Monday, May 12, 2008

Third Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy

Welcome to the Third Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy! I am thrilled to bring you this edition, with posts gathered from across the blogoverse. For those who submitted, thank you very much. For Lina, would have had a much more difficult time without you. And for those who I found, thank you for doing what you do.

Now, onto the show.

On That Sex Positive Approach to Sex and Feminism

The Intersection of Radical and Sex Positive Feminisms

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.

5 Tips For Hot Menstrual Sex

So, you've decided that you're going to have period sex - no, not the kind where you dress up in period costumes and then bang underneath your bustle, but the kind where the lady is menstruating. Yay for you! Here are some tips for an optimal experience.

Sex Radicalism, Sex Positivism, and the Whore Stigma

Sex radicalism is also profoundly feminist, and with good reason. While many men are oppressed (in reality or potentially) for their sexual desires and practices, women are encouraged to never explore or experience sexual feelings in the first place. We are supposed to exist sexually within a (married, monogamous) relationship with a man, or else not at all. When we do step across the boundaries of compulsory heterosexuality and “good girl” propriety, we are often treated viciously. Women need each other’s support (although we do not always get it) to navigate the rough waters of living nontraditional sexual lives. Mainstream feminists learned this lesson from lesbians, who would not withdraw their demand for support from feminist organizations and institutions; it has not, however, extrapolated what it has learned to women elsewhere on the sexual fringe.

The Challenge of Entitlement

Now bring this entitlement issue into the BDSM world. I find that the place where most dominants mess up, when they do, is exactly in this realm. It’s as though a lot of people figure “I’m dominant, they’re submissive, of course I’m entitled,” without stopping to think about how a person’s role in kink does not on its own constitute permission or invitation for just anyone to take up that entitlement.

Celebrating Masturbation Month!

For those of you who may have been chilling out under a rock for the past 10 days, MAY is MASTURBATION month!

Why Not Go Straight For the Spoon?

It's just *so "no-sex" class! Why not "sell" the woman on giving direct pleasure? Or using the spoon to give herself *real* orgasms?** Or if that's too racy or presumptuous how about just eating the flipping dessert?

Sex and Identity

Lately I have been having this strange feeling like the blog and the experiences and the ongoing communications with others is "re-wiring" me. This can be a pretty strange and scary feeling. There is a feeling of "oh shit, I can't turn back now. The door won't close." Similar to trauma or any other significant experience, it is re-shaping my brain and my body. For some reason I seem to feel most aware of this when I first wake up. The first feelings seem to be "Who am I? What am I doing?"

I'll have dreams of being cornered and threatened by a bear. I'll wake up and think with dread, this is exactly what I'm doing. I'm poking at this bear and it has woken up. All this power and energy, it could be a good thing or it could be a dangerous thing. Is it supposed to be dormant? Should it have never woken up?

On Sex Work(ers) and the Tragic Death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey

Rescue, Respect, Refuge

Humans trafficked for sex do not have the capacity to exert power. They do not have agency. Children do not have agency. A woman who is pimped, forced to go out on the street, forced to give her money to the pimp, doesn’t have agency. Addiction can take away agency. Poverty can take away agency. Injustice can take away agency.

But there are many sex workers out there that do have agency.

I Am Dressed To Kill

I am also, as always, conflicted. As a women with radical feminist politics, this is the one area where I diverge from the dominant opinions of that group. I am constantly evaluating how I can be a truly feminist sex worker. For me that question of feminist integrity matters more than how to be a safe sex worker, a high paid sex worker, or anything else. My integrity is the most important thing, and I never do anything with a john that I wouldn't do by my own choice.

To Whore, or Not to Whore

I loved living on the edges...being outside society, the secrecy of knowing I was a whore amidst The Normal People. There was something inexplicably cool about being on a plane and knowing that here I was and no one knew that an outcast was in their outcast who was a good mother, a spiritual person, and honest person, a person with a BA in Religious Studies. They wouldn't have a clue by just looking at me. There's an imp inside me who loves to shock and I loved the paradoxes of my life. Being a whore fed my Inner Rebel, my Crazy Wisdom Coyote nature.

Abolition and the Saving of Sex Workers

The well-intentioned, misinformed, and even the righteous haters all proclaim to save us ~ sex workers and society itself ~ from the sin and abuses of sex work.

On one hand, there are the myths which blame the sex worker for taking ~ nay, making society run this path to ruin. Like the cliched woman who seduces a man away from his family & home, sex workers force uninterested citizens to fornicate. It would be silly if they weren't so loud & insistent in their claims to condemn the lives and livelihoods of those involved. The mere notion that "a sex worker is out there, somewhere" does not induce partaking of her services, nor even having sex in general.

An Open Letter

Dear Maggie Hays,

I read your comment on Witchy Woo's post (which, incidentally, appeared to be written with absolutely no ironic distance) with interest and I would like very much to take this opportunity to respond to a few points that really stood out for me; I feel it encompasses many of the criticisms against 'sex positive' feminists (also, I think it makes a little more sense to respond seriously to your comment than to Witchy's odd little post).

More On Palfrey and Feminism

I’ve said before that I don’t like to get all accusatory about “why haven’t you blogged about [X]??” because frankly it pisses me off when people do that to me. But I also think 1) there’s a difference between a personal blog and/or a blog run by one person, and a group blog centered around a specific topic (e.g., feminism); and 2) sometimes, in the case of the latter type of blog, the silence on particular issues speaks waaaay louder than words.

Another Call For Feminist/Sex Worker Solidarity

I think there’s this really complicated thing going on with feminist and sex worker perspectives on this. We all agree that we want to stop violence against women. But sex workers are still not treated as equals by many feminists. This is undermining both feminists and sex workers. The tragic death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey and the lack of response and demand for action from the feminist community is a reflection of this problem. Women really cannot be equal and free of oppression if some women tolerate the legal harassment of other women based on their perceived sexual behaviors.

When Sexual Fantasy Becomes Public II

Do newspapers randomly choose targets and decide, after a midday meeting, who they are going to investigate? Or are they directed toward the target by some external informant or agent? I'd lean more toward the latter.

Please, Anyone Can Do What You Do

It’s a sentiment expressed often, by a variety of people, when discussing sex work…the theory that anyone can do it. I can’t tell you in how many ways and from how many people I have heard that very sentiment expressed- from feminists to religious right folk, from average janes and joes, from people far and wide, in meatspace, in blog world, in random readings. People think, many do anyway, that anyone can do it. I’ve heard people assert that so long as you are breathing (and once I had a commenter assert that wasn’t even necessary to work in my industry) you can do it, I’ve had people say that it’s not like you have to have a brain to do sex work, any person with a body and an IQ over 70 could do it. I’ve heard it said that only stupid, fucked up girls do it because they can’t do anything else so they end up using their bodies. Anyone can shake their tits and ass. Anyone can sell those things. Face it, when it comes to the “anyone can do what you do for a living” screed, I’ve heard it all.

Reality Check: Dealing With Assholes

Asshole clients can have quite the range. Sometimes they’re just a little annoying. I’ve had one guy who insists on calling me “nasty girl” despite the fact that I don’t do submissive calls. When he calls me “nasty girl” his voice has a creepy edge to it that just makes me cringe. But on the whole he’s tolerable and he reliably calls me twice a month.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey

This is heartbreaking. The hell this woman must have been going through, the stress of it that led her to take her own life. Truly this is awful, and it's absolutely fucked.

Buy My Bloomers

Quick! Grab a seat... you have been invited to our first international mini-fest celebrating sex worker self-representation about harm reduction. We are showcasing sexy and thought provoking films made by sex workers.

On Porn and Prostitution

Soldiers Say Porn Ban May Hurt Morale

As a feminist and a woman in the military, I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, I certainly think that in some cases, pornographic material might be "Feeding a base addiction" that would lead men to behave in unseemly ways, but on the other, I fall back on my previous rant about sexual assault:

"Rape isn't about hormones; it's about anger. Rape is a crime of hate, and the military would do well to remember that."

When the Friend of Our Enemy Needn't Be Our Enemy

...anti-prostitution feminists perceive pro-prostitution feminists as betraying them by ganging up with the anti-feminist majority of the populace that says "at the end of the day all women only have sex for money, some just call what they do 'marriage.'" And where pro-prostitution feminists perceive anti-prostitution feminists as betraying them by ganging up with the anti-feminist majority of the populace that says "whores, like all women, have no, zero, none capacity for, let alone right to, sexual self-determination." It's irrelevant that both side's perceptions of the other are so wrong radar couldn't find them because those *are* the perceptions.

But what about the johns? Some thoughts on a non-argument

Figleaf wrote a post earlier this week about the feminist debate on the ethics of sex work. While I'm sure he was trying to carve out some kind of feminist middle ground, I really think his argument here falls flat in a couple of places. The first, which is what I want to address here, is that he frames the ethics about commercial sex in terms of attitudes toward women that men who buy sex may or may not have. The second is that I think he comes up with a very clumsy "middle ground" feminism, which just doesn't hold together in terms of real world politics or logical consistency – that's worth another post in itself, and I'll address it separately.

In Defense of Raunch Feminism

And this seems to be coming from a blatantly sexist assumption - women are too weak, or too stupid, or too easily controlled to be able to make such choices for themseleves.

[The Pro Circuit] Prostitution and Paranoia

To hear SWANK tell it, “From New York to California, daily reports of Pink Scare-fueled police busts, e-stings and raids, even at legal venues like strip clubs and dungeons, have reached a fever pitch.” Whether or not that’s true, the comments are a look into the kind of legal and social paranoia that sex workers have to operate under every day. With the exception of porn actors—who just about never get busted, though they have other troubles—all sex workers have to worry about the law on some level. Strippers can and do get busted for doing a little too much during a private dance; professional dominants sometimes get arrested for running a house of ill repute even if they don’t provide, or might not provide, “sex” by most peoples’ definition. What’s more, video and novelty stores in many jurisdictions could get cited for zoning violations, obscenity and more. Then there are the street prostitutes, who account for the vast majority of sex work busts—they’re pretty nervous about the cops, I understand.

Not A Monolith

It reminded me about how much people are able to draw fine distinctions about all other aspects of consumption, and yet view the entire sex industry as one big monolith – "pornstitution" as anti-porn feminists have come to call it over the last couple of years. I also hear a great deal of rhetoric that the sex-industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that escapes criticism from otherwise-progressives supposedly blinded by a sex-positive ideology.

The problem with this line of thinking comes when we look at a range of concrete examples of what makes up "pornstitution".

Extreme Porn Banned in UK

It's official. England, perviest place on earth, has passed its ban on possession of so-called "extreme pornography." The law doesn't make it very clear exactly how such a thing is defined, but I suppose, like the late Justice Potter Stewart, they'll know it when they see it.

If the Government Could Read My Mind, They'd Ban It

I'm scared. No, scratch that. I'm terrified. For the first time in my life, I am feeling genuinely persecuted and threatened by a government, that believes that the very basis of who I am is somehow illegal.

The More You Know...

...a compilation of relevant case law and statutes [regarding prostitution] which some may find useful.

Defend Our Porn

Evil Angel is planning a special collectors’ edition compilation DVD of the company’s best scenes from each one of its directors handpicked by company owner John Stagliano. Proceeds from the sale of the DVD will go to, a legal defense fund set up for Stagliano’s pending obscenity case.

On Privilege and Being an Ally

Earning the privilege to be trusted

karnythia, and indeed every woc, have no reason to take calls of solidarity from white feminists seriously and every reason to mistrust them. It’s not even like this string of incidents was the first one ever, or even the first to occur in the blogsphere; it’s just the latest blow up in a long, racist history of uneasy tension between white feminism and woc feminism.

Most white feminists, yes even the ones who are protesting the loudest here, understand that men aren’t automatically entitled to the benefit of the doubt. They get that, in order to be an ally, a man has to put his money where his mouth is and actually act like one. He has to deal gracefully with the mistrust of feminists who have been hurt one too many times by men professing to like women and to be an ally. He also has to accept that some feminists will only ever view him as an interloper because of the long, sordid, and often personal history that comes with gender relations. No one is saying that it’s fair, but part of being an ally is understanding that the little unfairness that he suffers not only is rooted in real, valid causes, but also doesn’t outweigh the unfairness that the women treating him unfairly have suffered.

Some Thoughts on Being an Ally

Over the course of the weekend, I heard so much about institutional racism, white privilege, prejudice, racism, classicism, heterosexism, ableism, that my head was spinning. My defenses got crushed the more I listened. And I eventually realized that saying that I was against prejudice was different than recognizing how I benefit from preferential treatment and how that does shape my world view.

This conference was about eight years ago, and I’m still learning, and I still need to check myself from time to time. The biggest hurdle I’ve faced is learning to recognize that everything is not about me. It’s not anyone elses’ job to show me the way and teach me about racism, and if anyone takes the time to correct or share with me, I am grateful because that’s not something I should feel entitled to.

Ally Work

I dunno. Part of being "an ally," if we even grant that the phrase is useful, is being someone these issues don't directly affect. Bad Ally Syndrome comes directly from the fact that we're not always looking after ourselves, that (for example) disability rights, or issues of police brutality, may not be our personal "battery-chargers" at all. And surely it's not always a sin to forget these things, or neglect them, or to just plain be too busy with daily life -- or with posting about your own central issues -- to get to them right now.

But big silences, like that silence about BADD, have effects. They make people feel that no one has their back. They make people feel that some blogs are successes and some are not, and all that counts is how wide of an appeal you can have for someone looking for a "quick battery recharge."

Don't Be "That Guy"

I thought about a dear friend of mine, who is -- genuinely and with all sincerity -- one of the Good Guys, someone who understands the fact that he has straight white male privilege even if he doesn't always spot it in action in the wild. We were talking about privilege (in another context, before this blew up), and he said something I found really sad -- not that it makes me sad about him, but sad about the society -- which was (paraphrased) that he knows he has this privilege and he doesn't want to fumble around and make things worse for people by accidentally displaying it. So he stays out of those conversations, because he doesn't want to impose and make people uncomfortable.

Dear White Feminists, Quit Goddamned Fucking Up!

How many dedicated women of color, who spend their lives fighting oppression, have to scream at us, or commit blogicide, or throw up their hands in disgust and abandon the label “feminist” before we actually take their comments at face value and LISTEN?

I, Colonist

I think, now that some dust is settling, one thing is clear: we all have a lot of slack to pick up. And I'm the slowest blogger alive, so I need to step up and get a little braver, a little more incisive, a little readier to ask hard questions, in order to help close the gap.

So here goes:

I am part of the problem of gentrification.
I live in an amazing neighborhood that I love. I moved here a few months ago to move in with my fiancée, and this was a place we could afford--we're neither of us rolling in excess money, as young dykes of color, me in blue-collar work, her in childcare--and it's beautiful, and the house was empty. But this is a historically black neighborhood, and there are no two ways about that. It is slowly being artsified, rents are going up, storefronts are fancier: it's now an "Arts District."

Narcissist Feminism

Narcissist Feminists - let’s call them NF’s - are, so far in my experience, white heterosexual middle class women who experience feminism only as a friction occurring between themselves and white men. There are no other women on Planet NF. There are no people of color. No queer people. Just her - the woman the patriarchy pictures when it thinks “woman” - and the white men that stand between her and the top of the world.

As she scrambles to get to the top, she dislodges boulders that fall onto the heads of those who stand beneath her in the hierarchy.

Her only goal is to get to the top of the heap.

As Purple Is To Lavender

Senator Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination has not produced a split in feminism. It just flushed away a lot of that tolerance bullshit and exposed a rift that’s been there since way back in the day.

This bitch just watched Iron Jawed Angels again and found myself screaming at the television set because it ended in a ‘go forth, sister, and be inspired by what these brave women did for you’ GreatBigHappyFuckingEnding after only a token acknowledgement of the deliberate cave by leaders of the Suffrage Movement to southern bigotry that left women of color on the curb for another 40 years!

Allies Talking

This got me thinking about those white folks who exist in that liminal space where they are against racism but don’t understand how it works and get defensive, hurt, and freaked out when folks point out how they benefit from it without trying. We saw a lot of that on the Thank You thread before the others showed up. I am wondering how you turn that kind of person into an ally. I’m wondering if maybe I cannot simply because, when they read my words, they are so filled with defensiveness and perhaps guilt, nothing I say can get through. If they can’t listen to me, can they maybe listen to other White people?

On Misogyny Around the World A.K.A. Preventing Rape Through Altering/Scarring/Limiting/Traumatizing Women

Breast Ironing

Words cannot aptly convey my horror at discovering this practice.

What is Breast Ironing?
Breast ironing is a traditional practice that involves massaging or pressing the breasts of adolescent girls in order to suppress and reverse their development. The rationale is to prevent girls from developing breasts in the belief that a flat, child-like chest will discourage unwanted male attention, rape and pre-marital pregnancy.

On Sexual/Gender Identity and LGBTQI Issues

Another Lesbian Raped and Murdered

Once again another lesbian has been raped, tortured and murdered in South Africa on Monday 28th April. Sizakele Sisgasa and Salome Masooa were tortured and murdered just 10 months ago. Since then lesbians, gays and transsexuals across the continent - Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal and Cameroon, have been attacked and beaten and arrested for simply living their sexuality.

On Misperceiving Someone As Femme or Butch

These identities are deeply socially constructed and policed, on all sides - those of us who do claim them, those of us who don’t. They’re loaded, complex, and largely misperceived.

Calling someone femme or butch is not necessarily intended to be insulting - sometimes, it is meant with much love and praise. But if you don’t identify as such, it can feel insulting, regardless of the intention.

This happened again recently, and it got me thinking: here’s why it doesn’t have to feel insulting, regardless of the intention.

Suspicion and Doubt in South Camba

It's one of the oldest prejudiced beliefs in the book, applied to anyone whose sexuality deviates from the norm, whether it's the (now) legal, such as homosexuals, or the absolutely illegal and immoral, as in paedophiles. Almost the first assumption people leap to is that, if you identify as sexually "different", then somehow you are uncontrolled in your sexual appetites.

The Other Professionals, Men and Transwomen In Sex Work

After all, there are other people involved in any and every aspect of the biz. Porn, stripping, prostitution, professional BDSM? Sure enough, the performers and workers in these industries are not all women. There are men and transwomen involved too, yet we rarely ever hear about them. We really only hear of men as consumers or directors, strip club owners and pimps. What about the other men in the biz we never hear about? At least not in a big media way. What about the transwomen? No "Dateline" specials on them. Which surprises me. I mean, aren't they sex workers too? Don't they require advocacy, support, exit strategies if wanted, aren't they worthy of attention too?

Many peers back cross-dressing student

Loscalzo said school officials warned him Friday that he could be suspended if he continued to cross-dress, a claim that administrators denied yesterday.

In a show of support, several students have organized an "Equality Protest" this week, by showing up to school dressed in garments of the opposite sex.

Transgendered Kids, Part II

Robert, Violet’s father, said that telling his family was the hardest part. After all, Violet was ten. He told the story of a family gathering where all of his aunts were sitting together, and one of them, the matriarch of the family, asked him “Robert, didn’t you have a boy?”

And he steeled himself, and he explained that Armand was now Violet, that she was transgender, and he brought her over to say hello to her great-aunts.

And when she happily skipped away, he waited for the aunts’ response.

“I’m proud of you,” his aunt said. “It must have been hard.”

Homosexuality In Colonial Framework

Wetka and Melka, have declared their love for one another in a marriage ceremony in the Indian district of Koraput. Homosexuality has been criminalized since India was a colony of England[...]Though the government does not prosecute these offenses there is still an extremely high level of homophobia in India. According to the BBC their tribes were not initially pleased with the pairs decision to marry. The villagers were concerned that they would not be able to support themselves without the help of men. Apparently due to the obvious love between the couple they were "forgiven".

Listening to: Rage Against the Machine - Wake Up


  1. Great job..and thanks for linking the article I posted originally at the SmackChron....though Carol Queen and Jill Nagle should get all the credit on this one, since Doc Carol wrote it, and Jill included it in her awesome anthology Whores and Other Feminists. I'm just the humble messenger who simply saved it for posterity.


  2. Thank you for using to posts from womanist-musings. I am a new blogger and to get such recognition is encouraging. I promised to tell my own truth when I started blogging it is wonderful to know that someone is listening.

  3. Alhamdulillah! I am so so happy to see this. You did an amazing job. I am thinking of you and sending you tons of love. I'm sorry I was like way too scatterbrained to submit this time, but just wanted you to know that I've been following your posts about your round of the carnival and I am so happy to see it. <3

  4. Thanks for including my post!


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