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Well, We Did Give Her the Nose…and the Hat

April 5, 2010

A WITCH!! BURN!!

BUT SHE’S STILL A WITCH!! BURN!! ….. She Has got a Wart!

What has me up in a tizzy? Some women are lambasted for daring to talk about metal as fans. This is nothing new, but it’s particularly illustrative of that double standard I’ve been ranting about.

Morla and I get that quite often. More often than not, when discussing metal with male fans as a woman, you have to go through a small “trial period” or “litmus test”… it’s almost like an informal job interview. Your opinions, tastes, and knowledge are monitored and judged until said male fan deems you worthy to speak on the subject.

However, if you’re a porn-star, your opinions are never valid. Period. Metalsucks recent post along these lines was an excercise in hilarity. I read it and had a giggle-fit. The idea of group-sex in different time signatures was absurd enough to have me tittering (because I’m really mature, as we all know). It’s tongue in cheek, weird, and just downright wacky!

The Metalsucks readership, for the most part, was not amused. Apparently, you can listen to the most over the top music in the world and read a website devoted to the lighthearted side of the brootality, but you can’t take a joke from a porn star! There’s something seriously wrong with this picture. If the comments are any barometer of reader attitudes, a good number seemed to think this post dragged the website to “a new low”.

Anyway, I don’t see anything wrong with a woman who has sex on camera having an opinion. The backlash came in the form of: “You have sex on camera, therefore you’re not qualified to have anything worth saying.” The funny part is, a lot of these same men would readily admit to whacking off to images of this woman. If someone sexually excites you, and her JOB is to sexually excite you, why does that make her automatically worthy of your contempt?

This brings me to my point: Why are women, especially women who present themselves in sexual ways, subject to such stifling roles? Does this have anything to do with the male gaze?

Virginie Despentes has an explanation.

Middle-aged men have no shame about being turned on by girls only just out of childhood; they see nothing wrong with spanking the monkey while looking at barely pubescent asses. That’s their problem, they are the adults, and they should take responsibility for it—for example by being particularly attentive and kind to the very young girls who agree to satisfy their appetites. In fact, not at all: they are furious that these girls should have dared perform exactly what they want to see. Masculine grace and coherence in a nutshell, “Give me what I want, I beg you, so that I can spit in your face for doing it.”

At the end of the day, sexuality trivializes while it titillates in US culture (and many Western cultures). It’s used as a cheap and reliable by-line for advertisers. We’re expected to stop seeing people as human once they interest us sexually, or present themselves in a sexual way. A person’s sexuality is supposed to remain hidden and sublimated, separate and distinct from what makes them human, but is somehow supposed to represent their most base desires and essential longings.

Despentes puts it this way:

“We expect porn to show us exactly what we dread about it: the truth of our desire. I personally have no idea why I find it so exciting to watch other people fucking and talking dirty. The fact is that it works. It’s automatic. Porn crudely reveals this other aspect of human nature: sexual desire is mechanical, and hardly complex to set in motion. And yet, my libido is complex—what it says about me isn’t necessarily what I want to hear, and doesn’t always fit with who I would like to be. But I can choose to know this, rather than to turn away and say the opposite of what I know to be true about myself in order to maintain a respectable social image.”

There’s a division between what turns us on, and what we see in a full range of subjectivity. There’s the old stereotype that beautiful women are not smart, and smart women are not beautiful. They are mutually exclusive. In this case, porn stars cannot have thoughts other than “FUCK ME!!” and “YOUR COCK IS SO HARD/BIG!!” So it goes.

Take the pornstar factor out of this equation for a moment. If this was any other woman talking about metal musicians she’d like to do lewd things with, the response would be, “Shut up you groupie/whore/airhead! You know nothing about metal! As a woman, your interest in this music is only for man-meat!”

As female fans, if we acknowledge a sexual attraction to musicians, there must always be a disclaimer attached: “But I’d NEVER do anything with them… I’m not a whore like that!” You do this to maintain your cred.

We’re back to the start again: you must either deny your sexuality or it will be used to deny whatever else you bring to the table. Yes, you may behave in whatever way you see fit, but as long as someone else is writing the rules, you’re at their mercy. If these attitudes will shift, it will be slow. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m not giving up hope either.

-Ms. Anthropia

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2010 4:10 pm

    “More often than not, when discussing metal with male fans as a woman, you have to go through a small “trial period” or “litmus test”… it’s almost like an informal job interview. Your opinions, tastes, and knowledge are monitored and judged until said male fan deems you worthy to speak on the subject.”

    Try being a woman writing about baseball. For some men, you will never ever be worthy no matter how much you know, because “you never played the game at a competitive level”. Nevermind that 99.9999% of men out there who are fans or sportswriters didn’t either. And if you’re attractive? Well, then, you become poor Erin Andrews.

  2. April 21, 2010 10:24 am

    This is exceptionally well-written… but more than anything, at the simplest level I think such attitudes stem from the madonna/whore complex. For far too many fellow dudes, the single most intimidating thing in the world is an attractive woman who also happens to be smarter than you – all they can do to prevent some supposed emasculation is to demean or discredit her, completely ignoring the fact that in this case, Bobbi Starr really, really knows her metal…

    • April 21, 2010 4:10 pm

      Glad you liked the post. The madonna/whore phenomenon is completely part of it. Plus, in american culture especially, there’s a tendency to compartmentalize sex. Perhaps the old boys’ club of metal just wants to keep the hot chix ™ in a box.

  3. May 12, 2010 6:48 pm

    I guess the question here is: who’s more likely to do something about this situation?

    On the right we have the idea of tradition, church and a willingness to censor pornography.

    On the left we have permissiveness declared as “freedom.”

    You want old men to stop spanking it to teenage girls? Get the side that’s willing to say NO in there. Otherwise, women are just like anything else, a commodity to be enjoyed however our “freedom” commands — and the market will respond.

    • May 14, 2010 2:58 am

      I don’t think the argument is anti-porn at all. We’re arguing against the devaluing of this particular woman’s opinions and thoughts just because she also chooses to work in the sex industry. Just because someone gets off on someone’s image doesn’t mean her input and ideas are invalid, especially if she knows what she’s talking about.

  4. Sharon M permalink
    August 23, 2010 7:26 am

    As female fans, if we acknowledge a sexual attraction to musicians, there must always be a disclaimer attached: “But I’d NEVER do anything with them… I’m not a whore like that!” You do this to maintain your cred.

    Ha! Honestly, I’ve cheerfully admited that I love to get busy with Till Lindemann, Rob Halford( at the same time) blah blah. Sadly, too many women feel they have to be “good girls”.

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