Sunday, 3 June 2007

Tarzan's Jane

The headline in the Dominion Post reads: "From Pole Vaulter to Sex Symbol" . I keenly read the article describing the 18 year old's unexpected rise to fame following an interview posted on 'youtube'. Besides the captioned picture of her breathtaking beauty resides a rather unnecessary explanation of her fame: "...largely a result of hundreds of men ogling her physique". It is important to note: she strongly denounces those who have given her such objectifying fame.

She bothers me.

I gaze primitively at her picture, but simultaneously shy away. My resistance at gazing intrigues and troubles me. Why do I look at her physique and not be filled with sexual desire but inexplicable chaos? It is not the depth of her femininity nor her superficial beauty that bids me shy way. Perhaps I shy away because 'ogling' the photo inevitably says something about me. Or perhaps, it is simply her deservedness that commands me so. Sheer envy at this accomplished athlete's intensity of focus and desire.

Though I do no deny the envy factor, I do dare suggest there is more to it; for if this were a male, I would not have batted an eyelid; complete ambivalence would be the order of the time. But her beautiful, gorgeous, inviting womanhood coupled with the unfathomable focus and effort that she has dedicated to her chosen field, is truly threatening to the masculine psyche. There's something about beautiful and successful women which is boldly demeaning.

I suddenly get the urge to deface her beauty in the paper. To quote 'Fight Club': "I wanted to destory something beautiful".

On second thoughts then, It is the depth of her femininity; the fact that she can deny her fame, she can deny her obscenity. The fact that she is desirable and desired by every man, yet makes it clear she is naive to such matters. For that reason, she challenges my 'masculinity' (that demolition worthy, awful, Patriarchal, social construct). For her femininity must be viewed as a strength, and not simply be defined as a feature lacking in masculinity. She is successful in spite and because of her womanhood. And there is nothing more frightening to a man in the world.

The male gaze is thus relegated to one of admiration and desire - not denigration - but one of ideals to live up to - not deprication.
Further complicating the matter then: to live up to everything she is - one must be feminized. This is inherently problematic to the male psyche. First due to its unattainable nature and second due to my blatant refusal to do so: resulting in a broadly - yet powerfully - misogynistic outlook. For to admire a woman is to aspire to drown in her beautiful lascivious femininity, the depth of which is worryingly dark and unexplored. And by all accounts unfathomable.

This denial of the feminine depth by women is the biggest deceit that any man will ever face.

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