Remember that old joke? On first pass it sounds like some classic misogyny. If you examine the construct a bit, however, you can find a kernel of empowerment in there. Being the kind of woman who likes good fuck but is selective about who she enjoys it with is revolutionary. It’s control. It’s taking your sexuality out of the hands of observers and making it your own. It’s being a participant in sex rather than sexual prey.
You know the difference between sexual prey and sexual participant when you see it. Madonna is a sexual participant. That lady can probably fuck until the sun comes up and enjoy every second of it. Doesn’t mean she’ll fuck you. You probably have to be damned impressive to get a chance at bedding down with Madonna.
Britney Spear back in her “Oops, I Did It Again” days was sexual prey. She was flashing her libido around and begging someone to come take advantage of it. They lyrics of the song alone were suggestive of not being in control of her actions. The message seemed to be she would fuck anyone with a dick.
As for our friend Miley Cyrus and her twerking, well, I have to put her into the participant category. Her sexuality is aggressive, and under her control. If she wants to fuck, she’s gonna and if she doesn’t she won’t.
My point – and I do have a point – is that perception of women’s sexuality matters. It is better to be thought of as the bitch than the slut because the bitch commands a certain level of respect. The slut…alas for the slut. But ultimately, it is not the woman’s job to control the perceptions of her. It is up to the observer to imbue any woman with humanity and not reduce her to a pile of parts. Right?
Richard Cohen in the Washington Post today painted all teenage girls as sluts. He was drawing a line between the twerking of Miley Cyrus and the rape of the girl in Steubenville, OH last year. His main message seemed to me to be that until girls stop acting out their sexual feelings, they can’t expect boys to stop treating them as sex objects:
So now back to Miley Cyrus and her twerking. I run the risk of old-fogeyness for suggesting the girl’s a tasteless twit — especially that bit with the foam finger. (Look it up, if you must.) But let me also suggest that acts such as hers not only objectify women but debase them. They encourage a teenage culture that has set the women’s movement back on its heels. What is being celebrated is not sexuality but sexual exploitation, a mean casualness that deprives intimacy of all intimacy.
See? Sexy-acting girls are sluts and boys see them as sluts and treat them as sluts therefore girls have to stop being sexy.
Maybe boys need to stop assuming every sexy girl wants to fuck them. A woman can be hot as Hades, twerking her ass all over the dance floor, fingering every part of her own body and still rebuff you advances, boys. Her sexuality is not about you. It is about her and what she wants to do with it and you, Richard Cohen and everyone nodding along to your article, can’t make any assumptions about it. If you want to be a part of a woman’s sexuality, you have to ask permission. You might be granted permission to touch. Or maybe the only permission she’s handing out is to look at her while she enjoys her own sexuality in public. When a woman doesn’t want to sleep with you, you haven’t lost anything. She didn’t owe that to you just by virtue of having a vagina. You need to suck it up, buttercup. Sex was hers to give, not yours to take. Thinking otherwise makes you a dick. Acting otherwise makes you a criminal.
On the flip side, women don’t get to be mad when hot guys won’t sleep with them. Sexual expression and respect is a two way street.
What Richard Cohen is getting wrong is the root of the problem. Misogyny is never the fault of the woman. Nothing a woman does justifies male objectification or disrespect or assault. The people who cause misogyny are misogynists and they need to check their fucked up attitudes at the door. They’re the ones with the problem. They’re the ones who need to change, not women.