I got asked – why do we make perfumes (especially for women) out of sweet things we find tasty, like mango or apples, but not savoury things we find tasty, like olives or mushrooms?And I was all like, hmmm, interesting question.
I mean, I prefer olives and mushrooms in flavour than mango or apples. Savoury over sweet, in general. Added, all of these things don’t actually have strong smells, rather perfume collaborates the faint smells with the tastes, to create the scent, the ‘fruity essence’. So the perfume itself is a fiction, which corresponds weakly to the fact.
But its obvious. Because the body itself is savoury in flavour, a buffet selection of savoury omissions, which – and I am hoping this is not just me – we find pretty gross on people we don’t find attractive, but (well with some of our ‘flavours’, like sweat) weirdly appealing on people we do, or people we are intimate with.
So our savouriness is a part of the discerning nature of our sexuality, of relating to some people more closely, in a physical sense, than others. But as females, we are taught and socialised to seek out sexual currency by being broadly appealing to large numbers of people, particularly, males, and not being seen as attractive to lots of males is considered a failing. We are not offered other methods of seeking self worth, or we are discouraged from them, and validated into being ‘broadly attractive’ rather than attractive to specific individuals. So the specificity and the discerning of our sexuality needs to be masked. If only certain people find us sexually appealing, then our attractiveness is deemed false, in total. Despite the fact that we have simply no practical, emotional or reproductive need to be attractive to every person that passes us. Other than the fact that it is inculcated into us in order to make us anxious, and so we can be politically mollified and/or so we’ll buy more shit. Like perfume.
We all like, to varying degrees sweet scents ‘across the board’, so replacing female smells that are savoury with artificial sweet smells, we are rendering our bodies symbolically more ‘democratically’ attractive, replacing the specificity of sexuality with the generality of appeal.
Note: prostitutes or ‘tramps’ have often been portrayed as wearing very strong perfume, or sickly perfume, because subconsciously we understand that the specificity of female sexuality must be so suppressed in prostitutes because their replacement of sexuality specificity with general appeal is not symbolic, its literal (the idea that prostitution is an expression of female sexuality is obvious hokum, as it is, in fact, the phenomenon of women either agreeing or being forced to agree to forego their sexual specificity for general appeal for needed money.) And so their perfume needs to be very intense. You’ll note, this trope is more often used for older prostitutes in fiction, because the idea is that they have had to apply perfume so thickly over the years, that it almost ‘attaches’ to them, dissolves into them. The ‘sweetness’ of a democratically but unavailable ‘ordinary’ female is shown as ideal next to the excesses of the ‘overused’ woman. And we hate excess in females, symbolic or otherwise, because it draws attention to the fakery of the whole feminine socialisation game.
In Secret Diary of a Call girl Billie Piper is seen spraying herself with male perfume so as not to get sweet artificial perfume on her punters – to mark them out to their wives as having ‘been’ with a woman, and specifically, a ‘loose’ woman. But she can’t go without any scent because her natural pheromones – her savouriness – would be unappealing to the punter who has only an objectified, fetishized attraction to her.
I don’t think it was the answer they wanted.
Society encourages women to accept their imposed lack of humanity, for the inevitably fruitless task of attempting to be a Fantasy. The Fantasy dependent on what resources any given society seeks to extract, are we to be Virgin Princesses? Domestic Celestials? Or Sexual Goddesses? Contemporarily, the latter most of all, because sexual exertion – in terms of the cosmetic alteration, advertisement, and the bountiful dividends of an acceptance pornography and prostitution concentrating the sexual resource into fewer and fewer hands.
The myth of high class prostitution is this dynamic typified. Young women are told that if they enter into prostitution they have the capacity, the appearance, the performance skills, the composure, the discipline to withstand being fucked by dozens,hundreds, and in the end thousands of men they don’t like, in a sober, elegant fashion. And if we don’t make it, we should be metered out with the most intense of social disgust. The drunken, frightened, tired Whores of the popular imagination. Our failure is near inevitable.
Our sexuality is our ability to enact discernment – and is a fundamental facet of our humanity, our human liberation from oppressive forces. Prostitution is the absolute and total removal of this facet. The high class whore is the goalpost that (mythical and in any case constantly and arbitrarily moved to make it forever out of reach) that is offered up so that we, particularly those of us who are most vulnerable and the most in need of seeking some form of social currency, will accept to forego our humanity.
Indeed, if our full humanity is already made difficult by an intersection of sexism, classicism, racism and experience of rape, abuse, domestic violence and sexualised cruelty, the ease with which we might reach for the unreachable fantasy (as we do not understand its unreasonableness) over what we know is a difficult reality ((the difficulty with which our humanity is accepted), will be greater.
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