I was honestly expecting a big ol’ shitstorm over this post, wherein I defended the Boobie Wednesday Twitter campaign despite, I thought, the obvious feminist objections against showing breasts (whether male or female) to raise awareness about cancer. I believed people would crawl out of the woodwork to shout me down over considering acceptable the objectification of women, the “sexification” of breast cancer, and that I was going to be accused of merely wanting to save “my playthings” rather than people’s lives. You see, because I’m a guy — a heteronormative guy, at that — and boobies are therefore obviously far more important to me than the brains situated a foot and a half above them.
I was surprised that no such outrage happened. And I have to suspect that it’s because it merely wasn’t widely read enough, considering the sudden and strange attack on Skepchick over at Greg Laden’s blog.
Skeptifem, whom I’ve seen in the past making pointed comments on such topics, evidently takes exception with Skepchick‘s focus on promoting skepticism whilst being unabashedly sexual creatures — talking about sex in public (and in mixed company, at that!), promoting their site and collecting funds by selling pin-up calendars of themselves, and generally not avoiding or acting ashamed of their own sexuality.
This is exactly what I cannot stand about skepchick, the bs with the calendar and all the other nonsense about how good it is for women to know they can be smart and sexy. women “defying the culture dichotomy”, etc. Its crap. I can cram myself into whatever contraption culture says will make me desirable too, but it sure as hell doesn’t empowerfulize anyone and its dishonest to act like it does.
I understand her concerns, honestly. But what’s so amazing about Skepchick is that they are sexy because they believe themselves to be sexy — because, you see, sexy is almost entirely attitude. They are in some cases vastly divergent from society’s Barbie-doll image of perfection, and yet every bloody one of them is brainy and confident on those occasions that they decide to also strut their stuff. They are not mere “pieces of meat” to be eyed up. And even where they decide to act as pieces of meat by putting on something sexy and posting pictures — as I have in posting moob photos in support of Boobie Wednesday — the “mere” part never enters into it. It’s pretty difficult to objectify a woman as absolutely nothing more than a warm place to put your dick, when you know that woman can also think you under the table. And not because they are especially well-trained, learned, or “elite” in any way — just because they can employ skepticism with the best of them as a way to sort out bullshit from reality.
And what’s more, Skepchick isn’t exactly heteronormative as a rule — even as a general one. Rebecca Watson was pretty explicit on this point:
Heteronormative, for example, is not a word I would use to describe Skepchick, particularly as we frequently blast the pink=girls and related BS, and we have bisexual, gay, and trans contributors (and many commenters).
This whole fight bothers me for a number of reasons. Not the least reason being my own personal issues about sexuality stemming from some traumatic events in my past, which Stephanie Zvan rightly suggested in private might be a big source of my general gunshyness on the topic of feminism and egalitarianism.
That gunshyness is leading to a lack of words to describe how utterly appalled I am at these rather insulting accusations and implications about Skepchick and its audience, myself included. CyberLizard said it way better than I probably could at this point, at least until such time that I get over my own issues:
[P]erhaps my definition of feminism isn’t correct, but to me it means being all of who you are, vagina and uterus included, and not mindlessly accepting some pre-packaged gender role. The women who write for Skepchick are genuinely themselves. If part of themselves is being sexy, or enjoying sex or taking pleasure in looking at naked bodies, then they shouldn’t have to hide that to please you and your pigeonholing of feminist activities. You ask “Who is casting a skeptical eye on contemporary female desirability?” and “…where are the skepchicks who could not possibly care less about being sexy for strangers?” The answer to those questions is the very group of amazing women that you’re denigrating. I may be wrong, but they seem to me to be women who believe that they don’t have to “be sexy” for anyone; that they “are” sexy and that part of that sex appeal is their skeptical and rational natures. And also that being sexy doesn’t disqualify them from embracing and celebrating their femaleness.
That’s exactly it. They’re doing it for themselves, because they’re not ashamed to have fun and be sexy if it suits them. And if it doesn’t suit them, they won’t. So, what of it?
Jodi and I are going to meet them soon, if all goes according to plan. We’re going to CONvergence, like I said, come hell or high water. And if the Skepchicks — all of whom we read regularly and some of whom were even involved in our engagement — are somehow changed from the people we know right now by Skeptifem’s complaints that they are being “too sexy”, it will be our loss, because Jodi and I both look up to them. Not only for their wicked writings, but for their awesome, self-actualized attitudes.
Don’t change, ladies. Stay classy, stay skeptical, and stay ToTallY HAWT!!!1