Saturday, February 21, 2009

conversations with a soon to be 6 year old

I'm here on the computer and my kid is watching cartoons next to me on tv. This commercial comes on, about "stomping out bullying."

My daughter tells me that she thinks the girl on the video is "sexy."

"What makes her sexy?"

"The way she looks and stands."

"To me she seems mad about bullying."

"Yeah. But mom, she is also sexy."

"Oh. Well, what does sexy mean to you, honey?"

Here she takes a moment to ponder. She doesn't really have a solid idea of what sex is, just a vague idea I think from the stories of other kids in her kindergarten, and what she catches from the media(which is frightening in itself). She eventually replies, "Jazzy. Pretty." Unsatisfied with her own answers, she wrinkles her freckled nose. "What is sexy, mom?"

Oh shit. My opportunity to shape and mold the future of feminism and my daughter's future as well. I don't like these moments. The ramifications of any given answer could be catastrophic. I think about the hilarious piece written by Jezebel about tlc's pageant kids reality show. This 10 year old girl fights with her mom because she wants to put "flirty" moves in her swimsuit routine. You can imagine just how inappropriate those moves could be (remember that scene in Little Miss Sunshine?) The girl also states that she wants to be a cheerleader, "because they get to show their belly."

I think about sexuality and sensuality and sexiness. Sensuality to me is the natural expression of pleasure from being in a human body. Sex, and an enjoyment of sex is a beautiful thing. I don't have a problem with pornography if it celebrates a woman's and a man's sexuality. But pornography that reinforces and replays domination over a woman while reinforcing women's status as subordinate and exploitable isn't cool with me.

Sometimes, from my own experiences, I feel that sexiness can also be seen as a tool of manipulation, an art of war, and a tool of survival used by a universally oppressed group for at least hundreds, if not thousands of years. I also know that what I call an, "ability to create desire," is something that is used against women in the worst ways, and in every moment of history. An excuse for generations of men to indulge their impulses, refuse self control and rationalize yet another form of violent domination. Like the planet Herself, Women's bodies have become a natural resource, for men to plunder or protect, yet having no voice or power of Her own.

Besides that, it's disgusting what society finds "sexy" these days. Frail, breakable women who love to be objectified. They come with shaved, disembodied parts that make them look pre-pubescent. Like a child, easy to control. Domination is sexy so that makes children legitimate sex objects. Alluring like a pristine, artesian spring, that is ready and willing to have you plant your flag, claim ownership, and build a factory. And when that one is used up, there are always more. Manifest Destiny = pursuit of happiness. A God given right.

"Sexy isn't pretty."

"It's not?"

"No. It's more like acting like you want to have sex. Or using your prettiness to get things."

"ewww. Gross!"

"Yeah. Gross" I pull out her basketball uniform and gym cloths out of the laundry basket. "Now get ready for Krav Maga class."


dollyspeaks said...

Robin--You have to be the BEST mom ever. Your daughter is so lucky to have you. Sexy IS NOT pretty. In our culture, it is so often fake, constructed, and misconstrued that "JoJo" is all that can be defined as "sexy": white, thin, blonde, bland, immaculate, wealthy, disposable after use.

This, on the other hand: "I think about sexuality and sensuality and sexiness. Sensuality to me is the natural expression of pleasure from being in a human body. Sex, and an enjoyment of sex is a beautiful thing." Fucking spot on. That's what I want from sex. It's got to be deep and loving and feel good. It's got to be about both me and my partner, being human, being engaged, and really experiencing things on both a bodily and emotional level.

I also really appreciate your take on porn in that paragraph. I'm the same way--no problem with it unless it's perpetuating the idea of women as commodity.

Awesome post.

i_muse said...

I'm so glad to know of yet another lil girl who is practicing martial arts !!!!!! YAYE!!!!!
love your description of "sexy" to her and love her age appropriate reaction. You're doing an awesome job. What a lucky girl.

She must feel so great running the court in B-ball too. Amazing time for her.

Cheerleading was the healthiest sport for me, even though I was the feminist of the squad, the punk and the intellectual of the group (though not the one with the best grades) I fit in because I was good at it, while still being special/indie. It taught me discipline and the power of female group energy, it was extremely athletic and addictive. It kept me away from drugs. Cheer and dance were my drug. It also taught me about gratitude and the effects of a positive attitude and gave me skills in that.

Sloth Womyn said...

Thanks for the motherhood validation. You don't know how much it means to me!

I totally get you, Imuse with the cheerleading thing. Can totally be a great thing for a kid. It was just waaaay creepy how this girl said it. She and her mom were scaaary!

Mikyla is great at basketball. Better than a lot of the boys. She is wonderfully athletic.