Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Why sex-positive?

In my daily blog reading, it seems like I've been coming across a lot of anti-porn posts of late. While I sympathize with anti-porn feminists, sometimes their generalizing makes me want to tear my hair out. Decrying all porn says to me that they believe porn can't be done in a pro-woman, pro-pleasure, non-degrading way.* To me, that's giving up on something that could be incredibly valuable.

Basically, here is the situation as I see it.

We consume a LOT of porn. This is not going to change. Now, that is not an argument for keeping something, necessarily, but it is an element in assessing the situation with porn in our society.

And honestly, there is something to be said for the pleasure of watching sexual acts. Isn't it possible to translate the pleasurable acts many of us participate in, to a screen format for others to view? And if we are depicting acts truly enjoyed by the participants where is the appropriation or misrepresentation that anti-porn fem's decry?

Feminist porn has taken that philosophy and run with it, to the benefit of many. Working further with it, and working to promote feminist porn*, can only aid in changing the porn industry as a whole. Creating more awareness of feminist porn and marketing it to EVERYONE, can only help with the objectification we find in regular porn, can't it?

For me the goal here is to do just that. If we can get feminist porn into the mainstream of consumption, then things will change. Representing real pleasure and female empowerment/ownership of their sexuality and sexual needs can only be beneficial! The more that it is viewed, the harder it gets to reconcile real pleasure with the degrading representations of it that much of current mainstream porn relies on.

For me, anti-porn feminism has given up an important fight, and they have vastly over simplified our wonderfully complex sexual natures. There is a time and place for objectification, there is a time and place even for degradation in some people's sexual lives. By taking the stances it does, anti-porn feminism condemns these practices wholesale, and by so doing, shames the women who derive sexual pleasure from such activities.

I've had enough of shaming women's expressions of their sexual pleasure. And I've had enough of people thinking they are in the position to make other people's decisions for them. Feminism is about educating and empowering women to make their own choices, but judging sex workers decisions does not further this agenda. In fact it is perpetuating some of the very worst of the patriarchal attitudes we are trying to overthrow.

This is why I am so strongly sex-positive. I come from the baseline of "sex is good, expression of sexuality is good, representation of sexuality CAN BE good" and I approach the issues of sex work of various stripes (pornography included here) from there. What I'm most interested in cultivating is women having authentic relationships with their sexuality and sexual desires (as well as career choices). Secondary to that, I am interested in spreading those authentic identities into the mainstream, so that men (and non-feminist women) will understand just what empowered female sexuality looks like.

When men and women can truly recognize this, I believe things will change. Porn will change, parts of our rape culture will change, objectification and appropriation of women and their bodies will change. These things will have to change, because once recognized, I don't think people will enjoy the fake stuff anymore.

Ultimately, I think women have been judged enough, I think we have been told what to think, how to feel, and how to be in this world, ENOUGH. Feminists are the last people who should be furthering that sort of agenda. And I am not interested in participating in it.

*I want to put in a clarification on these points, and that is in acknowledging the wide variety that is human sexuality. When I talk about "feminist porn" I don't even necessarily mean porn that self identifies as feminist. For me, any porn that is pro-woman, pro-pleasure; where the chick gets off as much as the guy, is feminist porn. What humans derive pleasure from is diverse, and I want to acknowledge that. What I want to see an end to, are wide spread practices that serve only to degrade, and which I do not believe enough women derive pleasure from to justify how widespread that practice is. Among other things, the "money shot" is a prime target here, cum fetishes are not nearly common enough to justify how often I see this annoyingly degrading and misogynistic act in porn. Another example close to my heart is the way anal sex is enacted, yah fucking right that's how people do it to actually derive pleasure from it.

P.S. All you anti-porn feminists out there. My identifying as sex positive does not mean I am thusly casting you as sex negative. In fact, I don't put you in that category. I do, however, believe that society is sex negative, and my identification with the label "sex positive" is partly in response to that. But basically, it's not all about you.


  1. "Representing real pleasure and female empowerment/ownership of their sexuality and sexual needs can only be beneficial! The more that it is viewed, the harder it gets to reconcile real pleasure with the degrading representations of it that much of current mainstream porn relies on."

    You said it, sister. It is self-defeating to dismiss porn, and its influence - particularly with whole new generations having far more exposure to it over the internet than was previously possible.

  2. Very good post. I agree with you completely.

  3. "And ultimately, I think women have been judged enough, I think we have been told what to think, how to feel, and how to be in this world, ENOUGH. And I am not interested in participating in that."

    Well said!

  4. I liked this post...here's something I think you might appreciate reading at The F-Word:

  5. I just found your weblog and I have to say that you have the best. post. ever. for this topic. Totally agree with you. That is why I support the Feminists Against Censorship and Feminists for Free Expression.

  6. Have you watched The O Tapes? I started watching it on Saturday night on TMC, but then I fell asleep. It was late! I'm going to tape it when it comes on next week. I think you'll like it. It's on Showtime this month, so you can watch it if you're a subscriber.

  7. I haven't!

    But I have Netflix so I will have to save it on there. Thanks for the tip!

  8. Great post! I feel that our society has been too brainwashed by the very apparent sexism in our society to realize that women are being oppressed in the way that they can't be sexually expressive. I'm very sex positive myself and I agree with everything you said. What good is extracting porn from our society going to do? The only thing we can do is reform the porn industry and society by allowing women to be sexually liberated. Sex work and that industry is really something that should be legitimate. People are way too sensitive when it comes to this topic.

    And by the way, this is my first time reading your blog, I really like your "About Me" info

  9. Welcome Kathleen, I'm glad you're enjoying my space!

  10. This is spot on what I was needing to read. I am struggling w/ what it means to be sex positive and feminist and have found it such a hot topic in feminist circles. I don't think the othering of feminists is conducive to our cause. This was refreshing to read...someone who identifies as a radfem and yet has a very realistic take on sexuality.

    Shorter me: Love this post!

  11. Hi

    I came over off your community post on feministing. I consider myself a sex-positive feminist, (into light kink/bdsm) yet I have always been anti-porn and haven't quite been able to articulate the difference in my mind between the two. I should clarify--I'm anti-(the vast, vast, majority of)-porn.

    Thank you for this post. I've felt like a hypocrite in the past for my seemingly divergent views. While I support anyone's choice to use/enjoy feminist pornography, at this point I can't accept it in my relationships. I guess my partner will continue to be satisfied by our own kinks for now. ;)

  12. excellent! this post is so on it! thank you for this. and... well, just thank you. :)

  13. I know I am late to the party but what is wrong with the money shot?
    Is something bad about hard anal sex?


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