Last week, I pointed out that, although purity culture gets it wrong, emotional connection is important in sex—and that this connection can even lead to “soul to soul, body to body transcendence.” By that, I meant that sex is sacred—sexuality itself, within the human body and consciousness.
In many books discussing media, culture, and sex, the same contradiction is highlighted: our media is becoming increasingly “pornified,” even as we judge and punish any woman who has sex for pleasure. These books then point out the tie that binds the contradictions—patriarchy. Patriarchy is all about a woman’s skirt: one hand is up the skirt while the other points a finger at how short it is. The hand up the skirt is about forbidden fruit, the sin of the body and the woman as vessel of sin, sex as dirty, guilty, violent male pleasure—and establishing male ownership of women. The hand pointing at the skirt is about the sin of the body and woman as flawed temptress, man as weak in the face of his own base lust—and establishing male ownership of women. What gets lost, on this side and on that, is the humanity of sex: connection.
Earlier this year, a high-school junior named Jewel Moore petitioned Walt Disney to make a plus-sized princess. In her petition, Jewel states, “I know many younger plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positive plus-size character in the media. I want there to be a character for those little girls to look up to.” She is not alone in her desire to provide a positive image in the media for all body types—her petition has over 30,000 supporters. The petition received so much support, in fact, that a Yahoo! article was written about it, and Jewel made an appearance on the Today show in February of 2014. Although Disney has not announced plans for a plus-sized princess, Jewel brought much-needed attention to the vital intersection of kids, media, and self-esteem, and she did so with both self-possession and grace. I have the pleasure of sharing small-town life with Jewel in Farmville, VA, where she is now a rising senior, an accomplished piano player, and a lifeguard—a young woman of many talents. I recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her petition and her experience with the media:
Trista Hendren, author of The Girl God and Mother Earth, has invited me to join the #mywritingprocess blog tour, a great opportunity for writers to discuss their work and connect with one another, and for readers to take a peek behind the scenes. Here are my answers to four questions about my writing process:
In her book Right-Wing Women, Andrea Dworkin includes a chapter called “The Coming Gynocide.” For anyone relatively unfamiliar with patriarchy, its roots, and its modes of enforcement, this chapter might read like paranoid fantasy or conspiracy theory. In it, the author discusses the ways in which US policies surrounding sterilization, abortion, welfare, and in-vitro fertilization can and will come together to allow and enforce absolute governmental control of the uterus. This control will create a new version of what Dworkin terms the “farm model” of misogynistic control—a breeding ground, with its nexus in a scientific lab. The women who are subject to this control will not be white and middle-class—they will be low-income, African-American and Hispanic. Although I found much of Dworkin’s approach to feminist analysis bleak (she seems to leave little room for faith in humanity as a whole), her words haunted me yesterday, when the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation can deny health coverage to women in the name of the corporation’s religious freedom.