attraction

Don’t Blame Science if Your Women Friends Don’t Want You

by Christopher Lewarne

An Article published in Scientific American this week demystified a commonly held colloquialism – Rachel and Ross knew it, Monica and Chandler certainly knew it (ok, Phoebe and Joey didn’t know it, but they were kinda clueless): men and women can’t be “just F•R•I•E•N•D•S“.

The article, according prolific feminist blogger Elizabeth Plank, was “hilariously accurate.” She quotes the study:

“Men were more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them—a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt—basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends. Women, too, were blind to the mindset of their opposite-sex friends; because females generally were not attracted to their male friends, they assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. As a result, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.”

While the merits of the study have been questioned because of its small sample size, what’s interesting is what motivated the study in the first place – the need to ask the question at all. I think most of us intuitively feel that we can maintain platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex, even – gasp! – the attractive ones. But the need to ask if men and women can be “Just Friends” comes from a particular heteronormative discourse about male vs. female sexuality. It’s a discourse that’s conjured (or maybe revealed) by the reactions elicited by the study. What followed the Scientic American article initially were the suspected remarks by the usual suspects: men making evolutionary and biological arguments to justify their skewed sexual egoism. Read more

Posted on by Christopher Lewarne in Feminism 1 Comment

Significant Othering: Responses and Links

Guest contributor Lisa Millbank provides a part 2 to her post on Signifiant Othering . “Lisa was born in November at ground zero beneath the Millbank Tower (UK) and so took its name. If cissexism and misogyny could dream, she would like to be their nightmare, and she believes their biggest nightmare is cis and trans women working hand in hand to destroy both systems of domination.” This piece was originally posted at her blog, A Radical TransFeminist, in its entirety.

This is only an excerpt. Visit her site for the full collection of responses.

I’ve been overwhelmed and delighted by the reaction to Significant Othering: Attraction Down The Privilege Gradient.

If your comment is included here, it’s because I’ve asked you if you’d consent to me including it, and I’ve anonymised it as well except where explicitly asked to leave names in. Some take the form of question-and-answer, other comments I’ve reproduced in their entirety, others are summarised, one or two are satirised and finally there’s a section of further reading at the end of this piece.

First, though, I’d like to lead with my favourite – a set of demands by pyromaniacharlot made in response to the demands in the original piece:

My Demands

  • I demand that you re-examine who and how you love.
  • I demand this, because other than being who we are, re-examining who we love is one of the most radical actions any one person can engage in. Loving can change your worldview, and it can define your battles. Love can transform you and free you.
  • I demand that in this realm, first you let go of everything you’ve been told is ‘valid’ and ‘proper’. Then start again at the beginning, by *respecting* the people around you. All of them. We are all people, not objects existing for your pleasure. Respect that people have autonomy, and that they have the right to make their own informed choices. Thou shalt not coerce, manipulate or dehumanize.
  • From there, I demand that you make up your own rules. Love that is brief is no less valid than love that lasts for decades. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, and can happen between people of all genders, races and ages. Love doesn’t have to be exclusive. Love doesn’t have to be gentle.
  • Finally, I demand that you accept your love and carry it proudly. Beauty comes in many forms, and noone has the right to tell you otherwise. Stand by your lovers, support and defend them, even if the world tells you otherwise. Especially if the world tells you otherwise. Because noone has the right to police your heart, and no love is wrong.

My Response: <3 ! Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT 1 Comment

Significant Othering: Attraction Down the Privilege Gradient

Welcome to guest contributor Lisa Millbank. “Lisa was born in November at ground zero beneath the Millbank Tower (UK) and so took its name. If cissexism and misogyny could dream, she would like to be their nightmare, and she believes their biggest nightmare is cis and trans women working hand in hand to destroy both systems of domination.” This piece was originally posted at her blog, A Radical TransFeminist. Stay tuned for Part 2 – Reponses and Comments, to be posted at Gender Focus this weekend.

Summary

All people who identify as unattracted to a marginalised group, such as transsexual people, fat people, disabled people or minority-ethnic* people, have a continuing duty to challenge this part of their sexual identity.

Received Sexuality

I would like to use the term ‘received sexuality’ to refer to our sexualities as received from the culture in which we’re raised. This is the ‘assumed’ sexuality we’re assigned at birth, based exclusively on the gender we’re assigned at birth. It is heterosexual, often racially constrained, monogamous, only marginally includes BDSM sexualities (if at all) and, of course, it is not asexual.

It is not a coincidence that received sexualities are considered the normative sexualities in their culture. Clearly, these sexualities are assigned at birth because they appear to be the most common and hence the most likely.

I would like to argue that this dynamic also flows the other way, and that the assignation of normative sexuality at birth is also a way in which the normative position of these sexualities is reproduced and enforced. The phrase ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ has been in use for some time but I’d like to extend this ‘compulsory sexuality’ to cover a wider (or I could say narrower) number of axes of attraction.

Liberated Sexuality

Our sexuality can be trained; has been trained, from birth, towards normative attractions. A white man in England is taught from birth that the object of his sexuality is a thin, white, non-disabled cissexual woman. Putting aside evolutionary psychological nonsense about hip and breast sizes, it’s clear that the image of the ‘ideal’ woman is culturally created and sustained, and has differed throughout history and across different cultures. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT 6 Comments