“Not Ever” – Impulse Exchange

Prior to seeing the above ad, I’d thought “She’s askin’ for it” to be one of the most erotically potent sentences in the English language. After the ad, I now realise it’s a bemused young blonde in a dress shop uttering the words “I’m going out tonight and I want to get raped. I need a skirt that will encourage a guy to have sex with me against my will.”

The advert raises a number of interesting issues:

  1. It contains two clearly erotic components:
    • In the way the words “She’s askin’ for it” do not represent a belief or attitude, but instead constitute a verbal extension of sex itself; the words penetrate the girl from afar producing a pseudo-sexual subjective experience.
    • In that the girl’s speech act – “I’m going out tonight and I want to get raped” – is also arousing, however ironic, due to the private experience of ‘wanting to be penetrated’, being made public.
  2. The advert stupidly assumes the right to take what is essentially an erotic exchange through barely conscious impulses – the solicitation of random desire represented by the sexualised dress – and then drag its reactive counterpart – “She’s askin’ for it” – up into the world of belief and social scrutiny. The underlying message of the dress is to elicit desire. “She’s askin’ for it” represents the preliminary response of the desire inspired – it is not a statement of belief, it is a verbal extension of sex itself. By dragging this exchange into critical, rational space, the advert produces phobia around the impulse. In this is impotence and the desire to abandon erotic language itself – the ad asks that the self should not follow the sexual impulse, but should annihilate it with rationality and belief.
  3. Both men and women fantasize about forced sex and rape – such fantasies will increase with the widespread production of virtual bodies. A question then: To what extent does the sexual dress represent an unconscious incentive to rape? In the past, society ordered its public dress codes with an onus on decency. Freedom and liberation takes no account of unconscious impulse, but places the whole social order on rational responsibility, self-control and the neurotic negation of impulses. The private, sexualised dress has become public, and as such desire is at once both intensified and outlawed. Neurosis, rape, impotence, infidelity, sexual dysfunction and confusion abound.
  4. Sexualised, egalitarian, consumer culture prides itself on the fabrication of discursive illusions at the expense of any impulsive ‘reality’; that, or the abstracted, moral self is emphasized over the impulsive self whilst at the same time the impulses are amplified. Every subject is taught to encourage desire and measure their worth by the encouragement of that desire. Sexual expression – at its most modest – is a fundamentally private language that has, in the present, gone public: we dress as we please, behave as we please and produce the discourse to nullify all potential consequences and re-channel, re-conceive all resultant pain. It is this abstracted, discursive illusion that we feed back into existential space – “She’s askin’ for it” is turned into a belief, an attitude, not an autosexual response to the scatter-gun solicitation of desire. We sterilize the existential landscape to maintain equality and freedom whilst producing phobia, frustration, dysfunction and rape.
  5. From the above observations, we may define two types of impulse exchange: positive and negative impulse exchange. A negative exchange would be as described above: the dress which randomly scatters the incentive to penetrate and the counterpart reaction “She’s askin’ for it” which is a pseudo-sex. Similarly, in the ad, by way of flirtation, the girl laughs and says to the male to whom she’s talking “You’re terrible!” The seductive power here is precisely in making the male ‘terrible’, letting him become more monsterous. The response of course, would be for him to become more outrageous. In contrast to the negative exchange, we could demonstrate positive exchanges in love’s more familliar, conventional expressions: “I love you”/”I love you too”, “You’re beautiful”, “I can’t live without you” etc.

Summary : “She’s askin’ for it” is a verbal extension of sex inspired by a body sexualised by a style of dress. The underlying message of the sexualised dress is to inspire desire; there is a potential correlation between the erotic function of the dress and the erotic effect of the words “I want to get raped” within the ad. Nothing of this exchange operates at the level of belief, but rather functions in amidst the interplay of erotic impulses; it is for this reason that culture previously emphasized ‘decency’ and contained the sexualised appearance in the private, domestic sphere. In egalitarian, consumer culture however, the amplification of desire and the intensification of impulse is commonplace and encouraged. To nullify the negative effects and uphold our concept of freedom, we emphasize moral responsibility and abstract the interplay of impulsive signs into the sphere of belief – “I want to get raped?” is countered with “As if!” or “She’s askin’ for it” is countered with “No one asks for it!” The attitudinal belief and what is experienced through impulsive exchange have nothing to do with each other. By abstracting the impulse into the world of belief, we do nothing but produce phobia around the impulse, divorce ourselves from sexual experience and further incentivise the redeployment of sexual impulses into other derelational spheres. Finally, from these observations, we can identify two valid forms of erotic impulse exchange: the negative exchange, wherein the efficacy of the exchange is in some way dependant on the loss of one for the sake of increasing the other; and the positive exchange, where there appears to be some equivalence in what is lost and gained between the two parties or equivalence in the things exchanged.

  1. The paradoxical interplay that undoubtedly exists between the conscious, expressed and socially moderated manners by which people tend to project a ‘presented’ self to others, and the unconscious impulses which drive the self we either conceal or fail to discover and recognise, is probably most loaded in sexual activity and in violence. Although those engaged in violent contact sports will desire both to project (and to believe) themselves to be ‘controlled’ and thus able to engage in their sport without being seen, and/or seeing themselves, as potentially dangerous socio/psychopaths, there remains an underlying impulse to behave as they are socially and ‘morally’ inhibited from behaving. Though they deny it, they are perfectly capable of maiming or killing, and merely suppress their desire to do so. Similarly – especially if Robin Baker’s assertions in his book; ‘Sperm Wars’ are correct, all women are ‘programmed’ to be penetrated by multiple partners as frequently as possible, and all men are programmed to penetrate as often as possible in order to compete and win in a ‘sperm war’ that takes place inside the vagina. Many men will be familiar with the statement; “when a woman says no, she really means yes.” Indeed, some women enjoy playing sexual games in which they deny their partners penetration in order to heighten the male desire and enjoy a more vigorous episode of intercourse, which is also likely to increase the male’s success in impregnating the female. Social relationships demand that we neither recognise our deepest impulses, nor act on them, but the tensions that this creates are a major contributing factor to folks feeling intensely ‘screwed-up’. We are monsters, but we don’t like to see ourselves as such. Once we are able to accept the fact, we can make some kind of progress. We lose very little. we just lock it away, because it frightens us. If we unleash our inner demons, what is to stop others unleashing theirs and annihilating us?

  2. “The paradoxical interplay that undoubtedly exists between the conscious, expressed and socially moderated manners by which people tend to project a ‘presented’ self to others, and the unconscious impulses which drive the self we either conceal or fail to discover and recognise, is probably most loaded in sexual activity and in violence. “

    I think the point of this post was not to tell people what they ‘are underneath’, but instead to critique the social fiction in which we live. ‘Socially moderated manners’ are of a different order to what takes place today. ‘Manners’ imply some sort of awareness or duty to unconscious impulse – a conscious effort to regulate those impulses – and I suspect them to be quite alien to what we have today. Today, we intermingle hyper-emotional life, the orgasm, absolute individualism with entertainment and leisure; to achieve this, we have elected to engage in a hyper-functional sterilization of the very impulses these emotions rely on. What I wanted to do in the above was critique the half-witted, grossly paradoxical moral world which allows an ad like the one featured to function. It is a stupid ad that says: “Engage in sex, but that sex must not be sex”.

  1. May 8th, 2011

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