My blog entry from March 16, 2006, entitled Why I Saved My First Kiss for Marriage, has resulted in quite a few comments and responses which continue to the present. If you are not familiar with this entry, and don't want to click on the link and read about it, this entry was about the "Purity Ball" held in South Dakota, sponsored by the Abstinence Clearinghouse, partly in celebration of South Dakota's ban on abortion, and partly to celebrate girls and their male role models. The keynote address was entitled "Why I Saved My First Kiss for Marriage." The latest comment, from "Fred Z" is a really good example of the kind of language used by misogynists in talking about women and girls.
My wife pointed out to me, rightly so, that she noticed, while reading through all the comments in response to my piece that the women tended to comment on issues of substance and content, while the men, including myself, while also commenting on substance, also tended to jockey for position, a common male tendency. Looking back in hindsight, I agree with her. In my haste to respond to certain of the male comments, I wish I had avoided the personal and stuck to the substantive.
So, let's stick with the substantive in understanding the comment from "Fred Z" about the Purity Ball and his language describing women and men. [You can read Fred Z's full comment at the end of the comments section in the link above.] But I will summarize it here below.
Right off the bat, Fred Z establishes that I am "a real ass," suggests that I was conceived by my father sexually abusing my mother, that I hate all men, that I am one of Gloria Allred's "girlfriends," and that I get laid more often, with young college-aged women because I have "cool" and "progressive" and irresponsible views of sexuality. He then asks rhetorically: "How am I doing?" All I can say is that, at age 57, even though I am still a handsome devil, I haven't noticed young college-aged women banging down my door.
He then suggests that, in my world, there is no difference between men and women and yet I believe that men are terrible evil creatures while women are pure innocent beings. Of course, I said no such thing, but it is important for him to establish this falsehood, so he can describe his view of women coming up in the next paragraph. And it is here that he gives himself away with such stunning obviousness.
"Fred Z" begins by talking about how women let their breasts and asses hang out, act provocatively "like...sluts in every situation, no matter what the occasion, tease and lure men sexually (especially when there's money to be made/gifts to be received), and provoke perfectly healthy and normal men into a state of lust by appealing to their very healthy and normal biological drive to procreate." He goes on to describe how women abuse their natural gifts and beauties (he talks more about their "nice breasts and asses") by selling themselves on TV and in commercials, while "real men" are doing "physical labor," what he calls "real work to earn a living."
What Fred Z fails to acknowledge is that it is not women who have had the idea that showing tits and ass in advertising campaigns sells cars, or beer, or NASCAR racing, it is men who have created those concepts. It is his "real men" who have the obsession with those breasts he keeps talking about, men who control the media and exercise the power to create the ads and the images we are fed. Whether it is a "Purity Ball" or a sexy ad for Victoria's Secret, it is men who are making these decisions and setting the course for their vision of how women should be and how they should behave. They are equally exploitative.
At one point, Fred Z actually talks about how women use "their feminine charms" and can't keep their legs closed. He accuses women of "blackmailing men in the workplace, the bedroom, and everywhere else." Can we imagine a more perverted view of womanhood than this?
He, then, concludes by saying that he is offended by my remarks "as all 'real men' should be- unless they are so whipped by radical, ultraliberal women, (or their mommies?) that they don't have the balls to stand up for themselves." Here he gets down to his gut level about this whole thing. He establishes that I am "whipped" (read: pussy-whipped), and that "real men" have balls and I don't. I find it amusing that he has a hard time distinguishing between ultraliberal women and "mommies." Are they, perhaps, all the same in his mind?
With respect to the issue of abortion, he says this: "It's not about 'her body', but the completely SEPARATE body that happens to be growing inside of her." We could probably argue about the abortion issue till the cows come home, but suffice it to say I find it interesting that almost everything he says about women's bodies is about their lustful ways, their abuse of their sexuality, their breasts and asses, their slut-like behavior -- except when it comes to a woman's pregnancy -- then, all of a sudden, it is not her body, but some community property that men need to have control over.
Fred Z's language feels like testosterone-laden, schoolyard bully talk. It feels to me as if he wants desperately to establish his dominion, over me and over women. Both the mother/whore dichotomy and the virgin/whore dichotomy are common variants of misogynistic characterizations. It seems to me that Fred Z illustrates both these dichotomies pretty well.