Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sex matters



In this article from Neva Chonin in the San Francisco Chronicle the author says what many have said before, butstill doesn't seem to be getting the message to us. I think she says it quite nicely for herself, so I include the article below. The only comment: I keep reading in supposedly hip - even feminist- magazines all about sex positive movements - pro-prostitution, pro-stripping, etc. And every time, I can't help but think, "what is wrong with you people?"
It's not liberating or positive to take off your clothes for men. That isn't power - it's the lack of power. These are only positive choices in a society where other positive choices are lacking. If you want power, storm the Bastille: insist on equal pay for equal work, demand that womnen be hired for high level, high paying jobs, elect more women legislators, and make sure there are more women on high-court benches. And make sure that we have the power to control our own reproduction. Put abusers in jail. Make sure laws are enforced,and where lacking, pass them. That's power. Taking off your clothes isn't power, it's pathetic.

Oh, yeah, and Claire, what he did was assault. Press charges.
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He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Dis)
- Neva Chonin
Sunday, August 20, 2006

A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times published a profile of "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis ("Baby, Give Me a Kiss") that dropped jaws from Poughkeepsie to Chino. Oh, the clatter. It started with a line that applied to a specific act of physical intimidation by Francis against Times writer Claire Hoffman, but I suspect it resonated for many women who long for an invisibility cloak or chador in an era of "show us your tits" sexploitation. Hoffman began her piece by saying, "Joe Francis, the founder of the 'Girls Gone Wild' empire, is humiliating me."

I felt her pain. Not the physical pain of being slammed against a car by a cable-TV honcho gone wild, but the mental ache of channel surfing into "Girls Gone Wild" and suddenly feeling embarrassed to be female. Heck, "Girls Gone Wild" makes me embarrassed to be human. The show is a carnival staffed with exploitation freaks, from the guys behind the cameras to the women struggling out of their tiny T's to the viewers who gobble it up with an order of stupid on the side.

It's not the program's sexuality that bothers me but the fact that, in a country rife with vestigial puritanism, it views sexuality through a leering lens. Continental Europeans see far more nudity on their televisions and in their daily lives than we do. They don't bat an eye because, you know, human bodies. We all have them. Ah, but America. Marked by repression on the one hand (magazines condemned for cover images of breast-feeding babies and nude expectant mothers) and masturbatory excess on the other ("Girls Gone Wild" and any men's magazine that isn't GQ or Esquire), we are forever looping between scolding and ogling. We are never at peace.

Contemplating the hoopla about showing breast feeding and pregnant mamas in magazines, I begin to suspect that a simple principle might be at play: A woman's body has no right being bared unless it is for the purpose of arousing a man. I'd bet lunch at Chez Panisse that many of the guys who like strip clubs and read Maxim would be appalled to see a woman nursing in a restaurant. I'd throw in dinner at the French Laundry if the doods who so enjoy watching girl-on-girl action in porn flicks didn't find real lesbians -- the ones whose sex lives aren't simply warm-up acts for straight men -- disgusting and, yeah, threatening.

In last week's column, I suggested that, in today's cult of the leer, "girls have actually grown tamer rather than wilder. Sure, they flash their breasts more readily, just like monkeys perform tricks for peanuts at the San Francisco Zoo. But neither act symbolizes freedom." To those who think it does, and that these budding sexbots are liberated while I'm oh-so-old-school, I can only offer this: America might be the land of liberty, but it's also the land where freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. And when he's done molesting journalists, Joe Francis is laughing all the way to the bank, your dough in one hand and your freewheelin' girl's mammary in the other. Oh, America, my America. We truly enjoy an embarrassment of riches.


While Joe Francis was abusing Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Britain's Daily Mail was running an article by Nirpal Dhaliwal titled "How Feminism Destroyed Real Men." In it, he bemoans the "feminization of men" instigated by the women's movement. He laments that women are now "lumped with flabby he invertebrates, little more than doormats, whom they secretly despise." Deep down, he adds, women want "men who will look them in the eye and tell them to shut up when their hormonal bickering has become too much."

It gets better. Dhaliwal writes, "People might call me a sexist pig, but I am the opposite. I love women." Let us now hopscotch across the Atlantic to the L.A. Times, where Hoffman observes that the "Girls Gone Wild" creator destined to physically assault her "says he loves women, is crazy about them. But sometimes it doesn't sound as though he is."

A warning sound should be going off in the reader's head about now, and the reader should listen. Because at the close of his Daily Mail editorial, Dhaliwal starts preparing an assault of his own. "The female orgasm is the natural mechanism by which men assert dominion over women," he writes, before going on to relate, fairly graphically, how he asserted dominion over his wife after she discovered he was cheating. In sum, he "made strong, passionate love to her," giving "a manful bravura performance" that culminated with the demand, "Who's the boss?"

Dhaliwal's wife happens to be Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones. His essay is illustrated by a picture of the happy couple, looking happy. By the way? The same day her husband's essay ran, Jones offered her own little self-assessment in her regular column: "I am a middle-aged anorexic. I don't know which of those two epithets I found harder to say -- that I am middle-aged, or that I still suffer from an eating disorder. The two, for me, are inextricably linked. I have a fear of growing old, and a fear of growing fat."

Forgive me, America! Stupidity is indeed universal. OK, yes, I'll say it, baby, stop pulling my hair: You're the boss.

Tell Neva to shut up with her hormonal bickering at nchonin@sfchronicle.com.

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URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/08/20/PKGDOIM3471.DTL

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