Split Personality: My Super Sexy Facebook Alter Ego. ~ Jeanette Geraci

Via on Feb 17, 2013

pole dancing class

Someone I slept with last year made a comment that’s haunted me ever since.

“I’ve never seen such a huge discrepancy between someone’s actual sexual personality and the way she presents herself to the world.”

Initially, I was taken aback. What the hell was that supposed to mean?

When I asked him for clarification, he said something along the lines of,

“It’s just that in your life, you’re so bold, so forward, so this-is-who-I-am. It’s not that you’re timid in bed. There’s just a tenderness about you that I didn’t expect.”

I sensed exactly what he was getting at.

I often feel as though my self is split into two distinct halves (Gemini is, after all, my ascending sign, go figure!).

There’s the soft-hearted poet who listens to indie folk ballads, drives to the ocean alone to think, can talk about books for hours on end, practices and teaches yoga, has long, emotional conversations into the wee hours of the morning.

Then, there’s my playful, gregarious, I-don’t-give-a-fuck sex-kitten-alter-ego who doesn’t take herself or anything else too seriously. Who’d prefer to stay on the surface of things. Who wants, in fact, to do nothing but doll herself up, go out, get sloshed, flirt with everyone in sight, and put all those hours of asana practice to good use by doing full splits on the bar.

My latter half , we’ll call her “Yvette,”  is a smoky eyed vixen, a tigress, a ruthless attention seeker, and a general blast to be around, if I do say so myself. She has a crude, raunchy, wicked sense of humor. She does backbends in four-inch heels in the middle of the dance floor. She’ll talk to anyone. She’ll make out with attractive strangers for sport.

A few years ago, she flashed the bartender to get a round of free shots for all her friends.

For five minutes, she considered working at a bikini bar, accepting tips in exchange for giving lap dances. Yvette went so far as to schedule a series of job interviews before Jeanette checked back in and vetoed the idea entirely. In other words, she’s a shameless, champion party girl.

One might expect a shameless, champion party girl to go home with him at the end of the night, to sleep with him quickly and casually.

But truth be told, opening my legs is a big deal to me.

There’s nothing in the world that probes more vigorously at my oldest scar tissue and deepest vulnerabilities. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing that carries more potential for damage or alternately, for healing. Nothing more moving, scary, or spiritually revelatory.

In my opinion, sex is as deep, real, and raw as it gets in this life.

I could learn more about myself from a night in bed with someone than I could learn from a year’s worth of conversations and experiences outside of the bedroom.

For better or for worse, the way I feel about sex is the opposite of what one would likely expect from Yvette.

All this being said, Yvette isn’t exactly fake. We human beings are multidimensional creatures; our personalities have many facets. To a degree, Yvette serves to give my innate wildness healthy expression, and often, she genuinely enjoys herself. But at this point in my life, I recognize that Yvette is something of a costume, a personae, a buffer between my thinner-than-average skin and the harsh world we exist in.

Yvette = my chosen route to escapism.

I began to, unconsciously, cultivate this part of my personality circa age 18 as a means of self-protection, as well as rebellion against my own sensitive nature. I needed some semblance of character armor. A way to temporarily abandon my tangled mess of emotions and unresolved traumas, which didn’t exactly blend well with weekend college culture.

I wanted a break from being Jeanette , from feeling so intensely and caring so damn much. I latched onto Yvette (and, not irrelevantly, to an eating disorder) the way a lot of college students latch onto drugs and alcohol.

Yvette seems to have taken root in me; she’s stuck around a few years beyond college. These days, she seems to surface on Facebook more frequently than she does in real life.

Some of what I publicize via social media communicates a message I’m not sure I want any one of my 600-some odd Facebook friends to drink in and interpret as they wish. When I post a black-and-white photo of me posing in my bra or a video of me pole-dancing to “Cockiness” by Rihanna.

I become yet another emblem of a superficial, pre-packaged, American sexuality that isn’t authentic to who I am, what I want, or what I stand for.

I recognize that this perpetuates and contributes to our culture’s demise while threatening my personal sense of fulfillment and self-respect. As a result of advertising myself, I attract the sort of attention I don’t want. Men feeling as though they have the right to flirt with me in a way that makes me uncomfortable. Men making all kinds of assumptions about who I am and what I’m looking for. And yet, I find it almost impossible to quit putting myself in the line of fire.

I don’t blame the men, and I although I take ownership for the role I play in precipitating these interactions, I don’t blame myself. I blame our culture.

It seems that most of us are confused as hell about how to treat ourselves and relate to each other.

In 2012’s “Sexy Baby”—a, “documentary examin[ing] what it’s like to be female in today’s sex-obsessed culture, from a pre-teen battling with her parents over social media to a young woman undergoing plastic surgery [to] an ex-porn star teaching exotic dancing.”

12-year-old Winnifred, who states that Facebook comprises literally 30 percent of her life, says,

“Your Facebook photo isn’t who you are, it’s who you want to be. We make ourselves seem like we are up for anything, and in a way, all of this Internet stuff kind of traps you. You started an alter ego that has to be maintained and in a real way, it does kind of shape how you end up and how you actually are in real life.”

I’m floored by Winnifred’s insight and equally disturbed by the fact that, in spite of her deep, precocious awareness of what’s going on behind the scenes of today’s social media phenomenon, she still participates in it wholeheartedly, dressing provocatively, conducting “sexy” Facebook photo-shoots with her friend, Olivia, et. al.

What’s more disturbing is that at 25-years-old, I’m no different from Winnifred.

What is going on here? Why do we, as strong, bright, creative women with an obvious capacity for independent thought, fall hard, fast, and repeatedly into these insidious trappings? How have we become so numb?

Why do I turn on my car radio and scream along to songs that contain offensive, misogynistic lyrics?

Is it the same reason why so many American women shave or wax their pubic hair without knowing or even questioning why? Is it the same reason why, four years into my recovery, I still sometimes deny myself pizza or cake when I want it, even though I think that lush, full hips are the sexiest part of every other woman’s body?

Every day, our culture bullies and brainwashes women into a state of desperation into emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical starvation.

According to an article I found on camgirlnotes, Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, the directors of Sexy Baby, came upon with the premise for their documentary when, “Gradus, a photographer, was shooting a story on college bars and … noticed even the mainstream ones had stripper poles.”

“All the girls were pole dancing and their guy friends were treating them like strippers, putting dollar bills in their shorts,” she said. “It was weird. No one was having fun, it was autopilot behavior. …We are all so desensitized. To get any sort of attention, they have to put it all out there and one person works so hard outdoing the next.”

I, too, find myself competing in a marathon I never signed up for.

If you were to strip my identity of all the cultural influences that have come to color it over the past 25 years, I have no idea what would be left. What would that woman look like? What in this world would she value? Who and how would she love?

It’s no breaking news. Our society breeds girls to believe that they’re not enough. That if we let ourselves be, we’ll grow into fat, lonely, invisible women. In turn, we have to keep pace. We must tend to our images, fight to maintain our bodies, fight to be noticed, work to be lovable. And in our culture, lovable translates directly to fuckable.

Perhaps every time I channel Yvette, what I’m trying to say is I’m sexy. See?

If I’m sexy enough, you’ll let me in. If you let me in, you’ll see that I’m worth loving. If you see that I’m worth loving, you’ll love me. Please love me. Please. Please. Please.

I can’t imagine a more backwards, distorted thought process. I know that I won’t attract the intimacy I crave by appealing to what I’ve been taught men want. And yet, like Rihanna in “Pour It Up” (look up the lyrics – they’re downright vile) or Karen in Hans Christian Anderson’s “Red Shoes,” I can’t stop dancing… can’t stop moving… can’t stop selling myself.

It’s a hustle. I’m afraid that if I pause to take a breath, I’ll be left behind.

Is it possible to feel integrated/participate in contemporary culture, digital culture, specifically, while maintaining perspective, retaining self-respect, and staying true to our individual ideals? How do we go about striking a healthy balance?

I’m curious to hear your responses.

 

Jeanette GeraciJeanette wears her big, mushy heart on her sleeve. She’s always had a penchant for boundary-pushing, a drive to play on some of life’s darker edges, and a burning desire to seek and speak truth. Among other things, she’s a yogi, a belly dancer, and a serious dance club enthusiast. Her poetry and literary non-fiction have appeared in numerous online and print publications. You can take a gander at some of her casual musings at http://jeanetteicdisorder.tumblr.com/.

 

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Asst. Ed: Olga Feingold/ Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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9 Responses to “Split Personality: My Super Sexy Facebook Alter Ego. ~ Jeanette Geraci”

  1. robynlawrence says:

    Go, go, go, girl. You hit on all of it in the most enjoyable way. This was fantastic!

  2. daisy says:

    great article!

  3. Anna says:

    Jeanette, your insights are clear and thought-provoking, and your honesty really touched me. You asked for responses… I think what is needed is a dramatic transformation of lifestyle, and a profound paradigm shift. It takes courage to change, to cultivate self-awareness and listen to (as well as honor) your inner voice–which has already begun to emerge in this piece. You already know that Yvette is not "you" but is rather a defense mechanism, a way to cope with a dehumanizing culture. So, who are you, and who do you want to be? Once we become conscious of how culture affects our behavior and perceptions, we can no longer hold it responsible for our actions or let it control us. You have the power to break free of the shackles imposed by society, to create your own culture, your own self, your own way of life, that is healthy and wholesome and loving and healing and full of meaning and purpose. I believe you are on the right path asking these questions, keep reflecting, searching within yourself, you will definitely find the answers.

  4. Aparna says:

    That was very well written. I read it twice and identified with a lot of it (as a Virgo with a Gemini ascendant I know nothing better than how it feels being torn between wanting to fly and wanting to be grounded).

    As to the questions you have posed in the end, I find it's very important to go for digital de-toxification from time to time. At any rate a facebook detox is a must if that site has quite a grip on you. Since so many things are vying for our attention when we get online sometimes good ole determination not to get swept away by it all is the best. Or devoting an hour a day to pointless net surfing rather than letting it consume hours on end. The only way to keep sane is to balance our time online with our time off. For every hour spent online take a couple of hours off. I do that with anything that threatens to overwhelm my perspective. The best way not to fall for all that happens in the social media to the extent that you lose yourself is to stand your ground firmly. But you will only know what you really stand for when you spend enough time by yourself. My two cents.

    Thank you.
    -A

  5. kundanchhabra says:

    Clarity about what you really want is of paramount importance here. Also, an understanding that neither Yvette nor Jeanette is really You, the Real You, Who You Really Are, your Large Self. When you discover your Real Self, you will realize why you are really here, why you want what you want, and you will be happier….perhaps you also need to understand that nothing will make you happy. Happiness is self-generated. You gotta be happy first – for no reason. And then you will attract more and more reasons to be happy. Also, an understanding of the different options you have. Free will is not really free if you don't know all the choices you have. Therefore, I highly recommend the book "The Future of Love: The Power of the Soul in Intimate Relationships" by Daphne Rose Kingma.

  6. Reaver says:

    This is something which leads to the exploration of many topics. A deep contemplation that is, not just your typical motivational workshop.

    It includes social conditioning, sexuality, simulacra, hyper reality, cognitive dissonance, approval seeking, etc.

    The first thing to recognize is the fact that we live within an insane society (I don't care what country we speak of) which demands people to become automatons. They could be fashionable automatons or dull ones – at a core level we are dealing with the same dynamic -.

    Such a society has unrealistic expectations of people as well as demands to throw away our individuality (notice that I use the word individuality and not individualism. It is a machine whose mantra is: Do or Die… or in "nicer" terms: Fit in or be ostracized.

    So again, the first step is to recognize the insane society and its methods of conditioning people as well as getting to know the way in which it is done. This pretty much includes everything beyond a trivial level (from religion to schooling). Recognizing "The Matrix" is very useful because eventually it leads to immunity.

    This is to say you become so familiar, so knowledgeable that the BS coming out from "The Matrix" has zero effect on your psychological attitude. This understanding has to go hand in hand with self-knowledge. Knowing the methods of the insane society and how it affects YOU is what allows you to become immune.

    You also talk about the issue of sexuality and the way in which you express it. Here we come face to face with social conditioning. A historical perspective comes in handy:

    In ages past, particularly in the western world, sexuality was seen as something inherently evil and dirty, dirty in the sense of it being something repulsive and to keep far away from. This can only create psychological problems because sexuality IS a natural component of the human being. Anyone who is afraid/against those natural impulses sooner or later develops a psychological disorder with different permutations and degrees.

    Nowadays we find ourselves on the other side of the spectrum. A culture that is highly obsessed with sexuality in one way or another. The result? a society which uses lots of sexual imagery to conceal the fact that there still is a certain fear towards sexuality (hyper reality and simulacra are included in this idea).

    It isn't that rare to find people who are influenced by these two extremes in modern society. A lot of people are born in environments which are extremely repressive and libertine at the same time. Someone may be born in a family with strong religious or moral convictions which despise sex (as much as they deny it) while the larger part of society (think the media) is constantly bombarding people with sexual imagery.

  7. Reaver says:

    This can only lead to what is known as cognitive dissonance. So now you have a person who has both influences running within him/her. A sector of society demands this person to have a large degree of restrain while another sector demands a high degree of intoxication (or permissiveness if you prefer that term). So then it's not rare to come across people who may be very sexual on certain occasions and then feel guilty about it or even fake it. Just as it is not rare to come across people who are deeply repulsed by the idea of sex, but at a primal level they crave it in a very intensive way. At the end of the day these people feel some kind of guilt or anxiety by either repressing or expressing themselves.

    What I'd like people to realize is that there are two aspects which at this stage are natural to the human being: That of Asceticism and that of Intoxication. In psychological terms those are personified by Apollo and Dionysus (they can be interchanged with various deities or characters of your own).

    Apollo is the archetypal model of control and Dionysus that of letting yourself cave in. Older generations were more obsessed with the aspect of Restrain while modern generations are/were more obsessed with Intoxication.

    The problem is that historically society has used both of these aspects and it has channelled them in toxic ways. The result? a toxic society which creates toxic individuals in one way or another.

    People have to understand that these two Archetypal aspects are natural components of their own humanity, BUT if left unchecked can go wrong (and they have gone unchecked more times that I care to know) .

    At the end is up to the individual to find healthy ways to express these two polarities without getting obsessed with either one and go insane in the process. There is no reason why a person couldn't be a deep thinker who enjoys philosophy one day and the next one enjoys a party and a good fuck. If you ask me, society seems to demand that people choose one over the other… either you are an antisocial nerd or a party person with zero brains. This is non sensical to put it mildly and can only create broken people, the tragedy is that people have actually bought into that ridiculous idea and do enact it in the world.

    You also mention the issue of having two sides to yourself. To be honest this is another huge area to explore. In a sense it is natural that a person has multiple layers to their personality, one moment you could be serious and the next be very active and high on adrenaline. This can be healthy.

    From another perspective it could also be a fake personality. This is known as the persona in psychology. The way I see it is not so much that the persona (the artificial personality) is inherently bad or completely useless, rather people tend to overuse it and eventually become extremely identified with it and the very idea of dropping it terrifies them.

    Is it possible to function in the modern world and remain sane? sure it is, it's not easy, but it is attainable. It takes effort and it is challenging as hell. The tools and methods are available. How you use them is up to you.

    Well as I said in the beginning, this leads you to explore many topics, I barely touched the "surface" here.

    Oh and this idea of being brain washed by culture is right, but you can only use that as an excuse for so long before it becomes a mental block of your own. Yes society has done a good job of messing up people while they tell them they are creating people of excellence, but sooner or later you have to realize that no one is coming to save you and you are the one who has to reclaim your very identity and self-sovereignty.

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