Female Sexuality is not a commodity

 I’ve really been trying to figure out what to write about today.  My brain has been zooming around a million different ideas. I had a student/teacher conference with my “Theories and Methodologies in Gender Studies” professors last night and so my capstone project has been domination a lot of those thoughts.

I shared one of my preliminary ideas here.  I’ve also talked a lot about the SlutWalk movement.  I thought, why not take my interest in sexuality and talk about the Slut Walk movement?  However, I felt there was a problem.  There’s no scholarly work on this grassroots movement!  So I decided to compare the birth control movement to the Slut Walk movement.  It seemed simple enough.  Fortunately, my professors had a better idea.  “Why not talk about Slut Walk?” the asked.  “Well, because there’s no scholarly work about the movement,” I said.  “Well, build your base with internet sources and then use that to support some scholarly pieces about rape culture,” the countered.  I was delighted!  Five months focusing only on Slut Walk, what could be better!?  ‘

**I’m not only focusing on that.  I also have to take two other courses, work full-time, and somehow manage to be a domestic goddess.**

So, today I’ve been getting an idea of what’s out there.  What direction can I take with this?  This article about the similarities between Slut Walk and Occupy Wall Street got me thinking about focusing on the commodification of female sexuality.  Many people compare scantily clad women who are raped to men who wear Armani suits that are mugged when they walk through the inner city.  Apparently rape = theft?  And yes, it’s true that something is being stolen from victims of sexual violence. But I wouldn’t compare losing dignity, self respect, and a feeling of safety with having some cash taken from you.

The final thing that drove me to action in writing about these thoughts was something I saw on Facebook.  One of my friends posted this article about the negative side-effects to the HPV vaccine. My friend’s comment to this article was “maybe we can teach our girls to be virtuous, thereby significantly lowering their risk of this cancer.”  And then two days later said, “OH- and we should be teaching our sons the same thing.”  I’m not saying that I disagree with this idea.  I think that people should be cautious in regards to any sexual encounter they have.  My problem is that teaching boys about being cautious about sex is almost an afterthought in this situation. Why is safe sex up to women?  And why is female sexuality viewed as a commodity when male sexuality is not?

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8 thoughts on “Female Sexuality is not a commodity

  1. My first thought on the ‘guy in an Armini suit’ analogy was actually that it actually makes more sense if we turn it on its head. We can then say that it’s no more his fault that he gets mugged than it is a woman’s fault that she gets raped while she happens to be wearing a miniskirt (or drunk, etc etc ad nauseam).

    The only difference I can see, apart from that of the severity of the crime, is that the patriarchy teaches that real men™ should be tough enough to resist their attacker, or that they should be ‘man enough’ to quickly get over a violent mugging. Only a ‘sissy’ would make a big deal of it…

    Obviously I wouldn’t try to equate theft with rape, but victim-blaming is victim-blaming, no matter what the crime, and I suspect that those who make such analogies are looking for excuses to blame the victim, no matter how transparent. Certainly, most times I’ve seen such, they’ve come from MRAs of the worst kind.

  2. Gah…trying to answer those questions would be a doctoral thesis in and of itself. Sadly, female sexuality has been viewed as a commodity for a very long time–as long as the existence of prostitution. It’s been present in societies since the advent of virginity as a measure of feminine virtue, the viewing women as ‘prizes’ to be won, scores to be had or settled, or notches to make, among others. It’s dehumanizing. I think it’s appalling that sexual abuse against a woman gets compared to damage against a *thing*–it’s a callous mentality that takes human suffering, violation, and agony and lessens it to the level of damage against an unfeeling, inanimate object.

    As for safe sex…I think modern society is suffering from more than just lingering philosophies of “sowing wild oats” entitlement when it comes to guys. A wide segment of the sexually active population (men & women) don’t get tested for STD’s as often as they should, and there are hard medical facts that quite a few STD’s will hit women harder. While men can be carriers, they frequently will not feel (or show) the effects. HPV is a prime example. Gonorrhea, Chlamydia & HPV…all are practically invisible & side-effect free in a male system, but can wreak havoc with a woman’s reproductive health, among other things. However, since guys more or less get an anatomical free pass with their own bodies when it comes to some of the most common STD’s, I think some men are less careful than they’d otherwise be with their partners…and lack of adequate check-ups simply compounds the problem.

    1. Agreed! To be honest, most of the things that I was talking to my professors about they would say, “Let’s minimize that, because that’s doctorate work.”

      It genuinely makes me sad that sexual violence is viewed as no more than a crime against something, rather than someone.

      And finally, thank you for talking about getting tested for STD’s and other things. Regular check-ups are critical to being cautious in a sexual partnership.

  3. You might consider looking to things written about the sex workers’ rights movement. It’s got everything in common with slutwalk and there has been quite a bit written about it.

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