Monday, May 12, 2008

The Intersection of Radical and Sex Positive Feminisms

This is a post I have been contemplating for some time. It began with my "Why Sex Positive" post, and has been poking at me over and over again whenever I read about the supposed oppositional natures of sex positive and radical feminism. For instance, most recently, I came across this post:

"Sex Positive Feminism (rofl): Doing what men want, the way they want it. Empowerfulment!"

Now, I am linking to the blog because honestly, it's a good blog. And Hellon, the author, is incredibly insightful in many ways (especially considering she's in high school). She is already a kick ass feminist.

However, obviously, I disagree with this particular idea of hers (and not just hers, it is shared all across the radical feminist blogosphere) and I think it illustrates well one of the major repeated assertions/misconceptions that rad fem's have about us.

So let me put this simply...

Sex Positive Feminism HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MEN.

Even if you want to disagree with us on porn, and prostitution, and any other manner of things, please at least do so from an intellectually honest point of view. Don't "other" and marginalize your fellow women, your sisters(!), that is a tactic taught to you by the Patriarchy, who would like nothing more than to see us bite and scratch and claw and tear each other apart.

Sex positivity is not about that. Sex positivity is about exploring an arena that was, until our foremothers broke down barriers, forbidden for us to access, our own sexual selves. It is about, playing with sex (and I use the word "playing" VERY purposefully, because it carries with it a light hearted, unashamed connotation for me). It is about learning about our sexualities... And why put limits on what can be explored?

Radical feminism has taught me that women have the capacity to see and to understand and to analyze our lives and our surroundings and our decisions and our situations. If we can do these things, surely we can explore the light and the darkness of our sexualities with full cognizance. And THAT is what sex positivity is. That is it EXACTLY. The disconnect for rad fems comes when they see other women accepting and enjoying things from this exploration that they feel is directly in opposition to their own understanding of their sexuality and what is good for Womyn as a group.

And I get that.

I do.

And I don't think you should be quiet about it, if that's how you feel. But why does it have to come to the point it does? Why do we have to go into the catty "you're not a feminist!" Othering BULLSHIT? Why? As I said before, those are PATRIARCHY TACTICS. And I dunno, I don't want us to all be the same. It's tempting sometimes, but you know, I don't think that's what life is about. For there to be creativity, there must be polarity, and our oppositions can feed that creative spark, if we channel it to working together instead of using it against it each other. And if we attain what men have, the ability to be true individuals in our natures and tastes, we are never going to all agree. But I digress...

Radical feminism has taught me that Patriarchy has warped our understandings of what our sexuality looks like, of how it functions, of WHAT it's function IS. Fuck THAT noise. We all want to be rid of that Patriarchal conditioning, don't we? How else are we going to figure it out without experimentation? And yes, the exploration for one person might be pushing another's boundaries in an uncomfortable way. But I've learned the most about myself from times when I've been made to feel uncomfortable.

And that brings me to what I said on Hellon's blog.
Sex positive feminism has been as big an influence on my decision to leave my legs hairy as radical feminism.

Because, it's about US. How, what, who WE ARE. What WE WANT. Men don't come into the equation unless what we like includes them.

We are working towards the same goal my sisters, each to the best of our talents. We want to see the destruction of the currently woman-negative, sex-negative, slut-shaming, patriarchal bullshit society we all live in too. Don't let the way they've taught us we must interact destroy the work we could do together.

Listening to: Alanis Morissette - Right Through You


  1. Yeah. What I wrote was a spur of the moment thing before I realised I would get x thousand traffic.

    I do think it is important we work together as feminists despite our differences.

    I'll write something to that effect at the bottom of my post.

  2. Unfortunately, no matter what the group, there's always going to be the othering effect. It's a way in which we as human define ourselves. We have to be normal, so others have to be different.

    It sucks. But it happens, and I'm not sure that will ever change.


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