I’ve mostly been ignoring the whole Anthony Weiner sex scandal thing because I don’t find Anthony all that appealing and I have no particular desire to see or read about his wiener. I also don’t get all that fussed about politician’s sex lives, nor do I give a shit what his wife has to “put up with”. She wants to be the Mayor’s Wife and she’s made her deal and it’s none of my damn business. As long as Anthony isn’t texting his crotch shots to me, I don’t really care.
But I really had to click on this New York Times Op Ed on “Weiner’s Women”, because I expected to find a nice example of poor lady victims with wieners all over their phones, fainting and blushing at such monstrous acts. Heh. Maybe I should take a peek at one of those screencaps and check just how monstrous we are dealing with?
It’s actually even better than just the usual pearl-clutching and denial of agency I have come to expect from any commentary on the role the women played in dressing up the dachshund.
Susan Jacoby goes one better on the rosy-cheeked maiden meme, and tries her best to understand what this whole sexting thing is about. She begins by tossing a bone to Weiner’s poor wife, who is apparently being regularly deprived of bones, or at the very least, she has to share them with the other bitches.
People ask how Mr. Weiner’s wife, the soulfully beautiful and professionally accomplished Huma Abedin, can stay with him. My question is why hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women apparently derive gratification from exchanging sexual talk and pictures with strangers.
Soulfully beautiful and professionally accomplished? Ho hum. Let’s not leave out graspingly ambitious and strategically adept. The lady wants the Mayor’s Laurels, and if she can’t get them herself, she will hitch her wagon to the wiener who CAN get them. Like she didn’t know she was handing her bun to a Ball Park Frank of epic proportions? Oh, bullshit.
And so what? Who cares? It’s her life.
Then Jacoby puts an interesting little spin on her analysis, agreeing that the ladies who participate in this kind of virtual carnal exploration are in fact fully aware and conscious of what they are doing. Why do they do it?
Because RAPE, for one thing. It’s safer than going out into the world with all those dangerous, predatory men who lurk around every corner waiting for an unsuspecting virgin to traipse by. In New York, I suspect the wait would be a long one.
These women are not victims of men like Mr. Weiner (or of ordinary, obscure sex seekers in the digital world) but full and equal participants. There is no force involved here; people of both sexes are able to block unwanted advances. Women are certainly safer on the Web than they would be going home with strangers they meet in bars.
But aside from rape, there is the simple fact that men just suck and the lower your expectations when it comes to having sex with one, the better off you will be.
The morality of virtual sex, as long as no one is cheating on a real partner, is not what bothers me. What’s truly troubling about the whole business is that it resembles the substitution of texting for extended, face-to-face time with friends. Virtual sex is to sex as virtual food is to food: you can’t taste, touch or smell it, and you don’t have to do any preparation or work. Sex with strangers online amounts to a diminution, close to an absolute negation, of the context that gives human interaction genuine content. Erotic play without context becomes just a form of one-on-one pornography.
Nor do I consider it worse for women than for men to engage in this behavior. But I do suspect — because I concede the validity of the numerous studies concluding that men are more interested in and aroused by pornography than women are — that women who settle for digital pornography are lowering their expectations and hopes even more drastically than their male collaborators are.
I guess Jacoby doesn’t know that imagining you are eating some calorific, this-is-why-you’re-fat treat can actually mollify hunger cravings?
Ever wished you could cut down on the amount you eat without going hungry? It turns out all you need is a good imagination. Scientists have found that going through the mental motions of eating, say, a chocolate bar, will help.
Weiner’s lady seem to be more inclined towards sausage than chocolate, but no matter. The imagination is a powerful thing that can absolutely bring satisfaction without all the pesky need to actually put it in your mouth and swallow.
God, I’m so immature. Penis jokes. Makes me giggle every time.
I wonder what studies Jacoby is referring to when she cites men as more interested in and aroused by pornography? She is clearly not accounting for literary pornography, AKA the romance novel, which appeals overwhelmingly to women. To the tune of a billion dollars a year.
That’s a whole lot of lady porn.
“Reece, I’m gonna come.” He sucked in a breath as I sped up. “I need…I want you to—“ His hips rose off the bed, forcing his cock through my grasp. If the light was on, I could have seen him. Known whether his eyes were open or closed. Maybe he frowned.
All I knew was his lips parted beneath mine as he gasped for air, and when I kissed from the corners of his mouth along his jaw, he moaned softly.
“I want more.”
Wowza! I might have to hit the bookshop later today.
But okay, let’s say it really IS only men who enjoy pornography and find it arousing. How do we get from “men like porn” to “any expectations of intimate connections with men are impossible so lower your standards”?
I say Jacoby wants to have her cake and eat it, too. She wants to give women agency and responsibility, and yet still find a way to blame men for the fact that some women like the titillation of virtual sex. Her feminist ideology requires her to cast the woman simultaneously as equal and oppressed, which is generally not difficult for feminists to do, but the whole sexting thing has Jacoby thoroughly perplexed.
As a feminist, I find it infinitely sad to imagine a vibrant young woman sitting alone at her computer and turning herself into a sex object for a man (or a dog) she does not know — even if she is also turning him into a sex object. Twentieth-century feminism always linked the social progress of women with an expanding sense of self-worth — in the sexual as well as intellectual and professional spheres. A willingness to engage in Internet sex with strangers, however, expresses not sexual empowerment but its opposite — a loneliness and low opinion of oneself that leads to the conclusion that any sexual contact is better than no contact at all.
Susan, here is word for you to look up that I think will assist you in understanding why “vibrant young women” might like to engage in a little explicit pictorial exchange with men they do not know:
True story: I find it very amusing and arousing to take naughty pictures of myself and send them to my husband. While I expect he gets some pleasure out of that, it’s really just a way for me to confirm my own appeal. Check me out! Don’t I look fabulous?
I once sent some photos to Mr. JB’s Blackberry, which he then unthinkingly plugged into his laptop which was connected to a wall projector. He had intended to retrieve a file which he would then be using for a presentation, and his Blackberry decided to download all his image files for safekeeping.
And they were all duly projected onto the wall. Six feet high.
Thank god there were no women at that presentation! Mr. JB learned very quickly how to prevent private images from being automatically downloaded after that episode.
It really rather amazes me that Jacoby doesn’t seem to get that virtual sex can be incredibly affirmational for WOMEN, who are really just confirming their own appeal. It’s a relatively safe way to become the lusted after heroine of the romance novel narrative. The fantasy of devastating appeal can be digitally controlled, altered and manipulated at the woman’s discretion and for her pleasure.
Deep down, what does a man really think of himself when he must feed his ego with phony gasps of erotic pleasure from strangers in a digital vastness? What does a woman think of herself in the same arid zone of sex without sensuality?
I think we’ve isolated Jacoby’s problem right here. Phony gasps of pleasure? Done to assuage a man’s fragile ego? An arid, dry zone? No sensuality?
It’s normally rather cliché to suggest that frigid bitter harpies loosen their corsets and try getting laid, but in Jacoby’s case, it seems that just might be the very thing! And for heaven’s sake, stop faking your pleasure! Trust me, your man’s ego can take a little direction.
If it makes you uncomfortable, Susan, you can try a few practice runs. Get yourself a nice photo app and try out a few poses. Learn to ask for what you want. Rehearse a bit. And you don’t need to go it alone.
Get yourself a sexting partner. And then shoot for Carnegie Hall.
You know how you get to Carnegie Hall, right?
Practice, practice, practise. And check your camera roll auto-backup settings.
Just in case.
Lots of love,