Week 4: 6/28 Discussion Board

Please feel free to use this space to continue our dialogue from Week 4 and the Levy chapter.

2 thoughts on “Week 4: 6/28 Discussion Board

  1. Cat says:

    Greetings! In an attempt to share a bit before my early departure this evening, here are some thoughts on Ariel Levy’s Feminist Chauvinist Pigs.

    First, this chapter quite literally hit home. My siblings went to Head Royce high school, and much of Levy’s observations are grounded right here in the Bay Area, where I spent my adolescence (and most of my life). Some of the comments from her interviewees brought me back to middle school, when I gave hand jobs to boys in the locker room, lights out, other girls taking turns.

    I’ve been sitting with the following somewhat somatic-based questions:

    How was I taught to differentiate between sexual desire and desire for attention? How does that affect me now?
    Ego v. lust?
    This quote captured my attention: “What’s saddening is not that they will end up used goods like Miss Tape or unfit to wear white dresses to their fantasy weddings, but that from the very beginning of their experiences as sexual beings they are conceiving of sex as a performance you give for attention, rather than as something thrilling and interesting you engage in because you want to” (p163).
    – wanting sex v. wanting to be wanted

    The idea of the detachment from sexual needs resonated for me, and the concept of performance and disastrous if not deadly preoccupation with my own physical appearance, and competing with other girls to be the prettiest or sexiest. It can be such subtle work, and so menacing. One of my best friends now was one of my best friends in high school, a cis gendered queer woman. In light of so much pressure and grossness, it sort of amazes me we made it out of there alive and with such a soulful friendship in tact. The fear of sexual intimacy is still palpable in my body as well. Like my pussy will lead my heart to danger.

    It was striking to be sitting in a medical clinic reading this chapter. On the wall were notices about the efficacy of various birth control methods, the most effective being things you put inside your vagina that release hormones. Except the IUD, which is hormone free. There was also a sign in English and Spanish that said “My body knows just what to do.” It was in reference to child birth I think, given it’s proximity to images of the growing baby in womb. Such mixed messages. Grateful, to be sure, to be educated about birth control and STDs rather than merely abstinence. But still, Levy’s writing revealed my own confusion to me. Confusion in some ways I still carry as an almost-30 year old woman.

    These observations of Levy’s struck me as well:
    – knowing what you don’t want to know what you want
    – you can’t opt out of sexuality

    What does my sexuality feel like?
    Sensual. Alive.
    Sometimes I’m afraid of it
    I trust myself with myself
    How can others enter into my sexual life while my spirit and confidence remains intact?
    Integrity. Values.
    Can’t overthink. Integrity plus sensuality.
    Presence plus vision.
    Vulnerability and strength

    I am also wildly grateful to be doing this work at this time when women are still, in scholar Sylvia Federici’s words, under attack – a war against women. She names, in particular, the war against poor women of color all over the world. It takes different shapes and forms in different places. No one size fits all patriarchy. This week’s SCOTUS ruling about the Texas abortion clinics may be optimistic in some lights, but to me it indicates a status quo that is still so blind to the labor and life cis female bodies are born into. I think I am just beginning to FEEL the weight of womanhood and a stirring of deep commitment to being truthful about being a body with breasts and a (insert word that does not mean “sheath for a sword” and is not a reference to a cat, here).

    Here’s the Sylvia Federici video I recently watched should anyone be interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enpTFJsswWM

    This feels like the tip of the iceberg. I am eager to plunge deeper.

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