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Life between the parallel lines

In the mid-1800s, the virgin/whore dichotomy was at its most extreme, which meant one simple social rule: there was a line drawn on the ground, and if you crossed it you were no longer a virgin – you were a ruined woman, a whore. These (slightly) more enlightened times have brought more freedom to women (and men) but paradoxically the rules, for women, are now harder to follow.

This is because there is now another line – you can’t be “frigid” or a virgin. You have to date, you have to have a boyfriend, but at the same time you can’t step over that other line into glorious slutdom. You’re trapped, between the parallel lines.

The contested space between the lines is most overtly expressed in high school. If you’re percieved as too close to one line, you’re frigid, ugly, a lesbian, a snob, a virgin, a girl who can’t get a man. Yet step too close to that other line and you’re a slut, a whore, cheap, easy, a ho, skank, slag, or nasty girl. And the lines aren’t only present in high school; they’re prevalent everywhere.

In offices and families and friendship groups everywhere, women are trying to fit into that little space between the lines. Your colleagues might not yell “Slut!” at you or snicker that you’ll “die a virgin” but they can gossip behind you. Your relatives might moan that you’re still single or frown when you tell them you’ve got a new man (or more than one man). And a lot of us are familiar with the feeling of not being able to keep up with our friends who somehow effortlessly lay man after man, yet wonder how they’ll judge our own behaviour when we finally do get up the nerve to do something adventurous.

For those who are abstinent, there is pressure to “do it the world’s way”. Yet the world which seems so liberal to the abstinents is often judgemental and rejecting to polyamorous or kinky women – or even simply women who regularly have NSA sex.

So, whether you’re abstinent or polyamorous (or both!), maybe it’s time to fly upwards – out of that confined space between the painted lines on the ground. They are only paint, after all.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Feminism

 

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In Roland’s house

Roland annoys me so much by constantly insinuating I’ll believe I’m in love with him. I still like him though. Sometimes when he’s less ugly, he’s halfway to being cute. And he’s so funny. I admire his independent thought, and how he doesn’t blindly go along with whatever the media or government or society bleat in his ear. He is very interesting.

He’s strong, which is another irritating thing about him; I’ve always taken my strength for granted. I was always in the top three strongest, tallest and smartest kids in the class all through school until about fifth year when the boys suddenly grew taller and got muscles. (And sometimes I actually was the strongest in the class). But Roland can move me really easily, even though I’m heavy for my height/figure. I can still arm-wrestle boys and win, though, so maybe he couldn’t beat me at that. Anyway it’s really irritating that I can’t force him onto the floor and pin him there.

In the studio, we were trying to get the handcuffs on each other; he was lying on the floor and I was sitting on him. I was using my legs and feet to push his arms down but after a few minutes of us wrestling on the floor, he finally got one of my wrists in a cuff. I quickly got it off, but I couldn’t cuff him and after a bit he cuffed my hand again, and later put the other cuff on me.  He was pleased, I could tell. Grinning like a perverted millionaire who’d just handcuffed a naked prostitute.Then he pushed me off him and I rolled onto the floor, my hands cuffed in front of me. I tried to chet and jump back on him but even that attempt ended in failure.

Afterwards we were talking about stuff and I asked him why he’d said he was 42 in reply to my Gumtree ad, when he was 4 years older, and why he’d said “I am 42 and professional but I have an interest in spanking” as if you couldn’t be professional and a spanko. He couldn’t even remember what he’d said or why he’d lied.

I found out that he’d guessed I came to the photoshoot to trial him! He guessed that after I said “ask me why I came here” as he was interrogating and spanking me after the photoshoot. How could he guess?! I could’ve just come for the spanking!! He said that, after he’d spanked me and he was saying that would I want to be spanked for money in his office or a hotel, he could tell that I wanted to but I just wanted the right price. He could tell that, he said, because “I thought you would be shocked. I thought you would say no. You said ‘maybe’, so I thought, ‘she wants to but she wants the right price.’ Your body language didn’t say no. You didn’t even seem surprised. I knew you were smart. So I thought ‘this is a smart girl, she wants a good price’.”

I was totally surprised. “How did you know I was smart? Because I had a degree?”

“Well- yeah.” He giggled. “And I knew from talking to you that you were well-read, so I thought, a well-read educated girl, she wants a good price.”

I couldn’t believe this. Usually others can’t see through my machinations.

“So, you knew I was going to ask you if you wanted to buy virginity!” I said.

“Well, no; not virginity, but I expected to hear from you later naming your price.”

Anyway, we left the studio and he told me what would’ve happened if I’d said my student debts were 12k on the drive – i.e. the same result or actually worse (it’s in the post called ‘studio bondage’).  Wegot to Roland’s house and what it is is a four-bedroom house with a big living room and kitchen, 2 bathrooms and a garage. It’s cosy, nicely decorated with a hint of the exotic – none of that modern or minimalist crap – so I liked it there. It’s not got much furniture in it. There wasn’t a swimming pool like I thought there would be and the TV was just a 42 inch, which was disappointing because ours is a 37 inch so although his is bigger, it’s not a lot bigger than ours. I had thought it would be a 50 incher or maybe cover an entire wall. I had thought he lived in a mansion. I had the printout of one of his bank statements showing over 1.6 million in my bag so I knew he was telling the truth that he was a millionaire. Roland had said, in response to me asking if his house was really big on the drive there, that it was big but not too big and just enough space that was needed, but I still had thouht it might be huge because everyone knows that rich people do not have the same definitions as everybody else. However, Ro is self-made/new money so obviously he’d be a lot more normal because he was once normal.

We were in the kitchen and I said I’d imagined his wife’s name to be Magda, for some weird reason (I thought he’d got a parcel but it was for his wife) and he said “Like Mary Magdalene” a reference I didn’t get till a minute later (his wife had been a gogo dancer and sex worker when he met her as a student).

There were kiddies’ pics all over, drawn by “Magda”‘s child’s kids (she was a lone mother when he met her) and I said “It’s a shame you don’t have a son my age; or I could do you a family deal.”

He burst out laughing. “A family deal?!”

“Yeah, then you could get a discount.”

He thought it was really funny.

He fixed me coffee – it was really good- and showed me this email on his laptop that he hadn’t seen for 12 years but he had accidentally seen just before he picked me up in Buccleuch Place – a huge coincidence, he said.He’d told me about it on the drive over; it was his interpretation of the dichotomy (in its art/literature context); an interpretation that did away with the duality of virgin and whore and introduced a third aspect.   Roland said in the email that the dichotomy is something he thought about, and divides it up into three strands, (virgin, whore and another one I can’t remember but I think it was the curious/adventurous dignified woman) not two (virgin and whore). In the email, he claimed this is his personal interpretation.I wish I could remember all of it and copy it here, but with reference to the dichotomy, I think one of the most powerful lines is a throwaway one – “I’ve been married to a dancer for […] years, amd therein lies a story” – according to the dichotomy, non-virgins (in present times, adventurous women, women who don’t want relationships/just need sex, and sex workers) are not marriage material and no man would want to marry them.  This was interesting to read but I was far more interested in the upcoming (Borat accent) SEXYTIIIIMMMEEE!!

Roland did some work stuff with the speakers on full blast with some of my favourite songs. They were the best computer speakers I ever heard; it was a very real – and loud- sound. It was a nice kitchen, too. He said he’d take me to the hotel later on and I relaxed, because I guessed I wouldn’t have to give him a blowjob until hours later in a different place, so I’d worry about it then.

Then he took me into the livingroom to spank me.

 

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The virgin/whore dichotomy: you can either get screwed or get married

The virgin/whore dichotomy is the source of slut-shaming, whorephobia and rape culture. The dichotomy is simple enough, if absurd; it is the belief that some girls want sex and others don’t. Secondly, the dichotomy confuses ethics and repression by naming women who want it as ‘bad’ and the repressed ones as ‘good’. Finally, men want to sleep with ‘bad’ girls and marry ‘good’ girls.

This means:

No grey areas. Women can choose to be a good girl or a slut; they are limited to these two unreal, impossible extremes which allow no scope for natural, real sexuality.

In popular culture, ‘good’ women were preferred, as they got their man (through marriage) wheras ‘bad’ women only had the man for a short time. Even 50 Shades of Grey carries the message that virginity is prized by men, is an attractive state, and is rewarded by ****SPOILER ALERT!!!*** marriage at the end of the trilogy.Christian marries the virginal Ana instead of his many previous girlfriends and one night stands.

The dichotomy leads to both genders seeing sex and marriage as entirely separate and not on a continuum of lust/attraction/friendship/love. In this way, the virgin/whore dichotomy is a cause of and closely connected to the madonna-whore complex (a psychological problem that makes a man unable to sleep with his wife, because he cannot connect love and marriage. He will instead seek out sex workers and have extra-marital affairs.)

The dichotomy also leads to slut-shaming (including stigmatisation of female single parents, young female parents, sex workers, and most commonly, bitching about other girls in high school and calling them ‘sluts’ while desperately asserting that you are definetly not a slut,…)

The worst outcome of the dichotomy is an aspect of rape culture – that victims are often blamed for ‘inviting rape’ by drinking, being out at night, wearing a certain outfit/showing skin, ‘leading the man [the rapist] on’, being in a bad area of town, walking alone down a street…

On a less disturbing, but nevertheless quite important, note, the dichotomy is indirectly responsible – along with religion which reinforces it – for the abstince cult (Daddy-daughter purity balls, abstinence education, virginity pledges, abstinence rings etc).

Why the dichotomy is totally stupid

I see no reason to use less colloquial/PC language but it is stupid!!! To the utmost level. Because nobody – man or woman – is either a virgin or a whore; human beings are complex, multi-layered, context-specific, culturally-influenced beings. A virgin may have a very ‘dirty’ mind, and a female Casanova a relatively ‘pure’ one. And how on earth can you compare two people? Our childhood development, background, experiences, friends, jobs, religion, availibility and expectations of sexual partners all heavily influence our sex life. If your partner talks you into sleeping with them, how can you be compared to a virgin with an abstinent or more respectful partner, when she has not faced the pressures that you did? Who can say who would have caved in the quicker, had the playing field been equal.

Furthermore, the dichotomy assumes that only women can be whores or virgins – men are all created equal no matter how slutty* they are. This of course leads right to the double standard.

The dichotomy is not equal – it doesn’t apply to men. Women do not want to marry male virgins and fuck whores.So, men’s promiscuity doesn’t harm their chances of marriage; they have a golden ticket to indulge their most slutty desires.

The implication is that women were/are given the goal of remaining a virgin until marriage, or she might lose her chance to marry.This represses and constricts their sex life.

This put men and women at odds with each other – women had to preserve virginity while men wanted them to sleep with them. Women who did lose virginity to keep their boyfriend would actually lose the chance of keeping him. Thiscreates tension in dating and relationships and is not conducive to a harmonious community.

Women who were literally ‘easy’ to talk into bed were not valued by the men.

It creates an ethos of mens’ goal being sex and the woman’s being the opposite which is unfair; men wanted virgin brides when they themselves were not virgins.

It means there can never be any concept of men being virgins or whores – or easy to get into bed/devalued versus hard to persuade and marriage material. It also precludes concepts of women actually taking the initiative or even wanting to sleep with a man without persuasion or coercion.

It leads to men telling lies or using coercion to get what they want; the sexes are literally battling each other.

Mens’ ethics are not called into question; if they are whores they are not ‘bad boys’, or, even if they are, they are called such in a much more flippant, non-stigmatised way. They cannot be shamed for losing virginity. Usually, the more slutty a man is, the greater his bragging rights.

Its premise is utterly delusional, as nobody is either extreme.

The dichotomy oppresses women, as it means we have less control over our sex lives and much less rights to an autonomous, fulfilled sex life than men. So, women are always unequal and inferior.

The dichotomy in the real world:

-Can often be seen in literature, non-contemporary art and religious scriptures

-Is less relevant in the west nowadays, however in certain regions of America it can still be seen. It also lurks, unseen, behind the double standard, rape culture, slut-shaming and stigma attached to lone mothers.

-Apparently some men still believe in it – even the whole ‘good girls and bad girls’ rhetoric. Never met one.

-Is not expressed in such strict terms; a relatively inadventurous woman nowadays may be the ‘virgin’ and a more adventurous woman the whore in popular consciousness, media reports and contemporary literature. Respective examples I just thought of are: the wife versus the lone mother; tabloid portrayals of “foxy”, promiscuous femme fatale Amanda Knox versus quiet studious Meredith Kercher. This was a complete fiction, as we do not know enough about their personalities, fantasies and experiences to even hazard a guess at who was ‘foxy’ and who wasn’t.- (As if labels like ‘foxy’ and ‘studious’ could somehow encompass and sum up the multi-faceted, complex characters of two people). In contemporary literature and also film, the femme fatale is usually also sexually adventurous, just like how the tabloids painted Knox. Ana and Kate are contrasted in terms of the dichotomy in 50 Shades, and the heroines or protagonists in literature and film tend to not to be overly adventurous, especially in recent phenomena (Hermione, Ginny, Bella, Babydoll, Ana) but also generally.

This blog

Through the dichotomy, women can choose one of two fictional extremes. This blog represents a challenge to that. As a virgin woman, I am selling my virginity – the ultimate whore act (prostitution of the prized innocence). So, which am I, virgin or whore? This journey proves that even if you believe in the dichotomy, you have to accept that the transition from virgin to whore is gradual. There is a huge grey area in between. If I am a virgin, do I become a whore the moment Roland and I have sex? Or the moment we finish? Somewhere in between? And if I am a whore, did I become a whore when I decided to go to the photoshoot to trial him? Or when I agreed to meet him at the Tower? Or when we finalised the deal? Or perhaps it is entirely physical; you may take your pick from my first spanking to oral sex or whatever act you think would change someone from virgin to whore.

Whichever way you look at it, this blog captures a transition from virgin to whore. It expressses a virginwhore, an entity who is neither and who is both. As we all – women, men, trans – are.

 

 

*’Slutty’ is used in a non-sincere manner in this blog. I don’t believe sluts exist. It’s just a tool to repress women.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Feminism, Virginity

 

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Slut-shaming YouTube vid

I love, love LOVE those “shit …guys/girls say” YouTube vids. I have ever since my friend showed me the “Shit Asian Moms say” video, asking me if my mother is like that (no).

But some guys and girls actually took the time to dress a guy up in drag and make a “Shit slutty girls say” video that says, basically, that if you visit Ann Summers or act like a guy (boasting about how much sex you’ve had, and admitting you enjoy sex) then you’re a slut.

Take off the guy’s wig and the video would be called “Shit studs/ladies’ men/Casanovas/legend boys/Frat boys say”. Double standard much? A great example of the virgin/whore dichotomy that this blog is named after.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNbas4h4w-8&feature=related

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Feminism, Film

 

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SM and the double standard

Gagnon and Simon coined the term sexual script to describe the norms of sexual interaction and maintenance of relationships specific to each gender. While men are encouraged to enhance their skills via multi-partner experience, women are compelled to avoid this lest they are labelled promiscuous (Linsey 2011,  Peplan and Hammen 1977; Radlove 1983). As a result of these gender-differentiated scripts in which the male is honoured and permitted to express his sexuality while the female’s sexuality is degraded, denied and ultimately forbidden to her, “Women may perceive themselves as sex objects, not sex actors” (Phelps 1979). Perhaps the adventurousness of s/m is a route to becoming a ‘sexual actor’.

The double standard necessitated a virgin/whore dichotomy which still exists in some form today whereby women’s choices are constrained because men wanted to marry sexually repressed women but sleep with less repressed women (Frith 1976:66; Lees 1983:51; Whyte 1943) which forced girls to accept the repression and monogamous submission.(Willis 1978:45; Wilson 1978:72). Boys demonized ‘sluts’ Lees 1983:51; Wilson 1978:71; Whitehead 1976:179).

The double standard stems from a sexist and biological-determinist Freudian view of human sexuality. Dinnerstein concludes that “What the double standard genuinely hurts in women is…self respect…” which ultimately leads to the crippling of  “human pride” (Dinnerstein in Williams and Stein 2002). Dinnerstein’s article is of particular relevance to the issue of s/m as the typical sm-er is white and middle-class.

However sometimes women themselves may demonise and police their sisters. Wilson (1978) claimed that women policed the sex codes themselves, but only within the framework policed by men. A recent example of this occurring in the political sphere is Nadine Dorries MP’s Private Members Bill (due for a second reading in January 2012) to teach compulsory abstinence education in all schools to female pupils but not male pupils. By placing the blame for rape, intercourse and pregnancy on women and denying their sexual agency as well as their right to have sex, Dorries is perpetuating the double standard. Recent examples of this occurring in the social sphere are widespread and a part of our daily lives; gossip, bullying, the use of words such as ‘slut’or ‘tart’ occurs in high schools and offices on a daily basis. Since these women are enforcing the double standard, I will refer to them as enforcers to distinguish them from ‘patriarchal’ sexual repression.

The double standard is harmful to women (Dinnerstein 2002; Heidensohn 1996).The creation of the double standard in its contemporary form is partly due to a nineteenth-century confusion of sex and morality. At first glance this appears nonsensical, as morality and sexual behaviour are two radically different entities, and are also different fields of academic study. However this idea of confusing the two is not as controversial as it seems – after all, no reasonable individual would assert that rape or paedophilia are moral or ethical – ample evidence that, as a society, we do apply moral standards to sexual behaviour. The male-dominated Victorian society enlarged this moral distinction between sex and rape by making sexual repression synonymous with morality. The relevant issue here is that women were – and, to a lesser extent, are – indoctrinated into confusing morality/ethics with sex; and ultimately conditioned into believing sexual repression is ethical and sexual exploration unethical. Thus they are made complicit in their own sexual oppression; this is especially so in the case of enforcers.

This begs the question of whether female sm-ers are acting as if ethics and/or human rights have prevailed over sexual repression, or whether they have successfully escaped internalising the double standard and therefore are not sexually repressed; having thoughts which are pure, free from the taint of repression, are they free to explore s/m? My research has proved inconclusive on this point. Whichever it is, women who do s/m are more likely to be challenging gender than doing gender, as s/m is sexual exploration – precisely what patriarchal society has forbidden them. As middle-class women are less constrained with gender roles and, arguably, the double standard attached to gender roles than working-class women, they may feel free to do s/m which may be one of the reasons why s/m is a predominantly middle-class crime. This is reminiscent of Adler’s theory that emancipation causes crime, and suggests that class is a factor in s/m.

Mocking sexism through s/m

Millet (1970) rejected the biological reductionist theorists and argued that women are forced to accept unequal gender roles, with the family fostering patriarchy in society. One woman’s re-enactment of sexism as an s/m scene vented her anger at her personal experiences of sexism (Easton 2007:224). Therefore it appears that s/m is not only a vehicle to challenge oppression, but also a means of psychologically dealing with the injustice by experiencing the sexism through a narrative or drama. S/m may also resolve inner conflicts caused by the conflict between indoctrination of the code of sexual repression and the individual’s natural biological sex drive and/or sexually adventurous personality. Although femsubs could be construed as expressing passivity and obedience to patriarchal gender relations, as discussed above middle-class women are unlikely to subscribe to such notions and therefore it is probable that femsubs are mocking traditional gender roles, an opinion expressed in Califia (2002) and Thompson (1994); this is also similar to Weait’s (2006) assertion that s/m mocks the State and the legal system, which historically used torture to enforce laws.

 
 

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