People are wont to comment that women hold incredible power by virtue of our sexual desirability to men -- and that somehow we feminists just don't appreciate it or that we want to diminish that power. This is a silly view. One can appreciate the excitement and glamor of enchanting a member of the opposite sex, or watching another woman do so. But to mistake this for "power" reveals a profoundly androcentric view of the world. In the following passages, Elizabeth Wurtzel sums up my feelings on the matter in a much more exciting way than I ever could, first debunking the myth of female sexual "power," and then explaining why sexual desirability is perceived by men as "power:"
When we speak of prostitutes who come forward with their salacious stories and "ruin" -- I use quotation marks because in both cases these men have made comebacks -- the careers of Jimmy Swaggart and Dick Morris, when we attribute the breakup of the Beatles to Yoko Ono or the suicide of Kurt Cobain to Courtney Love, when we see the cause of the Profumo Affair to be a young woman named Mandy Rice Davies (who is now an old woman, living in a council tenancy in England, obviously not the beneficiary of any of her powerful men), when we let Henry VIII believe that Anne Boleyn bewitched him into heresy (if she's got such sorcery, it's hard to figure how she ended up beheaded), when we let porn star T.T. Boy blame the wife for the suicide of his fellow on-camera fellatio-recipient Cal Jammer (nee Randy Potes), and refer to Mrs. Jammer as "the wicked bitch" in The New Yorker, when we let any men in colonial era Massachusetts blame their infidelities on women who must be witches (once again somehow their power to arouse adultery was not adequate when it came to the hangman): every time we watch men of world events, or minor characters in our own lives, as they come completely undone over some girl, and we assume she manipulated and cajoled and coerced him into ruin and disaster, every time we believe that she brought him down, we are really letting him off the hook rather easily. If women are granted so much responsibility and credit and blame for the behavior of men that they sleep with, then that means we really do believe that any guy with a hard-on has truly cut off the blood flow to his brain . . . If men were truly sexuality's simple serfs, then Gennifer Flowers would be sitting behind the desk of the Oval Office and Bill Clinton would be a lounge singer in the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock (maybe Hillary would be Vice President). I mean, if pussy power is so potent that it can be the ruin of a British administration, that it can cause John Lennon to make some seriously unlistenable albums and pose for some embarrassingly pale-assed pictures, and if it can make Samson -- a man so strong that Samsonite luggage, indestructible even in the hands of a gorilla in a cage, is named for him -- weak and wobbly-kneed and a slave to his lust, if men are this easy to manipulate, then why did it take us until 1920 to get the vote? Why are the majority of households with incomes below the poverty line headed by women? Why have they still not found a cure for menstruation? Why does Strom Thurmond continue to be reelected to the Senate. And why is it that they can put a man -- many men -- on the moon but we can't get one woman elected into the White House? . . .
. . . Women, you see, like any other group of people obstructed from paths to power, tend to get their action on the sly. And that is precisely why, on certain occasions, it does seem that there is no power like pussy power: men are so comfortably accustomed to being in charge, they forget how drooling and besotted they can become with some woman. It is only because men assume their centrality with the nonchalance and insouciance of those who've never even thought it might be otherwise-- and I'm not sure that feminism has been able to make any real headway into this presumed privilege-- that they are still able to get all astonished and flustered by the incursion of love into the safety of their sphere . . .
-- Elizabeth Wurtzel, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (1998)