Friday, February 29, 2008

The Third Rule of Post Club: You Do Not Talk About (or after) the Third Rule

EDIT #3: Our fashion-challenged Mouse has responded not once, but twice! And both times manages to miss the point by miles. Plus he goes on an entertaining mini-rant about the APA is using propoganda buzzwords to demonize his libido, or something. Repeat after me: This is NOT about what you do or don't find attractive. It's about how you treat women. Mouse was the one who said sexualized in his post. Sexualization is not about what you THINK of women; it is about what you DO to them. I think I made the distinction between "attraction" and "sexualization" pretty clear in my post, but Mouse continues to respond as if I'm criticizing him for what he finds attractive or sexy.

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when
  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
--The APA

Here's an interesting question: At what point do we define something as not being thought about someone, but being done to them?

"Objectified" is a good example. Supposedly, if I look at some cheesecake picture of a woman, and as the APA indicates, I do not see her as a person with her own individual personality and motivations, but instead view her in an entirely sexual manner, then I am "objectifying" her, and that is a form of sexualization.

However: I haven't actually done anything to this hypothetical woman except perhaps applied some personal lustful thoughts. And aside from some Gorean-style master/slave kind of arrangement, in what way could I seriously, truly, in this civilized part of the world, actually cause some woman to become literally nothing more than a sexual object by virtue of my thoughts alone?

And yet, that's the APA, defining "sexualization". And though that's not precisely the way Nenena herself uses it in her post, she cites the APA a couple times as the source of the definition.

As I mentioned previously, the APA's definition is so vague and/or broad as to be able to be applied to almost any barely-related situation. I don't think this is an accident. If you can say that nearly anything is "sexualization", then you can speak out against nearly anything you disagree with and slap a Bad Nasty Label on it. Sexualization is Bad, This Thing is Sexualization, therefore This Thing is Bad.

If you are going to use the APA as the source of your definition, you ought to factor in all of what that entails, not just what's convenient for your argument at the time.

For the APA, as presented in the definition above, it IS about what people think, what they find attractive. Do I need to elaborate? Very well:

"a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy"

While "sexy" isn't (for me, at least) based entirely on physical attractiveness, it's sure as hell the primary factor. Or to be more exact, physical attractiveness has to be present for "sexy" to occur in my brain. A good-looking woman does not always give the signal of "sexy"; however, an unattractive woman simply does not spark that signal at all.

Now, you can parse the APA sentence above in a number of ways. If "physical attractiveness = sexy" is the standard, then what is the result and injustice the APA is implying here? That if someone is good-looking, that they are automatically assumed to be "sexy"? Or is it that someone who doesn't measure up to someone's standards for physical attractiveness can't be considered "sexy"?

In either case, whether someone is considered "sexy" is first and foremost what someone thinks, not what someone does, although whether someone is considered "sexy" may well affect how that person is approached. Whether or not you think a person's criteria for "sexy" is reasonable or fair, that's how they think. The APA would have you consider those thoughts to be "sexualization".

Nenena may have a clearer, narrower, more precisely-defined version of "sexualization" she prefers to use.

Maybe she should present it to the APA first, so they can make it an official part of their lexicon. That way, when she takes me to task for not using her version of the word, there'll actually be someone else using her version besides, you know, her.

----------oh, and also----------

"but Mouse continues to respond as if I'm criticizing him for what he finds attractive or sexy."

Let's recap: I compared Wonder Woman's outfit to sexy lingerie. Nenena's response was to mock me for being "confused" about what was sexy lingerie and what wasn't. If that isn't a criticism of me finding something about WW's costume to be sexy, what is?

"I have an idea! Let's get on Anon's case for saying WW's outfit is sexy like lingerie, and then pretend like that's not what we said at all! All alternate personalities and realities in favor, say 'aye'!"


1 comment:

James Meeley said...

If you are going to use the APA as the source of your definition, you ought to factor in all of what that entails, not just what's convenient for your argument at the time.

You know, Anon, you've pretty much summed up the majority of the problems with the "feminism in comics" movement in this quote.

They really don't factor in all the factors in what they use to make their points. It's all about winning that argument of the moment.

Nenena has said in the past when she uses words like "misogynistic", in regards to a comic story she didn't like, it isn't meant in the way the standard definition is used, she is using a type of "feminist shorthand" speak. So, she isn't actually making a personal attack of the writer, the way the actually book definition of the word is used to do. She's using "feminist-speak", where the meaning is something like, "to use cliched, unoriginal and outmoded writing tropes and tactics, which fail to take into account any feminist viewpoints and thoughts within the character or work in question." This is what she means when she says something like "Bendis' story in New Avengers #35 was a misogynistic crapfest."

I imagine it's no different here. She's citing the APA, but her definition of what "sexualization" means, isn't the same as what we know the APA's to be. She's using her "feminist-speak" definition. And the fact that folks like you and I don't know those definitions, well, that's our fault and our problem. But we are wrong to hold her to the standard of the known definitions of the words (and organizations) she is choosing to use.

Really, this is just another of the ways the whole "the hive vagina only works when they want it to" is shown. She'll use the APA to make her point, but when closer examinations of what the APA really says takes place and you (or I, or anyone) start to point out how wrong the APA line of thinking is, suddenly she's not saying the APA is right, she's saying how she preceives what they are saying is right. And we are wrong to judge her words, based on the words used by the APA, which isn't what she's saying herself.

In short, they want all the strengths of a united front, but none of the drawbacks of it. To have their cake and eat it, too, as it were. And it's just another reason, in the growing list of them, of why they will never acheive any real changes or attain any of their (supposed) goals.