Remember that meme that circulated where it said ‘The feminism leaving my body when I *insert action here*’? I remember seeing a version of that meme for the first time and laughing a little too hard. I related a lot, as I’m sure many other girls from my generation did. 

photosource: @gutterfairy on Twitter.

For a long time I felt like a very guilty feminist. I had no reasonable explanation for my conflicting hatred of misogyny and my subtle perpetuation of it. 

It wasn’t as small a thing like the feminism leaving my body every time I caught myself singing along to a catchy slightly sexist song. It went deeper than that.

My mum was the person to first point it out. She said that it seemed that I actively liked to play up to what I knew men found attractive. That I infantilised myself with what I wore and actively listened to music that made women into weak victims needing be saved by big strong men. Cough – Lana Del Rey – cough. 

To many second wave feminists, when our generation indulge in any traditional femininity or submissiveness as a woman, we may as well be throwing away all the rights the ‘burn the bra’ feminists fought for. 

Now it’s easy to shut off any second wave feminist’s argument with a ‘my body, my choice’ line. But deep down I knew my mum had a point. Yes it’s my body and my choice, but why was my choice to objectify my body and pander to patriarchal ideals? There’s no harm in trying to understand why we are the way we are. So here’s my reasons for the way I, and perhaps other feminists out there, still find themselves catering to male fantasies.

Internalised misogyny

It might have been men who created the male gaze. But it’s not just men who are now affected by it. As women, we too have been brought up in a world that completely hyper-sexualises women. In adverts, in films, in music, in books- everything that has influenced us before we were even aware of it.

The result is that just like a man is, I as a woman am way more likely to stare a female body than a male body. I sexualise the female body more. When men masturbate, especially during puberty, the image of a female body is enough to get their rocks off. The image of a male body alone could never be enough to make me come.but I do have memories of going through puberty (before I knew porn existed) and getting off to images of women in magazines. If men were ever involved in my fantasies, in my head, what got me excited was the idea of them doing something to me. It was never just the idea of a man alone. 

And even now, when I watch porn, I would consider watching solo female porn but I wouldn’t dream of watching solo male. And I can assure you that I am definitely more hetero than gay. When I have sex with someone, I feel that sexualising myself, thinking of and looking at my own body being fucked plays a bigger part in my excitement than anything to do with the guys dick. 

As someone who has quite a high sex drive, it’s therefore no wonder that I like to sexualise myself in every day life. Knowing that other people want me is what gets me excited. So I naturally make myself into the ultimate male fantasy, receive mucho attention and feel quite turned on by it all myself. I don’t feel weak or below men when I do this, because I make sure to never give any attention back, knowing that this will only drive men even crazier.

However, deep down I know this shouldn’t be the way I get turned on. I wish that I didn’t get off on the idea of me being an object, and a fantasy that is not the reality of who I really am. But how do you reverse something that’s so deeply instilled into your brain? 

A way to take back control

There have been times in my life where I’ve been made to feel very powerless sexually. The times that I remember are times where I have been coerced into sex when I haven’t been in the mood. Or when I’ve been objectified by someone who I could never view in a sexual way. I’ve usually been passive in these situations and allowed people to sexualise me when I didn’t want to be.

When I sexualise myself, it gives me a sense of control.  In a world that is going to sexualise women no matter what, I feel like if I at least know that I’m doing it on purpose, in some strange way it feels more consensual to me.

A coping mechanism

Lana Del Rey has received plenty of stick for her song lyrics that have been deemed anti-feminist by many. She’s been accused of romanticising abusive relationships, sexual violence, lolita-esque partnerships, and generally promoting the idea of the  traditional, submissive woman.

Whilst I don’t think Lana is perfect, there’s a reason why her music has resonated with so many girls and women. I wish we were at a point where women were finally equal to men and all internalised misogyny had just disappeared, but we’re not. In my opinion, singers like Lana are super important because she acknowledges the reality of women’s struggles today and provides a great comfort to those who have been through similar experiences, just like filmmakers such as Catherine Breillat explore the reality of the female psyche. It’s fantastic that we have pussy power music that empowers us and makes us feel like boss bitches, but it’s just as important to have art and music that doesn’t deny or brush over the issues we as women still face today.

‘Okay, it’s great to acknowledge the bad stuff but that doesn’t mean should romanticise it.’ 

…I hear you say. There’s no denying that Lana romanticises some risqué subjects such as abuse. But in reality, many abusive relationships are not as black and white as being solely complete hell. You still love the person who abuses you and can still see the beautiful parts of the relationship. Just as Lana romanticises her pain in her songs as a coping mechanism, we listen to them in the same vein, as a coping mechanism.

It works as a great comfort to know that you’re not the only person who feels idealistic or romantic about topics that have fucked up elements to them. Not everything is so black and white. Personally, listening to Lana openly confess to her guilty patriarchal turn-ons was a huge relief to me.

Whilst I’m still unsure that romanticising and playing up to our own subjugation is a healthy way to cope, I know talking about it is better than keeping it in. And blaming and hating on ourselves or other women for liking what they like is not at all constructive. We were brought up in a sexist world, the best thing is to be conscious of how it may have affected us. 

Culture
Feminism
Feminist
Sex
sexism
Iso

Iso

Author

Iso is a writer and filmmaker based in East London. She is passionate about all things erotic and leads a sexy, shame-free life in hope that she can inspire others to do the same. Originally from a Northern seaside town, she is naturally drawn to the best things in life: candyfloss, trashy karaoke bars and heart-shaped sunglasses.


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