Monday, June 6, 2011

Delicious Meat

Two different threads of popular consciousness drifted across my feedreader this last week.

Meme number one was the lingering phenomenon of the neofeminist Slut Walk.  These events are a response to a particularly stupid and ignorant comment made a while back by a law enforcement officer in a rape trial, who suggested that a victim of a sex crime shouldn't have dressed provocatively.   Typically, the marches involve young women who are standing up against that completely unacceptable statement by affirming that women have the right to dress as hott and sexyyyy as they want.   Many of the march participants wear intentionally sexualized clothing, showing that they are empowered to do what they wish with their own sexuality.  They're also trying to make the point: Wearing clothes that are designed to draw sexual attention...or even being sexually forward...does not constitute permission to assault or violate.

And they are right.  Nothing excuses sexual assault.  Ever.  Period.

And here's meme number two.  Today there was another droplet from the endlessly spewing firehose of pop culture irrelevance circulating the interwebs.   In a pitching-the-movie infotainment industry interview with Chia LaBeef, star of the latest round of Michael Bay summer blockbuster Transformer loudness, he shared that one of the reasons that co-star Megan Fox may have bailed from the series is that she'd grown tired of being used as flagrant eye-candy to draw in adolescent or perennially-adolescent males.   To quote:
This is a girl who was taken from complete obscurity and placed in a sex-driven role in front of the whole world and told she was the sexiest woman in America.  And she had a hard time accepting it.  When Mike would ask her to do specific things, there was no time for fluffy talk.  We're on the run.  And the one thing Mike lacks is tact.  There's no time for 'I would like you to just arch your back 70 degrees.'
The "article" goes on to dish over the actress selected as the replacement lump of womanflesh, calling her...apparently as a compliment...a "sexy, delicious piece of meat."

These two things are related.  

The problem I have with the SlutWalks is not with the point they're making about sexual assault.  It's that the new and sexualized version of feminism feels like it has uncritically embraced the mass-marketization of women's sexuality.   The point they're making is fine.  But the reason the events get media attention is the same reason that Michael Bay dangles succulent pulchritude in front of the slavering permadolescent American masses.  And I ain't down with that.

Women do not derive their value as human beings from their sexual desirability.  Being able to present yourself as sexually aggressive and desirable means exactly nothing.  

What gives a woman value as a person is her intelligence.  Her warmth of heart.  Her insight.  Her thoughtfulness.  Her life-gained wisdom.  Her independence.  Her musicality.  Her creativity.  Her depth of spirit.  Her way with words.  Her kindness.  Her gentleness.  Her tough-as-nails resilience.  Her ferocity.  Her hard work.  Her boldness.   The wisdom of King Lemuel's mother may be several thousand years old, but it remains an excellent metric of what bold, empowered women really look like...and what, if they are wise, men should admire in a woman.  

None of those things correlate with the firmness and desirability of their young, exposed, marketable flesh.


  1. You present what appears at first to be a nuanced and complex rendition of the issue at hand; but the truth is even more complex and nuanced than that.

    There is something good, inherently good, in desirable things. Beautiful produce, orderly gardens, sleek aircraft... is all the value of the aircraft in its function for transport? No! There is something good in attractive design as well. Similarly, there is something good in feminine beauty and masculine good looks. There is something good in the desirable flesh which you say does not compose value, while apparently intelligence does.

    I am here to say that intelligence is just as fleeting, and just as good.

    But that's the easy part - the more complex truth is that modesty is also valuable. Modesty, which is different from humility. Modesty, which does not always attend to sexuality, but also prevents the flaunting of wealth, strength, or intelligence.

    The abuse of brute strength in a rape is similar to the abuse of financial strength in oppression or the abuse of physical desirability to gain power. They are not distinct. The waste of social graces, the squandering of money, and wanton sexuality all share a core perversity. These gifts were given with a purpose; their misuse is wrong.

  2. @ BenK: There is goodness in being healthy and strong. But there is a difference between how we value produce and product and how we value other creatures of earth.

    While I would submit that I am willing to think less of the clumsy design palette with which Acura has saddled its recent cars, or the awkward interface on a tablet computer, I'm not willing to ascribe significant ontological value to the appearance of another human being. I am perfectly able to note that a woman's appearance is pleasing, but that does not have any impact whatsoever on how I ultimately view her as a person. If she is old, or has been disfigured, or lacks bilateral symmetry, well...she's still a fellow human being.

    I think you're right to say that intelligence can be just as immaterial. There are plenty of bright, savvy monsters out there.

    But here we appear to agree: If the graces and gifts with which we've been blessed aren't used in the light of wisdom and governed by God's love, they serve no good purpose.