03 May 2005

hysteria and the perfect fake.

you know, i am Not a feminist, by strict definition. i have better things to rant about (or i would hope i do) than to pull out my tiny soapbox and tell the world how i've been wronged by virtue of my gender.
that said...

1. hysteria.

dear reader(s), i was involved in a multi-media arts show at Buddies last year entitled "Hysteria". Fantastic experience. perhaps a bit more female-centric than i'm used to, which is a limitation i usually find a little worrisome, since i think a balance of estrogen and testosterone is necessary in most endeavours to bring about perspective and quality.
this was the first time i gave the word hysteria a moment of real attention.
now the following is a definition of hysteria from the glorious knowledge bank of Wikipedia (bear with me, here...):

Hysteria is a diagnostic label applied to a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses. The fear is often centered on a body part, most often on an imagined problem with that body part ... People who are "hysterical" often lose self-control due to the overwhelming fear.
The term originates with the Greek medical term, hysterikos. This referred to a supposed medical condition, peculiar to women, caused by disturbances of the uterus, hystera in Greek. The term hysteria was coined by Hippocrates, who thought that the cause of hysteria was irregular movement of blood from the uterus to the brain.
The same general definition came into widespread use in the late 1800s to describe what is today generally considered to be sexual dissatisfaction. "Treatment" typically consisted of the use of vibrators or water sprays to cause orgasm. By the early 1900s the practice, and usage of the term, had fallen from use, until it was again popularised when the writings of Sigmund Freud became known and influential in Britain and the USA in the 1920s. The Freudian psychoanalytic school of psychology uses its own, somewhat controversial, ways to treat hysteria.


2. the Perfect Fake.

i'm not sure what it is in me that gets myself into these situations: i often do strange research or have odd conversations under the guise of "stretching the boundaries of my knowledge and/or experience". i will chase after things that disturb me or i find threatening, precisely to find out why i am affected as such. truth be told, there is no time to date that i have significantly changed my attitude towards certain things, and more often than not i end up just feeling nauseated by some of the world's more atrocious leanings — one would think i would leave well enough alone — but alas, i don't.
which brings us to Friday.
a documentary entitled "the perfect fake". i was the one who proposed seeing it, despite caveats from Barker that we would very probably both leave feeling offended, anxious, or just plain Unusual. surprising absolutely noone, i didn't listen.

the documentary, in case it isn't obvious, is about sex dolls and cyber-porn. (yes. sex-dolls and cyber porn.)

the documentary was (Very Cleverly) coupled with "Life-Like", a piece on taxidermy. (yes, Taxidermy. moose heads in basements and stuffed dead house pets.)

characters included:
(in "life-like"): a woman with a recently deceased pet dog that she was determined to have immortalized through an effective freeze drying.

(in "perfect fake") a 40 year old anonymous executive who runs around wearing a wedding ring, whilst he keeps a separate apartment for his 40 odd sex dolls. the number is, of course, ever rising. he fucks each new one as they arrive, and has solitary little orgies with his numerous moppets of debauchery.

a man who has one of these life-like vixens for his partner, takes her on trips and photographs her in parks with the daisies blowing in the distance. "when she doesn't want me to take her photograph," he says, " i can be agressive and take her photograph anyway"
of course, you can, dearheart, of course you can.
(note the use of the pronoun she. not it, but she.)

another man spends his time constructing blow job machines. he describes them as reminiscent of vacuum cleaners. (vacuum cleaners)"lots of people like to fuck vacuum cleaners" he says, just before giving viewers a (clothed) demonstration of how his high-tech machinery works. "it feels like Really having sex" REAL sex, ladies and gentlemen.

i would at this juncture like to pose a question about the "male" as he was presented here, catering to what were repeatedly asserted to be his natural born desires. WHAT ON FUCKING EARTH IS NATURAL ABOUT A HUMAN BEING SHACKING UP WITH A RUBBER DOLL, SPREAD EAGLED IN A SCHOOL KILT, POPPING HER HEAD OFF AND STUFFING HER IN A BAG TO TAKE HER PLACES WITH HIM?


i would like, for a moment, to refer you once again to the outset of this posting, with the defining tenets of "hysteria": Hysteria is a diagnostic label applied to a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses. The fear is often centered on a body part, most often on an imagined problem with that body part
yes. and is this the same "sexual dissatisfaction" of the 1800's that doctors "treated" women for with vibrators and the like?

have we put so much estrogen in our dairy products that men are taking over the roles once reserved for us?

the filmmaker was present for the q and a afterwards, and explained his impetus for making the documentary was an article he read on some spanish company determined to make a hard core porn film that was/is all CGI. the filmmaker found himself contemplating how it would change the experience of watching porn.
i asked if any women were involved making the film. he seemed baffled by my question. there was, after all, the lesbian sociologist in the commentary part near the beginning. he had no answer to what any women involved thought of the film. and then this dodge: "this film is about men" the ENTIRE film is about the manufacturing of "women", and it is considered to be ONLY about men.

now it is true. this film is largely Not about men who've been rejected by women; it is about men who want nothing to do with women in the first place. "Woman" (as most of us define the term) is no longer the ideal here. and, as one doll creator said, with a teddy bear on his lap during the interview: "once you've created that world for yourself you become resistant to change."

there was, to me, this irreducible irony of watching a bunch of men sit around and discuss themselves, like their relationships to females (or fake ones) could be understandable simply by virtue of an all-male debate. (sorry, and one lesbian, of course.)

now, to attempt another perspective on this, there are probably alot of guys out there who should be shacking up with dolls. many don't know how to communicate, and much importantly don't want to communicate, and i'm sure many assume that their actions as a result have no repercussion on anyone around them, and cause a Great Deal of Harm to those they're involved with .

i would like to propose that many of us aren't taught to live well in this age of toys and excess. what was it... "without God, everything is permitted." well, just 'coz there may not be a "God", Just because everything is permitted, doesn't mean that nothing is sacred. we're so busy going about creating toys to replace what we are lacking, because we no longer even try to define sacred these days, much less search for it.

all hail a new age of sacredness, i propose it in the forms of Respect, Etiquette (tempered and modernized of course) and chivalry. i Swear it. if we were all better behaved in our general daily considerations of each other we might begin to find it easier to find other people sacred again.

since i'm aware that my views are not necessarily those held by my reader(s), someone in the audience did ask the price difference between getting a doll made and getting an animal stuffed. one of the taxidermists was present and when given the microphone said "well, the stuffed animals are cheaper, if that's any help."

if that's any help.


prettyslippers said...

Your commentary on hysteria and the perfect fake reminded me, for some reason, that somebody recently told me that species of animals in the carribean and, hmmm... somewhere off the coast of indonesia?... have now evolved to reproduce without the male gamete. Sounds fishy, and the scientific sources are questionable, but the speaker presented this as a sign that lest 'We' (as a species) start thinking about women differently, it could be the end of men... so sad. Sad like the boy with his doll in the park, cherry blossoms in her synthetic hair...

steflenk said...

it's all very strange.
there needs to be some Serious acknowledgement, if not of women themselves, then of the sort of contribution the feminine perspective (for want of a better term) is bringing to this world.
my sadness for the boy with his doll in the park has waned to anger at the stupidity of whoever didn't help him as he was turning into that. whoever sees him in the park and just laughs it off and walks away. that is INSANITY.
we don't solve problems in this world until it's too late, Across the Board. and it makes me Insane!

sigh. of course, that's not a very feminine or compassionate sentiment on my part, i'm afraid.

prettyslippers said...

Is it feminine or compassionate? (your response). I'm not sure I completely understand what compassion is. Or rather, I am sure I don't completely understand what compassion is, but I am certain that it can be FIERCE. I certain that at times it must be FIERCE. Like a doll that bites back. Or like a warrior that chops the head off a doll. But I'm speaking metaphorically now about the doll, because what is the doll? Some kind of illusion. And then, I think, well if a man wants to sit in a park with a doll, why should that bother me? (It doesn't, really, it just makes me feel sad) I think now I will sit under that tree where the blossoms are falling and contemplate how prayers get answered. So, I turn from the pain of this illusion to another. And there's the man with and there's me and we both want something.
In regards to whoever didn't help the man with the doll, although practically yes, there were probably one or two caregivers that contributed primarily to whatever his problems are, but ultimately, aren't again that ubiquitous 'We' all responsible? And, now isn't he responsible. Of course 'We' are. Of course he is.

kim said...

In response to the Fierce Compassion statement, i would like to offer an opinion that Passion is often Fierce; but Compassion Never. Compassion is The Understanding Behind Passion, and carries with it a certain empathetic quality. Calm Pass ion.

steflenk said...

i too am certain and in full agreement that compassion can be fierce. or that it has to be.
when more than one person is involved in anything, there are mixed wires and dual considerations at stake.
to be compassionate for someone else who is not being compassionate back for whatever reason, who is not Acknowledging your needs or boundaries, is Not "understanding behind passion", it's self-destructive and martyrdom.
someone said to me the other day that having compassion includes having compassion for yourself. evident, and yet, so near impossible.
in order to combat all the other self-absorbed needs, motivations, desires of being myself, and Just Be Compassionate (for myself), is going to involve FEROCITY.
i also agree, prettyslippers, that you and the man in the park both want something, but i don't think the man in the park is thinking compassionately. i think he's lost and fucked and that's sad, and i think we're All responsible in some sense, but, as with a dead plant, sometimes you just have to walk away.

Ferocious, but true.

of course, true only in some situations, which brings us to what might be the only plausible answer; doing our Very best to evaluate correctly what and who we are compassionate about.

kim said...

I can understand how involving yourself with someone who is not respecting you, or "not being compassionate back (or)Acknowledging your needs and boundaries..." can be self-destructive and martyr-like (if necessary changes are not made). AND I can see that in many situations it Can be helpful to FEROCIOUSLY make a point to put someone in a more appropriate place. (If you are at the end of your rope and don't want to Maintain relations, for example)
However, being compassionate for someone else "who is not being compassionate Back" allows room for another person to See their errors, within a Safe space, and allows for Growth.
This involves expressing your boundaries in a Clear and Firm manner with someone who is overstepping and helping them out of ignorance, providing an alternative; giving direction. Allowing someone to change in a way that fosters mutual respect. THIS IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH. And is compassion for yourself and the other person, using friendly, not Fiendly force.

steflenk said...

i agree with that in Principle.
but i don't think i've ever (so far) come across a situation that was as clear-cut as that.
that is the problem with definitions of everything isn't it. they are so inaccurate. words, all of them, are subjective: "mutual respect", "compassion", "boundaries".
especially in this multi-media world. am i having "respect" for my reader(s) by writing all this stuff in a public space? i'm doing it for myself, there's no doubt about that. but why waste their time with it?
and is it compassionate to allow someone destructive or invasive behaviour under the auspices of allowing them space to be themselves? no. i don't think so.
and boundaries. how do you define boundaries when you are dealing with people who are acting inadvertently? i don't know anyone in my life who wishes to do harm of any sort. but sometimes, i feel harmed. that is a truth.
does one block out all the good to keep away from the bad?
of course not.
see, it's a very difficult thing.

kim said...

well said
(as i ache in acknowledging the pain of being made aware of greater truth)