Musings on politics, erotica, philosophy and whatever else comes to mind
|Objectification of Women and Erotica I
One of the most common negative reaction I get when people realise what I write (aside from the embarassment issue) is the question how I, a feminist, can square the objectification of women in porn with my feminist beliefs. Leaving aside entirely the issue the difference between porn and erotica, and the whole debate if this distinction is artificial for another time - I will have a first look at the objectification of woman in erotica, as I see it, here.
Control over fertility and active participation in the sex act have been the main aspect of the cultural debate surrounding feminism in the last few decades. It is not as if the female quest for true political and social equality has yet finished but there is a realisation that change has to be effected on a cultural level. One of the main points of contention, for many feminists, is the objectification of women in pronographic materials.
I disagree with that view, but do not have to go into detail regarding porn and feminism. The argument I want to make here is rather that erotica is the reverse, it allows women to step back from objectification.
Since the sexual revolution of the 70s led to another wave of feminism, one of the strongest pressures and encouragements has been the idea that women should become participants in the sexual process - not anymore the object thereof. Where in the 1800s and often for most of the 1900s, the female orgasm was considered almost a myth, and definitely not something good girls had, the late 20th century introduced a myriad amount of self-help books. The vast majority of these books were about how to achieve a female orgasm, how to have multiple orgasms - basically, how to be supermen in bed.
This is exactly my point. Most of these books either teach men how to be better lovers (the majority of them), how partners play on each others' bodies more effectively or, more so now though still fewer books in number, how a woman becomes a better lover. The problem is, I would argue, all of these are still objectifications - mostly of women but also of men. The object should be sex and both genders need to be step out of the objectification of the other.
Writing erotica means to give sex a sensual component, to create partnerships and joyful couplings in which the sensual interaction is just as important, if not more so, than the poke and spurt. The object is to create stories in which the erotic sensations of sexual interactions become a sensual realisation in the readers mind - not simply pictures in front of their eyes.
Why does this take away the objectification? Because it aims to create an emotional bond to the characters, make it possible to relate to the characters as subjects in pursuit of an object, sex. It created an awareness of both, or more, partners as individuals within the story. So rather than making sex a competition practiced on the other's body, it turns the act into a game, adds a mental element to the competition. Erotica is not an objectification of woman, or men - it is an objectification of sex, empowering men and women. And I am fine with that - sex is an integral part of our human nature, and one of its most enjoyable expressions.