someone said everything was getting too ‘male/metrosexual’ round here.
So here is a woman, an object of desire of mine.
Not so much Scarlett on her own, as her character in Lost in Translation.
I loved that film.
There is this trick (you will have played it on yourself) where a writer writes something very personal and somehow manages to convince him/herself that on finishing it, it will magically turn into just another book. That is detached from the personal things it refers to. But that is the point when it becomes even more personal. How do we manage to pull that one on ourselves?
And there is another trick. This one is where I convinced myself that finishing the story would mean the story would be finished. It feels like now, it has only just begun.
I could not keep my patient QRG readers waiting any longer. So here is the first of three-parts of Foucault’s Daughter, aka Scribbling On Foucault’s Walls.
It is available FREE on smashwords:
I am busy trying to get an e-publisher at the moment, so if I am successful the whole novel/la (it is quite short for a novel) will be available to buy online soon!
Thanks everyone for your interest in this project. A reader is a valuable, and sometimes a dangerously powerful thing! As Foucault’s Daughter knows all too well…
This is Kitty’s comment in full from the previous post below. I have added some notes in response in bold. Anyone else got anything to say on it?
‘Theory does turn me on. And it turns on a lot of my friends.
QRG, I’ve seen that you’e had this argument with other people doing similar projects for at least a year now. As those projects have also moved on and become more successful, my guess is that there’s a market for it. So regardless of whether or not the theory fits that, people *are* buying it more and more, which would suggest there is a niche there that people don’t feel is being met elsewhere. How do you account for that?
First I’d like to see the evidence of the ‘success’ of these projects as people measure success in different ways. If you mean bottom line profits then I’d like to see people’s annual reports. Or at least numbers of copies of magazines/films sold, by gender of the consumer. Also I would say that just because women buy more porn, that you and people you know market ‘to women’ does not mean there is a ‘female gaze’. Men buy porn and I do not think there is a ‘male gaze’. So the theory is not relational to porn consumption but to how we interpret how people look at each other (and themselves).
The world I live in, especially now, in Oakland, California, is definitely dominated by half-naked women. It’s on our TV screens (Jersey Shore, Real Housewives, Kardashians, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Sopranos reruns, Mad Men- I think True Blood is really the one equal opportunity objectifier). It’s in our magazines and newspapers- looking in the back pages there’s maybe 1 ad with a male for every 20 with females. It’s on book covers at the publisher I work for. It’s in the popup ads my computer blocks. I’d be happy to do a photojournal for a week to show what I mean, if you need that. There’s the occasional sexualized Black male body, say, for an album release, where they look tough and angry- female album covers show them being available and seductive. Sure, there’s Bieber, and for every Bieber there’s a Miley, Jasmine, Taylor, Brittney, Christina, Jessica, etc.
Yes please do a photo journal Kitty. All evidence is good in my book.
I disagree about Jersey Shore and Mad Men which I think are all about Mikey Sorrentino and John Hamm. I don’t even watch them and I know all about those to men and what they look like. They are the ‘stars’ of those shows. Mikey S has launched a whole brand of his male objectification based on his GTL mantra. It is all in Metrosexy! If you look at e.g. sports pages and sports advertisements you will see men’s bodies objectified more than women’s. In The Times newspaper I counted about 14 images of men to 6 of women in objectified situations recently. It depends how you categorise ‘objectification’. Look at the pic on this post – yes it is on a gay magazine, but the boyband, Blue, are not gay. They are happily showing their bodies for a mainly male audience. I don’t see how you can ignore that!
I watch a lot of porn. A lot. I do a lot of reviews. I do notice that almost all of the time, the camera is on the woman’s body, leaving a disembodied dick plowing into her. Male attractiveness in “heterosexual” porn isn’t seen as that important (starting to among some producers, mostly female ones, like Anna Span) but female attractiveness is compulsory. If, as a woman, you are not stereotypically attractive (slender, white, blonde, mildly or not tattooed, femme), you are far more likely to be humiliated, insulted, and treated roughly. Why is that, do you think?
If you see disembodied dicks, doesn’t that suggest the man is being more objectified than the woman? Reduced to a dick? And who watches the most straight porn? Men. So they are watching those dicks intently. This suggests to me their gaze is pretty queer.
Another interesting area is fancy dress, where women get multiple versions of “slutty fill in the blank”, and men get costumes that are scary or silly. If they wear something sexualized, fancy dress or underwear-wise, it will either be from a gay male shop or it’ll be a humorous novelty item. Men being sexy or seen naked (particularly if they’re heterosexual-identified) is often seen in media as hilarious. It’s a punch line.
men being sexy or naked is hilarious? Like this?
I’m more interested in gathering data and asking questions than I am in declaring “this is what a female gaze is”. I’m more into “this is what a female gaze can be”. I’m interested to read more about the male gaze, too, to compare- if you are male-identified, is your gaze male no matter what?
I’m guessing you equally argue that the male gaze doesn’t exist, right? Maybe I’m wrong but I haven’t seen you mention the male gaze at all really, except in passing. Almost all this debate and discussion seems to center around the female gaze. I’m all for a queer gaze, but no, I disagree that *all* people have it. Perhaps there’s ways in which a homoerotic gaze is more common, but it’s certainly still stigmatized.
Yes I don’t believe there is a male gaze. But your project is about the ‘female gaze’ so that is what I was arguing with. I do not know any projects focussing on the ‘male gaze’. Obviously you think all porn is focussed on the ‘male gaze’. But if it is I’d say that gaze likes to gaze at cock as much as if not more than anything else.
I do believe that people who identify as male tend to (not all, but many if not most) look at different things for pleasure (and with different intentions) than people who identify as female. I went to the presentation of http://pornresearch.org/ first findings and it did support my understanding that, at least culturally, there tends to be a different response and intention around the consumption of pornography between those two genders. I don’t believe in a gender binary, I believe in a spectrum (maybe even more complicated than that, but spectrum works for now) or a bell curve. I’ve said that a lot, but you do tend to ignore it’
You say you don’t believe in a gender binary, but you think people who identify as male like looking at different things to people who identify as female? That is a binary. You said ‘two genders’. Two = bi= binary.
QRG has been getting into a spot of bother-again-about the ‘female gaze’ again! This time by arguing with Kitty Stryker, who has recently set up the Andro Aperture Project.
This is what she says about the project (emphasis mine):
‘Andro-Aperture is a mini-crusade for the appreciation of male beauty in all its forms- sexy men,sexy male, and sexy trans-masculine bodies of all kinds. There aren’t enough images shot for female appreciation, so I want to explore and discuss what defines (and defies) a female gaze.
I want to celebrate the diversity of the erotic male body- encouraging more sexy photos of male-identified people of different ethnicities, body sizes, ages, hairiness, and abilities.
I want to challenge the knee jerk reaction that “female bodies are just more attractive”.
And really, I just want hot porn to jerk off to.’
I have said before I don’t think there is such a thing as a female or male gaze. I have said it in relation to my problems with distinguishing between ‘female’ and ‘male’ in the first place here:
and I have agreed with Mark Simpson when he has said it (in not so many words. He takes it as a given, that the main ‘gaze’ in contemporary visual culture, is ‘metrosexual’ or maybe seen another way, ‘Transexy’) here:
But to take Kitty’s own words on the subject:
There aren’t enough images shot for female appreciation, so I want to explore and discuss what defines (and defies) a female gaze.
I do not agree with this statement. I think it involves a number of reductionist positions. The first is that ‘men’ and ‘women’ are two distinct groups in a gender binary. The second is that those two distinct groups like to look at different things for pleasure. The third is not articulated but it is that the ‘female gaze’ in this context is ‘heterosexual’ – men being looked at by women for the women’s heterosexual pleasure.
Kitty says she wants to discuss and explore what ‘defines’ the female gaze but when I have tried to do this, she and her readers have suggested I am disrupting their project. But she has not discussed, explored or defined it. She has just said it exists and needs catering for by commercial pornography. I do not even know what defines a ‘female’ so how can I know what defines a ‘female gaze’?
She also says
I want to challenge the knee jerk reaction that “female bodies are just more attractive”.
I do not know who has this reaction. Wherever I look I am surrounded by images of male bodies. In The Times newspaper, on Wimbledon TV coverage, on buses, in magazines, on adverts, in the park. The world I see before my very eyes is saying to me that ‘male bodies are as attractive if not more than female bodies’. And that men demand to be looked at, by anyone, and that we notice them looking at us, looking at them, looking at themselves!
So I think Kitty’s project is based on a number of false premises.
I will write more soon I just wanted to kick off my side of the debate in my own ‘space’ as I am not getting very far in her side of town. This person has summed up my objections very well indeed:
Foucault’s Daughter is probably not made for the big screen. I think my novella is very much for reading. But, it does contain some choice clips from some wonderful films. I won’t give the story away by putting them in context, except that I think you may be able to see a common thread running through them… Lost Children? Alienation? ‘ Desir’?
From Bicycle Thieves, to 400 Blows, to Gone With The Wind, to Cemetery Gates, I think Foucault’s Daughter is stood at the cemetery gates of the 2oth century, feeling locked out of the new world and alone.
One reason I don’t get as wound up about the ‘lack’ of decent pornography that features men’s bodies, as Some People, is that I find plenty of very hot images in realms that are not officially classed as ‘porn’. AND they are free or cheaper than the vast majority of porn.
How many M/M/m S and M porn scenes have you seen that contain as much tension, power dynamics, violence and beautiful bodies as this photo from a MMA fight for example?
None? Thought not.
I found the photo on this article by Kevin Arnold on Guyism. The article is not very good but the picture is just fine!
And I found the erotic charge of MMA, via, of course, the Daddy of pornography that is not categorised as ‘porn’- Mark Simpson. He asked, ‘How Gay is MMA?’ and the answer of course, is very.
mark Simpson’s latest book contains this article and many other bulging bits of tackle -ing the homo-erotics in contemporary culture. Go on, you know want to (buy it)!
The Strange Decline of The English Cottage is a documentary that is being made at the moment, for BBC4 about the old tradition of ‘cottaging’ in Britain. Men having sex with each other in public toilets. I found this article about the project delightfully ironic, as it mentions Miss Marple in relation to the traditional English landscape. As Miss Marple is one of my alter-egos, and as I have already started (but aborted) a piece of kind of ‘slash fic’ about Miss Marple and the murder of the homosexual, I thought it was hilarious she was being brought into this murder mystery on TV. But, I know one thing about Jane Marple, it would take more than a few homos and glory holes to shock that old bird! Anyway here is the article. ..
It is perhaps inevitable that within the vagaries of English slang a word so redolent of the English village, Miss Marple and vicars cycling to give evening sermons, should come to be associated with acts so unspeakable and perverted that they are morally repugnant to your average citizen. Yet on the fiftieth year since Lord Wolfenden, a man so repulsed by the deviancy of the homosexual act that his report found it necessary to recommended its legalisation, the fortieth since the death at his lover’s hands of the eminence grise of the cottage, Joe Kingsley Orton, it is perhaps appropriate to consider what has happened to this most Anglo-Saxon of leisure pursuits.
It is an activity once favoured by playwrights, pop stars, politicians and Republican Senators from Idaho, allegedly with codes of its very own. Yet it is also in sad decline.
Here, I must declare an interest as a homosexual, whose formative years were spent throughout the land in, or within spitting distance, of such places of deviancy, perversion and undeniable pleasure. For cottaging has through its long and honourable history (since 1729) remained a purely gay pursuit; partly because of the puritanical attitude towards sex than has always existed in the English social body, but mainly because the idea of unisex public lavatories never caught on. There was a cottage in my village, which from an early age my parents told me to avoid, although no reason was then given. Such was the seriousness of their warning that I frequently underwent humiliating journeys home to visit the toilet until one day, aged fourteen, I ventured into the grimly painted forbidden zone with the purest of motives, but left with intentions to revisit for quite a different purpose. This early encounter, such as it was, was the beginning of almost ten years of intense, almost obsessive devotion, I may even say love, of the English cottage. From such origins came many encounters, some of them quick, some more fruitful, but none of them dull, and all of them enacted with a sense of risk that is now lacking from my life: being fucked in a cubicle by a student from Leeds University as my train left for home is a memory that sticks in my mind with a certain fondness. For cottaging is addictive, like heroin, except less expensive and easier to get hold of. I even met one of my best friends in a cottage, in a small university town. The building has since been knocked down and turned into a shopping centre. But we remain friends. He is now an illustrious academic at a respected institution over the Herring pond, but on his rare visits to perfidious Albion, we remember – over a bottle or four of Veurve Clicquot – times idled away in various provincial towns of England and London, looking for cock.
The intervening decade has been kinder to him than I. He still claims to be roughly the same age, I have aged eight years, taken up new hobbies – bridge, fine wines, crack cocaine – and almost verge upon the respectable. That is not to say that even when cruising on Hampstead Heath or Clapham Common, I do not hanker for the old days of sideways glances at urinals and the cautious half opening of a cubicle door. But the sad fact is that although successful, I was never any good at cottaging: I was by my friend’s feckless standards too nervous and unobservant of slight signals. Of course, he now has two convictions for gross indecency, whereas I do not.
And there perhaps you have at least part of the reason for this tragic decline but not all. In London alone the cottages of Bethnal Green (always highly recommended) and Pettycoat Lane to those of Hyde Park, Carnaby Street and Oxford Circus have either closed or been sanitised to prevent extra curricula activities for the homosexual. It is now with fond nostalgia that one recalls the cottage in the old British Library, where upon the cubicle wall was affectionally ascribed: ‘I had David Starkey here’.The cottage has been across cities and towns been replaced by units that act as lavatories and act against the cottager’s inherent interests. Of course, such places do still exist: I am told that in the toilets University College London remain a rare paradise in barren desert and I am sure that some remain in the more remote parts of these Sceptred Isles. But it is rather like living in the last days of the British Raj: some of the magnificence is still there, but the glory days are far behind. If you’ll forgive the puns.
Of course, like many an English tradition, modern technology and social advances has played a role in its demise. Yet logging onto one’s Gaydar, Gay.com and GayRomeo, lacks an equal frisson to shoving one’s knob through a glory hole in a cottage in Peterborough, Kettering or some such God-awful place. If you ask me, the advance of the internet as a tool for the homosexual is welcome, yet its role in the death of cottaging is evidence of not only the laziness of the average sex-addict, but also of the creeping bourgeoisation of homosexuality. The current liberal, tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, greatly welcome though it is, has correspondingly led to the de-sexualisation of the homosexual in the public mind: he must be well-dressed, coiffed to perfection, witty and preferably totally, publically neutered. Of course, promiscuity itself amongst gay men is far from on the declining: my accidental entrance to the FIST tent some years ago at Gay Pride proves that. Yet, like the decline of the Liberal Party after 1909, in its finest hour, the gay community has cunningly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and submissively accepted the demise of the most public actualisation of its inner self.