9/15/16

Whore

These thoughts derived from a facebook post of mine last night, about Thirteen Myna Birds getting too many sex-focused poetry submissions from men, in which the female characters basically just boil down to being holes filled with emotional trauma rooted in the men. (It derived from a comment under that post, which mentioned prostitute writing lessons, armed with a yard stick to slap unwanted advances).

I'm not sure what prostitute writing lessons are, but the words prostitute and yard stick slapping in rather rapid succession caused me to think of this Whore song I recently listened to/watched the video of. I like the song and the video, BUT it also brings to my mind a long lasting, continually ongoing (maybe to the point of semi-clich├ęd?) gender-based response/reaction that I have mixed feelings about, in which women visually whore-themselves up by choice, in order to stand out to the type of men who see women as whores and then the women take advantage of/or screw up/ or control those men, in one way or another.

Whore-themselves up is an overstated description that I'm using because of the song title/video.

But it does seem like a lot of women will purposely over-sexualize themselves, appearance-wise, as a sort of visual proof that they're in control of their own body and style. (R
eading this over again one day later, I'm not exactly sure why I used the word "oversexualize". Women choosing the way they dress/look isn't usually a sexualization sort of thing. I guess I'm not sure what it is and where the stylized appearance focus comes from. I guess it comes from lots of different places)  

I've done it myself, but sometimes I wonder why are we trying to prove ourselves VISUALLY? And what are we trying to prove?

When I've done it, there have been times when it really does cause me to feel more powerful and in-control, but I'm not sure WHY. I mean, I can understand wanting to be in control of myself, but what does that have to do with my appearance? What do sexy looks have to do with power and control? What do dominant/submissive looks have to do with power and control, outside of the sexual realm? Is it because sometimes we don't feel like we're in control sexually (and otherwise) and so we want to visualize ourselves in a way that makes us feel like we are and makes others see that we are, because it's right there in everyone's face (whereas they can't hear what's inside our heads)?

Yes we can choose our own attire and makeup and hair style (well some of us can), but it's not like we can choose and completely control our own body type and facial appearance, other than modifying it with diet and exercise or taking it to even more of an extreme with cosmetic surgery. I'm not strongly for or against any of those things (I have my personal feelings, but I think it's an individual choice) - but then there's the fact that some people don't have the privilege of being able to make as many choices along those lines. As in, poor people (income-wise) would have a much harder time affording healthy food and other aspects of controlling their own body, choosing their ideal hair or makeup or attire and so forth. So is appearance oriented control more of a middle-class and above sort of option?

I'm just sort of thinking/wondering out loud.

Wondering why so many expressions/perceptions of women are looks-based. Men's perceptions of women, women's perceptions of other women, women's perceptions of themselves. Women trying to impress men, women trying to impress other women, women trying to impress themselves, in terms of what they look like. Women trying to take control and power by making up their faces and dressing however they choose.

Of course people should be able to dress however they choose for whatever reasons they choose (and of course dress style and personality type should not be equated to being a whore or asking for it or anything of the sort),  but sometimes I wonder what the reasons are.  Do we even necessarily know?

I understand why my choice of attire and makeup appealed to me so much when I was younger - because when I was still a teenager who didn't have my own individual space or lifestyle yet, the way I chose to look felt like one of the only ways I could stand out and be myself. But why do I still care so much about my looks now? Why is standing out visually still important to so many adult women? Do we wish we were models?  Models for what reason?  Models of what?

I do still think of my looks as a creative expression of myself, at least the parts of my looks I can take some control over and make my own choices about, such as attire and hair style and makeup. I don't think there's anything wrong with choosing to express myself that way and choosing to stand out however I choose to.

But I think it becomes trickier when we wish we had standardized model (or standardized sexy) faces or bodies, in order to stand out and when we feel drawn to conform towards the sort of appearance that is seen as attractive by others (men, celebrities, fashion magazines, or even porn magazines/movies). It's like wanting to stand out by fitting into ideal mainstream sensibilities. It's a contradictory mess. And I'm sure as heck not immune to it. I'm a contradictory mess about it too.

My looks are still a part of myself I feel like I can take my own chosen control over, but that won't last forever. I think those of us who tend to be looks-based are bound to have a harder time with naturally aging. Because if we're mainstream looks-based, then we lose some of our appeal as we lose some of our hair color and skin texture and other youthful features of our appearance.

Back to the Whore song/video linked to below, as previously mentioned, I do find it visually appealing and interesting in various ways. But it also causes me to think (maybe intentionally, maybe not) about the ongoing side-taking power structures where so many people seem to feel like they have to take a side to be in control. So men lash out at women, women lash out at men, women lash out at other women, we lash out at who we disagree with, we lash out at who we don't understand, we group things together instead of trying to individualize them.

The S&M attire and style of this video is also visually interesting to me,  but also causes me to wonder about if S&M and other kinky sexual fetishes are more of a middle-class and above proclivity too, and causes me to wonder why one person always feels drawn to be in control of (or be controlled by) the other - unless they regularly alternate between controlling and controlled.

Here's the Whore song video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GurkREc-q4I

***

And here are the first 8 lines of the first poem that will be appearing within the new September flock of Thirteen Myna Birds ("I Am I" by Tonya Eberhard), coming this Friday!

"The flowers may never be well again.
Wrapped in pearls and rain, some
odious presence still lurks, more 
than willing to suck the water from 
its roots, pluck off its dress skirts 
one by one. I may never be well 
again. Paper-thin, one-dimensional
in an all too-terrifying world."