23 May 2008

Madonna vs Whore dichotomy (sex positivity)

I have read, recently, a wide number of articles (like these) and commentary about the whole Madonna versus Whore dichotomy that women are expected to adhere to... Some of this has been in the Australian media and the rest various posts and articles from the US.

Firstly, I think the standards that women, and people, are expected to maintain in the US are different from Australia. The US is a lot more conservative sexually (publicly) than Australia. Nipplegate caused a furore in the US, and was laughed at in Australia. We're somewhat more permissive here, and that makes my life SO much easier.

But anyway... with "personalities" such as Sam Newman in Australia degrading women and causing this reaction its evident that there are still double standards for women even in Australia. Catherine Deveny wrote about how wrong it is that women are expected to stay silent about issues or be labelled hysterical, in relation to the Sam Newman issue.

It's an ongoing issue and one that women play into themselves. How often have you heard one woman refer to another as a "slut" in a manner that is degrading? In my experience, women are crueler to other women than men. I don't know why this is and it upsets me every time I run into it, but it happens all the same. Perhaps for this reason I opted out of female and into the grey space between genders. I didn't wan to be a woman if it required acting like that and playing those games, and I'm not a man... so I'm me.

But back to topic, women have two roles to play... the Madonna - the good girl, virtuous, well behaved, willing to put up with crap and smile... or the Whore - the bad girl, sexy, asking for it (in all senses of the phrase), willing to tell others to get lost....

The articles and commentary talk about how men want a whore in the bedroom but want to be married to the Madonna.... they expect women to act at both ends of the spectrum simultaneously. The boys like the girls at the pub who drink, sleep around and have fun, but they won't marry them...

All of this is a huge load of crap of course. Men and women who expect such insane behaviour should be taken outside, shaken and given a stern talking to. I'm not a student of anthropology or the human condition, other than what I've seen through life, so I can't give an answer as to why this happens... but I have my suspicions.

The biggest is religion. There are very few mainstream religions that are sex positive. Since most societal norms, in my experience, stem from religion our culture isn't overly sex positive and has certain expectations of women. These expectations have, over time and especially recently, been eroded... women now work, allegedly earn as much as a man and are considered full human beings able to participate fully in society... well in Western society anyway.

So... what, you ask, does this have to do with polyamory? What does Western society call women who have multiple partners? That's right... we're sluts... and we revel in it. There are polyamorous people who struggle with what other people will think, who try to be the good girl on the outside, even I'm guilty of that with certain people I know won't cope with the real me, but generally we (regardless of gender and orientation) take joy in being different, in being sex positive, of knowing what we want, knowing where we can find it and demanding that we be accepted for who we are.

Sex is a good thing - its not the core of polyamory, but certainly is a nice perk - and pretending that you don't like sex because good girls don't is just insane. If you genuinely don't like sex... then that's your deal... but if you like sex, say so. Stop pandering to the societal norms that don't make sense and start being the entire you.

Love who you are, love the things you enjoy, be proud that you are a sexual being, sensual and aware of the effect you have on others. All these things will lead to much greater happiness than trying to fit societal expectations.

2 comments:

terrora said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I Know it came out after your blog post but Scientific America "Your Sexual Brain" has a lot ofthe answers to your questions.