a child like Joffrey, or a wine-sodden oaf like his father?”

    “Because these child kings and drunken oafs can call other strong men, with other swords?”

    “The these other swordsmen have the true power. Or do they? Whence came their swords? Why do they obey?” Varys smiled. “Some say knowledge is power. Some tell us that all power comes from the gods. Others say it derives from law.”
    [...]
    Tyrion cocked his head sideways. “Did you mean to answer your damned riddle, or only to make my head ache worse?”

    Varys smiled. “Here then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”

    “So power is a mummer’s trick?”

    “A shadow on the wall,” Varys murmured, “yet shadows can kill. And oftimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”

    The gender of the roles is less important to the riddle than the roles themselves to the point here; feel free to consider the riddle of a queen, priestess, rich woman, and a swordswoman. The point is, a large part of where social power lies is merely where people believe it is. I’d speculate there’s probably a connection to Haidt’s identified AUTHORITY axis for morality, which gets a bit complicated. (Why does AUTHORITY lie in any particular center?)

    The nature of the disparities of power (beyond what is simply belief) may be an additional complication to the question.

    I’d also slightly disagree that upsetting people is inherently wrong. However, doing so when only for one’s own prurient enjoyment, would seem to qualify, and appears the main context here, so that’s just a minor quibble.

  11. #11 Hope
    June 17, 2009

    @Becca: “No, don’t speak! You’ll just ruin the effect- right now you’re almost perfect. All you need is to be naked in my bed.”

    If a guy said that to me, I would find it hilarious!

    @Cara: What the hell is going on?

    Could you be misreading some posts? You seem to have misinterpreted mine. No one here is saying that PBM’s behavior is acceptable. When I said that it was that much worse for him to ogle a student, does that not imply that I think his ogling was bad to begin with?

    The topic of this discussion is whether women have the power to objectify men. Zuska has argued that in general, the answer is no. That’s just how the patriarchy works. I am arguing that the answer is not so clear cut. In recent years, I think it has become possible, more common, and more acceptable for women to engage in this behavior. Do I think this is a good thing? I think it’s good that women have become more powerful. Personally, I don’t think it’s right to treat another human being like a piece of meat, irrespective of whether it’s a woman or a man. It’s certainly unacceptable at work, and I’m not too impressed with people that do it in bars or sidewalk cafes, either.

  12. #12 trouble
    June 17, 2009

    I think the issue here around power and ogling has to include the larger context in which ogling occurs.

    This doesn’t just mean in terms of who is higher paid, this also has to do with the risks involved in sexual objectification. A primary one being rape & sexual violence. Harassment on the job has already been addressed somewhat, and the power issues there are pretty clear.

    If a woman ogles a man and a man knows about it, how much time does a man spend thinking about what kind of sexual violence he could suffer at the hands of that woman? How much time does he spend thinking about how he responds to ogling and whether his response could be used against him later (say, if he has to sue over sexual violence)?

    also, the issue of a man’s reputation vs. a woman’s hasn’t been much discussed here. a woman who is ogled, who is seen to seek or enjoy ogling, has a double-edged power, because there is still the risk of being devalued as a slut (and again, there is a risk of sexual violence and of one’s ternished reputation working against the ability to fight back in court or public opinion). A man who is ogled by a woman, even by a woman who makes a lot more money than him, simply doesn’t have much risk to his reputation. being seen as a “ladies’ man” doesn’t bring the same risks at the same level.

  13. #13 JLK
    June 17, 2009

    @Cara – I think part of the reason for the “what-ifing” is that most of us women have no clue HOW to deal with this stuff on a daily basis. I consider myself a card-carrying feminist, but I LIKE being ogled. It is likely completely delusional, but I believe it gives me power because many men are so easily manipulated through their sexuality. It sounds shitty, but it’s true.

    That is the “what-if” that I was planning to post until I read your comments, Cara. Let’s take the example of strippers (assuming, for clarity’s sake, that we’re talking about run-of-the-maill strippers, not the ones giving blow jobs in the back of the club). They use their sexuality to make money. Dumbass men go to these places KNOWING that they can’t even touch these women, and part with $30-40 for a minute and a half private dance. I have a really hard time seeing these women as powerless.

    So the real question is, HOW do we get that power? How do we become no longer powerless? I think many women feel that objectifying men is one way to accomplish this – but as has been brought up, this is easier said than done. Can we get men to stop ogling and treating women as objects? Maybe, but this is also an extremely difficult and broadscale task.

    The reason for the what-ifs is the lack of solutions. What do we, as women, DO about it? Because saying to the men, “You need to stop doing this shit” reaffirms that the power lies with them.

    For me, being more outspoken than most, I accept the ogling unless and until it makes me uncomfortable, and then I will say something. Unless it reaches that point, I will use it to make people bend to my will. At work, we have a larger-than-average lesbian population, especially in upper management positions. They ogle me just as much as the men do. If I need a favor from a manager, you can bet your ass I’m going to one of them to ask for it, and will flirt as needed to get it. They know I’m not gay, they know I’m married, and they don’t care because they savor the attention. Again, it’s hard to see myself as powerless there.

    That said, I do believe that a woman ogling a man is only giving him more power. Men’s sexuality has never really been an inherent power for them. Money, status, physical dominance, absolutely. But not their sexuality. Ogling them and turning them into a “sex object” only adds that sexual power to their status.

  14. #14 Cara
    June 17, 2009

    I consider myself a card-carrying feminist, but I LIKE being ogled. It is likely completely delusional, but I believe it gives me power because many men are so easily manipulated through their sexuality. It sounds shitty, but it’s true.

    Hm. You know, JLK, the thing is…that’s not power. I mean, it’s as close to it as many women get, and of course it’s not surprising that the mixed messages out there confuse people, but it’s not power. Not even close. Manipulating someone–needing to manipulate them to get what you need–isn’t a powerful position to be in.

    Power over one’s own life isn’t easy to come by for women. I’ve certainly gotten my share of *favor* by being pretty (and haven’t challenged it), but I’ve flatly refused to seek it out on those terms because that’s my own little line in the sand, and has been since I was about ten years old and figured out what was going on out there.

    I will NOT flirt at work, period. I will NOT allow a man to think he has a chance with me if I don’t like him. I will NOT accept a drink from a strange guy in a bar because the *code* is that I owe him my attention, and I refuse to go along with that crap. If he wants to talk to me, he can damned well be brave and talk to me. (I don’t bite, unless I’m disrespected of course).

    As a result of this line (maybe), I get more respect from men than other women seem to. Would I get any at all if I weren’t attractive? Maybe, from the truly decent men. But the same ones who respect me for being a nice, lovely, GOOD woman would probably treat me like shit if I were unattractive unless I were also extra *nice*.

    Maybe abb3w’s right and there’s a lot of confusion about power. But I tend to think it’s largely because women don’t want to think about how little we really have. The power to reduce men to a jelly of lust(!) *eyeroll* isn’t it.

  15. #15 Cara
    June 17, 2009

    One thing I forgot to say straight out: “Favor” from patriarchy-approved systems isn’t the same thing as power. It’s like being given a cookie for being a good compliant girl.

    Power is when you can make or buy your own damned cookies whenever you want.

  16. #16 jc
    June 17, 2009

    HA! Cara, we are on the same page. I was gonna write how people are confusing power with cookies! You beat me to it.

  17. #17 abb3w
    June 17, 2009

    Cara: Manipulating someone–needing to manipulate them to get what you need–isn’t a powerful position to be in.

    Depends on how you define “manipulation”, doesn’t it? Or perhaps “need”. If Bill Gates walks into the Smith car dealership, drops a couple packs of hundreds on Mr. Smith’s desk, and says “I want a new sports car”, it’s a form of manipulation. Gates is manipulating social conventions and concepts to take advantage of Smith’s greed, and gets a car as a result.

    Cara: Maybe abb3w’s right and there’s a lot of confusion about power. But I tend to think it’s largely because women don’t want to think about how little we really have.

    I’m not so sure it’s a lack of power, as a lack of understanding on how what power is may be optimally applied to obtain what is needed/wanted.

    Another piece of the puzzle is that societal-wide changes generally take time, because most people’s thought processes tend to ossify by their 30s, so part of the solution is you to have to outlive the old bastards. (A violent revolution can help that, but I disrecommend it.) The more difficult part is trying to reduce the effectiveness of the old bastards turning young kids into young bastards to replenish the bastard supply.

  18. #18 Helen Huntingdon
    June 18, 2009

    I see this thread is overdue for a link to the “Sword of Power” essay:

    “It slowly dawned on me that Power given from the Powerful to the weak based upon the weak’s ability to entertain the Powerful was not Power at all.”

    http://archiveofthebitingbeaver.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/sword-of-power/

  19. #19 Cara
    June 18, 2009

    The more difficult part is trying to reduce the effectiveness of the old bastards turning young kids into young bastards to replenish the bastard supply.

    I’m with you there. It’s a bit scary sometimes.

  20. #20 Cara
    June 18, 2009

    I really should just read absolutely everything and comment once. Sorry.

    Gates is manipulating social conventions and concepts to take advantage of Smith’s greed, and gets a car as a result.

    I’d say he’s buying a car, just as I’d buy my aforementioned cookies from the grocer. Fair trade isn’t manipulating a social convention, and it’s not the same thing as being forced into having one’s PERSON be part of the barter. Big difference.

    (And, no, I’m not interested in going into the whole debate about why selling some services of one’s person is different from selling others blah blah. Just, no. Not doing it. That red herring can just flop away without my attention).

  21. #21 Samia
    June 18, 2009

    WHY did I read this post? Now I’m angry at all the tangential stuff that’s taking away from the original post. And I know there’s no point in commenting here, but whatever:

    The reason for the what-ifs is the lack of solutions. What do we, as women, DO about it? Because saying to the men, “You need to stop doing this shit” reaffirms that the power lies with them.

    Statements like this frustrate me because they reflect many people’s attitudes about harassment/sexual assault prevention– namely, that it’s a woman’s responsibility. And I really think societal sexism is to blame for this attitude (50% of the population at risk and this considered some kind of niche issue for us to take care of by ourselves, without engaging possible perpetrators???). Thankfully, great groups like Men Stopping Violence have a different attitude towards male oppression of female children and adults, and they manage to get a lot done in a positive way.

    How many self-defense classes/gizmos/”advice” are we supposed to take before it’s permissible to start talking to parents in our community about raising their boys right? Before encouraging other women to break the silence, giving them the freedom to NOT BE OKAY with being seen as meat? I can’t see how anyone would lose their feminist cred by talking to young men in their community about the way they see women and their feelings about gender-based violence. From what I can see, males are not involved ENOUGH and the work feminist groups do with boys, fathers, and/or violent men is to be commended.

    [/soapbox]

    For anyone interested, I will once again plug about the utter crock that is “female sexual power.”

  22. #22 Samia
    June 18, 2009

    *plug this [Happy Feminist post]

    Sheesh.

  23. #23 wildstrawberry
    June 18, 2009

    I don’t think it’s possible to take away the power of the male gaze simply by training the camera angle on male rather than female bodies. We all are socialized in a patriarchal milieu and our perceptions of male and female bodies are inescapably informed by the cultural norms of male dominance and female submission. As an extreme example, consider the difference between a woman baring her breasts and a man exposing his penis in public. The female flasher is percieved as a titillating display (ie of sexual submission), whereas the male flasher is percieved as a sexual threat; his exposed genitals a sign of sexual dominance. These perceptions can’t be subverted by the intent of the flasher or the power dynamic between the flasher and the viewer. Even if the woman says showing her breasts make her feel sexy or empowerful or turned-on, and even if the person looking at her is doing so in a bashful way, the display of her body is difficult to separate from the cultural construction of women as a submissive sex class (also seconding here the observation above that *favor*, which a tit-flashing woman is likely to recieve from surrounding men, is not the same as *power*). Likewise, even if the man poses no physical threat to the person looking at him– even if he is on a different train platform or is physically immobile or the person observing him has a gun or looks at the exposed member in a leering or domineering way– his exposure of his penis would be a form of sexual assault, both due to the cultural narratives regarding male sexual power and the statistical realities of sexual assault. Granted, flashers are a far cry from coworkers or random clothed strangers, but I think the different response anyone would have to an unexpected display of male vs female bodies illustrates nicely that the power of the male gaze resides not only with the looker/lookee, but also with the way male and female bodies themselves are constructed under patriarchy.

  24. #24 Cara
    June 18, 2009

    Wildstrawberry FTW.

  25. #25 Samia
    June 18, 2009

    THANK YOU wildstrawberry! :)

  26. #26 Zuska
    June 18, 2009

    Wildstrawberry, that is so very well and completely put. Thank you so much for that comment.

  27. #27 wildstrawberry
    June 18, 2009

    Thanks, Cara and Samia. And thank YOU, Zuska, for this excellent series. I’m not a d00d, but I’m loving the outreach project.

  28. #28 JLK
    June 18, 2009

    @Samia – you’ve been to my blog. You know I am the fiercest advocate for raising our boys right. That’s not the issue.

    And I have yet to see anyone offer any practical advice to women in their day-to-day lives about HOW to deal with this. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, just that I don’t know what the solution is. I am asking you ladies, for REAL, let’s talk about solutions instead of just bitching about the problems.

  29. #29 Samia
    June 19, 2009

    I haven’t read much of your blog, JLK, past that post on gender dichotomy I commented on a while back. From what you wrote here, it looks like you thought that asking/teaching men to stop hurting us is somehow giving them undue power?

    As for what you call “bitching,” I don’t think enough women feel comfortable talking about this stuff in real life, sadly. The internet can provide a catharsis for some of us. I do understand the urgency to DO something, though. :/

    My thoughts:

    There is no surefire, soul-satisfying way to kill systemic oppression of females on a day-to-day basis. Giving women a voice, and educating men about these issues, starting a real-life dialogue in our communities is the best place to start, IMO. Sis and I are trying to get more speakers on our campus to do workshops and trainings for the benefit of potential victims and perpetrators of gender-based abuse. We also want training for volunteers in our feminist/antiracist/LGBTQI organizations– what methods are other groups using? For example, I know MSV does good father-son stuff, so to me the first order of business is to find out what the heck they’re doing and see how I can make it work in my organization(s).

    On our campus, there are academic incentives for students to attend certain events (I think it’s part of a freshman seminar type thing) and this helps us get attendance at some of the social justice-themed talks and fora. Sometimes a film screening is all it takes to get people thinking about this stuff. And talking. And crying. And sharing. I think empathy is key. A lot of these discussions about harassment assume there’s a magical laundry list of “things not to do around straight women.” I think if we can show folks that we’re not really that different from each other, empathy can be learned and this bond to one’s fellow human can modify a lot of troublesome behaviors. One thing we’re wanting to do this year is ally a lot of the campus orgs into a progressive collective with real power.

    I should mention that my school is notoriously closelipped about this stuff, and it’s also pretty segregated along several lines, so breaking the ice with students about sexual harassment/assault issues is a real challenge. We’ve got huge issues with silence, especially with regards to what goes on in some of our Greek orgs. My “solutions” may seem elementary to some of y’all.

  30. #30 Samia
    June 19, 2009

    I almost forgot: big ups to Helen for that most wonderful link to Sword of Power! What brilliant prose. *much love*

  31. #31 Hope
    June 19, 2009

    [Sigh] I suppose that no matter how successful, wealthy, independent, or influential a woman becomes, there’s always the possibility that she may be raped by a man. If, in the end, this is the seat of true power, then we may as well just pack it up and go home.

  32. #32 Cara
    June 19, 2009

    I am asking you ladies, for REAL, let’s talk about solutions instead of just bitching about the problems.

    JLK, I thought I did that. I mean, it’s not a perfect solution, I can’t change the world all by myself, but it’s a start. And I don’t know where Hope got, “well, sigh, I guess we give up” from what was said here.

    The first step is to QUIT PLAYING THE GAME. We’re all doing that by learning how it works and doing our best to deconstruct it. We’re talking to each other, talking to men, teaching our boys. We’re asking questions like, “Can we turn this around by turning The Gaze on men?”

    We’re doing it. I don’t know what more you expect, here. We’ve been struggling for centuries to be seen as human. I don’t know why you’re saying, “Quit bitching and DO SOMETHING.”

  33. #33 JLK
    June 19, 2009

    @Cara – I’m not saying “quit bitching and DO something” and I apologize if it came across that way.

    What Hope said is unfortunately true – no matter how powerful a woman becomes, she can still be raped. But I certainly don’t think we should just give up.

    We all know we want to raise our boys right, and that it will likely take at least 1 more generation before we start to see some REAL changes. And we are engaging men who are willing to listen in dialogue about this stuff. And women like Samia are going out and educating other women and getting them to talk about it.

    The question I am trying to get at is more of a philisophical one – what is the power we are looking to gain and how will we know when we have it? Hope’s comment asks the question – if men’s sexual power is the ultimate because the possibility is always there regardless of the men we raise, what do we DO about that? (I still don’t know if I’m being clear enough….)

    Ideally, we would create a world in which equality truly was the norm, women were respected as well as all ethnic groups and every other person who has ever been discriminated against. This would be a world where women would never be raped because men would respect our bodies and our sexuality as well as our thoughts and feelings.

    Here’s the problem as I see it. In order to make that happen, one of two things must occur: either we ALL give up our power and exchange it for respect (which we all know is not likely to happen because of human nature), OR the oppressed must reclaim some form of power to balance the scale.

    IF men will retain that sexual power no matter what (the ability to rape, regardless of desire to do so), what do women need on their side of the scale in order to balance it out?

    I’m asking, seriously. I think this is an important discussion.

  34. #34 Hope
    June 19, 2009

    One more thing to consider: Some people on this thread seem to think that acknowledging that women are able to objectify men is tantamount to taking away the power of the male gaze. To me that makes as much sense as saying that it’s possible to get men to stop smoking by letting women smoke, too. How to get men to stop objectifying women is really a different question from whether women have the power to objectify men.

  35. #35 Peggy
    June 19, 2009

    IF men will retain that sexual power no matter what (the ability to rape, regardless of desire to do so), what do women need on their side of the scale in order to balance it out?

    I think there needs to be social change so that there is a common consensus that rape is completely unacceptable behavior. I don’t mean just the “jump out of the bushes and attack a stranger” sort of rape (which pretty much everyone agrees is wrong), but also what some people call “gray” rape: “going too far” on a date, getting a girl wasted so she won’t say no to sex, etc. We need to stop giving boys and men the message that treatment of women as sexual objects is something completely out of their control. And I don’t think there will be significant change until the focus is expanded from what women can or should do as potential victims to what men can and should do too. See this LJ entry “On rape and men” for lots more discussion of what dudes can do and have done, both good and bad.

  36. #36 Samia
    June 19, 2009

    JLK, I’m going to try to speak to your points before swandiving into another speech. ;)

    Will we really see changes in men’s attitudes in one generation, though? And these men who listen “willingly”…how many of them truly spend time to reflect on their male privilege?

    As for what power we are looking to gain, I think the UN Declaration of Human Rights encapsulates my goals as a feminist pretty well. Female problems are human problems. The power I’m after is not at all similar to the force that currently traps men and women alike into cis-centric gender roles…I don’t think the answer is trying to become more like men (who themselves are socialized into confining gender norms). I don’t think the answer is to come up with a heteronormative female version of the male gaze. The Gaze is unfair– that’s the point.

    The problem with rape is not that men are physically able to overpower us (=sexual power?). Its horrific prevalence, its constant use as a tool to shut us up, control our movements and keep us afraid, the difficulty in punishing perpetrators without risking humiliation and further harm, that we are so often blamed for our own assaults and that it’s widely considered 100% OUR sole responsibility to keep ourselves safe (without ruffling the group of people who usually hurt us like this)– that women are apparently considered some kind of cutesy “special interest group” rather than a full 50% of the world population…well, this issue goes deeper than the ability to commit physical battery.

    I’m not sure what you mean by giving up our power for respect?

    Maybe I’m getting repetitive here, but when you talk about balancing the scale…I immediately think of teaching people in our lives to become feminist (reclaiming them from the anti-woman messages of the media, peers and even our own psyches). That is power– raising our children properly, demanding the men in our lives respect our autonomous minds and bodies, not letting other women get away with misogyny, either. We need to take back our freakin’ culture!

    And this would mean teaching men how to look into themselves and their own attitudes rather than stopping at “Hey, rape is kinda bad. Sorry some guys do that, gals.” I’ve noticed that a few self-proclaimed feminist men will often rush in, talk a bunch of big shit, then leave before the actual discussion starts– without ever once thinking about their own attitudes. Sadly, some male feminists engage in very little self-reflection or none at all and we need to reach them. Complacency is the enemy!

    If you are interested in learning about specific ways women are taking back their freedoms, you may want to read Anne Firth Murray’s “From Outrage to Courage” which takes a look at women’s activism from a developing nations perspective (with a focus on access to education and healthcare). I think this viewpoint is all too often missing in discussions of gender inequality, and there are direct parallels to the lives led by women in the West.

    As for what we can do from home, first off feminism needs to stop being a bad word. Everyone on earth should personally know at least one open feminist– someone who’s okay with being angry about injustice, someone who’s willing TO DO THE WORK. On a daily level, this means getting into those uncomfortably open and honest dialogues with loved ones, being more analytical of the media we consume, engaging in activism, writing, talking, becoming more well-read, learning to debate properly, and going into our communities to link up with other people who want to rise up against patriarchy. For feminist men, the task may be even harder in some ways…going up against male friends who only know how to bond using misogyny? I don’t envy that job. And unlearning sexual mores disseminated through porn culture is another matter altogether.

    We really, really need to remove the stigma surrounding the feminist movement and remind people this is a global phenomenon that welcomes folks from all walks of life. This is something I think women can try to do one person at a time, either by leading by example or just talking about it with skeptical friends. I really believe this stuff makes a difference. It might not be the hit-you-over-the-head result we all want, but patriarchy didn’t establish itself in a day either.

    Wow this was long. Sorry y’all. I need to get back to my centrifuge. :)

  37. #37 Zuska
    June 19, 2009

    Samia, I can’t thank you enough for the tremendous contributions you are making to the dialogue here.

    All of you, really – the quality of the conversation is just amazing. I am very grateful for your participation.

  38. #38 becca
    June 19, 2009

    Samia, you rule.
    My detailed reaction:
    “Everyone on earth should personally know at least one open feminist”
    Yeah, that would be a good start.
    “– someone who’s okay with being angry about injustice,”
    Like shoe puking, yay Zuska!”
    “someone who’s willing TO DO THE WORK.”
    It’s hard work. I don’t know if I’m ready for that. Yet there’s a burden here, and it isn’t fairly distributed. I feel bad relying on someone else to do this for me.

    “On a daily level, this means getting into those uncomfortably open and honest dialogues with loved ones,”
    Oh CareBear and your gender stereotypes…

    “being more analytical of the media we consume,
    Always a good thing.

    “engaging in activism, writing, talking, becoming more well-read, learning to debate properly, “
    Wait a second… all those things sound like fun.

    “and going into our communities to link up with other people who want to rise up against patriarchy.”
    Samia, you make feminism sound fun. And do-able. And like it’s made of things that I already use to define myself. Maybe I can be the feminist that the people in my life know.
    Seriously, do you know how inspiring you are? Again- Samia, you rule.

  39. #39 wildstrawberry
    June 19, 2009

    Hope, your comment about how no matter how powerful or successful a woman is she can still be raped really strikes at the core of what oppression of women by a rape culture means. Think about the most reductive meaning of that statement: regardless of the social power a person enjoys, the human body remains vulnerable to violence. If applied to a man, that statement would read “no matter how successful or powerful he becomes, he could still get killed (or mugged or whatever)”. Such a statement is a truism about the human condition and equally applicable to either gender. When expressing the human vulnerability to violence irrespective of social status in terms of a successful woman being raped, that statement is transformed into a truism about the *female* condition, the very essence of our Othering.

    Regarding the desire to DO something (and I’m echoing the Samia-love here), I think these sorts of conversations are essential because patriarchy saturates the way we see ourselves and each other by virtue of all of our socialization in a male-dominated society. So yes, we should advocate for reproductive justice and equal pay and freedom from sexual assault, but we must also transform the way we see ourselves, our colleagues, our partners, our children. Political action alone can improve but not eliminate the current incongruities between the female and the human condition. Every time someone tells a child “boys (or girls) don’t do that”, every time someone puts a woman in her place by ogling her tits or carping about her appearance; every time someone jokes about the rape or exploitation of women; every time someone passes judgment on a woman’s reproductive choices, the separation of “human” from “female” is reinforced. Every time one of us challenges those statements or behaviors, that is a tiny rebellion against the status quo, and also has the salutory effect of propagating feminist thought. The mundane sexism contained in many of our ordinary interactions must be challenged just as much as institutional sexism if we hope for it to be eliminated.

  40. #40 Cara
    June 20, 2009

    Here’s the problem as I see it. In order to make that happen, one of two things must occur: either we ALL give up our power and exchange it for respect (which we all know is not likely to happen because of human nature), OR the oppressed must reclaim some form of power to balance the scale.

    We have to change the world. We’ve been doing it all along, since we started walking upright and speaking.

    The problem, as I see it, is that it’s going to take lots of time and work. But I know it can be done. I’m sure it will, if we don’t blow ourselves off the globe first.

    So, yes. This is what we’ve all been on about. We keep plugging away at trying to change the way people THINK. We keep plugging away and get them to see how much they’re losing by hanging on to notions of “human nature”–which is not as impervious to change as it seems at first glance, just look at what socialization has done so far.

    If socialization can put women under its thumb, it can get us out. The power we have, the power people can learn to gain for themselves, is partly the simple power of self-respect.

    If enough individual people place their internal value on each being a decent person, then it follows, as night the day, that the world will change for the better. We know what that looks like. We’ve seen it in many of our leaders. We’ve seen it in our own lives, people we know who have intelligence and integrity and earn the respect of those around them. We’ve also seen the opposite, the small, petty, self-absorbed greed of Bush & Co.

    It’s basically the power of courage over fear, the power of connection over xenophobia. And, yes, it’s big and difficult and it’s going to take a lot of work to get there. But we’ve already gotten a lot done. The lizard-brained fear of The Other has been reduced enough that women can leave the house, that we can vote, that we can have an education.

    Slavery was abolished in this country. Racism still exists, but it’s going away, slowly. There will come a time when there’s no word for rape because the concept is unthinkable. College students will learn about it and be as horrified and disgusted as we are about slavery and the 3/5 Compromise.

    So, I’m sorry that’s not going to happen tomorrow. But we’re doing our best.

  41. #41 Samia
    June 20, 2009

    “The lizard-brained fear of The Other has been reduced enough that women can leave the house, that we can vote, that we can have an education.”

    I think it bears remembering that this is not universally true (not even in the West), which is why your enlightened statement about connection vs. xenophobia really hit home for me, Cara. Blatant and open sexism and racism are unfashionable and widely considered impolite, but most people seem to consider only the most extreme, hateful instances to be “true” examples (sexism and racism are also deeply linked to each other, which a lot of people forget). The fact that a lot of countries were founded on this crap means a ton of it is just institutionalized to the point of near-invisibility, making it all the more insidious (and easier for people to call activists “crazy” or “inventing problems”).

    So to say that racism is going away…well, some people would argue that it’s still alive and well, just asserting itself in seemingly indirect ways. Perpetrators are coming up with neater, sanitized explanations for their behavior (and other behavior is never even questioned, it’s THAT ingrained). Because “black people aren’t human beings!” or “East Indians are not true Caucasians!” is no longer considered a valid excuse (which I concede is progress).

    I realize we have a lot of laws on the books that weren’t there before, but I think we can all agree that they aren’t exactly applied properly across the board for all people. And they still exclude entire groups.

    I sincerely hope I’m not coming off nitpicky or argumentative here.

  42. #42 Cara
    June 21, 2009

    Samia, racism and sexism are getting sneakier because they HAVE TO. They’re not as acceptable anymore. The work we’re all doing now (raising awareness, thinking about absolutely flipping everything)is going to root them out further.

    Yes, there will be an upsurge of KKK memberships and MRA whinings for a bit. Horrible, but they’re like the last throes of the dying dinosaur. And they’re mostly because people are afraid of change. Some less-powerful men are afraid of losing the little power they have. The more-powerful men who are fear-based personalities build gated communities. Many of these types stalk feminist websites for the lulz.

    Women who’ve only ever had the false power of male manipulation are going to fear losing that small amount (hence all the plastic surgery and newer, scarier procedures to conform to the Impossible Beauty standard). The real power of getting one’s guts straight and believing in oneself seems impossible to them. But it’s not. If they can get a glimpse of how it’s done (even imperfectly done, obviously), they’ll want that true power for themselves.

    We human beings are pretty irrational, as a group. They’re often too busy clinging to what doesn’t work to step back and really think about why they’re not letting go of these ideas. People with a little privilege will hang on to it with a death grip and make all kinds of excuses for it, out of simple fear that there won’t be enough for everyone.

    That’s why it takes those of us who CAN envision what a future without all this garbage would look and feel like to calmly and gently lead them into the light. They’ll like it once we all get there. They’ll think they had the idea all along.

  43. #43 Samia
    June 21, 2009

    Samia, racism and sexism are getting sneakier because they HAVE TO.

    That’s what I was clumsily trying to say earlier. :) Some of it is hard for even activists to see, due to the way we’ve been socialized and the different types of societal privilege from which we each benefit. No one person can detect everything, which is why we need people from all over the world and from all walks of life to join in the fight.

    Yes, there will be an upsurge of KKK memberships and MRA whinings for a bit. Horrible, but they’re like the last throes of the dying dinosaur.

    The point I was trying to make is that MRA activists and KKK members are not the only sexists and racists around, and that these blatant examples sometimes are held up as the Only Things That Qualify As True Racism and Sexism. I am very hesitant to say that sexism and racism are dying out because I think it’s way too early to say that. I think it’s getting ahead of ourselves. Another reason the statement saddens me is that this attitude is often held up as an excuse by non-feminists/non-antiracists as a reason to stay out of the fight. Of course I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing; I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about, though.

    While it seems we agree that the bigotry is getting sneakier (at least in the West), I think a lot if it is institutionalized, ingrained to the point of invisibility and too much shit just goes unquestioned by too many people. So I am reluctant to believe it is just resignedly and gradually dying out. We’re just fighting a guerilla war now, against a ubiquitous opponent who knows the terrain much better than we do.

    Once more, I really hope I am not coming off hostile or overly argumentative here. I very much appreciate your thoughts and valuable insight.

  44. #44 Cara
    June 22, 2009

    Samia, I don’t think you’re hostile or argumentative–I don’t think we’re arguing (?). I’m not sure we’re disagreeing about anything, unless it’s just whether there’s hope or not.

    The very fact that we’re having these conversations and more people are hearing them, that more people have learned what “privilege” even means in this sense, the fact that there IS such a huge backlash, means to me that it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when, and, yes, the “when” is a long way off.

    The fact that it IS invisible in our institutions and permeates the air we breathe is, again, why we’re having these discussions and sharing them with others.

    I didn’t say it was resignedly dying out. (?) I said *the frightened* are fighting harder (and sneakier) because it’s getting harder to rationalize it, even to themselves. It’s even less easy to rationalize when they read at places like these. (That’s why the trolling happens. “Girlz r teh suk d00dz rool!” is not an adequate rebuttal, even if couched in slightly more erudite terms like “evolutionary advantage”, and they know it).

    Smarter people, people with less to lose, are learning and changing their attitudes, slowly. Even people who hate can love somebody; that’s where the hope lies for everyone. There will come a tipping point where there are many more enlightened than unenlightened, and even the unenlightened will have their frames of references scootched over.

    The fact that we have the words to express these things (and a forum to put it out there) help tremendously. People DO learn. They DO change. They DO get new ideas in their heads and run with them. It happens all the time. It happens to everyone just by virtue of staying alive, most of the time.

    I submit that the opponent does NOT know the terrain better. Who knows the oppressor better than the oppressed? ;)

  45. #45 abb3w
    June 23, 2009

    Cara: I’m with you there.

    Same neighborhood, anyway; I suspect my exact nuance of “bastard” and agenda therefrom is a bit different than yours, but that there are a number of people whose demise we both would find a delightful reason for a celebratory libation.

    Cara: Fair trade isn’t manipulating a social convention, and it’s not the same thing as being forced into having one’s PERSON be part of the barter. Big difference. And, no, I’m not interested in going into the whole debate about why selling some services of one’s person is different from selling others blah blah. Just, no. Not doing it.

    I would agree that there are big differences between those types of trading. However, I consider “fair trade” merely another social convention; and suspect figuring out the necessary-and-sufficient conditions which define that difference is key to a long-term successful change in society.

    The difficulty with social engineering is that engineering always relies on the science underlying, and too much of modern social science involves too much wishful thinking and not enough careful consideration.

    Cara: The first step is to QUIT PLAYING THE GAME. We’re all doing that by learning how it works and doing our best to deconstruct it.

    Deconstructing it seems pretty worthless, based on my encounters with philosophy and English majors who’ve used the term. Contrariwise, learning how it works and why it comes about is not “playing the game”, but rather means it’s no longer being considered a “game” but something life-and-death serious.

    This issue of gaze-and-power is part of sexual roles in society. Sexual roles in society are part of society having and raising children. Having and raising children is how a society continues. (Immigration also, but that’s not likely to help matters under consideration.) Understanding the extent to which things tie together might help provide the wisdom to understand what can and cannot be changed. Society needs to keep having and raising children; however, there’s a lot of different ways that can be done.

    I suspect the easiest way to produce a deep-seated shift and change the gaze-and-power relation would be to understand the ultimate underlying forces, to help harness them.

    Cara: We have to change the world.

    And from where I sit, the visible options are using social engineering backed by deep scientific understanding of the social phenomena, risking the tragically high evolutionary selection costs for working blindly, or hoping for a miracle from a passing helpful divinity.

    Unless I missed something, I prefer door number one.

    Peggy: I don’t mean just the “jump out of the bushes and attack a stranger” sort of rape (which pretty much everyone agrees is wrong), but also what some people call “gray” rape: “going too far” on a date, getting a girl wasted so she won’t say no to sex, etc.

    I suspect that won’t fade without a clear set of social signals used clearly and forthrightly by both sexes. That in turn requires both men and women to know their own minds clearly, which is often not the case. If someone doesn’t have and use a clear way to indicate exactly how far is “not far enough” versus “too far”, the “advantage” would seem to go to those prospective partners who test the limits.

  46. #46 Samia
    June 23, 2009

    Something about the “last throes of the dying dinosaur” comment just didn’t sit well with me. It’s not that I think it’s hopeless, just that there’s a lot of pushing to be done and I feel the issue of pervasive system-wide racism deserves our attention and concern.

    When I turn on the TV, I see little reason to believe sexism and racism are dying out, that’s all. My comment about the terrain is more a statement about the sentiment expressed in Ch.1 of The Gender Knot:

    Patriarchy is male dominated in that positions of authority—political, economic, legal, religious, educational, military, domestic—are generally reserved for men.>/i>

    I was trying to speak to the inertia of the male-/white-dominated concentrations of power we are coming up against.

    Geez, I’m depressing myself!

  47. #47 Samia
    June 23, 2009

    Something about the “last throes of the dying dinosaur” comment just didn’t sit well with me. It’s not that I think it’s hopeless, just that there’s a lot of pushing to be done and I feel the issue of pervasive system-wide racism deserves our attention and concern.

    When I turn on the TV, I see little reason to believe sexism and racism are dying out, that’s all. My comment about the terrain is more a statement about the sentiment expressed in Ch.1 of The Gender Knot:

    Patriarchy is male dominated in that positions of authority—political, economic, legal, religious, educational, military, domestic—are generally reserved for men.>/i>

    I was trying to speak to the inertia of the male-/white-dominated concentrations of power we are coming up against.

    Geez, I’m depressing myself!

  48. #48 MarkusR
    June 27, 2009

    “Objectification” doesn’t require power. If the person being ogled at is not aware of the fact that they are being ogled at, they are still objectified. I do consider this as more of a neutral description of an act as it can describe the acts gender neutrally.

    However, whatever the reaction of the receiver is, is what determines the level of power. Different people react differently to being ogled act. Some are exhibitionists, some are self conscientious, etc.

  49. #49 MarkusR
    June 27, 2009

    whereas the male flasher is percieved as a sexual threat
    I can’t wait for the day that I can flash my male parts and not be perceived as a sexual threat. Down with patriarchy!

  50. #50 AlekNovy
    July 2, 2009

    Again, it comes down the fact that society opresses EVERYONE. It just does it in different ways. It does this so that we blame other groups for the oppression, instead of realizing its not a case of us vs. them.

    ===
    “”What’s the answer? Can a woman objectify a man, or not? “”
    ===

    YES, a lot of women objectify men by seeing them as SUCCESS objects.

    That’s where society is tricky in its oppression. We only see our oppression, and blame the other group for it. Most men feel as if women have it easy. Men’s perspective is “Most women use me for money and to get ahead of life, women are not interested in who I am, they are just interested in my status, how much I make, and what car I drive”. After divorce, most men feel as if they had worked all their lives to impress and please women. They feel as they’re seen as nothing but workers and providers. (the same way women feel as if they’re seen as nothing but sex workers)

    ===
    “”Otherwise, in general, in social situations, women checking men out and ogling them adds to their sexual power, whereas men ogling women diminishes their status.””
    ===

    Sorry, but that’s pure BS.

    This was invented by women and its a way that WOMEN oppress other women. The whole myth that a woman popular with men has her status drop is invented by jealous women.

    Women oppress other women by having them be bland, unapproachable and defensive… any woman that stands out is immediately labeled as a slut by other WOMEN, not men.

    If you’re a person, and other people ogle you, your status raises… Period.

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