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Sexy women: Powerful? Victims? Or is something else going on here? August 11, 2006

Posted by fajita in family, Gender, General, Sex.

I am not an expert on female sexuality, so don’t treat me like one or even quote me like I think I am one. I would also really like some women to voice their views here.

What I want to do here is explore some of the power dynamics of female sexuality.

There was a time when I believed that all women who were willing to be viewed or used sexually were victims of male objectification. The male was the complete perpetrator and the female was the complete victim. I no longer believe that this is always the case.

So, what am I doing here? Blaming women for the sins of men? Nope, not at all. What I am doing is trying to figure out what is going on inside this topic. Let’s start linear and simplistic.

Many men like to be enticed. Sexy women can get a lot out of a man with the promise that such enticement seems to give. When women discover this secret what they have done is discovered a source of power that they can assert over a man.

When a women learns of this power, she is then responsible to use it with wisdom and not abuse it. Now, this is a very hard message to even talk about to day because of dozens of reasons I won’t get into. So, I will compare it a man with great physical strength. He could us it to benefit a woman or anyone really or he could go around hurting people with it.

I wish I could end there and this topic be real simple, but I can’t. I am going to have to get circular and systemic.

What might motivate a women to use sexuality (through dress, nonverbals, promiscuity etc) to gain power? We could say that she is an evil person bent on destruction of others for her benefit. But then again that is too easy and, of course, rarely the case.

What if sex is the only onramp to power for many women? What if our culture affords women who make the “sexy” cut this one piece of power and few if any others? If that is the case, then there is an increased likelihood that more women will choose to accept the side-effects that come with selling out a little in order to reap the benefits of it.  

If this is true, then the meaning of sex and sexuality has frequently been reduced to a power game in which men and women alike make agreements to recieve the benefits of this mutual exploitation and the side-effects as well.

And what we have not addressed yet are women who do not make the “sexy” cut. They are either doomed to feeling worthless or fight really hard to find a way in which they can have some power, affirmation, or recognition.

So what we have are personal decisions within a societal context that provides limited options. We have a context that allows sex to be the easy out for women (and men if you read yesterday’s post) rather then keeping sex sacred.

OK, I’ve rambled too much already. What do you all think about this topic?



1. Donna - August 11, 2006

I hate being first….

First of all I don’t think women place the importance on power that men do, but we are not stupid. We realize in a hurry that if we bat our eyes or swing our hips that we get attention. While we may not want power, we crave attention.

In a perfect world you would listen to what I say without checking out my cleavage or other curves, but dang it we don’t live in a perfect world. I don’t think most women want to be seen as a sexual object but as you say they sometimes MUST to be heard at all. Some do see the power this brings them and they continue to use and exploit it.

But not most…most of us crave attention that has nothing to do with how we look or how we dress. We live in a society that constantly tells us this is not the way things are or should be. We are being sold on everything from cosmetics to cosmetic surgery.

I don’t know how to shift this pendelum, but I wan’t better for my daughter and my granddaughters. I admit that I have played the game and used to be pretty good at using it to my advantage. I will also confess that I have outgrown that. As I mature inwardly and outwardly I realize the futility of any relationship based on the physical (not that I am down-playing the sheer pleasure of the physical). If people can’t take the time and energy to “know” the real me, beyond the shell, then they should not be important to me.

I NEVER comment this long…over and out!

2. Jeanna (Beaner) - August 11, 2006

Thanks for being first Donna! Your thoughts & Fajita’s too are so true!

I’ll admit that i have used sex to get stuff for a majority of my life – whether it was for love, attention, or to get the dishes done! Sex was the ‘one thing’ that made me powerful. I felt like i could use my sexuality to call the shots in my past relationships. I hate that i’ve used my sexuality as a tool, but i have. I hope that I’m doing better now. I’ve learned a lot in the last year about my own self-worth & what it’s tied into (and what it isn’t) and my marriage to my husband has grown in leaps & bounds.

However, I still have issues with physical beauty over inner beauty, but I’m a work in progress!

3. MommyHAM - August 11, 2006

As a younger woman, lots of things come to mind. This is not necessarily all coherent, just different snippets that come to mind, lol.

What you’ve said is true, Fajita, et al (commenters), but I daresay that you’ve merely touched the tip of the iceberg re: female sexuality and the usage/misusage of it.

Girls learn very early on that the pretty, sexy girls get the boys’ attention, and with our biological urges to secure a mate, we as GIRLS begin this exploration of manipulation by way of sexual powers, often not even understanding the ramifications of said manipulations.

Then there are the victims of sex crimes who later use their sexuality as a form of power….but I question in these cases, where abused young girls become porn stars to conquer their perceived enemies -men- by flaunting their bodies, enduring abuse, etc., where is the power? It’s not there, it’s just misunderstood, and the power struggle has ensnared the woman beyond imaginable.

Victoria’s Secret uses female “sexiness” to exert power, yet to very different audiences. 1- the male audience. Captivate the men so that they will buy VS wares for their partners, and VS reaps the $ difference. 2 – the female audience, is hit up with a double-force:
a. in kind of a “mean girls” – pretty is the only thing that matters- way, VS pressures women to feel as if they must conform to the VS standard.
b. Because of the males buying into it (above), this pressure is doubly enforced.

Now, when we’re talking the everyday housewife/schoolgirl who should know better about modesty/sexuality than what they live/wear/act day in and day out – there’s a lot of naivete (sp?) and there’s a lot of calculation too…why? Well, we gotta look at our culture and see where/how this all ties to my thought on how women often times are acting out of hopes of securing their mate, imho.

4. Greg Brooks - August 11, 2006

The LA Times printed a story last week about Joe Francis, the creator of the “Girls Gone Wild” series of pornographic videos. In it a psychologist is quoted talking about some of the motivations for ladies who ‘go wild,’ taking off their tops or all of their clothes for the cameras. It’s a good article about the whole phenomenon, and very indicting of Francis personally.

By the way, smaller versions of the Girls Gone Wild parties are popping up all over. Chris, you know that here in North Arkansas there has been a similar party, with camera crews, on a private property along the Spring River. As for GGW, night clubs pay 1000s of dollars to have them come and hold a filming party.

Here is a link to that article.

5. fajita - August 14, 2006

I got to thinking about what Donna said about attention, not power. I don’t see those as all that different. What greater thing can one oerson give another than attention. And you cannot influence what you do not have the attention of without some other kind of force.

Now, what I understand Donna to mean is that it is not with teh intention of having power that women might seek attention. At the same time intentions do not always prodice the desired or even experienced result for all parties involved.

A woman looking for attention get that attention, but she asserted the power of getting attention in order to do that.

If as a people we grant women this one power, to get attention via sexuality, then it takes a strong woman not to abuse that. And frankly, it takes a strong man not to abuse it either.

6. Kelly - August 16, 2006

ok….I’m always from a different point of view, but maybe that’s what you need sometimes. I think alot of women are “sexy” unintentionally. I think some women exude sexuality, while some don’t. I think “Sexy” doesn’t mean you have the low cut dress, Pamela Anderson’s chest or a bedroom hair. I think sexy is the spirit you have within you. I think you can have a t-shirt and blue jeans on and exude sexuality. I do think their are women, who realize that they have this, and do abuse it. That’s true with any asset. But on the whole I think “Sexy” your inner being more than your outer one.

7. Nat - August 19, 2006

I’ve been thinking about this issue and a Google search brought me here. I don’t appreciate beautiful wome talking about modelling or stripping as empowering or having power over men.
I think using beauty or sexuality to gain power or to influence someone or something is a tool only available to pretty girls and it has a limited shelf life. The power is only economic in most cases and it won’t bring you respect or stop a guy from beating you up.
As a smart woman who has noticed that losing weight and spending time and money on your appearace gets you better treatment, i’ve also noted that this sort of ppwer based on looks is also conditional, fleeting and evokes anxiety in the person who wields it as ultimately, if they lose thir looks, they become powerless.
I think plain girls resent it – talking about sexuality and beauty excludes them – they don’t have it and thus are treated less favourably or feel completely powerless on the basis of beauty being a social tool bestowed by genetic lottery. To talk in general terms as it being available to all women is incorrect.
Think of Joe Francis – do you think Kathy Bates or Camryn Manheim feel empowered by his company?

8. fajita - August 19, 2006

Nat, excellent comment. You are so correct in saying that this fleeting power is like a genetic lottery available only to the few and the “lucky.” It’s sad to see so much energy and thrust placed into how women look. I say this as a man who is not against women because of their efforts, but rather as a father of a daughter who will learn to use sex as a power tool unless there is intervention. The last thing I want to be is the fahter of the next Britney Spears.

9. Nat - August 20, 2006

I’m not against women because of their efforts with looks either – it’s just a matter of degrees. I admit that my friends and I wear make up, buy nice clothes and have our hair done. However, we were all raised in families where education was valued and we learned that we would have power and autonomy if we got an education and a good job and made our own way. We learned to use our brains and articulate our thoughts as a way to influence people and exercise power while also supporting ourselves. Therein lies the difference. I don’t have to give up my most intimate self to men for approval or for money. Tell your daughter that she will have an insecure life dependent on others’ approval if she follows the “sexuality as power” route.

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