The curse of the proper lady: Conceptualizations of purity and the slag

The conceptualization of purity. The definitional phenomena of this term has perplexed me in a way that transcends the performative, stylistic form of language and co-existence. Essentially, purity has formed a social hierarchy, a subjective oppression and repression, and a convoluted ideological framework of sexuality. The convergence of sexual identity and purity has culturally and socially produced a ‘polluted danger.’ Mary Douglas, British anthropologist who focuses on ritualism, comparative religion, and feminism “attempts to clarify the differences between the sacred, the clean and the unclean in different societies and times.” I will primarily be referring to her work in this particular post. I intend to address the intersection between sacred sexuality, womyn’s agency, and the theoretical and historical implications of purity.

Deconstructing body symbolism is crucial in the analysis of the hierarchical order and configuration of gender and sexuality in terms of the social taboos of what is considered ‘pure.’ We’ve all heard – be a proper lady! Sit up. Close your legs. Just sit there and look pretty. Hack up your skirt a little more (many thanks to Dave Matthews), bend over, more make-up, less make-up, shave, trim, wax, shorter skirt, longer dress, more cleavage. My point is we are consistently bombarded with a cacophony of messages which create an absurd imbalance of our perception of purity and something of utmost distaste. So why does this occur? What prompts such a contradictory mess? Firstly, it’s wanting the best of both worlds. These binaries are both desirous and expected unconsciously. But why? Well, because we are not linear, categorical creatures of reason. Humanity thrives on the complex opposition of humane traits and characteristics.

So in terms of gender construction, what is a proper lady? How can we know for sure when we’ve been consistently harassed with an imbalance of messages telling us what is sacred, clean, unclean, unholy, impure, etc.? History and post-christian beliefs have taught us that womyn were only sacred and holy in terms of their sexuality and how they were possessed. Biblically, womyn were unclean during menstruation, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and in general. They weren’t allowed to enter holy temples (that was only for men). King Solomon mentions it’s already difficult to find holy people in the book of Ecclesiastes, but there is definitely no upright, holy womyn.  The historical, social, economic, and political implication is that womyn are mainly used for mass consumerism, sexual objectification, as commodities, for reproductive reasons, etc. So how are we supposed to view ourselves? Are we clean? Dirty? Does it matter? Of course it does. Even if consciously we don’t want to accept the societal standards placed before us in a distorted way, it produces confusion. Confusion then creates hostility, warfare (on all levels), and inequality. Possessing a clear view of oneself in accordance to societal conformity is crucial to healthy development. So how do we achieve this?

Pre-christian religions like paganism, wicca, etc. revered both the Goddess and God – a balance of both female and male. That’s a start. Capitalism, inclusive of the commodification of womyn, the profit of human capital, the unnatural sexual exploitation of humankind, indulgent, mass consumptive behavior, the obvious lack of viable alternatives are some of the reasons as to why humanity is struggling with identifiable options. A postmodernist view would be that sex, gender, race, class, etc. would not influence the social and economic system as a whole. The de-centering of the subject if you will. The dismantling of the social and economic infrastructure we have become complacent with.

There is no direct solution; rather a plethora of ideological frameworks we can begin to implement in order to advocate change. There is no subjective definition of who and what is clean, dirty, sacred, etc. It’s a matter of perception dependent on history, economics, and social processes created in order to maintain a social hierarchy. Be radical. Start the change. Wear the dress.

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Porn, Porn for Everyone! – An interpretation of the female gaze

This is not necessarily another blog post about the negative effects the porn industry is having on society. It’s not solely on the sexual objectification of womyn in the porn industry; although this is clearly a widespread, continuous issue. It’s not directly a feminist criticism of how harmful porn is towards womyn and sexuality. This post is a declaration, a proclamation, a demand for the porn industry to evolve and transform. To reflect and promote a diverse, healthy representation of womyn and sex through embracing the female gaze. This is about EROTIC INTELLIGENCE!

Pornography can be defined as “the portrayal of explicit sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual excitement and erotic satisfaction” (wiki). However, is it truly erotic satisfaction? Mainstream porn is easily accessible. You can go to your friendly Google search engine, type in Porn and voila! Before you will be displayed a number of free porn websites you can curiously penetrate. Now, the initial perception may be the appearance of choice and difference. Don’t be fooled. There may be a colorful array of categories before your eager eyes but it’s practically the same, mundane performance.

These are some of the main characteristics of mainstream pornography:

  • Oppressive gender roles are intact.
  • Dominance and submission power relations are performed, often serving the male character.
  • ‘Dirty’ talk is necessary (Most of the time targeted at the more feminine character).
  • Lesbian sex is NOT really lesbian sex! Rather it is constructed through the heterosexual, commercialized male fantasy.
  • Male cum on the female face (Yes, I’m sure most womyn enjoy this depressingly instilled act).
  • WOMYN ARE RARELY, IF NOT EVER, FULLY GRATIFIED!

I cannot stress the last characteristic enough. I don’t believe the idea of porn is the problematic issue here; rather, it’s the way it’s depicted. The subject matter and visual content not only caters to the seemingly insolent male ego and pleasure, it completely eradicates womyn out of the sexual experience. She stands alone as object. Not human. The focus is not on the whole man in most mainstream pornographic videos but on the penis. However, the penis is active, moving, exerting, spilling, procuring. The whole man is not necessary. The whole womun is exposed; yet composed of chronic emptiness.

A commercial perspective for this poignant situation is that if males are the main consumers of pornography, then we must primarily tailor the content to their virtual voyeuristic desires. I have written and researched numerous essays, articles, theories on pornography throughout my academic career and for my own personal endeavors. My inquisitive mind led me to question approximately 100 men through survey research design on what they thought about mainstream porn. These are the prevalent answers I received:

It’s an easy release, I don’t take it that seriously.

It’s one-dimensional, but it does the trick.

I don’t sexually objectify [womyn]. I’m not sure why porn videos show this frequently. Does it matter?

[Womyn] in subservient positions don’t always excite me. Sometimes I get bored watching this.

As you can see, it does not seem climatically satisfying or realistic to them. I’m not negating the idea of fantasy, a form of sexual escapism. However, that is not what is being displayed here. Why should porn be this easy, inadequate, dead-end masturbatory session? Surely, it can incorporate creative and innovative imagery and story-lines which transcends, provokes, and entices us both mentally and sexually. Most porn focuses on gender roles where womyn are usually extremely dominant or subservient. There is no complexity or intricacy in the design. Calling womyn and the occasional man a slut, dirty, a whore along with belittling the vagina to a ‘pussy’ doesn’t stimulate my emotive or cognitive self. Our minds are connected to our sexual organs. Some of the best orgasms begin and are manifested in the brain – located primarily in the hypothalamus. Sexual arousal is a mosaic phenomena. Therefore, why shouldn’t the visual stimuli be more satisfying to the mind?

I do not believe most men are particularly erotically charged by mainstream pornography. If I am wrong, then men must be universally obscene, one-dimensional, obtuse, semi-misogynistic, prosaic creatures. I choose to be optimistic.

I will now provide solutions to an essentialized issue. The porn industry needs to change in these areas:

  • Portray womyn and men as equals by implementing strategic and elicit actions. Don’t let the sex organs dictate perceived and conditioned gender roles.
  • Display diversity in an all-encompassing, healthy manner and language. Don’t continue to use words like ‘gang bang’ or ‘fucking a 18-year-old pussy.’
  • A creative, sensual, variation with a flair of intellectualism to appeal to a wider demographic. This surely would generate more revenue for the business and allow womyn to participate in consuming porn.
  • Focus on female pleasure and do it naturally.

The porn industry must attract a wider, more diverse audience by instilling creativity, intelligence, passion, and inspiration in their imagery and content. I’m not proposing a Danielle Steel novel or that porn to be interpreted exclusively through the female gaze.

I am demanding integrated, intensified, compelling, sensational, mentally stimulating, emotively triggered, raw, organic, explosive ORGASMs from viewing pornography!

P.S. Free of charge!

The Revitalization of the Goddess Through Humankind

As I mentioned in my previous post, Oh Goddess Divine, Where art thou: The Fear and Intimidation of the Goddess, I will provide a  psychological perspective on the annihilation of the Goddess as well as the social and economic implications of her diminishment. In my first post, I aimed to inform the reader of a brief history of ancient Goddess worship and how her elimination originated. My objectives in writing this post are to:

  • Discuss why it is important to engender a rebirth of the Goddess and uphold her existence
  • Provide discursive consequences of her extinguishment within a social, political, and economic context
  • Critically analyze the meaning of the Goddess and how her existence impacts and influences an individual’s life

My objective is not to outline a spiritual assessment of Gods and Goddesses in order to create another widely accepted cult, but to examine why humans need to create divine  beings to impersonate and perpetuate their existence and purpose. I will propose my analysis based on the ideology that humanity creates that which is worshipped, obeyed, denied, admired, and oppressed. Let’s begin with a psychoanalytic view of identification. How does one identify itself?

Primary identification: This is rooted in primitive and emotional attachments usually during the infancy stage. The infant doesn’t know itself because its brain is not fully developed, and its environment, both culturally and socially, has not affected it extensively; therefore, it identifies with its relations and objects. For example, the child needs the breast to feed itself; therefore, the child identifies with the breast–the mother–the Female figure. It becomes the breast given it doesn’t have any previous socialization and/or identification.

Narcissistic (secondary) identification: This stage is early on and provokes the loss and/or abandonment of an object. The child becomes aware of its environment, personality, relations with others, and itself. It begins the process of melancholia because it is forced to abandon the primal, emotional attachment with the Female figure. The one who fed, nurtured, and embedded it within her. Once she was the Goddess, the primal Mother. Now she must be unconsciously mourned because of the patriarchal-father head system it encounters.

Partial (secondary) identification: This stage deals with the subject identifying with someone it admires or wishes to become. This specifically contributes to the ego and the development of the character. As this stage, one is conscious of its desires and needs based on socialization, perceptions, and observations of its surroundings. Even its primal needs are to a degree predicated on a hierarchical order. While it continually mourns the loss of the primary identification–the Female figure, it requires a replacement which becomes that which exists.

The male representative is born-God.

In my last post about the Goddess, I take on a more positive, optimistic perspective of Her given I acknowledge that she possessed a historical and spiritual significance that transcended womynkind. However, Simone De Beauvoir in the Second Sex, states just the opposite. She proposes that Goddess worship and her significance was primarily created by men to represent the womun and her unexplained mystical identity. This of course reduces her connotation to that of men’s creation, in addition to a peculiarity which she possess classifying her as the Other. Keep in mind, this is a matter of perspective, meaning Simone De Beauvoir takes on a more cynical standpoint of the history of the Goddess. So what does that tell us about the psychoanalytic model I outlined above?

Essentially, because I’m not providing a spiritual assessment or an invitation to a new cult/religion, I base this model on the assumption that spirituality and subjects who participate within that realm are created by man. The lost Female figure in the model represents the Goddess – the primal one. The beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. However, she is lost in a state of the melancholic unconscious because of the systematic processes which occur through socialization, subjectification, and objectification. She is the beginning and the end which one encounters, but she doesn’t perform a primary role during. She is forgotten because she is forced to be in order for the child to live within a patriarchal structure. Why does this matter to us?

To put it simply, when 2 things simultaneously exist, and you ignore or disregard one, it has a direct impact on the other. The one who hasn’t been disregarded typically formulates and creates a social order of some sort and objectifies the Other. This causes a rupture among the masses and creates identification processes. It causes disorder, chaos, and an imbalance. How is this repressed? Through that of social learning – imitation and models given to one from the time of birth, and it continues to learn and prevail. Wherever an oppressive hierarchy exists, a group of people are ceasing to abound in life’s glory. Therefore, the Goddess desperately needs to sprout from our unconscious so that we can truly reconnect with her truth. For so long, we have lived in a world ruled, occupied, and dominated by a masculine god – men. The saddening fact is that men suffer from the repressed Goddess as well. All of humankind continues to do so.

Her extinguishment affects every realm and dimension of our lives including the economic and political arenas. Laws, regulations, opinions, forums, theories, etc. are dictated by a world which is constructed without the Goddess, without that which is meant to exist on the same plane as the god. The formation of capitalism, mass production/consumerism, fascism, mass media production, white male supremacy, economic hierarchies, social injustice, hunger, poverty, marginalization, etc. are all the result of the forgotten Goddess – the female figure. Her thoughts, opinions, creativity, inventions, actions, love are suppressed, forgotten, and/or lost. Nothing is to her complete potential, and she is taught to live in fear, desolation, and adapt to a powerless persona unless it benefits the world that god – men constructed.

Whether or not the Goddess ever reached her full potential and existed in a world free of the patriarchate, she does exist. She is there in the depths of our minds, in the crevices of our hearts, in the trajectory of our souls. It is ultimately our choice if we choose to let her escape from the shackles which have been placed upon her. We must question what was (in history) in order to delegate what will be now. The Goddess is there, and once we relinquish her to abound in all of her glory, only then will we progress into a more neutralized, harmonious existence in this world we continue to occupy and consume.

Praise God and spank me: The parallelism of religious experiences and sadomasochism

Sadomasochism is a taboo subject. A dark subculture mainstream folk shy away from. Once you move past the preconceived notions, sadomasochism occurs all around us. What I mean is that power structures and relations exist and infiltrate our society. I will focus on the American Pentecostal religious experiences of my past, and the parallelism and correlation to sadomasochistic concepts and experiences.

Sadomasochism is a broad topic inclusive of many different practices triggering physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual senses. I will centralize on the major assumption that womyn are typically the masochist. There are several theories and reasonings behind this redundant, oppressive ideology. Psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud and Richard von Krafft-Ebing suggested that all womyn were innately masochistic meaning they received pleasure from the pain inflicted upon them. Freud also believed that womyn desired to be in pain. Not just any pain, but pleasurable suffering inflicted upon them by the opposite sex (male). This seems contradictory given it was considered improper for womyn to expressively speak about sex. Womyn wouldn’t dare be human and sexual like men! That would affect the intricate configuration of  patriarchy and capitalism.

Sadists take pleasure in inflicting pain unto others which, according to theorist Deleuze, the sadist must have a non-compliant masochist to truly enjoy him/ itself. If the masochist–one who takes pleasure in receiving pain from another–is compliant, that subsequently defeats the whole purpose of the sadist’s desire. Now, sadomasochism can also take place in a fantasy realm where both parties are performing roles and have mutually agreed to the act/s. That doesn’t sound too taboo right? Some couples tend to go too far like when a womun is hung for too long and both accidentally lose track of their safety codes, because they’re enveloped in their orgasmic experiences.

I want to take this a step further. Let’s consider that womyn are the masochists which appoints them as the passivist, the subservient, the submissive ones. Men, on the other hand, are the sadists: dominant, aggressive, in control. Now, I will centralize on one form of fantasy of sadomasochism my colleague has partaken in which is quite common. She submits to his power, his words, his actions. She is enthralled with his physique, violence, controlling demeanor. There is a physiological response in taking on the masochistic role. One gets light-headed, aroused, irrationally excited, mesmerized. Some have explained it as a certain high, a spiritual awakening if you will. Consider this, orgasms are a powerful mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual experience. Combine that arousal and desire in receiving physical pain from someone you completely trust and have entirely surrendered your body, mind, and spirit to. Who in complete awe, in utter subservience allows our most private (body, sexuality, mind, spirit) to be consumed and possessed by someone else in control.

Pentecostalism was born in the United States during the 19-20th century. It was a movement branching from Protestant beliefs. Its foundations and beliefs lie in being baptized by the holy spirit (a mediator if you will between God and Jesus, also gender neutral). In addition, it is grounded in speaking in tongues, demonic possession/oppression, gaining/receiving spiritual gifts, being ‘slain’ in the spirit, and intense worship.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4).

The sound of the blowing violent wind is presumably an act of God. God is the sadist. ‘He’ is the one who controls, ordains, appoints. According to the Old Testament, God is jealous, violent, and in some cases quite heartless. He causes and ordains battles, war, famine, death, and suffering. One example is the book/story of Job. On the other hand, God loves unconditionally. He asks for us–His people–to surrender, submit, trust, and obey. The day of Pentecost is a sadomasochistic act. Essentially, God used a ‘blowing, violent wind’ to get His people’s attention. To whip them under his dominion. To lure them into a phantasmic realm of masochism. There were ‘tongues of fire’ that fell upon them. Again, that conveys an intense, powerful picture of a power relationship.

I witnessed a congregation of holy-spirit filled folk speaking in a language that truly sounded like gibberish. In clinical terms, it’s called glossolalia. I remember feeling uncomfortable at the emotional impact it was having on these people I had normal conversations with. Their eyes would roll back, they began to shake, some fell down, some looked as though they were in agony, weeping and sobbing took place. It was a mixture of emotional trauma and mental chaos for long periods of time. It didn’t look peaceful, but apparently it was. Some explained it as an emotional release that God imparted upon them. Others claimed it was a spiritual awakening; yet they appeared tormented to me. Children and teenagers were encouraged to partake in this seemingly sadomasochistic act.

We were encouraged to put ourselves in a parapsychological, trance-like state. The church called it a ‘cleansing period.’ Basically, it was a way of helping your mind and body revive and recover. After speaking to many proclaimed masochists (mostly womyn), they claim to have had very similar responses and experiences to what I have described. They usually feel an intense high and awakening; yet feel as though they need to recover from a traumatic experience. It ‘s addictive. You feel as though you have overcome/experienced such an odd, special occurrence. God is the sadist. He is regarded as a male deity. We are the masochists submitting to His will and power because we trust in His love and punishment. Concurrently, the fantasy realm of sadomasochism operates in the same way. Most sadists are male. They need a masochist (womun) to submit and obey them. Masochists undergo a stimulated and passionate adventure which transcends their realities and succumbs them to the control of a male deity.

In conclusion, I don’t wish to minimize people’s religious experiences. I realize the actual trances are not necessarily a negative experience. My point is that these experiences in both the pentecostal church and in sadomasochism are constructed in a way where power and patriarchy co-exist. Oppressive gender roles are intact. Control and submission are organized through an unclear, unaware, and uneducated form of denigration. These experiences can be beautiful, transformative, and compelling, but religious institutions do not educate people about the meaning of such an encounter. Sadomasochism is still a dark subculture we don’t wish to discuss. Thus, we lack understanding that the structure of such a phantasmic realm can be harmful to womyn. Both are controlled by authoritative social constructions of patriarchy with minimal explanation of what these experiences actually entail. What I wish to achieve in this post is to clarify what these experiences actually entail, and the scientific reasoning behind them. In addition, I hope to deconstruct the authoritative, subconscious oppression behind such seemingly beautiful, life altering affairs.

A Post-Feminist Approach: The Misconception of Feminism and Lesbianism

Feminism is a broad multi-disciplinary field involving politics, economics, culture, history, and sexuality just to name a few. In the context of this particular post, I will critically analyze how the common stereotype in popular culture addresses ‘all lesbians as feminists.’ This is blatantly not true. We live in a predominantly post-feminist era. Take a moment to think about how womyn are being depicted in entertainment such as pornography, Cosmopolitan, FHM, Maxim, popular American sitcoms, etc.  Post-feminism is a transformative, cunning, and resourceful (for patriarchy) way of maintaining and strengthening male dominated values, ideas, and opinions in society. Also, it reinforces power structures in society keeping man as the dominant one.

Ignorance is not bliss.

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