Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cosmocking: August '11! Part One!



White cover! Kim Kardashian! Sort of a... sweatshirt dress? Is that a thing? Yet another "bet you can't do that with your neck" Photoshop pose! It's August, so it's "The HOT Issue!" This means nothing! "50 Sex Moves!" I never really feel like my sex acts consist of "moves," I just have the sex until I am done having the sex! "How To Outsmart A Bitch!" I know I am sheltered but in my social circle "bitch" is actually a pretty nasty slur! "Flatten Your Abs!" My abs already are flat; it's just the big pad of fat over them that's rounded!

Q: Does showing my tan lines at work make me seem unprofessional?
A: Yup. Even though the best of us can fall victim to zebra skin by accident, exposing your sun stripes at work would be flaunting your bad judgement (baking does lead to skin cancer, after all). Perhaps worse, as far as your boss is concerned, it suggests you spend lots of your free time being at one with your beach towel--not exactly impressive.

While I'm sure there are bosses who think this way, I'm also sure that those bosses are assholes. Free time is free time, and if you're not stealing cars or selling company secrets, I don't think you're being paid to give a shit about "professional." Going outdoors in the summer isn't a sign you're a slacker or you have bad judgement; it's a sign you're a fucking human being.

That said, I actually agree it's probably a good idea to cover tan lines at work. But I don't have to buy into the "we want our employees to represent us 24 hours even though we only pay them for 8" mentality to do that.

"I like a woman who doesn't necessarily care if other people like her."
Do you think she gives a damn what you like?

I'm not being hostile; I'm being logical. If you want to fetishize independence in a "ooh, she's feisty" sort of way, be prepared for the objects of your fetish to not be fawningly grateful for your approval.

"I fully believe females are smarter and more evolved."
How we got to be "more evolved," when we only breed with males, is a mystery evomulotuionary scientists have yet to solve. (They're still working on an evolmultionary model that explains how 1950s American gender roles and 2010s American beauty ideals are the correct ones for all times and all places, according to evomolution.)

Coin Slots
This is a feature--which you'll forgive me if I don't scan--showing famous men's buttcracks, as captured by paparazzi when the men happened to bend over in public.

I have never been so grateful to not be famous.

36 percent of men say they're more attracted to a woman if she's using an iPad.
This would have come off a little smoother (if even more random and unlikely) if there weren't an ad for a Cosmo iPad app on the very next page.

How To Tell He's Married... Even If He's Not Wearing a Ring
-He can direct you to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond.
-He's walking a dog. An itty-bitty, fluffy dog.
-He can hold his own in a "Real Housewives of New York City" versus "Real Housewives of New Jersey" debate.
-He pronounces Target "tar-jay."

This is what we call "gender enforcement." Because this isn't a list of things single guys don't do, not really. It's a list of things single guys aren't allowed to do. Cosmo's just one of a whole lot of self-appointed enforcers making sure of that.

...Although not very effectively, because everyone I know says "tar-jay." I didn't even know that was supposed to be a girl/pussywhipped thing.

For really pulse-pounding sex, you know it's good to mix it up and try new things. But as you're, say, pouring hot wax onto your guy's chest, you're probably wondering just how much he's into it.
Er... maybe you should ask him? Preferably before you light the candle.

Now the guessing game is over. We polled thousands of guys to learn exactly which turn them on and which tank.
And if I wanted to have sex with a homunculus created from the average preferences of several thousand guys, this would be really fucking useful!

Of course, it is really fucking useful. Now, when Rowdy tells me he doesn't like having his nipples licked, instead of thinking "I should have psychically intuited that; I suck", I can think "men are supposed to like this; he sucks." Doesn't make our sex life any better, but it sure takes a weight off my shoulders.

Handcuffing him to the bed without saying a word [rated "go for it"]
I've been over this before. I've been over most of the survey items before. Which is understandable; it's tough for Cosmo to come up with 50 ways to have sex while insisting there's only one way to have sex.

Nonetheless, it weirds me out that I--someone who regularly gets punched and bitten and choked during sex--would react to surprise handcuffs with a very nervous "um, you better tell me what you're planning to do here," and some utterly-vanilla guy is supposed to be totally cool and just go along with it.



I know I've said this before and I don't doubt I'll say it again, but: WHY IS COSMO ALLERGIC TO WORDS? Why can nobody ever talk about sex? Why is nobody ever allowed to ask any questions or make any suggestions? Is sex like some kind of goddamn ethereal spirit that goes away if you look directly at it? Is sex like a birthday present, where it's no fun if you ruin the surprise? Is sex like Charades, where if someone talks it's spoiled because it's only fun if you guess?

Sex isn't a game to me. Sex often involves games, but sex itself is Serious Business. It's an activity that has the potential to make my body, emotions, and life much better or much worse. And it's an activity that isn't the same for any two people. The only way to know if I'm doing the "much better" for my partner is to freaking ask.

As for unsexy... "I want to handcuff you to the bed and use your cock for my pleasure. Don't worry, I won't hurt you... I just want you to be bound up and helpless while I suck your cock and ride you and touch your whole body. I want to touch your bound hands and feel your fingers curl when you come. Does that sound good to you?"

He may say "yes" or "no," but any guy who hears that and goes "ugh, never mind, the moment's gone, I'm just going to sleep" wasn't worth fucking in the first place.

63 comments:

  1. Having read you, linked you, and emailed you to people for some time now I feel I must now delurk and declare my (expectation-free) enduring adoration for you.

    I have to note mildly - it does not disprove your point at all - that in order to show MY tanlines off at work I'd have to be seriously out of most dress codes. I mean, for any of them except for maybe the one where I leave my bracelet on all the time I'd have to be in a tank top, which isn't usually encouraged, and all that would show is that I garden a lot and (if my hair were up, maybe) that I own a racerback swimsuit.

    No, I lie, if I wore contacts the ones at the sides of my eyes might be noticed, maybe?

    WHERE do these women get tan lines?

    Also even more randomly, this is what fake tan is good for, and the only thing it is IMO good for. I mean, when I have an especially dorky line, which does happen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Was that e-sarcasm about tar-jay? I've never heard anyone say that before and to me it just sounds like a really bad attempt at putting a French accent on an English word.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Doesn't, like, everyone say "tar-jay" now? I thought it was funny the first, say, 200 times I heard it! (Anonymous: It's pretty much that but it's meant to be a joke.)

    Anyway, as always, you're awesome. Only thing I disagree with is the tanlines thing but then I live in Australia and tanlines are something you don't even think about here!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anon - That's not sarcasm. Everyone I know--male, female, married, single--says "tar-jay." It started out as a joke about how Target is so very classy and tasteful (and that is sarcasm), and by now it's just the way a lot of people say it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ohh. Well we don't have Target in Canada, so I didn't know. And you even keep a hard j sound so it sounds less french?

    ReplyDelete
  6. The sex as a birthday present metaphor actually works pretty well for me - I don't like surprise presents. People frequently get me things I don't want, don't need, or that they just want to use themselves. Sometimes they get it right and it's a good present that I can have a lot of fun with, but I'd much rather people just ask me what I want instead of risking the "oh, thanks for the thought, but..." awkward conversation or the "try to hide my disappointment until I can get rid of the thing" awkward situation. My current partner and I actually keep a wishlist on Google docs. We also talk about sex! Everyone's happy! Surprise, Cosmo!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I occasionally jokingly call it tar-zhey (it is really hard to accurately represent that sound, damn) boutique. And JC Penney is sometimes Jacques C Pen-ay. Just... because it's funny. :P

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nah, it's usually a Tar-zjhay kind of thing, very intentionally faux-French. My friends all do it, too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love how in Cosmo world it isn't even questioned that the only way someone female would get tan lines is by laying out somewhere---of course not by gardening, actual swimming, rock climbing, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  10. How To Tell He's Married... Even If He's Not Wearing a Ring
    -He can direct you to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond.
    -He's walking a dog. An itty-bitty, fluffy dog.
    -He can hold his own in a "Real Housewives of New York City" versus "Real Housewives of New Jersey" debate.
    -He pronounces Target "tar-jay."


    So, uh, a large number of my coworkers are gay, and every one of these describes several of them. Including the single ones.

    I also find it really annoying when people say Tar-jay (hm, maybe -zhay is more representative of the sound). Very few people I know say it, so maybe it's just because the one person who does is someone I don't particularly like...

    ReplyDelete
  11. He can direct you to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond.

    Doesn't this just mean he once got sheets? So he can sleep on them? This seems like part of Cosmo's ongoing theme that anything remotely domestic is women's work, and single men don't even have apartments. Or maybe single men have a lot of Ikea furniture correctly assembled, but no dishes or towels, and women have beautifully paired scented candles, but they just put them on top of the unassembled pieces of their coffee tables.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tan lines could show at work if, say, you were on the beach in a halter-top bikini and then you wore a scoop-neck top, assuming you don't work somewhere you have to wear a button-down or scrubs. Just sayin'. And I guess there's some sort of thing about tan lines on a lady being sexy because they make you think about swimsuits, but Cosmo hides that behind preaching about not laying out. Like, as writelhd just said, you can't be doing something like surfing or gardening or what have you, with sunblock on even, and incidentally tan.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Is tar-zhay an East Coast thing? Because here in Chicago I have never heard anybody call it that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "That said, I actually agree it's probably a good idea to cover tan lines at work. But I don't have to buy into the "we want our employees to represent us 24 hours even though we only pay them for 8" mentality to do that."

    I don't think it matters whether someone's tan lines show at work, unless the tan lines are on a part of the body that shouldn't be exposed at work for health/safety reasons. :/
    The kind of gender policing that you wrote about here is one of my least favorite things ever. IMO, appearance/looks policing isn't okay either.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey, Cosmo; I'm a bitch. Outsmart me. I dare you.

    I also note it's "flatten" your abs, not tone them. Now, I'm perfectly content with my lovely slightly pudgy self, but If I ever choose to get into "shape", you best bet I'm going to have abs you can grate cheese on and arms that can crush bricks and be completely gorgeous regardless.

    "I like a woman who doesn't necessarily care if other people like her."

    This sounds Nice Guy (TM)-ish. Like "I love that you don't need a guy- Can we fuck now?" Just my feel for it.

    Speaking as the most delicate skinned person I've ever known, I can't avoid the tan lines thing because I get them from being out in the sun for as little as an hour. Seriously. I had to help my art teacher out with carrying equipment and art to his car (and it was a really sunny day out) and I had definable tan lines before we even finished. And of course I've had people give me shit over it.

    And the gender regulating- ew.

    So yeah, I wholeheartedly agree with everything. At least I know I'm never buying Cosmo.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Its funny! I always read Cosmo not for the best 50 sex positions or to see butcracks or cleavage! I thought I was the only one who read it because I thought it was incredulous! Its like you watch that really crappy movie just to make fun of (bitching about) everything in it. Its like getting tension/frustration out of your system by this method (really recommend it)!

    And some rare times when I took Cosmo seriously at all.. like what gifts to give your man, it was too darn expensive or really impractical. A yacht! Puhhleaze! Oooh.. "blindfold him and give him the best sensual massage ever!" Uhh.. this might not work only for me.. cause my mister is too ticklish, even when having sex (no joke)! If Cosmo is reading this, it will probably come up with some shit like "men cant be ticklish" .. or "ticklish men are girly" crap! I dont care!I love my hairy, tickish, man!

    ReplyDelete
  17. My gym offers this personal-trainer thing, and I really do work out harder with someone coaching me. But it took *several* tries for me to find someone who was behind my goal--"I want to be in shape for my black belt test"--and would agree not to yammer about weight loss or appearance. (Hey Dave, you rock. Thanks.)

    The first one I tried actually rejected my request for more work on abs (which are very important for falls and rolls in my martial art) 'cause arm strength (which is not important at all) is a quicker road to weight loss. *After* reading and signing a goals sheet which said weight loss was not a goal. Fired the sucker on the spot.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I can see a vanilla guy not being concerned about being handcuffed to the bed because he cannot fathom anything happening that wouldn't delight him.

    ReplyDelete
  19. While still Photoshopped, it is nice to see a woman who is not a size 2-4 on the cover of a magazine (even if it is Kim Kardashian).

    Spot on with the ridiculousness of Cosmo, as always.

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's a magazine. Don't let the articles distract you from all that pretty advertising.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I accidentally picked up the UK version of Cosmo this month (or last month? It has Cameron Diaz on the cover, but I just got it yesterday) and there's actually an article with the headline "When's the last time you asked for what you want in bed?"

    Representative quote: "When you aren't getting the sex you want, what do you do about it? According to the hundreds of women I've interviewed over the years, the answer is *anything* that doesn't involve asking for it. Instead, we go around the houses (whole estates of them), collecting tricks and techniques from experts and friends--and then try anything from non-verbal sexual feedback meant to flatter his unconscious, to manipulative mind games meant to "train" him.

    Why make the process so complicated? Simply telling him what you like and where you like it is a huge turn-on for most men. What they are after is great sex--and what's more, they are desperate to know how to give it to you."

    I was kind of shocked! I don't know if this is a UK thing or if it's just another in a long line of Cosmo-contradictions. But...yeah, unexpected.

    (Don't worry though, there's still plenty of disgusting bullshit in the UK edition, including a lovely article that explains how we should take inspiration from a shark bite victim to work out all the harder because at least *we* can still have bikini-ready bodies, unlike *her*)

    ReplyDelete
  22. crayonbeam: agreed!

    It really seems like most (vanilla) guys think BDSM = "gently tie my wrists to the bed before giving me a blow job".*

    And because my kinks are more extreme than that, and because a lot of guys have thought "I'm up for anything!" was all the discussion we needed, I've had a lot of seriously disappointing experiences with guys who thought they were kinky but really, really weren't.

    It's a pet peeve.


    *...whereas a kinky guy would realize that BDSM includes this and a whole lot more, and be clear with me about his preferences.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Re: "He may say "yes" or "no," but any guy who hears that and goes "ugh, never mind, the moment's gone, I'm just going to sleep" wasn't worth fucking in the first place."

    Are you quoting or are you saying that? Because not all guys have the same fantasies, and like you said, talking is important. Why pretend that just because he doesn't like that fantasy means he's not worth fucking? That's not cool.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous, well that's why she said "he may say 'yes' or 'no,'" isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm not sure I would want to associate with anyone who could hold their own in any Real Housewives-related debate, though maybe if they weren't proud of this?

    MinervaB - Do you and your partner keep a Google Document wishlist of sex acts you might like to participate in in the near future?

    ReplyDelete
  26. @Emma: "Or maybe single men have a lot of Ikea furniture correctly assembled, but no dishes or towels, and women have beautifully paired scented candles, but they just put them on top of the unassembled pieces of their coffee tables."

    I'm so glad I'm genderqueer because now when I'm in cosmoland I can live in a habitable domicile all by myself!

    Or maybe I got it wrong... When I transitioned from male did I forget how to assemble furnature? Does my mixture of male and female traits and qualities mean I can do it all or does it just mean I try to make my bed with an electric drill?

    Soooooo confused...

    ReplyDelete
  27. Re: "Are you quoting or are you saying that? Because not all guys have the same fantasies, and like you said, talking is important. Why pretend that just because he doesn't like that fantasy means he's not worth fucking? That's not cool."

    Maybe it's less of a "those specific kinks don't appeal to me, but what do you think of..." mentality when the hypothetical guy says that, but more like "ugh, your wanting to communicate about sex (vanilla or otherwise) disgusts me." In which case he -wouldn't- be worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Coin Slots
    This is a feature--which you'll forgive me if I don't scan--showing famous men's buttcracks, as captured by paparazzi when the men happened to bend over in public.


    Well, considering the terabytes of space taken up on the internet by paparazzi pictures of female celebrities bending over (front or back view, depending) or getting out of a car in a short skirt, shouldn't this be considered "leveling the field"?

    Then again, was that a field that needed to be leveled? Shots of either gender are a little excessive and stalker-y. Have to think about that.

    How To Tell He's Married... Even If He's Not Wearing a Ring
    -He can direct you to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond.

    Or he's not so blind that he didn't see the 30' x 40' gigantic freaking sign over the door on the outside of the mall as he parked. (Seriously - damn sign is the biggest thing on that side of the mall...)

    -He's walking a dog. An itty-bitty, fluffy dog.
    I live in Albuquerque. Chihuahua's are not particularly fluffy, but you see a lot of gigantic, tattooed cholo's walking these tiny, ugly little dogs.

    Oh, and
    BlackHumor
    Is tar-zhay an East Coast thing? Because here in Chicago I have never heard anybody call it that.
    That's because you all call it TAAget

    ReplyDelete
  29. BlackHumor: I'm in Arizona, and I got it from my originally-Kansan mother, so... not really.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm not being hostile; I'm being logical. If you want to fetishize independence in a "ooh, she's feisty" sort of way, be prepared for the objects of your fetish to not be fawningly grateful for your approval.

    I've noticed that a lot of male writers who think they are above the objectification of women, and look down on the sort of men who enjoy watching the Transformers films because of Megan and Rosie, end up objectifying 'strong independent' women in exactly the same sort of way.

    Look at Adora Belle in 'Going Postal', by Terry Pratchett, as a good example. "She mostly wears heels and dresses which are tight, severe and ostensibly modest." He's writing about the strongest and most independent woman in Discworld, and yet he must dress her and describe her clothes with painful fetishism. And, of course, she inevitably falls in love with the nerd-boy surrogate at the end.

    Men need to learn to ask themselves, 'how would I behave if I were a strong independent woman?', and not 'how would I like strong independent women to behave'.

    ReplyDelete
  31. @Untoward Lady -

    Well obviously, no one can both assemble furniture and then put things on top of it. So we can all learn our true genders by looking at where we're proficient in the home. I think. Although if it were that simple, you'd think Cosmo wouldn't be constantly worrying about people doing it wrong. I think it might be best to be off Cosmo's radar.

    ReplyDelete
  32. @Emma: "Well obviously, no one can both assemble furniture and then put things on top of it."

    I resent your erasure of my gender identity!

    Also, I figured it out. Clearly, because I'm a penis-having not-a-man I'm obviously a male homosexual and therefore a chic imitation of a woman. Thus, my place in this world is as a mechanically incompetent domestic. Right?

    ... Except I like women so I obviously can't be a male homosexual and really I'm more female than I am male and since I like women I must be a lesbian and everyone knows that lesbians are just like teh menz which would mean that I'm obviously a sloven handyman.

    Does this mean I'm not allowed to own furniture?

    ReplyDelete
  33. > And if I wanted to have sex with a homunculus created from the average preferences of several thousand guys, this would be really fucking useful!

    I am totally making sure my brother includes this in our next D&D run. Whenever that is...

    ReplyDelete
  34. Perhaps Cosmo is trying to teach its readers to be Manic Pixie Dream Girls, whose job is to bring the shy and retiring author-surrogate out of his shell? After all, the sara-s doesn't know that he's into very mildly kinky stuff, so obviously he'll have to be shown it without the option.

    ReplyDelete
  35. @perversecowgirl : word. this is why checklists are awesome, because a lot of inexperienced people honestly just don't realize how much variety there is out there.

    Holly, I think there is one reason supposed-telepathy is so valued. Well, two really: One is fear of rejection, and the the other is... also fear of rejection, really, but combined with bad communication.

    As a metaphor, let's take the "ask about my day" conundrum. Suppose you are miffed because your SO didn't ask how your day was, because you suppose that means they don't care. If you tell them, that might prompt them to ask, but then you'd fret that they only did it BECAUSE you asked, and still don't care.

    Now, I don't think that fretting is the correct response - if they asked it means they DO care, since they are responding to your upset with an attempt to fix it; they do not want you to be upset, they want to show caring, and they're asking for guidance in how to do it.

    But in the Cosmo world, where ways to show caring are rigid and the same for every man/woman, it truly does show lack of caring, because you're supposed to do your goddamned homework. This is What Men Like, this is What Women Like, if you don't bother to learn that before getting in a relationship you're an asshole in much the same way as not realizing you're not supposed to kick their pets makes you an asshole in the real world.

    As for fear of rejection, it also ties with figleaf's rules of desire. If you're a woman who wants a specific form of sex, it's okay if your guy's into it (remember, hetero is the only kind of sex in cosmoland) because you're doing it for him. But if you like it and he doesn't - especially if it's something guys are "supposed" to like more than girls, such as blowjobs or anal - then it means that there's something very wrong with one of you. Cosmo's just working so the blame isn't on its readers.

    ReplyDelete
  36. as a pratchett fan, I have to correct "He's writing about the strongest and most independent woman in Discworld, and yet he must dress her and describe her clothes with painful fetishism. And, of course, she inevitably falls in love with the nerd-boy surrogate at the end." : 1. maybe I'm not an expert, but painful fetishism for me means more than a short sentence, and 2. Moist won Lipwig is a basass motherfucker, conman and adventurer able to kill an assasin, render himself inrecognizible and get out of the city in five minutes; he reforms a huge institution and in a later book, gets rid of the gold standard itself. So whomever the nerdboys identify with, he was in the same level of bamf-ness as her. :) [and if I, as a nerdgirl, identifyed with her, this wouldn't mean that this would made her not good enough for Lipwig to associate with... it's just not logical.]

    ReplyDelete
  37. -He can direct you to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond.

    Does it still count if we refer to it as "Bloodbath and Beyond"?

    ------

    Anon: I had definable tan lines before we even finished. And of course I've had people give me shit over it.

    Do you live somewhere particularly not-sunny? 'cause, here in New Mexico (where we have plenty of sun to go around) I've never heard anyone give anyone any crap about random tan lines. It's just sort of accepted here that if you go outside, ever, and you're not already Zulu black, you're going to put on more pigment. (Or burn, rapidly, for the Irish Milkmaids in the audience.)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Moist van Lipwig is a nerdboy in the same vein as Indiana Jones, who is ostensibly a professor.

    As a medium that relies on description to evoke readers' imaginations, you'll find very few books where characters are left undescribed. For fetishization you're looking more at Stephenie Meyer, less at Pratchett.

    At the end of the book, the object of affection... agrees to a date. After he's put in a fair bit of effort into getting to know her personally, rather than just saving the day and hoping that'll carry it. This is not precisely in the same realm as swooning into the hero's arms.

    tl;dr: wrong tree, barking.

    Addendum: you'd probably be looking at Susan Sto Helit for the strongest female lead. She's less mean, but is practical and absolutely confident.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Mildly unrelated: I don't know if you've seen this but I thought you would be happy to know that other sex-positive kink-positive people were riding the "Cosmo will ruin your sexlife" bandwagon: http://www.nerve.com/advice/ridiculous-tips

    ReplyDelete
  40. @Emma --

    Well obviously, no one can both assemble furniture and then put things on top of it. So we can all learn our true genders by looking at where we're proficient in the home. I think.

    I'm most proficient at assembling cheap prefab bookshelves and *then* filling them with books. I wonder what that makes me . . . :/

    Great Cosmocking, as always, Holly! :D

    ReplyDelete
  41. (different anonymous from above)
    Personally, I think Granny Weatherwax wins hands down as strongest female lead. [/tangent]

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm going to have to throw my towel into the ring on the side of Granny Weatherwax, too. But with Susan, Tiffany Aching, Adora Belle, and Lady Sybil Ramkin, there certainly isn't a lack of kick-ass ladies populating the disc.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Um, I may not be experienced in playing with wax but doesn't the hot wax take more than just grabbing your $20 Bed Bath and Beyond candle off the end table and starting to pour? I thought there were candles sold for this kink that burned at a lower temperature to avoid burning the person on the receiving end.

    Also, if any partner(s) randomly handcuffed me to something there would be no sexy time and a lot of I'm-pissed-off time. Also, just because someone is into bondage doesn't mean they won't have triggers for non-talked-out times.

    ReplyDelete
  44. 'Men need to learn to ask themselves, 'how would I behave if I were a strong independent woman?', and not 'how would I like strong independent women to behave'.'

    David, that's a really good summary.

    ReplyDelete
  45. "He's writing about the strongest and most independent woman in Discworld, and yet he must dress her and describe her clothes with painful fetishism."

    As said above:

    -Adora Belle isn't the strongest and most independent woman in Discworld. That'd be Granny Weatherwax, or possibly Death's granddaughter.
    -Pratchett spends more time describing her smoking than her clothes. Does that mean he's fetishizing her smoking? Well actually, he kind of is, but ... he's drawing on invocatable archetypes. Deal with it.
    -Moist von Lipwig isn't the nerdboy surrogate. That'd be the young "scientist" of sorts in Making Money who makes the simulation machine which SPOILERS SPOILERS at the end of the book.

    If you want a better example of exactly what you're looking for, read Lois McMaster Bujold's books, and particularly look at the Koudelka sisters' portrayal, I'd say.

    ReplyDelete
  46. "I've noticed that a lot of male writers who think they are above the objectification of women[...]

    Look at Adora Belle in 'Going Postal', by Terry Pratchett, as a good example. [...] He's writing about the strongest and most independent woman in Discworld, and yet he must dress her and describe her clothes with painful fetishism. And, of course, she inevitably falls in love with the nerd-boy surrogate at the end."
    - David Thomsen

    Where to begin?

    Strongest and most independent woman? No. Not by a long chalk. Just off the top of my head: Granny Weatherwax; Nanny Ogg; in fact, pretty much any witch who takes a lead role turns out to be both strong and independent (because, you know, witches). And I'm even including Tiffany Aching and the later Magrat here. Who else? Susan, naturally; Angua; Jeannie; Rosie Palm; Dotsie and Sadie; Saccharissa Cripslock; Mrs Maccalariat; Mrs McGarrigle; Lady Felmet...

    Oh, and statistically you'd expect 50% of all the Dwarf characters he wrote to be female. And - feminists rejoice! - they're exactly equal in every way to the men. So they're pretty strong and independent female characters, wouldn't you say? I could name a few but, well, SPOILERS.

    So, what about the clothes? You may notice that Pratchett frequently shifts the narrative voice subtly to reflect the thoughts and opinions of the characters he's writing about. Even if he hadn't, the bias in all stories must be towards the viewpoint of the main character: in this case the character happens to find her dress and manner extremely attractive even when it's explicitly stated that others find them offputting. And, yes, I seem to remember the smoking and scowling featuring more prominently than the clothes in her description. So I don't think the author is obsessing over her looks, although he has certainly created a character who is.

    Love? Um, not really. It seems to be a softening of her usual antagonism towards...well, everybody, really... but I'm not sure we're at the "love" stage quite yet.

    von Lipwig is not really a nerd himself, so I'm not sure why you use this term: if by "nerd-boy surrogate" you mean "main character that the nerd-boy readers can identify with", then I think you're making rather unjustified and rude assumptions about the readership of these novels. Also, sexist. Which, if you think about it, kind of undermines your whole point.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Meanwhile, back on-topic...

    Keen surfers could have high-neck wetsuit tan lines that show wearing pretty much everything except a haz-mat suit. Anyone with a less strict dress code is bound to be able to generate lines that they can't legitimately cover at work, notably anyone working with food who ever wears a watch during the rest of their life. That's got to cover a few dozen people right there...

    And why is COSMO, a magazine whose stock in trade is words, so reluctant to suggest that their readers use words to communicate? Maybe they think if everyone sees how easy it can be they'll have competition...

    ReplyDelete
  48. "He may say "yes" or "no," but any guy who hears that and goes "ugh, never mind, the moment's gone, I'm just going to sleep" wasn't worth fucking in the first place."

    *applause*

    ReplyDelete
  49. Hershele OstropolerJuly 12, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    "I like a woman who doesn't necessarily care if other people like her."

    This sounds Nice Guy™-ish. Like "I love that you don't need a guy- Can we fuck now?" Just my feel for it.


    It is, if it's said insincerely, because saying things like that insincerely is the essence of Nice Guy™-dom. I'm not sure it's philosophically possible to say that sincerely, but even if it is, it's de facto impossible now.

    I can see a vanilla guy not being concerned about being handcuffed to the bed because he cannot fathom anything happening that wouldn't delight him.

    Unless he had some essentialism thing going on about control.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Yeah, I'm not sure why I said Adora was the strongest and most independent woman in Discworld either. Ignore that bit. Now try to see any patterns between these characters:

    Adora Belle Dearheart.
    Susan Sto Helit.
    Sacharissa Cripslock.

    High heels, well endowed, black lace, tight severe old fashioned dresses, ostensibly modest, magic hair that is white with a black streak in it and is often in a tight bun. Together they form the Sexy Gothic Librarian fetish archetype.

    Just for comparison I browsed a lot of the major male characters in the wiki to find out what their physical characteristics are. Absolutely nothing. Moist von Lipwig is even described as nondescript, making him the perfect audience surrogate for nerd boys who are into the Sexy Gothic Librarian fetish.

    I think you're making rather unjustified and rude assumptions about the readership of these novels. Also, sexist.

    Thanks. No. I was making justified assumptions about the male gaze in Terry Pratchett's work. I am aware that Pratchett has a lot of female fans. Nice attempt to turn my own accusations of sexism against me, though.

    I used to be a big fan of Pratchett, I appreciated his progressiveness and his appreciation independent women. But then I realised that he is only fetishising independent women, which is actually the exact opposite of progressive. It is just another kind of objectification.

    ReplyDelete
  51. for moist won lipwig, being nondescript is an art/superpower: he looks incredibly, specificly genuine, so he can be unobserved and unrecognized. In Going postal, he wears a golden suit all the time, so people will remember the suit and not the face; also, he owns a collection of false ear hair prosthetics, so his victims can remember the hair poing out of his hair, not the rest of his face.

    I think the annoying geeky wizard the girl in Equal rites saves repeatedly and gets attracted to IS described more detailedly, for example.

    maybe pratchett doesn't do a perfect work, but those characters do so much more than just being fetishized.

    ps: what about the witches? Or Tiffany Aching? She wears old clothes that doesn't fit her.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Pratchett has described male characters in a sexualized manner. The two I can remember off the top of my head are Captain Carrot (from Angua's perspective) and Mau from Nation (from Daphne's perspective).

    ReplyDelete
  53. "Moist von Lipwig is even described as nondescript, making him the perfect audience surrogate for nerd boys who are into the Sexy Gothic Librarian fetish."

    Moist, as mentioned up-thread, is a nerd in the same sense that Indiana Jones is a Professor of Archaeology. Less, even, because he never claims to be a nerd, nor does anyone consider him a nerd, boffin, or any other such.

    If you want to get hung up on the nerd-boy thing, you picked the wrong book. Try Equal Rites, as Anon ^2 mentions. He's certainly a geek and nerd.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Also, what about the whole main cast in Monstrous Regiment? They're not as tough as Susan Sto Helit or Granny Weatherwax, but they're strong and independent enough to disguise themselves as men and join the army-- and they get so good at it that when they put on dresses to sneak into a city, they can barely convince anyone that they're female. That's not exactly fetishized.
    You have a point about those three fitting the Sexy Librarian type, but that's three out of how many, now? 20? That's a pretty mild case of fetishizing.
    Also, Carrot is totally hot. And the long-lost heir to the throne. And absolutely innocent and purehearted, scrupulously fair, etc. but surprisingly smart. He's a very stereotypical Prince Charming just as much as Susan Sto Helit is Sexy Gothic Librarian.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I think this is a both/and situation.

    On the one hand, Pratchett is comfortable writing independent female protagonists, and better still his female protagonists span all ages (children to grannies) and all different types of feminine presentation.

    On the other hand, he has a stock "sexy/feisty youngish woman" character that he trots out over and over again whenever one of his male protagonists needs a love interest. It's actually less the sexualization that bugs me as the repetition. Adora Belle is really extremely similar to Sacharissa and the handmaiden from Pyramids. (Not to mention Susan and the Watch vampire chick)

    ReplyDelete
  56. I just flicked through 'Guards! Guards!' and Carrot does indeed get some detailed physical descriptions. I couldn't figure out why it isn't in his entry in the wiki, but it seems that male physical characteristics get relegated to a cursory description under 'looks' in the sidebar. Female physical characteristics get listed in full detail in the main entry. Maybe my accusations of 'male gaze' should be directed towards the wiki writers, not Pratchett himself.

    Still I believe there is a kind of objectification going on. Old women get to be interesting and varied. Young girls get to be interesting and varied. Mothers get to be interesting and varied. Men can be attractive to women, but there is no pattern between them - they get to be attractive as 'themselves'.

    But if you are a young independent female, then you must be a Sexy Gothic Librarian. It's like there is a 'Sexy Gothic Librarian' equivalent of Cosmo in the Discworld, telling you that if you match the age and gender of the person on the cover, then here is how you must dress and behave in order to fulfil your duty of being attractive to men.

    Incidentally Indiana Jones is totally a nerd-boy surrogate. I know this because I want to be him.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Angua is not a gothic librarian stereotype. Ptraci isn't a gothic stereotype. Nor was Rosie in Night Watch. Nor was Glenda of Unseen Academicals. Or Conina - Cohen's daughter - from the early books. Or even Agnes Nitt. They're all about the same age as Adora Belle or a couple of years younger. They're all strong female characters in their own right, with their own personalities and development - many start out less strong but become so.

    You're cherry-picking your data. The discworld uses stereotypes, yes... but that's part of the nature of the setting, and the charm of Pratchett's writing is in how he subverts them just as often, if not more so. Thing is, there are so many characters that for any example or three that fit a particular type, you can point to any number that *don't*.

    So yes, your accusations were turned around on you... because it's pretty clear you're filtering the writing through your own particular lens.

    ReplyDelete
  58. "I browsed a lot of the major male characters in the wiki to find out what their physical characteristics are. Absolutely nothing." - DT

    Yeah. I see what you did there... (and to be fair, I think you realise as well.)

    Now try reading the source material again. See what you think.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Mr. Monster beat me to it, at least in spirit:

    Cosmo doesn't actually want you to be self-sufficient in the area of creating your own sex life. They MAKE MONEY telling you how to have sex. If you learned how to use your words & negotiate with your partners, if you were able to actually identify your own desires, suggest them, and take yes, no AND maybe for answers, COSMO WOULD GO OUT OF BUSINESS.

    You know how cars could be made to last much longer (generally twice as long) with much lower cost of ownership for only a couple thousand dollars more. But instead, they don't actually use quality unseen parts unless you pay for the luxury cars that cost quite a bit more than 2-3k over what you pay for a normal compact or sedan. WHY?

    They make more money by selling you a completely new car every 8 years than by selling you a new car every 15-20years that costs 10%-25% more. Cosmo is the exact same way. They need their advice to be almost but not completely useless, so that you're willing to read it & maybe even experiment w/ it, but within a month it's clear to you that the latest sex article wasn't the total cure for all sexual relationship woes ever. Thus you need to buy the next sex article.

    It's cynical, but it apparently makes them money.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Anonymous said:
    Re: "He may say "yes" or "no," but any guy who hears that and goes "ugh, never mind, the moment's gone, I'm just going to sleep" wasn't worth fucking in the first place."

    Are you quoting or are you saying that? Because not all guys have the same fantasies, and like you said, talking is important. Why pretend that just because he doesn't like that fantasy means he's not worth fucking? That's not cool.
    =================================
    *facepalm*

    Saying NO was one of the respected options, duh! What is being criticized here is the type of person who says, "I would have been happy to play out that fantasy as long as you didn't open your mouth for 4 seconds to check in about consent. Now that you've decided to ask about consent for a couple of seconds tho', I've gotten bored & checked out already. See you when I wake up."

    Saying no is WONDERFUL. Saying, "Don't bother me with your vibrating vocal cords, consent puts me to sleep," is someone not worth sleeping with.

    I would hope that's a "B'kuz, DUH!" but just to spell it out, if he thinks that consent plays no proper role when you are suggesting something, he might just also believe that consent plays no proper role when he wants something (and doesn't even bother to suggest it b/c he doesn't want your consent since it's all unsexy & boring and the only truly sexy way to bump bodies is to ignore rules of and opportunities for consent).

    Does that make it clear why this hypothetical person isn't worth the sexytime? Of course, part of what was said is that it's also highly unlikely that stopping for a few seconds to get consent is going to put him to sleep. If he would have wanted it before, he'll almost certainly want it if you ask him, "Do you want it?" So the risk you're letting consensual sex get away is quite small, whereas in the other scenario, the risk that you would be ignoring a no (read: sexually assaulting someone) is high.

    I don't have sex very often, but I know for sure that when I do have sex again at some point, I want it to be frikkin' consensual for both (all?) concerned.

    ReplyDelete
  61. "I fully believe females are smarter and more evolved."

    As a little boy my mother spewed this crap at me all day and night. She said she wished she had a girl because they're more mature, that girls my age wouldn't like me because girls are more mature... GUESS WHAT YOU DUMBASS, THE AVERAGE AGE OF THE GIRL I DATE IS NOW TWO YEARS OLDER THAN I AM. AND YOU KNOW WHAT? I'M SMARTER THAN ALL OF THEM. (That's not to say my girlfriends are stupid, mind, just that I'm probably smarter than they are). What a horrific thing to say to your son. I thought I'd die unloved until I realized my mom was full of bullshit.

    "This is what we call "gender enforcement." Because this isn't a list of things single guys don't do, not really. It's a list of things single guys aren't allowed to do. Cosmo's just one of a whole lot of self-appointed enforcers making sure of that."

    First of all, I love how I'm not allowed to know the shops in my area. So what, I should drive around with my eyes closed? THAT STRIKES ME AS A SAFE AND BRILLIANT IDEA. You will probably not ever hear how it turns out. Second of all, I don't like small dogs... but it leads with "he's walking a dog, an itty=bitty, fluffy dog." Um... golden retreivers and german shepherds are, when they're a few months old, tiny and fluffy. Or are they saying hunting dogs and POLICE DOGS WHO ARE TRAINED TO TAKE BULLETS AND BRING DOWN CRIMINALS aren't manly enough? Better let my friend know his half-wolf ain't manly enough: it's too fluffy! Finally, "Tar-jay" is what we call a JOKE. Men can't tell jokes: senses of humor aren't sexy. Right?

    "For really pulse-pounding sex, you know it's good to mix it up and try new things. But as you're, say, pouring hot wax onto your guy's chest, you're probably wondering just how much he's into it."

    While it's nice that cosmo is encouraging the ladies to experiment beyond the same 'ol man on top, missionary, woman lies back doing nothing but being sexy and moaning, guy does all the work, guy comes, game over...

    "Now the guessing game is over. We polled thousands of guys to learn exactly which turn them on and which tank."

    Oh joy. I'll NEVER get pet-play at this rate! *Looks sadly at his leash, collar, butt-plug tail, paw hands, paw-feet, and fox ears.* This kitsune is going to go hide again.

    "Handcuffing him to the bed without saying a word [rated "go for it"]"

    Um no. Please don't say NOTHING. It's SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL IF YOU SAY SOMETHING FIRST.

    "I want to handcuff you to the bed and use your cock for my pleasure. Don't worry, I won't hurt you... I just want you to be bound up and helpless while I suck your cock and ride you and touch your whole body. I want to touch your bound hands and feel your fingers curl when you come. Does that sound good to you?"

    It doesn't even have to be that. It could be as simple as the day before, "Hey, if we're doing a BDSM play, can I cuff you to the bed?" And your guy saying "yeah" or "no." Or it could be something as short as having a safeword and saying, in a dom voice, "You've been bad and I have to cuff your hands down now." See, that way you're using the power of the moment coupled with sexy words WHILE GIVING HIM THE CHANCE TO DECLINE. "Bananas" the man says, and the girl says, "What's up?" "Sorry, I'm just too worried about being cuffed up and something happening for it to be interesting for me. Maybe we could do something else instead?"

    I'll tell you WHAT: I'd 10 times out of 10 prefer the moment to be ruined than for a girl to start doing something I don't want her to do to me.

    Or, roughly translated, I'd rather be asked than raped.

    WEIRD HUH?

    ReplyDelete
  62. Just started reading your blog, and I'm enjoying it very much. I've been obsessively reading all of your Cosmocking entries. In regards to that list of polled sex moves, I actually ended up going through the entire list with my boyfriend. And surprisingly (i.e. not surprising at all), many of his preferences did not match up. I gotta agree; if you can't talk about sex with the person you're having sex with, why are you having sex with them. Sex.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Best use of the word "homonculus". Ever.

    ReplyDelete