Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Women with PTSD: The New Sex Symbol?

Laurie and Debbie at Body Impolitic ask: Is PTSD Sexy? The context is the sexualized, Madonna/whore photographs accompanying a fine, thoughtful New York Times article on PTSD in women soldiers.

My answer to their question:

Of course women with PTSD are sexy.[1] They're damsels in distress. The classic damsel in distress is being held prisoner by a monster (usually male, but sometimes an older, sexually rapacious/repressive female), and the first thing the rescuer does is take the monster's place in her affections, then in her bed. Stockholm Syndrome in action.

Women with PTSD are scared, they're helpless, they're easy to comfort/victimize.And nobody will believe them if they say they didn't want sex, because they're already defined as crazy.

Yes, genuine nurturing and protective instincts can be expressed sexually -- by people of all genders and in all life situations. I've been known to grow rapidly attached to people in pain. I've sought and given comfort with my body. And I'm not even willing to say that all the times I did that were innocent and harmless.

I don't know what the right answer is. I do know that presenting people with PTSD as pin-ups is the wrong one.

[1] For the record: I have complex PTSD, which I have written about extensively.

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