Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hotness and Feminism [Guest Post from Hanno]

I have been thinking about Asp's recent post about Hotness and Feminism,
especially in relation to some of the comments posted.

Hotness is power, no doubt about it... but isn't it a strange kind of
power? First, it is not gender specific, nor is it universal. For
hotness to be powerful, you need first of all to be hot, and both men
and women can be hot.

And isn't it more or less even, in the following sense: the person
desired also wants to desire. So the person who is hot also seeks out
someone they think is hot. When they themselves desire, they become
under the power of someone else. Their power is neutralized. And while
merely being the object of desire may be fun and empowering, mutual
desire is far more fun... and perhaps less empowering, as you become
under the power of another. The model does not marry the loser, but the
rock/sports star, the one she is more or less equal to in desirability,
the one she desires, the one who may have power over her.

On top of that, there is power in being the object of desire, and power
in being the one who does the desiring. The artist has the power to make
art, but they make art for others to enjoy. The artist and the art
critic are both powerful, and in a symbiotic relationship. The absence
of the power of one immediately leads to the absence of the power of the
other. Let us suppose that wearing some article of clothing will make
you the object of desire. Wearing it gives you the power of being
desired. But the person doing the desiring shapes what is desirable to
them, and hence shapes what objects of clothing are desirable, and hence
also has power. Can't have one without the other, but this is more or
less mutual.

The same thing happens with particular sex acts. Giving pleasure is
quite powerful, as you control the situation, but being the object of
pleasure-giving is also powerful (but in a different way), since someone
is doing something for you. Again, you can't have one without the other.
Oddly, the mere position of power can itself be pleasurable, but on both
sides of this situation. I do not think this is in any way gender specific.

[I feel kind of icky, kind of Continental.]

All this has nothing to do with the kind of power Asp has in mind in her
post, i.e. Feminism as political power and dealing with political issues.