So what are the desires of powerful women? What is it that ‘turns them on’ beyond power? Where does their healthy urge merge with deviance, or illegal activity?
I suspect the answer is that what turns them on is what turns anyone in power on: the tools of power–rape, violence directed at the poor, child molestation, class and gender oppression, the committing of crimes withouit accountability, and social control. Profiles exist of such people, but these profiles are directed against, embodied, and engendered male.
The difference is that no one has yet questioned what these women are, or what is really beneath the surface of their desires, or how much they fit the sexual profiles of power they themselves have established.
But here below, is a clue, from a recollection of Andrea Dworkin, militant one-winged anti-male feminist, activist against rape, oppression, enslavement, and pornography. In the published recollection, she describes a “love” for her mother, Sylvia ( she does not ‘name’ her father in that same piece) that was in her own words, her “first great romance.
Andrea Dworkin, childhood sexual experience with her mother, and other children.
I have idyllic memories of childhood in Camden: my brother, my father, and me having tickling fights, wrestling, on the living room floor; me in my cowgirl suit practicing my fast draw so I could be an American hero; a tiny sandbox on our front lawn where all the children played, boys and girls together, our Eden until a certain year when the girls had to wear tops–I may have been five but I remember screaming and crying in an inarticulate outrage. We girls played with dolls on the stoops, washed their hair, set it, combed it out, dressed the dolls, tried to make stories of glamour in which they stood for us. I remember being humiliated by some girl I didn’t like for not washing my doll’s hair right–I think the doll was probably drowning. Later, my grandfather married her mother across the street, and I had to be nice to her.
I was happier when we moved from dolls to canasta, gin rummy, poker, and strip poker. The children on the street developed a collective secret life, a half dozen games of sex and dominance that we played, half in front of our mothers’ eyes, half in a conspiracy of hiding. And we played Red Rover and Giant Steps, appropriating the whole block from traffic. And there was always ball, in formal games, or alone to pass the time, against brick walls, against the cement stoops. I liked the sex-and-dominance games, which could be overtly sadomasochistic, because I liked the risk and the intensity; and I liked ordinary games like hide-and-seek. I loved the cement, the alleys, the wires and telephone poles, the parked cars that provided sanctuary from the adults, a kind of metallic barrier against their eyes and ears; and I loved the communal life of us, the children, half Lord of the Flies, half a prelude to Marjorie Morningstar. To this day, my idea of a good time is to sit on a city stoop amid a profusion of people and noise as dark is coming on.”
My question is: what exactly is she re-living on those steps, and why is she seeking her memories of children, and children’s games to re-live it?
We have a father encouraging heroism in the young Andrea; a father establishing a sexual angst based but clear boundary by stopping the play at tickling, but we have a mother who is omnipresent, omniscient, and possibly controlling a child’s deepest fears about death and harm in every situation, and yet that mother is adored.
Dominance in sexual situations; dominance in sexual situations with children; secrecy in dominance games with children. Are glimpses into Andrea Dworkin’s—one feminist among many, but what a feminist she was– inner motivations.
The key, in my opinion, to understanding the motivations, libidos, and power quests of women isn’t going to be found in asking patriarchy the same old questions about men, but from understanding the scant empirical evidence of powerful women’s self-edited, or self- suppressed, self-censored, coded, and hidden dialogues.
In Andrea’s case—and Andrea who became grossly overweight in her later years, like many child victims of maternal sexual abuse—she played out her early sexual power quests in front of her mother, as she said, and her early sexual experimentation, and its direction occurred “half in front of our mothers’ eyes, half in a conspiracy of hiding.”
That conspiracy of hiding is the biggest clue, along with the fact that it was Andrea, and other girls who had other mothers, that played such things out—in front of mothers.
I personally believe that women’s rape fears are the internalized, non-verbally cued, female embodied, and maternally engendered fear that fathers would not approve of the behaviors that mothers instill, encourage, embody, and condone, as long as those behaviors take place in front of women.
And those women, just like cops, like to mediate wider social interactions, and to see what young vaginas are up to, voyeuristically, from the outside looking in.
Andrea never had children, and I suspect it is because she knew herself well, and protected them pro-actively from herself, and her mothers female embodied, voyeuristic Lacanian gaze. Later Andrea extrapolated that gaze into her views of pornography, and projected that gaze onto men in general, rather than being a true hero, and discussing her interactions of childhood sexual dominance play that could likely have been encouraged, embodied, or manipulated by her mother, and the mothers of other girls whom she played with.
That is my pure specualtion of exactly what it is that might lay beneath the surface of feminist projections about male sexuality, after all, the evidence i so scant- but I believe that underneath women’s dialogues lurks Andrea, on the steps, still looking for kids to play with and dominate—and another mother to look at her approval seeking, dominance-based sexual displays.
- Naomi Wolf, porn and the misuse of dopamine (mindhacks.com)
- A Mother’s Sexuality: Taking Back MILF (blogher.com)
- What is porn (wiki.answers.com)
- Sex and Self-destruction (room4truth.com)
- America: Deforming the Child Porn Discussion (pornalysis.wordpress.com)
- PORNALYSIS: Mission Statement and Purpose (pornalysis.wordpress.com)