Friday, June 21, 2013

A Room of Her Own

 --"Safety Last!" (1923)

 It's physical
Only logical
You must try to ignore
That it means more than that 
--What's Love Got to Do with It?
 Tina Turner 

I don't know what you think I am
I'm not no magician I tell you no I ain't
Maybe I can open your pants  
But big fucking deal 
--I'm a Boy, I'm a Girl,  Johnny Thunders 
When blogwriting, one has the tendency to expostulate, to grandstand and even proselytize (though we're neither Mormons nor Seventh Day Adventists), and Ranger was perhaps not fully exploring every aspect of the issue in a recent presentation, "Sex and Violence"; we may charitably chalk that up to a sin of omission rather than commission.

Comments to the piece @ sister site Milpub have provoked some dialog amongst the principles here at RAW. Friend FDChief is correct: our analogy does not quite hold. Moreover, he states the observation that a member of a democracy only obtains full citizenship when he or she may participate in every aspect of maintaining that democracy, which may mean full participation in the military, if not in the porn industry (though women's role there is guaranteed.)

The result will be several days of looking at the issue through different eyes -- both mine and Rangers -- seeking to clarify the problem, shore up the analogy and to explore any possible resolutions. No one installment will be complete, so we what follows will be a series of posts looking at different facets of the issue.

So let's define the topics and what porn and war share as far as opportunities, causal effects and requirements (of all players).

Since at least the Venus of Willendorf 20,000 years BCE, men have enjoyed viewing representations of the female body (head not always needed, thanks). Humans enjoy gaping at protuberances, the more grotesque, perhaps, the more fascinating. Ranger is amongst the crowd of his fellows who has enjoyed the same. However, he also recognizes the necessary objectification and frequent degradation often involved in these depictions; this is an acknowledged tension for perhaps many viewers.

His thoughts actually stemmed from what he sees as the evolution of porn from fairly innocuous early 20th-century blue movies to the more violent representations of recent decades. Crush films -- the brutal murder of animals -- is but one perverse incarnation in an industry that has few bounds on its impositions upon the human body. They, along with "snuff films" -- the human equivalent -- have ostensibly been banned, and represent probably the outermost limit of what has been achieved in this genre. What remains is often not pretty. 

(As an aside to the crush films, a Florida Representative even proposed a ban on the cruel practice of "cow-tipping" in 2004 [it did not pass], yet we may do the same and worse to our women, fat or otherwise, any day of the week. But that is a topic for another day.)

We know what is cruel and what is exploitative, but that does not slake our taste for such things. Most pornography, besides the actuality of the sexual representation, is an exercise in power, both that imposed by the viewer and the producer/exploiter (film industry; actors, etc.)

When commenter "ael" writes @ milpub, "This ability to empathize makes pornography inevitable. Watching people have fun is also fun", he is showing himself a man of compassion, but perhaps not recognizing the darker impulse behind porn. Is "fun" truly the thing sought? Perhaps in the way that self-gratification is "fun" to the narcissist (and with that comes the additional destructive resentment of his need for porn, but that again is another topic.)

A recent piece, "The Conspiracy of Pornography Exposed", indicts porn consumption as a narcissistic retreat from reality and a controlling experience of a simulacrum representation. As such, it cannot move beyond a physical response to the impersonal yet universal carnality spooling out before him. Viewing porn is a release into the libidinal free from the superego (unless mom breaks into your room, or your mind.) 

So porn is basically an avenue for self gratification, at the expense of having to actually engage with the sex partner up close and personal. It does not extinguish the libido of course; it is merely a temporary physical release. The partner used to achieve that end is obviously a projected objectification, a facsmilie of a woman who is used to self-gratify. 

But along with man's desire to own and expropriate the feminine is his strong drive for protection of the female, something which often fuels his lust to fight, presumably for his society's protection (as explained in books like What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II.") In fact, this is one of the main arguments against having women on the front line, namely, that man's protective instinct will kick in and he will act on those intrinsic impulses, ignoring good soldiering and endangering himself and his fellows in the process. 

Ranger spoke with a combat medic yesterday who said his biggest fear is that he would treat a less severely-wounded female soldier before he would a male, thereby violating his triage training. This favoritism on the basis of gender is a very real and indwelling impulse. 

Women seek parity with men when they seek equal pay -- Senator Elizabeth Warren is fighting now for a Paycheck Fairness Act (how many decades after the Equal Rights Amendment Failed?) -- and this is rightly so when one is thinking equal pay for equal work. But what about those domains in which men cut women a break due to their lesser physical capabilities, a reality for most women in strenuous, physically demanding work environment -- an environment like being an Infantryman on the front line of a fight. How would this play out on the battlefront?

When Ranger worked in a machine shop as a young man, he watched as the male workers lift heavy buckets of material for the female workers -- something which was the women's job -- even as this was in violation of union agreements. It's just the way it is. 

So let us summate the truths we have: Men watch porn, a media which is by necessity an objectification of women. Men also have an innate protective feeling toward actual women in their lives. Men are competitive, and excel in certain physical arenas against most women. 

Add into this mix Equal Opportunity measures which force the entrance of women into previously all-male domains (the first female SEAL is expected soon, for instance.) Many men, including Ranger, have enjoyed the combat arms as being the last bastion of male camaraderie; this will be gone once women enter their ranks. The time-honored protective impulse will be challenged, and the possible fall-back if uniformity in ranks is to be maintained will be for men to change women into the unfortunate object, a position which they themselves occupy in war.)

The conundrum: How to allow women to escalate through the military ranks sans combat or Special Forces experience, the traditional means of gaining respect in that world, but jobs in which they will not necessarily perform well, and perhaps not even due to their own shortcomings? Their success seems doomed from the outset, and there is no reality game simulator which will be able to definitively represent the actions of the players on the ground once actual fighting starts. 

Just because something can be done, should it? It asks the question, "Where is a woman's place?" The feminists say, "Anyplace she wants to be." 

Maybe, but stand on L street SE in Washington, D.C. at night and even G. I. Jane would be at risk.

More to come ...

--Lisa and Jim

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger FDChief said...

The obvious corollary to the observation that only "feminists" insist that a woman should be able to go anywhere she wants is that if she can't then how is she any different from a child, or a slave who was 3/5ths of a person?

Don't get me wrong; I see the huge problems with things like women as infantrymen, with the dangers inherent in opening physical labors to a woman who may not be as strong as a man.

(Though as one who pushed trainees let me tell you that I have worked with some big gals who could mop the floor with some of the little weeds that we pencil-whipped through 11B AIT because TRADOC had numbers to make...)

But you can't get around the tradeoff. If we want to get all "protective" of women we have to accept that we're also "protecting" them from being fully-vested citizens of a democracy, which so long as it has a military and has rights and perks available for those who perform certain work and certain roles denies those rights and perks to those it refuses to permit the doing of that work and those roles.

If we were capable or willing to debate the tradeoff of political responsibilities for that "protection" I'd be happy to have it. Instead We the People seem to stall out somewhere around the "Ewwww! Those girls will get girl cooties all over my boy stuff!" level.

And as for porn, well, that's just us being bonobos. Recently we've let our inner bonobo hang out more openly (Go back and look at some of the nastier Victorian bondage and torture porn - de Sade and those boys - and accept that the nastiness has ALWAYS been there), that's all.

Friday, June 21, 2013 at 12:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Eric Hodgdon said...

The decline in physical activity from the civilized 20th Century on, fuels the degeneracy of societies in how sex is viewed, exploited, and excessively engaged in.

It is not healthy to mind and body with the current amount of time spent on this subject in media.

That it's a subject being written about might better be aimed at ending the exploitation of women and men engaged in selling themselves for what amounts to watching them engage in pointless Fuck Films which have no redeeming qualities. Suck and Fuck films are for children and childish adults.

The typical Fuck Film is as Boring as watching paint dry. They could at least be more creative, as the movie 'Burlesque' is much more stimulating visually without being a Fuck Film, for example.

In either case, the amount of displayed sex in a society is inversely proportional to the worth of a society.

Friday, June 21, 2013 at 11:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I am totally in agreement. The amount of time spent in the simulacrum experience is deeply disturbing to me, and I've been contemplating this topic over the last month or so.

To your, the amount of displayed sex in a society is inversely proportional to the worth of a society --

I would add it is also inversely proportional to the amount of actual, meaningful sexual union. In this case, quantity subs for quality, IMHO.

Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 3:05:00 PM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home