Reads

A million good things happening this week and lack of time to write about them all. Check ‘em:

The New York Times Only Asked Men To Discuss Meat Ethics, So We Asked Carol J. Adams

After feminist-vegans started blogging about the Ethicist’s choice of judges (you can see my blogs here), I noticed that mainstream-media feminists also began to discuss this. But the aspect of the “sexual politics of meat”—the idea that meat eating carries gendered meaning in our culture and that this is one of the reason the white maleness of the panel was of concern—disappears from the critique. The sexual politics of meat stares us in the face; when we fail to see the extent to which it infuses our culture we miss several of the most disturbing aspects of a panel of white men judging defenses of meat eating.

The Observation: The Demise of the Blowjob”>The Observation: The Demise of the Blowjob (and the rise of cunnilingus)

If this all seems rather quaint, then Susan Minot’s 2002 novella, Rapture — about a single blowjob — was perhaps a last, jaw-aching hurrah. A genuinely twenty-first-century spokesman can be found in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, in the form of young Joey Berglund, whose sexual maturity — compared with the guys he’s at college with — is conveyed simply and vehemently. Their yearnings center on the blowjob, which Joey considers “little more than a glorified jerkoff.”

I recently undertook a small survey of some more mature male friends, and the results, while not unanimous, were overwhelming. To speak plainly, given the choice, eight of the ten men surveyed preferred eating pussy to having their dicks sucked. Or, to put it in entirely numerical terms, 80 percent of males would opt for a 70 rather than a 68. And what about the other two men? Yes, you guessed it: They’re gay! To be strictly accurate, the heterosexual respondents were partial to this kind of thing — but only in the mathematically blissful reciprocity of 70 minus 1. The gob-job continues to thrive in hetero pornography, of course, for the simple — literally obvious — reason that it lends itself to being filmed in a way that cunnilingus cannot.

French Presidential Candidate Uses “Ni**as in Paris” for Campaign Ad.

Friends for Life? Wait til Kids Enter the Picture.

The Weird Guys Who Ask You Out Online By Proposing.

Author: has written 5284 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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19 Responses

  1. anna
    anna April 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

    “for the simple — literally obvious — reason that it lends itself to being filmed in a way that cunnilingus cannot.”

    O RLY?

    I think it’s because most mainstream hetero porn caters to men’s pleasure. The money shot isn’t HER orgasm, after all.

  2. seisy
    seisy April 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    I thought the child rearing article was very interesting. And I really liked that one of the first comments i saw was kind of about how a lot of the angst and conflict seems very familiar and old fashioned…that all of these women are under such pressure to be “the perfect mother” that differences in parenting styles automatically become critiques and attacks on one’s identity, and that’s why they become so toxic…it becomes a battle over proving oneself not to be a “bad mother” and how sad it is that we’re back to this place, where women are being solely defined by their parenting.

    It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. The idea of motherhood seems extraordinarily frightening to me, and not just because of being utterly responsible for another human being or childbirth or pregnancy, but just that in everything I read, and everything I’ve been hearing, there’s like this idea that if you’re a lady with a child, you better damn well be prepared to have every last bit of your life completely revolve around your child, that your identity needs to be utterly subsumed, that if you’re not following (insert parental technique that requires superhuman effort and sacrifice) you’re an evil, selfish bitch. And I see this coming even from kinda feminist places sometimes, at least when they get into the parenting-fights. And I don’t want any part of it. None at all.

    Has it always been at this high of a level? Or maybe the internet’s making it easier to communicate these ideas? It seems so alien to the experience of my mother and my aunt (and hell, even my grandmothers, who were not particularly rebellious in their suburban lives in the 60s), but so in line with the experiences of my peers and the women I encounter in my work (I work a lot with parents of elementary-school aged children.)

  3. Sid
    Sid April 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

    2nd link don’t work.

  4. konkonsn
    konkonsn April 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    Can something be “literally obvious”?

    I’m not sure what’s going on in those proposals. I’m tempted to call it ‘straight people problems’ for some reason, though.

  5. konkonsn
    konkonsn April 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

    Guess I should clarify that I know there are creepy lesbians and bisexual women, but I haven’t met any of them online.

  6. Tony
    Tony April 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm |

    I don’t have any kids (and never plan to), but it does seem like people in our generation are a lot more fussy about parenting than our parents’ or grandparents’ generations (studies have shown that the amount of time parents spent with their kids started rising dramatically in the 1990s). It wasn’t that previous generations of parents didn’t care how their kids turned out, it’s almost as if they were more resigned to the fact that it was out of their control. Ancient expectations about parenthood were necessarily much different and from our perspective, much more limited. I mean, when you consider what infant and child mortality rates have been for almost all of human history, then for almost every previous generation, simply raising a child healthy and disciplined was a success. And our immediate predecessors did better than that… After all, every generation since the industrial revolution can say that compared to the generation before them, they were already much more successful in providing better health and a brighter future to their children, than they were provided.

    Whereas today we expect a lot more power in our ability to determine outcomes of raising a child than ever before. It’s contemporary with our world become more complicated than ever before, and more competitive. The number of choices any one of us faces in life keeps growing and expanding. Both increased opportunities and increased pressures combine to raise expectations. I mean, you could almost make a comparison to other areas of life. Take healthy exercise and eating… 50 years ago virtually no energy was spent on it (and 200 years ago people hardly had a choice of what to eat, even if they had wanted to “read the labels”) whereas today people are much more sophisticated (or at least think they are, given all the junk science out there) when it comes to body and food issues.

    And naturally, with growing sophistication comes a certain inevitable snobbery and judgment to people who don’t “measure up.” And with parenthood — especially motherhood — still such a fraught and traditionally framed issue, good motherhood framed as a sacred obligation of women, those judgements will be a lot harsher and carry the weight of this patriarchial prejudice. The end result is a much heavier burden on mothers, especially young mothers, than ever before. That’s just my personal take on it. I have no studies to back me up– it’s just what it seems to be from thinking about it.

  7. LC
    LC April 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm |

    I don’t buy the blowjob article. Or maybe I’m mis-reading it. A quick ask around of my friends would not find a preference for cunnilingus. No aversion for it, certainly. No sense of that whole “68” idea, where it is one way. But blowjobs as passe and not liked? I don’t see it.

  8. Alphabet
    Alphabet April 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm |

    Whenever parenting is discussed, there are the inevitable comparisons to mothers past, insisting that previous generations just weren’t so stressed about it. This is always based on what children remember of their “carefree” mothers.

    Now that I’m a mom, I realize this “evidence” is bogus. I have asked my mom about how she was able to not stress about parenting issues that have devastated me, and she told me they devastated her, too, but she didn’t discuss it with a kid. She wasn’t going to stress a kid out over adult issues. What I remembered was blatantly inaccurate.

    I have recently been reading my grandmother’s journals, and guess what? The SAME stuff that stresses out moms today stressed her out in 1945. And some stuff we don’t care about today.

    I just do not believe that moms today are different. We just don’t have hundreds of mom blogs from other generations to reveal their angst.

    We aren’t so special that moms today are uniquely stressed.

  9. Jennifer Green
    Jennifer Green April 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm |

    “Or maybe the internet’s making it easier to communicate these ideas?” [Re: Seisy’s quoted comment on the parenting article]. Yes, definitely easier. And the communication works as conditioning.

    It’s striking to me, filtering internet homepage and trending topics through a feminist lens, that not only does the internet make it easier to communicate ideas about parenting or anything else, but that the internet often feeds us pre-made content decided by people whose ideology we know nothing about first hand.

    Second hand — and except on authentically feminist blogs like this one! — by the words and internet pictures that each say a thousand words, and sometimes to the nth power by placement on the page that gives collective weight to particular imagery, we are receiving many anti-feminist (sometimes even woman-hating) images. These views include potential babymaker/sex object, stereotypical, nearly naked images (e.g., Mad Men’s women, Dove’s female ‘regular folks’ model applicants bare-skinned except for torso-wrapped towels only, the “more bang for the buck” pink bikini-clad women in high heels pictured on the airlines ad covered by internet news for days despite the airlines having withdrawn the ad from its marketing campaign almost immediately for offensiveness).

    The online views of men (pre-packaged for us as page content) rarely show Ryan Gosling’s abs but instead typically depict fully clad (sometimes in power suits) men in comfortable shoes with messages pitching their manliness, protectiveness, heroic activities and character or (when there’s a hint of humor) images about manning up, being a man, taking it like a man, in other words, images about the default human (male) right to be active and autonomous as a man.

    Spend just one day viewing pictorial online and headlines content through this lens of awareness, and in addition to the great news coverage provided on the Feministe blog, you’ll be sure that we still need a feminist movement.

  10. Anon21
    Anon21 April 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

    anna/1:

    I think it’s because most mainstream hetero porn caters to men’s pleasure. The money shot isn’t HER orgasm, after all.

    You’re right about the way (most) porn is structured, but I guess I don’t entirely understand it. Given the choice between watching the person who is sexually attractive to you have an orgasm or watching the person who is not sexually attractive to you have an orgasm, I’m not sure why it’s so widely assumed that the latter is the preference (for straight males, anyway). I guess there’s no accounting for taste, though.

  11. Faithless
    Faithless April 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm |

    The money shot isn’t HER orgasm, after all.

    It is in “squirt” porn ;)

  12. seisy
    seisy April 24, 2012 at 10:43 am |

    @alphabet,

    I’m not entirely convinced of that, because I’m not relying so much on *my* memories but on what my mother and my aunt say about their experiences as mothers. My aunt’s perspective interests me most, because her kids are just about to graduate high school, but she’s about ten years older than most of the other kids’ parents.

    I never would have said it was carefree or ideal in the past, or that women were free from criticism or there were never any strong feelings about parenting…that’s obviously absurd. It’s just that there seems sometimes like certain pressures have come back with a vengeance, albeit in slightly new forms. And if that is the case, I don’t think it’s something that came out of nowhere. I think if true, that it evolved to this place.

    And I see it in my work- not the pressures, but the results. I work for the Girl Scouts, and it’s kind of astounding and depressing the trends we’re seeing. There have always been overprotective parents, but it’s kind of crazy the number of people who won’t let their daughter go to camp (and we’re talking middle schoolers, not daisies, as daisies don’t get to go to resident camp) unless they also are allowed to attend (which they categorically are not).

  13. Jennifer
    Jennifer April 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

    I think there’s probably always been competitive parenting (esp. mothering) just as there’s always been competitive consumption, sports, etc., for people who are into that. I’ve been a parent for almost 5 years and I haven’t really seen it because our social circle and relatives aren’t like that.

  14. Alphabet
    Alphabet April 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm |

    @seisy,
    I think when you said in your first comment that it is easier to communicate these problems, that is a key point. I meant the same thing with my comment on mom blogs.

    But I really do think that our memories are not a truly valid way to reconstruct history. Your mother and aunt telling you specifically is more accurate than a child’s memory, for sure, but even with that, it is not very accurate. My child is now 7 years old, and even with just a few years time, my memories have changed when I look back at my own notes. Partly that is because now when I look back, I realize I was over-worrying about some stuff, so when I think about it now, it doesn’t seem like it was that big a deal. Partly that is because we are trained not to be completely honest about things that aren’t beautiful about motherhood, so we selectively edit things perhaps without even realizing it. Who knows what may have influenced your mother and aunt in how they remember things that happened 30 years ago?

    My big problem, though, with the memories as evidence thing is that it is usually used as a weapon against modern mothers (of multiple generations, not just this one). If some 1950’s housewife complained, she was told that her mother loved the life and there was something wrong with her. Probably it happened to mothers of previous generations, too.

    Today, when a mother is stressed about something, the response is usually that there is something uniquely pathetic about her and her generation, that they worry about things like co-sleeping and whether to do it. If you look back at parenting journals from 70 years ago, mothers were told by experts to literally tie their children to their beds as a form of sleep training. I would bet money that lots of moms felt conflicted about that. But it was the message they received at the time.

    And lastly, I think there is a lot of mocking of mothers that is happening in all these articles about obsessions. Someone (Amanda Marcotte?) said that the new expectation is that mothers have to eat their placentas. That is so completely absurd to suggest that this is some kind of widespread and growing trend among mothers. It just isn’t true, but it makes easy to call mothers unenlightened to claim that it is.

    So that is why I get so frustrated by all these memories of mothers who were so much smarter than modern mothers. It seems designed to be an attack rather than a support.

  15. seisy
    seisy April 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

    I get what you’re saying, @alphabet, I just think we’re perhaps coming at it from different angles

    When I speak of what I’ve talked to my mother and aunt about, it’s not about judging moms, it’s about judging the pressure and criticism directed at moms. And from the things they’ve said, that pressure and criticism, despite being ever present, seems to be increasing. It feels like every few weeks there’s some new front of judgment opening up.

    And it’s not like they don’t talk about debates over breastfeeding and bottles or working vs staying at home, but it just doesn’t sound as vitriolic on a day-to-day level. And you know, I’m not really immersed in it because I don’t have children, so I have to rely on how I see my troop leaders and parents act with each other, and the things they ask/argue with me/the council about….but I just kind of suspect that, like the state of political debate these days, the internet has exacerbated a slide into these kind of extreme positions, where every thing one might do becomes a Statement On What It Means to Be A Good Mother (and therefore, an implicit criticism of all others).

  16. Alphabet
    Alphabet April 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm |

    @seisy
    Ah, yes. We are coming from different angles. You were talking about the pressure on moms and I was talking about how moms react to that pressure.

    Let me say, then, that I agree with you, but with the caveat that the pressure isn’t coming from the majority of other mothers, which is the popular belief. Rather, if you listen to women when they say they are being judged, it is usually by someone on the internet. That means that one nasty person can make a thousand moms feel judged. For most people, they don’t get an unusual number of nasty comments from the people they interact with every day. Yes, everyone has an anecdote about someone saying that working moms are evil or stay-at-home moms are lazy. But beyond that one person, they aren’t hearing it all the time.

    But they are hearing it in the constant trend articles and blog posts about moms, and of course in the comments. On the right, the popular straw mom is the working mother, and on the left, the attachment mom. Both sides get them spectacularly wrong. It is actually offensive. Also, Park Slope in New York does not equal average motherhood in the US, but a lot of bloggers like to pretend it does.

    So tl;dr: yes, I think we actually agree with each other.

  17. Alphabet
    Alphabet April 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm |

    @seisy,
    I didn’t need to have the caveat about the internet. You already said that. Forgive me.

  18. seisy
    seisy April 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm |

    No problem! But thinking about that, I don’t think it’s just limited to the internet, much like the politics thing. It might be in its most virulent form on the internet, but I definitely think the message gets passed on to other forms of mass media- the news, tv shows, magazines, etc- who then further perpetuate this “ZOMG, BAD MOTHER!!!” culture, which then sinks into our subconscious like mental poison.

  19. Alphabet
    Alphabet April 25, 2012 at 12:17 am |

    @seisy
    Totally agree.

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