Sorry for not posting here in two years and two months. I must admit, I'd lost a lot of enthusiasm for this site, and so I'd decided to step back, especially as it seemed some good friends of mine were stepping back, too. After getting some positive responses over the course of this year for my last entry, a scathing diatribe against rape culture provoked by the news of a teenage girl's rape at a dance hosted by her high school, I figured to come back here out of nostalgia, and I've found some interesting reasons to come back again. One of those is seriousfic, who has kept going completely undaunted and indomitable . . . and while (s)he is not one of my LJ friends, (s)he is the LJ friend of an LJ friend of mine, and hir writings, both in the area of fanfiction and in the area of serious media critique, have inspired me in a lot of ways.
So this is my Christmas present after two years away, to spread some of seriousfic's wisdom the best I can, even if this is a comparatively smaller outlet.
In the event you're wondering what this link is, it'll take you to a very fascinating and insightful condemnation of mainstream media's "discouragement" of female sexuality, with Twilight as a springboard for said condemnation. In many ways, I would have to agree with seriousfic, but with my own twists.
For one, male sexuality is all around us, implicit (or explicit) within the male gaze, within the unabashed display of female flesh and female curves in most conventional media productions and even more unabashed in so-called "girlie mags." In fact, male sexuality is not only all around us, it is often glorified. For men, sexuality is a means of expressing power and dominance, proving one's vigor by way of how many women one has metaphorically conquered by way of the mighty penile saber. The more women a man has slept with, the more respect he can accrue from other men, according to this principle. A male of suitable age who has not yet had intercourse with a woman is treated as something of a joke and his untouched state is seen as a problem to be rectified posthaste, as movies like American Pie and The 40-Year-Old Virgin would portray it.
In contrast, female sexuality is at best coyly hinted at and at worst condemned by many mainstream media productions. For many young women in media (and extending to real life), the issue of sexuality is not a matter of passage into adulthood, but a foe that is all the more daunting for how it ultimately stems from their own innate desires, desires they have been repeatedly told are sinful or filthy or will otherwise do nothing but lead them into temptation and tragedy. In media, female protagonists must often struggle to remain chaste for the sake of their virtue, regardless of how strongly they might feel for their paramours, and their paramours exist primarily as externalized symbols of the temptations arising from their own bodies, the desires that they absolutely must resist for the sake of staying as "good girls."
The girls who do choose to have sex are rarely portrayed in a positive light, either viewed as evil temptresses, vapid and shallow "popular" girls, or otherwise "debased" and "demeaned" by their choice. In more supernaturally oriented fiction nonetheless marketed to young women, this "debasement" takes the form of not just moral corruption, but spiritual and supernatural corruption into some kind of monster --- usually a vampire --- that acts as a predator or a parasite upon the human race, a monster that the female protagonist's would-be paramour also happens to be. More mundanely, the "debasement" might take the form of the girl being violently abused or otherwise humiliated and brought low by her lover, or even scorned and rejected by her peers and former friends because of the "sinful act" of having sexual congress with another human being. Ultimately, sex for girls and young women is not treated as an empowering experience that allows them to step forth into the world as fully realized adults as it is for boys and young men, but as a permanent black mark on their lives and their characters, and the fates of girls who do have sex in these works are held up as warnings to the "good girls" of what will happen if they stray from the beaten path.
Conversely, men who choose to withhold themselves from sex (with women) are often viewed as unmanly, effete, or even "sissies" or "gay," because according to the message of the story, any real man would "tap dat ass," to quote an oft-repeated sophomoric phrasing for the act of sexual congress. As stated in the first paragraph of this essay, manhood is regarded as ultimately being about power and dominance, whether it be of other men in terms of overt violence in the barroom or the street or the prison yard or nonviolent competition within the more respectable arenas of sports, business, and politics, or of women in terms of sexuality. Men are made to believe that they are doing something wrong or that something is inherently wrong with them if they are not dominant over other men or women.
An example of the aforementioned ethos comes form various "buddy comedies" where one of the protagonists is a harried husband and father and the other is a swinging bachelor freely partaking of the company of all sorts of comely beauties, with the former often treated as envying the latter for his "freedom." In many of these, the latter is ultimately shown to be living a hollow, empty existence of mindless, temporal hedonism with no relationships of real substance save for the one he has with the former, whom he envies for "having someone to come home to at the end of the day." Alas, the message falls flat as it's usually delivered within the last fifteen to twenty minutes of a film that has largely been spent glorifying the sexual excesses of the so-called "alpha male," and the subliminal message has already been received by the male audience, anyway. The message in question is that manhood is a matter of exercising your power and dominance, so never let yourself be "chained" to a woman and forced to uphold real obligations and responsibilities that cut into proving your "manly vigor."
As for girls and women, they often get the opposite message, namely that "good girls don't." Don't what, you might ask? Don't have sex, don't even hint at their sexuality, don't do certain positions or certain acts if they do have sex because said positions/acts "make you a slut," etc., etc. If sex occurs in marriage, it's treated as a wifely duty to be endured for the sake of keeping the husband happy and out of the clutches of some wanton woman he might encounter outside the wholesome comforts of home, or for the sake of growing the family. Women who, God forbid, actually enjoy sex for its own sake, whether within or outside the boundaries of marriage, are held up as objects of scorn and ridicule (and horrified fascination, for all those who secretly chafe at these puritanical rules that seem to apply only to women and wish they could be that uninhibited).
After all these media depictions of female sexuality as something ruinous and to be repressed and resisted at all costs, is it any wonder so many of our young women come up into adulthood with all sorts of internal conflicts over their innate sexuality? Is it any wonder they would gravitate towards less-threatening outlets for their sexuality like squeaky-clean male pop idols, or fictional male characters they can drool over from the proverbial fourth wall that serves as an impenetrable barrier between reality and fiction, forever protecting them from being "tarnished" by the objects of their desire?
On the same, media treatments of male sexuality can be just as destructive in their own way. Men who grow up believing that "manhood" only means dominating or otherwise exerting power over others, male or female but particularly female, will themselves grow into damaged individuals with skewed ideas of romance and sexuality that will play into a similarly skewed idea of how to treat women, particularly women who may be more powerful than them or "threatening" to exert power over them. Most of them will be just socialized enough not to act out overtly on those skewed ideas, but said ideas will still exert a powerful influence on them that will lead them to more easily accept and participate in "male bonding rituals" that rely on degradation or demeaning of women as a centerpiece, seeing it as an outlet for their frustrations over women whom they feel have far too much power over them. Some will take these ideas and feelings and sentiments to their logical extreme and actually go forth and rape women, usually as a crime of opportunity after some woman "provokes them for the last time" by saying no after "teasing" them.
In fact, the idea that a woman can invite rape upon her person by being too "friendly" toward men with no intention of actually "putting out" is one of the most persistent though fallacious justifications for rape, and one of the most pernicious. It puts the onus on women to either close themselves off entirely from men or submit entirely to the desires of men lest she be treated as a "slut" or scorned as "frigid" or "a tease." This actually cycles back to the conflicts and complexes many women come to have concerning their sexuality --- that it is a sadistic choice between permanent dissatisfaction and permanent shame, as even girls or young women who did not say no to an insistent suitor and yet felt uneasy about allowing him to see and touch her on such an intimate level end up feeling terribly ashamed afterwards, partly because of those aforementioned complexes and partly because the boy or young man in question cared more about his own satisfaction than her well-being.
To cycle back again, the idea of sex as a rite of passage for young men is similarly damaging because the desperation to be seen as a "man" can prevent a young man who would have otherwise done little harm from recognizing the signs of resistance or reluctance on the part of his would-be lover. Certain ingrained ideas about women and their relation to men can also cause him to mistake those signs for just "playing coy, wanting to still be seen as a 'good girl' even though she's about to have sex" and thus ignore her resistance or reluctance out of the belief that once it's over and done with, she'll be grateful to him for pushing her over that hurdle that she couldn't get past on her own . . . when he very well might have acted against what she really wanted or been too mixed up to know what exactly she did want. Either way, the choice would have been taken out of her hands, stripping her of her agency and leaving behind a long-lasting trauma.
I'm not going to act as though I know exactly what's going to solve these problems or how we're going to get in the proper frame of mind to do so, but I do know that a good place to start would be with not shaming ourselves or each other for what we feel, for what we desire. Easier said than done, I understand, and I myself have been far better at saying wise things than actually doing wise things in my own life, but that's how I honestly feel we could start, by acknowledging and encouraging our desires in ways that ultimately nurture ourselves and each other instead of tearing ourselves or others down. Merry Christmas, everyone.
- Current Location:My living room
- Current Mood: hopeful
- Current Music:"Choke" by Hybrid
Quoted from the linked article, with bolded words being mine:
"Based on witness statements and suspect statements, and also physical evidence, we know that she was raped by at least four suspects committing multiple sex acts," [Lt. Mark Gagan] said.
Investigators said as many as 15 people, all males, stood around watching the assault, but did not call police or help the victim, a 15-year-old student at Richmond High School in suburban San Francisco.
"As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated," Gagan said.
Bastards. Miserable, miserable bastards! What the hell have we come to in this society that now we consider it ok to point and laugh at a teenage girl being raped, or even participate in that girl's violation? Are we that sick as a society? Are we as men so thoroughly debauched, so caught up in our delusions of our "natural" place over women that we don't even consider calling the police, let alone acting ourselves to stop horrors like that? Are we that full of contempt for the women whose bodies give us life, whose minds push us to be better than we think we can be, and whose hearts are filled with unconditional love for us despite the wrong we do them that we think it's ok to laugh at and even participate in their defilement?
( My open letter to the bastards that think this kind of thing is funny.Collapse )
- Current Music:"Death Trend Setta" by Crossfade
Pairing: Jason/Cass (Red Hood/Batgirl)
Summary: Nightmares are a constant in their lives.
Note: Spoilers for "Battle for the Cowl," incorporates MilleniumRex's fanon as to why Jason was acting so deranged there.
( For JbramX2Collapse )
- Current Location:My kitchen
- Current Mood: calm
Installment: First Day
Couple: Peter/Laura (Spider-Man/X-23)
Summary: Laura and Peter prepare for the first day of the rest of their lives together.
Note: Based on Spectacular Spider-Man/X-Men: Evolution canon
( For Dark WeezingCollapse )
- Current Location:My kitchen
- Current Mood: contemplative
Here's how this meme goes. I list the couples I can write and 15 moods and you pick the couple you want me to write and the mood you want for them.
Moods can only be chosen once but I can write the same couple more than once.
It may take a while to write all these, but I will do my utmost to deliver. You all deserve it, and then some.
Couples I can write:
Nightwing (Dick Grayson)/Starfire
Nightwing (Dick Grayson)/Red Arrow
Nightwing (Dick Grayson)/Huntress
Robin (Tim Drake)/Miss Martian
Jason Todd/Holly Robinson
Jason Todd/Donna Troy
Cassandra Cain (Batgirl)/Rose Wilson (Ravager)
Cassandra Cain (Batgirl)/Stephanie Brown (Spoiler)
Cassandra Cain (Batgirl)/Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe (Misfit)
Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark)/Superboy
Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark)/Rose Wilson (Ravager)
Rose Wilson/Megan Morse (Miss Martian)
Mia Dearden (Speedy)/Tim Drake (Robin)
Mia Dearden (Speedy)/Bart Allen (Impulse/Kid Flash)
Peter Parker (Spider-Man)/Mary Jane Watson
Peter Parker (Spider-Man)/Felicia Hardy (Black Cat)
Peter Parker (Spider-Man)/Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) --- Ultimate Marvel
Matt Murdock (Daredevil)/Elektra Natchios
Scott Summers (Cyclops)/Jean Grey
Betsy Braddock (Psylocke)/Warren Worthington (Archangel)
Emma Frost/Sean Cassidy (Banshee)
Rachel Summers/Kitty Pryde
Tony Stark (Iron Man)/Steve Rogers (Captain America)
Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier)/Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow)
Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel)/Peter Parker (Spider-Man)
Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk)/Peter Parker (Spider-Man)
Charles Xavier/Lilandra Neramani
Anna Marie (Rogue)/Remy Lebeau (Gambit)
1. Give me summaries for three stories I'd never write. I will write one of those stories.
2. Challenge me to write five things that may or may not have happened in a character's life.
3. Ask me to write out what happened to a character in my stories five minutes before the specific scene (s)he was in or five weeks after the scene itself.
Feel free to hit me with something.
(Usable fandoms: Marvel Universe, specifically Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, Daredevil; DC Universe, specifically Justice League, Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, Flash, Batman; Law & Order franchise, Supernatural, Power Rangers/Super Sentai.)