The Weekly Oh-So-Serious Link

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To read my column in the Emory Wheel this week, click here. It’s pretty exciting — about stripping at universities and stuff.

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15 responses »

  1. Good questions about stripping, and baring the female body as response to control and intrusion (Slutwalks, though the moniker could use some tweaking. Why should they be sluts? Because others define them as such? I would change the name to something much more empowering, strong. Like FuckYouWalks).

    I am wondering what the university reaps from this stripping exercise? Who thought it up? Why? Who benefits? Who loses? The guys will love it, the gals will go along to please the guys — that’s my take. Social conditioning. But still. Who in hell designed this hall event and why??!!??

    • Yeah… I’ll be discussing that in a little more depth next week (the how in terms of the event — how did it happen and how was it then dealt with).

      Along the side of my blog you’ll find a link to an article in the Washington Post about SlutWalks. I think it’s an interesting name, but I think the reason why it trumps FuckYouWalks (although I do like that) is because it explicitly says that it doesn’t matter what other people think about how a woman appears; a woman’s clothing does not make any inappropriate action suddenly appropriate. In other words, being slutty (no matter the definition of the word, but in all its cultural relevance) doesn’t make you an acceptable target for rape. Does that make sense? It actually evokes the idea of “being a slut” as a protected and ok appearance.

      Plus, I think it functions a little in the realm of word reclamation — as in, sexual promiscuity among women should not be so taboo a topic of conversation.

  2. I totally agree with your hypothesis that so-called sluttiness is not an encouragement for rape. But society is the one doing the defining, not women, per se.

    Patriarchy boxes females into either madonna or whore categories. Why should women cast themselves as “sluts” just because they dress a certain way? It’s just (un)dress, right? I dislike the dichotomies foisted on us by controlling forces.

    • Thank you. I really appreciate that. I’m waiting until I’m not three Guinness’s deep to write a brief response to the comments from residents of the hall I wrote about. The truth is, they’re both defensive responses and ones that indicate a failure to engage critically with the material at hand.

      It’s true that I didn’t attend the event — but it really doesn’t matter. And the argument I’m making is not one they’ve managed to address (Pissant Partisan addresses it below with great eloquence). Instead, they seem to be misinterpreting the argument entirely and that’s too bad.

      Hopefully some of it will also be clarified next week because I’m focusing more on the administration’s role, then, which I believe to be the problem’s root — not actually student’s behavior.

  3. Guys are so creative about getting coeds to take off their clothes…..Hey, it will empower you!
    Can’t wait to see what the next ploy they come up with is….
    Yeah, you can dress anyway you want and it shouldn’t be anyone’s business. But life is as it is.
    How about developing some self confidence – not letting other people use you for their purposes?

    • Well… I’m not sure I don’t think that the removal of clothing can’t be empowering. But I do think that it should not be part of a central event like it was in this case, condoned by a university. In addition, men were also a part of the event — which I actually tried to make clear by using gender neutral terms throughout, but no one seems to have noticed that I actually wasn’t just focusing on women — it’s about anyone being encouraged to take off their clothes to turn someone else on.

      And we’re in agreement on the rest of that :) Thanks for clicking in.

      Also — if you want to, pasting your comment into the comment section on the Wheel’s website would be greatly appreciated because I’m becoming a bit of an anti-celebrity here at St. Andrews and any support online would at least demonstrate that I’m not utterly alone in having these concerns about university behavior.

  4. “I define stripping as the progressive removal of clothing by one party (group or individual) for the purpose of arousing another party.”

    Well now, seeing it phrased so coolly that makes it seem much less appealing :P

    Stripping and prostitution are I think difficult topics from a feminist viewpoint. I speak in terms of stripping/prostitution as one here as I assume they both have the goal of sexual arousal or gratification.

    I feel a lot of the problems comes from the fact that in decades gone by this was more clearly a question of power. Women were denied equal opportunities as men to empower themselves economically as they were barred from many career paths. Prostitutes were both frowned upon societally but simultaneously deemed necessary…by men, of course. Their existence relied on men. As such they were kept almost as a sex-slave class: dependent on the money of patriarchs but gagged by their inability to discuss the topic publicly without ideological guilt. Back then, they were not empowered in any sense.

    Now, women make it clear that they have an equal say in defining the rules of engagement when it comes to sexuality, these “SlutWalks” being the perfect example. These walks aren’t made with male sensitivity in mind, but to make them aware that it’s always the rapists who need to accept the terms of women, and that society is formed with equality of opinion in mind ahead of hypocrisy over the male wish to see women simultaneously sexual and asexual. As always, a pervasive ideology can never withstand open discourse, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

    I would actually say that stripping is an empowering move for women. The reason it feels like it isn’t is because of its history. It’s like the *n* word for black people – first a tool of oppression, then empowerment.

  5. Gosh, I completely agree about the challenges in discussing these things. I would love to see you copy and paste this comment to the Wheel’s website if you have the opportunity/interest.

    And for the record, my original version of this piece included multiple definitions — I edited them out because I drew from them, but simplified in order to speed of the column. Still, I think it’s amazing how much we can learn just from those definitions.

    The truth is, my issue is with the current reality of a ‘striptease’ culture and the idea that a university would condone such blatant sexualization of students. Obviously, I think people should be allowed to exercise their right to undress, but I don’t think that it should be a university-sanctioned event — because it implies that the way that stripping is currently viewed is both acceptable and appropriate for a residence within a learning environment. I think it’s negative for both men and women (not matter who’s performing and who’s watching/being targeted), but because of the way we sexualize and devalue bodies through sexualization.

    Whereas I think it’s empowering as a spontaneous act, when there is no performance or peer pressure at play, I also think that when it’s not a spontaneous act, the planning and acceptance involved beforehand make for a very messy space that might allow a few men or women to feel empowered by the activity, but which ultimately reinforces particular sexuality values. As in, some people feel empowered because they fit in with the social standards of beauty and this gives them a confirmation opportunity. I don’t think that universities should be suggesting that such superficial assessments are appropriate and I don’t think that stripping as it currently exists in the world does the job of recognizing full personhood of human beings (male or female) as more than objects of sexual desire. Does that make sense?

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