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Weiner’s weiner and “porn for women”

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So, by now you’ve probably heard the story of Weiner-gate, and if not, by all means, Google is your friend. Basically, a US Representative (edited because I previously called him a Senator) who happens to be named Weiner (it could only be this funny if it had happened to him or John Boehner), may or may not have* tweeted a picture of his boxer-brief-clad crotch. And, much like the time Brett Farve texted some pics of his crotch, the event has sparked a conversation around the very concept of sexting, particularly the sending of pictures of crotches to women.

The Washington Post has the audacity to declare “Naked man parts? Not so sexy.” In a headline.

I’m so glad a few randomly polled women quoted in a national publication are enough to declare, once and for all, that certain parts of men’s bodies, the parts most associated with sex, are universally not sexy. How problematic is this? Let me count the ways:

1. Women. We are many and varied like so many special snowflakes. Just because 5 ladies in the Washington Post say something isn’t sexy TO THEM doesn’t mean that it isn’t sexy to many many other women. While I am very sure that there are some ladies who would find a photo of a man cleaning their gutters sexier than a picture of a penis, I’m sure there are also some ladies who would find a picture of a man in high heels or wearing a dog collar sexier than a picture of a man cleaning gutters. If there is anything the internet has to teach us, it’s that for any given thing, there are lots of people who find that thing sexy. And lots of people who don’t. So perhaps the number one takeaway could be: know what your partner thinks is sexy. Maybe ask him or her and talk about it. Send him or her pictures of things that person thinks is sexy. Because you know what IS pretty much universally sexy? When someone gets to know you and wants to make you happy in ways that actually make you happy. Personally? I would not be happy to receive photos of any body part on my cell phone. But that’s just me. It might be right up your alley.

2. “Porn for Women” when defined only as photos of men doing household chores like making beds, folding laundry, or organizing a refrigerator, is a very damaging idea. The fact that women are supposed to find photos of men doing housework hot suggests that housework is women’s job, and if men do it, it is a super special favor that should be rewarded with sex. It also suggests that sex isn’t something women actively desire, pursue, and enjoy, but rather something they begrudgingly consent to in order to please and/or reward men. This is what leads to damaging ideas like grey rape– the idea that sex is, at best, something women must be convinced or coerced into having, and that a “no” is negotiable. I know it might seem like a leap to go from “sexy” photos of men folding clothes to the idea of rape, but it’s part of a larger problem of seeing women as sex objects who reluctantly give up sex, instead of active participants in the wanting and having of sex. Fold laundry because you live here, not because you want a sexual reward. Have sex because you want to, not because you feel you owe it to someone or that you have to be talked into it.

3. Bodies are sexy. I’m always quick to point out how uncool it is to shame women about their bodies. Telling men that part of their body is universally unsexy is also uncool. Sure, as I actually said when the whole Brett Farve thing went down, a picture of a penis outside of any context, certainly when unsolicited, can be jarring and confusing and even violating. But bodies and their parts can also be very very sexy, even if said bodies aren’t involved in mopping floors or whatever. One stereotype I think is particularly damaging is the idea that men are visual creatures but women aren’t. Different people are aroused in different ways, but for many many women, visuals are indeed arousing. Even visuals of naked men. Just as I believe women deserve to be with men who think ALL of them is sexy, men deserve the same.

4. The thing that makes the Brett Farve and Anthony Weiner pics unsexy is that they were also unsolicited. This goes back to my earlier post about enthusiastic consent. Don’t foist pictures or activities or anything on someone unless someone has enthusiastically consented to that picture or activity. Because it turns out rape/assault is decidedly NOT SEXY. **The Weiner pics would be increasingly unsexy if they prove to have been taken and/or posted without Weiner’s consent, making him a victim as well.

My pithy final words? Don’t send penis pictures to people who don’t want them or don’t find them sexy. Don’t assume that women do not like sex, that they do not like men’s bodies, or that housework is their job. Don’t assume that the four people you interview for your piece are representative of all people of that gender (or race, or socioeconomic group, or, or, or).

*Late breaking update: he did it, he confessed, he’s not resigning.

**added after the fact because a commenter felt I was unclear about Weiner’s alleged involvement in the picture and its posting.

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Author: erniebufflo

Writer. Hugger of trees. Lover of food, literature, politics, feminism. Wife to @orzzyo. Mama to twins Etta & Claire, dogs Bessie & Olive, & one not-so-Tinycat.

5 thoughts on “Weiner’s weiner and “porn for women”

  1. Unless there has been a development in this case of which I am unaware (and a quick internet search prior to this writing shows there hasn’t been), it also might be nice not to assume that Representative (not Senator) Weiner is guilty of said lewd behavior when he has denied any role in the controversy. I know none of that applies to the point you’re making. However, many in the media have chosen to zero in on the fact that the representative won’t deny that the picture in question is of him, and that’s feeding the frenzy. He has repeatedly explained that he refuses to deny the picture is of him because he has been advised by the people he has hired to investigate the issue not to confirm or deny anything since there are no answers to such questions at this time. As he has pointed out (again repeatedly) over the last several days, photos can be manipulated so the picture in question could be an altered version of one that actually is of him. As bad as things are now, can you imagine what the right wing media would do to him if he flatly denied it was a picture of himself only to find out it actually was–even if it had been altered? If the likes of Andrew Breitbart can get someone like Shirley Sherrod fired from an important position in government because of a strategically edited video of something she said years before that actually represented to opposite of what she said what do you think such a person could do with Weiner’s current predicament if it came out that the picture was his?

    All of that being said, the bottom line in this instance is that both Rep. Weiner and the young woman in question have denied ever having met, disavowed any knowledge of how the picture came to be directed at her and see it as nothing more than an internet prank. Even keeping that in mind and assuming that the picture is of the representative, if he was hacked and the picture was sent without his permission or knowledge how is that any of our business? My point is that there’s a lot of fishiness going on here. Some of it surrounds the representative, but most of it does not. To comment on it casually as if it’s somehow the equivalent of the Favre case is deeply unfair to the man in question unless and until his claims of innocence are proven false. I don’t perceive you as the kind of person who would do such a thing purposely (quite the opposite, actually). Please be careful.

  2. Did you not see where I said “may or may not have”? It might help to actually read my post before making assumptions. My post is mostly in response to the Washington Post’s comments about penis pictures in general, and whether or not women find them sexy, not about whether Weiner actually took/sent that photo. The only correlation that I’m making between this case and the Favre case is that both involve unsolicited pictures of penises. I remain open to (and inclined toward) the possibility that Weiner neither took nor tweeted that picture, though whomever is doing his PR needs to just issue a clear statement, or else be fired, because this is getting ridiculous. The fact remains that my post neither states his guilt nor innocence, and merely uses the Weiner case as a jumping-off point for discussing penis pictures.

  3. I stand corrected. Apologies. I don’t know why I was so quick to the trigger on that response, to be honest. I’m usually a great deal more careful about such things.

    • No worries. It’s always good to be reminded that people are innocent until proved otherwise. Bummer it’s true about Weiner. I really like him.

  4. Bummer, indeed. I don’t know if it’s strictly a matter of ego, or if there’s something more deep-seated going on with men who do this sort of thing. I just don’t get it, and I’m a man. I acknowledge my own weirdness in saying so, but I don’t see how it’s simple hormones. Testosterone can only carry so much blame. Anything powerful enough to affect brain chemistry is obviously something to reckon with, but to throw away (or at least to taint) your life’s work for something as base as exposing your naughty bits–virtually or otherwise–seems pathological to me. Other than a matter of degree, what’s so different about this and what Larry “Wide Stance” Craig did in that Minneapolis airport bathroom? Certainly, the impulse is at least of a kind.

    Amateur psychiatry aside, wouldn’t it be nice to see the media take such a ferocious interest in pursuing matters of public importance such as, say, the debt ceiling, social programs, corporate malfeasance, climate change, financial regulation, the foreclosure crisis or anything else that mattered to the future of our nation beyond temporary prurient distractions?

    Like I said, I’m weird.

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