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The Political is Mythical

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Palin as beauty queenYou may have heard by now about Nailin’ Paylin. It’s being made by Larry Flint and that’s really all you need to know.

Although I understand people’s anger, I think that’s exactly what Flint is challenging. I see it as a critique of Palin’s and the West’s (especially the U.S.’s) hypocrisy about sex and sexiness.

What is it that makes her sexual portrayal of herself in beauty contests more acceptable than her portrayal in porn except for societal values about the lines of acceptable sexuality? (Well, that and consent – but that’s why it’s a critique.) As a beauty queen she is like Artemis, irresistible but untouchable (think of Actaeon, people). But make her Aphrodite‘s devotee, as porn star/sex worker in this scenario, but it could as easily have been as sex education advocate (remember Jocelyn Elders‘ ideas about masturbation?), and she would be perceived as vulgar. As she is now, beautiful and inaccessible but also the “ideal” mother,  Palin is a walking reinforcement of patriarchal standards of acceptable womanhood; she’s a friggin’ Hestia for goodness sake.

As for the inclusion of Condi and Hillary, these two women have generally been cast in our culture as Athena and Hera, respectively. Condi as the asexual woman who is the Man’s scion (Bush as Zeus here) extending His power; Hillary as the long-suffering wife who cannot be sexy except in the context of her stereotypically sexist relationship (Bill Clinton as Zeus here) and longs for ultimate power in her own right. And yet, sadly, they are both the symbols of success for woman in this culture. This video turns that on its head, challenging public conceptions, expectations, and values that are sadly consistent with some from ancient Greece.

By thrusting them without consent into Aphrodite’s realm, Larry Flint reminds us of the violence inherent in our current portrayals of acceptable gender and sexuality. If we could embrace Aphrodite – the erotic – in our public and private lives, it would take us far closer to the equality we long for.*

I figure most of my readers are going to disagree with me, and that’s fine. One of the best things about a video like this, no matter where you fall on the issue, is the discussion that it motivates. Passionate discussion. Because sex matters and gender matters and they matter even more in politics, the public forum for our national identities.

*And there, too Aphrodite is should be our teacher as longing, himeros, is  under her jurisdiction.


Comments

5 responses to “The Political is Mythical”

  1. yeah, that’s a very interesting point of view. I think it could be looked at in such a profound way, although admittedly it’s a little hard for me to take it so seriously. Certainly some will be shocked or offended, but I sort of take it for granted that these are all healthy or moderately healthy women, and thus have sex and have sex drives. In short, I don’t get it, but I guess understand why someone else would. I can’t see being offended, though. Unless someone is doing something outlandishly degrading to one of the women in the video, it could even be seen as empowering, I guess. I definitely see the point that putting these women in the “Aphrodite” aspect forces people to confront the truth that purity and respectability in a woman do not exclude a healthy sexual appetite. So, maybe I can take it seriously. I’m on the fence. Not a big fan of porn with a budget, that’s my only problem. I don’t like seeing these women covered in body paint and airbrushed and all the hairs plucked and waxed, looking all prepubescent and submissive. But that’s a personal preference, I guess.

  2. I think you’re right. 100%

  3. For starters, I think Larry Flynt is a special kind of American hero — and I’m serious here — because he never claimed to give a shit about our phony morality and he made something significant of himself anyway, which is no easy feat in this country. Most people don’t know this, but the person who saved Bill Clinton from impeachment was Flynt, who advertised that he would start outing impeachment voters if things went further.

    Palin is going to be one of those odd characters in American culture and history — a petty little self-absorbed shithead, yes, but a petty little self-absorbed shithead who hunts moose and puts out babies and oh-by-the-way 3/4 of the country wants to fuck her. The men AND the women.

    I think for every woman who’s been appalled at her politics and the platform she’s been running on — and this certainly includes me — well, there’s this little part of me that’s thinking “Oh, If only she was on my side. If only I could kidnap Sarah Palin and just lick her pussy for a few hours, I think we could just work this whole thing out.” Do you know how many lesbians are discussing this? My friend Marga Gomez, who’s a fantastic dyke comedian, has this line where she says “Sarah Palin? She’s having my baby. And we’ve already named her Drill.” If only we could move her political viewpoint around just a little.

    I was talking to my good friend Christina the other night, and when I told her my kidnapping/cunnilingus fantasy about brainwashing Sarah Palin, she said “I don’t think it’d really be that hard. I think she really does like us. I think she’s ready for anything. She just wants to be a winner. That’s all this girl cares about.” When she was Sarah Barracuda on the high school basketball team, when she was in the beauty contest — you can just imagine how mad she was that she didn’t win Miss Alaska and only won Miss Congeniality.

    So there’s the personal and the political and the sexual and the cultural and the religious all bound up in a public figure of stunning intellectual shallowness.

    So this is not to say that Palin is a blank slate — in truth, the more we learn of her slate, the nastier it looks. It’s to say that putting her on the GOP ticket was nothing more than stunt casting. Like if I were restaging “A Doll’s House” for Broadway and I cast Jenna Jameson as Nora.

    Which brings us back to porn. I’d say that “Nalin’ Paylin” is probably the most honest reaction to this character so far. Not the person, not the symbolism — but the character she’s been asked to play and has willingly endorsed. The whole sordid McCain-Palin performance is like a shot-on-video softcore porno for hung-up pentacostals.

  4. I didn’t use the blockquote cite attribute properly. That quotation is from Susie Bright’s Why Sarah’s Sex Life Matters.

  5. InsertName Avatar

    A very interesting point if view. Sort of scary though, if you think about Bill Clinton being Zeus. Ouch.

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