Sexual relationships have two components, love and sex, and these need not be exclusive. When I was first aware of these things maybe 40 years ago, the sexual revolution had just happened. Apparently, I was never part of it, this led to increased promiscuity. But if I reflect back it was men who sought many sexual relations. It now appears that young people are having sex earlier, and it is much less male instigation. In other words it is acceptable for young women to experience sex with different partners, much more acceptable than it was 40 years ago.
Physical sexual attraction is more based on the availability of sex for men. Despite the appalling names men have for women who do the same as them, young men search out these young “available” women. Amongst men it is socially acceptable to have sex with anyone but having a long-term relationship has different criteria. This, I suggest, is where love comes in. There is an image of who it is acceptable to have a long-term relationship with, and it is this image that affects the appearance of women. The two cases of women having body issues, Jane and Karen, also had the additional image problem of being performers on stage, and as such their appearance mattered even more.
Judging by what happens the majority of women wish to have homes and bring up children. Such homes include men but it is usually portrayed as being instigated by women – claiming men lack “commitment”. Whilst there might be a time for changing partners, for the majority of women they soon settle to homes and I suggest provide the glue that keeps the family together. This was certainly true 40 years ago, I don’t know how true it is now. In this I am describing what I have observed, it is not my intention to cause offence. When looking at this process I don’t know where to ascribe motivations as it is a cultural process.
Appearance and conditioned behaviour are very much involved in this cultural process, and I feel the requirements on women are much more imposing. There is the obvious difference relating to promiscuity, in many situations promiscuity of me is celebrated where similar promiscuity often brings slurs especially from female peers although from males they are almost equally condemned – despite their being happy to have sex with them. In some cultures virginity is a requirement for some marriages, and in other cultures there is often a “lock up your daughters and sisters”.
Conditioned behaviour is an imposition often applied by family but rarely is increased by wider imperatives. But that is far from the case with appearance. Recognising the need caused by attraction to males, consumerism has exploited the willingness of young women to pander to this attraction. This shaping of image involves clothes, cosmetics and hygiene – the first two being appropriated by Bigfashion. When I was young, BigFashion did not impact too much on males but I believe it now has a greater impact. I remember a wonderful interchange as a teacher when I was much younger. My A level group had jobs to pay for clothes. At the time they were buying jumpers and BigFashion dictated they wear the jumpers to the disco only once. I dismissed this as a waste of money, and they asked about my drinking and whether I just “pissed the money against the wall”. I laughed, I had definitely come second there. We were both subject to different consumer pressures.
I can remember being pressured by BigFashion as an adolescent, but fortunately since then, as an adult, BigFashion pressures have been limited. Of course there have been the job pressures about clothes, the job uniform, and occasional formal requirement. This is very limited compared to the pressure on adult women. A man can wear a suit until it falls apart, women are expected to change clothes because of appearance, an appearance that requires a regular change of image. There are similar pressures on the way a woman wears her hair, and I suspect cosmetics but that I have never observed.
I make an observation about this that shows how deeply entrenched this conditioning is amongst some women. I have no doubts that the appearance of my partners was affected by conditioning, beauty was a factor. As I got older beauty need not have been an issue because I sought compatibility, homeliness and sex; it should not have mattered whether the woman was beautiful but it did. In the end the compatibility that I need was the freedom to grow spiritually, and that definitely did not require beauty. But in the end demands from women for money to appease BigFashion and social pressures became dominant, these women were required to demonstrate to other women/society the demands of BigFashion and failure to do so was seen as some kind of failure. It is hard not to judge all women by the women I have known closely but I do know that is unreasonable.
When asked women will say they decide on their appearance, of course they do. But in choosing their image are they not influenced by BigFashion? When I was with a partner I never required an image, in fact sometimes it was the opposite; when a woman decides to be a partner why does she wish to appear attractive to other men? Why do women use cosmetics? Many cosmetics damage their skin, healthy skin can be maintained by healthy soap and aloe vera juice!! It used to annoy me to see young girls at school wearing make-up when it was damaging and to me did not add anything to their appearance – of course my perception did not matter to them. When I look at what BigFashion demands of appearance, however the woman decides she chooses I do see an element of sexual attraction – accentuating figures etc. When a woman chooses this, is she choosing it for herself or is she choosing because of conditioning?
It is appalling that conditioning is leading to eating disorders. Violent oppression by men is completely unacceptable and since feminism such violence has been marginalised – although not completely. This is very positive. However the feminist movement, through books such as “Fat is a feminist issue”, has highlighted the oppression of the body but in my view this has not changed. There is a big difference for this – BigFashion. Violence against women had no commercial value, and whilst it was more socially acceptable when I grew up it has been jumped on as a conditioned response. This is positive. However BigFashion has prevented the equivalent change in social conditioning, and conditioning still oppresses women to such an extent that there are eating disorders. When we look at the oppression of women we have to see two things – the 1% and patriarchy.
It is not my right to impose a choice because of BigFashion conditioning but I do have the right to point out the possibility of its impact. There is a natural component to this issue. Sexual attraction, the mating instinct and possibly the development of a home all contribute to social pressures on both women and men in terms of appearance. However the impact on women to be of an image that attracts men has been exploited by BigFashion, and the fact that this leads to eating disorders is clearly a crime of patriarchy. I do not see how our society can see this as in any way acceptable. For a long time I never equated the eating disorders with chauvinism, and this was my ignorance. But the continuation of image imposition, the consequential eating disorders and the economic exploitation by BigFashion are “feminist” issues, not just issues arising from patriarchy or chauvinism but also from the 1%. Men should be involved in fighting both, people should be involved in fighting both.
Attraction and AppearancePosted: 17/06/2016 in Big Fashion, Freedom, ONE planet, Struggle