Tag Archives: female body

What Does It Mean For A Woman To “Own” Her Sexuality?

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In a perfect world, human sexuality wouldn’t be so political. From  a biological and societal standpoint, the fundamentals are simple.

Two people meet.

They gauge one another’s interest.

They decide to engage in an intimate relationship.

Together, they make a mutual effort to enjoy the fruits of that relationship.

Ideally, an expression of sexuality is a mutual exchange between two people seeking an intimate connection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a heterosexual relationship, a homosexual relationship, or something more elaborate. So long as those involved are willing, considerate, and open, everyone shares in the benefits.

Sadly, we don’t live in that perfect world. Like it or not, human sexuality is one of the most politically charged topics anyone can discuss. It’s connected to hot button issues like abortion, sexual assault, domestic violence, child welfare, poverty, crime, human trafficking, and even religion. Considering its role in propagating our species, it’s understandable why discussions about about it get heated.

That said, some of those discussions are political for all the wrong reasons. A few are even built on a foundation of absurdities that only serve to distort our perspectives on human sexuality and not in a good way. One of those discussions involve the idea of a woman “owning her sexuality.”

This idea isn’t new, but it has become a more common refrain in recent years, often in conjunction with media depictions of female sexuality. It’s become a slogan, of sorts, for whenever a female celebrity or fictional character does something that’s sexually empowering. Depending on where someone is on the political spectrum, they’ll either cheer or scorn their actions.

However, what constitutes “sexual empowerment” is poorly defined and exceedingly inconsistent. In some cases, empowerment involves a woman being more sexual than society at large deems appropriate. In other cases, empowerment involves a woman being less sexual or less feminine. Here are just a few examples.

When Miley Cyrus was nude in one of her music videos, some saw this as empowering.

When Lara Croft was redesigned to be less sexy in her 2014 reboot, some saw this as empowering.

When Muslim women justify restrictive Islamic dress codes, some saw this as empowering.

When some women decided to stop shaving their body hair, some saw this as empowering.

Regardless of what form it takes, the empowerment is framed as women either reclaiming or owning their sexual selves. What it means is often vague, but it usually carries a particular set of connotations.

To own one’s sexuality is to break a set of unspoken rules, give the finger to an unjust system, and forge your own sexual path. It’s like that moment in every great sports movie where the underdog beats the odds and triumphs over their evil opponents. In that triumph, their notion of what constitutes a fair and just expression of human sexuality is vindicated. All others are somehow flawed.

I concede that this is a gross generalization, but it’s the most common narrative I see whenever there’s a story about a woman owning her sexuality. It’s built around the assumption that female sexuality is always the underdog and to own it, a woman needs to somehow seize it from the clutches of repressive, misogynistic men.

Now, I don’t deny that there are many injustices in the current social landscape. Historically, female sexuality has been subject to seriously repressive taboos. Even today, there are still various taboos about female sexual pleasure. Many women genuinely suffer because of it. The idea of women enjoying sex as much as men is still jarring to some people. Some even find it threatening.

In that sense, I don’t blame women for wanting to embrace their sexual selves in an environment that treats their sexuality as tool for political issues or marketing. Like men, they have feelings and desires. They have every right to pursue them with the same passion as anyone else. When it comes to “owning” it, though, the terminology tends to obscure that pursuit.

The fact that “owning” your sexuality can mean so many different things ensures it ultimately means very little. It has become one of those vague, catch-all terms that’s supposed to mark something as meaningful, progressive, or enlightened. In many cases, it comes down to people using sexuality to provoke a reaction, garner attention, or protest an injustice.

While I’m in favor of protesting sexual injustices, the fact that “owning your sexuality” is such an ambiguous act makes it a poor form of protest. All it does is assert that you can make choices about how you express your sexuality and you’re willing to endure the criticism. That doesn’t say anything about the injustice itself.

If anything, the very concept of owning your sexuality raises more questions than answers. To own something implies possession. The fact that a woman owning her sexuality is so celebrated implies that the woman didn’t possess it in the first place. If that’s the case, then when was it taken from her? At what point did she not own it? What did she have to overcome in order to get it back?

To some extent, for a woman to own her sexuality, she and others like her must buy into the idea that someone else governs it to some extent. In some cases, it’s the media with their depictions of idealized feminine beauty. In others, it’s repressive religious dogma that seeks to control female sexuality.

While there are real instances of women having to escape repressive environments, there’s a big difference between a female celebrity posing nude for a magazine and a woman being brutally punished for committing adultery. One involves someone escaping a coercive force that causes them real physical harm. The other involves them doing something that will only subject them to harsh scrutiny, at worst.

In that context, a woman owning her sexuality is no different than willingly enduring extra criticism and aggressive slut shaming. Can it be excessive? It certainly can be. Is it the same as someone putting their life and their body at risk in order to express their sexuality? I would argue that it isn’t.

I know my opinion may not count for much on this issue since I’m a heterosexual man. I concede that there’s only so much I can understand about the female experience. At the same time, I feel inclined to point out that men are human too. Men are also burdened by various taboos and double standards. As such, a man “owning his sexuality” is subject to entirely different standards.

The fact that those standards are so different implies that there’s little substance behind the concept. If a woman can act overtly sexual in one instance and exercise extreme modesty, yet claim to own her sexuality in both cases, then where does the ownership come in? At what point is it any different than just making choices and living with them?

If there is no difference, then the concept is ultimately pointless.

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Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Current Events, gender issues, men's issues, outrage culture, political correctness, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality, women's issues

Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, And A Positive Feminist Message

It’s hard to believe it’s almost here. In less than one month, the “Wonder Woman” movie starring Chris Pine and Gal Gadot will finally be released. It’s been a long time coming. For comic book and superhero fans of every age, race, and gender, this is a movie we’ve been waiting for with baited breath and wet panties.

I’ve already made my love of Wonder Woman quite clear on this blog. She is, beyond dispute, the most iconic female hero of the last 100 years. She isn’t just a symbol for female power that spans generations. She represents a unique heart, spirit, and passion that appeals just as much to 1950s housewives as it does to latte-loving millennials in 2017.

Of all the many superhero movies I’m excited for, “Wonder Woman” is at the top of a very long list. She already made her presence felt in last year’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” While that movie was critically panned to no end for all the wrong reasons, there was one sentiment than most agreed on. Wonder Woman was one of the best parts of that movie.

Gal Gadot, who also happens to be a former Israeli soldier in addition to being drop-dead gorgeous, proved that she is worthy of this iconic role. She can be Wonder Woman and kick an insane amount of ass while doing it. She can do all of this while having a level of sex appeal that Lynda Carter herself would be proud of.

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This is all wonderful news for fans of comics, superheroes, and beautiful kick-ass women. This is also usually where I turn the tables in a post and bring up an issue that tends to bring down your spirits faster than a dead kitten in a graveyard for orphans.

Well, if you’re looking for me to put another dent in your soul, I’m going to have to disappoint you this time. Instead, I wanted to bring up Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, and all the wonders that come with her for a genuinely good reason that should put a smile on your face and fill your heart with a cradle of baby puppies.

That’s because, as the marketing machine ramps up for Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot and the director, Patty Jenkins, are hitting the media circuit. Naturally, that’s going to lead to a few fake controversies and out-of-context quotes. Just look at any interview ever done with Ben Affleck. It’s as inevitable as a child star needing therapy.

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It’s a dangerous game, throwing yourself out there in a world where the internet will crucify you for using the wrong pronouns. If anyone can do it and be sexy as hell, though, it’s Gal Gadot. She ended up proving herself in a way that any Amazon warrior would be proud of.

She did so by addressing an issue that tends to infuriate the internet, people, and the very forces of nature if it’s ever mentioned above a whisper. That’s right, Gal Gadot talked about feminism. I’ll give everyone a moment to stop gasping, but don’t head for your safe space just yet. This one actually has a happy ending.

I’ve made multiple posts on how hard it is to talk about this issue, especially when there are so many frustrating double standards. Gal Gadot didn’t attempt to address everything. Even Wonder Woman has her limits. However, she did address one issue that seems to divide feminists, conservative Christians, and men who have a hard time hiding their boners. Specifically, she talked about her attire.

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Usually, when people talk about women’s attire, it turns into a pay-per-view caliber whining fight where one side argues it’s too sexy and the other side argues it’s too repressive. Wear too little and you’re being too slutty. Wear too much and you’re propagating the grand patriarchal conspiracy to relegate all women to making sandwiches. You just can’t win.

Gal Gadot, being the wonderful woman she is, proved that wrong. In an interview with the New York Times, she addressed the issue of Wonder Woman’s attire and did so in a way that every self-proclaimed feminist should learn from. Here’s what she said.

“I think as a feminist, you should be able to wear whatever you like!” Ms. Gadot said. “In any case, there is such a misunderstanding of the concept. Feminism is about equality and choice and freedom. And the writers, Patty and myself all figured that the best way to show that is to show Diana as having no awareness of social roles. She has no gender boundaries. To her, everyone is equal.”

It almost makes too much sense. It’s almost too logical. If you’re for feminism, you should be for wearing whatever the fuck you want. If you want to wear a G-string and a tube top made out of duct tape, then wear it. If you want to wear a burka or a bear costume, then wear it. That is the perfect feminist message, one that men, women, and those of unspecified gender can get behind.

It’s wonderfully refreshing because feminism, be it radical or otherwise, has been somewhat schizophrenic when it comes to women’s attire. On one hand, you’ll have feminists protesting their right to sunbathe topless. On the other, you’ll have feminists whining about video game characters dressing too sexy.

It’s a painfully asinine conflict, one that reduces feminism to glorified virtue signaling coupled with excessive excuse banking. It’s the main reason why feminism has become such a toxic buzzword that’s less associated with equality and more associated with mean-spirited bitchiness.

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What Gal Gadot says helps put things in perspective. It’s also the perfect response to the bullshit decision the United Nations made earlier this year to rescind her status as an ambassador to girls because she was too sexy. She’s able to frame feminism in a context where only genuinely uptight, misogynistic, patriarchal asshats can disagree. By every measure, that’s a win for Wonder Woman and feminism.

I’m sure Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman will still have her detractors from feminists, men, and even other comic book fans. That’s just the nature of a world full of diverse, erratic, and often misguided opinions. That’s why it’s so refreshing for someone like Gal Gadot to use your position to make a positive contribution.

There will still be those who complain that Wonder Woman’s attire is too sexy. There will also be those who complain that she’s not sexy enough and that she’s not a good role model. However, those same people would complain about the sky being too blue if they had nothing else so their opinions deserve less credibility than their farts.

Gal Gadot didn’t need to say what she said. She didn’t need to prove to anyone that she deserves the role of Wonder Woman. She still did it and for that, on behalf of Wonder Woman fans and fans of those who say things that actually make sense, I thank her.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes