Palmer v. Jones December 11, 2008 11:41 AM   Subscribe

When is it okay for the sexiness/attractiveness of a woman to be discussed? The Amanda Palmer post versus the Grace Jones post.

First: I'm not accusing anyone of anything or trying to call anyone out. I'm just curious as to why there was a (heavily favorited) comment fairly early on in the Palmer discussion and its subsequent MeTa thread complaining about people opining on Ms. Palmer's appearance and/or whether they'd have sex with her while there's relative silence from folks concerning I'd hit it/not hit it comments in the Grace Jones post -- even though it includes similar comments (including the always fun to read and hear thoughts about how simultaneously "intimidating" and sexy strong black women are).

Looking forward to hearing your opinions. Cheers.
posted by lord_wolf to Etiquette/Policy at 11:41 AM (153 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I blame jessamyn dumping the Cooter Clock. That's the I'd Hit It equivalent of that EPA guy shutting down the containment system in Ghost Busters.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:48 AM on December 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


I think part of it is the ridiculousness of what you pointed out re: "simultaneously 'intimidating' and sexy," etc. Also, Grace Jones is crazy. So I think some part of it was a "In Soviet Russia, chocolate woman break You!" thing. And there's just some good ol' hypocrisy in there too. But on the other hand, the roles she's been in have kind of advanced that "she's crazy/sexy/cool/scary" thing.
posted by cashman at 11:50 AM on December 11, 2008


Well, I've been reading Metafilter for awhile, and so feel completely and totally qualified to assert that it is absolutely, positively never a good idea to discuss the attractiveness/sexiness of a woman.

Just make a mental note of the sexiness and/or attractiveness and move on.

Any other action will undoubtedly lead very quickly to several MetaTalk threads with words like objectification and boy zone. It's seriously not worth your while.
posted by kbanas at 11:50 AM on December 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


And when someone asks you if you're a god, you say "YES"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:53 AM on December 11, 2008 [16 favorites]


Is this going to lead to a crazy/sexy/cool/scary bitchez raise your hand, MeTa post?
posted by electroboy at 11:54 AM on December 11, 2008


The Amanda Palmer thread started with a few innocuous "I think she's attractive" comments and started to become, seemingly, the sole purpose of the thread. I didn't even see the Grace Jones thread til now but it seems like there are at least as many comments saying that she's awesome and badass and very few saying any variant of "I'd hit it."

That said, you can't predict when someone is going to start a MeTa thread about anything. The AP MeTa thread was actually to mention that she had commented, not to call anyone out for loutish comments, it just turned into a sidebar discussion once the thread had gotten started.

But thanks for blaming me, even tongue in cheek.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on December 11, 2008


I appreciate how you titled it Palmer v. Jones, so that in the future, we can refer back to it as such when looking for historical precedents to decide the next case. "Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that in Palmer v. Jones, the consensus was against that conclusion."
posted by cashman at 11:58 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


that EPA guy shutting down the containment system in Ghost Busters.

Making the EPA guy the villian ..... so Reagan-era.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:58 AM on December 11, 2008 [14 favorites]


I can't think of a situation in which a negative appraisal of a woman's attractiveness - even if her presentation demands an appraisal [i.e. Madonna's recent stage costumes] - wouldn't be a dick move. So to speak. If you don't have anything nice to say... etc.

A positive appraisal of her attactiveness might be a dick move too - depending on the extent to which it negates other qualities she'd prefer to be noted for. I think Nigella Lawson and Christiane Amanpour are both hot. But I'd feel more swinish publicly lusting over the latter.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:58 AM on December 11, 2008


When is it okay for the sexiness/attractiveness of a woman to be discussed?

It is never okay.
posted by Ida Hitit at 11:59 AM on December 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


It is never okay.
posted by Ida Hitit


Well played.
posted by electroboy at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


can't think of a situation in which a negative appraisal of a woman's attractiveness - even if her presentation demands an appraisal [i.e. Madonna's recent stage costumes] - wouldn't be a dick move. So to speak. If you don't have anything nice to say... etc.

Unless it pertains to Ann Coulter. Then all bets are off.
posted by kbanas at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You ever see that scene in Conan where Grace Jones takes her sharpened wooden spear (her "matchstick") and attacks a man with it, and, while she is fighting, her face is a hard mask of fury, but then, when she buries the spear in him, she suddenly, without warning, smiles a terrifying rictus of bloodlust?

Later on the in the movie, Malak uses tending to her wounds as an excuse to touch her leg, and her face hardens again into the mask of fury, and you think, dude, what are you doing? Are you crazy?

But you kind of respect him for making a pass at her?

That's how I felt all the way through that Grace Jones thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


When is it okay for the sexiness/attractiveness of a woman to be discussed?

I have actually given this some actual thought, based on stepping on the wrong side of where I now believe this line is in the past, but the majority of my thought related to this subject has been only in my head (so to speak), and I haven't heard it seriously discussed before in order to compare my thoughts with those of others, so I may be wrong, but I will take a stab at this one.

First of all, yes human beings are sexual in nature and it is perfectly natural for one person to be attracted, or not attracted to another, and expressing one's opinion about that is not inherently wrong. However, I think it should be up to a person, male or female, whether or not they want their attractiveness to be on the table for discussion. A woman appearing on the news to announce the opening of a new children's hospital should not have an internet discussion board saying "Whoah she was hot" and "No way she had hairy knuckles" because she has not done anything to suggest that she was attempting to make her attractiveness open for discussion. Her level of attractiveness does not become proper subject for discussion just because someone sees her. On the other hand, Burt Reynolds cannot legitimately claim that people are in the wrong for discussing whether or not he is sexually attractive when he has appeared in a playgirl photo shoot naked on a bear skin rug. He was entering the subject of his level of attractiveness into the public consciousness voluntarily.

To be clear, I do not think that a man or woman who acts sexual in any way is "asking for it" or anything of that nature, and no matter what any person does, it is our responsibility as human beings to be respectful to a certain degree. Neither a man or woman have to wear a burka or act completely like a school marm in order to avoid people discussing whether or not they have a fat ass. However, I am not going to feel guilty for saying "I do not find Jessica Simpson attractive" when Jessica Simpson herself has essentially posed the question "So world, I'm attractive, don't you think?"

So, that is the result of my thinking on this subject. I suppose therefore that every person would be an individual case as to whether or not they had made their attractiveness open for discussion of their own free will. If I am wrong about this, and I very well may be, I am sure someone will let me know. As for the two specific examples you mention, I am not familiar with either of their work (I think I am too young to be familiar with Grace Jones and too old to be familiar with the other person) and I didn't read those threads, so I can't comment on them specifically.
posted by ND¢ at 12:04 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


"her presentation demands an appraisal" = she's asking for it
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:05 PM on December 11, 2008


Whoops. Her spear is her "toothpick."

I love the fact that the Wikipedia page for Conan the Destroyer lists the character along with their weapons, like, instead of a Wikipedia page, it is a character sheet for D&D. I'm sort of surprised it didn't list their alignments, which, for most of the characters, seems chaotic neutral.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this going to lead to a crazy/sexy/cool/scary bitchez raise your hand, MeTa post?

Or Grace Jones joining MeFi. Which probably wouldn't bode well for the admins, as she could probably take Matt's user number and coronate herself as Ultra Admin N'est Plus Ultra Per Infinitum on her first day using nothing but the irresistible power of her own sheer will.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:11 PM on December 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Jones and Palmer both share a canny ability to intrigue people and/or freak them out with their beauty and sexuality. It's part of their act; it elicits comment.
posted by hermitosis at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2008


It is never okay.

Never? Never? Not even if the subject of the post is a model? Or if the post is about the appearance of the woman in question? We have to sit in silence, not commenting?

Degrading or out-of-line comments should be banned, sure. But zero-tolerance policies have mainly one effect: destroying tolerance.
posted by DU at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2008


Burt Reynolds cannot legitimately claim that people are in the wrong for discussing whether or not he is sexually attractive when he has appeared in a playgirl photo shoot naked on a bear skin rug.

To be fair, it's hard to tell where the rug ends and the Reynolds begins, so the true level of nakedness is up for debate.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:15 PM on December 11, 2008 [14 favorites]


does no one read the handbook when they sign up?
posted by boo_radley at 12:16 PM on December 11, 2008


JERRY: Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun, you don't stare at it. It's too risky. You get a sense of it and then you look away.
posted by found missing at 12:16 PM on December 11, 2008


Check the author of the "It's never okay" comment, DU.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:16 PM on December 11, 2008


I'd debate that level of nakedness!
posted by ND¢ at 12:18 PM on December 11, 2008


"her presentation demands an appraisal" = she's asking for it

just to be clear, I was not serious there. But ND¢ describs a standard that is fair yet impossible to play by in real life. It's easy to say that Jessica Simpson on the red carpet wants her Pretty to be judged, and it's just as easy to say that a female attorney arguing before the SC does not. AT THOSE MOMENTS. But those are the easy cases, and it's the great middle, where the subject probably herself is conflicted at any given moment about whether appearance comments are welcome or not, or from who, or of what degree of explicitness/subtlety.

You just can't know. It's what makes things interesting. The ones who keep getting it wrong are the ones that who wind up inventing sexy robots for companionship.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:18 PM on December 11, 2008


You can have my sexy robot when you pry it from my cold, dead... Well, let's just leave it at that.
posted by Ida Hitit at 12:22 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's why I'm going to build a STEPMOTHER FACTORY!
posted by cashman at 12:27 PM on December 11, 2008


To be fair, it's hard to tell where the rug ends and the Reynolds begins, so the true level of nakedness is up for debate.

I should also add that the photo in question was taken back when a man was considered attractive for, you know, actually looking like a man (see also, Clint Eastwood from those movies he was in with the orangutan, Tom Selleck, Captain Kirk) and before the standard of beauty for men became looking like a prepubescent boy with a freakish musculature.
posted by ND¢ at 12:30 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Here's the rule:

If someone is making money off of their appearance, or otherwise directly capitalizing on their appearance to further their career or for financial gain, it is okay to comment on their appearance.

In other words, if people objectify themselves for money, it's okay to criticize the worth of that object.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:31 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


*phone rings*
Hello?
I'll see.
Amanda Palmer!
Grace Jones is on the phone looking for Amanda Palmer.
Anyone know Amanda Palmer?
Grace Jones needs Amanda Palmer!
!!!
Why you little....
posted by Floydd at 12:34 PM on December 11, 2008 [43 favorites]


I objectify myself for charity. For money, I subjectify myself.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:34 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is rough, because so much of Grace Jones' persona, which I feel she is fully aware of, is her aura of extremely powerful sexuality.

Does it excuse comments like this?

I really don't think so. There something really icky about taking a notion of adoration for such a strong, sexual woman and turning it into "I'D LIEK TO OWN AND AND FUCK HER." There are tons of ways of saying you find her attractive or arousing without making her a weaker party.
posted by piratebowling at 12:36 PM on December 11, 2008


It's easy to say that Jessica Simpson on the red carpet wants her Pretty to be judged, and it's just as easy to say that a female attorney arguing before the SC does not.

It's when Jessica Simpson is presenting arguments before the Supreme Court when the difficulty begins.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ida Hitit

Someone just needs to set up a Thatsa Stereotype account and we're all set for some sock-on-sock action.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


At the risk of sticking my foot directly into the bear-trap...

Grace Jones has made a career out of the scary/sexy persona, and it's a career that spans two decades. To my mind, discussing her in this context is natural, given that it's the public face she wears. Now, this can be done respectfully or it can be creepy leering. Ideally, the leering would be kept to a minimum.

Amanda Palmer has not made sex or sexuality the cornerstone of her career, but the FPP in question introduced that context, specifically the the context of her label's actions. Once again, this discussion can be respectful, or not. Preferably the former.

Now contrast these two with Allison Stokke, who became the object of leering internet male's attention simply by having a picture of her. That discussion was pretty well doomed from the start.
posted by lekvar at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Jones and Palmer both share a canny ability to intrigue people and/or freak them out with their beauty and sexuality. It's part of their act; it elicits comment.
posted by hermitosis at 3:12 PM on December 11


It isn't that sophisticated. No one is intrigued or freaked out by either one of them-both are very pedestrian. More to the point, this isn't their ability, because they aren't in control of their image. They aren't taking the publicity photos, directing the videos or designing the album covers. And those things are unquestionably on the order of "She's hot, buy her crap." It isn't their act that's at issue, because we don't see the act. We see the image that is constructed by the people who own their creative output. Grace Jones was cast in Conan precisely because she would look good and strong wearing next to nothing. In other words, the decision was made in advance of casting to have the female lead be almost naked.

If they didn't want their appearance at issue, they wouldn't allow their beauty to be the central part of their image. This is also true in Palmer's case, where all her publicity photos linked in that thread amounted to simulated Victorian era/gothic boudoir photography.

Some people will take the "If you've got it, flaunt it" attitude, but then it becomes perfectly acceptable to discuss whether or not you've actually got "it".

We aren't talking about sex or beauty. We are talking about commerce. That so many people are confused about this illustrates why consistently over time and regardless of the trend or target demographic, sex sells.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's when Jessica Simpson is presenting arguments before the Supreme Court when the difficulty begins.

If the oral arguments are sound, but the briefs barely fit (the derriere), the litigants are bound, and you must submit a Writ of Certiorari.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can't know with any certainty that what you say isn't going to piss someone off. One of the really interesting personality types here on MeFi -- and I assume the world at large though I don't remember meeting people like this in such large numbers before MeFi -- is the "tell me all the rules of interaction here, so that if you're pissed off at me and I've followed all the rules it's YOUR fault, not mine!" sort.

I'm not saying this about you, lord wolf, I'm just saying we see that sort of thing here a lot. Some people think that anyone who finds anything offensive is thin-skinned, some people think that anyone who says anything which offends them is an asshole or someone operating in bad faith. I think most of us know that the truth is somewhere in-between and yet I'd wager for most of us

- we'd like to not intentially anger or upset people we care about if that wasn't our intention (not saying you care about all of us, just saying I think people like to know that sort of thing)
- we don't like it when people accuse us of stuff we didn't even mean to do
- many of us are exhausted by these arguments and wish people would just get over it
- many of us aren't really "over it"

So anyhow, this doesn't add much to the topic except to say that anyone who says they have the right answer, doesn't. People are more nuanced and complicated than any set of etiquette guidelines and AskMe has several thousand questions devoted to trying to figure them out. If you sincerely care about not offending people, ask the people who got offended what they think and listen when they explain themselves. If what you care about is plausible deniability and the ability to say "if you're offended by this you're wrong" well, that's another way to go about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2008 [20 favorites]


Allison Stokke in case anyone was curious about lekvar's reference.
posted by ND¢ at 12:49 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think there's a big difference between discussing a woman's sexiness or attractiveness and saying that you would like to utilize a woman's orifices.
posted by The Straightener at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2008 [13 favorites]


More to the point, this isn't their ability, because they aren't in control of their image.

That's not true. In fact, that was the WHOLE POINT of the Grace Jones chocolate thing -- the control she exerts over her own mass production.
posted by hermitosis at 12:53 PM on December 11, 2008


Seems like there are really mostly two rules on Metafilter:

1) Don't self link or we'll pull your kidneys out through your nose.

2) Don't be an asshat. The community at large (and mathowie, cortex, and Jessamyn in particular) decide when you are being an asshat.
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on December 11, 2008


I'm sort of surprised it didn't list their alignments, which, for most of the characters, seems chaotic neutral.

Good old Chaotic Neutral. By far my favorite alignment because you can justify pretty much any action with it.
DM: There's a filthy beggar pleading for alms beside the entrance to the brothel.
SIR LORIC, LAWFUL GOOD PALADIN: Keeping my eyes averted from the harlots and brazen strumpets in the brothel, I walk over to give the beggar thirteen pieces of his majesty's finest electrum.
DERSINS, CHAOTIC NEUTRAL MAGIC USER: I cast Bigby's Interposing Hand between the Paladin and the beggar.
DM: *rolls some dice* Sorry, Sir Loric, but you can't get to the beggar.
SIR LORIC: Dude, what the fuck?
DERSINS: I'm fucking with you. *shrugs* Dude, I'm Chaotic Neutral-- I can't help it.
posted by dersins at 1:00 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey everyone! I have gonads and a sex drive which have been put into a positive state of arousal by the images of a famous person!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:02 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why discussing the attractiveness of an person is automatically wrong. Obviously, crass comments along the lines of "I'd hit it" are over the line, but what is so wrong about discussing whether you find someone attractive where, for example, discussing how intelligent they are isn't?

The level of attractiveness someone engenders in you seems like a perfectly fine topic of discussion, in my opinion, as long as it is done with some respect. That is, it's fine to mention that you find someone attractive (or not), but it's not OK to do so in a way that says that is the only way that person can be considered.
posted by dg at 1:02 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really wish I didn't just read that thread about Allison Stokke. I now feel really icky.
posted by lunit at 1:06 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


To be fair, it's hard to tell where the rug ends and the Reynolds begins, so the true level of nakedness is up for debate.

Especially since there are at least two rugs in that photo.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:08 PM on December 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


A woman appearing on the news to announce the opening of a new children's hospital should not have an internet discussion board saying "Whoah she was hot" and "No way she had hairy knuckles" because she has not done anything to suggest that she was attempting to make her attractiveness open for discussion. Her level of attractiveness does not become proper subject for discussion just because someone sees her.

That's precisely why female news anchors & TV reporters are always representative of the whole broad spectrum of womens' looks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:09 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Isn't the line very simple? "It'd like to fuck this woman" is bad, "I find this woman attractive" is okay.
posted by Chuckles at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2008


The level of attractiveness someone engenders in you seems like a perfectly fine topic of discussion, in my opinion, as long as it is done with some respect.

I very much respect your opinion on this subject.

and you look hot in that snorkel.
posted by davejay at 1:12 PM on December 11, 2008


I'm comfortable with everyone following whatever rule I make up that day.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:15 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't the line very simple?

There is no line. In the territory of human interaction everything bothers someone. The best you can aim for is honest good intentions and a measure of empathetic self-restraint. If you decide to weigh in on touchy subjects, chances are that sometimes you will get it wrong. If so, be humble, apologize, learn from it, and don't go there again.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:17 PM on December 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


I'm not saying this about you, lord wolf,

It's all good, that's not how I took it.


So anyhow, this doesn't add much to the topic


Quite the contrary -- the middle section of your comment is pretty much a reflection of my feelings on the matter. But I guess there's a part of me that's actually a little angry that no one spoke up on behalf of Grace Jones while a number of people commented on the same thing in the Palmer threads; even though, at the same time, I kind of feel that both Palmer and Jones fall under Pastabagel's rule of people who are making money off of their physical appearance, and, as such, non-icky comments about appearance shouldn't automatically be viewed as offensive.

Then again, values of "icky" vary greatly from person to person....

Anyway, thanks for the responses thus far.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:19 PM on December 11, 2008


It's easy to say that Jessica Simpson on the red carpet wants her Pretty to be judged, and it's just as easy to say that a female attorney arguing before the SC does not. AT THOSE MOMENTS. But those are the easy cases, and it's the great middle, where the subject probably herself is conflicted at any given moment about whether appearance comments are welcome or not, or from who, or of what degree of explicitness/subtlety.

I'm going to mentally insert a great big ole "for the purpose of Metafilter discussion" in front of every comment in this thread, because otherwise this is an insane discussion on limits to liberty. For all those who thought it rude but instructive to publish a Mohammed cartoon, the answer to "whether or not she wants her pretty judged" is WHO CARES. Discussion is discussion, and walking out of my house, it makes no matter whether I've dressed for attention or not in regard to the rights of people to discuss my appearance. Hence the right, not a privilege.

But this is appropriateness on Metafilter, which is a different beast. Carry on.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:27 PM on December 11, 2008


That's funny, Durn; I always mentally insert "in bed" in BACK of every comment in these kinds of threads. They're much more fun that way.
posted by yhbc at 1:42 PM on December 11, 2008


Isn't the line very simple? "It'd like to fuck this woman" is bad, "I find this woman attractive" is okay.

It doesn't seem that simple to me.

Consider this progression: 1) She's one sizzling dish. 2) She stiffens my egg whites. 3) I wish I could glaze her hams.

1 and 3 fit into your neatly defined categories. But what about 2?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:47 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I insert "died today" into each non-obituary post posted to Metafilter and pretend that we are a community dedicated exclusively to talking about the recently deceased (and in some cases, but only where appropriate, their level of hotness).
posted by ND¢ at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


But what about 2?

Let's not even get into a scat discussion.
posted by Skot at 1:51 PM on December 11, 2008


When is it okay for the sexiness/attractiveness of a woman to be discussed?

Depends on the phrasing, IMO. Sexiness/attractiveness already has a connotation to it, while commenting on someone's "classically striking" looks is different and so on.

But it's Metafilter and there's a lot of water under the bridge, so it's a really gray area and by gray I mean from all the dried blood.

For what it's worth, I think it's absolutely fine to mention that so and so is hawt, but then move on. It's when it becomes a circle jerk of escalating juvenile fantasies in a public forum that the icky happens.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:57 PM on December 11, 2008


dg: "The level of attractiveness someone engenders in you seems like a perfectly fine topic of discussion, in my opinion, as long as it is done with some respect."

Yeah, I think this too. But on MetaFilter, in the wake of those epic sexism threads, it's not considered perfectly fine at all. (I don't think this is a 'PC gone mad' problem or anything, in fact I think it's a good idea to be strict about this stuff.)

Whatever, since this is MetaTalk, I'll say Grace Jones is incredibly fucking attractive in the flesh, especially when she reverts to her Jamaican accent, but Diamanda Galas is definitely top of the terrifying/hot charts. (In case anyone was wondering, top of the sinister/hot charts is Prince. Shaking hands with that brilliant little weirdo was like being wanked off by a leering, declawed zombie cat.)
posted by jack_mo at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I always mentally insert "in bed" in BACK of every comment in these kinds of threads.

Ah, the old trick for making fortune cookies fun! Let's try it out:

The level of attractiveness someone engenders in you seems like a perfectly fine topic of discussion, in my opinion, as long as it is done with some respect in bed.

and you look hot in that snorkel in bed.

I'm comfortable with everyone following whatever rule I make up that day in bed.

If so, be humble, apologize, learn from it, and don't go there again in bed.

It's all good, that's not how I took it in bed.

I kind of feel that both Palmer and Jones fall under Pastabagel's rule of people who are making money off of their physical appearance, and, as such, non-icky comments about appearance shouldn't automatically be viewed as offensive in bed.

Then again, values of "icky" vary greatly from person to person in bed.

But this is appropriateness on Metafilter, which is a different beast. Carry on in bed.

They're much more fun that way in bed.

Isn't the line very simple? "It'd like to fuck this woman" is bad, "I find this woman attractive" is okay in bed.

It doesn't seem that simple to me in bed.

Consider this progression: 1) She's one sizzling dish. 2) She stiffens my egg whites. 3) I wish I could glaze her hams in bed.

I insert "died today" into each non-obituary post posted to Metafilter and pretend that we are a community dedicated exclusively to talking about the recently deceased (and in some cases, but only where appropriate, their level of hotness in bed).

Let's not even get into a scat discussion in bed.

When is it okay for the sexiness/attractiveness of a woman to be discussed in bed?

But it's Metafilter and there's a lot of water under the bridge, so it's a really gray area and by gray I mean from all the dried blood in bed.

For what it's worth, I think it's absolutely fine to mention that so and so is hawt, but then move on. It's when it becomes a circle jerk of escalating juvenile fantasies in a public forum that the icky happens in bed.

posted by UbuRoivas at 2:15 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Judging women by whether you'd insert your penis in their vaginas is sexist.

That's why I judge people by whether I'd stick my penis in their anus. Classy and gender neutral.
posted by qvantamon at 2:21 PM on December 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ah, the old trick for making fortune cookies fun! Let's try it out it bed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:22 PM on December 11, 2008


Ah, the old trick for making fortune cookies fun! Let's try it out it bed it bed.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:24 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Diamanda Galas is definitely top of the terrifying/hot charts.

Well, that Annie Liebovitz photo of her on the cross is terrifying/hot. The cover of the Plague Mass record is only terrifying.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:29 PM on December 11, 2008


Ugh why does someone always have to crack a sag little joke when someone makes a grammar error.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:31 PM on December 11, 2008


So putting one's weenie in the chocolate pudding and then running naked around the Metafilter cafeteria while screaming is no longer allowed?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2008


in bed :(
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2008


sag jokes are my life...





...in bed
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:34 PM on December 11, 2008


Isn't the line very simple? "It'd like to fuck this woman" is bad, "I find this woman attractive" is okay.

Well, as a gay man, I'd say that's the very line I take.
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


dg, didn't your mama teach you that it's not nice to talk about someone's looks?
posted by Lynsey at 2:37 PM on December 11, 2008


Some people think that anyone who finds anything offensive is thin-skinned, some people think that anyone who says anything which offends them is an asshole or someone operating in bad faith.

This aptly describes my relationship with my girlfriend, amongst others.
posted by gman at 2:38 PM on December 11, 2008


Consider this progression: 1) She's one sizzling dish. 2) She stiffens my egg whites. 3) I wish I could glaze her hams.

1 and 3 fit into your neatly defined categories. But what about 2?


#2 is in the category of "confusing cooking-related euphemisms".

Man, I'd really combine 1/4 cup each of her olive oil and balsamic vinegar, adding salt, pepper and basil to taste, to create a simple but tasty vinegrette suitable for use on green salads and... wait, where was I?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:50 PM on December 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: classy and gender neutral... in bed.
posted by netbros at 2:56 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know if it's necessarily appropriate, but if I ever cast any part of myself as a life sized chocolate mold, please feel free to objectify it all you want. It just seems like a natural reaction:

"Boy, he sure chose some delicious candy for this project!"

or

"Wow, he has a strange and angry face"

or

"Boy, he sure does have some big hands..."

You know, just say whatever feels right.
posted by quin at 3:05 PM on December 11, 2008


Perhaps this is something you would need to be named Grace to understand.
posted by Cranberry at 3:15 PM on December 11, 2008


For what it's worth, the Amanda Palmer post was partially about the fact that her label thought her belly was "too fat" and refused to promote her album. So a certain amount of, "WTF? She looks hawt!" seems reasonable.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 3:28 PM on December 11, 2008


Man, I'd really combine 1/4 cup each of her olive oil and balsamic vinegar, adding salt, pepper and basil to taste, to create a simple but tasty vinegrette suitable for use on green salads and... wait, where was I?

watching Nigella Lawson?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:31 PM on December 11, 2008


Inbedded Text
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on December 11, 2008


I really don't think so. There something really icky about taking a notion of adoration for such a strong, sexual woman and turning it into "I'D LIEK TO OWN AND AND FUCK HER." There are tons of ways of saying you find her attractive or arousing without making her a weaker party

This bears repeating.
posted by stet at 3:53 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm so conflicted right now.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:17 PM on December 11, 2008


"And like that - *pshwah* - it's gone."
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:27 PM on December 11, 2008


Seriously, if you want to wax poetic on the flavor of a MetaFilter member's vagina, do it in your own scuzzy basement. That's not okay here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:28 PM on December 11, 2008


"Wax"? Really?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:44 PM on December 11, 2008


So putting one's weenie in the chocolate pudding and then running naked around the Metafilter cafeteria while screaming is no longer allowed?

If I found out later you were just on a ton of crank I would totally forgive you for this.
posted by The Straightener at 4:47 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, if you want to wax poetic on the flavor of a MetaFilter member's vagina, do it in your own scuzzy basement. That's not okay here.

Oh. Oh. Hey. I'm sure whatever this was it was totally worthy of deletion, but it is so not fair to tease those of us who just joined the program with hints of atrocities like this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:59 PM on December 11, 2008


When a comment could address a whole univers of topics, and boils down to what the poster apparently thinks is the most important: whether the image of the person is sexually stimualting to them. That presents their perspective of (women, probably, but whoever) as ultimately judgeable-for-fucking.

Janet Reno: Great thinker, excellent diplomat, very tall... would not fuck.
Xeni Jardin: Successful internet personality, husky-voiced, overexposed... would still fuck.

etc.

That is the definition of objectification, and if you don't want to be seen as enacting objectification, then demonstrate otherwise. Construct a thoughtful remark that explains what led you to determine the attractiveness, at least, because for these two women, certainly, their performance of gender and sexuality is central to their careers. Explaining the want-to-groom-her impulse is not so offensive, though it is, basically, TMI. We all have those feelings, and I really can't claim I'm so civilized that I never gush over, say, my Johns (Linnell, Darnielle and Hodgman. Ooh. Talentadorkalishiss.)

For Poor Allison Stokke none of that was relevant, and therefore it was clearly inappropriate that she, just by being a high school athlete caught in a photo, be treated so loudly and clearly as best-used-for-sex. So you want to make her a mommy of your babies, it's because you respect girls who can do cool shit, huh? IF they are hot, right? Oh, wrong, you say? Go out and prove that, then.

Performance of sexuality is interesting. Being born with boobs and hips and just standing there doing your job is not performance, and if you think it is, I think your testosterone levels are boiling your brain.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:36 PM on December 11, 2008 [12 favorites]


I would like to go on record that, in my opinion, it is always a good idea to praise the sexiness of me. So all you horny women out there and, what the hell, all you horny men (though it ain't gonna happen) just go ahead and say how much you'd hit it with me.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:41 PM on December 11, 2008


"these two women" being GJ and AP, not Xeni and Reno.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:44 PM on December 11, 2008


standard of beauty for men became looking like a prepubescent boy with a freakish musculature.

Dunno which standard you're talking about. My swoony-over-celebs coworkers won't shuddup about the OMG real man sexiness of Hugh Jackman, Clive Owen, George Clooney, and sundry NFL and NHL athletes.

None of whom I'd be terribly inclined to hit, for the record.
posted by desuetude at 5:57 PM on December 11, 2008


Metafilter seems determined to have another gender/sex discussion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 PM on December 11, 2008


You know, sometimes I wonder just how mental you people are. Girls get taken seriously or not based on how they look ALL THE TIME. Therefore, in unrelated contexts, we don't appreciate it. Have you seen how fugly most presidents are? Yet, have you ever see the bio Teddy Roosevelt: Would Not Hit? Okay then.
posted by dame at 6:57 PM on December 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


...EPA guy...

Actually it's the Con-Ed guy. (1:05)
posted by 517 at 7:13 PM on December 11, 2008


Point taken, dame. But for the record: Teddy Roosevelt must have gotten so much play, yo. The 'stache. The monocle. Holy shit, the 'stache and the monocle! As a straight man, I am constantly perplexed by women's tastes -- to me, this looks like a dude women should have been all over. I mean, look at this dude. Look at him! How badass is this guy? He's pretty badass. I'm telling you, if you're looking for a stand-up guy, it's this guy. Okay, so...he's sitting down there, but you get the idea. Don't be fooled, women!!

...Okay, moving on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:19 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


So I'm going through Google Reader.

"Palmer v. Jones. When is it okay for the sexiness/attractiveness of a woman to be discussed? The Amanda Palmer post versus the Grace Jones post. etc."

Sigh, wonder what the comment count on that one's got up to, then click Read it Later checkmark, go to next item in Google Reader All Items listing.

"Watch the skull 'explode' and reconstruct!"

I smile.
posted by WCityMike at 7:33 PM on December 11, 2008


That's why I judge people by whether I'd stick my penis in their anus. Classy and gender neutral.

And this is why I read all those "Christ, what an asshole!" comments as compliments.
posted by qvantamon at 8:32 PM on December 11, 2008


Seriously, if you want to wax poetic on the flavor of a MetaFilter member's vagina, do it in your own scuzzy basement. That's not okay here.

Some guy or gal with a fire alarm fetish keeps a box of 9V batteries stored in our building's basement. So s/he's way ahead of you. Myself, I try to look straight ahead and keep walkin'.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:50 PM on December 11, 2008


Yeah, I was gonna say, if it's MY vagina, it's like, almost fair play, though I don't know why the 9v battery thread would come up here.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:02 PM on December 11, 2008


standard of beauty for men became looking like a prepubescent boy with a freakish musculature.

um, i don't think women are the target audience for those kinds of ads.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:50 PM on December 11, 2008


"I don't understand why discussing the attractiveness of an person is automatically wrong. Obviously, crass comments along the lines of "I'd hit it" are over the line, but what is so wrong about discussing whether you find someone attractive where, for example, discussing how intelligent they are isn't?"

Well, it's, just, like, I dunno, I think there's more things to discuss when you're talking about someone's intelligence than whether or not they turn you on. I mean, what can you say to that aside from, "Me too," "Not me," or "Why?" And, frankly, I rarely care about the why of someone else's arousal, just like I rarely want to hear them talk about their dreams. If I want to know about how turned on you are, I'll ask you.
posted by klangklangston at 9:54 PM on December 11, 2008


are you turned on at the moment, klango?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:02 PM on December 11, 2008


many of us are exhausted by these arguments and wish people would just get over it
many of us aren't really "over it"

Yeah, it's even better when you're in both of these camps and then jessamyn and a few other stalwarts get to do the heavy lifting and take all the shit that comes with it. At least jess is getting paid but I don't know who gets paid enough to support that kind of preternatural patience, to explain and explain and explain and further explain behind the scenes via email and memail to people who just can't get enough explanation in their day.

The bottom line is that it is just not that hard to be basically civil. I'm sorry but male or female I do not give a sproinging fuck about how your genitals are currently feeling, how they've reacted to the latest stimulus on the front page, your hopes and dreams for your genitals, etc. We know each other and all but we're in public.

Beyond that grace, as a woman who has done public performance on the comparatively teeniest tiniest scale I wasn't there to speak up for Palmer or Jones because I never even stopped by. The last thing I need is a reminder that you can't win. You can be a shlub and never bring your sexuality to the table and shut your eyes standing up there (my approach) and people will be annoyed or even actively offended because you're physically dull or outright unattractive but still dare to perform. You can be a multifaceted goddess like Jones -- have this complex, artistic approach where you are able to construct witty and original comments on the presentation of sexuality -- and some dullard will turn that conversation into a referendum about whether he wants to fuck you or not and how that's justified because you've already commodified yourself. As if that's the most interesting possible conversation to have. Leaving ideologies completely out of it, it is a sin and a shame to be so boring. That is to say nothing of the vast middle working it to various degrees of success, that endless parade of women dancing on the line between sex and threat, personal and unapproachable, madonna and whore, until sexuality itself becomes a banquet at which you are starving to death because you are too bored to even open your mouth. Can we try to be more human and interesting than that? Because I'm simultaneously hurt and exhausted by the poverty of these options for us all, women and men alike, and would like nothing better than just get over it. But I'm not really over it.
posted by melissa may at 11:06 PM on December 11, 2008 [36 favorites]


I should also add that the photo in question was taken back when a man was considered attractive for, you know, actually looking like a man (see also, Clint Eastwood from those movies he was in with the orangutan...)

Hey, they only made the one.

*Adds ND¢ to list of Suspected MeFites Who Have Given Serious Thought To Shaving Their Shoulders At Least Once In Their Lives*

have you ever see the bio Teddy Roosevelt: Would Not Hit?

*Kicks dogeared copy of Teddy Roosevelt: Rough Rider under couch*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:10 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's see how the Bettie Page obit goes.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:41 AM on December 12, 2008


random thought: if women are supposedly more holistic about what is attractive & desirable, wouldn't that mean "hm, there's somebody i'd like to talk about kafka & go skiing with" effectively the equivalent of a guy saying "i'd hit it"?

i mean, if we're talking of people like grace jones & amanda palmer, the guys being apparently base & crude & crass about it are somehow managing to distinguish those artists from the generic plastic models & whatnot that are all about us. doesn't that suggest that a more holistic evaluation has already been made, only the end result has been directly rather than indirectly expressed?

in other words, how different is it from "woah, i'd really love to have dinner with george clooney", other than perhaps because of social factors regarding what kinds of expressions of desire are permissible from the various genders?

along those lines, reducing the subject to "how your genitals are currently feeling, how they've reacted to the latest stimulus on the front page, your hopes and dreams for your genitals, etc" is incredibly matronising, and wilfully ignoring the fact that these kinds of choices are never solely about genitals.

unless, of course, you're an anti-masculist bigot who thinks that guys are controlled by their dicks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:45 AM on December 12, 2008


unless, of course, you're an anti-masculist bigot who thinks that guys are controlled by their dicks.

I've never particularly thought that, personally. I know a lot of terrific men with complex and interesting approaches to the things in their world, up to and including women and the complicated nature of arousal and attraction. Overgeneralizing about any particular group of people is a bad idea. Reducing any level of appeal to a single subjective linear variable and ranking people solely based on where they appear on that line.

HIT IT _______________________________________________________NOT HIT IT

is I think what bothers people for the reasons that many people have mentioned above. It does a disservice to the people being evaluated (who have more to offer, generally, and might prefer to opt out of a place in your particular fantasy world) and it makes the person doing the evaluation seem to be a crude stereotype which makes it tough for everyone else in the room/thread/area to then have to respond/react appropriately.

For every guy that's said some variant of "I'd like to fuck her because she's so awesome" there are ten to a hundred guys here who would never say anything like that. And yet every time we have a conversation like this, there's a tendency to be like "women are like THIS, guys are like THAT, AMIRITE" which is inaccurate yet at the same time tries to at least acknowledge that your approach to this might be different if you've been dealing with this sort of "Hey I'd like to fuck you because you're so awesome" nonsense since you grew breasts.

So no, Ubu, I don't think saying I'd like to have dinner with George Clooney is at all the same as saying you'd like to fuck Amanda Palmer. If these choices are not just about genitals then it shouldn't be that tough to leave your genitals out of the discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:24 AM on December 12, 2008


actually, it'd be a bunch of fun to have dinner with george clooney, with the food served on amanda's belly, but that's a different story, especially because i have zero opinion on eating off or fucking either of them, because, well, i don't know them & am never likely to meet them, so why bother with such silly speculations? chances are that they're both complete assholes in person, and with bad breath to boot.

other than that, a typically wise & balanced comment, jesso*. i was just slightly miffed by the strong suggestion above that desire is all about genitals & base needs etc, and thought it was out of place in a talk about sexism. which is to say, guys should maybe possibly sometimes be given more credit for the whole holistic intuition touchy-feely thing than we are normally given.

* standard form for an aussie diminutive
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:41 AM on December 12, 2008


including the always fun to read and hear thoughts about how simultaneously "intimidating" and sexy strong black women are

Who said anything about "strong black women." I thought the discussion was about Grace Jones? Grace Jones is a strong black woman. Grace Jones is not strong black women. Please don't conflate opinions about an individual to apply to everyone of his or her gender and/or race.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:42 AM on December 12, 2008


afterthought: from a genderqueer perspective, it's all fun & games - "'women' are like 'THIS', 'guys' are like 'THAT', AMIRITE" - i can't help but imagine that kind of thing as a campy drag king & queen show.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:53 AM on December 12, 2008


a drag king show
All fake mustaches and bearskin rugs, once again.
posted by subbes at 7:28 AM on December 12, 2008


Being born with boobs

I know children are developing earlier these days, but damn.
posted by owtytrof at 8:36 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please don't conflate opinions about an individual to apply to everyone of his or her gender and/or race.

I think you're doing me a disservice there. When one observes a pattern over one's lifetime, it is not inappropriate to refer to the entire pattern upon the next instance of observation.

When I interpret comments directed at Grace Jones to be highly similar to things I've read and heard about everyone from Michelle Obama to Fantasia Barrino to Oprah Winfrey to Tyra Banks to my own cousins and sisters, I feel justified in saying that I'm seeing yet another example of black women being described as simultaneously attractive and intimidating. (And note that when the person speaking doesn't find the woman in question attractive they describe her as "masculine" and intimidating or threatening.)
posted by lord_wolf at 8:57 AM on December 12, 2008


"are you turned on at the moment, klango?"

Not at the moment. I'm at work, surrounded by porn. Earlier, when I was at home and just waking up, I was, but my girlfriend was asleep and we've got company anyway.

Thanks for asking!

Also, today I brought a sandwich for lunch but I'm not very hungry, and yesterday the coffee we made at home was better and I'm not exactly sure what the difference was in technique that made this batch taste more muddy and the last batch taste more clear and even fruity.
posted by klangklangston at 9:00 AM on December 12, 2008


"random thought: if women are supposedly more holistic about what is attractive & desirable, wouldn't that mean "hm, there's somebody i'd like to talk about kafka & go skiing with" effectively the equivalent of a guy saying "i'd hit it"?"

No. A woman's equivalent of "I'd hit it" is still "I'd hit it," they just tend to be less likely to express such feelings either due to biology or culture. But note that while I think Sigourney Weaver is an attractive woman, I'd much rather have dinner with her than "hit it."

Thus, your assumptions are flawed.

"i mean, if we're talking of people like grace jones & amanda palmer, the guys being apparently base & crude & crass about it are somehow managing to distinguish those artists from the generic plastic models & whatnot that are all about us. doesn't that suggest that a more holistic evaluation has already been made, only the end result has been directly rather than indirectly expressed?"

Again, you're reasoning from bad faith assumptions. As women are perfectly able to communicate when they'd like to fuck without any need for euphemism, assuming that their dinner equals our fuck and not our date is unsupportable. Further, that a more "holistic" evaluation has been made is also unsupported. Having different or non-traditional beauty standards is not the same as dealing with a woman as a whole person, any more than a foot fetishist is not objectifying a woman by saying that he'd really like to fuck her feet.

"along those lines, reducing the subject to "how your genitals are currently feeling, how they've reacted to the latest stimulus on the front page, your hopes and dreams for your genitals, etc" is incredibly matronising, and wilfully ignoring the fact that these kinds of choices are never solely about genitals."

Well, except for the "I'd like to stick my penis in her vagina" comment. But that other threads can be inferred, like a power relationship in "I'd hit it," where the implied agency is purely from the man, does not make things less about the genitals (I would note how rarely you hear, "Man, if she asked me to have sex, I totally would").

"unless, of course, you're an anti-masculist bigot who thinks that guys are controlled by their dicks."

I am with you here, especially since I hear that bullshit from members of both sexes pretty often.
posted by klangklangston at 9:09 AM on December 12, 2008


When I interpret comments directed at Grace Jones to be highly similar to things I've read and heard about everyone from Michelle Obama to Fantasia Barrino to Oprah Winfrey to Tyra Banks to my own cousins and sisters, I feel justified in saying that I'm seeing yet another example of black women being described as simultaneously attractive and intimidating.

I think that is called observation bias. I'm not trying to call you out, I'm just saying comments like mine were based on in being about Grace Jones, not black women. you might have seen comments like that about other black women. You might have seen white women described similarly. You might have seen white men, or native american hermaphrodites talked about similarly. That does not mean that any comments about Grace Jones in that thread were about anyone but Grace Jones.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:35 AM on December 12, 2008


Is anyone exploding with rage over the obituary/someone is attractive mashup thread yet? Plenty of potential for pointless frothing there.
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on December 12, 2008


Sometimes I am controlled by my dick, and if I don't obey its commands it causes me terrible, cramping pain. A couple of times per day it forces me into a room where I have a fair amount of privacy and enjoins me to hold it while it pees.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:37 AM on December 12, 2008


Pees white wee-wee, more like.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on December 12, 2008


Adds ND¢ to list of Suspected MeFites Who Have Given Serious Thought To Shaving Their Shoulders At Least Once In Their Lives

Alvy, if there is a risk that one might soon be on the 'skins' side of a pickup athletic event, especially basketball, one must shave his caveman hair for the public good. I guess what I am saying is that you should add me to the list.
posted by Kwine at 9:49 AM on December 12, 2008


The last time I looked, the Bettie Page obit thread was going great. It's hard to figure out specifically why it has a difference in tone, maybe it's because people can draw a clear distinction between the Bettie that was the hawt pinup of the 50s and the woman who recently died and know that talking about one isn't talking about the other.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:12 AM on December 12, 2008


I think this keeps going over the line because when someone posts something offensive nothing much happens. Maybe the comment gets deleted and maybe there's a huge MetaTalk thread (hey! Attention!). Start handing out timeouts or thread specific bans (can you do that? That would be cool) and we might get somewhere.
posted by ODiV at 10:16 AM on December 12, 2008


Kittens, the monocle was the fedora of its time, mark my words.
posted by dame at 10:21 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yet, have you ever see the bio Teddy Roosevelt: Would Not Hit?

You know, people mock that movie, but I thought Dan Hedaya gave the performance of a lifetime as Teddy. Yeah, yeah, the moose was obviously fake. Get over it, haters.
posted by languagehat at 10:31 AM on December 12, 2008


Dan Hedaya

The Aliens thread is three doors over.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2008


I'm thinking of starting a MeTa thread about the fedora-ists on Metafilter.

You know who else didn't wear a hat?
posted by Caduceus at 11:11 AM on December 12, 2008


They knew what they were getting into when they bought the hat.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2008


The last thing I need is a reminder that you can't win. You can be a shlub and never bring your sexuality to the table and shut your eyes standing up there (my approach) and people will be annoyed or even actively offended because you're physically dull or outright unattractive but still dare to perform. You can be a multifaceted goddess like Jones -- have this complex, artistic approach where you are able to construct witty and original comments on the presentation of sexuality -- and some dullard will turn that conversation into a referendum about whether he wants to fuck you or not and how that's justified because you've already commodified yourself.

this really is one of the most important things to remember at times like these, I think. It seems to me like a lot of people have an attitude where they draw a line at some point and say "it's okay to talk about fucking this woman, because she [x]." I feel like this attitude begins and ends in basic ignorance of sexual politics. And I don't mean college level courses, either. I just mean that, when you think about it, there comes a point where women - every day of their lives - are objectified for not doing enough to make themselves attractive AND for specifically trying to make themselves attractive. Either it's "well what do you expect, dressing like that? you clearly want the attention!" or it's the constant barrage of insults and judgments hurled at every girl who has a bad hair day, or a sloppy outfit, or more pounds on them than some asshole thinks is strictly necessary. Obviously not every man is this way, that's not the point. The point is that men, and women (society in general, in other words) are constantly proving that you can't win either way. In an atmosphere like this, it makes perfect sense for someone like Grace Jones to take charge of her sexuality, or Pamela Anderson, or Jenna Jameson or Etta James or Nina Simone or anybody. It's a way of saying "you can't tell me what I'm allowed to look like, or how I have to feel about my sexuality." Similarly, dressing however you want regardless of its appeal to the opposite sex can be a way of saying "you can't make me care more about your opinion of me than my own."

So when people act like going a certain distance toward one or the other extreme suddenly opens these women up to some extra form of criticism or public vulgarity, they're missing the point. These women are taking back their indentities for themselves. Someone else's rights to interfere with that don't exist. Sure, anyone can say whatever they can legally get away with, but if we're talking about what's fair, what's considerate, then we're talking about begruding someone their own sexual identity. There's really no justification for it.

And understand, this happens to men, too. The idea, the dream really, is that everyone can be free to own their sexuality in whatever they see fit without condemnation from the peanut gallery.
posted by shmegegge at 1:55 PM on December 12, 2008 [8 favorites]


A world where none of those FPPs could even be conceived of...
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on December 12, 2008


Yesterday, at work, I was tickled by a possible transvestite. That can change all kinds of perspectives.
posted by jonmc at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2008


what's a "possible transvestite"? a regular guy who might, if he wanted to, put on womens' clothing?
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:18 PM on December 12, 2008


Means I'm not sure, she looked like a woman, but had definite man-hands and a voice like Barry White on a Cohiba jag.
posted by jonmc at 8:29 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]



this really is one of the most important things to remember at times like these, I think. It seems to me like a lot of people have an attitude where they draw a line at some point and say "it's okay to talk about fucking this woman, because she [x]." I feel like this attitude begins and ends in basic ignorance of sexual politics. And I don't mean college level courses, either. I just mean that, when you think about it, there comes a point where women - every day of their lives - are objectified for not doing enough to make themselves attractive AND for specifically trying to make themselves attractive. Either it's "well what do you expect, dressing like that? you clearly want the attention!" or it's the constant barrage of insults and judgments hurled at every girl who has a bad hair day, or a sloppy outfit, or more pounds on them than some asshole thinks is strictly necessary. Obviously not every man is this way, that's not the point. The point is that men, and women (society in general, in other words) are constantly proving that you can't win either way.


I would respectfully ask that you get over yourself. Being the object of judgment and criticism over things they can't control isn't the sad burden of women- everyone objectifies and judges everyone else all the time. Maybe I'm missing something in your argument, but it seems like you believe that men live in some other world where they aren't being judged all the time for things they can't control.

Perpetuating this myth has, ironically, the opposite of the intended effect. By decrying this as some kind of unfairness, you actually are saying that others opinions DO matter, and that the world should change to fit your expectations. You are saying that you are so vain that "some asshole" thinking you don't look good today actually means something to you? When you say "you can't win either way", you are admitting that the judgments of others are relevant, in spite of saying that they aren't. Either you care, or you don't.

In an atmosphere like this, it makes perfect sense for someone like Grace Jones to take charge of her sexuality, or Pamela Anderson, or Jenna Jameson or Etta James or Nina Simone or anybody.

An atmosphere like "this"? Life? Nature? Reality?

It's a way of saying "you can't tell me what I'm allowed to look like, or how I have to feel about my sexuality." Similarly, dressing however you want regardless of its appeal to the opposite sex can be a way of saying "you can't make me care more about your opinion of me than my own."

They may not care what the evil filthy men think, but they *would* really appreciate it if people would buy their porno DVDs (or music or concert tickets)...

.

Which comes back to the original point of the question. When is it OK for someone's attractiveness to be talked about? When they make it relevant. If I am a porn actress, and I decide to make porn to suit *my* tastes, I can't complain if it doesn't suit the tastes of the porn-buying public. My belly is not relevant to my work, so I don't display it. If I choose to do my job with my belly hanging out, I've made it relevant and have opened myself up to criticism. If my clients no longer want to engage my services, or my record label (who I signed a contract with) doesn't want to promote my work, that's of my own doing. I made the decision to place an obstacle in the way of my success. If I care what others think about me or my looks, then I can't complain when they don't judge me favorably. And if I don't care what others think, then I don't care what they think.
posted by gjc at 11:08 AM on December 13, 2008


Maybe I'm missing something in your argument

gjc, it's what you're imagining that's the problem.

there comes a point where women - every day of their lives - are objectified for not doing enough to make themselves attractive AND for specifically trying to make themselves attractive


He hasn't said "women and not men," though of course reasonable people know that our culture is scarred and continually reinscribed with a highly gendered practice of sexualization and objectification of the disempowered, in the binary biological framework, women. This is changing; it is not done.

This conversation is about that topic - sexual objectification. When you start with the "me too" argument, tossing in all the other ways people judge one another and how giving into these judgments is something like a lack of character (When you say "you can't win either way", you are admitting that the judgments of others are relevant, in spite of saying that they aren't. Either you care, or you don't... If I care what others think about me or my looks, then I can't complain when they don't judge me favorably.) you really seem to betray an ignorance to the realities and pressures of unequal power structures.

It's as if you're choosing to preference your own (assumedly privileged with regard to gender) experience, over the problem as attested to by actual women bearing witness. If we say there is a problem with our appearances compromising our livelihoods, your best respectful response would be to assent to our expertise on the matter, and not use your own immunity to the problem as proof that it can be overcome by anybody with willpower.

This: I made the decision to place an obstacle in the way of my success. is simply not always the case. The obstacles are not put there by the individual in violation of the norm. The fat female bartender, for example, who gets her hours cut way back when the sexier one comes on staff is not solely responsible for her own sorry lot.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:41 PM on December 13, 2008


He hasn't said "women and not men," though of course reasonable people know that our culture is scarred and continually reinscribed with a highly gendered practice of sexualization and objectification of the disempowered, in the binary biological framework, women. This is changing; it is not done.

There are plenty of reasonable people who would disagree. Instead of relying on these "reasonable people" to shame me into agreeing, can you actually explain why you contend this is true? Examples of who is "disempowered"[sic], and where society gives men power it doesn't give women? Examples of how society is continually "reinscribed"[sic] with this?

This conversation is about that topic - sexual objectification. When you start with the "me too" argument, tossing in all the other ways people judge one another and how giving into these judgments is something like a lack of character you really seem to betray an ignorance to the realities and pressures of unequal power structures.

See, you did it again. You are claiming that unequal gender/sex based power structures are a reality without providing any evidence of it.

It's as if you're choosing to preference your own (assumedly privileged with regard to gender) experience, over the problem as attested to by actual women bearing witness.

Again, you are making the false assumption that because I am male, I hold some kind of privilege. It takes more than bearing witness to make something true.

If we say there is a problem with our appearances compromising our livelihoods, your best respectful response would be to assent to our expertise on the matter, and not use your own immunity to the problem as proof that it can be overcome by anybody with willpower.

Ahh. Because you are a woman, what you say goes? Good argument.

The fat female bartender, for example, who gets her hours cut way back when the sexier one comes on staff is not solely responsible for her own sorry lot.

I'm confused, are you saying being fat makes someone less sexy?

But to your point, your scenario is missing some necessary elements. Why was the bar looking to hire a new bartender when they already had an experienced bartender? It's easy to take your scenario as it stands and say "look, unfair objectification!" But in reality, such a scenario doesn't happen in a vacuum- the sexier bartender didn't just appear out of nowhere to fulfill your fantasy of "disempowerment".
posted by gjc at 3:51 PM on December 13, 2008


(In none of those photos is Teddy Roosevelt wearing a monocle. He's wearing pince-nez in the first and straight-up spectacles in the others.)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:10 PM on December 13, 2008


you are making the false assumption that because I am male, I hold some kind of privilege.

It's a supported statement of fact, not an assumption. You personally may not feel that you have privilege, but being a man in the US or even in most of the world confers quite a bit of prvilege on you. This does not mean that you, yourself are privileged, just that being male, just like being white in the US, confers advantages that you may not even be aware of. For example, all other things being equal, in the US, being male means you will get paid more. In the world, being male means you will be better educated or in some countries you are more likely to be literate. You are more likely as a man to be the victim of a violent crime (or to commit suicide) but you are significantly less likely to be the victim of a crime of sexual violence. And, to more "invisible backpack" sorts of privilege, you are more likely to see people of your gender in positions of power, or to have people of your gender be in positions of power over you in specific work and life situations (cops, bosses, landlords).

But when people really speak about male privilege not in some "I went to a liberal arts college way" way, what they tend to be referring to is the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report. They do this every few years, the last one came out in 2007. Here's Wikipedia's summary of it from 2005.
In 2005, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum published a study entitled Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Gender Gap. Using five critical areas, this study quantified the achievements that women in fifty-eight different countries have attained compared to their male counterparts. The five criteria defined by the study were economic participation representing the principle 'equal remuneration for equal work'; economic opportunity through access to the general labour market rather than low-paid, unskilled jobs; political empowerment reflecting the extent to which women are represented in decision-making structures; educational attainment including access to education at all levels; and over-all health and well-being including access to reproductive healthcare. The report also states, “The survey also provides rare information on issues such as childcare availability and cost, the impact of maternity laws on the hiring of women, the prevalence of private sector employment of women and wage inequality.
I'm not sure where you're from, but here's the summary of the North American section of the 2007 report. To understand this you'll have to know that a ranking of 1 equals gender equality and 0 equals gender inequality and most rankings are in the middle somewhere. The US does not rank in the top ten countries for gender equality.
The United States’ performance was mixed over the last year and resulted in a small overall drop in its rank, from 23 in 2006 to 31 in 2007 (29 among the original 115 countries). The percentage of female legislators, senior officials and managers fell from 46% to 42% and the scores received on wage equality for similar work fell from 0.68 to 0.64. These two decreases were only partially offset by the increase in the ratio of women and men’s labour force participation rates (this grew from 0.82 to 0.86), resulting in an overall drop in the United States’ score on the economic participation and opportunity subindex, which in turn pulled down the United States’ overall score and rank on the Index. While the United States’ performance on political empowerment is suboptimal (it ranks 69 out of the 128 countries in the Index), there has been an increase in the percentage of women in parliamentary positions in the latest available data. Canada continues to show a similar performance as that of last year, ranking well on economic participation and opportunity (13) and educational attainment (26), and performing above average on political empowerment (36) and health and survival (51).
This doesn't mean that if you and I were trying to get a job and you got it and I didn't that you got it because of some sort of "male privilege advantage" but just like a coin toss over and over and over, where the odds should be 50/50 if there's really no such thing as gender advantage, the stats keep showing that there are specific economic and political and health advantages to being male. You may not feel them personally or may have other mitigating circumstances where you yourself are not a person of privilege, but the data indicates that the coin toss situation we should be seeing isn't what we are seeing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:15 PM on December 13, 2008 [17 favorites]


GJC—Y'know, maybe this is unfair, but I kind of feel like an awareness of relative power between genders is something that has such ample and widespread evidence, from differences in pay levels to the very tradition of gender roles in Western society (homemaker versus businessman etc.), that whenever someone demands that it be proven, they're either so amazingly ignorant that it's tedious to bring them up to speed, or they're arguing in bad faith. Either way, it's a little like dealing with a creationist who demands stochastic proofs of the mechanism of evolution—no matter how correct or convincing, the proofs will fail to win over an ideologue.
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 PM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


But, back to the question at hand... discussion of what aspects of an individual you personally find attractive, whether they've asked for it or not, is not a good discussion to have on MetaFilter. Sometimes it crosses a line where it needs to be deleted, sometimes it doesn't, but on the whole... just don't do it. Easy peasy. Save it for the bar.
posted by team lowkey at 12:24 AM on December 14, 2008


GJC—Y'know, maybe this is unfair, but I kind of feel like an awareness of relative power between genders is something that has such ample and widespread evidence, from differences in pay levels to the very tradition of gender roles in Western society (homemaker versus businessman etc.), that whenever someone demands that it be proven, they're either so amazingly ignorant that it's tedious to bring them up to speed, or they're arguing in bad faith. Either way, it's a little like dealing with a creationist who demands stochastic proofs of the mechanism of evolution—no matter how correct or convincing, the proofs will fail to win over an ideologue.

Actually, it's quite the opposite. You are the creationists in this scenario. I don't doubt the facts that women as a cohort make less money, that there are fewer women in positions of power. Those are facts.

My disagreement is with the conclusion drawn from those facts, that society is somehow structured to be against women or to provide them with less opportunity. It's magical thinking (or creationism) to believe the cause of these facts is some unknowable, unseen, unprovable force keeping women down and providing privilege to men. Evidenced by arguments like "if you don't already Believe, I can't help you" or "you can't understand because you are a man."

All statistics do is reflect reality. They do not explain reality.
posted by gjc at 7:22 AM on December 14, 2008


I think you owe us some clarification, gjc.

1) You've rejected some evidence that jessamyn tried to present, as not even counting as evidence. What would count as evidence of unequal power structures between genders in (our) society, on your view?

2) That women as a cohort make less money and that there are fewer women in positions of power are facts that you do not dispute. You reject concluding from those facts that there are unequal power structures between genders in (our) society. But a lot of people take that conclusion to be a good explanation or the best explanation for the facts. What is your alternative explanation? That is, what causes women to make less money and hold fewer positions of power, if unequal power structures in (our) society is not the cause?
posted by Kwine at 11:44 AM on December 14, 2008


My disagreement is with the conclusion drawn from those facts, that society is somehow structured to be against women or to provide them with less opportunity. It's magical thinking (or creationism) to believe the cause of these facts is some unknowable, unseen, unprovable force keeping women down and providing privilege to men.

Well, something seems to be structured that way. If it's not society, what is it? Some unknowable, unseen, unprovable force?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2008


I don't doubt the facts that women as a cohort make less money, that there are fewer women in positions of power. Those are facts.

My disagreement is with the conclusion drawn from those facts, that society is somehow structured to be against women or to provide them with less opportunity.


Let me guess: the correct conclusion is that women are inherently inferior?
posted by languagehat at 12:28 PM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


My disagreement is with the conclusion drawn from those facts, that society is somehow structured to be against women or to provide them with less opportunity. It's magical thinking (or creationism) to believe the cause of these facts is some unknowable, unseen, unprovable force keeping women down and providing privilege to men.

Really? You're seriously denying the existence of sexism? Because that's what that "unknowable, unseen, unprovable force" that keeps women down is - except that it's entirely knowable, seeable, and provable. In the U.S., women are no longer denied the right to vote, run for office, own property, etc., but you do know that that's how things started, right? That society was structured against women (actually, it was structured to privilege white, property-owning men - keeping women down was just a cool side-effect!).

But you think that since women can vote and go to medical school and all that that it's somehow all better now? That sexism just...stopped?
posted by rtha at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2008


"My disagreement is with the conclusion drawn from those facts, that society is somehow structured to be against women or to provide them with less opportunity. It's magical thinking (or creationism) to believe the cause of these facts is some unknowable, unseen, unprovable force keeping women down and providing privilege to men. Evidenced by arguments like "if you don't already Believe, I can't help you" or "you can't understand because you are a man.""

To take the last one first, I'm a man and I feel like I largely get it. And no, now you're the creationist, arguing that evolution is some unseen, unprovable force. Discrimination against women is not unknowable, unseen or unprovable, and to argue that it is is to ignore the ample evidence of historical perceptions of women AND the facts of current power disparity.

I'm arguing that this pattern exists, and that you're now moving the goalposts, in that you earlier wanted evidence of such a pattern and now are rejecting it because it doesn't fit your ideology.

What other pattern better fits the facts (and I'll introduce as fact the historical perception of women as inferior at "important" jobs, etc.)?
posted by klangklangston at 1:15 PM on December 14, 2008


...AAAAHhhhh hahhh ahhh ha, ha, ha.

whew

okay, I've been laughing for 24 hours straight about "my fantasy of disempowerment" but I think I'm finally laughed out.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:37 PM on December 14, 2008


Weird. That WEF site linked above lists the year women received the right to vote in the US as 1965 (pdf). Am I missing something?
posted by electroboy at 3:26 PM on December 14, 2008


I think they are referring to the Voting Rights Act that had prevented African Americans from voting because the government claimed they didn't pay taxes and forced a literacy test to prove eligibility. When I saw the 1960 date for Canada I paused too until I remembered Quebec didn't give women the vote until 1940 and the First Nations were finally able to vote in 1965 without giving up their status.
posted by saucysault at 4:50 PM on December 14, 2008


"Prisons are made with bricks of law/Brothels with bricks of religion"
posted by gimonca at 5:53 AM on December 15, 2008


chicks are hot
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:46 AM on December 15, 2008


I think it is fine to say, gee, she's really attractive, and therefore those guys at the record label are just making an excuse for crappy behavior. To turn it into Amanda Palmer, Hot or Not? is plain stupid and doesn't really do much good.

But people can basically say what they want as long as they aren't breaking the guidelines.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:55 PM on December 15, 2008


That sounds good in theory, but that thread was doomed to become a hot or not type thing. The unspoken premise is "Record company says she's too fat, but she's totally not, amirite?"
posted by electroboy at 1:43 PM on December 15, 2008


Ahh. Because you are a woman, what you say goes? Good argument.

Actually, that is not the logic of the argument. The point is that if I have experiential evidence of something, and you do not -- because you cannot experience that thing -- then you cannot prove it does not exist.

It is the equivalent of saying to someone who is sighted that the colour red does not exist because you are blind and cannot see it.

In other words, the argument is not "I am a woman and because of that my opinion is infallible". The argument is "I am X, and because of X, I have Z experience."

You might, and it seems you do, dispute this evidence. But don't mistake the basis, because you undermine your own point, which, frankly, needs all the help it can get.
posted by girlpublisher at 7:41 PM on December 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


that's called having my back and I fucking appreciate it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:58 AM on December 18, 2008


« Older London meet-up pretty please?   |   Does favoriting a post count as a binding contract... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments