Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Complexities of desire

-The NYT deems a recent murder of a white man as not racially motivated for the following reasons:

A closer look at the shooting shows it was not about race. One of the three suspects was white, another had a white mother and a third had many white friends, including a girl he had been dating. 
Yes, if one of the alleged offenders is also white, and there was no other detail suggesting racial animosity, this would be a strange one to investigate as a hate crime. But what interests me here is the notion that someone can't be racist against a particular race if they have a parent who's that race, if some of their friends are, or if their significant other is. As came up on occasion in my dissertation, anti-Semites with Jewish lovers or spouses were plenty common in 19th-century French fiction, and not unheard-of in life. And the more familiar American example: do we really think all black people with white ancestry are the product of unions born of interracial understanding? And, you know, the some of my best friends thing?

-So, the first Prudie letter here. While there is, once again, far more going on than the angle I'm focusing on, what's interesting for WWPD persistent-motif purposes is the way female desire sometimes gets expressed as the desire to be desired. The backstory for the too-busy-for-links/the "Dear Prudence" boycotters: a married woman has this outrageous, insatiable sex drive, but because her husband isn't available every five minutes or whatever, she fears that he doesn't find her attractive. Mismatched libido - or maybe it's just that she's not particularly monogamous, it's not clear (the "I fantasize constantly about having sex with others" bit, and the cheating on her first husband one...), but in any case, why does she articulate this as being about how pretty she is? Is this, as Prudie concludes, because of this woman's "shriveled and needy ego"? While I second Prudie's suggestion that the woman seek help, this seems only an extreme example of something that goes on even among the not-unhinged: women following whichever script it is that asks them to articulate their own urges for beautiful (which is subjective) men as a wish to be thought beautiful by men.


Petey said...

"what's interesting for WWPD persistent-motif purposes is the way female desire sometimes gets expressed as the desire to be desired."

I'll go straight to the tangential here, if you'll excuse me.

Have you seen this? Straight Marxian analysis of how such gender relations are directly related to the economic superstructure.

caryatis said...

I would say we don't know whether this woman is articulating her sexual urges as desire to be admired or whether the desire to be admired is driving the sexual urges. It's not unheard-of for women with low self esteem to seek validation through having a lot of sex, even when their sex drive is merely normal (or low).

David Schraub said...

If I didn't know better, I'd think that was a tongue-in-cheek poke at the "but I have black friends!" defense.

Phoebe said...


Yes, an interesting article, but I didn't get the sense that the author had any particular familiarity with Denmark/Northern Europe in general. Anecdotal evidence says, the patriarchy doesn't disappear when socialism arrives.


That's true, we don't know. But it seems odd that a woman would be desiring sex with a bunch of men other than her husband for this reason. Flirting, maybe?


If only. But alas.