We're switching it up for this month's minis as well feMAILs! Girl Gang member Emma sent us an article that compared women's and men's sexuality and we asked if she would like to write a little something about it. Of course she said yes, because she's amazing. Check it out below after you read the original article HERE .
In her article IS GENDER F***ING WITH OUR FANTASIES? Kate Poor asks the following questions:
"Why does society give room for boys' sexual fantasies but forsake girls? We know girls are fantasizing, learning about sex, and masturbating--so why can't girls claim their fleshy fantasies? To lift the censorship, degradation, and foreclosure of girls' fantasies, we may have to investigate the gender limitations on how we think about early loves, impulses, celebrity crushes..."
Poor's piece discusses a recent book called "Crush," in which various celebrities recount their first celebrity loves and the effect of those on their future selves. She observes that many of the male writers would focus on the physicality of their experiences (e.g., Stephen King recounts how he as a 8-year old boy suddenly while watching a Kim Novak movie had a strong urge to reach out an touch her breasts), whereas female writers would tend to describe experiences lacking in explicit sexuality (e.g., the accounts would be more concerned with love letters written, posters hung on walls, and endless hours of discussing celebrity interviews with friends). As a result, throughout her essay Poor thinks about and discusses the discrepant frames for men's and women's "experiences, interpretations, and articulation of preteen sexuality."
After having read this article I began thinking about my own experiences as a preteen girl (woman?); did I fantasize about my love interests in a sexually "open" way or was I too confined into a mental space deemed appropriate by the environment I was in? Now, I don't remember ever being shamed by my parents or friends for talking and fantasizing in a certain way about my crushes, however, my behavior (physical and mental) is more revealing. My walls were in fact covered with Leonardo DiCaprio and Spice Girls (hello queer identity) posters, and my fantasies would mostly involve me being approached by the cute guy (or girl) in front of a group of people. Or, I would think about how we would go to the movies together or just hang out in my room talking about various important things (i.e., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who was dating whom on the Hockey team, and the upcoming yearbook) for hours. However, nothing sexual never really happened in those daydreams. That is, I didn't engage in any bodily exploration together with my various imaginary crushes. Why not? And, did this have any negative effects on me as a young woman?
Even though the answer to the first question most likely is that culture works on us in mysterious (and subconscious) ways, I can't help but think more about the second query. Did my restricted fantasizing have any negative effects on me; did it make me less knowledgeable in what I might want and like sexually? Did it prevent me from coming to know sooner who I was in terms of my fluid sexuality? I definitely think so. For example, if you are confined to (without even knowing that you are) a particular way of fantasizing void of the physical side of sex, then, you won't have as much time to explore in your own mind different things (activities) that you might enjoy. If you watch something on TV or read something online, but then don't dare to put yourself into that reality even in your thoughts, how can you know in real life whether it is something you would want to do. It seems important to explore possibilities on your own so that you don't realize too late that it is not something you are willing to engage in. Also, sometimes I think that if female sexuality was more openly portrayed in popular culture, perhaps I would have dared to think more about why Ginger Spice was my favorite Spice Girl...maybe I would have been able to explore in my thoughts what kissing her would have been like or what touching her hair would have felt like? In that way perhaps it wouldn't have taken until college for me to actually deal with what certain feelings meant in terms of who I am. Once I realized that girls and boys, men and women, do not fantasize (or are not permitted to fantasize?) in the same way, to allow myself to do so fully (to claim my fleshy fantasies) became something radical and empowering. A quiet revolution of sorts.
Now days I think about the power of daydreaming all the time. Not only in terms of what it means on a sexual level, but also in my development as a confident outgoing person. In my thoughts I can try out different ways of saying things (I'm very shy so this is helpful before a presentation, or in any other social event to be honest), and how I would handle various instances of confrontations. Fantasizing helps me calm down if I'm upset about something; it helps me think through what to say and not say to someone that might have hurt my feelings. It also helps me see myself as different people; as the graduate student, as the future college administrator, as a wife, as a mother, and as a friend. In my mind I can run through all these different identities; I can try them on and take them off. I will never stop fantasizing, I know that, but the difference now is that I will do it in a broader more encompassing way--social andsexual.