A friendly blog where feminists and their male allies can come together and discuss methods, tactics, and strategies for use in toppling White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.

5.18.2006

Just Some Random Thoughts

I'm sitting in the living room, at my brother's desk. Right now there are 2 teenage boys, one of them my nephew, getting ready to play "Risk" and making some noise directly behind me. These are the things I deal with in order to sit at a computer long enough to do a blog-post.

I'm currently engaged in some high-level procrastination; I need to draft a resignation letter before I go in to work today. I'm getting ready to leave a job I've had for nearly 8 years, and it's a bit intimidating. I got an apprenticeship with a union, so it looks like that's what I'll be doing for the next little while.

I just got done reading a post at Biting Beaver on Fuckability. It upset me some, not because I disagree with any of it, it just kinda triggered some emotions that I have a hard time dealing with. I was moved to post a comment-tirade there about an encounter with a man in Durham in which he apparently thought I was a prostitute, and inquired as to my rates. I guess that when that happened it didn't NOT bother me; I knew I was a little preturbed but when I read BB's post today I cried, and I don't do that too often.

When I went on my NC trip, and when I go on many trips, I didn't wear any makeup or bring any fancy or sexy clothes. It's just a kinda pragmatism I have, I kinda treat trips like camping and go minimalist. I don't like to carry around extra shit and I'm not much for dressing up anyways. When I'm navigating in normal life, here on my home turf, so to speak, I don't get the "random-guy-staring-at-me" unless I'm wearing makeup and/or something that's low-cut.
I always attribute this to my status as a non-pretty woman, by most standards (that is, most ways of thinking of "attractiveness" under the Gringo White-Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.) I guess that's why the whole "incident" in Durham threw me off; I wasn't wearing anything at all revealing, I was sweaty, my hair was a big fuzzy mess, and I was just sitting outside a deli smoking cigarettes and reading an Andrea Dworkin book, for Christ's sakes. Then this dude comes up and puts his paws on my and wants to know how much I "charge, you know, for the night. Or for an hour or 2."

Now. I think that BB's reference to "fuckability" needs a little clarification, since all women are "fuckable" under patriarchy. We all have the necessary holes and we're all kinda stuck in this place below the men-folk, where "being fucked" whether we like it or not is a constant threat hanging in the air over our heads, in our field of vision.

The guy who "propositioned" me was, as far as I could tell, street-folk. There were people walking by on the sidewalk the whole time the exchange was happening, and nobody stopped to say anything to him or ask me if I needed help. I was on my own for that 5 minutes leading up to his ask and for the few minutes it took me to get back inside, away from the guy. I had to disengage from him, get his hands off me (he'd moved in real, real close, grabbed my hand, and also put a hand on my shoulder) and scoot without pissing him off, in my mind. I also, in spite of his fucking audacity, felt compelled to do it without letting him think I was recoiling from a "creepy street person." I wasn't. I was recoiling from a big man whose nasty breath was in my face and was touching me without my permission. I felt "lucky" when one of the guys working in the Deli, who'd previously been hitting on me "the nice way," (just making chit-chat, saying I had pretty eyes, making comments about my tattoos, that kinda stuff ) came out and shooed the guy away.

So I guess that the point that I'm struggling to come to, here, is where that difference lies, in what BB talks about with "fuckability" as she's defining it, (and correct me, please, if I missed something, BB. I ain't the brightest crayon sometimes) which seems to be in terms of a kind of "attractiveness" that one is born with, the physical proportions and characteristics that a person has that allows them to "fit" the "attractive" mold and seems to act as a sort of "invitation" to men, if that makes sense, and gives them this sense of entitlement to make comments and touch and grab.

Under this definition, I'm not "fuckable," and I certainly wasn't wearing anything provocative or any makeup and I thought I looked a mess. I weigh 260 lbs and am 5'4" tall. Most folks don't even think I'm attractive. But this shit happens to me. This wasn't the first time I've encountered the intrusive, male entitlement to comment/proposition/confront/inquire/touch me in a suggestive way, one that assumed that I wanted some sort of sexual contact.

But there is a difference in experience, here. I've had men who will insult me because of my fatness and my lack of fashion sense and then ask if I'll fuck them in the same breath. I've had men yell at me from car windows, all of what they're saying being insulting and objectifying; they'll say I'm "ugly" and say they want to "tap that ass" and it's all the same tone of voice.

I think the difference in the form or context of objectification comes in the percieved "trophy-ness" of the woman in question.

See, men don't ask me out on "dates", generally speaking. I'm much more likely to get stared down if I look like "SOMEBODY" than if I'm just walking around in my normal street gear, or get some kind of fucked-up misogynistic piropos shouted at me, or even to get my ass smacked or whatever. But even when I'm all dressed up and cleaned up, conforming as much as my physical proportions will allow me to do so to what "beauty" and "standards" are in our society, even then men don't ask for "dates." They only will ask to "fuck." If I tell them to fuck off, they get very angry and insult me based on how I look. When I've told them that I'm not into men, which at this point in time is pretty much the truth, they say they can "fix that."

And I HAVE dated men, after I've asked them out, and they've agreed. But I have NEVER, ever been asked out on a date. I dated one of these guys for a damn long time. But I was never a real human being to him. I was a "sex-kitten." I was a goddam fuck-toy.

I've been that woman that a man will fuck in secret, in a motel-room, on the side. When I was dating, the guy I dated did stuff like showing naked pictures of me to his friends, people that knew me and he even offered that I would be interested in sex with them, usually without asking my permission to do so, only telling me about it after he'd done it already.

I have attraction for men, still. But the ways I've engaged with them intimately make me think that I shouldn't engage any more, if that makes any sense at all. I'm not a trophy, not worth keeping around or adding to their "public" image, unless they're the type of man to fetishize certain body types (and living with a fetishist is fucked-up as hell. Been there, done that, and won't go there again.) And so I have friendships with them. But if they "desire" me in a physical sense, it's not in a public way, it's behind-the-scenes, it's a tryst or a fucking one-night-stand. I've had men who I formerly called friends proposition me, ask to sleep with me, but never ask to "go out" somewhere or tell me that they had feelings for me, other than friendship. I've done it, too. I've screwed them, I've attempted to be that fantasy-woman for them, and while they've come back for sex at times it's always been in a disengaged format- something that I'm supposed to understand "inherently" I guess, that I'm NOT a real relationship and that I'm only there for them that minute in that way, and that anybody else would have "done in a pinch." And then they roll off you and it's like nothing, NOTHING ever happened.

Since I've quit engaging in this side of the male/female relationship miasma, I've had this realization that I'm not the kinda woman that men want to date. I'm "fuckable," that's for sure, but it's something that I should be grateful for, since I'm so damn ugly or whatever. I've been a sounding-board and a bedpost-notch.

What's happened is that, whenever I'm around men, even men with what you'd call "good politics", I'm super self-conscious and I take in every move they make and everything I do with my own body to stave off giving out the "wrong signals." I've learned to keep this tally in my head and the dudes I hang out with don't even know that I'm doing it. When the incident in Durham happened, I spent a good part of the afternoon in self-scrutiny and wondering what the hell I did to prompt the whole thing. I will watch what I say. I made a comment to a friend yesterday, at lunch, about how I do everything I do very deliberately, especially when I'm in a room that's got a heftier portion of men than women sitting around, or milling about.

I've emotionally and physically detached myself from men. My wall's gotten pretty high, and I didn't really realize it 'till the past week. The fucked-up thing is, it makes me kinda sad.

When I was little, I didn't have my own room, so I slept with my parents. My dad would hold me when we slept, he'd play with my hair and on the weekends, I'd wake up and stare at him until he woke up and spend the day with me. I remember back to that time, feeling sleep as something secure and safe, if he was there.

Then my grandfather molested me when I was 7, and since then it's almost impossible for me to sleep with anybody. At that point I DEMANDED somewhere of my own to sleep, and I didn't want to touch or hug my dad, or my mom, or anybody in my family for many years. That's when my lifelong struggle with insomnia began. I wish to hell I could sleep again the way I slept when I was 6. Now sleeping in a bed with a male is out of the question, unless I know I'm going to have sex with him. I slept good when I lived with the aforementioned guy that I dated, when he would cuddle up with me, I slept like a fucking rock. This guy who treated me like I wasn't human, who fucked around on me and lied about it, who wanted me to be his live-in porno star could put his arms around me and I'd sleep just like a fucking baby. And that's something I can't go back to. So I guess it's insomnia, kicking, and fighting sleep for me, unless I want to take heavy-duty antipsychotics to induce dead, drunken sleep.

And in coming back to this fuckability thing, what I was really wanting to know is if there's not a better word for that specific form of objectification. But something opened up the floodgates, and now I'm just rambling without a point. But I wanted to illustrate how ALL women have fuckability, ugly or attractive according to the norms we usually go by. The women who fall into the "trophy-ification" category, I guess, are more likely to get the "emotional relationship that's also sexual" "benefits". Not that I really think they're benefits. But it's a different thing.

I know that this post is all over the map, and I apologize for it's lack of coherence. I'm just trying to find something to pin down this struggle that my brain's having with itself. I mean, I think it's important given the wedges that are driven among women, among sisters, who don't get along, and who judge other women on the basis of how attractive or not that they are.

I'd like us to collectively realize that, one way or another, we're all just fuckholes to the patriarchy. We DO come to that place via different paths, and through different experiences. I've come across women who've judged me based on my appearance, I've met women who say that all fat people are lazy and don't care about themselves. The fat and ugly thing is what gave me my overall sense of pugnacious rebellion, and I'd never been able to attach it cohesively to my experience as a woman before. While the attitude I mention does make me angry, I have to stand up for my "pretty" sisters here, too. Because they didn't ever create the dichotomy, they just "benefitted" from it in some ways. And the ways they've been hurt and mutilated themselves and starved themselves, well, it far outweighs most benifits, except those that are hard-line economical.

I'm gonna say it again, ALL of us are seen by the patriarchy as potential fuckholes. The differing routes to fuckholeness are shaped, in many ways, by the bodies that we're born into, the way that these bodies look, the degree to which they "naturally" or not fit the "mold" of different, patriarchally constructed sort of archetypes of "feminity" or "femalesness". And we all have to move and bend to what the patriarchy wants, keep a tally on what we're doing, how we look, how we move, how we talk based upon these proscribed demands and expectations.

Black Women, Latinas, Asian Women, are expected to try to look more "white." Fat women have to play up those features that can't be "ruined" by their fatness. White women are supposed to strive for housewifedom. Pretty women are immediately percieved as brainless and "fuckable." The list goes on and doesn't end.

We're all out there, grabable and pinchable, our asses a source of public discourse. We are all fetishized to some degree. We're all expected to strive for a starved, white, fragile, breakable perception of what beauty "is." We're all open to the on-the-street "proposition," the catcalls, the stares.

We have to fucking strike back. This isn't a friendly "struggle of opposites." This is a fucking war, and we're the fucking insurgency.

I have to go get ready for work now. Guess I'm not gonna get around to that resignation letter.

15 comments:

deviousdiva said...

Wow. That was some powerful and moving post. Thank you for making me think.

spotted elephant said...

You've stirred up a lot for me. It's good-well, it's bad stuff, but it's good that you stirred it up.

Thanks for this post.

Biting Beaver said...

Excellent post!

The 'fuckability' status is not measured by how culturally beautiful we are individually. Rather, it's what an individual man has fetishized.

For example: My fuckability, as it were, changes from man to man. Depending on what part of my body the bastards are fetishizing. Fuckability has zero to do with fitting into a cultural mold per se and more to do with what part an individual asshat has boiled you down to.

For a man who's into boobs, well my 'fuckabilty' as it relates to him has decreased.

Fuckability as a made up word *grin* relates to what an individual man has fetishized.

Does that clear it up any?

Oh, and also, I've done a few posts on this topic.
Fat, Skinny, it's all the same and Dubhe has done one on the same topic as well called, Compliments and Dominance.

And I really do feel your anger on this one. I feel the same way over this bullshit. It's infuriating demeaning and so often it just makes you feel so damned helpless.

It really IS all about control and dominance, not about a 'healthy male attraction'.

Excellent post my friend, keep up the good work. I'm glad to see you back after your hiatus!

Biting Beaver said...

Now that I reread the two posts I think that Dubhe was able to explain it better than I was that time.

The point is, that whether the men in question have deemed an individual woman 'fuckable' it doesn't matter how attractive or not you are because the behavior is rooted in control and dominance. Looks have ZERO to do with it, rather, it's all about how much control he can take from you and the method they choose to do it.

LilCherie said...

You go girl...I had a recent experience that I wrote about in my own blog that reminded me of just how fucked up men can be. "Fuckability" goes drastically down to me when I feel like I am simply an object in the beholder's eyes...I look forward to reading more of your posts!

Amy's Brain Today said...

Oh, thank you so much for this, you've said so much I tried to say lately and made the point much better. I can relate to so much of your experience.

TNTrash said...

BB-

Your blog's been such an inspiration lately. That and yesterday's post opened up a floodgate. So I HAD to do something with my scattered thoughts.
I'm glad that y'all have found this useful. That's the WHOLE point. Sisterhood and solidarity, wherever we can find it.

Biting Beaver said...

You know what always cracks me up? The fact that my sisters out here give me so much to write about!

I will oftentimes go to someones site and think "Hey! There's another post here!" it thrills me to death when my fellow bloggers find something that fires them up enough to write about on their own spaces as well.

In fact, I think that a 'fuckability' post is in order now *grin*.

antiprincess said...

I'm sorry you went through that.

is it possible he was experiencing symptoms of mental illness or under the influence, and would have walked up to anyone (male, female, fencepost, pigeon) and asked for hourly rates?

as for me, I'm invisible totally.

I can't remember the last time any random stranger assessed my fuckability, such as it is. Even when I was what someone might call "pretty", it didn't happen very often.

my exhusband would assess my fuckability with almost obsessive frequency. it's nice not to have to deal with that anymore.

witchy-woo said...

"I'd like us to collectively realize that, one way or another, we're all just fuckholes to the patriarchy."

Oh, so true.

I was once told: "As long as you've got one of those [vagina] you can always get one of these [penis]".

Like that's all we are? With no choice in the matter of what we do with our 'one of those'? With the assuption that we'll always want 'one of these'?

That post was brilliant. I read it twice and I'll read it again and again. There is just sooooo much there to connect with.

Thank you.

piecesofeight said...

Yes, thankyou. Brilliant post.

antiprincess said...

OT hijack - I mentioned you on my blog today. Just wanted to let you know. drop on by if you care to.

whizzty said...

Women are going along with "fuckability". The fact that so many women shave/trim their snatches has it's origin in the porn industry. Now the practice is widespread simply because it's what men want.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

You know, I've been asked for dates, and all the rest, and taken it for granted. But what came to mind when reading this is that my first approaches from the opposite sex still didn't get to be the dates or being shown off in public or being told I was pretty. They were: First, walking down the halls of my junior high school, and having groups of boys shout at me as I passed, "Will you go steady with me?" The word was "go steady" rather than "fuck," but the tone was one that said I was any old girl, and they were aiming to insult. Second, being barely a teenager and getting an obscene phone call from some creepy adult man. I couldn't figure out what he was saying, and only when I had hung up did it dawn on me that "bojo" must be "blowjob."

I think you're right that the harrassment and fuckable part is always there, whatever you look like.

belledame222 said...

It's definitely true that one's presentation/appearance often has very little to do with who hits on you, or where, or when, or why.

And the weight business brings up stuff for me. The stuff about snarking and then propositioning in the same breath--yeh. I have zero respect for that.

I do wonder sometimes though how much of it is about male privilege (a lot, certainly) and how much of it is about unconscious/boundary-less people honing in on some vibe imperceptible to anyone but themselves.

or just luck, maybe. i dunno. something.

I say this because right now I'm reading (and just blogged about) a (very funny) gay woman who apparently keeps getting hit on by aggressive and/or psychotic women, apropos of apparently nothing at all.

personally I am marvelling at the sheer scope of her experiences in this regard--generally my own experience is more like most womens', I think: it's usually the mens who do the obnoxious hitting-on.

I will say that I did get hollered at by a woman once ("Put on a bra!") large andro lesbian standing outside the local queer club with her snap queen buddy; she kind of melted away behind him when i walked toward her.

Entitlement and really lousy social skills, not to mention all sorts of internalized cultural messages, are everywhere, i guess.