I just read the bell hooks reading “Seduced by Violence No More” in which she argues against the “rape culture” supported by “basic hetero-sexist ‘eroticism’”. Much of what she said, especially about women (and men) preferring males who display more aggression or dominance, reminded me much of a phrase I’ve heard heterosexual guys say throughout high school and college, “girls love guys who are assholes.” (I know hooks limits her scope to black men and black women but I contend this phenomenon pervades other races or interracial sexual interactions as well). Often this was a complaint. To me it generally means that girls sexually prefer the ‘alpha-male’ (he doesn’t have to be mean, simply powerful). Some observations: this statement excludes how norms dictated by the media (as seen in Dreamworlds 3) are internalized, thereby irrationally putting the blame for the ‘rape culture’ solely on women. The next logical leap is that a man has no choice but to display power if he wants to get laid!
I think men might explain this as ‘natural’. As a species we have evolved by women choosing the dominant male, who can provide for her and her offspring, and this preference is now encoded in our very DNA. While I see some merit in this argument, specifically in its emphasis on physicality, it doesn’t explain how ‘power’ nowadays, achieved through wealth and status, is completely socially constructed.
Sadly, the statement is said as an absolute; this is the game we are destined to play (and lose at). Is it that every heterosexual buys into this sexual culture to some degree? Even hooks has trouble with denying it! Is it that most will while some will get outside of it? Is it a culture present all over the world? Is it even true or partly true?