Pussy Whipped

The new face of misogyny

By Jennifer Beth Williams

Pussy Whipped

Suffrage activists didn’t get arrested for your right to stumble around in underwear and a pair of bunny ears last Friday night. They didn’t stand out in the freezing cold for your right to surgically alter your vagina to make it look more attractive. They were simply fighting for equal rights. But you literally blew it.

Welcome to a new age of feminism, in which women embrace their sexuality not by demanding respect and reciprocation, but by working it in spike heels, taking stripper classes, and lowering their standards. For some, this new type of empowerment feels liberating, rebellious, and badass, but it prompts severe ramifications for women everywhere.

The only thing sexually liberating about looking and acting like a skank are the stares from onlookers. I’ll readily admit that it feels good to know you are an object of desire, that you are fuckable and, therefore, acceptable. But this empowerment still stems from the approval of men, rather than from an actual independent sense of sexual valor. And these “empowering” acts are both voluntarily performed and perpetuated by women themselves. New feminism, read: self-destructivism.

Take Playboy, a magazine credited with breaking sexual and literary boundaries. In addition to its centerfolds, Playboy became famous for publishing high-profile interviews and the works of accomplished writers. Miles Davis, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, and Vladimir Nabokov have all graced the pages of Playboy.

Yet there’s no denying that Playboy portrays women as pouty objects of masturbation fantasies. Hugh Hefner first launched the magazine in 1953 and his daughter Christie Hefner now acts as chairman and C.E.O of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. She’s won numerous awards and holds positions on various boards, including the American Civil Liberties Union. But her accomplishments are cheapened by a magazine that reduces women to a pair of perky tits.

I understand the double standard that lies at the heart of this issue: while men are players, women are whores. It would be nice if women could truly behave like men, but in reality, we are not men. In her 2005 book “Female Chauvinist Pigs,” Ariel Levy writes about “raunch culture,” in which women pawn their respect away in hopes of being “one of the guys.” The way women are controlling their sexuality is not a new “free love moment,” but a revoking of self-respect:

“Raunch provides a special opportunity for a woman who wants to prove her mettle. It’s in fashion, and it is something that has traditionally appealed exclusively to men and actively offended women, so producing it or participating in it is a way both to flaunt your coolness and to mark yourself as different, tougher, looser, funnier. It’s a new sort of loophole-woman who is ‘not like other women,’ who is instead ‘like a man.’ Or, more precisely, like a female chauvinist pig.”

The thing is, we are the ones who fuel the fire. In Ashley Samelson’s recent Wall Street Journal article, “Lipstick Jungle,” she recounts instances during her college years when females were not put down by men, but by other females. “I, perhaps unconsciously, observe women to try and determine how they want to be treated,” said an undergraduate at the University of Michigan featured in the article. “When I see girls at a party who seemingly have no self-control, I’ll admit that it’s really tough to visualize them as ‘ladies.’ It’s as if they, solely, through their own actions, have lowered my expectations, lowered my standards of behavior.’”

So, here we are on this self-destructive path and we don’t even know it. Gone are the days when men pressured women to liquor up. Instead, women pressure each other. Gone are the days when men talked down to women. Instead, women call each other bitches. And gone are the days when guys had to make an effort to get in our pants. But the problem isn’t that we show up ready and willing to fuck. It’s that now, we’re all trying to out-fuck each other.

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