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Twilight, Lady Gaga, and women’s structure of desire
Twilight, Lady Gaga, and women’s structure of desire

This post is badly written, and I apologize, but it is a complicated post and would take longer than I want to write it well.

What do women want has been an age old discussion. It seems what teenage girls (of a certain kind) want can be more easily described at the moment, and this might be a good start to understand the general structure of desire, especially as most women never completely grow up from the 15 year old fantasy of desire (nor do men).

“To be courted you have to have two suitors and not one.”  All of a sudden I understood, through Twilight,why is that. There has to be a loser! To be desired means, for women, someone not getting you. This is unintuitive, but I’ll explain why.

To be utterly passive, a bare source of extreme attraction. Think of a very strong magnet which pulls everyone towards it. But what is interesting is not merely the pulling, but the managing to keep away. As Margaret Mead so eloquently and brilliantly put, quoted in post, women need both to attract but also to provide a hindrance. It is their responsibility to make sure that the deed is not consummated. The ultimate woman can thus manage to keep at bay the most extreme attraction.

So also the need and desire for someone strong to “protect them.” If you have protection you can have the strongest attraction, shine the brightest, and still be safe, while without a protector it is dangerous to shine even a  little bit, at least in the utterly passive state.

The place of desire they want is to be this extremely powerful source of attraction, of beauty, while creating a certain force that will keep people at bay. They want to feel like a magician who can control the forces around them, with attackers and protectors as ways of not piercing the shield,  but yet extremely attractive.


In several discussions here the structure of desire, how desire works, has been debated. The basic contentious point of view is that of “Desire is always the desire of the other.”  Note discussions on Jealousy, and desire is always the desire of the other; What is Valentine’s day like in the Girard household; The spark of love; and other discussions whose thread can be found through those.  The topic of Vampires should also be mentioned.

The Twilight series is all about these triangles of desire. The question is not who Bella, the leading character, is attracted to, it’s the fact that both men are attracted to her and they can’t both have her. Perhaps this is a major point in women being for monogamous relationships? Clearly Bella would want to be with both of them, but then how could one of them lose her. The latest film, Twilight Eclipse is all about the men having to see the other man touch her. Why is having the men suffer in seeing her touch the other so important for the women to feel the desire?

No, desire is not simply the desire of the other, it is not simply that she needs a different woman to want her man, what she further needs is different men to want her, or simply a certain complicated case of strong attraction which remains in tension. Unfulfilled desire.

 
One important note further make is how What women want is not the man but the life. They want the (fantasy?) world, the life, which comes with the man and not just the man himself.

I will leave it here for now, but I wanted to also connect this with the question of Lady Gaga. There are many similarities between the two phenomenons.

(A popular must add caveat for such discussions. Women and men have long since stopped being seperated entities. Men are feminine and women are masculine and the structure of desire I describe is perhaps what could be called feminine, with many men being feminine and women masculine, etc.).
Films Discussed
Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Riveting post Michel!
Let me add a strange further observation from Twilight. Everyone there seemed gay. The werewolves, Edward the vampire, almost everyone (her father excluded). Why were all these men who want her seemingly gay?
I think you propose an interesting answer - their structure of desire is feminine. Men would simply desire differently than the men in the movie. It's subtle, and I can't explain it well as it's very hazy for me, but men desire differently from women, even if their structure of desire is similar, and the men in the movie all desired in a feminine way. I know I need to tread lightly here, and it's important to add that I'm not speaking of any necessarily inherent difference but a cultural one.

There is no place for men in the audience, you are simply there to view women's raw desire. The movie is line by line women's fantasies of desire in its pure rawness, without even an attempt at framing the phrases. Pure raw female desire, that's what makes the movies strong and nice in a way.

Your connection with Lady Gaga was also interesting though you didn't develop it. I'll note that the usual audience of both Lady Gaga and Twilight are teenage girls and gays, and that in both cases the topic of freaks (Vampires, werewolves) is present, as well as coldness/whiteness, a fantasy of a Victorian/Gothic past, and a strange mix of passivity and strength the vampires possess.

In response to Mike Strong
Do you believe that gay men's desire is 'feminine'? Perhaps it's just...gay. Not feminine, not a version of what women want (who are straight) but simply something on it's own, different, a different way of desiring. 
If you have a man who desires a man he might desire this man not the way a woman would desire a man. It might just be that desire is a force and not just about fulfilling a need -- it's the potential to find something new rather than the way of opting into another (someone else's pattern). 

Even as a straight man it might be possible to step out of one's mindset and realize that it's possible to desire a man without that part of me being the pale version of a woman's desire. 

In response to InTheClouds
Excellent points InTheClouds. No I didn't mean to say that gay men's desire is feminine. At least not exactly. The fact of the matter is that I have very few ways of knowing what is gay men's structure of desire as I am rarely shown gay men's sexual desire. Cinema, books, TV, everywhere you see heterosexual desire. Even when the screenwriters are gay, which is often the case, they are rarely allowed to show gay desire. Lesbianism is almost ok now, but male gay is still mostly taboo. My gay friends never talk too much about their desires besides the obvious interest in this or that guy. (TV is willing to show you that gay men desire curtains and shirts but that's as far as they will go.)

I also don't feel I understand straight men's structure of desire but I am much more used to seeing it, and I can recognize when a picture of it is false. Hence if the movie shows a straight man desiring in what I deem a false way I might accept the possibility that the guy is gay. It's perhaps a similar manner to saying he's Asian or other cultures I don't feel I understand.

But to respond to your deeper point, though I am sure that gay men desire in their own way which is different from the feminine and from the masculine (as if those still exist), but I do think they are heavily influenced by the feminine one. I posted in the past on Desire is always a desire of the desire of the other , and though I don't believe that I think we have to understand that our desire is not our own. That it is created for us, as anyone working in publicity will tell you. What are gay men's influences then? I'm sure that feminine desire of men is a model for them, and an influential one. Our world is shown in black and white and you need to pick a square - black square, or white square - and it's hard to see that there are other options besides these two.
(The masculine model is probably also an influential one but perhaps more so in wanting to reject it. Groups often want to define themselves as a rejection of the other group.)
 
Is it possible for people to desire in a completely personal manner? I think so but I also think it's rare. For example, a gay friend of mine desires in what I would say is an original way, but he can't find himself neither among heterosexuals nor homosexuals as both sides are conditioned to a certain type of relationship. It's also hard to find your culture as you are told gay culture is exactly this, all your gay friends behave this way and you are expected to behave similarly. Life is harder if you don't accept a clearly predefined square.

As I said mentioned previously, I don't think masculine and feminine structures of desire are inherently different only culturally different.

I was about to finish but I just understood something from my last phrase. I think the gay men's structure of desire is closer to the feminine one because both are based on a need to reject and hide their desire. Culture tells them both that they shouldn't desire. That is, in a culture which would truly accept gay people, from childhood and in the arts, I think their structure of desire would be totally different. We can also here see the connection to Twilight where it is constantly about a rejection and a holding back of one's desire. I think this partly is why gay men are so attracted to it. Both desires are based on the impulse, never to be indulged, of complete surrender. This phrase seems to me to describe the Twilight saga very well.

InTheClouds, you write short posts but they are always invigorating and rich in thought.
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