Kate Elliott’s Omniscient Breasts

I’m usually annoyed when someone pulls out the “male gaze” concept in a discussion of art and culture. While the idea has undeniable merit, it is often wielded as a bludgeon of ABSOLUTE TRUTH. In other words, men like looking at sexy women and it ruins the world, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

I happen to think that much of this sort of thing has its roots in the innate differences in men’s and women’s cognitive wiring. That doesn’t mean we should just accept the baseline set by our neurology as the sole standard to consider, but it does mean that there’s probably nothing wrong with men liking to look at sexy women, or vice versa, or even having art that caters to such desire.

Still, just as we aspire to more than simple orgasm in our relationships, we should aspire to higher levels of cultural relationship as well. At the very least, we should think about these things, and consider how the ways that we think and create impact the way we relate to each other.

Author Kate Elliott has written a very balanced, thoughtful post considering the male gaze (and other gazes) in fiction, and I recommend it for everyone, but particularly for writers. She avoids the fanatic’s tendency to use the concept as a blanket condemnation of men and their wicked staring eyes, which I appreciate as a man with a finely tuned male gaze of my own, and shares some insights I’ve never considered. I’m a better person, and likely a better writer, for having read it.

You can read it here.

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Sluts and Stuff

I just read “The problem with slut-bashing (or: I was a teenage dinner whore. kidding.),” a wonderful blog post by Justine Musk on sexual politics and language. You should check it out.

Here’s a piece:

In her book THE ART OF WAR FOR WOMEN, Chin-ning Chu writes:

“Women seem to have fallen prey to something I call the crabs-in-the-pot syndrome. When you cook crabs, you don’t have to place the lid on the boiling pot because the crabs keep one another from getting out. As one crab gets near the top and attempts to climb over the edge, another crab will naturally put it down in its own attempt to escape. As a result, all the crabs go to their collective doom.”

This is the problem whenever a woman defends herself by saying “I am not a slut.”

By declaring that you are not a slut, you are saying that some women are sluts; you are drawing a line between yourself and them. Except it’s a line that can’t actually exist, because all it does is reinforce the very idea that you’re trying to fight.

As soon as you buy into a reality that brands any woman a ‘slut’, you buy into a belief system that attacks femalehood itself. This includes you. You sacrifice someone else in your effort to escape the boiling water, but you can’t get out of the pot.