disclaimer: this opinion piece is written from my own, white feminine, heterosexual perspective. in no way do i intend to belittle or ignore the perspectives of others of different genders, identities and sexual orientations. i’m merely just unpacking my thoughts + own feelings/experiences around desirability vs personal desires.
firstly, i can’t believe it took me so long to stumble across Florence Given, an earth-shattering, mind-blowing artist/author with the ability to articulate her thoughts so compellingly well.
secondly, Florence pointed out a really interesting concept when on The Outspoken Beauty Podcast, and it honestly resonated so (unfortunately) easily with me – as a young woman – that i had to unpack it.
so, here we go.
Florence described how the concept of femininity and what it means to be a woman has become so reliant on the reactions of men, that we – as females – have collectively and subconsciously internalised the male gaze.
when women look at themselves in the mirror, we don’t look at ourselves. we look at ourselves as though someone else is looking at usFlorence Given
and in doing so, we become our own worst enemy.
when we look in the mirror and pull apart every detail that makes up who we are:
our narrow eyes and wide eyes, skinny brows and bushy brows,
big noses, pixy noses, and pointy noses,
our thin, cracked, plumpy, uneven lips,
freckles, scars, pimples, stretch marks and body hair.
when we stare ourselves brutally down in the mirror and critique everything that makes us unique, we create our own, tragic downfalls.
ponder it, because;
we wouldn’t give a shit about those insecurities if we hadn’t been brainwashed into grooming, presenting, and acting like a version of, ourselves, simply to satisfy the male gaze, would we?
Florence said that with every single, minuscule thing she does, her brain just ticks with the intrusive and subtly cruel, yet all too common, thought:
but what do you look like right now, as you do this?
and, thanks to our internalized misogyny, that answer better be:
hot. gorgeous. untouchable. perfect. a prodigy. a goddess. sexy.
we’ve grown to embody the ideology that we – as women, as life-givers, as humans – must appear enticing and beautiful while we do the same shit as men.
this is what hit me smack bang in the face, and what i cannot stop thinking about.
because Florence has voiced what i did not know i did. she has articulated a subconscious thought pattern that i thought was merely human – not an oppression on womanhood.
which leads me to the question i’ve been tossing up all week, and now, want to throw at you:
are you too preoccupied with appearing desirable to actually do things that satisfy your desires?
as women, we must look hot – at all times – during sex. too bad if you crave being on top; the curves of your stomach will show. too bad if you want to scream, cry, groan and moan like an animal; that’s not feminine, it’s not polite nor cute.
as women, we must look appealing when we work out. too bad if you’re hungry for that immense session that leaves you dripping in sweat, hair plastered to your forehead and skin flaring with heat. that look is far from salvageable.
as women, we’re pressured into believing that communicating our sexual desires is too dominant and controlling, and therefore repulsive and undesirable.
as women, we must tread the fine line between dignity and sexiness when we hit the town. too bad if you’re tired or over it or just don’t want a blistering hangover; you look like a prude sipping on your lemon lime bitters. too bad if you’re unapologetically feeling yourself and just wanna sin the dance floor and flirt your way through free drinks; that’s a selfish, whore-ish attitude (because you’re undermining the male gaze).
as women, we must always appear desirable.
to a misogynistic society in order to adequately fulfil our roles of being a part of the female gender.
considering the fact that i – and i’m sure a fair few other women – could. not. care. less.
about however men look during sex. what shapes their bodies contort into. whatever faces they pull and noises they make. as long as there’s consent and respect, it’s hot.
considering we could. not. care. less.
about however men look during or after a workout. sweat or not, smell or not. as long as they’re doing something they enjoy, it’s hot.
considering we could. not. care. less.
about however much men drink on a night out. whether they’re tucked away in a corner or the life of the party. as long as there’s no boundaries crossed, it’s fine – because they’re doing whatever they’re desiring.
evidently, i find it really beautiful – yet annoying – when men are so at ease within themselves, that they’re comfortable doing whatever satisfies their (respectful) desires; despite whether or not this makes them physically appear out of line with society’s stereotyped perception of attractiveness.
so why then, as women, can we not give ourselves the same leeway we give to men?
why must we be the ones to place our hunger to be desired, over satisfying our own desires?
at what point did we allow our believed need for desirability to eclipse what we were willing to self-sacrifice?
as i said, this concept has only just been submerged from my subconsciousness, so i don’t have these answers. yet.
however, even by writing this and vomiting my thoughts out, i can feel myself starting to repulse this deeply rooted, sexist, damaging and oppressive ideology.
and, in doing so, i’m becoming weirdly excited – yet nervous – for whenever i sleep with someone next. because, for once, i’m not worried about failing to match society’s standards of feminine desirability in bed.
and to me, that’s hot.
so, if there’s anything that you can take away from this – god i hope it’s made sense – it’s this queens:
your desires ALWAYS outweigh your desirability.
(because wanting to be desired is a construct, while fulfilling your desires is called LIVING)
with a honey-soaked heart,