I suppose anyone who has ever read anything I’ve ever written, ever, will know that I’m not in the practice of calling people sluts or telling women to be ashamed of their sexuality or sexual behaviors. Good on those of you that applies to. But there are a lot of people in the world, it seems, who seem to think that radical feminists are all about shaming women for their sexual activities.

You see, there are a lot of people in the world that don’t know the difference between calling attention to the fact that the sex industry is inherently misogynistic and calling sex workers (or anyone else) sluts. Or they pretend not to know the difference because it benefits them and makes their ludicrous arguments seem like they have a gram or so more merit.

As a joke, I’m going to pretend that people who accuse radical feminists of slut-shaming really believe that’s what we’re up to and explain to them why they’re mistaken.

I’ve written before about the idea of women (or anyone, for that matter) calling other women sluts. I’m not for it. You see, I’m a feminist. That means that I want women to be treated like human beings rather than like caricatures, which means I’d like for us to have the opportunity to define our identities for ourselves rather than choosing to be a) a slut, or b) wife material. I don’t want my or any other woman’s identity defined by our sexual availability to men. When men have sex with a lot of people, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things because men are human beings. There is more to men, our cultural assumptions tell us, than their sexual practices (unless they’re gay, which makes them more like women than men). But women, our cultural assumptions tell us, are either whores or prudes, and that’s about all that matters.

Sounds like a socially-constructed gender role to me. Guess what radical feminists are totally opposed to?

As a woman who isn’t a virgin, I’ve been called a slut before. It’s shitty, it sucks, it’s uncool, it reduces the person it’s aimed at from a human being to a worthless piece of trash. Slut-shaming is one of the chief ways that women attempt to compete with each other for male approval in a patriarchy that defines women’s worth by their physical attractiveness and limits their ability to distinguish themselves by other means. As such, it’s a divide-and-conquer tool, and I don’t try to use the master’s tools to tear down his house because that shit doesn’t work.

I want women to have sexual freedom. I want us to get to decide who we want to have sex with, when we want to do it, how it should happen, and how often it should happen. I don’t want anyone coming and telling women that they can’t or shouldn’t do something that they want to do. Sex is private, our desires are unique, and no buttinskis should be coming around to tell us what we should desire to do in our private sex lives.

And even when sex becomes public and commodified, I’m not here to tell the sex worker to quit doing what she does, nor am I telling her she ought to be ashamed of herself. Like I’ve said before, we all find our own ways to make living in a patriarchy tolerable, and I’m not at this to judge other people’s choices. Knowing as I do that a lot of women face a pretty shitty set of options in this here oppressive society of ours, I won’t tell a sex worker that she’s selling us out to The Man. However, I will ask anyone who claims stripping, porn, and other forms of prostitution are empowering whence they derive their empowerfulness, and whether that empowerfulness remains once the transaction has been concluded.

Are women who engage in the business of catering to men’s fantasies exercising their own sexuality? That’s a tough question. I mean, we’re conditioned from such a young age to believe that female sexuality consists of catering to male sexuality that maybe it is for some people. Still, I would tend to argue that, since they’re being paid to fulfill a desire that comes out of someone else’s psyche, sex workers are exercising very little of their own sexuality and almost no real power (though they are exercising what agency they have within a patriarchal system). I’m open to discussing that with anyone whose experiences it doesn’t mesh with.

As for plain ol’ promiscuity and general Girls-Gone-Wild-esque behavior, I’d ask a similar question: do flashing one’s boobs, handing out blowjobs, and having sex with random dudes equal sexual empowerment for women? I know that there are women who genuinely enjoy doing such things, but I wonder where the enjoyment comes from. I’m not going to tell anyone where their sexual desires stem from, but I would like to ask people to consider the question for themselves, and tell me whether I’m full of shit for supposing that women who do enjoy such things like them because they’ve been bombarded with the idea that female sexual enjoyment should be dependent on the ability to arouse men.

You see that? I’m asking other human beings to think about some of the issues involved in the realm of human sexuality. Raising theoretical ethical issues with the sex industry and its impact on women’s lives and asking women to consider some of the more tangled cultural aspects of female sexuality does not equate with calling women sluts for engaging in this or that sexual activity.

So, how could anyone possibly accuse me of slut-shaming?

Ah, maybe because I ask people to consider the wider implications of their actions? Reducing that to slut-shaming is dishonest and provides a pretty lame foundation from which to engage with my arguments (if that’s even the intent, which I doubt). Human sexuality is a complex subject, and this argument is much more sophisticated than simplistic bullshit conceptions of sexuality like the Madonna/whore complex can account for. Let’s give it the respect and intellectual honesty it deserves, hmm?

Alright, enough about sex for today.

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I sure hope my parents don’t read this.

L posted a comment on my Cosmo post (the comments section of which has gotten a little racy, be warned) that has got me tuh thankin’:

Usually, period = blowjob week, at least in my experience.

I for some reason forgot to comment on this before, but it really struck me as odd when I read it (probably at least in part because I’m sure it isn’t the case for L’s radfem self these days). I don’t know very many dudes who would refuse to have sex with a woman when she’s having her period, but assuming there are men who will refuse, I’d hope they wouldn’t expect oral sex. I mean, that’s completely nonreciprocal! (Note my feigned surprise.)

I had a conversation with a male friend once about women having been brainwashed by our culture’s conception of what sex is to the point that women tend to consider their own orgasm a part of foreplay rather than the actual “sex” that is intercourse. I told him that a lot of women don’t assume that they will even be having an orgasm in a sexual encounter, and that many women feel guilty for taking up valuable time with their silly little sexual needs instead of letting the man get on with the “sex” part.

He told me that was ridiculous, and that he’d never have sex with someone who didn’t care whether he came.

That isn’t such a startling concept coming from a dude, but it’s important. It should strike us as just as ridiculous as it struck him that women would be engaging in nonreciprocal sex.

I don’t think women should have sex with men who don’t care whether they have orgasms. The orgasm ratio needs to be equal, if not skewed in the woman’s favor (I mean, we’re the ones who can have multiple orgasms, sheesh). That means that if a dude isn’t into having sex and doing what it takes to give his partner an orgasm when she’s on her period, he ought to just go without until the period’s over, and he CERTAINLY ought not to expect oral sex. There are plenty of ways to make it happen, and if the guy gives a shit about anyone’s pleasure but his own, he’ll figure it out.

And that goes for non-period sex, too. I’m a sexual revolutionary, I know. Get on board with real sex-positive feminism here. I mean, what’s more sex-positive and feminist than demanding orgasmic equality?

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Cosmo sucks for telling you to swallow.

I’m taking a break from compiling a list of the worst songs ever made (Any suggestions? The criteria are that the song has to induce cringes and can’t be even slightly funny. For example, “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer made the list, but “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael didn’t, because it can be funny in some contexts.) to write about something that’s been in the back of my mind since I was a wee teenager: the frequent sidebars in the sex columns of “women’s” magazines about the nutritional value of semen. Because, apparently, whether ingesting semen will blow one’s Atkins diet is really the only question left to be decided.

Say what? I’d completely understand finding something like this in a sidebar in Maxim giving dudes advice on how to convince women to swallow, and I know Cosmo is basically the magazine for women who date guys who read Maxim, but I still can’t believe that they’re selling the practice to other women. I find it odd that in a magazine that is ostensibly written by women for women, one frequently finds pro-swallowing propaganda.

Have we really reached a point where the main thing holding women back from ingesting semen is a diet concern? I hope not, but the existence of these little info tidbit columns points to two pretty weird assumptions. First, the magazine believes that women are all already convinced that, as long as it doesn’t cost them a Weight Watchers point, they should be performing fellatio and ingesting semen. Second, there is the assumption that women are all more concerned with staying thin than with whether they ought to be doing something they don’t want to do in order to fulfill some asshole’s porn fantasy.

And that is, my friends, what men’s desire to have their partners swallow is all about. Ask any dude if he wants to power down a tablespoon of semen, and he’ll probably tell you to do one: “That shit’s fucking sick, dude! What, do you think I’m some kind of fag?” But yet the same dude expects his girlfriend to be all about it. You see, in our pornographized culture, that’s what sex is about to most dudes: getting women to do things they don’t want to do or are uncomfortable with (swallowing semen, “doing” anal, threesomes, you get the point). When a woman submits to a sex act she isn’t that into, the dude she’s with gets excited because he’s been given proof that he has power over her, and what in the sam hill is sexier to the porn-addled male mind than domination, than seeing a woman “willingly” submit to a sex act she isn’t comfortable with in order to further bloat his turgid ego?

A lot of women have bought the package, apparently, if “women’s” magazines are operating under the assumption that we’re all hanging around waiting for a dick to suck, and that we’re wondering whether to swallow, not because we think it isn’t cool of men to expect it of us when don’t want to do it, but because we are afraid doing so might make us gain six ounces and fall down a notch on the fuckability scale.

What a bunch of goddamn sellouts the Cosmo people are. I know that’s not an innovative thought, but seriously, is it published by Bill Maher?

Cosmo sucks. I’m advocating a girlcott, and maybe even a magazine-burning party (with Jager, of course, or maybe BL Lime). But I do have a suggestion for the Cosmo people, should they ever decide they’d like their magazine to have something to offer beyond advice on how to be an Axe-wearer’s dream girl. How about putting a sidebar in the next sex column with responses women can use to tell their manipulative douchebag boyfriends how they really feel about swallowing? I’ve got a few. Feel free to plagiarize these, Cosmo:

  • Sure, I’ll do that if it turns you on, but you know what I’m into? Seeing dudes drink my piss. Get a cup. Did I mention that it’s nutritional as fuck?
  • If you’re so excited by the thought of seeing someone ingest your bodily fluids, how about I drink some of your blood? I’ve got a knife right here.
  • You down a dose of it first and tell me how you like it, then we’ll see.
  • I don’t want to. Go fuck yourself. Also, get out of my house. I don’t date dudes who are into coercing women into doing things they don’t want to do.

Ah, what a lovely topic for my hundredth post.

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I’m pretty much all about sex-neutral feminism, but I’m going to take a break from taking online “how emo are you?” (not very) quizzes to talk about sex now anyway. As much as I hate the fact that “sex-positive” “feminists” have nearly succeeded in reducing the feminist movement to arguing over whether waxing one’s pubes is or is not a revolutionary act, I do have to admit that sex plays a large role in my view of feminism, if only because it lies at the center of a large majority of the most visible forms of oppression that women face. That is not to say that I think that rape, pornography, sexual harassment, or objectification are about sex — I know they are just as much, and usually more, about power as they are about sex — but it does mean that I think sex needs to be talked about, a lot.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about his views on infidelity, and he told me that making out with people didn’t count, that it was intercourse that was out of bounds. This struck me as very strange.  I mean, I know that having sex with people outside of a supposedly monogamous relationship carries the risk that the offender will bring various cooties back to his partner, but is that all that matters? I’m pretty sure that most people’s problem with infidelity is the idea of their partner being intimate with someone outside the relationship, which would include even the mildest of make-outery, would it not? I realize that plenty of people have drawn this distinction in order to ease their own consciences, but what can that thin line between third and fourth base tell us about our culture’s view of human sexuality?

I’ve been thinking here and there about how sex is defined and imagined in our society since my first disappointing experiences with dudes, but a comment from reader M (who likes Panic at the Disco, which I will forgive since she brought up a good point) on one of my posts on porn has planted the subject into whatever part of my brain my thoughts on feminism hang out in, where it’s been mingling and making friends. When I heard this dude’s Joe Rogan-esque demarcation of the line between harmless tomfoolery and cheating, I decided the time had come to address this topic.

I know I’m not exactly blowing the lid off of anything huge or shocking the hell out of everyone by saying this, but sex in our society is defined by men. That means a lot of things for women, most of which are pretty uncool. Actually, it means a lot of things for men, too, and a lot of those are also uncool.

“Sex,” in the sense that we commonly use the term, refers to the act of intercourse. That means that our colloquial (read: widespread, common, main, chief, primary) definition of “sex” is “the act through which men reach orgasm,” and that whatever comes before intercourse is not sex, but rather “foreplay.” Since a very, very small percentage of women reach orgasm through intercourse alone, that means that women’s sexuality and pleasure is not a part of sex, but is rather a side dish. (And that completely leaves aside the issue of whether orgasm, male or female, ought to be considered the sole and ultimate goal of all sexual activity.) Sex starts at penetration and no earlier, and it ends at ejaculation and no later, because that’s how it works for men. Everything else is women’s stuff, and we all know that means it’s of little to no significance.

Well, that’s fucking stupid. Men, in a big hurry to get to the point, to close the deal, to score, are missing the fuck out.

Everyone knows how sex works for men because we’re bombarded daily with sexual images and narratives that center on the path to male orgasm, but what do we know about women’s sexuality? We know a bunch of bullshit generalizations, that women purportedly like wine, candles, flowers, incense, and Whitney Houston (no thanks on all counts), but what do we really know about female sexuality? Female sexuality, according to our popular culture, is wrapped up so tightly with male sexuality that the two are inextricable. In fact, the common picture of female sexuality is one that is completely dependent on and subservient to male sexuality. And that picture doesn’t just exist as some kind of fantasy that men have created, but rather has been absorbed by women and has actually come to dominate women’s own sexual identities. Women, as I’ve discussed before, have been trained by popular media to see themselves as if through the eyes of an onlooker, to derive their arousal and pleasure from their ability to excite their partners. In such a scenario, women don’t have the opportunity to find out what their “natural” sexuality might look like, because it’s been sublimated, it’s been erased and replaced by male fantasies turned inward.

So what does that mean in real life? Instead of learning what kinds of things appeal to them, women learn what kinds of things appeal to men. Instead of learning about how their own bodies work, women learn how to use their bodies to titillate. Many women, especially young ones, engage in completely unfulfilling sexual encounters, not knowing that there is more to sex than male orgasm or, knowing that there is, being afraid to ask for more. Even those women who have figured out how to incorporate their own pleasure into their sexual encounters still labor under the dominant narrative of what sex is, and often feel pressure to hurry up and get their silly business over with so that the “sex” can commence.

One might argue that, as long as both parties get to their final destination, it doesn’t matter what terms we use to refer to the different parts of the journey, but it does matter. It matters because we live in a male-centric culture in which the default human identity is male, and in which women are not afforded the same measure of humanity that men are. When sex is defined as intercourse, and when the completion of the act is synonymous with ejaculation, men control sex, and women’s sexuality disappears completely, or is acknowledged only if men choose to do so. Women in our society are considered adjuncts to men, and such a view forces women to conform their sexuality to that of men. It takes an abnormally self-aware and thoughtful dude to take full account of female sexuality, and I’m therefore not very comfortable leaving the definition of sex up to men.

It isn’t just because women’s ability to get off is at stake that I’d rather not leave the delineation of what sex is and isn’t up to men, it’s also because I’m more than a little concerned at what men have come up with since they’ve been in charge of defining and elaborating on what sex means. Sex cannot be divorced from gender relations; the dynamic between men and women in this culture is hostile and sick, and it’s just getting worse.

We’re in a downward spiral (it’s Trent Reznor week here at RATM). Men feel threatened right now. The gains women have made socially, politically, and economically scare men who believe that women’s equality can come only at men’s expense. They don’t want to lose the power over women that our culture has told them is their birthright, and the anxiety that women’s social gains cause in such men expresses itself in their degrading, and often violent, misogynistic fantasies. See advertising, entertainment media, strip clubs, and porn if you need some examples of what I’m talking about. It’s hard to come away from any of these with any impression other than that men, threatened by the loss of their privilege, are attempting to put us back in our place, and that they are doing so in the most sinister of possible ways.

I often attempt to recreate for myself the instinctive, subconscious processes in the minds of men who go in for the objectification and degradation of women, and it goes a little something like this: “I feel like my economic and social position is precarious, and I feel powerless in the face of the men I see as my superiors and the institutions they have created. I’m supposed to be above women in the social hierarchy, but they are getting too close to me, they are threatening to take the things I thought were mine. I’m afraid, and so I am angry at the people who are making me afraid. But I need women in order to fulfill the most essential of my biological desires, and I also need them in order to have a full life, according to the ideal that my culture has set up for me. I want women, I desire women, but I can’t have them unless they will allow me to. I am angry at them for not wanting me, and I hate them for making me afraid that I’m losing my tenuous grip on my rung of the ladder.” Is there anywhere for that train of thought to lead but to Max Hardcore’s house?

As pornography infiltrates mainstream culture to a greater and greater extent, women’s sexuality, which has always been constricted and defined by men, is being forced into ever more painful contortions. As weird as some of the things I’ve seen in my life have been, thank fucking Christ I’m not a teenager right now. Every time I read about the way young people approach sex I get terrified. It seems everywhere I turn I read some heinous anecdote or survey in which I have to hear about the horrific things young women are putting up with, or about the disgusting and degrading things young men “expect” (fuck you) out of their partners. Men who’ve grown up watching internet porn don’t seem to think it unreasonable to ask their partners to allow them to ejaculate on them, don’t think there’s anything wrong with demanding that someone “do anal,” don’t know why their girlfriends might not enjoy being called “bitch” or “whore” during sex. (It really makes me wish that lesbians wrote books and put on camps that could train people to go queer, kind of like the ones the JC lovers put on claiming to “teach” people how not to be.)

Why would we elect to let people who hate us dictate our sexual identities to us? Why would we rely on people with such dim views of our humanity to treat us with dignity, respect, and care? Why don’t we decide for ourselves what sex is and should be, and tell these motherfuckers to get on board or get to wanking?

Fuck, now that I think about it, why would men even buy into such a limiting and dehumanizing picture of sexuality? I know that power is seductive, but it’s a pretty bad trade-off for men when they don’t actually gain any power in any real sense, and when they lose so much of their ability to experience the best things sexuality has to offer in the process.

Leaving aside the degradation of and violence to the human spirit that is pornography, our more mainstream cultural pictures of male and female sexuality are still pretty fucking stupid (though they are, of course, heavily influenced by and have a heavy influence on porn). Human sexuality isn’t a simple matter of “women want love, men just want to fuck.” That, despite the pseudo-scientific bullshit pumped out by our media that would have us believe otherwise, is not the “natural” or “instinctive” state of human sexuality, but rather the creation of the commingling of sexuality and power that characterizes our current sexual milieu.

I’d like any dude who reads this to ask himself if fucking random strangers is really as fulfilling as Entourage makes it look. It’s made out to be pretty fucking exciting, but it can’t live up to its promise and is really a poor substitute for what human sexuality has to offer. It’s dangerous, awkward, embarrassing, dehumanizing, and completely deadening, even to those who have an easy time of getting strangers to get naked. Fucking is the realm of those with huge ego problems and insecurities, and it’s disappointing to me to see women latching onto the practice as an ill-conceived attempt to clamber toward some kind of equality with men.

Now, I am not saying that women ought to face censure for their sexual behavior. I’m not saying women ought not to be as free as men are to have sex with whomever they choose, whenever and however they choose. What I am saying is that men, inasmuch as they’ve come to view sex as a tool of domination, have lost a key part of human sexuality that women still possess for the most part. Without sinking into gender essentialism, I think it’s safe to say that women, in general terms, have retained the most desirable elements of human sexuality because we haven’t gotten sex mixed up with power to the same extent men have. We ought not to be in a big hurry to toss that away. Equality doesn’t necessarily derive from imitation; no matter how much we emulate men’s piggish sexual behaviors, they still hold the power in our society. Fulfilling male fantasies might get us some short-lived attention and might allow us to manipulate individual men for a few hours or days at a time, but it amounts to dick in the long run, and it robs us of the best of what human sexuality has to offer.

I don’t mean to sound like a fruitcake, but humans have some pretty unique and important abilities when it comes to sex. We can empathize, we can love, and we can reach levels of emotional understanding through sex that pigs can’t. We should be exploring those abilities rather than suppressing them so we can be more like men, and men ought to be asking women how sex should be done instead of telling us.

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Porn Part 6: Stockholm Syndrome

L from Editorializing the Editors posted a comment on one of the blogs in this series referring to the internalization of porn culture by women as a widespread case of Stockholm Syndrome, an apt characterization if there ever was one. I’m of the opinion that women who participate in and defend the production or consumption of pornography have been conditioned by our porn-crazed culture to believe that the choice to capitulate to the porn industry’s demands on women’s sexuality is something that they themselves desire. Don’t get all upset with me and tell me that I’m robbing women of agency. I’m not. I’m arguing that women, consciously or not, choose to participate in their own objectification because the rewards for doing so are better than the difficulty that comes with resisting porn culture’s demands. The parameters are laid down by the forces that be (patriarchy, capitalism, etc.), not by women. Women who choose to participate in porn culture are just exercising what instrumentality they have within a restrictive system.

I’ve suffered through reading, deleting, and even responding to a lot of comments that center on the idea that some women choose to be involved in the making of porn, that some women like to watch porn, that some women like to be treated like the women in porn, that women are “taking control” of some aspects of the porn industry, that there are forms of porn that are not misogynistic, blah fucking blah. There are as many arguments for the continuation of women’s exploitation and subjugation as there are varieties of pornography, and none of them are right. Almost all arguments in defense of porn production and consumption spring from the kinds of libertarian economic and social positions that most people who aren’t comfortable with the religious right but also aren’t comfortable with the idea that their actions have consequences beyond their own lives exhibit. Libertarianism is naive and myopic in almost every sense, and porn is no exception.

Men who use porn know that, deep down, they think it’s odd that the women they’re jerking off to have “chosen” to participate in pornography (more on that concept here). It is odd that a woman would choose to work in porn, would choose to use porn, or would choose to defend men’s and their own porn use to other women. It’s odd because women should instinctively sense, when confronted with the vast majority of pornographic images, that what they are seeing is degrading to the human spirit. Evolutionary psychologists can make whatever bullshit claims they want to about men being “naturally” prone to becoming aroused by visual stimulation (which is utter horseshit), but no such claim has been made when it comes to women’s porn use, most likely because it would be absurd to argue that women’s porn use stems from anything other than a quest for acceptance in a world dominated by entitled and oblivious porn-using men.

I think I’ve got an explanation for why some women get into porn, and maybe even some alternatives to offer to women who are involved in their own objectification simply because they don’t see any other options. Women get the message from a very young age that their value lies in whether they are attractive to men. It’s hammered home by television, movies, ads, fairy tales, toys, music, etc. These outside influences are so strong that they can completely transform female (not to mention male, but I’m tired of talking about men) sexuality into something vastly different from female sexuality in its natural state. Women come to see themselves as if through a lens, as if through the eyes of someone else, after a lifetime of exposure to media that teach them to conceive of themselves in such a way. It is no surprise, then, that many women find that their own sexual arousal is highly dependent on the ways in which others seem to perceive them. Almost everyone is aroused by the feeling of being desired, but in our culture, that tends to become the chief element in women’s arousal. Many women see themselves as if watching from somewhere beyond themselves, and derive their sexual arousal from viewing their own sexuality as if through the eyes of an onlooker. Put simply, women in our culture are conditioned to be aroused by the idea that they can cause arousal in an observer.

It’s not a very big leap from that idea, which I contend exists to some degree in all women, to the idea that a woman would be excited by being viewed as a sexualized object, or by viewing images of other women as sexualized objects. In fact, I’d say that seeing beyond such systematic and forceful conditioning is the big leap, which is why there are so many “sex-positive” “feminists” and women who use and defend the use of porn, and so few outspoken anti-porn feminists. BUT… that doesn’t mean that the pro-porn crowd is right. Remember, everyone used to think slavery was OK, that women shouldn’t get to vote, that cocaine was a good beverage additive, that menthol cigarettes cured colds, and so on. I mean, look at how many people still think Family Guy is a good show and that Panic at the Disco is a good band.

How many times have you heard some woman who prostitutes herself in the pornography industry say that she’s “just an exhibitionist”? It’s exactly this process of women being conditioned to identify with their own objectification that allows such a woman to make that claim, and I wouldn’t argue that she’s being dishonest. What I would argue is that she’s either consciously or unconsciously avoiding thinking past that idea, because doing so would cause some serious emotional discomfort and require some difficult decisions. Participating in your own objectification comes with some major rewards; you get attention (although not respect), you get (limited and questionable) affection, you get a bunch of dudes lusting after you. In short, if you don’t think too hard about it, allowing yourself to be objectified can make you feel valuable and powerful in a system in which women don’t have a lot of access to power (and in which they are fairly consistently undervalued as human beings). Defending men’s right to use porn, and using porn yourself, gets you the approval of men who want nothing more than a woman who is just as into her own objectification as they are. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a dude tell his friends how pumped he is to have found a girl who is as dirty as a porn “star,” or how excited he is that his girlfriend likes porn as much as he does. It’s funny, though, I’ve never heard one of these same guys tell his friends how stoked he is that his pornified girlfriend is a cool person, or smart, or interesting, or funny…

What does going along with porn culture require of women? I’ve already argued that women, as a result of social conditioning, generally come to be aroused at the thought of arousing a third party, but is that the whole of women’s sexuality? Of course not. Human sexuality is very complicated (I would even argue that female sexuality is more complicated than male sexuality), and there are so many factors involved that I won’t even try to tell anyone what female sexuality “is,” but I will say that I’m pretty sure it involves more than just being aroused by being seen as a sexual object. Porn culture, in tandem with our mainstream media, has taught women and men that the object of sexual interaction is male orgasm, and that everything else that takes place is corollary to that. Even the most indoctrinated of women cannot derive all of their sexual pleasure from arousing men, so this poses a serious problem; women’s sexuality is almost completely ignored in porn, and is treated as a side dish to male sexuality in most other media. That’s ridiculous. Women’s sexuality, the more complicated of the two, is treated as if it were so simple as to be almost non-existent, and women who want to go along with porn culture in pursuit of male acceptance are being forced to make do with having only a very small portion of their own sexuality acknowledged and having the vast majority of their sexual needs ignored.

It’s a dilemma: is it worth the trouble to demand that our sexuality be taken as independent of male sexuality, that our sexual needs be met, and that we be seen as fully human individuals who approach sex with motives that extend beyond the desire to titillate men? It might not be for some people. There don’t seem to be a huge number of men who are interested in understanding female sexuality or in relinquishing their perceived right to define what sex is and should be. For some women, learning to make do with a less-than-perfect sex life might be the easier option when the alternative is risking being shunned, ignored, or called a feminazi, lesbian, or prude for demanding that their sexuality be accorded the consideration men’s sexuality is.

But the only way that will change is if more of us do exactly that. I’m of the opinion that a lot of men, if they actually knew what real female sexuality was about, might find it more interesting than what goes on in porn. I also think that a lot of women would be surprised to find out just how complex and full of possibilities female sexuality is. Instead of thinking about new ways to sexually manipulate men, why not think about new ways to experience your own sexuality? Women need to start thinking about themselves more and about men less in almost every arena in life. It’s difficult and it goes against everything we’ve been taught, but it’s ultimately the most rewarding path in life, even if it is uncomfortable at times.

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