For day eighteen of the Blogging “Yes” project, I read Julia Serano’s “Why Nice Guys Finish Last.” I have to admit that I had a lot of trouble with most of Serano’s argument, specifically her points about men and about nice guys versus assholes, due to my own experiences with men. So instead, I’m going to focus on what she says about the sexualization of women and the virgin/whore dichotomy.
Because of the predator/prey mindset, when a woman does act in a sexually active or aggressive way, she is generally not viewed as a sexual aggressor, but rather as opening herself up to being sexually objectified by others. This is why rape trials have historically dwelled on whether the woman in question was dressed in a revealing or provocative fashion, or whether she met with the man privately, and so on.
If a woman embraces her sexuality, it may be personally empowering for her, but she still has to deal with the fact that others will project the “whore” stereotype onto her and assume that she’s inviting male sexualization.
I’ve been looking for a good way to express this concept, and I think Serano hits the nail on the head. I find this especially as a lesbian–even beyond the fairly commonplace example of the guys hitting on girls dancing together, talking about sex as a lesbian can invite self-doubting thoughts that are very rooted in a patriarchal culture. I’m sometimes afraid to be open sexually because I have an image in my mind of “that girl,” who is objectified and seen as “up for anything,” etc. As someone who is both very sexual and not given to casual sex, as someone who is kinky but only within relationships and close friendships, it can be hard to be open about sexuality without wondering what assumptions are popping up.