Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I think feminism is a lot like the end of Utena. After this sentence, there will be a lot of spoilers as I explain the plot so everyone can understand what I am getting at. In Utena, a group of students at a high school are told that if they win a dueling game, they will win the rose bride(usually standing in as a student- Anthy) and power to do anything they want, even bring revolution to the world. A girl Utena starts dueling because she thinks it is wrong to duel to win a woman, and wins the bride, even though she's opposed to the idea of winning a bride. And so a lot of stuff happens, and Utena finds out that Anthy's brother(Akio, which means morning star, i.e. Lucifer) is controlling the game. So, with her goal to free the bride, she fights him, and ends up falling off the platform. Afterwards, Akio is gloating about how Utena failed to revolutionize the world, and planning for another cycle of this game, which appears to have been going on for thousands of years. People at the school are beginning to forget that Utena ever existed. However, Anthy ,inspired by Utena's sacrifice , puts her glasses down, and walks out to find Utena. Therefore Akio is screwed- without the rose bride, he can't do the game anymore, and the goal of the game for him is to regain his lost innocence and power- i.e. he's really fucked.

So what does that have to do with feminism? Well, many people act like there hasn't been a revolution or that if there has, well, we should get back to the way it was before. Like Andrea Dworkin . I always wonder why everyone is like Dworkin hates men so much, what with her having a male partner for years. I mean, yea, you can critique power relations without hating men. But people act like her work hasn't made an impact, but that's not true. The reason that we can go and make more empowering porn, or become empowered strippers or whatever, is that someone pointed out that the old way wasn't good, and that it needed to be changed. Even if people don't remember who articulated the critique, the critique still remains.

When I was reading her book Heartbreak, I realized that she actually hated real porn, and real prostitution(if you read the article linked, you'll see that she was a prostitute), and I agree. Yea, I like the platonic ideal of porn that is sexy and woman loving, and yea, I like works that reflect that ideal. I like the theory that prostitution can be a good thing, but you know, with all that sex trafficking, rape of prostitutes, and child prostitution in the world, I can't just blithely sit back and say all sex work is good, just because I imagine it might be good in some other world. But others may not take that hazy, lazy stance about it, especially when confronted in their faces with the reality of what is going on.

Another thing is that women help perpetuate the sexist system, not like on purpose like most of the men don't do it on purpose, but it's just like it's so ingrained, you start spouting that shit even if you think you are awesome. It sounds easy to just walk away like Anthy, but a lot of things bound her to her fate- mostly guilt and the like. Likewise, we are bound by things like the desire for approval, the few little biscuits thrown to the woman who can be the best second class citizen, and a desire not to change. The analogy breaks down here, because it's an open question whether men could keep sexism up by themselves. On the one hand, they do have more social power than women, on the other hand, who would be the police for that, and put a pleasant face on sexist lies?

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