Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: They Have the Best Rides

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  • Cecelia,

    I found this on wikipedia - looked it up as a response to Emma's reference to 3rd wave feminism. It clarifies so many things for me.

    I wondered why some of the the university educated daughters of friends were teaching pole dancing and/or having big fancy weddings and all the things I'd thought were terribly tacky when I (sort of) went through what must be 2nd wave feminism in the 70s.

    Also considered part of the third wave is sex-positivity, a celebration of sexuality as a positive aspect of life, with broader definitions of what sex means and what oppression and empowerment may mean in the context of sex. For example, many third-wave feminists have reconsidered oppositions to pornography and sex work of the second wave and challenge existing beliefs that participants in pornography and sex work can not be empowered.

    And Craig if you're there, I wasn't being an old fogey when I said "Is this what the suffragettes lay down their life for?" I was trying to be facetious. There was a line from Wilfred Owen ringing in my head when I looked at Lisa Lewis et al: "Was it for this the clay grew tall?"

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    OMG, I must totally tell you guys about when I was in IT support for the film censors (Jane Wrightson's watch). You wouldn't believe the stuff they'd have playing in the background on their TVs while someone was trying to explain the architecture of their new system.

    Andrew, do the Censors Office have porn filters on their network?

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Also considered part of the third wave is sex-positivity, a celebration of sexuality as a positive aspect of life, with broader definitions of what sex means and what oppression and empowerment may mean in the context of sex.

    I just don't know. I understand and appreciate that women these days can find power in sex. Absolutely. But then I see all these young women in skimpy clothes, being overtly sexual, and I wonder. I know they think they have control of their sexual power, but I wonder if they understand how much they are giving away. Women like Ren are admirable, I think, in their choices. They use their sexuality as a commodity, and keep their power. I'm not saying that I think prostitution is necessarily a choice I'd want my nieces to make, but women like Ren et al are adult women who've lived life enough to know what they want. Young women who throw their bodies around, though. That's a different matter. It doesn't feel, or look, like sexual power to me. It seems, sometimes, as if they have bought into this myth that they can be like blokes. I don't see it as power in blokes either, that behaviour. It's normal adolescent searching for self, sure, but power? Thanks for the post, Emma. It really is something I've thought alot about over the years.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    They use their sexuality as a commodity, and keep their power.

    This reminded me that some years ago, I modelled for life drawing classes. As an artist myself, who had drawn plenty of naked bods, i thought it would be interesting to experience being looked at and drawn. And it certainly was. It's pretty scary dropping your kimono and prancing naked round a room, having all eyes trained on oneself and putting what they see on the page. It was empowering, definitely. But it's all about context. It was great until one day a bloke joined the class and i could see by his trouser profile that he was aroused. And he later said some pretty grubby things on the quiet. About then i started to feel dirty - didn't stop me modelling but it tainted it a bit.

    See, you can't ever control what others' reactions will be. And if those others are in positions of power or influence over you, you can squeal about respect all you like, it doesn't change the situation. no matter how "right" you are.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Also, there was an Australian study last year that concluded that while men went to a (perhaps) surprising extent for porn featuring natural women with bumps and flaws, women who looked at porn went for the airbrushed glossy idealised style. I thought that was interesting.

    There's definitely some interesting aspects in how women's appearances are primarily policed by other women; most of the time, when I make an effort to dress up, I'm not doing it for men. (Mind you, I never really had the opportunity to want to.) I'm doing it because of the effect it will have on other women. Percieved "sluttiness" ties into this, too; it's often women who are the quickest to denigrate other women as "sluts". I think it's all part of patriarchy being a societal system, not Teh Menz, and about the interactions between power and powerlessness and the rewards the powerless get for being percieved to help police the system. But it's all kinda complicated in ways that do not make for simple judgements, which is why it gets ignored.

    Perhaps also because a discussion of women-on-women policing of sexuality would involve leaving aside the male gaze, which people are often reluctant to do (after all, it's the default.)

    I just don't know. I understand and appreciate that women these days can find power in sex. Absolutely. But then I see all these young women in skimpy clothes, being overtly sexual, and I wonder. I know they think they have control of their sexual power, but I wonder if they understand how much they are giving away.

    It's definitely a tough one. I totally agree with you in some ways; it really frustrates me when I see "girl power" being sold by powerful older men to young women, when what that means is that giving men what they want is seen as "empowering". I don't know how it's empowering if you're doing it solely on their terms, at their behest.

    But at the same time, I can appreciate that it is possible for women to use their sexuality in an empowering way. I think, perhaps, as long as this debate is solely framed in terms of what _women_ are doing with their bodies - because female bodies are seen as public property - there's going to be an element of oppression here. I think when we can discuss what young people (or people in general) are choosing to do with their bodies, including selling sex and porn, and it's not seen exclusively as a female-offering, male-consumer/employer exercise - then we'll be getting to somewhere where we can tease out the fine details.

    I just have not a clue as to how we get from here to there, at least not in mainstream culture.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    I can appreciate that it is possible for women to use their sexuality in an empowering way.

    Me too. But isn't it implicit that someone else (for argument's sake, a man) in turn becomes a victim of that power? And that, because of the flaws in the underlying narrative, nothing has really been gained?

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    But isn't it implicit that someone else (for argument's sake, a man) in turn becomes a victim of that power?

    Oh, that's kind of interesting: is power in a sexual context a zero sum game? I'll be mulling that.

    It was great until one day a bloke joined the class and i could see by his trouser profile that he was aroused. And he later said some pretty grubby things on the quiet. About then i started to feel dirty - didn't stop me modelling but it tainted it a bit.

    Eh, Kerry, that sucks, that a jerk spoiled something you were obviously enjoying.

    Thanks for the post, Emma. It really is something I've thought alot about over the years.

    Thanks, Jackie. And you know... it's weird how I'm oddly gratified by the respect you've shown Ren. I feel a bit guilty about constantly quoting her, it's just that these issues are obviously something she's thought about a lot over the years, and she has such a way with words.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    You wouldn't believe the stuff they'd have playing in the background on their TVs while someone was trying to explain the architecture of their new system.

    I was once a hair's breadth from being employed there. The last few candidates did a trial viewing of some "typical" material and we were asked to write down how we thought they should be rated. There were 5 short clips: 3 pron, 2 violent. Harsh, harsh work. I got cocky and flunked the interview and thank fuck for that.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    I got cocky

    Oops.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    I was to shy to do the modeling, but I've done lots of life drawing. I don't understand the getting aroused about it.

    You very quickly get past the fact you're looking at what, on another day in a different context, might be eminently desirable! I know, it's like the sexuality drains away somehow. It was fascinating to see what other artists made of me in their drawings - I found I often adopted poses that I wanted to draw myself. It amazed me how quickly self-consciousness evaporated, became almost meditative, I guess coz I knew artists see you as proportions, light & shade, etc.

    Never done the 3D modelling - altho i have done some clay nudes, but not from life.

    Eh, Kerry, that sucks, that a jerk spoiled something you were obviously enjoying.

    Oh, he got the bum's rush (to coin a phrase) outta there, no worries.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Oh, that's kind of interesting: is power in a sexual context a zero sum game? I'll be mulling that.

    That is really interesting: in saying that women can have power sexually, are we buying into a stereotype of men being led by their dicks? (The way I phrased that is definitely buying into heteronormativity.) I don't think power in a sexual context does have to be zero-sum, any more than any client/provider interaction has to be (one is providing something the other one wants), but I think perhaps that given the history of exploitation of sex workers, there's an eagerness to frame the power dynamic as tipping the other way?

    Something to ponder, anyhow.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Steven C:

    How about 3D life sketching. Now thats awkward, we walk around a nude model with slabs of clay. I found it particularly uncomfortable doing the genitals. Holy mother of God, I'v just realized that I'm into producing pron, BC style.

    They make pr0n in British Columbia? I always believed Montreal was the centre of Canuck pr0n. ;)

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thanks for the thread, Emma. Too damn tired to say much now but will no doubt return over th weekend.

    After Kerry's story I remembered for the first time in ages having regular conversations with the resident live model at Elam while we both waited for a bus back into town after my feminist studies or literary critical theory lectures. All ties together.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    There's definitely some interesting aspects in how women's appearances are primarily policed by other women; most of the time, when I make an effort to dress up, I'm not doing it for men.

    Yup - if I put on a dress and heels and lippy I'm doing it for the women who may see and judge me. If I'm after male attention (which I'm not usually) I find my (faded and baggy) Star Trek t-shirt is a winner.

    I did a life drawing class about 10 years ago. Drawing the female models was fine (though I'd have loved more curvy, wrinkly, interesting subjects) but I always landed up leaving my pictures of men looking under-endowed due to not wanting to spend too much time focusing on the groinal region.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Dexter,

    How would people here respond were their daughter, mother, sister or wife to announce they were going to pursue a career in the sex industry?

    Taipei, Taiwan • Since Mar 2007 • 256 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Whereas seeing other men's faces all screwed-up and kumfasa doesn't really do it for het men ...

    The DomPost goes for the classy - check out how they cropped the picture of Radcliffe in Equus on their homepage today (scroll down to entertainment news), just above his titular protestation "I'm no pornstar". Clowns.

    And I hate to be the guy who tells others posters what to do, I really do... but let's not let this thread be hijacked by Grant's bullshit, okay? Let him troll anywhere on PA but here, it would be a real shame. So not taking the bait, please.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    agreed

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    And I hate to be the guy who tells others posters what to do,

    I would hate to be that guy too, speshly on this thread, I value my cojones....;-)
    But seriously. I consider for sexually explicit material to have it's desired result, arousal, it cannot be "acting" (unless it is exceptionally good acting) It has to be believable, you have to be able to relate to the subject. With that in mind, I find any violence in the material to have a negative affect. I guess I must be the "caring sharing" type.
    As to what Women want, that's easy.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    It has to be believable, you have to be able to relate to the subject. With that in mind, I find any violence in the material to have a negative affect. I guess I must be the "caring sharing" type.

    Sure. For some people, their sexuality responds well to role-play, which I guess is, at essence, faking. Violence can be a part of that.

    There was a fabulous comment I ran across a while back from a woman saying that when she looked at sexually-explicit material, her reaction in terms of 'okayness' was based on whether or not she either found it arousing, or could imagine finding it arousing.

    Then she got to Pie Porn.

    At that point you sort of have to realise that the breadth of human sexual experience is so vast, you just have to shrug and say, look okay your kink is not my kink, but whatever.

    I don't think power in a sexual context does have to be zero-sum, any more than any client/provider interaction has to be (one is providing something the other one wants),

    This was pretty much the conclusion (ie place where I got tired of thinking) I came to last night, that if two people can come out of a situation having both got what they want, if they both get a win and no-one loses, that's an overall power gain.

    are we buying into a stereotype of men being led by their dicks? (The way I phrased that is definitely buying into heteronormativity.)

    I really hate this stereotype. It ignores the decency and ability to control themselves that most men have, and gives men who behaves like pricks an excuse for it. Then it implies that women have lower sex drives than men, which is laughable.

    I've dated both men and women. It's not a huge sample, but I'm dead sure that's what's formed my perception that, when it comes to wanting pursuing and getting sex, there's more variation within each gender than there is between them.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    **Then it implies that women have lower sex drives than men, which is laughable.**

    I think this stereotype is particularly damaging for young men and women who are just starting to figure out the whole sex thang. I remember freaking and being sure there was something desperately wrong with me the first time I tangled with a bloke with a lower libido (or even just more inclination to wait a bit) than myself.

    I also suspect that the idea that guys are meant to want it more and girls need persuading feeds into some of those situations where consent gets a bit ambiguous. After all how can "no" really mean "no" if the woman doesn't feel that it's OK to say "yes" if she wants to?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Hey Is, how glad do you think I am right now that my mum doesn't read here?

    Sorry, it just struck me.

    I remember freaking and being sure there was something desperately wrong with me the first time I tangled with a bloke with a lower libido (or even just more inclination to wait a bit) than myself.

    Oh yeah, me too. I really did think I was some kind of sick deviant, or physically repulsive, because I was much keener than he was. Combine it with the slut-shaming from other women and you have some very confused guilty teenage girls, more worried about what other people will think of them than what they actually want.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Hey Is, how glad do you think I am right now that my mum doesn't read here?

    I'm fairly sure I've suggested my parents have a look here sometime - hoping I don't live to regret that.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Hey Is, how glad do you think I am right now that my mum doesn't read here?

    I'm fairly sure I've suggested my parents have a look here sometime - hoping I don't live to regret that.

    Nah, I think this place is a healthy environment for anyone to pop in. It's like a comfortable lounge, all warm and....wait, thats here!
    As you were:-)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    You mean the "adult thing",

    no

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    How would people here respond were their daughter, mother, sister or wife to announce they were going to pursue a career in the sex industry?

    Since you asked, Grant (and assuming you're really interested in the answer) I'm not the designated patriarch in my family, so let's assume my mother and step-sisters don't solicit or pay much attention to my opinions on anything they do. And I repay the courtesy.

    As for any hypothetical daughter of mine -- well, I'd like to think I'd be a decent enough father that she had a lot more options and opportunities when it came to making a living. If she was under eighteen, I'd have the full weight of the law on her (and her employers) without a moment's hesitation. And in all other circumstances, I'd sure be using my considerable (if I say so myself) powers of persuasion -- and those of several acquaintances of mine who've been prostitutes and could write her a blunt reality check -- to try and convince her otherwise.

    But if all else fails, I damn hope this would sink in: "You're my child, and I love you ESPECIALLY when I vehemently disapprove of your choises. And if things turn to shit, you know where I am and, no matter how pissed off you make me, my door's always open."

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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