Saturday, August 28, 2010

No Apologies

If straight men are denied sex with women, in prison for example, do they objectify the effeminate man, the “pretty” man? It seems so. This also seems to say something about power and sex. So, it isn’t necessarily about women and power, but power, the power to satisfy a need or desire.

I wonder how much power most women have to get this kind of satisfaction. It is about agency, means. I think it is harder for women to satisfy desires for sex, security, society, and success, because of having to navigate through the world not feeling confident that their integrity is all that matters. It is a man’s world. I will not apologize for that statement. I can qualify it: a wealthy, connected, white man’s world perhaps, but still the world’s power is almost absolutely in the hands of men.

Lisa, you say that some men try hard (the thought that they have to try hard would be something we should look at to help us understand some of this better; do they have to try hard with peers?) to treat us with dignity and respect. I am an equal. Yes, truth be known, quite often I feel superior, but I have been called on it and have tried to continue to work on that. It is a response to exactly this question of being “treated”. I don’t want to be treated, just act civilly as one would with anyone one meets. I am not asking for special treatment; I am demanding equal treatment. I don’t always have someone’s respect, and I don’t respect many people; but in a civilized (loosely used) world, I mind my manners and hold myself back from making any judgment through my actions about who should be treated respectfully. We all should have that, and it should not be something I try, but something I do.

Dignity is mine through my sense of self, my self-esteem. I am the keeper of my dignity. This is often affected by objectification. As Lisa says, it is a form of objectification to be placed on the mantle as muse. For me, as an older woman, I am not often seen as a sexual object, but I am seen as the Wise One, mother of the thousand four letter words, and so, also “mantle-ized” and my dignity(which is based on my vision, my view of myself) is not acknowledged, even if I resist this placement. My dignity is affected when a man doesn’t understand (and act accordingly) that my sense of worth comes from me and not what he wants me to be (for him) or thinks that I am.

Respect is tricky: we both seem to be respected for some innate quality that men interpret as something that needs to be pedestal-ized, and therefore robs of us real respect.

This is all very often unintentional. I realize that. But until men realize that they do it, without the tap-dancing qualifications and explanations, it is still offensive.

For the men who read this: ask not that I understand the male position: I do, all too well and often, with much kindness, compassion and giving; ask how you can learn.