Oh yes, we are equal.
Barbi Boardman Chhay

Dear Barbi,

The problem is not Magic Mike’s existence. The problem is that you can find copies of it at Wal-Mart, but they do not sell any DVD whose cover features a group of shirtless women, even if their nipples are covered by babies. “You can lactate, you disgusting females,” our culture tells us, “but you damn well better be ashamed of it! Nursing videos shall show no titty!” You know quite well the same rule pertains on Facebook. Non-nutritive chests — those of persons assigned male at birth, or of women showing their mastectomy scars (they failed to “save the tatas” but saved the actual woman, thankfully) — are okay. Lactation? Like hell!

The problem is a culture that clutches its pearls when women wear pink, floppy hats that don’t much look like actual pussies (note the lack of that dirty, shameful pubic hair in the design, or the clitoris, which is just Not Discussed because “all” it does is create female orgasm), but does not care that it just elected a man who brags about committing sexual assault. He did this on a hot mike, knowing his words were being recorded. It’s not “pussy” that’s the real problem in the phrase “grab them by the pussy.” It’s “grab.”

I don’t know. Maybe my perspective is skewed by having been married to a man who blew up and got all Trumpy when I stopped sleeping with him, being afraid of his behavior when he was drunk, which was basically 24/7 at that time. He told me threateningly that I had best get to my therapist (this, from a man who had hitherto been Tom Cruise on the subject of my seeing mental health professionals; when Paxil gave me a temporary lack of sex drive, he whined that it wasn’t fair to him) and “fix this.” I didn’t fix it fast enough, and when I lay, too drugged on Percocet to legally consent because my dominant arm was broken, in my own bed, he waltzed in and raped me to show that I was not equal, did not have the right to not have sex. And we just elected that.

When women objectified Aya Thorne of the band Albannach while he was a touring musician, they shoved money in his kilt belt. When men objectify women, they grab them without consent, kiss them without consent, and more, using that little factoid people who oppose letting women fight as equals in combat love to point out: men, on average, are taller and have greater upper body strength, making a man yelling at a woman pose a much more credible threat than a woman yelling at a man (assuming each target is trying to walk down the same street safely). Given a choice, I would take the money, quite frankly. But I wasn’t given that choice.

Of course women read sexy books. Women have sex drives. (Or I do. It’s entirely possible I’m the only one, of course.) Although I am no fan of the Outlander series, I will note that Frank Randall, Claire’s 20th-century husband, marks himself as a Good Man early in the first book by performing cunnilingus. By, literally, facing pussy. Not running from it, not freaking out at which words are used to describe it — getting his face right up in it. Actually, that’s not the worst sign of a Good Man in a series in which sex, consensual or otherwise, happens about every three pages. Or in real life. Frank Randall’s love for pussy doesn’t mean he just grabs it, like his rapey ancestor who, unfortunately, has to survive for Frank to be born — ah, the exigencies of time travel, amirite? Frank Randall loves pussy in a genuine way. He cares about his wife’s sexual pleasure, and when she returns to the 20th century, he is understandably very confused by what she tells him, but does not harm her. When the horrific Twilight series came out (of course you know that 50 Shades was originally Twilight fanfiction — it is the same abusive relationship in both series, just with the serial numbers filed off in the one where the protagonists actually have sex), people lined up behind Edward or Jacob in “teams.” Begging the pardon of Mr. Sam Heughan, I will be over here on Team Frank Randall, He Who Feared No Pussy.

However, here in Current Year, it is still men’s sex drives that control culture, whether through fashion or fear. Shaming women for discussing, or even dressing up as, parts of their own bodies is still the norm. That is the point. In bragging about how star power allows a man ease of sexual assault, that man inadvertently opened up the larger discussion we need to have — that “consent culture” is still seen as something made up by Damn Libruls and “hairy-legged feminists” (notice that, in the much-derided pantsuits Secretary Clinton wore while campaigning, one does not have to spend further money on pantyhose or leg razors, and access to the pussy within is somewhat more difficult for an invader). The idea of obtaining enthusiastic consent from any partner of any, or neither, gender (nonbinary folk exist, and they have sex too) is laughed at. People mock the idea by asking if they are expected to obtain a signed waiver before every shag, as if they are incapable of producing an “Oh God, yes please!” response.

The problem with “grab them by the pussy,” and I will say this until I am blue in the pussy, is not “pussy.” It is “grab.” We have elected a proud sexual assaulter. That given, a few floppy winter hats (and I live where real winter lives, so I might see about obtaining such a hat myself) are hardly going to lower the public discourse. Nothing can sink it much lower. We might as well have the discussion now about how pussy belongs to the women, and some men (trans men are born with vaginas) and other gender-nonconforming people, on whose bodies pussies appear.

As always,


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