A possibly (quite) controvertial essay I wrote on (the irony of) female sexuality (within the patriarchal system)

I’m mostly still in this head space of, “I’m allowed to be in school?” not to mention art school, and ‘sexuality studies’ school? in Montreal? and then add to that that sometimes I do really well on projects and stuff? This all still seems like someone might be playing some sort of prank on me, and if you are, like it’s not funny guys!

But since, contrary to instinct, it still all appears to be real, I’m just going with it.

I wrote this essay for my ‘Intro to Sexuality Research’ class, which I got a little bit obsessed with (read ‘totally obsessed’) and it was kind of super hard because I’m pretty sure the last time I wrote a research paper it was on ‘Flying Squirrels’ in like grade 8. So, I was really paranoid about everything, like I HATE SCARY PLAGIARISM LAWS and does anything I write make sense? Also because I felt like I should have picked a way simple-er topic and like I was basically trying to fit an entire thesis into around 3000 words. BUT! you know what? I got an A+ on it! So, chicken butt! Also because I started it with this sentence:

“I once had a therapist, who when I said I’d never really dated during high school, told me that this was highly unusual.”

Which I love, but I was paranoid about it being some sort of huge academic faux pas (which it probably is, but apparently taking the chance paid off). If you’d like to read the entire essay, (with all of my current most favorite quotes and all) you can see it here. I realize it’s in a strange format, but the prof said the outline should be: ‘intro to topic-3 questions-discussing 5 sources-conclusion’, so I just followed that. In case you don’t want to read the whole thing I’ve included the most important parts (with the most most important parts in bold, obviously):

—– “I once had a therapist, who when I said I’d never really dated during high school, told me that this was highly unusual. She explained that normally, girls who are stereotypically attractive are likely to subconsciously find themselves in long term relationships, particularly during adolescence, as a form of protection. Protection, one can assume, from taunting, teasing, sexual abuse and rumors that she’s a slut, because even in our contemporary society, as women we are still questioned and treated like a threat if our sexuality isn’t serving a man.

From before we even enter puberty, before we even have a concept for what sexuality is, we’re sexualized, we’re taught that we serve a sexual purpose, and it is so common place that it goes almost unquestioned. Yet, we’re not allowed to own that? To enjoy it, to understand it, to challenge it, or to take pride in it?
What we’re taught as women, as girls, as female adolescents; is that our sexuality is the most important factor in our lives and relationships, but that we should be nothing but ashamed of it. We’re taught that we shouldn’t flirt back, fight back, use sex to get what we want, or desire sex much at all. That we are only meant to be enjoyed, not enjoy, experienced but not experience, that our sexuality is nothing but for the desire of men. Women have the capacity to be incredibly sexual, but are taught otherwise. We’re just thrown blindly into this web of mens desires with very few resources for how to navigate within them.

Instead, we’re just paraded with these sparkly ideals of romance, monogamy and marriage, particularly during adolescence and early adulthood, while we’re establishing our sexualities and trying to build an understanding for our sexual selves and overall identities. If we do not understand what it means to be sexual beings, than how can we articulate our needs, our desires, or our rights? How can we say that women and men are equal when we’re taught to be fundamentally out of balance?

The institutions at the foundation of our contemporary society do not in any way want us to have this awareness, they never have. The Catholic church, for example, has placed fear of female sexuality and independent thought at the heart of their creation of humans existence. Eve did wrong by Adam, and we’re forever paying for the freedom allotted to such a careless and curious woman.” —— (the intro)

—– “The truth is that we do live in a patriarchal society, and so as a woman, isn’t the manipulation of that institution and male gaze for our own gain a feminist act in itself? Male industries have been using the female image as a tool in business probably for as long as there’s been money to be made. In her articles, White asks “Why not subvert the system and use it for your own gain, your own art? Why can’t that be a woman’s choice?”  and quotes feminist writer Chris Kraus on his interpretation of the nude self portraits by artist Hannah Wilke, “As if the only possible reason for a woman to publicly reveal herself could be self-therapeutic. As if the point was not to reveal the circumstances of one’s own objectification.”

As a female artist, I am particularly inspired and comforted by these sentiments, especially since a lot of what I’m interested in is performance and self portrait based. I find it personally helpful to think of myself and my work this way. Beauty, sexual appeal and femininity are clearly very powerful, in many ways. I have often wondered if beauty and esthetic appeal can be a resource in activism, since they have such an effective impact in attracting attention, and the Femen movement demonstrates this wonderfully. For women to own what it means to live in a world where our appearances are so highly discussed, valued and scrutinized, both negatively and in more admiring ways, seems essential in order to move foreword”—– (important personal chunk)

—– “For as long as modern society functions as it does, built on the bones of an agricultural idealism; obsessed with worth and possessions, equality between the sexes will be impossible because women will always have something men don’t but want desperately, the ability to control the ambiguous and endless possibilities of female sexuality. Our society as it stands would never function in a world where every women were sexually empowered and “equal” to men because our sexualities would no longer be a commodity, no longer so rare and taboo enough that they could be sold and bought at the rate they are, both as an object of desire for men, and as a goal to attain, by women themselves.

Without the manipulation of female sexuality that presently exists over all, women may act, expect from and treat their lives and choices very differently, and this is why it’s seen as incredibly dangerous, because it’s literally a danger to society as we know it. Therefore, the patriarch will do everything within it’s means to keep women scared, self conscious and compliant to men. We are taught to feel ashamed of our sexualities from childhood, in so many different ways, from schoolyard slut bashing to the fairy tales we’re read to from at night. We’re taught to doubt ourselves, and our instincts constantly, in pursuit of some sort of moral rightness and idealistic romance, all because of a centuries old fear. The irony, to me, seems to be that if women are able to recognize these societal factors, and examine themselves truthfully, they may just make a mockery of the patriarch by using this over emphasis on female sexuality to their own advantage.“—- (conclusion)

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Just a messy collection of holiday-like thoughts.

It’s my first actual day back in my hometowwwwwn.

And I haven’t slept, at all. this is my latest thing, to not be able to, or sometimes to not even really try to sleep when everyone else is.

I just can’t turn my brain off.

And at night my brain goes into super high gear over drive, it just happens to be when I discover ALL of the best twitter poets, and stellar feminist blog articles that link to 5 more articles that I want to read in each one.

And the cats, at my old house, where I’m staying, they’re like genetically modified cuddle cats, like I couldn’t sleep and miss that supreme level of cuteness, no way.

I had a shower this morning forgetting that it’s winter and that my hair will freeze if I go outside for hours now (I’m firmly super anti blow dryers near my precious hair).

Things are so much easier in the big city.
In Montreal your hair is always insta-2 days greasy in that so sexy way you always wish it would be, even right after you’ve just washed it. It’s like, from the pollution or something.

So I’m writing from bed instead of my desired old haunt coffee shop.
The bonus to this is CATS. the bonus is always cats. right now I have a cat friend head rest. puuurrrrrrrr therapy.

Maybe my ideal man is a cat. wait not maybe, definitely. Am I a cat? what?

I might never leave this house. just perpetuate a spa scenario throughout the entire holidays. Pretty sure I look transplanted straight from the 60’s, in my matching behive towel-duvet cover set.

I got into town last night around 10 or something, my sister and I drover here from Saskatoon where I’d been for a couple of days after taking the train there from Montreal.

It was my moms birthday yesterday and so we just went for beers at the pub to catch up.

So far I’ve noticed two things that have changed about the city.

Number one:
All of my friends are in couples, and more specifically, all different couples than when I left.
Number two:
There’s this weird space age looking plastic dome over the courthouse. I guess they’re re-doing the bricks or something. I’m really in favor of all space age themed and/or styled scenarios, especially with the end/beginning of the world happening this week and the soon to be aired Mars Astronaut try-outs reality TV show (if you haven’t heard of this, you’ve seriously gotta Google.)

The train ride was was long (5pm Tuesday to 1am Thursday in total) and super beautiful and I didn’t take any pictures, but had such a wonderful time.
Coffee, chess, making friends and story telling/listening are really all consuming.
I was on vacation!

The way that I pack feels like a sign of serious psychological trauma. What’s with trying to carry my entire life with me at all times? It’s like I want to be constantly prepared for maybe never going home, or back to where ever I cam from.

A friend and I at the pub last night were joking that I’m getting a university degree in perversion, yep perfect.

I had a strange time in Saskatoon for a few reasons,
One being that I was at one of those parties where everybody and their parents are there, along with their parents ex husbands/wives, and their ex lovers and they’ve all dated and every one of them is someones parent/child, and the connections get to be sort of totally hilarious especially when set in this super beautiful Christmas scene and it’s just all too made for a TV movie.

Another reason is because I fainted at the party.
I’ve never fainted before, and it was probably because I had forgotten to eat all (was sleeping most of the) day, it was also speculated that traveling and lots of change could be factors. I was talking to someone normally and then all of a sudden everything, like all of my senses, were going in and out of focus. I couldn’t figure out what was going at first so I tried to continue my conversation, and then I fell over/friends carried/shuffled me upstairs. It’s a terrible feeling, my first instincts were ‘am I somehow high?’ and ‘am I going insane?’ Like what is happening and why am I not in control of my body? The good thing is that almost as soon as I laid down I felt better, and my little sister brought me carrot sticks and bread and then we just had girl chats upstairs for a while.

Someone later asked why I fainted and an ex boy-friends mom/friend replied for me, “because she’s just a Jane Austen kind of girl.” ha!

Now I’m off for an all day bash with a ton of hometown friends, AWWWW! (cats)

We have been talking, in one of my classes about art that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Art that transports you.
Art that puts you on edge.
Art that makes you shudder.
Art that makes you squirm but you still want to look.

And what the value is of this type of work.

The art I make is often incredibly personal.
Often what most people would call, too much, too close, too raw, too intimate.
too too too.

But maybe this means it’s “working”,
because I want to make people feel the way that I feel.
Like so much, so close, so raw, so intimate.
so so so.

Required (preferred) Readings.

Especially interesting exerts from ‘Am I Normal? The Questions of Sex’
– which I just read for my ‘Intro to Sexuality Research’ class…

Required (preferred) Readings. | This is (not) Romance..

Lately – initiation, orientation and (emotional) heavy lifting.

I have been in Montreal now for almost exactly a week, and I haven’t taken as many photos as I may have otherwise wanted to because I’ve been so busy…

stealing internet, eating bagels at 5am, flirting at plateau parties, drinking wine while walking, carrying a double mattress through the neighborhood, trying to understand humidity, buying jewelry off a blanket, finding an apartment, getting lost, getting a sense of direction, running into everyone, ogling the party crowds outside my new bedroom window, trying to remember everyones names and what kind of art they make, falling down in doorways, stalking new friends on the internet, grocery shopping at 6am, craving empanadas, buying all the floral housewares, learning the metro, painting my nails and crying at my new haunt cafe (our apt doesn’t have wifi yet), climbing fire escapes, clinging to coffees, talking on the phone with delivery men, talking on the phone with missed friends, loving this city’s sense of humor and garbage day shopping (seriously unreal), ect. School starts tomorrow and I’ve never been to university before so I’m totally freaked! Super excited but also shaky nervous, stomach achy nervous, insomnia-y nervous! I went to orientation last week and it went pretty well, made a couple of friends and figured some basics out but it’s still this completely unknown open void right now. So crazy! fun! scary!