Sunday, 27 May 2007

"A Few Thoughts On Sex And Feminism"

An interesting post on the virgin-whore dichotomy, here:

At any rate, some people seem to believe that anything that could possibly be seen as giving in to the patriarchy is irrevocably bad. That includes: makeup, sexy clothes, skirts and dresses of any kind, pornography (no matter if it's "feminist" porn), BDSM, blow jobs, having sex with men at all, etc. All of these things are essentially off-limits to "free" women, and these tacit limits are set to keep you free.

Wait. What? Isn't that like wire-tapping your phone to keep you free? While one of the great goals of feminism is to take back female sexuality, so horniness isn't labeled "hysteria" and considered to be a physical ailment, somehow this doesn't seem right. After all, when railing against things like porn and BDSM, there are always those inconvenient wrenches in the works in the form of female couples who perform BDSM, or women who like to watch porn. If, say, BDSM is really just a legal way for men to tie up and torture women, how come there are so many women who are Doms, or who like to be submissive, either to men or to other women. For real, omfg, how could The Story of O have possibly been written by a woman????? Too bad it was. If the whole Venus in Furs man-is-submissive-to-woman kind of thing can be explained by the idea that masochists control the situations in which they're submissive, how come woman-is-submissive-to-man sex, or woman-is-submissive-to-woman sex can't be explained by anything but "legal torture of women?"

Female sexuality is complicated, and the idea that anything but clitoral stimulation (preferably performed by a woman) is subservience to the patriarchy just doesn't cut it. Sorry. If you want to reclaim female sexuality, you have to acknowledge that it exists, firstly, and secondly, you have to acknowledge that any parts of it that you don't like or understand can exist without being submission to the patriarchy.

Not that everything is hunky-dory in reference to women's sexual options these days. There are still some pretty stupid and damaging ideas about sex that are floating around. However, if a woman tells you that she likes to be spanked or whipped or likes to give blow jobs to her partner, perhaps this isn't the time to go "Oh you poor oppressed dear, let me psychoanalyze you to see how brainwashed you are." But instead, it's time to listen to her.

But I don't think that's what's happening. Which is why figures like Belledame or Ren cause such a ruckus amongst several of the the self-identified radfem bloggers. To them, a feminist who likes anything besides or in addition to clitoral stimulation can't be a feminist. Therefore, she must be the opposite: a Paris Hilton sexbot, a servant of the patriarchy, an oppressor, a status-quo holder-upper. Really? Because to my mind, anybody who breaks paradigms is a lot more radical than someone who goes around espousing old dichotomies dressed up in new clothing.

boldface/"strong" emphasis mine.

I think the notion of the "freak", the maverick, the defier of the status quo, gets lost in feminists' interminable looking at things through a structural lens. Of course the structural lens is important, but when we slot people into "oppressed" or "radical" like this, we lose sight of the freaks.

And I do think there are freaks, are people who are boldly defiant. Of course nowhere near all BDSM people are. But I do believe some are. And I think we need to remember that.


Renegade Evolution said...

Henchwoman, henchwoman dammit ;)

Me loves this post, loves it lots.

belledame222 said...

I think what's truly "radical" is -acceptance-, you know. look and see what's there, -then- (maybe) decide What It All Means, Dear.

Alon Levy said...

I'm probably sounding like a broken record here... but I try not to worry too much about what is the most radical.

Do what do you guys do cause anyone any damage? Does it indicate any mental pathology? No, and no. That's all I care about.

Buttons, phone banks, mailing lists, money, and speech are political tools. Genitals aren't.

Trinity said...

"Buttons, phone banks, mailing lists, money, and speech are political tools. Genitals aren't."

Well said.

And yeah, I'm a bit tired of it all too. But this was really well said and I felt it deserved a link.

belledame222 said...

agreeing with AL here.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I've been going around and around on the phrasing of "boldly defiant".

I think a fair number of freaks fly under the radar, too. Not necessarily because they're closeted, but because their displays of paradigm-breaking don't turn up as noticeable.

Alon Levy said...

Another reason freaks sometimes fly under the radar is that there are too few of them for anyone important to have a stake in attacking them. Nazi Germany's tiny black minority managed to escape the harshest forms of persecution. The US welcomed immigrants a lot more when there were hardly any than when Irish and Germans started showing up in large numbers.