Cougars, Aunties and MILFs: The sexualisation of older women

Idly flicking through the stats for this blog I came across something strange.  Despite this being a Scottish blog, the majority of its readers would appear to be from India.  I was a bit puzzled by this and explored a bit more.  The most popular search term that people find their way here through is “aunties” – nothing all that surprising about that, but looking down the list and what aunties is combined with is eye-opening   At no 4 we have “village aunties sex“, at no 6 we have “aunties ass” with “nude aunties“, “sexual aunties“, “aunties sex” and “sex with aunties” all featuring prominently.  In fact looking down the list, I would reckon that over half the people who have found this blog through a search engine have done so through some combination if “auntie” with sexual terminology.

In Indian society, auntie is used as a term of respect by a young person for an older woman of social aquaintance.  A more formal equivalent in the UK would probably be “madam”, a term which is also sexualised through its association with brothel keepers. The sexualisation of older women is not entirely new – most teen boys develop a crush on a particularly attractive teacher with the assertions of Miss Jean Brodie and latent sensuality of Mrs Robinson exploring it in popular culture, but the recent popularity of the terms “Cougar” annd “MILF” (Mother I’d Like to Fuck) tell of an increased sexualisation.

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Towards a Sex Neutral Feminism

Over at the (very excellent) Radical Transfeminist blog, Lisa Millbank has been thinking through some of the theory behind “sex-negative feminism”.  This current has been out of fashion in contemporary feminist thinking since its heyday in the 70s and 80s with the rise of political lesbianism and the use of “sex-strikes” as a protest tactic.”Sex- positive feminism” emerged from women involved in the sex industry who felt marginalised and silenced by some of the discourses emerging from the rad-fem movement and grew to encompass a range of other women, including those involved in BDSM practices and non-traditional relationship structures.  It seeks to reclaim female sexuality , asserting it vocally and demanding that it is respected.

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Riding the waves

Feminism is in flux these days.

As the waves lap at the shore, generational differences are crashing into one another and creating a lot of white water. I’m not old enough to remember the start of the second wave, but I am almost certain that there would have been conflict between first wavers who concentrated on the political and legal situation of women, and the next generation who explored the social and sexual. Not, of course, that these are necessarily in conflict: the legal framework of any group defines its social position, and indeed it was only at the start of the second wave that the Equal Pay act was introduced, and well into it before women got the right of independent taxation.

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De-Occupy Glasgow

Cross-posted from Mhairi’s personal blog Random Musings. Long and volatile comments section happening over there. Thanks Mhairi for letting us have this one up here too. Watch comments section here for links to further writing and activism on this issue. — Morag Eyrie.

Update – Open Letter from Glasgow Women’s Activist Forum

I cant honestly say that I was ever that enthused about the “Occupy Movement“.  After seeing a live link up from Occupy Wall Street earlier this month, I did feel a frisson of revolutionary excitement, but it faded by the time that 15th October came round.  It was genuinely amazing and inspiring to hear from an OWS activist live on video link, and when asked what we could do to support them his immediate response was to bring the Occupy movement to wherever we were.  But once the initial rosy glow evaporated, I cant say it was an action which filled me with much enthusiasm.

In Glasgow there was considerable debate within the activist community in the lead up to the global day of action on 15th October.  Should we be supporting the better planned Edinburgh Occupy?  Should we be looking to set up our own Glasgow Occupy?  Or should we be concentrating our activities elsewhere?  In the end the decision was kind of made for us when people unknown to the activist community set up a facebook event which attracted considerable support.  In such circumstances it would have been horribly elitist of us to stand at the edges shouting “Look, you’re doing it all wrong”, we needed to roll up our sleeves and muck in, at least to some extent.
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Ada Lovelace Day: Donna Haraway

Today is Ada Lovelace day, a day to celebrate the achievements of women in Science, Engineering and Maths. As a former mathematician and a bit of a geek, I remember feeling both surprised and pleased when at eleven years old I discovered that the ADA computer language was named after the first computer scientist and that unusually she got the recognition that she deserved, in a time when so many women’s achievements were accredited to their male partners. For today I’d like to select Donna Haraway as a woman who has been inspiring to other women including myself to pursue aims and ambitions within the STEM area.

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On Defeating the Kyriarchy (post 3/3)

Consciousness raising is critical to any attempts to overcome kyriarchical thinking, but it needs re-envisaged. Traditional consciousness raising of the type which became popular during second wave feminism concentrated on examining the oppressions to which the recessive group were subject highlighting to other members of the group their oppression. It is for the radical to examine their own oppressive practices and behaviours. As a member of a privileged group – whatever that privilege may be in any particular circumstances – it can be both an enlightening and humbling experience to examine the oppression which you perpetuate. Developing an oppositional consciousness, allying ourselves with the oppressed and encouraging others to do likewise is a more productive strategy than consistently fighting the other from a position of weakness.
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On Defeating the Kyriarchy (post 2/3)

Within each of the identity based oppressions there are a number of different strategies used to attempt to overcome them.  At its most fundamental is consciousness raising, alerting members of the oppressed community imbibed with the its values to the ways in which it oppresses them to encourage them to challenge and fight against it.   Conciousness raising is a critical issue and one which should not be underestimated.  From birth we are shaped by the society in which we are born into.  That society is not universally experienced, a Black child born to Black lesbian parents in a Black dominated suburb will experience the kyriarchy differently from a white child born to a married couple in the same community, never the less the dominant values, transmitted through mass media, legal governance and state ideological apparatuses operate directly on the sense of self, while interactions with others, also subject to the same social effects and each with individual experiences of their own identity, their immediate environmental identity and the identity of their social community.
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On Defeating the Kyriarchy (post 1/3)

Kyriachy is a term coined in 1992 by Fliorenza and adopted by many third wave feminists as a more encompassing view of power and privilege than the concept of patriarchy, which dominated the analysis of most second wave feminists.  Understanding the concerns of, in particular, women of colour, third wave feminists have attempted to go beyond the narrow “ranking of the oppressions” which caused so many difficulties towards the end of the second wave, causing division and resentment within feminist ranks.

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Policing and Justice in the Context of Uprisings

The events of the weekend in London shows the level of anger present in local communities in the capital of the UK.  Riots unseen since the early 1980s raged for two days across a seven mile stretch of North London before spreading across the whole of the capital and onto the rest of England. This occurs in the context of uprisings across Europe, particularly in Greece and Spain as austerity measures kick in and ordinary people feel the pain of the bankers’ crisis.  With the euro plummeting, and no end in sight to the chaos, it is unlikely that this pain will cease any time soon.  The character of the events in London are very different however to that which has happened in Greece.  The politics of the situation, high on the foreground in Greece fuelling the anger are less overt in the London Riots – where the anger is more guttural and less well channelled, ignited and fuelled by a Metropolitan police force which is rapidly being exposed as corrupt, unaccountable and fundamentally untruthful.

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Sexual Violence and the Justice System

Introduction

In May 2011, Ken Clarke caused outrage by remarks made in a media interview. When questioned about the tariffs received for rape convictions, he asserted

“A serious rape, with violence and an unwilling woman, the tariff is much longer … Date rape can be as serious as the worst rapes, but date rapes … vary extraordinarily one from another and in the end the judge has to decide on the circumstances.”

Implying that date rape isn’t serious, doesn’t involve violence or an “unwilling woman” is shocking coming from the Justice Secretary.

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