This has been a thorn in my side for many years now but this morning I opened a NY Magazine article entitled Meet the College Women Who Are Starting a Revolution Against Campus Sexual Assault and my entire screen was taken over, assaulted by an advertisement for a makeup entitled “envy”. The tragic irony put me over the fucking edge.
Ladies: “Seduction” is Stockholm Syndrome.
I’m so utterly over it. I’m over watching women around me placate to their captors under the guise of “being empowered”. Reducing yourself to a sexual object, whether you enjoy sex or not, whether you claim to be a “tantrika” or not, is not Women’s Liberation. It’s being a sexual object. Let’s call a spade a spade.
A brief history lesson: There was the Women’s Liberation Movement AND there was the Sexual Revolution. Intersections existed, yes. Mostly over the availability of birth control (which continues today) but they are NOT the same movement. Although “A” may be parallel to “B” (A // B) , “A” does not equal “B” (A ≠ B). So, when one parades as a sexually liberated woman "B", awesome, thank your mothers who fought for that privilege. But that does not implicitly make you an empowered woman, "A". It’s math. And history. Together. Like Peaches and Cream…without the sugar drop.
Some definitions to help clarify:
Seduction: is the process of deliberately enticing a person, to lead astray, as from duty, rectitude, or the like; to corrupt, to persuade or induce to engage in sexual behaviour The word seduction stems from Latin and means literally "to lead astray".
Stockholm Syndrome: or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness
This isn’t to say that sex, romance, adorning oneself, or feeling beautiful, are bad. Those things are great! It is the wholesale acceptance that “seduction” is somehow not only acceptable as an everyday behavior, but a preferable state of being, mostly for women and mostly in an objectified manner. That it is tolerable to lead men and women astray so that you can get you want. The primary issues here are (1) That’s lying and lying isn’t cool, and (2) It’s pushing the Women’s Lib Movement backwards.
Ladies, men think about having sex with you like 18,000 times a day. They have their own set of cultural conditioning unapologetically leveraging on their testosterone and lack of appropriate outlets in contemporary society. So to intentionally cultivate a personality, a languaging, a persona, the body movements, and an energetic that purposefully “seduces” men at every glance or sashay is a massive disservice to women’s liberation as well as to men who are trying to look past the sexualization of everything, ever.
Seducing a man is like shooting fish in a bucket. It’s nothing to be proud of. If you were starving and needed a meal and “Oh Heavens me, here’s a bucket of fish!” then alright. But it’s no significant achievement. Please abandon the conditioning that being perceived as a seductress is somehow honorable. Being perceived as a human, as a woman, as a whole being, as something outside of just tits, ass, lips, eyes, three orifices, and a tongue, that is (though unfortunately, more challenging) honorable.
No one here is telling you to don a bonnet and put skirts on the piano legs. It’s any human’s right to wear whatever they please, feel good about it, and most importantly, safe. But as a woman I am so frustrated with not only fighting an uphill battle against the patriarchy but now, post Women’s Lib, having to fight upstream against the actions of my sisters as well. This self-objectification is an insidious disease that spreads like a wildfire of envy, competition, scarcity, and show(wo)manship through our sacred femininity, burning up and annihilating the subtle beauties of being woman, or those identifying as woman. Silencing the subtle, dark nature of feminine. Numbing the subtle. Seduction is not subtle. Seduction is not beauty. It is trickery. Subtlety is beauty.
Let’s take the story of Krishna and Radha. I am not an Indian historian but I will take a gander that the large majority of women and men in the U.S.(largely in the geographical region between the Northwest and the Southwest) who claim to resonate with the story of Krishna/Radha aren’t either. From the layman’s perspective (not the academic analysis) you have Krishna – he’s a super rad bro, everyone loves him, he loves everyone, he’s got super powers (as Avatars do) and he’s generally an amicable, über competent dude. Then there’s Radha, she’s like the grooviest chick in the land and she loves Krishna and he loves her. So much so that er’body knows Krishna’s p-whipped by Radha. So like, even though he actually controls everything all Supreme Being status, she actually-actually controls everything from behind the curtain (you know, like most all marriages the world over). Then there is this added twist that most people are familiar with in that she’s the divine feminine, he’s the divine masculine and as such they are inseparable. Oh my Goddess, what a sweet story of mutual respect and adoration, I love it so much! It’s like an historic example of gender equality! Right? Oh wait; who are these Gopi bitches all of a sudden all up in the scene? Wait, Krishna gets access to infinite Gopi Booty? Oh, alright it’s an open marriage. That’s super progressive, so what are Radha’s man-bitches called? Oh. Radha doesn’t get man-bitches? *scratches head* Okay, so let me get this straight. Radha is bound to Krishna FOREVER, inseparable, no divorce papers allowed. She loves him unconditionally and ONLY him. Krishna on the other hand, digs her love, but also digs fucking the infinite supply of Gopis? I don’t know, man. That doesn’t sound so epic to me. As a matter of fact, it sounds like the EXACT patriarchal arrangement women have been trying to liberate themselves from! *face in palm* Frankly, I’m not taking my relationship cues from a society that threw live widows on the funeral pyre of their deceased husbands.
Now, we could get into a philosophical dissection of this story but that’s not the point. The point is – most people know this story to be: Radha loves Krishna, Krishna loves Radha, Krishna gets bitches, Radha doesn’t and it’s cool, preferable actually. And then they try to live up to that standard as if it is some golden example of equality. Dude, that’s messed up and NO-ONE in the new-age community even gives it a second thought. That’s Stockholm Syndrome if I’ve ever seen it.
If you need a deity upon which to affix your sexual identification, why not choose someone like Lilith; the badass chick that refused to submit to Adam, thus getting banished from the Garden of Eden (where you couldn’t even eat the apples anyway). But even better yet, just recognize that your sexuality is your sexuality. What you like and don’t like is up to you, it’s allowed to change, and it doesn’t have to be utilized in order to trick men or women into false-worshipping you.
What I ultimately ask is this:
Women: Check yourself. Why must you objectify yourself? You have so much to offer beyond being eye candy and three holes. Beautiful is fine. Sexy is fine. But using your body as a commodity, as your means to navigate the world – that’s not only damaging to you, sister, but it damages all of us.
Men: Come on, guys. Be smarter than that. See that shit from a mile away and rather than succumb, help a sister out to come correct and respect herself.
It is important to be clear with our intentions, clear of hidden agendas, and clear with our words - choose them wisely and know what you are identifying with before you affix yourself to the larger mechanisms behind every choice.