Duck season! Rabbit season!

5 Apr

A post at B‘s place has gotten me to thinking. “Sex-positive” types often object to my posts on porn, sexuality, etc. in comments that accuse me of being anti-sex or of attmempting to shame women. They tell me they have fought long and hard for women’s freedom of sexual expression and against the idea that women who like sex are sluts. Did it ever occur to anyone that I take for granted that women’s sexuality ought to be freed from the constraints placed on it by the virgin/whore dichotomy? That I approach everything with the assumption that women’s sexuality should not be a source of shame? It’s foundational and unassailable for me, and so I’ve moved beyond it; I operate under the assumption that we ought to be free to express our sexuality without the fear of being condemned as sluts by the agents of patriarchy. But that doesn’t mean that all sexual activity is inherently feminist. I see three stages of thinking about women’s sexuality: 

  1. Reactionary: People who have absorbed what the patriarchy has to teach about women’s sexual suboordination are frightened by women exercising their sexuality and voicing their desires, so they attempt to shame women who transgress patriarchal norms to force them back into line. 
  2. Libertarian: Anyone with a brain can see that’s bullshit, so many women have fought for our right to participate in and enjoy sex without the fear of recrimination. That’s a good thing, but women’s sexual liberation has yet to be achieved, and sexual libertarianism has led to some problematic ways of looking at things. Many women have absorbed the idea that women’s sexual liberation is the goal, and then have gone on to assume that any sex act a woman might want to participate in is liberating and thus unproblematic and/or unassailable.  
  3. Liberationist: It is taken for granted that women ought to be free to express and explore their sexuality, but that does not mean that sex is a sacred cow and that we have no right to question the morality of a sexual behavior. Does a sex act hinder the cause of women’s wholesale sexual liberation or the progress toward women’s legal, social, and cultural liberation? Does it pose the risk of harm to individual women? A sexual Liberationist would never argue that a sex act ought to be banned or that women ought to not be allowed to participate in whatever activities they deem appropriate, but she might question the choice to do so and the impact that choice has on women as a whole. With freedom comes responsibility, blah blah. 

What often happens is that sexual Libertarians and sexual Liberationists often go in circles, with the Libertarians calling the Liberationists reactionaries and the Liberationists calling the Libertarians sell-outs. I understand the Libertarian viewpoint: the smidgen of sexual freedom we do have has been hard-won, and other women coming in to question what we do with it might seem outrageous coming so close on the heels of our wresting that small bit of freedom away from the phallocrats. But Liberationists want to push things further. We’ve got the freedom to fuck, but how about the freedom to be treated like human beings with sexual desires that might not match up so well with what men want out of us? How about the freedom to develop our sexuality in a world free of misogyny and the message that we ought to be aroused by being used? I wish that these Libertarians would quit pretending they don’t understand the difference between a Liberationist and a Reactionary. If we could all acknowledge each other’s real positions and quit getting caught up in a circle of accusations, we might actually get somewhere. 

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73 Responses to “Duck season! Rabbit season!”

  1. isme April 5, 2009 at 7:59 AM #

    “If we could all acknowledge each other’s real positions and quit getting caught up in a circle of accusations, we might actually get somewhere. ”

    I’d agree. Neither side has a monopoly on misrepresentation.

  2. Lillie April 5, 2009 at 2:29 PM #

    You know, in the BDSM discussion I think it was Trinity who pointed out that it’s unfortunate that dominant women have the face of a sex worker in the public imagination (apologies if I remember that all wrong). Somewhat in the same vein, I don’t understand why – and since when, exactly – empowered, sex-positive womanhood has got the face of a sex worker.

    I know there are plenty of radical feminists who think heterosexuality is in itself anti-feminist – and there have been since the 19th century – but though I can usually see the point of these arguments, I consider myself sex positive in that I think sex (hetero or not) can and should be fun. What irks and baffles me about the prevalent forms of ‘sex positivity’ is that they so blatantly reinforce what they claim to subvert. They tell you to embrace your inner dirty slut and to subvert the very meaning of ‘dirty slut’ in the process, but to my mind it leaves no room for women to imagine their sexuality in any other terms than those of dirty-slut-dom. Female sexuality becomes a form of the carnevalesque: and like carnevalesque proper, it tends to reinforce what it pretends to send up. The flipside of declaring that it’s every woman’s right to spice up her boring sex life and feel super-sexaaaayyy by wearing crotchless panties and learning to pole-dance is that it utterly invalidates the ‘boring’ experience and gives a highly specific definition of what is super-sexaaaayyyy – and what isn’t. (And anyway, with hairy legs and a unisex tracksuit, you can forget about it to start with. Subversive empowering feminine super-sluttiness is only subversive when you do it the right way.)

    And the silly little feminist in me simply doesn’t ‘get’ why the definitions of super-sexaaaayyyy exactly mirrors patriarchal fantasies and pornography as they have been for centuries past. Why is it necessary to co-opt the ‘whore’ side of the Madonna/whore paradigm instead of – yanno – scrapping the paradigm altogether? Am I stupid to think that if the patriarchal mainstream declares something edgy, sexy and subversive, then it’s probably the farthest you can get from the truly subversive? How about being a sexual being without actively loading that sexuality with signifiers of ‘edginess’? Might that be possible?

    None of this is anything that hasn’t been said before (and much better) a million times, I know that. I just remain baffled ever and again how we’re supposed to feel emancipated by a definition of female sexuality that is actually stricter than it ever has been before. The fact that refusing to shave your legs, wear make-up and diet is still one of the most subversive things a woman can do fills me with despair – so when I’m told I can co-opt these things to make myself feel empowered, and then watch porn to feel super-empowered, I started wondering who’s the butt of the joke here. Increasingly I suspect that sex, and the enjoyment of sex, has everything to do with all the things that are declared not only unsexy but positively ‘anti-sex’. The more oppressive the definition of sexiness becomes, the more I’m beginning to think that being sexy and being sexual have little to do with each other. And the more determined I am to become the most ‘boring’, the most ‘prudish’, the most ‘vanilla’ (God I hate that word) person I can possibly envision…

    If we could all acknowledge each other’s real positions and quit getting caught up in a circle of accusations, we might actually get somewhere.

    Call me a pessimist but I’m not so sure about that, anymore.

    • ThedaBara April 5, 2009 at 10:12 PM #

      You’re not a pessimist Lilli. I feel the exact same way, and you brought up a lot of things I have milled over when it comes to the whole “sex positive” subject.

    • Jenn April 5, 2009 at 10:25 PM #

      The more oppressive the definition of sexiness becomes, the more I’m beginning to think that being sexy and being sexual have little to do with each other. And the more determined I am to become the most ‘boring’, the most ‘prudish’, the most ‘vanilla’ (God I hate that word) person I can possibly envision…

      Holy hell, amen to that. The new buzzword of my internal critique of myself, and sometimes purported by outside naysayers, is that I’m totally asexual. Indeed, something seems to resonate with truth on that assumption, considering that I haven’t had sex in three years and that the advent of my asexuality seemed to coincide with my introduction to Radical Feminism. Mentally, I find this an incredibly stupid position. My current want of sex only stretches to the physical enjoyment of activities that don’t make my brain hurt or place me in a position in which I repress my wants to fit with my sexual partner—and society’s— vision of the proper sex kitten. Which means that I’m not going to partake of doggystyle and anal sex for the stupid reason of proving my subversiveness to an imagined audience.

      Mentally, I know that my want of physically gratifying sex that satisfies all of me without repressing my inner sensibilities is a worthy goal. But socially, this is deemed asexual. And the part of me that is a manifestation of all that I hate agrees.

      So becoming a boring prudish vanilla person seems to be a manifestation of my unwillingness to let male dominance and society’s misogyny dominate my sex life any longer. Which means that society as a whole cannot fathom a woman who wants a sex life on her own unique self-decided terms, and that there is a significant lack of potential partners willing to have sex without fulfilling external expectations.

      Sometimes, blaming my dry spell on society’s statue of being extremely fucked up seems like a cop-out and making excuses. Mentally, I don’t think it so. But there is still that part of me who criticizes my inability to be a good whore and take it like a bitch: the only avenue my sexual expression can and will be fulfilled.

      • Lillie April 7, 2009 at 8:07 PM #

        Mentally, I know that my want of physically gratifying sex that satisfies all of me without repressing my inner sensibilities is a worthy goal. But socially, this is deemed asexual. And the part of me that is a manifestation of all that I hate agrees.

        Yes, that’s pretty much it, Jenn.

        I actually think patriarchal fantasy imagery has a lot in common with earworms: you know, take the songs of, uh, Lady Gaga for example – I don’t like the music on any level, but God forbid there should be a Lady Gaga song on the radio, and it sticks in my head no matter how hard I try to wash it out with music I like better. Similarly, when it comes to fantasies (romantic, sexual, or anything in between), patriarchal imagery acts a lot like a ‘brainworm’, at least on me. I don’t recognise it as my own; I don’t like it; I’m constantly aware how problematic it is, and I don’t watch porn or actively encourage thought processes of a sexist kind in any way – in fact like most people here, I’ve become hardwired to recognise sexism in most seemingly innocent scenarios. But even so the imagery, in many different manifestations, sticks in my brain and crops up at the most unpredictable moments. And – this is really depressing – I can’t really come up with a satisfying alternative. In fact I can’t even begin to imagine what this satisfying alternative would entail, apart from empty buzzwords like ‘mutual respect’. (Which my worm-infested brain tends to translate into ‘chivalry’, anyway. I’m ashamed to admit how I’m still unwittingly impressed by knights in shining armour, as if I should be grateful they’re not totally obnoxious or threatening.) I really hope that what is unimaginable – to me, anyway – now will be a viable option for future generations of women, but please excuse me if I remain pessimistic in the meantime…

        Sometimes, blaming my dry spell on society’s statue of being extremely fucked up seems like a cop-out and making excuses. Mentally, I don’t think it so. But there is still that part of me who criticizes my inability to be a good whore and take it like a bitch: the only avenue my sexual expression can and will be fulfilled.

        I agree with this as well. Yes, it’s difficult, the more so not because the choice is between being treated like shit by a partner and being reasonably contented alone (that one should be obvious) but because the inconsistency between what you refuse to accept on a larger scale and the somewhat less blatant forms of gender inequality you might be ready to live with in your everyday life is… galling, to say the least. And if you flat-out refuse to accept it, you’re left with self-doubt anyway, as you say.

        I don’t blame women – women who identify as radical feminists, even – for making compromises in their private lives, and I don’t even think it’s hypocritical, because we can’t expect people to create entirely new roles for themselves from scratch: very few exceptional people throughout history have been capable of that. And being a fulfilled sexual being without a defined ‘role’… hmm. I wonder why that should be so difficult?

  3. Lillie April 5, 2009 at 2:30 PM #

    And as if that weren’t enough, the fact that the whole thing is fuelled by Cosmo-ish consumerism and emphasis on sex as performance just sucks the positive out of sex positive, as far as I’m concerned. The beauty industry doesn’t give a shit that deep inside you feel all empowered and subversive when you get your Brazilian bikini wax and step into your stiletto heels. To them, it only means that their message is getting through.

  4. Maggie April 6, 2009 at 12:20 AM #

    That’s an excellent post, Nine. I am a liberationist. I know for a fact that women’s sexuality can be freed from patriarchal control and conditioning. The problem is that, in a male-dominated culture, we are constantly being reminded about male-supremacist views of sex. Defenders of male-dominated culture tend to be very aggressive at attempting to shut up every dissenter, which gives us liberationists very little room to speak out.

    I would love to see women re-establish their own authenticity as human beings, free from patriarchal gender roles or norms. We do have the power to reject all the culture’s hateful messages that are telling us that, as women, we’re just “fuck-objects who should be dominated by men” and so on. We do not have to obey what society expects us to be/do. Once we’re fully informed that pop culture’s representations of sex are really all about male control of women, we can resist.

    And yes, there IS a sexual imagination which goes beyond this culture, about a women’s sexuality in which we could all be our authentic selves as human beings with sexual feelings. And there would be no more shame, no more self-diminution or self-denial. And no more degradation. I know it; I am glad dominant malestream sexual ideology is no longer controlling me…

  5. B April 6, 2009 at 2:10 AM #

    I feel like I’m on my way to becoming a liberationist. I grew up in a really conservative family, and while my parents definitely laid the foreground for my feminism by teaching me that girls can do anything boys can and that I could grow up to have any career I wanted, their views on what’s an acceptable familial structure are very 1950s. I still have a couple of hangups (read: ingrained patriarchal lines of thinking) related to that background, and a few more I picked up when I backlashed into sexual libertarianism.

    I definitely feel the continuum 92 articulates in this post – it’s a transitioning process for a lot of people, I think. I guess that’s why I try to be patient with even crazy-seeming sex pozzies – I used to be there myself and I feel like they should be allies or at least potential allies, because anyone willing to do a feminist analysis of sexuality (in any form) is on the right track, even if their immediate conclusions are less than what we’d hope for.

    Liberation’s definitely where it’s at, though – I really feel like my encounter with radical feminism has been eye-opening. It’s helped me see why some of the cultural norms in hookup/porn culture are destructive, and I think enriched my understanding of relationships, sexuality, and culture. And a buncha that’s been due to this blog. (Thanks, 92!) The process may be difficult, but it can also be really rewarding.

    • Nine Deuce April 6, 2009 at 3:02 AM #

      I really liked your post. It helped clarify the positions for me at a time when I’d been caught up in and confused by the circle of insults.

  6. Faith April 6, 2009 at 1:24 PM #

    “We’ve got the freedom to fuck, but how about the freedom to be treated like human beings with sexual desires that might not match up so well with what men want out of us? How about the freedom to develop our sexuality in a world free of misogyny and the message that we ought to be aroused by being used? ”

    Thank you.

  7. RenegadeEvolution April 6, 2009 at 3:40 PM #

    Sex positive is a stupid term. No question. Still firmly thinking that all women should have the sort of sex they like, and feel they should let people know what that is.

  8. Evo April 6, 2009 at 8:39 PM #

    This is excellent. The whole sex-pos/anti-sex thing has really bothered the shit out of me since I became familiar with it. I really appreciate the way you’ve framed it here. I think it helps open another avenue of discussion instead of continuing to bang our heads against the same old road blocks.

  9. Lillie April 7, 2009 at 8:16 PM #

    By the way, Nine Deuce, if you ever find yourself in want of a topic for a blog entry, a poll along these lines might be very interesting:

    http://womanwhotalkedtoomuch.blogspot.com/2009/03/another-day-another-depressing-serial.html

  10. thebewilderness April 8, 2009 at 1:29 AM #

    I’m afraid they may have lost the plot.
    It was the freedom NOT to submit that we fought long and hard for.
    We were always free TO submit. In fact we were forced to by law backed with the threat of violence.
    What sort of history books have these people been reading?

  11. undercoverpunk April 9, 2009 at 2:08 AM #

    thebewilderness, yes! The radical concept of spousal rape is a relatively RECENT legal protection (US, 1993!!!!!!!! Believe it.) & remains an overwhelmingly difficult to PROVE concept.

    These comments sound a lot like compulsory heterosexuality to me.

  12. James April 9, 2009 at 9:44 PM #

    I think the problem here is that you want to be able to criticise people for being enslaved to something which they are not conscious of while refusing to accept that the same could be true of yourself.

    You have vehemently denied that you are accepting the “Pious Woman” tripe which you so resemble, yet demand that it be accepted the only possible source for inclinations towards BDSM is your beloved structuralist model, the Patriarchy.

    I think that this is known as “Having it both ways.” You too might be subject to reactionary forces you are unaware of, so if you want to go down the road don’t be bothered when people follow you.

    • isme April 10, 2009 at 7:15 AM #

      That is one of the problems when you start talking about various things making people the way they are, yes, you are coming close to admitting that they way you are and what you believe is right is only because of the way society et al has programmed you.

      Also…it becomes an excuse. What was it that Kyle Payne said…”while examining the way the patriarchy was affecting other people’s behaviours, I neglected to examine the way it was affecting me” or some such bullshit? Something that boils down to “it wasn’t my fault, the Patriarchy jumped out at my when I wasn’t looking and made me violate an unconscious woman, I’m the real victim here” anyway.

    • undercover punk April 13, 2009 at 2:03 PM #

      James: I think the problem here is that you want to be able to criticise people for being enslaved to something which they are not conscious of while refusing to accept that the same could be true of yourself.

      I don’t know who you are talking to, but you don’t know me. And my reading of both the post and the comments indicates that every woman here is VERY willing to consider the extent to which her desires have been conditioned by the oppressive mandates of the patriarchy and heterosexualism. Some of us make concessions to survive, but that does not exonerate any feminist from the duties of critical analysis. Nor are we shirking such responsibilities by talking generally about the various behavioral practices. It is essential to our liberation that we NAME our oppressor and IDENTIFY oppressive practices (even if we can’t eliminate them immediately). Personalization is the result of pride, ego, and narcissism. And defensiveness is counter-productive to our goals.

    • AnnaArcturus May 16, 2009 at 12:58 PM #

      What is with the dudely apologists for BDSM coming in and failing to read the article they must rush to comment on?

      As the author spelled out so clearly above, no feminist is blaming women for making “non-feminist” choices. We all cope the best we can with the hand that we’re dealt, but that doesn’t mean these topics are off the table.

      Also, you don’t know what the hell any of us are up to in our bedrooms, and it’s none of your business in the first place. Where the hell do you get off labeling anyone’s sexuality “pious woman” when it doesn’t suit your fancy?

    • Alexandra Erin June 10, 2009 at 4:57 PM #

      That’s pretty much where Nine Deuce falls on her face, James. She claims that as a “Liberationist”, she believes that no sex act is above examination… but she displays no inclination to examine anything. She’d rather spout as fact a fairly mainstream position under the guise of being a crusading radical feminist making a bold stand.

      She blindly accepts the “porn narrative” of sex acts (at least, ones she doesn’t engage in) being inherently degrading to women and her idea of “examining” is to condemn women who engage in them on any terms. She participates in the sexualization of degradation through her continual reinforcement of the idea that we should be ashamed (not in so many words, Nine Deuce, but what do you think you’re doing when you tell a bunch of women that their sexual choices are harming society? What is that? What? What would you call it if it’s not shaming?) of what we do in the bedroom.

      She’s never had to examine her sexual choices the way those of us who she calls “libertarians” have. I mean, yeah we’re feminists… a lot of us are bleeding heart liberals… does she really think we’ve given no thought whatsoever to the causes and consequences of our kinks?

      Let’s have some examination, ND. Let’s have some real examination. Let’s take these issues apart and get to the core of the questions… oh, wait. You already have a set of answers that are decidedly convenient for you.

      Never mind.

      • Nine Deuce June 10, 2009 at 5:47 PM #

        I do plenty of examining, and have done so for several years, and the fact that I’ve come to a conclusion that places more responsibility on people than,”Hey, I like it, so it’s OK no matter who it affects” doesn’t mean I’m wrong just because you don’t like it. I never said that there are certain sex acts that are immune to the influence of porn, and I never will. I think all sex acts in a misogynistic society in which sex is used as a tool of oppression deserve examining. And yes, that means that I do the examining in my own private life (and that’ll be all I’ll say about that). I’m not condemning women’s personal lives, I’m condemning the forces that create a world in which women’s bodies are commodified objects for men to use and abuse. I’m well fucking tired of claims to the opposite when anyone who can read can tell as much. And you know what that means? That I can call out women who are contributing to that scenario in the same way that I can call out men who do (and your claim that I spend more time on this blog ripping on women than men is well nigh hilarious; read past the first page). Being a feminist doesn’t mean I have to think everything any woman does is cool, it means I care about women’s wholesale liberation. When women are standing in the way of that, then I’ll say so. Or am I now required to tell everyone I love Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter? And as to your claim that radical feminists’ response to the acts you described in that absurd comment amounting to “OMGEWGROSS” is incredibly offensive and exactly the kind of straw man/ad hominem bullshit that keeps me from publishing your comments.

        The fact that you’d come here and tell me that you’re a better feminist than I am because you don’t think there’s anything wrong with bukkake or whatever else is absurd. What do you do for women’s liberation besides rip on other feminists?

        • Alexandra Erin June 10, 2009 at 6:37 PM #

          “What do you do for women’s liberation besides rip on other feminists? ”

          Again we come to the “At least I’m doing something” argument. It’s absurd. It really is. You know what? Right now I’m picking the last unpopped kernels out from a bowl of popcorn and I’m crunching them between my teeth, thereby dismantling Patriarchy.

          “I’m sorry, but I don’t see how that actually accomplishes anything.”

          Shut up! At least I’m doing something. How many unpopped kernels have you crunched today? None? That’s what I thought.

          Yeah, that’s a ridiculous example, but it’s a pointedly ridiculous one. I’ve been pointing out problems with your approach, ways in which it appears to be counterproductive… ways in which it exactly parallels mainstream misogyny, albeit with a narrower target… and I’m not saying I’m 100% right, I’m the bearer of truth and you need to stop you’re doing and listen to me.

          But your “refutation” consists of not publishing the comments, of misconstruing what is said into an easily dismissed strawman, and of repeatedly insisting that no you’re not perpetuating misogyny you’re fighting the feminist fight. Well, there was never a serious question in my head about your motivations, ND.

          It’s the actual effects of your actions I’m talking about… sadly, though, it seems that’s one topic that is above examination. Which is a shame. I don’t see any patriarchy being toppled by this blog. I really don’t.

          But I know that for some women… feminist-inclined women… who get hit from both sides, from the mainstream and from the core of feminism, and even as they learn to let go of all the internalized misogyny they get from one side they end up swallowing some of it again when the radfem position just regurgitates it right back into their mouths.

          Bottom line is that from where I’m standing, your gloating, smirking, backslapping and high-fiving dissections of the sexual practices of people who aren’t you don’t help anyone, and they do hurt people.

          Women.

          What do I do for women’s liberation?

          One big thing:

          Not being you.

          • Nine Deuce June 10, 2009 at 6:58 PM #

            Wow. Are you actually trying to say that, on balance, I have done more harm than good for women’s liberation with this blog? Unbelievable.

            • Alexandra Erin June 10, 2009 at 7:20 PM #

              I’m willing to examine my conclusion.

              I mean, I have read your archives and I know there was a point in time at which your focus was more on calling out men, but lately… sheesh. I’d worry that it’s our fault for continually engaging with you but since you undertook to do a multipart series on BDSM, I don’t think that’s really a legitimate worry.

              But let’s talk about your earlier work in raging against man-chines.

              Your article about Flomax was dissecting the imagery and language being used to sell the product and y’know, you had great points… but you were also implicitly denigrating people who have an actual medical condition. You got called on that and your response was to point out that you were talking about the Be A Manly Man Not A Sissy image being used and its problems… yeah, you were, but you were also wrong in writing off the condition.

              You didn’t correct or retract or amend, and that’s a missed opportunity because really the fact that they used these ridiculously sexist and homophobic tropes to sell an actual legitimate medical product is even worse, makes it an even more glaring example of how deeply fucked up our society is… you could have underscored your point there.

              But it’s also unfortunate because it reveals your attitude towards ‘collateral damage’ in your rants. And when you’re ranting about men, okay, yeah, ‘Think of the men and their poor tiny egos’ is Grade A derailing.

              But when you go off about sex… when you talk about sexual choices… you’re talking about women. Trying to continually shift the focus to the male part of the equation doesn’t rectify that, it exacerbates it… it erases us from your consideration but not from existence.

              I mean, you took a bold stand on the wrongness of killing abortion doctors and you did link to those Judd Apatow reviews which were both entertaining and actually helpful.

              But…

              The biggest result I see you getting is a lot of high-fives from people who already agree with you. When you’re advancing a position that’s beneficial to women, well, okay, the choir needs to hear some preaching, too.

              So I take that and I balance it against the harm you do… and yeah, the answer I come up with is, yes, you’re part of the problem. Like I said, I’m willing to consider that I might be wrong.

              What do you see yourself accomplishing here?

              • Nine Deuce June 10, 2009 at 7:27 PM #

                Raising awareness of the systemic sexism in our society; calling attention to problematic aspects of the entertainment industry, legal system, marketing industry, etc.; telling women that it’s OK to feel like there’s something wrong because there is. If you think I’m such a detriment to women’s lives, why don’t you ask the literally hundreds of women (AND men) who have told me that what I’ve had to say has helped them in some way, if only to make them feel less alone in their distaste for the misogyny that pervades our culture.

                I’ve written nearly 200 posts since starting this blog, only a fraction of which deal with sex. A VERY small fraction.

                What an ass you are.

                • Alexandra Erin June 10, 2009 at 7:35 PM #

                  Hundreds. Oh. Wow. Very impressive.

                  But until you can find a way to do all that without taking potshots at women who fuck in non-(ND/society)-approved fashion, the judgment stands. Unless they’re just passing through, these women are also absorbing your venom and vitriol at people who fuck in ways you don’t like. They’re seeing this mainstream heteronormative attitude being couched in feminist terms and they’re absorbing it.

                  I’d rather be an independent ass than the master’s tool.

                  • Nine Deuce June 10, 2009 at 7:36 PM #

                    Way to rob me of agency (I know you guys love agency).

              • Nine Deuce June 11, 2009 at 5:37 AM #

                Some of the time I write about sex. I think sex is a feminist issue. But the entirety of my feminism doesn’t revolve around sex, because there’s more to being a woman than sex. What does your feminism consist of beyond sex and telling radical feminists that they aren’t really feminists?

                Way to mock my attempt to make the world a better place and to try to discourage me from voicing my opinion. What would you prefer, that I delete the blog and give up, and just go fuck off and forget that I give a shit about anything?

                You’re more qualified than I am to speak on feminist issues, right? Why is that? What qualifies you to tell me that the way I “do” feminism is wrong and your way is right? And if you do think you’re more qualified, then do it, and quit fucking around on the blogs of feminists instead of fighting the actual problem.

          • Nine Deuce June 10, 2009 at 7:49 PM #

            By the way, I wasn’t asking what you do for women’s liberation besides rip on feminists out of some desire to get in a pissing match over who has attended more rallies. I was asking because I truly want to know if your feminism goes beyond ripping on radfems.

        • James June 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM #

          ND – I think you’re misrepresenting/misunderstanding Alexandra’s arguments. She’s not saying that you aren’t examining yourself, she’s saying that you aren’t examining anything. Just generating boilerplate. Personally I’d disagree, but as far as I can tell that’s what she meant.

          Also, you don’t know what the hell any of us are up to in our bedrooms, and it’s none of your business in the first place. Where the hell do you get off labeling anyone’s sexuality “pious woman” when it doesn’t suit your fancy?

          Uh…I didn’t comment on what you were getting up to, just on your rhetoric (or rather, standard issue radfem rhetoric). This strikes me as largely adhering to the pious woman archtype: you have to save oblivious men from their wanton ways, as they are incapable of doing it for themselves. Previously it was because they were inclined towards sin, now it’s because they’re benefitting from “male privilege”, but whatever.

          Undercoverpunk – Yes, you are perfectly willing to consider that your favourite structuralist model (the Patriarchy) could be responsible for everything you do. Alternative analyses, however, are seemingly rejected off-hand. I haven’t seen a single radfem here engage in the concept which I raised.

  13. Lenni April 10, 2009 at 11:51 AM #

    I can’t remember where I remember seeing this analogy but I think it fits.

    Problem with pornography : Problem with sex
    as
    Problem with McDonald’s : Problem with eating

  14. undercover punk June 10, 2009 at 8:39 PM #

    Unless I both confess & dissect my sexual proclivities in public, for ridicule or entertainment, none of these people are willing to believe that I engage in personal examination. Their delusions of persecution blind them from seeing that political critique is not about attacking individual women or “shaming” them. You can’t be shamed unless you internalize the message on a personal level. The world does not revolve around YOU. No one here *knows* you. Taking critique personally is counterproductive to progress.

    Radical feminism is about making connections between the systemic misogyny of social institutions and the emotional cravings that result from internalizing these messages–which manifest in behaviors. Behaviors that any of us can choose to engage in. Or not. Radfem critique does not have the power to change/coerce/force the hand of others. We are “screaming into the void,” if you will.

    Therefore, allegations of radfem persecution are manipulative. Analogies between radfem ideology and patriarchal conditioning are manipulative. All we have are a few blogs. No media, no advertising money, no mass messaging. The power of the System is in NO way analogous to the influence of radical feminism.

    If you do not want to confront the subtle (and not-so-subtle) parallels between the power dynamics of domination/submission exemplified by patriarchy and your personal behavior, you are NOT a feminist. If you want to disregard the parallels, you are not a feminist. At least, not according to my definition. Which I suspect is at the root of the disagreement here.

  15. Imaginary September 27, 2009 at 8:46 PM #

    Thank Lucifer you posted this. Persunally, the whole sex thing doesn’t affect me as much because I just go with the whole “I’m batshit bonkers” school of thought and men just laugh at my wacky antics and beliefs instead of treating me like an object (kind of. Crazy distracts them from power fantasies an itty bitty bit). Then they wonder where they wallets have gone. Mwahahaha!

    Anyway, you’re awesome. Off I fly away! WEEEE!

  16. Undercover Punk February 23, 2010 at 9:48 PM #

    Re-reading your post. Loving it again. Just saying.

  17. Immir March 20, 2010 at 8:18 AM #

    Ha ha- what about the women in porn being called sluts? They are literally being called sluts, how come no one has a problem with that?!

    I’ve never seen 9D call anyone a slut for any reason yet, anyway.

  18. emlee December 10, 2010 at 1:33 AM #

    hey! my roommate just told me about your blog. it’s awesome, i’ve been obsessively reading it all evening.

    i love this post and the distinction between sexual reactionaries, sexual libertarians, and sexual liberationists. so much better than the “sex negative”/”sex positive” dichotomy.

    so last week i was talking about porn with some friends. i made many criticisms of it + the “sex trade” in general. i don’t judge anyone if they do sexwork. hey i used to do it too… can’t guarantee i never will again. but i think in most cases it’s an awful experience cuz it makes you feel used violated and exploited sexually.

    ya so i was expressing these views and got accused of being “sex negative.” translation, if i have a problem with porn it’s cuz i have a negative view of sex. and only people who aren’t critical of porn can be “sex-positive.”
    Wha….???

    funny that people equate having a negative view of porn with being sex-negative and a positive view of porn with being sex-positive. the complete opposite is true for me.

    when i did sexwork, it was cuz i had negative views about sexuality (and myself). my molestation taught me at a young age that sex was something abusive. so this very NEGATIVE view of sex primed me to enter sexwork, which was also awful, but awfulness + sex together seemed normal to me.

    and cuz sexwork was such a negative experience, it strengthened my already negative views ofsexuality.

    i mean, how much more negative can you get?

    so when i was in sexwork, i was sex negative. later, when i made strides in my healing and developed positive views of sexuality (and myself), i stopped sexwork. i figured out sex is not something bad that someone does to you, it’s something good you do with someone. once i really understood that, i could no longer tolerate sexwork. i knew i was too good to put myself thru that. now sex is part of a loving relationship or lusty one night stand, but no more letting people pay to violate me.

    to sum it up, being sex-negative is what led me to sexwork. being sex-positive is what led me out of it.

    i’m not saying sexwork is a negative experience for everyone. but it boggles my mind that i get accused of being sex-negative just cuz i’m critical of porn.

  19. lizor December 10, 2010 at 1:10 PM #

    Nicely put emlee. I was definitely at my most “sex positive” (gag) when my self-loathing was at its height. Playing the role proscribed for me by porn/pop culture did nothing to help me overcome rape trauma. Learning about my own desires and asserting them did, including not fucking with my body to fit some stereotype of “sexaaay”. I have had much much better sex with much much better lovers since I quit trying to look like some media construct.

    ” I just remain baffled ever and again how we’re supposed to feel emancipated by a definition of female sexuality that is actually stricter than it ever has been before. The fact that refusing to shave your legs, wear make-up and diet is still one of the most subversive things a woman can do fills me with despair – so when I’m told I can co-opt these things to make myself feel empowered, and then watch porn to feel super-empowered, I started wondering who’s the butt of the joke here.”

    Thanks for that Lillie. I’m copying that one for my “reread” file.

  20. Miss Andrist December 10, 2010 at 5:17 PM #

    @Emlee:

    I (and many others here) refer to prostitution as commercialized rape. It’s more accurate. Porn is commercialized rape on camera. Both are overwhelmingly harmful to everyone in some measure.

    Sex is fundamentally neutral as a concept; it’s the people engaging in it, and the context they engage in, that make sex positive or negative. Hence, if any of us are “anything,” it’d be sex-neutral.

    You’re being attacked for being critical of patriarchally-approved sexyfuntime. It doesn’t make them right, just willing to ignore the reality that they support getting off to somebody being raped. I might point out, you (as an exited woman) know exactly what the reality is like, and unsurprisingly, you are soundly dismissed.

    Let me point out that whoever is telling you this happy horseshit seems to think that YOU can be declared “sex-negative” because of the traumatic effects of your experience – instead of acknowledging that what was done to you that harmed you so profoundly is in fact solely at fault for your personal, individual aversion to intimacy. Talk about blaming the victim.

    Healing is hard enough. Check out http://rmott62.wordpress.com/ or http://survivingprostitutionandaddiction.blogspot.com/ for some survivor solidarity.

    -Miss Andrist
    Lover of Men

  21. emlee December 10, 2010 at 11:03 PM #

    hey lizor and miss andrist. it’s nice to hear from people who get it. it’s lonely having opinions like mine. it feels good to get support from you, even if it’s only online.

    and miss andrist, thank you for the survivor resources. i really need something like that these days.

  22. joy December 11, 2010 at 1:38 PM #

    My life has been a whole lot more positive in general since I stopped having sex altogether.

    Don’t know what one would really call that.

  23. Fede December 11, 2010 at 5:22 PM #

    I guess maybe you could call it asexuality-positive, joy. :) Which does not necessarily equal sex-negative.

    @emlee: that was a great comment, and you showed very clearly how misleading the terms ‘sex-positive’ and ‘sex-negative’ are.

    @emlee and lizor: I certainly can’t say that anything in my conduct kept me safe, but by some (almost miraculously) fortunate accident, I haven’t had the terrible experiences that you two have been through. It’s good to hear that you are both in a better place today!

    Anyway, my experience of being sex-positive and sex-negative is very similar to both of yours. During my most unhappy and self-loathing phase, I had a lot of sex, and was still sex-negative, even though most people would have called me ‘sex-positive’.

    I then went through a long celibate phase during which I began to know and like myself better. Now I’m sex-positive, and because I am sex-positive, I’m porn-negative – indeed any-kind-of-rape-negative.

    I am also still asexuality-positive, because I know how much good asexuality can do a person. I just don’t practice asexuality at the moment.

  24. joy December 12, 2010 at 12:46 AM #

    One minor semantic point that is actually a giant issue: There is a difference between asexuality and celibacy.

    I was being snarky up there. I actually AM sex-negative. At least in terms of what most people consider ‘sex.’ I do not ever wish to be penetrated by a penis again, unless I wish to conceive a child. And I think men who penetrate women with their penises, except under the auspices of conceiving children, are assholes.

    Not because I’m a religious freak who thinks “sex” is all and only about having babies. But because getting penetrated with a penis is uncomfortable for most women, it’s only one of a multitude of possible sex acts that are a lot more pleasurable (for either or both parties), it can get you pregnant and pregnancy can kill you, it can give you diseases that can make you sick or kill you, and it can cause injuries that can really hurt or even kill you.

    The efforts one can take to mitigate these consequences are often as harmful as the penetration itself. Birth control can kill you, or at the least fuck up your health a lot. Condoms aren’t 100 percent effective. Abortions aren’t affordable or attainable for everyone, and they can kill or at least hurt you.

    And ‘you’ in all those above statements is understood to be a woman. Only women get hurt by penile penetration. So if a man continues to penetrate women with his penis, he is by nature a misogynist, and an oblivious douche.

    I am personally still a very sensual person. If I ever encountered a male person (leaving aside the female half of my equation for a moment) who would be content with sex acts that didn’t include putting his dick into me, I might consider that. Strongly consider that. But none of ‘em are. Try bringing it up and see how fast they freak out.

    No thanks. I’m not putting misogyny into my own body, ever again. If that means celibacy til death, then so be it, I still have two good hands. That’s the most sex-positive decision I think I’ve ever made.

  25. lizor December 12, 2010 at 8:05 AM #

    OMG – I love the term “asexualality – positive”. Not that I believe people should not have sex, although some days when I look at the hetero landscape out there I can’t figure out why women keep letting the men in, so to speak.

    I love hearing about women who have set standards for their sexual experiences and would rather not go there than have yet another bad experience. It’s revolutionary and a wonderful rejoinder to the Fucking Mandate. We talk so much here about the Fuckability mandate, but then on top of that, there is the trope that unless you and screwing your brains out, you are totally missing the boat.

    Taking a “No sex is better than shit sex” stance is something I am going to think and talk about more. Thanks to Joy, Fede, emlee and all.

  26. Fede December 12, 2010 at 11:01 AM #

    “One minor semantic point that is actually a giant issue: There is a difference between asexuality and celibacy.”
    Absolutely, joy. Agreed. And you go on to say that you are actually sex-negative, thereby making another very important point, namely that being sex-negative is a perfectly viable option. I do not take as negative a stance on PiV sex as you do, but I would certainly agree that any man who will not gladly abstain from penetrative sex when his partner tells him s/he would prefer non-penetrative sex is an arsehole (and quite possibly a rapist, too). Which is to say, most men are arseholes. By far.

    @lizor: Thank you yourself. ‘No sex is better than shit sex’ is goddamn right! ;)

  27. Fede December 12, 2010 at 11:18 AM #

    Because I used them too interchangeably further up, I would just like to clarify what I mean by ‘asexuality’ and ‘celibacy’, respectively.

    I understand asexuality as an absence of desire for sex altogether.

    Celibacy, on the other hand, is just abstention from sex, while sensuality and/or sexual desire may still be present.

    So saying that I don’t ‘practice asexuality’ is imprecise. I can practice celibacy, whereas asexual is just something I can be. The reason I mix up these two sometimes is that in my own personal experience, celibacy became asexuality for a while.

  28. joy December 12, 2010 at 1:11 PM #

    Oh, and I forgot to add how expensive penile penetration is for women. In terms of dollar amounts.

    Pregnancy is expensive. Raising a child is expensive. Abortion is expensive. Birth control is expensive. Condoms are an expense (let’s face it, how many men have you met who buy their own?) unless you’re lucky enough to find them for free. Health care for STIs and STDs are expensive. Chemo is expensive (if you get cancer because Nigel gave you HPV, ooopsy!).

    Not only that, but the preparation that most if not all women put into getting penetrated. Waxing costs money. Shaving razors cost money. Perfume costs money. ‘Sexxay’ clothes and lingerie cost money. Haircuts, makeup, high heels, boudoir decor, all that costs money.

    If you happen to be into “a lifestyle”, you’re also going to be paying out the nose for all your cute little outfits and torture devices, I mean, “toys” and accessories.

    And get real. Who’s actually paying for this? Probably out of pocket.

    Since we get paid less than men anyway, and are much more likely to lose our jobs than men are, this is unacceptable. Even without the pay gap, though, it serves to keep women economically depleted and in a lower caste than men.

    Another really good reason to say no to the Almighty Penis (I’m not even touching on the things that most if not all men think of sex and power dynamics, because I don’t want to turn my own stomach, but those should be Reason #1, really) and just get a good dildo. Or date women.

  29. Hecate December 13, 2010 at 1:04 AM #

    To add to joy’s wonderful comment, I think I can say with confidence that men are just not very ‘feeling’ creatures in any sense that counts. Very few know what true sensuality is, in the sense of using the whole of their body to experience lovemaking. They’re just not ‘equipped’ the way woman are, at least in the nerve-ending department of the genitalia.

    Here’s a great article explaining the 4,000 vs. the 8,000. 8,000! Thank you goddess!!! It’s so very exquisite, this body I am so fortunate to inhabit. I would never dream of being a man, and hope I will always and forever be reincarnated as a woman.

    http://www.esybron.org/index.phtml?p=female

  30. joy December 13, 2010 at 10:27 AM #

    Also, re, nerve endings:

    Dudes do like being touched. Their skin has nerve endings like women’s skin.

    They just seem to get confused when you touch any part of them but their dicks.

    That’s tragic. Fortunately, I don’t really care. They can deal with their shit on their own (except, they’re not, of course, they’re becoming MRAs and Andrews instead), we have our own shit to sort out.

    1. I would trade those 4,000 extra nerve endings if I and all other women could stop being the sex class.

    2. If men’s dicks are so insensate (which I’ve wondered about before — ever had a man ask if you’ve had an orgasm from his pronging? dunno about you, but people bloody well know when I’ve had one, and it ain’t from all the pronified screaming [that I don't do]) … why do they continue to insist upon all this PiV?

    I mean, a mouth or a hand is pretty much the same thing. It accomplishes the same end (male orgasm). So why insist upon vaginal intercourse? Why leave a woman, or kill a woman, or rape a woman, or beat a woman, or stalk a woman, or tell all your mates how she’s a frigid bitch, or any combination of the above, if she won’t give out with the old V?

    Think about this. It’s not an accident. It has to do with patriarchy.

    Oh, okay, I’ll tell you what -I- think. Our vulvas and vaginas, our INTERNAL ORGANS, are status symbols for men in patriarchy. Even though men get absolutely nothing extra, in terms of physical sensation, from invading them.

  31. joy December 13, 2010 at 10:28 AM #

    At this point, I understand more why someone would have a heroin habit than why someone would have PiV sex.

    At least heroin, I understand, feels REALLY good.

    (This is both a flippant and a true comment.

    It’s not to say that I’ve never enjoyed PiV sex. Yeah, there’s been some good times. But more often than not, it felt like someone sticking their finger into my mouth and just poking my cheek repeatedly. I understand it is like that for many if not most women. It’s not that we’re numb. It’s that dude-pronging is not the best nor most effective way to have an orgasm.
    I’ve come to understand that my “desire” for PiV was socially constructed, and I can do the same if not better for myself with my own hand and some tools. Without having to worry if he likes my body, or if he’s going to rape me [don't you ever worry that he might not stop? don't you ever wonder if at any second he might turn violent?], or if I’m going to have an orgasm, or if I’m going to wake up the next day feeling stupid, or used, or pregnant.
    The cessation of the fear that used to haunt me EVERY MONTH — “am I pregnant?” — is worth every potential orgasm I’ve ever not had since I ceased being pronged.

    To the people still doing it: why? Don’t you have a dildo? What makes you desire to bring the oppressor INTO your own body?! That’s a suicide move right there.)

  32. joy December 13, 2010 at 4:16 PM #

    To be clear, I’m asking these questions rhetorically, and not trying to get all up in anyone’s grill.

    However … have you thought about this before?

    Why we blithely take penile penetration as the only marker of ‘sex’ when there are so many other things we could do instead?

    Why don’t we redefine ‘sex’ as meaning ‘can cause orgasm’? In that case, I would be sex-positive. Orgasms are nice. People should have orgasms.
    By people I mean, women. (Men don’t seem to have to work that hard to get orgasms. They can get aroused just staring at the ceiling.)
    PiV is not a real great way to get orgasms. Even if you are lucky enough to get orgasms from it, much less every time. (I bet you’re not. Most women aren’t.)

    Under that new criteria, PiV ceases to be ‘sex’ at all, doesn’t it.

    I do not actually think I am ‘sex-negative’. I am in the popular terminology, which defines ‘sex’ as ‘penile penetration’ (or, if one is a more liberal thinker, ‘strap-on penetration’).

    I’m just PiV-negative. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with THAT.

  33. Hecate December 13, 2010 at 4:48 PM #

    All good points joy. This is awesome:

    “That’s tragic. Fortunately, I don’t really care. They can deal with their shit on their own (except, they’re not, of course, they’re becoming MRAs and Andrews instead), we have our own shit to sort out.”

    The next film on from ‘Being John Malkovich,’ should definitely be ‘Becoming Andrews.’ :D

    ‘Pronging.’ Lol! Sorry joy, you may have not meant these to be humorous expressions, but they brought a smile to my face today. In Britain, the expression for ‘fart’ is ‘pong.’ So here’s a new expression for dudes then – ‘Pong Prongs!’ They’ve certainly got their exhaustive list list of derogatory names for us, so we gotta get busy here! It’ll be our Christmas present to them…

    You are very right that the whole penetration scenario generally ends up in some form of pain or worry. I certainly feel ya there. And men are almost always oblivious to the consequences of their actions.

  34. lizor December 14, 2010 at 9:01 AM #

    I think Joy makes a great point regarding physical risk and expense.

    When we were teenagers, my friend’s mother used to say “Please don’t ruin your life!” when she was going off on a date. We used to laugh at that, but of course she was speaking the truth. It’s gross how “acceptable” our culture finds it that women shoulder such a burden of risk, not to mention the expenses of accommodating and insuring penile penetration.

  35. joy December 14, 2010 at 1:49 PM #

    Ahaha! “men are almost always oblivious to the consequences of their actions.”

    Ain’t that just right. Probably because there ARE no consequences, to men, of their actions.

    Society is just one big safety net for dudes in these manners. Meanwhile, guess who’s doing 99.99% of the unpaid domestic labor, including childrearing, often for children unwanted by both parents?

    Right.

    Also, I didn’t know about ‘ponging.’ I can’t claim genesis for any of these ideas, I think ‘pronging’ was a Jill PSmith term for example, so I can’t take responsibility for the entirety of this humor. But I’m still glad it was funny.

    “Please don’t ruin your life” is freaking apt and disturbingly accurate. Of course we know, our mothers’ generation, and mothers’ mothers’ generation, had a whole lotta unwanted kids. And it was even more a life-ruiner then. That’s one small thing we can say for pomo feminism, at least single motherhood isn’t an imprisonable offense (in and of itself, anyway) anymore.

  36. joy December 14, 2010 at 1:51 PM #

    Should have added … “but it, and other assorted sundry consequences of peen-fucking, pronging, and general borking can still ruin your life.”

  37. lizor December 15, 2010 at 7:02 AM #

    Good point about the previous generations Joy.

    It has quietly been revealed to me that almost all of my Grandmother’s and Mother’s peers “Had To Be Married” and therefore ended up subject to a man they may not have really wanted to commit to for their entire lives. Then there were all the subsequent children that were a result of “servicing” the husband’s pronging “needs”. It was my Grandmother and her generation that turned me off marriage – not that they were unable to make the best of things. But I never had so many warnings away from getting hitched as I did in the seniors home.

    What a great deal for the boy: the women carry all the risk in sex and also carry all of the responsibility for outcome, not to mention being labeled Whore if you did succumb to someone’s machinations to get their pee pee in. It does my f&*king head in.

    I think “likely to induce orgasm” is a very good definition of sex.

  38. Fede December 15, 2010 at 7:02 AM #

    “The next film on from ‘Being John Malkovich,’ should definitely be ‘Becoming Andrews.’”
    I just have to say, I laughed like an idiot at this! :D Thank you, Hecate!

    @joy: you make some excellent, if unpleasant, points. It’s a good thing you asked your question rhetorically, because so help me, I have no ready answer. And yet, I’d like to try to address the issue. Why keep letting in the oppressor? No matter how much we each love our particular Nigel, let’s face it; as Twisty says in this post,

    “when Nigel hoists up his Dockers and saunters out of your dungeon into the public square, he’s enjoying the privileged status he has had the pleasure of internalizing all his life. You are not.”

    So why do we keep doing it? And by ‘it’ I am still referring to PiV sex, which is the #1 patriarchally approved sexual act.

    This is my personal answer, and I don’t want to go into too much private and inappropriate detail, but here we are: if I’m brutally honest, I do it more for his sake than mine.

    For the record, I do enjoy it physically, but then there are other things I enjoy as much or more, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone there.

    It helps that 1) Nigel takes care of all birth control, and 2) I know for a fact that Nigel does not beg/nag/cheat/break up with me/complain about it if I tell him I will not have PiV sex.

    But still. I do it for him. Because it’s easier that way. Because it is expected. Because if a straight woman says she never will, her lover will think something is wrong with him/her/their relationship.

    Not my proudest feminist moment, I admit, but there it is.

  39. Hecate December 15, 2010 at 1:48 PM #

    Lol, you’re welcome Fede :) What can I say? The holiday season has me in that goofy, jolly mood yet again.

    It’s nice to hear that at least some gals have a man who doesn’t wince when it comes to being responsible in the sack.

    My concern at the moment is that younger guys will now push their (likely very unwilling) partners to engage in painful ‘back door’ antics. They see it in pornos, so they think it’s perfectly normal and ‘just another thing’ on the menu. That’s unthinkable to me, and I feel sorry that younger women have increasingly harsh expectations to deal with. Hey, call me a prude! Men have called me that and worse. But I have always felt that if you are a ‘boundary pusher,’ man or woman, you do not love your partner whatsoever and in fact you’re being very hateful and disrespectful if you think other peoples’ boundaries are fair game.

  40. joy December 15, 2010 at 2:49 PM #

    Tragic but true, Fede. It’s really common, but it makes my heart sad no less.

    That’s exactly Reason #1 (out of 1,000?) that I don’t have a Nigel. In patriarchy, women have a hard time realizing their own personal … well, gee, even -selves- … because we’re so pushed under the thumb (okay, penis) of others all the time.

    Isn’t it unfortunate how patriarchy puts constraints (to say the least) on all of our individual human developments?

    It’s difficult for me to have even a male friend anymore, for the knowledge that he is going to want to prong me. Or is going to judge me on my prongability or how I do or do not prong. People say “they’re not all like that!” … but get real. They are.

  41. skeptifem December 16, 2010 at 10:39 AM #

    Not everyone is fertile, ya know. Worrying about pregnancy isn’t a universal consequence of PIV sex. Neither is the being poked in the cheek sensation, wtf.

  42. joy December 16, 2010 at 1:38 PM #

    To clarify:

    We live in a world where women can’t even safely say ‘no’ to a sexual encounter (ie, “Not tonight,” or, “I changed my mind”, or, “This doesn’t really feel that good”).

    We can’t safely say no to a sexual partner (“I’m sorry, I don’t think we would be compatible” or “I’m not interested in you”), or a sexual scene (“I don’t really want to try polyamoury or BDSM, thanks”), or a sexual act (“Anal hurts/doesn’t really do anything for me, let’s not do that, ever” or, “Blow jobs trigger my rape trauma and I don’t enjoy giving them”).

    Much less say no to the whole thing. (“I’m not getting back on the PiV train.”)

    At least, not without people jumping down our throats or getting overly concerned for us or being accused of “stifling” our own “sexualities” or pressured into therapy.

    That’s a sad, sad freaking world.

    Until we live in a world where we are free to make that choice, the choice to say no to ANYTHING, AT ANY TIME, then … what?

    The fact that some people like anal, some people like PiV, some people are into BDSM … you know what? Big whoopty shitsack. What’s the other option? Oh, right. There isn’t one. We either suck the dick (metaphorically; substitute ‘the strap-on’ for lesbians) or we get labeled crazy and/or pitied and/or told to loosen up.

    Think there might be an agenda there? Think hard. Now think harder.

  43. joy December 16, 2010 at 2:01 PM #

    Oh, and I just fucked up.

    PiV isn’t “the whole thing.” There are shitloads of other sexual acts.

    Another clarification: Saying no to PIV isn’t saying no to sexuality. Or sensuality. Or whatever you want to think of it as.

    And yes, I know that not everyone experiences penetration as a sensation not unlike being poked in the cheek. But from the vast amount of research available, including self-reported studies and the testimony of many women, getting pronged isn’t a constant shower of awesome like Cosmo would have us believe. Many women don’t even orgasm from it, or only from it, or the best and most consistently from it. That was the point of that statement.

  44. sneeky bunny December 16, 2010 at 2:36 PM #

    So you won’t mind if I find that pony a good home then? Since you won’t be riding it? :)
    But seriously, some people, such as your self, just aren’t on board with PIV for what ever reason and I fail to see why it would be any one’s business. You don’t fuck. I do. I certainly think there should be room on the sexuality spectrum for both of us, and it greaves me that you have had to endure so much pressure to be what you are not. The patriarchy. It depresses me.

  45. lizor December 16, 2010 at 2:54 PM #

    Hecate,

    I have a real issue with the current obsession on M on F anal sex. There was huge coverage here in Canada of that recent U.S. sex survey which showed that 30% more women are allowing anal penetration.(The collective media boners were sooo obnoxious). I’m sure no one missed the avalanche of [male] media pundits, commenters and bloggers who posed that it’s all part and parcel of “liberation” and women’s increased comfort with their bodies. Way to hard- sell painful submission, boys.

    I have to wonder where all the straight dudes with their sensitive prostates were on this survey. There is an actual PHYSICAL reason for men to get off on having their bums pronged and we all know that LOADS of straight dudes do enjoy it. So is this all about a brave new age of sexual openness or is it just more gendered power-tripping? Er – duh.

  46. joy December 16, 2010 at 5:19 PM #

    skeptifem, just because it feels good to some people and not everyone can get pregnant, doesn’t mean it’s still good to do it. For political reasons.

    It’s like the shaving debate. Or the BDSM debate. Or the plucking debate, the heels debate, the great blow job wars of aught six.

    And yes. I am a separatist. I do not see room for these fuckers to reform.

    Consider this my giant middle finger. I’m not getting back on the fucking PIV pony and it should be perfectly okay for any or all women to eschew the shit too. For any reason they goddamned please.

    Even though it may feel good to -you.-

  47. Hecate December 16, 2010 at 11:30 PM #

    Yeah lizor, it really is a worrying trend isn’t it? I mean, men are into force like I’m into chocolate. The fact that they are constantly ‘imposing’ themselves on others, especially female ‘others,’ makes physical reality seem not worth bothering with.

    I like joy’s points and am glad there are some women out there who ‘get’ that it’s really ok to say ‘no!’ It’s the first word you will learn if you join a self defense class. Say no and forget about smiling sweetly. I learned so much the day I enrolled in one.

    To me it’s interesting to note that there are indeed a myriad of non-sexual instances in which women will say ‘no’ and men will take extreme offense. Today for example, some slobby, dufus security guard in Walgreen’s took it upon himself to tell me that my phone was ringing. I was like, “Uh, yeah… I can hear it! I’m ignoring it.’ I just had to look at the expression on his face to know he thought I was some bitch from hell. ‘Wow, that bitch is probably ignoring a call from her boyfriend!’ Oh, the horror. Yes I am SUCH a bitch! I hate that men feel they can approach women in public for any reason. And they are never a ‘help.’ Maybe if I’m walking around on fire, you can help me then, dude. Actually, maybe not even then…

    There are other, probably better examples. The point is, men have such a hard time seeing women say no to ANYTHING, that when a gal says ‘no’ to sex, she becomes the ULTIMATE bitch. That’s the doggie logic of the creepy male brain for you.

  48. lizor December 17, 2010 at 7:06 AM #

    Hecate, you are so right about saying “no”. It’s amazing how ubiquitous the expectation of women’s obedience is in this culture and the severe kick back we receive when we are not. The grossest part is how normalized it is.

    A few years back I was watching a lot of crime shows … well, a lot of Law and Order, and I noticed a trend. For the jillion young “hot” dead females, once the case was cracked, the guy/murderer more often than not would break down and confess that “she laughed at me” [about something sexual] and this usually after a refusal.

    TV teaches us who and what we are, right?

  49. skeptifem December 17, 2010 at 11:41 AM #

    You are acting like I don’t know about sexual coercion or something. I do. Is there a woman alive who doesn’t? I know its messed up. I also think that all that coercion really robs women of the ability to have real intimate sexual experiences with men, it makes it impossible to have the trust needed to accomplish that. The way things are (like if most women dislike piv sex) aren’t what they have to be. I am not comfortable asserting that PIV is silly inherently when there are so many other factors to sort through for the non enjoyment of it by many women. I mean shit, its a sexual act that has all this political significance attached to it, can’t that take away potential enjoyment too? How are women supposed to enjoy something that so many people think solidifies their inferiority? Maybe all the force and coercion took away the enjoyment of sex instead of the sex being inherently not fun. The contents of our minds make a huge impact on how much people enjoy different sexual acts. Maybe in a post patriarchy PIV sex would be extremely popular, maybe not (you know, one where being pregnant isn’t the worst thing ever and birth control is free for everyone). I dislike the judgmental sounding statements involved with this exchange, I don’t really feel comfortable saying what most enjoy or not without some really solid data. The enjoyment of it might be miles away from the moral content of the act anyway.

  50. isme December 17, 2010 at 12:02 PM #

    “A few years back I was watching a lot of crime shows … well, a lot of Law and Order, and I noticed a trend. For the jillion young “hot” dead females, once the case was cracked, the guy/murderer more often than not would break down and confess that “she laughed at me” [about something sexual] and this usually after a refusal.”

    Yeah, there’s an awful lot of disturbing wish fulfillment stuff…though it seems the men who like that sort of thing view any challenge to male domination as provocation, it doesn’t neccesarily have to be sexual.

    And, of course, the other likely scenario is based around how awful a crime is when its committed against a “pure” women (with nothing whatsoever to do with vicarious enjoyment of doing nasty things to same). So they’ve branched out to both benevolent and hostile sexism murder fantasies.

  51. Hecate December 17, 2010 at 12:28 PM #

    Yes so true lizor! The show sure gets that right. It would be nice if men would finally understand that women have a will of their own and it is simply not their place to tell us what we’re ‘allowed’ to say or do. Free will is a bitch that way! But less evolved minds will never understand that whole concept.

    There are all manner of folk who make excuses for the poor impulse control of males. Biological determinist theories love to go on ad nauseum about the ‘male response’ and how it’s supposed to be ‘endlessly fascinating.’ To me it’s pretty much a bunch of ape shit! And um, remind me again how apes are ‘interesting?’ For example, it’s been said that men have an aggressive response to a female who is distrustful of them. Hahaha! Who cares? Maybe he should kill himself then? Women have had perfectly rational reasons for their lack of trust in apish, hairy males since the dawn of time! I say murder that damn ape so we can all evolve already! Sheesh.

  52. joy December 17, 2010 at 8:05 PM #

    Who said PIV was “silly”? It’s a little bit more serious than “silly.” You sound like a man when you call the suffering and death of women “silly.”

    And when you die in childbirth, being pregnant IS the worst thing in the world. And birth control is expensive and can make you sick. Also, rape is horrible. Are you not reading? Is it just that you feel this is somehow a personal attack?

    Notice how I didn’t condemn Fede for still doing PIV? This isn’t a judgment issue. This is a political issue.

    You are taking a political statement and making it all about you. That’s postmodern. Not radical.

    Mentally replace ‘PIV’ with ‘anal’ or ‘BDSM’ if you must. But for fuck’s sake. Stop ignoring the suffering of women because you want more studies and think Joy is just being a big fat meanie for pointing out that dick isn’t the most healthyfunawesome thing on earth.
    (Are you angry about the separatist comment I made at IBTP? I’m not sorry for making it. And none of this is directly about you. It’s not about me either, so, seriously.)

  53. NotSo December 17, 2010 at 11:34 PM #

    “Maybe all the force and coercion took away the enjoyment of sex instead of the sex being inherently not fun.”

    Aren’t there studies showing that women don’t have much sensation past the inner labia and that most women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm? That’s pretty inherent. And that would mean a lot of the enjoyment that IS experienced by women during piv may be socially constructed / brainwashed into them.

    Because practically every book/movie/song out there insists on HETERO being the WAY TO GO!! No lesbo stuff here, no no no!

    (I don’t see why, evolutionarily speaking, all women could not have been largely homosexual all along, only mating here and there with the men in order to have a baby. Plenty of other species have homosexuality going on and it’s working just fine for their survival! Because females do also have a desire to procreate, this is not limited to males only wanting to ‘spread their seed’. Hence males are tools. And enforced heterosexuality is a way to turn women into tools – as Joy says, *politically*, not personally. Yip.)

  54. sneeky bunny December 18, 2010 at 12:31 AM #

    Joy, go back and re-read Skeptifem’s post. She is more in agreement with you than not, and you are misrepresenting more than one of her statements. Yes, for example, birth control is expensive NOW, and getting pregnant can ruin your life NOW, and giving birth can be deadly, right now under the patriarchy. That’s not what she was talking about. She was talking about a possible post patriarchal society where these things would not be visited upon us as women. She also seems to be interested in exploring in chicken/egg sort of way some of the reasons that PIV sex might be distasteful (at the very least) for many women.
    And to be honest, you seem to be the one making this personal. She disagrees with some (Not all! Just some!) of what you are presenting as fact. No where did she get petulant about it, deny women’s suffering (quite the exact opposite actually), call you “a meanie” or insist that PIV is the best thing ever.
    There are undoubtedly jerks out there who do hold those opinions, but Skeptifem does not seem to me to be among them.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Reading group – Under Duress: Agency, Power and Consent « FEL feminisme - August 27, 2012

    [...] After some discussion there was a lot more understanding of the radical feminist point of view. Personally, I’m not sure if radical feminism is simply complementary with agency feminism or actually encompasses it – taking the individual power to act into account and also the structural forces that exert pressure on us. More of a “next step” in feminism, but maybe i’m just not seeing clearly ’cause i’m a big fan of radical feminism – except of course the trans hatred strands of it. See e.g. http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2009/04/05/duck-season-rabbit-season/ [...]

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