Flower master

OK so before I start, I have an admission: I have the desire to engage with this conversation,  and while I have the capacity to think critically, I have no formal training in feminist thought. I have a slight fear of missing something important and running afoul of the brilliant, powerful women I’m about to comment on. In spite of that, I forge on:

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As I scanned my morning Facebook feed this morning, another phenomenal article with an angle on women’s sexuality caught my eye.

In What I May Do With My Naked Body, a quite pissed and very articulate Greta Christina writes:

“We live in a sexist culture in which women are valued primarily as sexual objects, and at the same time are shamed for our sexuality. It seems to me that we have two choices as to how to respond to this. We can try to navigate the narrow, essentially impossible shoals of these contradictory expectations, and try to find that perfect, socially acceptable line between slut and prude.

Or we can say, “Fuck it. There is no way I can win — so I’m going to do whatever the fuck I want. I’m going to wear overalls, or I’m going to wear high heels. I’m going to have sex with twenty strangers in a night, or I’m not going to have sex with anyone. I’m going to dress conservatively and professionally in public at all times, or I’m going to sell naked pictures of myself on the Internet if I bloody well feel like it.”

She is the second enraged blogger to respond to the original article by Azar Majedi in which the author draws a hard line on what constitutes buy-in to the male chauvinist agenda.

The first, by Maryam Namazie, is also an excellent read.

As a man, I breathe a little easier each time I read something like this. Why? Because it’s a good sign. It’s one more desire a woman has taken ownership of that I can no longer be subtly or overtly held responsible for it’s lack of expression. One more desire picked up off the floor, resentments dusted off and returned to duty. I am also fairly certain that at least one woman I know has a little more permission to, as Greta Christina puts it, “[do] whatever the fuck I want.” Really, as extreme as that statement sounds, I read it as simply more permission for her to be herself. If it’s her desire to sell naked pictures of herself then I say get on with your bad self. Follow your bliss and all those great Facebook signs, sure, why not? Then I think “what if I was this woman’s boyfriend”. The possession stories begin to run. Am I still OK with this? But she’s mine

I’ve been blessed to have my ideas of what’s “appropriate” hooked up to dynamite and detonated in front of my very eyes by a woman or two. And each time the dust cleared, the reality of who she really was filled my wide eyes. My experience has shown me repeatedly that supporting women in their desire (regardless of how much it has to do with me directly) creates more intimacy, more play, and more freedom for all those involved. Even though things may look differently than I expected them to and I may feel a little sting in the short term I can say from experience that this kind of truth-telling is good for the long game. One of my goals in this life is to support Turned-On Women being, well, more turned on. It has not been an easy road. I have a lot of programming that puts my ego squarely in the way of letting other human beings simply be themselves before sexuality even enters the picture. Part of my intention with this blog is to expose the parts of myself that are uncomfortable with this work so that other’s may benefit. It also just feels good to live unconcealed.

An aside – This whole conversation reminds me of something I once read in Okakura Kakuzō’s Book of Tea. Kakuzō writes at length about flowers and “Flower Masters”, a revered position in Japan.  Even the simple suggestion of the existence of the Flower Master, the one who decides how to best arrange them, Okakura says, perverts the flower as if it somehow needs a master to validate its beauty.  Flowers are supreme, natural objects of art and that alone is their purpose on Earth.  In Zen, flowers living, blooming, and dying naturally is the full exemplification of their perfection. Turned-On Women don’t actually need me, or as Greta Christina explicitly names, Azar Majedi, to tell her how, when, or why to arrange her bouquet.