Friday, August 27, 2010

spunky little sex worker

k, the thoughts in this post have been marinating for a while but are still pretty jumbled, bear with me...

I'm having conflict in my feminism. Between the kind of old-school feminism that dovetailed nicely with my prudish LDS upbringing: ie, cosmetic surgery is selling out, high-heels are tools of subjugation, and sex workers are to be pitied, verses a growing appreciation (fascination?) with the sex positive movement: ie, sex toys are fun, dressing up is fab, and strippers aren't bad people.

Um, yah, I'll have to come back to this later when I've collected a whole bunch of links, or at least can organize my thoughts better. But in the meantime, I have yet ANOTHER quote from Marriage, a History:

"The cult of female purity created a huge distinction in men's minds between good sex and 'good' women. Many men could not even think about a woman they respected in sexual terms... Many men found it unnatural if a woman enjoyed sex 'too much'. Frederick Ryman, who in the 1880's wrote frankly and joyfully about his encounters with prostitutes, was taken aback when any woman took the initiative during sex. He described one young prostitute as a 'little charmer' but commented, 'I usually prefer to have a woman lie perfectly quiet when I am enjoying a vigil. This 'playing up is not agreeable to me but she was truly one of the finest little armfulls of feminine voluptuousness I have ever yet laid on top of."
Okie dokie, Mr Ryman is disturbing... and life for that 'little charmer' of a young woman might have been a horrible life which she did not choose, and in which she had few options, and which ended too soon of disease or abuse....

But the idea of the woman (or person of any gender, for that matter) who enjoys sex and perhaps makes it as a career choice is one I support. And that lifestyle should be respected and taken seriously as well.

Well, actually I didn't intend for this to be a post about sex workers per se, but since it's wound up that way, here's a few links:
~from the University of Texas, an overview of 2 centuries of prostitution;
~from Societal Images, the disheartening collective support for the dehumanization of sex workers;
~an excerpt from Moriah Jovan's upcoming novel which features Cassie, unrepentant high-dollar prostitute.
~a sobering review of Kristof's book Half the Sky, about the forced prostitution of women in the world today being on par with genocide.
~SWOP tucson, the local outreach program trying to get better rights and recognition for people who identify as sex workers.
~an interesting article about Strippers who are protesting in front of a fundamentalist christian church.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

love and marriage

Yep, still reading Marriage, a History. (I started it 5 months ago!?)

In fact I just finished chapter 10 on the sentimentalization of Marriage in 19th century Europe and N.America. The chapter ends with this excerpt:

"In the late 18th century, conservatives had warned that unions based on love and desire for personal happiness were inherently unstable. If love was the most important reason to marry, how could society condemn people who stayed single rather than enter a loveless marriage? If love disappeared from a marriage, why shouldn't a couple be allowed to go their separate ways? If women and men were true soul mates, why should they not be equal partners in society?

At the beginning of the 19th century, the doctrine that men and women had innately different natures and occupied separate spheres of life seemed to answer these questions without unleashing the radical demands that had rocked society in the 1790's.

The doctrine of separate spheres held back the inherently individualistic nature of the 'pursuit of happiness' by making men and women dependent upon each other and insisting that each gender was incomplete without marriage. It justified women's confinement to the home without having to rely on patriarchal assertions about men's right to rule. Women would not aspire to public roles beyond the house because they could exercise their moral sway over their husbands and through them over society at large. Men were protecting women, not dominating them, by reserving political and economic roles for themselves."

(This excerpt ends with a big "But...." and leads us into the next chapter entitled "A Heaving Volcano: Beneath the surface of Victorian Marriage")

Anyhow, I found it fascinating because this view of marriage and gender roles was the one I raised with almost 200 years after it first became a trend.

Oh! Also interesting was chapter 9 on the invention of the Male breadwinner ideal including how women's labor suddenly became radically undervalued in the world of cash transactions, significantly increasing wives financial dependence on husbands. And how the sentimentalization of the wife-as-homemaker made it a status symbol, a working class aspiration.

(Here's all my status updates on this book if you're interested.)

Not feeling up to expounding a whole lot on this... Just thought I'd make a note of it. Quite enjoying this book.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Last pages

(posted at The Exponent)
I only have four pages left in my current journal.
(I really don't like the term 'journal' but neither 'sketchbook' nor 'scrapbook' really fit either. The book is almost as full of taped in mementos, sketches, and the words of other people as it is of my thoughts and experiences. I think I'll just start calling it my 'book'. Yeah.)

Four pages left is an awkward transitional time for me, coming to the end one book but not quite ready to let go of it, not ready to start the next one (all those blank pages, pristine and unfamiliar). I bond with these books to a very high degree but the bonding process usually takes a while; this current book took almost a year before I really felt comfortable with it. (I know that, because there's an entry documenting it). (Btw, Here's the post I wrote as I was transitioning from my previous book to this current one)

It's fascinating (and sometimes scary) to flip back through the pages and years and see the change. So many changes. All these tiny little instances equaling over two years of change. That may contribute to why the jump from one book to the next is so awkward for me~ it represents the passage of time in a more dramatic way than merely turning a page. I don't deal so well with change. Perhaps that's a part of why I do this little ritual of documentation; trying holding on to moments, to freeze little instances: a defense against the inevitable progress of time.... I'm not sure. But it IS for my sanity, that's for certain; a place to store the dangerous stuff, a way to bleed out the toxins.

The next book is all ready for me to begin, a lovely moleskin journal with blank pages (I've never had a moleskin before, curious to see what all the fuss is about). But I am still holding on to this current book, making those last four pages stretch. And also, I've been cheating: going back in time, finding gaps in the preceding pages where I can scribble in a quote or a drawing: A page from 'o7 may also contain content added in '08, '09 and '10! (all duly recorded w/ date and location, because that's my MO).
Eventually, however, these last pages will be done, the book full. Time to move on.
New pages.