Archive for November, 2012
If you want to attract men and you say you like girls, you’ll achieve your goal. But I’m not talking about those types of girls. I’m talking about Girls, the show. The one where they talk like Dawson’s Creek. Or worse, Grey’s Anatomy, which means that every other sentence begins with some needy woman telling a man or her superior what they don’t get to do. “You don’t get to tell me you love me.” “You don’t get to tell me how to do my job.” “You don’t get to tell me that this hospital is cursed and at least one of us will be killed come May.” Sorry. Where were we?
Oh yes, Girls.
Girls wins all sorts of acclaim; creator Lena Dunham sweeps some hardware at key awards shows and critics say it’s raw, refreshing, nuanced and funny. It celebrates female relationships. It’s emblematic of emerging adulthood in New York. And it is undoubtedly all of these things.
I bet you know what’s coming. You can sense that I have an issue with Girls, so I’ll save you the suspense and come out with it.
I’m not concerned that it’s about privileged people overdramatising their first-world problems. I’m not bothered that it’s self-consciously hipster, like the first excruciating moments of Juno. I’m concerned that when it comes to sex and sexuality, it’s actually just too… real.
What’s wrong with that, you ask?
Well, I’ll tell you.
When you come right down to it, sex is fairly ridiculous. People who think sex tapes are hot haven’t given theirs a proper viewing — that or they have access to the editing suite at Vivid Entertainment. It’s animalistic. You make funny shapes with your body parts. Often, things get squished. There are… sounds, not always made intentionally.
Lena Dunham does her best to show us this kind of sex — and she succeeds. We spy cellulite; we see gangly lovers; we cock our heads and take in the relative gracelessness of the most popular positions; we witness the cruelty of being used. Can we identify? Sure we can.
But here’s the thing. To my mind, the best part about sex is that, if you’re with the right partner, it gives you the conceit that you are super hot and sexy and your body is beautiful and your partner thinks you’re really good. (Then you wake up, and the rosy glow gives ways to those nasty interruptions: the fears and niggles, those crises of confidence.)
Sometimes, isn’t it better to bask in the rosy glow? What’s wrong with seeing ourselves as airbrushed, edited and choreographed? After all, if life is a narrative, shouldn’t we aim for the fairy tale? Isn’t a documentary awfully uninventive?
Love and sex provide such a bounty of awkward moments that I actively choose to give more air time to the beautiful ones. Even if that air time is stylised and unrealistic.
In my last post, I spoke about desensitising the privacy of our most private parts so that we might be able to talk more openly about violations of them. You might therefore reason that I would welcome the recent celebrations of all things vag: labia cupcakes, hats and wedding gowns, vaginal earring sets, Naomi Wolf’s new one: Vagina: A New Biography.
So maybe I’ll surprise you when I say I don’t.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate anyone jumping into the fold (ha!) of bringing our sexuality out of the shadows, it’s just that it’s all so effortful, so self-conscious, so overdone. It’s all gone a bit vulgar.
To get biological, what separates us from animals is that we have developed a whole host of functions that make it so that our reproductive aims do not have to be the sole purpose of our existence. This has made the hunt and chase of sexual partners fun. Sexuality is a subtext, a whisper, a suggestion. It starts as an unspoken muddle of signals and body language and uncertainty, until you choose — and that’s the best part, the choosing — to make it explicit.
Because we are no longer apes, we don’t need to flash our engorged red bottoms in order to attract our mate. I feel the same about an over the top flashing of a representation of our labias.
To get ideological, I think we feminists have a lot better things to do with our time than all this labial gazing. I don’t care if you call it your yoni, your pussy, your cunt or your mini. Just call it something that means something to you and be good to it. Protect it: keep it healthy and practice some critical gatekeeping. And by all means, if ever someone is reckless with it, whether forcibly or clumsily, treat it like it were any other organ and say so, as loudly as you need to, until you are understood.
That said, to get sartorial, it is an organ. Like all organs, it’s fleshy and not necessarily ugly but by no means the stuff of stylistic depiction (why do you think that artists like Georgia O’Keefe opted for flowers?). I would no sooner go to a wedding wearing a likeness of my stomach or walk around with a small little nose pendant hanging off a necklace than I would swan about with an externalised fanny.
Further, these labial creations are too often made out of felt. Now, I don’t I have to tell you, but felt as a fabric is a real boner shrinker. It’s heavy, obstructive and the last time you probably used it, you were making a costume that involved Elmer’s glue.
And that readers, sums up my point. In a past post on hosiery, I spoke about the need for us to grow up. I fear that these vaginal creations and conversations are silly and ultimately demeaning. I’d rather pay my vagina some respect by demanding it myself.