Evolving Thoughts, Enlightening my Mind

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For two years now I have been concentrating on a thesis regarding romantic love. When I fell in love in 2013, I decided I wanted to write about it and since experiencing a painful end to that relationship, I have been channeling positive energy to explore love. Through the lens of using love in terms of philosophy, science, and personal experience, I have developed a theory about love that I am very proud of. That theory I came up with is constantly evolving as are my interactions with various men. In searching for my Mr. Right, I developed high standards that I refuse to deviate from. The result was accepting nothing less than total respect and slowly noticing when men were being sexist. Something happened in our society to heighten my awareness of just how enormous a problem that this continues to be in our society.  The recent election of a male chauvinist pig as our president has made dating more interesting as I hear white men mostly, defending Trump and his completely out of line comments of “grabbing a woman by the pussy”.  He has made countless attacks against women, and sexualized his own daughter, talking about her breasts. The amount of repulsive comments made by this man is sickening, and thinking that this man represents our country now is even more sickening. How horrible is it to think that those men may actually believe the same core beliefs that our fine President Donald Trump has brought forth.

Now, realizing how many men want to control women and what they ate, their job, and their reproduction, I am seeing the use of patriarchy in dating and am absolutely disturbed, mortified and saddened that I haven’t seen these signs more clearly and soon. I have been thinking and writing and experiencing love for much longer that I realized how sexist the world we are living in is. More importantly, how loving someone doesn’t change how they believe and how they may use your vulnerability to perpetuate the patriarchy.  In my first and only experience of loving a man, he said things and behaved in a sexist way. At the time, it was off putting, but I put up with all of it because I loved him and stupidly because I thought he would change. Dating now and how I view comments made by men has changed since I started this course. The Dworkin reading called Woman Hating particularly stood out to be because of the notion of fairy tales. As young girls, we are taught to love fairy tales and emulate them as much as we can. There is this notion of the damsel in distress in all the fairy tales that Dworkin discusses. In Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel all the women need saving. I don’t want to “need saving”. In fact, I have moved out to live with roommates, and I plan to live an independent life, not depending on and taking care of a man. Her writing starts with, “This is a book about action, a political action where revolution is the goal. It has no other purpose. It is not cerebral wisdom, or academic horseshit, or ideas carved in granite and destined or immortality” (Dworkin 17). That is a really powerful way to start a book and I want my thesis to do for love what this book is doing for women, reclaiming the place in society they always deserved but were never allowed. I saw over and over the strength she shows by not accepting the fairy tales and tearing down the stories within them in such a remarkable and note worthy way.

The huge problem is that in these fairy tales women are taught to be passive and just have the man save them. The mother figure in the fairy tales is also problematic. What I find more problematic is the men never have accountability for their actions. Hansel and Gretel are left by both parents, but the mother is the monster in the story and the father who didn’t do anything to get them back is welcomed back with open arms. “Though the fairy tale father marries the evil woman in the first place, has no emotional connection with his child, does not interact in any meaningful way with her, abandons her and worse does not notice when she is dead or gone, he is a figure of male good. He is the patriarch, and as such is beyond mortal law and human decency” (Dworkin 48). Anther long but strong passage that demonstrates my huge problem with fairy tales is this, “Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow-white, Rapunzel – all characterized by passively, beauty, innocence, and victimization. They are all archetypal good women – victims by definition. They never think, act, initiate, confront, challenge, feel, care. Or question. They have one scenario of passage. They are moved from the house of the mother to the house of the prince. First they are objects of malice, then they are objects of romantic adoration, They do nothing to warrant either” (42). This is particularly disturbing because of the notion of romance. I want to be loved by a man very much. Would it be wonderful if he loved me because I was beautiful to him? Yes. However, my intelligent, my humor, my quick wit is something I want to be loved for. I want to be loved for my talents and the way I laugh or the silly way I dance. No more do I want to fall under a spell because someone thinks I’m beautiful. I’m so much more than a pretty face, and that’s all the women in all these fairy tales are – a beautiful victim to be taken advantage of. I never want to be viewed as someone who needs pity!

Another enormous problem I see Dworkin present is the idea of how a women is supposed to look according to society and to be desirable for a man. This enormous problem I personally have with my self-esteem is largely a social construct of how woman are supposed to be. There are parts that I do for myself, such as shaving my armpit and leg hair and maintaining my pubic hair. Now, I developed the third idea on my own, but all the shaving makes me question if it was engrained in me, so I do it, or if I actually want to do it or I’m so used to it that I cannot deviate from it. Dworkin says “She is evil because she acts” (49) and this is true of many examples of powerful women. The media has made this idea of a passive woman, and controlling everything about her body goes way way out of control. I myself struggle with my self-image. I like wearing make up from time to time, and I love picking clothes to show my style. What I do not like is the constant pressure I receive from home and from the media to lose weight. I actually go to the gym and find it insulting that my self-worth is determined by how I look for so many. As a white woman, I have the skin color than our society finds desirable. Yet I shudder to think that so many beauty standards for women were far more tortuous then losing weight. I will say that I have developed an unhealthy relationship with food and struggle to accept my body. It is upsetting to try on clothes that don’t fit, but more upsetting to be reminded over and over how I need to lose weight.

The saddest part is that I wanted to lose weight for myself. I wanted to fit back into some of my clothes and feel less tired from carrying the extra 20-30 pounds around all the time. But, I decide to make that change on my own because it will make me happy. I decide to wear a dress that I bought, because it makes me feel beautiful. Not because society says so. Because I say so, damn it! I will be in control of my body and be a champion for others to follow me in accepting who you are. The foot binding in this book was a way to not only control women but make them sexually attractive. I cannot express my disgust enough at the idea of mutilating a woman when she is a girl, forever destroying her feet, for a man’s enjoyment. That notion of foot binding as cultural is true, because it was practiced in China, but the effects of controlling a woman’s body are horrifying. I connect the idea of an idealized skinny body to that of foot binding. The idea that women should eat salads on dates is so depressing. I am all for a healthier lifestyle as my family history shows I have a higher chance for many dangerous illnesses. But I cannot live in a world and accept that women are to be seen and not heard. People fear how much power women can have, and therefore try to take it away constantly.

To continue the idea that fairy tales make woman in society devalued and pushing this idea into reality a victim is a book called The Image by Jean de Berg. Claire and Anne are two women and Jean is a man who wants but cannot have Claire because she does not desire him. Claire abuses Anne physically and sexually but the text claims that Anne is always wet and always wanting this kind of treatment. She sucks Jean’s cock and a rose with thorns is forced inside her. All of this is deeply erotic (?), but is actually incredibly disturbing. On page 85 the ending is this “Jean de Berg goes home, has a dream about Claire, is awakened by a knock on the door, and lo and behold! Claire has recognized her true role in life (I have come, she says quietly) that of Jean de Berg’s slave. He hits her, and she lives happily ever after.” What I understood of this very creepy, perverted way to portray women is that women because we don’t have a penis will be tortured by another woman for a man’s pleasure until the woman he actually wants to ravish realizes she is the missing piece in the master/slave equation.

Women are lacking someone and that makes them less of a person. I never understood this, and learning that it is something people actually believe to be true is really nuts to be quite honest.“The Image paints women as real female eunuchs, mutilated in the first instance, much as Freud suggested, by their lack of cock, incapable of whole, organic, satisfying sexual union without the intrusion and participation of a male figure.” (67) How unbelievable a thought that I am not a complete human because I do not have a penis. It is a ridiculous notion that Freud came up with and now is used as a tool by men over women. This story made me physically cringe as I read it and feel so enraged for this was a very popular book. This book is about abuse of a woman and worse is that she wants all the abuse and is shown as submissive first to Claire then to Jean de Berg. I felt sickened and wronged even though none of this happened to me. And people thought this was deeply sexy? To thrust a thorny rose inside a woman? To rape a woman? And to show that the woman torturing Anne realizes that she should be the one experiencing the abuse just shows how deep sexism runs in our society. I did not find this story erotic or sexy at all. I felt nauseous and furious the entire time and fearful of what would happen to Claire. The Story of O is equally sickening as women are used only for sex. The idea of the value of a women being the space between her legs and when that is no longer of interested that she should be killed and asked to be killed is beyond disturbing. This story is called “love for love’s sake”. Is there any kind of love actually in this story of a woman being raped and tortured until she is no longer needed? The people who wrote both these books are confusing love with lust. Furthermore, if it is lust they desire, it should be a consensual one, but of course that shatters the image of the submissive woman. We cannot disturb what they have set up.

Every part of the book Woman Hating makes me think of a quote by T.S. Eliot, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” Do I dare question the notion that I am a sex object according to society? That I as a woman need to play the victim and be submissive? I do not accept any of these roles as my reality but in the introduction Dworkin points to a bigger issue of women not wanting to push the boundaries that have been placed upon us, and ones we do not want to accept. “The money available to middle-class women who identify as feminists must be channeled into the programs we want to develop, and we must develop them. In general, middle class women have refused to take any action, make any commitment which would interfere with, threaten, or significantly alter a lifestyle, a living standard, which is money and privileged” (Dworkin 17). Dworkin has opened my eyes using what I thought was something wonderful and precious, fairy tales and proving how much it devalues women. Using the Story of O and The Image, as well as discussing foot binding and the magazine Suck as just perpetuating sexist ideas, the chance to have my eyes opened has happened.

I always knew that women were unequal to men but I thought it was supposed to be that way when I was much younger. As I grew up I recognized how great it was when a woman was powerful and independent but how men were threatened by that. They are threatened because they don’t want to lose the social order where they enjoy so much power and privilege as a male. Now, the door is bursting open for me to challenge those ideas. I want to challenge the reasons that Dworkin points out are reasons for love. Because, truly that’s not love! For the woman it is a life of torture and for the man it is abuse without consequence. I see no love in these fairy tales or in either of these erotic stories. Dealing with issues of how we look and our bodies as objects is so difficult, but while accepting myself for who I am, I don’t want to fall into the comfy lifestyle and not challenge injustice.

Through my love of football, campfires, power tools, wood working, drinking a good drink, and working out I am challenged at home by females who see me doing what is considered “the man’s job”. For as long as I can remember I have been asked to cook, clean, and behave daintily, like a desirable woman would. All of this is disgusting to me. While I love dresses and I like makeup, I value respecting myself and being who I want to be above all things. I will never change who I am to impress a man. Therefore, I will shave because I want to. I will wear make up for myself. And, I will continue to have the hobbies I wish to have, while still being a woman. My strength is recognizing all the things I do have as a white woman. This text just shows I and all women have a lot further to go to be respected and shown as an equal to men. We are capable of so much and we shouldn’t have to prove our worth any longer. All the great women that helped shape history have already done that for us. Despite our current president and all that he wants to do to reverse any progress we have made, I feel compelled to not sit still. I feel compelled to act and when it comes to love, to never accept someone who doesn’t respect me or belittles me as a woman. I am just as valuable as a man in this world, and I wish with my entire heart that I didn’t have to constantly need to prove my position in this world. The gift of this reading is awareness. Without awareness, nothing can change, and now that I am aware of all the twisted things going on, I intend to fight for a world where love isn’t based on looks and my sexual desires alone. That is not love.

Freud’s False Facts

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Many times while explaining something of great importance to another person, we don’t realize that we are being biased or allowing thoughts that are our own to corrupt and the truth of the work is thus changed in the minds of others. In this way, we are negatively affecting our audience and distorting their thoughts and minds. For example, when reading The Bible you can explain it as God’s literal teachings or as mere stories, depending on your religion and beliefs. That is not distorting people minds but giving viewpoints and options for people to take in. Taking the stories and construing a negative meaning is wrong, such as when people turn The Bible into a vehicle to explain and excuse their hatred towards the gay community, claiming God hates them and spewing false truths. It is a particular problem because certain people are using The Bible to perpetuate hate in the same way that Sigmund Freud takes “Femininity” and “Female Sexuality” and creates something completely inaccurate. It is particularly grotesque that something meant to be spiritual as The Bible turns so cruel because of human interpretation. Sigmund Freud does something quite similar with his alleged research and observation in “Female Sexuality” and “Femininity”. He uses these works to just chisel away at women’s image using bizarre theories he himself claims he cannot prove. One might read these passages and say he is merely being phallocentric. An argument can be made for either Freud being phallocentric or purely sexist. However, Sigmund Freud exploited people’s somewhat gullible nature when much wasn’t known about the theories behind female sexuality in such a manner as he provides. One may come to the conclusion that he is sexist. Another may come to the conclusion that Freud is merely using phallocentric opinions. It can be misconstrued that Freud has a strong male perspective, that his comments about woman one finds offensive are just a male’s viewpoint. However through numerous examples in these two articles alone, Freud gives one enough ammunition to prove his is extremely sexist as well as phallocentric. In “Female Sexuality” he claims the woman to be inferior on the mere fact that she does not have a penis and how this causes angst through her entire life. There is never shown the other side of this paradigm, where a woman has a different sexual construction and that alone does not make her inferior. It is this difference as one example that points at Freud’s sexism.  When all the information is set and truly put under the microscope, sexism as well as phallocentricism is the clear way that Freud takes us into his mind through a series of essays, full of false convoluted conclusions. Phallocentric implies emphasizing the male view point which he does do and at the expense of all females. Through use of language, instilling fear in women and creating false truths about penis envy, and discrediting successful women Freud develops deeply flawed and unbelievably sexist statements that baffle the reader and are not constructive in any way.

Before specific examples are given, simply by reading Freud’s phrasing and language you can easily see phallocentric and furthermore sexist, which is exactly what Freud is. He makes these little snide comments that especially to a woman come off so rude and insensitive. It is his bold yet ignorant use of language that gets him in deep water with the female reader and hopefully the male as well. At first, this language can be taken as phallocentric, but when further investigations are made one realizes that he is sexist as well as phallocentric. The “atrophied penis” is a term implying that the penis is better somehow. All the adjectives he uses are really not only phallocentric but lend strongly towards sexist. The phrase “a boy’s far superior equipment” (Femininity 157) is one troubling instance of not only language but a bold claim lacking support. Furthermore, these almost cruel digs do not even help procure a valid argument for Freud. He comes off as actually less intelligent because of these jabs at women. One such comment, “There is another, far more specific motive for the turning point away from the mother, arising out of the effect of the castration complex on the little creature without a penis.” (Female Sexuality 4) Reading that, one starts losing faith in Freud because women are now subhuman by being calling creatures. This is dehumanizing and it only gets subsequently worse when Freud describes the young girl as being angry at her mother for not giving her the “proper genitals”. This strikes deeply as extremely sexist because according to Freud the proper genitals to have are clearly male. Women are just as important in society and gentially speaking if not for a woman, children could not be born and Freud’s beloved penis could not come on to this Earth because the female has to literally produce it. It is absurd to just say that the male genital is the proper one with even giving a proper conclusion as to why.  This is a huge belief for a phallocentric mindset and Freud highlights it quite well in this example. He does not have valid research and the observations he claims to have made are absurd, for such subtlies cannot be accurately observed.  Although that might further convey the sexism, Freud seems to make a lot of sexist generalizations but not explain why they are such. There is one example where he is to an extent using deeper analytical thought but arrives at a conclusion he cannot possibly prove. This is this notion that “girls hold their mother responsible for their lack of a penis” (Femininity 154) that one cannot prove. This was not studied because this notion cannot be studied, and this shows phallocentricism but also Freud being sexist and a misogynist. Many of these arguments seem to be what he believes and not what he claims to have observed which is unfair to say if truly it cannot be observed.

Sigmund Freud writes his arguments in a way that is cause for actual fear among women if we truly underwent and subscribed to these theories he has. Many of his “observations” something I must place in quotes because it is not valid to claim the complex sexual development of especially very young children could be observed. This concept mentioned on multiple pages of a women or young girl, depending on what stage he refers to is at a disadvantage is completely unfair because he is the one creating these extra steps in the sexual maturation process that a girl needs to go through. The man seems to have his sexuality as explained through the Oedipus complex wrapped up in a nice little bow. Giving this sense of worry to the women is very sexism, as if we really are so defined by our lack of a penis. Why is it that the woman must go through this struggle of sexual confusion and inadequacy? It makes for a lack of balance and a lack of understanding when the woman is constantly being belittled and attacked and furthermore takes a direct hit at Freud’s credibility. This brings us to the notion of penis-envy something Freud is quite confident about to an obnoxious degree. It is repulsive to think that once a girl discovers a penis on her father, she does not have one and laments this through her entire life even in her subconscious until she bores a baby boy, whom she considers to have fulfilled her ultimate dreams (Femininity 159) which is sickening that through having a child with a penis her own dreams have come true. Why do women need to be defined and furthermore crushed by the notion that they do not have a penis? Freud never gives a starting point for this argument that makes sense. The previous mentioned moment when a girl sees a penis on her father is not a captivating argument for this soul-crushing feeling Freud goes on to claim.  According to Freud, it is in these loosely based arguments. It is offensive and very cocky for Freud to think that a woman’s whole life is spent wanting a penis. As previously stating women provide sex organs crucial for conceiving a child something Freud omits from his theories. It is not the male perspective about female that is bothersome. It is the complete and utter disregard for the woman and furthermore for the truth that one can so clearly establish is not only Freud being phallocentric but Freud stating awful things and furthermore not able to back them up other than to say these are his observations. Can Freud really understand what is going on in a child’s mind or even an adult? One can go as far to say that his general way of thinking and “researching” is deeply flawed and attempting to prove anything in the fashion he tries to attempt this complex concept will end with a bad result in addition to the phallocentric and sexist notions he places throughout his essays.

Lastly, Freud claims something that are purely his beliefs not those of his alleged studies. In the four step process of a woman’s sexual maturation Freud mentions many things, none of which have any basis in reality. Freud states “the development of a little girl in a normal woman is more difficult and more complicated since it includes two extra tasks” (Femininity 147) and he goes on to explain them in such a way that is puzzling and illogical. The two extra tasks are a girl switching her “love object” from her mother to her father and her erogenous zone from her clitoris to her vagina. What is never put into light is why these things are even necessary or make any sense. Why doesn’t the boy need extra stages? This seems to imply the boy’s stages are better and more complete.  What is worse in when Freud claims that things can go awry in the maturation of these two stages and one of the most puzzling is a woman getting an education being a failure in her quest to “femininity” by saying that “a capacity for instance, to carry on an intellectual profession- may often be recognized as a sublimated modification of this wish” (Femininity 155). This is incredibly unbelievable that an educated woman did not grow correctly sexually and thus chose education as a way to compensate for the fact that they are lacking a penis. Why are those things linked? In today’s world many, many women are well educated but have still developed sexually. It can actually be argued that lack of education and knowledge can negatively impact a young girl’s sexual journey so just the opposite of what Freud claims is true. It appears that Freud has taken the liberty of the most blunt and outright sexism and placed it here. One could make a clear argument against Freud but he shoots himself in the foot by claiming to be defenseless. (Female Sexuality 6) He is defenseless for his claims are extremely sexist because it is the woman that has something wrong with her and this maturation theory cannot be proved because it is the loose theory in the mind of a twisted man through being phallocentric finds nothing wrong with the young male’s development.

In conclusion, Freud tries with vigor to explain female sexuality and femininity but succeeds in offending us and leaves us to question deeply the true value of the research he claims to have done and the observations that would be so crucial if they were feasible. He is using these little digs at women that are so incredibly sexist as well as phallocentric. His language alone is enough to say that hey, this Freud fellow is a complete misogynist! Phallocentric is a part of who Freud is. Also through his flawed theory of penis envy as well as claiming a woman’s education means something went awry in sexual development just are crazy for all the aforementioned reasons. Freud took on a concept with a deeply flawed bias. He was about to create many theories but ones people of the general public should be able to see past because he is just incorrect through everything I have previously explained. Furthermore, it is unfair that men get this preferential treatment while women are at the mercy of whatever sick theories Freud has to offer.