You know when I said this was probably going to turn into a place where I come to rant about body issues and society? Well, folks, today is that.
I recently exchanged comments with someone (whom I respect and admire. It would not go too far to say that I may have a little fangirl crush on this person and that I hope to one day be where this person is) on a social networking site about a woman on who owned H.P. Lovecraft on Mastermind. Someone quoted this guy, further joking ensued. A great time was had by all.
Except for about an hour afterward, I felt uncomfortable and a little odd. Then, I figured out what was bothering me. Here was a woman that I identified with. I watched that video and I thought, "She's my people." And, when I contributed to the exchange, I used gender neutral words. I thought I was setting an explicit boundary that said, "This is a person and this is how I want to see her." The invocation of her sexuality (and, I do not know her and so could not say. It is perhaps true that Lovecraft really, really turns her on) was shocking to me. She was not doing anything that was an explicit performance of sexuality. Everyone views things differently; I don't have a problem with people seeing things that turn them on. I don't even have a problem with people expressing that. My problem is that it seems like feminine sexuality invites commentary. I have an intellectual relationship with the person on the other half of the exchange. We don't hang out. We don't exchange birthday greetings. I don't know if this person has siblings or if they have pets. Its just not part of our relationship. So, I didn't expect to be joking about how smart women are hotter in bikinis. And, as a smart woman who never wears a bikini, I was a little freaked out.
Now, I'm pretty sure that part of this has to do with losing weight. I'm back on the path to hotness and as I know from previous attempts this always brings up questions for me about identity, what is attractive, and where I fit in the world, and how to best perform my sexual identity so that I'm the one that is getting something from it. These are complicated issues because I grew in an era where Kate Moss reigned supreme and every model from Seventeen to Cosmo (the real Cosmo, I'm too old to have read Cosmo Girl) looked like she was about one accident with a needle away from being a drug statistic. My notion of myself and my notion of what is attractive do not often have large overlaps. And, when they do, I've found myself the recipient of much unwanted attention. So, how do we deal with these things? How do we deal with being smart and sexy? How do you successfully express ownership of a sexual identity that has been objectified and work it to your advantage? I'm at a loss about this.