The Other Woman as Rogue Animal Trainer
Granny Gets A Vibrator's post on Cultural Appropriation in the zydeco scene got me thinking about something that is really not what Liz is talking about, but nevertheless interested me. The excerpt that started my train of thought:
I began to notice that there was one segment of the Creole population that was far less friendly: the younger black women. Many of them totally ignored white people at dances, like we weren't even present; others were more openly hostile. I asked a black male friend of mine what this was about. He told me it was because these women were angry and fed up at the way white women were "stealing their men,"--dancing with them, using them, flirting with them, playing seduction games, and having sex with them.
"But why me?" I asked him. Hell, I'm an old lady, 52! Why should these beautiful young women in their 20s feel threatened by an old middle-aged shlub like me? And my friend said, Because that's exactly who is fucking with their men: older women, women over 40, over 50, sometimes over 60. When the zydeco bands travel up north, all the musicians, mostly men in their 20s and 30s, sleep with older white women while they're on tour. When the older white women come down here as tourists, they have sex with the Creole men in droves. These white women don't care if the men are married or have girlfriends, they don't care what effect their little affairs have on families, friendships, children, the community. They just want to have their fun, collect their Creole "trophies," dance and fuck with the natives like they're some exotic ride at Disneyland.
And no, the black Creole women are not just angry at the white women, they're also angry at the Creole men who participate. In fact black women boycott some of the zydeco bands because of the musicians' attitudes and treatment of black women. So this rift has been created within the community.
Race aside, I never understand how a person who has been cheated on can place *any* blame on the third party. How are these white women discussed above, who are either tourists or residents of towns wherein these men are visiting and are therefore not rooted in the same community, supposed to know who's married and who's in a relationship and what arrangement people have whose relationship is worth preserving? If he doesn't care, why should she? Sex is about the consent of the people having it, not the consent of everyone that loves them. I wouldn't doubt that a lot of these white women are married or coupled with (probably) white men, who themselves wouldn't want their wives and girlfriends sleeping with other men. But that's why relationships are about trusting your partner. If you've agreed to monogamy, then you have to trust your partner to be monogamous. Because it's just plain dumb to expect the rest of the world to honor you and your wishes for your relationship, when they don't even know you, or sometimes know you exist. It's just plain dumb to act as though one's partner cheated because someone else was "playing seduction games" and one's partner was rendered helpless.
I think the way we handle The Other Woman as this powerful, almost supernaturally so, dominating presence that compells the man to cheat is just an extension of our infantalizing of men in general. Women, whatever our sexual orientation, aren't expected to crumple into a wet pink throb just because someone swings a penis or a set of breasts in our direction. Much less, gives us some sexy glance from beneath the bandstand. Men, as always, are treated as children or animals, with no control over their own actions (except their unyielding ability to hold back tears). And so, they get compared to Fido or Shamu.
I don't think that what the Creole women above are doing (and it's certainly not limited to them - it's by far the norm) is particularly different from what some idiot might write in the Modern Love section of The New York Times about training her husband like a performing dolphin. If you think your partner is an adult human, you see their choices as their choices and their weaknesses as their weaknesses. This blaming of The Other Woman makes it seem like infidelity is actually a property crime (hence the use of the word "stealing") perpetrated by The Other Woman against the cheated-upon-partner. You can't "steal" that which goes with you willingly. And given that the objectification of these Creole men is pointed out as one of the sins of the white women here, I'd say the Creole wives and girlfriends are just as guilty, though it manifests differently.
And that brings me to another question: if you are having sex with someone on vacation and you don't know much about them, are you automatically treating them like a "ride at Disneyland"? I'm not saying some people aren't, but when Liz makes the comparison with Heading South, I'm a little puzzled because that's about sex tourism. The men in Heading South are prostitutes. (I don't automatically think they're being "objectified" either, but there's still a world of difference.) Is it possible for us to conceive of a casual sexual relationship as not exploitative? If so, is it possible for us to conceive of a casual interracial sexual relationship as not exploitative? Or is the old "jungle fever" explanation our culture's only way of comprehending this?
Oh and what does the age issue signify here? The fact that these women are in their 40s and 50s (even 60s!) is made a point of - why? (I'm not saying it's not significant, I just need someone to tell me how.)
Finally, what really are the ethics of casual sex outside one's race? Do these ethics change with age differentials, the gender of the participants, the races involved, income disparities, where people live?