Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What do radical feminists do in bed..?

Before anyone condemns me for the title of this post I will explain my motives.
I wasn’t going to write this but I felt compelled. Well, more like damn angry.

While reading some of the rad fem blogs regarding “pornstitution” (new fangled word for lumping porn and prostitution together) I remembered a friend of mine some years ago admitting that she liked looking at soft porn (both lesbian and straight) as she was turned on by the images. She whispered this to me in a conspiratorial way as she felt guilty and ashamed. Her final remark depressed me as she said she couldn’t talk about this to other feminists as she was afraid of being accused of betraying the cause. Is she “woman hating”? Of course not!

Now that was not the feminism I signed up for. For me the opposite is true. I want women to be able to discuss their needs, desires, sex and sexuality without the fear of any condemnation, in an open and free way.

The usual “finger wagging morality” stunts feminism. Being able to discuss ideas is part and parcel of liberation. Women already get enough moralistic lectures in this society. So, if a woman is turned on by porn images does that mean she is capitulating to patriarchy?

Sexuality and sex is complex and contradictory in a patriarchal capitalist society. Women are the ones who are gazed at and rarely are they the gazers. Women are objectified and sex is commodified but a straight forward simplistic explanation of sexual desire cannot simply be reliant on patriarchy or an economistic view of capitalism. Women’s sexuality is bound up with patriarchal ideas along with the dominance of male sexuality.

Why is it so odd or even wrong for women to find porn sexy and a turn on? The guilt tripping and the condemnation will only serve one purpose and that is to alienate women. Why, as a feminist, do I need to justify my sexual desires?

Aren’t we big enough to be able to discuss, argue and debate in an open rational way? Whether women enjoy fetishes, bondage, porn, s/m, vanilla, dildos, swinging from the light fittings and so on, I don’t care as long as it is the woman’s choice.

What is the distinction of “good sex” and “bad sex”? Answer: it is up to women to decide.

All I am saying that we cannot judge women, make our own assumptions and come to rigid conclusions. Nor is it helpful to hold the belief that women are just passive victims of patriarchy to know what desire is. We are not just saturated with sexual imagery we are also saturated by morality. It is no to moralism but yes to sexual freedom on our own terms without the lectures. I want radical feminism out of the bedroom and if I want to be the dominatrix, well that's my business.

As lesbian feminist Joan Nestle (from the book, A Restricted Country) argues:

"Don't scream penis at me, but help to change the world so no woman feels shame or fear because she likes to fuck."

Damn right!

I don’t care what radical feminists do in bed and I expect them not to give a damn about what I do.

This article by Lynne Segal is also worth a read.