Pretty Women: Response
MLM responds to Pretty Women — And Their Pain:
When women are primed/bombarded with cultural messages that their worth relies on their ability to please a man, it’s unsurprising that they can be conned into believing that using their sexuality to gain attention is “empowering”, especially when they’re young. (And neoliberal feminism only stupidly reiterates this).
What would be truly empowering would be to strongly arm girls, from childhood, with messages which encourage them to embrace their own humanity and require men to respect it. And to arm men with the same messages. Men who were genuinely socialised/primed to desire women as fellow/equal human beings would have zero interest in porn. The toxic culture that shapes desire needs to change, for everybody’s sake.
i am not sure we can say conclusively, as MLM does, that “Men who were genuinely socialised/primed to desire women as fellow/equal human beings would have zero interest in porn.” Porn is attractive because sexuality is attractive. Porn has power because sex is powerful and we are deeply sexual beings. Therefore, “zero interest” may not be accurate. However, the general point is correct. And a man who is healed in his view of women and himself, when presented with porn, will actually react very differently.
He will have the strength to reject it as false intimacy and a misrepresentation of authentic sexuality.
One of the big growth points in my own journey was when my view of women changed. i used to have two basic responses to women: i either lusted after them or i looked at them condescendingly. In both cases, it was objectification. Women were valuable strictly from the standpoint of my selfish desire. It was either my desire to lust, or it was my desire to feel superior to them.
Arming young girls with the truth that they are strong and beautiful by definition — not because they have physical beauty — would be great start. Teaching young boys to value young girls because they are created in God’s image and have intrinsic worth and value, is also essential.
Only then will our culture have group of people broadcasting a message to counter the false empowerment narrative that tells young girls — and young boys — that “hot and sexy” is what they should desire. We need to stop being proud of performances such as Beyonce’s Super Bowl half-time show and start telling men and women, young and old, that we are all worth more than that — and we deserve more than that.
One Response to “Pretty Women: Response”
“Porn is attractive because sexuality is attractive. Porn has power because sex is powerful and we are deeply sexual beings”.
Respectfully, I disagree. Yes, we are deeply sexual beings. But sexuality is very powerfully shaped by societal messages. When certain ideas are sold over and over again as “sexy”, why is it any surprise that such ideas are eroticised for us? (For example male dominance and female submission which is so often cited as something “natural”, and yet given the vast differences in the way sexuality manifests in different cultures, how do we honestly know to what degree our behaviour and desires are natural, and to what degree culturally shaped?).
I think that’s a really important point to make. Because, actually, the reason porn is so powerful is because it is both born out of dominant cultural messages about sexuality, and because it also reinforces them. People who criticise or object to porn are often accused of “demonising male sexuality” – this is patently false. Porn does not reflect healthy male sexuality, but instead reflects the destructive cultural messages that can besiege it. And if more men (and women) had a better understanding of why they felt so vulnerable to them, maybe that could help them.
“Zero interest” may or may not be overstating it, but until we actually live in a culture that promotes ideas about sex and sexuality in a healthy way, which genuinely respects everybody’s fundamental humanity and human spirit, how will we know?
I’m really sorry if you think I’m being pedantic about this one, but I truly feel it’s important to name the agent in order to achieve the root level change needed. The problem is much bigger than Beyonce and others like her. They reflect (and continue to promote) the problem, but are not the source of it.