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Monday, May 20, 2013

"Woman" shouldn't be another word for sex.

Debbie Harry (via anonymousaesthetes.blogspot.com)


Linguistically, "woman" is not another word for sex, of course. But culturally, the two couldn't be more intertwined.

Breast cancer awareness? We have a "Save the Ta-Tas" campaign for that.

Clothing? Women should wear just enough to fit society's standard of sexual attraction and appearance but not so much to "attract" rapists (according to very uninformed "authorities" on rape and sexual assault).

Food? Diets. More diets. And more diets. Television. Radio. Print ads. Facebook. Everywhere: how to get or keep that sexy body for any number of reasons related to a woman's personal and professional life.

Actress/Singer/Reporter/Entertainer? Be as beautiful as possible, and please--oh, please--don't be overweight or over a certain age.

Military? One of the primary arguments of the last few years was that women can't be in combat roles because they will "distract" men.

Nudity? Breasts are very, very bad, and women should feel bad for having them. Please cover up when you're in public, regardless if you're breastfeeding or simply trying to enjoy the beach in the way your male counterparts do.

Were you raped or sexually-assaulted or harassed? If you're a woman, you must have done something wrong: drank too much, flirted too much, wore too little, breathed the same air as your rapist, etc. The credibility of your claim is based on your rapist's can't-help-himself-sexual-animal actions.

And the list goes on and on and on...

These are only based on what's been pointed out to me. As a man, I run in a world (mostly) free of sexual restraint.

My successes are my own, not because I supposedly slept with someone.

My medical issues aren't tied to their sexual importance.

The credibility of my opinion isn't based on the sexual identity of those listening.

My concerns are supposedly based on logical reasoning, not hormone-induced emotion.

The world is my sex-assumption-free oyster, unless I choose otherwise.

Last week, Angelina Jolie announced that she had made the incredibly difficult decision to undergo a double mastectomy (removal of the breasts) to avoid an 87% chance she would get breast cancer. Here were a few of the reactions, courtesy of HuffPostWomen:

"In other news, Angelina Jolie killed her breasts and the boners of millions of men today." - @TheIggies

"Rest in Peace Angelina Jolie's boobs. You were wonderful while you were with us. #gonnamissya" - @imreallypopular

"Angelina Jolie had something to get off her chest, Her boobs" - @kmoney8

These aren't isolated responses. This was a theme across social media when the announcement was made: too bad about Angelina Jolie's breasts a.k.a. my diminished sexual attraction to her.

Observing all this, I commented on the tragedy that the importance of women's healthcare (from reproductive rights to breast cancer) is always framed in the context of how men are sexually-attracted to women.

But I was wrong. Every hurdle faced by women, not just healthcare, somehow links back to male sexual attraction.

And look, I'm sexually attracted to women, and I love sex. But when the entirety of any woman's life experience is based on how men find (or don't find) them attractive, we've got a major problem.

Want other examples?

In the military, women's uniforms and appearance follow strict guidelines based on the need to "preserve femininity" while serving, or in other words, while women are serving honorably, we still want them to maintain some of that "sexual object" flair we expect of any other woman in the country.

Yet, in schools across the country, dress codes are enforced to prevent girls from distracting and tempting boys because, as with every other aspect of social interaction in the world, it is the responsibility of women to positively dictate the actions of men, right?

In the professional world (civilian or military), sex seems to dominate every woman's career track: successes are often falsely linked to sleeping around, failures can be the result of not being "Barbie" enough: a lack of smiles, laughing, arm-touching, and other general "feminine warmth" because a dearth of this must mean said woman is a "frigid bitch" and doesn't work well with others. 

Be somewhat sexy, but don't be too sexy. Be attractive enough to the eye but not so attractive to pull its gaze. Be "friendly flirty" like a good non-sexual, sexual object, but don't be "sexy flirty" like a bad sexual, sexual object a.k.a. "slut".

Even then, there seems to be a very tight line women walk to success but it's supposedly doable... unless the line is moved, which happens often.

And this is all without mention of the personal factors: women of a certain age without children or marriage *must* be lesbians, which *surely* means they hate men. Shun them. Demote them. "Convert" them to liking penis through sexual harassment at work.

Our social dictionary has defined women as primarily sexual beings and hinged their wants, needs, dreams and disappointments, triumphs and tragedies on their attraction to men.

When does it end?


Twitter: @cmclymer

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