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December 04, 2005

Comments

Katha Pollitt

Hi Eve, interesting piece. Thank you for making me famous! I just want to clarify one thing if I might. You write: "Pollitt also wants to make it clear that the existence of the Suicide Girls shows, for her, that feminism has not taken us to where we want to be." One can read that as saying that I believe feminism has taken us to a bad place, which isn't what I think at all! What I do believe is that feminism hasn't gotten us far enough-- to economic, social, cultural equality. I think if women were not subordinate they would not be seen as the bearers of sexuality (more than men, that is) and men as the consumers of it. In that world, maybe there would be lots of naked photos used to sell poetry magazines, or maybe there would be none -- but it wouldn't be just WOMEN"S photos.

Eve Grubin

Dear Katha,
Thank you for clarifying your statement. I also hope for another "world," but I would not be happy with one where the tables are turned. When men or boys are sexually objectified in the media this also reflects a violent culture that degrades erotic life. Both men and women suffer from this approach to sexuality no matter who is ahead economically.

Wendy Shalit

Katha,

Thanks so much for visiting our site and contributing to this discussion. I confess that when I read Eve's blog, I was most struck by you coming out in favor of modesty. But now with this clarification it sounds like you're saying that it wasn't the immodesty that bothered you, per se, but rather the fact that it wasn't equal-opportunity stripping? If you have time, could you please clarify?

Alexandra Foley

I too would love to hear an elaboration from Pollitt on her thoughts about modesty and porn. Does Pollitt see any benefit to modesty? Or, to her, is modesty just one more sign of female subjection? (Also if "modesty" is the problem is there another word she is more comfortable with?) I know that advocating modesty makes some feminists uncomfortable, but does she think there is some benefit to not dressing scantily or posing for porn so that people take you more seriously or you have a more holistic sense of self (ie I am a body and mind)? Or are playboy bunnies just as respectable as thoughtful journalists? Thanks, Eve, for starting this interesting discussion.

Daisy Fried

Hi Eve--
Nice piece. I'm honored to be quoted at such length! Can I object, however, to your characterization of me as being afraid to make judgments? I'm very judgmental, as a look at the wom-po archives will tell you. I just think boomer feminists (like the spectacular Katha Pollitt) and gen-x feminists (like me) and younger feminists in their 20s have different criteria for judging what's sexist. The pioneering generation, the boomers, had a lot more garbage to deal with, and set up a lot of theories about sexism, and drew a lot of lines in the sand. As a result there is a tendency among some of them to bemoan the refusal of younger women to toe those lines. In this case I wasn't saying people shouldn't judge, I'm taking issue with the substance of their judgments.
Glad to know your blog is out there and thanks again.
Best wishes,
Daisy

Liz Neville

Uh, ladies-- not to put too fine a point on it, but dirty pictures sell anything, even hip and happening poetry.

JeannineK

One thing I note is that it sounds like Wolff could very easily take a job with Playboy, Esquire, and other "men's" magazines, because her editorial statements sound all too similar to the moral justifications frequently stated by these media powerhouses.

Poetry is irrelevant at the point when she says her (business) choice to include these high-publicity pornographic photos was not just a marketing ploy but that the choice actually reflects the ideology of the magazine. She also says about these vulnerable girls, "our contributors are self-selecting themselves to enter into a realm", and I'm not sure she realizes it, but those statements are exactly what Hugh Hefner says. Any editor cannot be so naïve or deluded as to think that their content is about self-selection of the contributors. All editors generate ideas about what to request from contributors, they then select what to produce, what to publish and how to generate publicity. In the end, Wolff was the leader who chose the topic, selected content, planned the layout and picked the cover photo and then she, as Hugh Hefner does too, says these girls are "volunteering". I doubt that modeling Hefner’s business plan was what she had in mind when she chose to be a feminist.

As leaders, whether in business, as editors, or in the realm of "art", we must recognize that we must take accountability for the ideas and products we generate, and the mistakes they cause or value they create.

But as all great artists should know, tremendous hype does not make great art. For Fence, it sounds like they on the path to drowning any valuable art with hype.

A Fan of Eve

Eve, I have read some of your poetry, thanks to my introduction to you from ModestyZone.net. And for that I am so grateful. Your capacity for language is so artistic, and melodic. I read a few of your pieces, and thought--how does she do that with language?! (wonderfully powerful). You have great intellect, yet first and foremost Eve's poetry is just plain great art.

But based on the above discussion, I hope I don't have to refer to Fence to read more of it. Where can I get more? Have you published some elsewhere? Otherwise, I'll just look forward to reading more of it here.

Thank you also for your thought provoking writing above too.

Wendy Shalit

Dear Fan of Eve,

I can relate, as I'm also a big fan of Eve's work.

Actually, her first book of poetry is going to be published imminently. It's called "Morning Prayer," and you can already pre-order it on amazon.com.

I looked at an early version of it when I was researching contemporary Jewish fiction and poetry, and I have to say I've never read anything like it.

Eve has a very original and powerful voice.

Norah Vincent

Regarding Katha's comments, it seems clear to me that we are perhaps willfully ignoring a simple truth about the differences between men's and women's sexualities and the reality of free markets. Naked women are far more often used to sell any number of products--and they are more prevalent in porn--because men are the primary consumers of such materials, and because men are motivated by the sight of desirable loins. They will consume a seemingly endless supply of pictures of naked women, and as long as that is true, which will be forever, someone will want to make a buck selling men what they want. Women, on the other hand, appear to be far less interested in buying pictures of naked men than in buying pictures of chocolate cake. I jokingly call magazines like Martha Stewart Living and Saveur and Food & Wine women's porn. I mean seriously, have you looked carefully at the extreme close-ups of those baked goods, lovingly splayed and moist? And can you really say that you haven't felt a, shall we say, less than modest frisson at the prospect of "consuming" just such an item?

But seriously, vendors sell what people want to buy. If women consumed more pictures of naked men--if they expressed (with their pocketbooks) more of a demand for them-- there would be more Playgirls out there, simply because there would be money to be made in printing them. The marketplace knows no political prejudice. It goes where the money is, whorishly so, and always will. The mostly naked pictures of men that do exist in the marketplace are usually used to advertise men's underwear, and they are aimed at a gay male audience, which, like other men, is motivated by pretty flesh. They also happen to be in the market for some cool underwear.

So if we want more pictures of naked men out there, we'll either have to increase the gay male population or we'll have to start encouraging women to behave more like men--even if they don't want to. But, correct me if I'm wrong, hasn't that always been Wendy's entirely legitimate criticism of the sexual revolution and those feminists who gave into it? That it was in some deep sense misogynistic, expecting women to become more like men—especially sexually and reproductively--in order to be free. That, as far as I’m concerned, is a false premise, and an entirely patriarchal one.

Katha Pollitt

Just a short comment because I am on deadline. But this is an interesting discussion.I think it is incredibly difficult to disentangle all the tangles of sex, sexuality, sexual presentation, individual desire, commercialization etc. I would like to say, every woman should just do what she wants! but of course "what one wants" is shaped by society -- whether it's posing naked or wearing a burka. About modesty, I have some sympathy with it as a reaction against cheesiness and superficiality and exploitation. (but would I have felt that way when I was in college and wore tiny dresses one day and maxi skirts the next? It was a different world -- much less heavy onslaught of media imagery.)

BUT the problem with modesty for me is that it too is more than a personal choice, it gets all tangled up in things like abstinence-only, the sexual double standard, blaming women for being raped because of what they are wearing, etc. Back when people didn't talk so much about sex and had fewer premarital experiences, I think there was a lot more sexual ignorance and many more women did not enjoy sex, even within marriage. What i like about modesty is that it is a kind of resistance to the total overthetop vulgarity and exploitatativeness of pop-culture mores. What troubles me is that it asks women to control men's sexuality by controlling their own. It puts the onus on the woman. She withholds herself waiting for the man worthy of commitment, if not for marriage itself. That has a lot of romantic appeal-- for me sex is something that belongs in as relationship, I don't see the appeal of picking up people in a bar and then never seeing them again etc. but in a way it accepts the idea that sex is dirty, bad, that a woman is diminished by having sex, and only true love makes sex okay.

What about a woman's own desires for pleasure? What about sex as having a lot of different meanings? Another thing, I'm not so sure you can see sex and men as threatening, low and and crass,entailing a loss of self and self-respect for women, and put a lot of energy into avoiding it, without that affecting one's sexual self in a bad way. I think it's good to have experience . Not every experience, obviously! To me the important thing is that a woman be the captain of her ship -- it's not really about clothes or how many sexual partners she has. I think a woman can be just as strong and self-directed if she dresses modestly or not, if she has lots of lovers or one or none.

Well, actually that was a long comment, and a woolly one.

Ambra Nykol

Katha, I think your interpretation of the issues muddles things a bit.

You wrote: "What troubles me [about modesty] is that it asks women to control men's sexuality by controlling their own. It puts the onus on the woman. She withholds herself waiting for the man worthy of commitment, if not for marriage itself."

This argument would be really convincing if only it didn't work both ways. Survey cultural views of women today and you'll see that our society is actually asking women to control men's sexuality by NOT controlling themselves. Go figure.

When many women talk about modesty in this forum and in any forum, we do so because the image of women specifically has been prostituted. Today, the images presented to us lead us to believe that a woman's power is held in her sexuality and between her legs. It's everywhere, we all see it. Even your assertion that a woman's strength is in her decision to control her own pleasure and have the liberty to have multiple sexual partners supports this reality.

The reality is, in the context of modesty, sex and image and all things in between really have little to do with men. It's about self-image the value women have placed on themselves. Women need to move beyond finding affirmation and identity based on male approval. It's a dangerous combination.

And don't get it twisted, men have their own issues and responsibilities that need to be challenged. Our culture tells men they are to be conquerers with their sexuality. We pat them on the back for their number of partners. We expect them to pursue women at a gratuitous pace. Because of this forum, I'm not so sure that's our focus. Needless to say, I have a number of male friends in their late 20s who are still virgins by conscious choice. Interestingly enough, it's more of a stigma to be a male virgin than a female. How's that for wacked society? It's not just about women.

You also wrote: "I don't see the appeal of picking up people in a bar and then never seeing them again etc. but in a way it accepts the idea that sex is dirty, bad, that a woman is diminished by having sex, and only true love makes sex okay.

What about a woman's own desires for pleasure? What about sex as having a lot of different meanings?"

Sex shouldn't be a selfish act. It's not about taking; it's about giving. Sex was designed as a gift to give the other person involved. Sex is ultimately about pleasing the other person, not about pleasing yourself. And despite what history has taught us, the same goes for men.

The problem I have with your philosophy is that it's a recipe for shallow intimacy. What good is it if a woman's the captain of her own ship if she's given a piece of herself to a bunch men. Sex within the confines of marriage should be liberating because there's committment present. It's not about making women feel bad. It's about making them feel satisfied enough with themselves not to give it up so easily. I think we're worth that.

Garnets

Woolly indeed! I'll comment on two things, the double standard and enjoyment of sex. There definitely is a double standard, which I find unsurprising since there are two different sexes. Men and women face different consequences as a result of engaging in sexual activity, and that's as true now as it was before the sexual revolution. Women have more to lose, men can more easily walk away. From pregnancy, susceptibility to AIDs and STDs, risk of infertility from STDs, abortion and its impact, etc. Not to mention the difference in psychological and emotional response between men and women. Far more men than women treat sex as a casual sport, and young women should be aware of that, not be told that's an attitude to emulate.

Regarding enjoyment of sex, the comment that women enjoy sex more now than that strikes me as a perhaps far-fetched. Each generation seems to think it invented sex (and also knows the best way to raise kids). People have been enjoying sex (and raising kids) since there have been people. I don't believe that women are enjoying sex more, literature throughout the centuries has endless examples of women happily engaging in sex. People certainly are talking publicly about sex more than ever, but I don't know that means there's greater enjoyment. All the talk about sexual dysfunction likely indicates there's less enjoyment.

Alexandra Foley

I agree with Pollitt that the current discussion of modesty and sexuality tends to put the onus on women. And I agree with Norah that male nature is such that men are more prone to objectifying women than vice versa. But this does not mean that the entire solution to the problem of the sexes is women being more modest. Modesty is merely the female side of the sexuality coin. The male side of the sexuality coin, I would argue, is self-control. Imagine a world where women were more modest and men had more self-control. This is not to say the men don’t need to be modest and women don’t need to have self-control but it is an acknowledgement of our typical human nature.

The feminist discussion has from its inception made the error of putting all of the onus on women. Instead of demanding more of men (and ultimately women, as well) we simply asked less of women (ie have less self-control). As a result we’ve seen the happiness of both parties diminish.

Eve Grubin

This discussion about pornography, modesty, and feminism came out of my piece here on the use of a pornographic image on the cover of Fence, a popular literary journal famous for its strong poetry selection. While I am learning much from the various opinions in response to my piece, I want to emphasize here that I was originally prompted to write the piece because of my connection to literature.

What caused me to consider this topic in the first place was not pornography per se. The image I refer to is your typical, provocative, oversexualized, very young looking woman with a come hither look and with a larger than average chest; we all know that this is not an unusual sight on a newsstand. We are used to this kind of image. I want to call our attention back to the fact that it’s a literary journal, known most for its poetry content, being marketed (and Fence is a publication that you would actually not find on a newsstand. The journal can be found in bookstores, libraries, and literary minded magazine stores).

In our culture, poems have the luxury of having little or no commercial value. Poetry is mostly protected from the corrupting forces of capitalism, and it generally obfuscates the deadening superficial and materialistic attitudes that come with advertising, sales, and mass consumerism. In addition, very few people read poetry, especially the type of poetry published in Fence. While Fence is a noted and successful journal in the “poetry world,” your average working person in Virginia, upstate New York, Oregon or elsewhere would never have heard of it unless their daughter attended an MFA program and happened to bring home the journal. To my knowledge, a poetry book or journal has never used pornography to sell itself. This is a significant moment.

On second thought, I can think of one exception. Another excellent literary journal, Tin House, recently (in the last two years or so) has used images verging on pornographic to market itself. (Remember, I am using the word “pornography” to mean: that which is intended to stimulate sexual arousal in the viewer.) It’s clear that the editors of Tin House hoped to increase sales this way. They probably did.

I was also alerted to a just-released poetry anthology from the University of Virginia’s literary journal, Meridan. The anthology is entitled Best New Poets, and the cover shows a pretty young disheveled and brooding thin woman who looks much like a model in a Banana Republic ad (http://www.bestnewpoets.org). Not only is the woman not one of the poets represented in the anthology, but it is unclear how the image reflects the content. While the image is not pornographic, I can’t help but link it to the other covers mentioned above. Has the culture of the U.S. become so saturated with images of women to sell products that even poetry editors are giving in to this marketing ploy?

Most importantly, I am concerned that the growing normalization of pornography has caused it to filter with ease into literary culture in a way that is unprecedented. (If you know of other examples, please share them). D.H. Lawrence prophetically worried about the effect pornography might have on literature in his somewhat confused yet brilliant essay, “Pornography and Obscenity," where he wrote, “Even I would censor genuine pornography, rigorously."

What I wonder is this: will this bleeding over of pornography into literary culture have an impact on poetry itself and, if so, how?

Wendy Shalit

Eve,

You raise a number of interesting questions. Let me just say that sadly, I fear that a good segment of fiction and poetry has already caught the “porn bug,” and I’m not sure that capitalism is completely to blame. After all, we’ve had this economic system for some time, and in the 40s women bought toasters and not “labial rejuvenation” surgery to look like porn stars, so something more than just capitalism must be at work. But I will have to think more about what you wrote.

In the meantime, I would like to address two points Katha brought up which I don’t believe anyone has touched on yet.

Katha, if you’re still reading this, I want you to know that I appreciate hearing where you are coming from, so thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts down.

Speaking personally if I may, when my book came out in 1999 and you wrote that I must be a "professional virgin" and "solipsistic" and that I was angling to put chadors on female Olympians, I gathered, as you now say, that you have a “problem with modesty.”

So this little exchange has been quite fruitful. I now understand more about your thinking and who knows? There might even be some things we can agree on.

For one thing, we are both concerned with the horror of rape.

I can't speak for others on this site, but I'd be shocked if anyone here thought that a woman's dress causes rape. That's what people always say to shoot down the notion of modesty, but I have yet to meet a single individual who blames the victim like that (except, perhaps, the rapist’s lawyer).

What I did argue is that if we make fun of women who believe in modesty, and bark that they have "hang-ups" when they're not up for casual sex, then that mentality erodes a man's respect for a woman's sexual integrity. In my book, I put the onus on the man to respect a woman's "No." But I also think that those of us who continually deride modesty bear some responsibility for how aggressive our sexual culture has become. The more we imply that the only acceptable answer to being propositioned is a "Yes" (otherwise a girl isn't a "hip chick"), the more that a man will find a woman’s "No" to be incomprehensible. Indeed, the hostility of the modesty-detractors--”it’s no big deal,” “is that a chastity belt?” or “whaddaya have, hang-ups?”--bears an uncanny likeness to the lingo of the date-rapist.

I also don't think anyone here sees men and sex as "threatening" or "low and crass." No one on this website is writing from a nunnery--not that there's anything wrong with that! But many of us are either married to wonderful men, hoping to meet the right one soon, or have men in our lives for whom we have great respect.

Are women who have a string of hookups “pro-sex”? And those who wait until marriage “anti-sex”? I know that is what Hustler and Playboy want us to believe, but this dichotomy doesn’t seem to be grounded much in reality. I’m not even going to go into the studies about married women being more satisfied than unmarried women, because obviously and unfortunately, there are people in unhappy marriages too. But suffice it to say that this blossoming of female desire we’ve all been led to expect from unmarried sex doesn’t seem to be happening.

Why? For the most part, it’s because of what you say, quite rightly: “sex is something that belongs in a relationship.” I would go further and add that the shorter the relationship, the more heartbreak there tends to be--especially for women.

Does that mean there is a double standard? I agree with “garnets” and Norah that the sexes are naturally different. But in terms of societal expectations, I personally do not believe in the “double standard.” I think a man who brags about his conquests is offensive. But to me the solution is not to have women brag about their conquests--or to have equal- opportunity stripping--but instead to try to raise the standards for all of us, and let young people know that they deserve better.

In any case, thanks again for visiting our blog, and as long as I have you, Katha, I hasten to add: I have no desire to put chadors on female Olympians!

Lakita Garth

Hi Katha,

I am a 30-something, African-American female, who was one of 'those girls' who waited until I got married (3months ago) before I had sex. I can somewhat understand where you are coming from when you address the 'double standard' that exists in sexual relationships, or the notion of 'why should we as women shield our sexuality to protect a man's sexuality?' (I know I probably butchered your statement, so please forgive me) But I have had the unique privilege of having my father as my primary caretaker and four older brothers who all schooled me when it came to men. And if you had sat on the other side of my 'tutorials' growing up, women wouldn't argue so forcefully about this issue or have to read books like, "He's Just Not that Into You."

I am so grateful that I skipped over a lot of relational 'drama' because I was trained to see it (or him) as he was walking my way. Some of these insights I'd love to share sometime (perhaps after the holidays, I have relatives coming into town). But let me reiterate something I often tell my young single girlfriends: I am currently president and CEO of my own company. All of my employees by the way are male. Soon I hope to hire a janitor for a new building I am thinking about buying. So, before he has the privilege of sitting accross my desk, in my office, and shake my hand, he will have to fill out an application (like all the other applicants) with his real name - not Mookie, Ray Ray, or whatever alias he's going by this week. I will need his social security number, last several places of employment, character references, etc. And this is just to clean my toilet!

How much less discretion do the majority of women have, who decide to take off all of their clothes and have sex? Yes women can do whatever they want, but is it wise? Especially in light of the fact that women pay the highest price when it comes to the consequences of having sex outside of marriage. We are 20 times more likely to contract an STD because we are recievers in this act (if you think condoms work, check out HPV) and men don't get pregnant.

Where does modesty come into play in all this? It goes back to a few things my father taught me as a girl. He was a military strategist and retired from the Air Force after 27 years. He said, 'if you don't know your opponent's strategy you don't have one.' I hate to put such a beautiful relationship in terms of combat but our culture forces us to engage in the 'him versus her' syndrome. Simply what is the average womans strategy in male/female relationships? Is it companionship, love, communication? If this is indeed it, then the average guy is not going to notice her cute smile and bright eyes when her skirt is so short it is a belt. Why? Because like it or not, men and women are different and we function and operate off of two different sources of power (ask me about this some other time). Companionship, love, and communication are not the relationship strategies that the average guy wants in a sexually saturated culture. If you just want to attract a guy to have sex, and that is a top priority, by all means sport those crazy 'daisy dukes.'

How can I, a career woman, be taken seriously when I testify before Senate hearings, or conduct a corporate meeting if I was wearing lingerie? My husband however, loves my lingerie when we are alone together. What women don't understand by how they dress is that, you don't attract want you want . . . you attract what you are. Like it or not, clothes say a lot about us.

I know this is a long response but there is so much to say that hasn't been said. Hope to hear from you soon--

Lakita

Stephanie

Hey. I'm a 26 year old poet and feminist who will never submit her poems to Fence again, not after the Suicide Girls cover this summer, and Rebecca Wolff's sexist defense of it. Thank you Eve for your essay, and thank you very much Katha Pollitt, for having the courage to say anything against pornography in the poetry world at the minute.

I live in New York City, and it feels like I'm constantly getting made fun of for being against pornography.

Christopher Stackhouse (who also edits at Fence) recently told me he and other poets had a big laugh about me and my position at a recent reading of his (why they couldn't find better things to talk about, I'm not sure). Regardless, the idea that pornography is anything other than "sexual liberation" seems to be a joke to most of the male poets I meet. How sad that other women are going along with the status quo too.

I don't believe pornography is a modesty issue. That concept seems irrelevant here. To me, the real problem is the ways in which men dehumanize women, and what that makes life like for us. Pornographers, (almost all of them male) transform us into commodity. They sell women as sexual product. Perhaps some women "choose" to go along with that by "allowing" themselves to be sold, but as Katha mentions, women are socialized to see sex as our biggest asset.

As a woman poet, I've often had the experience of being more accepted by my male peers, whenever I'm willing to sexualize myself in my work. It's as though, as women, we're expected to be sex at all times, to live up to an enormous pressure to embody men's fantasy of seductiveness, even as we try to be taken seriously as artists.

The argument that the reason naked women are used as marketing tools while naked men are not is because of biology, strikes me as defeatest and wrong. Rather than saying "Men will be Men," or men are visual, women are emotional, or whatever, I think it's more important to ask ourselves as women, do we objectify men less because we're not capable of it, or because we're told we shouldn't?

Men are almost always judged by what they do in life, and women by how we look, but i don't believe that's because of some biological imperative. If one looks elsewhere in nature, it's usually the female animal who gets to be dumpy and dull and comfortable, while the male has the responsibility of being visually appealing.

The reason women are sold to men through pornography and advertising more often than the reverse is really simple: Men have money. Men have enough economic power to buy us. But, if women could do that, if we earned as much as men on average, or had the social power to control men in that way, I think we'd be just as likely to purchase them, though that's not the kind of equality I want.

I don't want to learn to turn men into objects, and I don't want to learn to "have sex like a man," eroticizing dominance and subordination, only being able to think about sex in terms of power differences and violence. I'd rather men see me as a human being, and I'd like the chance to see them that way. Pornography puts a barrier between men and women that makes that impossible.

That said, it's garbage to pretend I can't be as visually stimulated as men. As a woman, I know the naked male body can be undeniably beautiful. I think women and girls are taught early that a penis is an instrument of violence, that we can't talk about naked men, and we can't look. We learn that men's bodies can't be eroticized as gentle or beautiful. We learn that it's our job to be beautiful, sexy, dirty, passive, bought. We're taught as girls that passivity equals female sexuality. Girls cannot discuss the parts of a man's body, because for women, active sexual looking is wrong. And that's a huge loss, because there is joy in looking, and giving yourself that permission. How dare anybody claim it should only belong to gay men.

I am against pornography, because I'm anticensorship. I am against pornography because I value sex. Pornography is not sex. Instead, it's buying and selling people. It's giving women a sexual script to follow, one that censors our own imaginations and fantasies. I want girls and women to know that sex is not shameful or frightening, that it's not about having to sell yourself, or having to live up to some pornographer's ideal of what a woman is.

Wolff sounds like an apologist for patriarchy when she equates feminism with "doing what's right for you, being responsible to no one but yourself." Apparently her ideal feminist is somebody who doesn't care whether or not her choices affect other women. Again, that's complete garbage.

A real commitment to feminism means recognizing your choices impact women besides you, especially if you are a woman in a power position. A real commitment to feminism means choosing to do the most good possible for the most women possible. It's not choosing to legitimize an industry that profits from the sale of millions of women, just to hawk your magazine.

For women like me, who want to be taken seriously as poets, Wolff's sex toy cover is a terrible set back. And for girls who have been sexually abused by adult men,(many of whom end up in the sex industry as adults), normalizing child pornography is an unforgivable slap in the face. Wolff thinks it's okay to spread somebody ele's daughter across her magazine, but not her own.

How much harder it is for women hurt by pornography to confront men in our lives who use it, when there are women like Rebecca Wolff, willing to go along with the exploitation. It's not antifeminist to question other women's choices, especially if those choices do harm. It hurts when men you don't know yell insults about your body when you walk down the street because pornography teaches them a woman's body is theirs to judge. It hurts to feel afraid your partner will not find you attractive because apparently now the standard for desirability is looking like a 14 year old. And it hurts, when pornography matters more to men than what women have to say as poets. Wolff acts as though that hurt does not matter and should be ignored. I believe we should continue to speak and write about it. I believe women matter more than pornography. The Fence cover had nothing to do with women's sexuality, and everything to do with male dominance.

Stephanie

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