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Post-Female Chauvinist Pigs

I just finished reading Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs. There was a lot of good in it - and some bad - and I'll share some of it when I get the chance.

In the meantime, I wanted to say: I'm depressed.

I'm depressed at the way sex and feminism have met in an ugly train wreck of a collision, such that it seems inevitable that one or the other gets twisted and mutilated when we deal with the two issues together. I don't know exactly why this has happened - whether it's the fault of the feminist in-fighting of the "sex wars" of the 1980s, or the manipulation by conservative pundits, or the simple fact that sex is really personal and complicated and scary - and so is feminism, so what chance do you have at putting the two together?

I've seen both sides of the "sex wars." I've seen the self-proclaimed sex-positive feminists, and their counterparts (for whom I haven't been able to find a label that is widely agreed upon, except maybe anti-porn). I really don't think the two are as far apart as they might seem. But I haven't been satisfied by either one on its own.

And thus, I've decided to get a little pretentious.

I want a feminism that acknowledges - and insists - that women are not to be judged by their sexual activity. That a woman who has sex without being in love, who has had several sexual partners, who is public about her sexual history, not be dismissed as a slut. That a woman who is asexual not be dismissed as frigid or man-hating. I want a feminism that recognizes the importance and uniqueness of female sexuality, and explores it as something that isn't just a response or counterpart to male sexuality. That also allows a woman to say that her sexuality is not an important part of her life.

I want a feminism that accepts the fact that a woman who is a survivor of sexual violence can feel pain, fear, and anger in regards to sex. That doesn't tell that woman, or all the women like her, that they need to "get over it" or that they're "overreacting." I want any woman who wants to to be capable of criticizing the damage and danger of sexual acts and sexual material, without being accused of attacking other women's sexuality. I want women to be able to be sexual in whatever ways they want without being attacked for their sexuality.

I want a feminism that recognizes that free sexuality is a privilege, and celebrating one woman's freedom can never be used as an excuse to ignore how other women are victims of sexual violence in the form of rape, incest, and sexual slavery. That understands the importance of tempering sexuality when it can be used to harm others.

I want a feminism that acknowledges that sex is an inextricable part of our lives - and so is sexism. Thus far, one has never been able to exist without the other. Our sexuality is our choice and our pleasure, but it also exists on a battlefield. There is no such thing as "feminist sex" or "non-feminist sex," because sex occurs between humans and humans are neither wholly sexist nor non-sexist. There are gray areas. There is choice, and desire, and consent - all of which can be harmful or pleasurable, all of which exist in a context of sexism - and the potential for fighting it.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC)
All of this, without even getting into the questions of submissive and dominant positioning, which is where it hangs up for me...
Jun. 28th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Definitely an important issue, which I considered to be included under the "not attacking women for their sexuality bit."

However, I also fully admit that doing so was a cop-out because I didn't want to take on the entire issue of submission and dominance. :P

I think it's fine to play with issues of dominance, or to do 'official' BDSM, while still being a 'good' feminist. You just have to be aware of how you might be fueling/reproducing the gender hierarchy - but, of course, you have to do that with just about any behavior, sexual or otherwise. Of course that's simplifying things, but I really think that's basically how we should deal with this form of sexuality - open to criticism but not a target for attack.
Jun. 29th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC)
I think for me, it's more the issue with dealing with the feelings regarding it, than with a blame thing. But that's not going to reach the people who really need to hear it, I know. Of course, there are none so deaf as those who already think they know the answers.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )