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Apr 02 2008

The new virgin menace

There’s a virgin at Harvard.

Unusual, perhaps, but still, no big whoop, right?

Wrong! It’s such a big whoop that the New York Times Magazine has run a story on her. In order to vaguely sort of ridicule her. Because no matter what a woman does in this world, it’s the wrong fucking thing. Especially if she’s doin’ it at an Ivy League school.

Not that I give a crap about “virginity.” I’m sex-neutral, yo. But only a moron could fail to perceive that, from the default Dude Nation perspective, no matter what a woman’s sexual history, she’s fair game for open contempt. Women who don’t embrace porn culture are “anti-sex,” and women who do are “sluts,” and the treacherous territory in the middle is meticulously policed, with punishments for slight deviations readily meted out, by whatever micro-culture happens to control their lady-parts.

Sure, there are moments when the performance of either virginity or pornulation might occasion a pat on the head from the dominant class, but these evanescent little successes are fugitive in nature. Male appetites for madonnas vs. whores shift like the sands of time. Women who struggle to strike a balance — getting a boob job one minute, having their “virginity” surgically reinstated the next, all the while hurtling towards the inevitable ignominy of crone-dom — get sucked into the Femininity Hole, never to be human again.

But I digress.

The gist of the NYT story is this: Janie Fredell is saving it for godly heterosexual marriage. And lard help us, she’s part of a trend!

College is a hottt, sweaty, pornified hook-up culture, discovered the horrified young Fredell when she betook herself to Cambridge MA from Colorado Springs, the podunkian cradle of her youthful chastity. The Harvard boys were, she observed with a keen eye, “uncouth and socially inept.” Further study led her to conclude that there exists a “double standard which devalues women for their sexual pasts and glorifies men for theirs.”

Accoutered with so useful a piece of intelligence, Fredell might have taken any of several routes. Needless to say, she omitted to turn to radical feminism. Instead she joined a gang of Catholics called True Love Revolution, which promotes, “for reasons entirely secular,” abstinence from premarital boinking. She didn’t stop there. She decided to stand up for her “lifestyle,” which had become the subject of much campus mockery, by adopting a public persona: the Campus Virgin. In a widely publicized debate, she took on one of the Campus Sluts, a fellow student who writes a popular sex blog (is there such a thing as an un popular sex blog?), but to the disappointment of spectators, it was a non-starter when the event failed to devolve into a catfight.

The rest of the piece is a sort of history of organized Ivy League celibacy, punctuated with unintentionally comical appearances by Fredell’s male co-virgin (he secretly yearns for Fredell) and the obligatory comparisons between Fredell and the sex blogger (these comparisons are confined to the porn-quotient of each woman’s outfit, and the disparity in their attitudes toward food. The stereotype-confirming message? Fredell is uptight because she wears modest jeans and won’t eat a dessert she clearly desires, whereas the sex blogger, who hoovered up “every crumb [...] including a ginger cake with cream-cheese frosting and raspberry compote,” while wearing a miniskirt and stilettos, demonstrates a laudable joie de vivre).

Anyway, Fredell’s solution to the problem of the aforementioned double standard is a) to promote chastity until marriage (but only heterosexual marriage; homos have to abstain forever) and b) — you guessed it — to call herself a feminist.

Aside from both the anti-homo bigotry and the misappropriation of the term “feminist,” this is my problem with the conclusion reached by Janie Fredell (the discerning reader will observe that it is precisely the same problem I have with funfeminism):

You can’t get out of the sex class just by saying you’re out of it. Saying “no” to uncouth boys in preparation for heterosexual marriage (heterosexual marriage is the basic unit of patriarchy) and calling it “empowering” is no different from saying “yes” to uncouth boys in preparation for a BDSM three-way and calling that “empowering.” In trying to liberate themselves from what they have rationally identified as the constraints of the sex class mandate, both the virgin and the sex blogger actually capitulate by continuing to define themselves in terms of sex (Fredell even aligns herself with pornulists when she describes virginity as “extremely alluring”). Note that control of the concept of sex is not up to either of them. That pleasure falls strictly within the purview of the male-dominated social order. Thus, in a patriarchy, all sex, gay or straight, marital, pre-, or abstained-from, is dudesex.

That’s the thing about patriarchy. It does the defining, not you. That’s what makes it the dominant paradigm. You can abstain from sex, you can fuck your way across the universe, you can be a stone butch dyke with a utility belt, you can get your boobs amputated and your uterus ripped out, you can be sex-neutral in your own crackpot mind, you can be ugly or hawt, you can be the Democrats’ presidential nominee, you can even age out of desirability, but you will always be defined in terms of, and used according to, that which the dominant culture describes as your essence: sex. Or, as you are alternately defined: a receptacle for the perpetuation of male supremacy.

UPDATE: Ha!

65 comments

3 pings

  1. Kenzie

    You can’t get out of the sex class just by saying you’re out of it.

    Definitely one of the most important but frustrating realizations on the road to radical feminism.

  2. Natalia

    Well, Twisty, I take your point, but I have to respect the woman for not letting herself be pressured into having sex. She’s obviously taking a lot of crap for not wanting to sleep with the rapey college men, and from what you’ve cited, she (a) finds them undesirable and (b) knows that the patriarchy has it in for her (she just hasn’t yet realized how much). Turning it into a persona may be a coping strategy. When you’re young and just coming to college, where everyone seems smarter and more sophisticated, sometimes it’s easier to hide behind religion than to refuse sex on your own terms, especially when you are well aware the patriarchy doesn’t respect women’s terms anyway. She may say she’s saving herself for godly heterosexual marriage now, but she’s not married yet, and meanwhile she’s not being pawed by young men of dubious commitment to women’s liberation. Saying you already belong to a husband who doesn’t exist is a time-honored if politically suspect strategy for women trying to fend off harassment. I don’t agree with her turning it into a “movement,” but her actions are feminist insofar as they use a patriarchal structure (religion) against another patriarchal structure, i.e. to undermine male entitlement to her body.

  3. AngryYoungFemme

    This post sums up exactly what I was thinking while I read that article yesterday.

    For all those sex-pozzies who are still confused (especially those involved in the Holly-prompted post, “The evangelical pro-life guide to sexy feminism”) this is what we are talking about:

    “That’s the thing about patriarchy. It does the defining, not you. That’s what makes it the dominant paradigm.”

    No matter how you frame what you do sexually, feminist or not, it will always be influenced by the patriarchy in some way.

    What’s that I hear? Revolution? Hells yeah!

  4. Thealogian

    How many seconds until they both get a movie deal out of the debate? Cruel Intentions meets SAVED meets National Lampoon’s Dudenation?

  5. Hattie

    I just spent an unpleasant evening with a man who went into great detail about how women lose their appeal to men when their fertility drops. We could have talked about other things.
    What an ass.

  6. charlotte

    You know, I do respect her attitude and the ways in which she is trying to reject sex as a defining characteristic for women–even if her attempts ultimately fail because, yes, she’s still talking about sex (or the withholding of public frathouse boinking) and not changing the paradigm itself. I’ll take that moment of power over the complicity of the so-called sex-empowered cake-eating slutblogger anytime.

  7. Theriomorph

    *headdesk headdesk headdesk*

    I have to go find that picture of Stanley now.

  8. Twisty

    But charlotte, she’s not rejecting sex as the definition of women, she’s just rejecting premarital sex. After marriage, presumably, it’s status quo all the way. If she is experiencing a “moment of power” — which is dubitable — it’s only in the sense that she’s essentially commodifying virginity, and assigning it a higher value than non-virginity. What a coindicence that she happens to be a virgin.

  9. pisaquari

    I really really hate the word “abstain”–like you gotta *resist* something. Just one more word giving sex obnoxious POwRe–for sex *is* the ultimate temptation so we must be, as stated, defined in terms of sex’s power (giving in to power=slut or variations, not giving in to power=abstainer/resister).
    That why radfeminism is so unattractive. It takes the power dynamics of out sex. And if people cannot feel *naughty* or *holier* wrt sex then bye-bye power-laced orgasms or inflated godly egos!

    Right then. So herein lies the unspoken love affair between sex pozzes and conservatives: they need each other. Sex pozzes couldn’t feel dirty or naughty or taboo (or have such an image/get that extra orgazmic-hawtness) if conservatives were not so vehemently defining and pushing sex/certain acts as such. As well, conservatives couldn’t feel so much higher/above sex if there weren’t said sex pozzes/hypersexualizers running around making such a fuss about it.
    They are diametrically opposed with a chain link running down the middle.

    So yeah: radfems=conservatives? Gimme’a fucking break.

  10. mearl

    I love this notion Fredell has that ““virginity is extremely alluring,” through its “mysterious allure . . . is not rooted in an image of innocence and purity, but rather in the notion of strength.” Because obviously, if you consider yourself ready to have sex and do it before the sky daddy sanctions it, you are WEAK, WEAK, WEAK!!!! And that means you are BAD, BAD, BAD and should go in the Bad Ex-Virgin Box for a time-out where you can think about how god and society will punish you! How about having the strength to avoid either paradigm, insofar as it is humanly possible with the Patriarchal Mayonnaise creeping everywhere, and have a semi-decent, sex-neutral, intimate relationship with someone in private like some Blamers sound like they have (sounds pretty good, btw).

    I think Fredell is ever so slightly misinterpreting the male view, projecting “virgins are alluring because of how strong their character is” in place of “virgins are alluring because it’s a challenge to see if I can get my wizzler in their vagina and then tell all my buddies about it while exchanging self-congratulatory high-fives in the locker room.” Including, but not limited to, the fact that every guy who knows you’re a virgin will take this knowledge home with him and jerk off to fantasies of deflowering you.

  11. Feminist Avatar

    How bad was the cake metaphor in that article- it was creepy.

  12. mearl

    Whoops, bad grammar. I meant to write, “..get my wizzler in their vaginas.”

    Also note that “virgin” usually implies a female.

  13. Panic

    “virgins are alluring because it’s a challenge to see if I can get my wizzler in their vagina and then tell all my buddies about it while exchanging self-congratulatory high-fives in the locker room”

    There’s more to it than the “challenge” aspect, though that’s there. There’s a saying that circulated among some men: “Take a virgin and you own her forever.” Or variations on it. I’ve heard it said, though mostly by brain-damaged jock types. The “take” part is pretty disturbing, though that’s too often how it’s phrased (and phrased like that in “romance” novels too, ew). Though what I’m getting at here, is the “ownership” angle. Women belong to God, to Daddy, and to the guy who “takes” their virginity (ideally their husbands). And if you have the gall to not marry, or leave, the guy you first had sex with, he still has the “prize” of your virginity. Because, you know, as soon as we weren’t legally the properties of our husbands, they still had to think of ways to own us. Ownership is everything. Back to capitalism=patriarchy, like a glorious circle of woman-hate.

    Sorry, this is all over the place because I’m sick and the sinus cavity fullness is starting to brain affect my.

  14. PhysioProf

    Saying “no” to uncouth boys in preparation for heterosexual marriage (heterosexual marriage is the basic unit of patriarchy) and calling it “empowering” is no different from saying “yes” to uncouth boys in preparation for a BDSM three-way and calling that “empowering.”

    That’s a fucking beautiful sentence, about a fucking ugly truth.

  15. Serafina

    No matter how you frame what you do sexually, feminist or not, it will always be influenced by the patriarchy in some way.

    In the sense that others will often perceive you in a patriarchal way, and you may have to deal with that, yes. But it doesn’t have to control or determine your sex life–there are degrees of influence. Janie Fredell and that “pro-sex” woman she debated are both clearly trying to minimize that influence, and good for them.

    I laud Janie Fredell for trying to take control of her sex life. But judging from the article, she’s reacting to the topic of sex based on patriarchy-induced fear, and I hope she finds a way around that. You can see the fear in the way she and her group misrepresent the facts of sex, in the way that she talks about having sex like it’s a sign of weakness, in the way that she describes it as “disgusting and disrespectful,” and in her emphasis on how strong women are abstinent. All of this indicates she’s falling into the very trap she’s trying to avoid.

  16. Jen

    I really don’t see how anyone can call abstinence until marriage feminism. You’re still giving yourself to your husband, who does not have to meet the same chastity requirements. You are still, as Twisty said, defining yourself in terms of sex.

    I thought it was covered in Feminism 101 that marriage does not equal respect. References to martial rape and domestic violence show that men are just as badly behaved when they’re husbands as they are when they’re boyfriends. Hell, marriage practically gives the most disgusting of men a green light on wife beating because the state’s “hands off” stance on marriage basically claims that as long as you aren’t dead or dying, nobody gives a flying fuck what your husband does.

    How does only expressing your sexuality only in terms of an antiquated social arrangement founded on the principles of sexual and reproductive slavery equate to feminism? I want a Hate Stick that I can beat every moron over the head with when they justify their asinine ideologies with misapplied Feminism.

    I think one of the only proper Feminist responses to sex is to engage in sexual intercourse whenever it so pleases you do to so, and then ask everyone to mind their own fucking business as to your sex life. If you’re a virgin, I don’t care. If you fucked three guys in the space of fifteen minutes, I don’t care. Just stop talking about it. The only way that society will stop defining women in terms of their sexual activity is if the women themselves stop defining themselves in that manner. Which basically means that we take the entire idea of virginity and chuck it out the window. It’s based on some medieval nonsense anyways, why the hell are we still talking about it again?

    Great, so you don’t have sex, and you paradoxically think that saving yourself for an institution based on the idea of females as the property of any man who is not obligated to respect her body and rights is Feminism. Good job. Now shut up and go home, because you’re raining on my parade.

  17. L

    Ah, the spawn of Colorado Springs dropping Ted Haggard and James Dobson’s turds across the country as they migrate. I wish the Air Force would put up a gigantic glass globe around the city to keep Focus-on-the-Familyites down there where they belong. At least in migration, there’s the chance that the spawn will spontaneously evolve — I wish that for Janie, but I don’t expect it. Maybe blamers near Harvard should stage a radfem intervention.

  18. Hippolyta

    Limping along in my development of my radical feminist ideology, this blog post made more sense to me than so much I have read about how women are by default devoid of agency in the patriarchy. The question I now struggle towards answering is, “From this position within the patriarchy are we capable of envisioning a world dominated by a paradigm other than patriarchy, and what does that look like.” If not, “Are we stuck here?” I recognize that these questions may be too feminist 101 to be answered here, so if anyone would prefer to suggest a good book instead, I would greatly appreciate it.

  19. anonymous_poster

    Why can’t she be a feminist?

    1. She seems to believe that people should have one sexual partner.
    2. She also seems to believe that sex should be in a committed relationship.
    3. She defines commitment by marriage.

    I don’t agree with her, but I don’t see what makes her unable to be a feminist.

  20. Pinko Punko

    On fire. Also the “Who is IOZ” linked post. On fire.

  21. ma'am

    Quetion from Twisty’s “Ha” link: what the heck is a “chastity ring”?! And where would one put such a thing?

    A relative of mine was recently married in the LDS tradition. The “invitation” (I quote because, of course, almost no one in my family was qualified to attend, not being LDS) referred to the “Marriage and Sealing of their daughter”. Eeww.

  22. ate

    Loving the fact that to ‘abstain’ is strong… so to not ‘abstain’ is weak?!?! So a woman who doesn’t suceed in abstaining because she’s, oh i don’t know, raped, is weak and should have done a better job of resisting/dressing more demurely/avoiding fratboys/believing in God/whatever other i-blamez-the-women idea you can come up with.

  23. Scartaris

    Resisting pressure from external sources is requires strength. If that means joining a pagan orgy-and-book-club and rutting like a bunny every Tuesday and Thursday, because that is what *you* want, then it does. If it means not having sex until the time and place and the partner of your choice, because that is what *you* want, then it does.

    She may or may not be a feminist, because as far as I can tell that word has lost all meaning (as have “liberal” and “conservative”). But if she is doing what she wants, and the rest of the world be damned, then she has my respect.

    Although personally, I think she’s making a poor choice. Not having sex until after you are married is like not checking your parachute until after you jump out of the airplane.

  24. AngryYoungFemme

    “In the sense that others will often perceive you in a patriarchal way, and you may have to deal with that, yes. But [the patriarchy] doesn’t have to control or determine your sex life–there are degrees of influence. Janie Fredell and that “pro-sex” woman she debated are both clearly trying to minimize that influence, and good for them.”

    I agree with the degrees of influence. Even in the most progressive of relationships, we can’t avoid being affected by the patriarchy, whether it’s a fetish we would not have otherwise developed or in the subtle cues we get from our partners. We are surrounded by it, there is nowhere that it does not permeate. It’s in the ether, if you will. We can rally against misogyny and we can create the kind of relationships that are as equal as we can get them, but the patriarchy will always be there–until revolution, that is.

    Still, this isn’t the dead-end it sounds like, it just means we have to keep working. And the more people that engage in relationships as-equal-as-they-can-be-gotten-under-patriarchy, demand respect and don’t let a single instance of misogyny creep past without comment, then the closer we’ll be to undermining this most depressing and oppressing of paradigms. With shit like the NYTimes’ gender biases and baby strippers, though, it’ll be a long time coming until social consciousness changes.

  25. AngryYoungFemme

    And, to finish my post, that’s why not having sex in protest of the patriarchy doesn’t work. Basically, it’s just punishing yourself twice over. Don’t have sex if that’s what you want, sex-neutrality all the way, but to do it in that context screams misunderstanding. I get the sense that Janie figured out that claiming the label “feminist” would get her left alone–she’s cashing in on the backlash. It also seems to be another way to get this True Love Revolution thing across as secular. Not only are they not focusing on religion, but their leader is a FEMINIST!

    To me, her reaction to her co-leader’s secret feelings was hilarious. What is he, a scorpion?

  26. mearl

    “The only way that society will stop defining women in terms of their sexual activity is if the women themselves stop defining themselves in that manner.”

    True, but women are forced to define ourselves in terms of sex as a redefining reaction to the Menz, who were and are the ones that always defined us as fuckable/unfuckable/virgin/slut/babymaking machine for my manly genes/chick that I can fuck but wouldn’t get into a relationship with/whore that I am free to abuse and defile/my daughter that you aren’t allowed to fuck/etc/etc/etc.

    If men ever defined women as HUMANS first, as crazy as that notion sounds, some change may occur.

  27. TP

    Andrea Dworkin does a whole chapter on Virginity in Intercourse, which I’m just now reading. While not giving the slightest slack to the Church, she manages to find some interesting insights into the feminist power that virginity has for women by using the example of Joan of Arc.

    Her virginity was a self-conscious and militant repudiation of the common lot of the female with its intrinsic low status, which, then as now, appeared to have something to do with being fucked.

    Twisty was correct to question this deluded girl’s feminist status, but this virgin is somehow still attracted to the idea of not being used by men as a receptacle. She could become more feminist as she ages. I see feminism as a continuum rather than as a binary either/or state, so I would rather say that this woman is more feminist than some women and less feminist than others.

    Anyone who has a copy of Intercourse laying around might like looking at that chapter again. It’s more about permanent virginity than pre-marital virginity, but she finds honor and strength in it I never thought of before. Dworkin is very deep stuff.

  28. Ginger Mayerson

    Ah, Cronedom. I’m looking forward to it. Soon as I get enough gray hair, I plan to go platinum and start dressing like Cardinal Richelieu.

    Well, at least the Virgin Fredell isn’t catching or spreading any STDs if she’s not spreading her legs or anything else for the fratboys. So I give her a pass from the public health angle. However, just because she’s keeping her vagina to herself for now, doesn’t make her a feminist. She’s still playing the patriarchy’s game, still under its control, and she’s only valuable as a sex slave to the man who fucks her first.

    Of course I can pontificate on all this from my lofty perch as a Jr. Crone, which is so infinitely better than when I was young and navigating the fucking guys and their fucking dicks scene. IBTP, really I do.

  29. Lara

    Thank you for so eloquently analyzing and deconstructing the fuckbot continuum all women are subjected to.

  30. TwissB

    Physioprof –

    “That’s a fucking beautiful sentence, about a fucking ugly truth.”

    I tried that sentence out by substituting a plain intensifier “very” for the other one and it sounded just fine to me.

    One of my favorite Andrea Dworkin quotes is “I’m a feminist. Not the fun kind.”

    I agree with whoever it was above who questioned why, if she’s not just a common reaction-seeker, young Fredell felt it necessary to announce her sex agenda to the slathering world.

  31. cristina

    I hate to see Dworkin’s work misrepresented because I think it’s so brilliant and uncompromising (and misunderstood enough by others who don’t even bother to read her work), but the kind of virginity that Dworkin was speaking of was a “rebel virginity” (118) which is, as you quoted, a “militant repudiation of the common lot of the female with its intrinsic low status,” but she also specifically states that this repudiation has little to do with the act of sex itself. Dworkin writes:

    …the issue was not ever–and is not now–to have sex or not to have sex; the issue was compliance with inferior staus. (127)

    Joan of Arc’s virginity was a ‘rebel virginity’ not because she refused to have sex, but because she attempted to refuse to be defined by sex and accept her low, female status.

    I don’t at all get that impression from Fredell. I think you’re right to identify Fredell’s ‘feminism’ on a continuum not an either/or proposition with her unreflectively buying into her automatic status as part of the sex class, but still trying to do a kinda, sorta feminist act by attempting to control the way that she’s defined within that class. However, Twisty’s words from a few posts ago said it all, “Patriarchy declines to offer you full agency, even if — particularly if — you try to take it.”

  32. panoptical

    anonymous_poster,

    It’s not that she can’t be a feminist. It’s that it seems like she’s reached a facile and not very useful idea of feminism.

    Why would a woman save herself for marriage? Because her husband’s not going to want to buy a used car, he’s going to want to buy a new car. The patriarchal prohibition against fornication is based on the idea of woman = property, and “saving yourself” just reinforces that idea. If there is a “double standard that devalues women for their sexual past,” then by avoiding having a sexual past to retain her value, she’s accepting that double standard, not fighting it.

    By accepting the double standard and capitulating to the idea that women are the future property of their husbands, she’s explicitly promoting patriarchal, rather than feminist, ends.

  33. Lara

    What would happen to the world if we stopped talking about sex and “women = sex” for, like, a few days? What would happen???…..
    And as pisaquari pointed out before, the sex-pozzies and conservatives really do need each other. They’re practically one and the same. I really really believe that BDSM, for example, is all based on the idea that sex is inherently dirty or “bad” and that therefore one person involved (almost always the woman, since women’s bodies and sexuality are considered inherently dirty and bad by our conservative society) will be “punished” for being, well, them, and there will be the presumably male punisher to put the dirty “slut” of a woman back in her place. So BDSM and all that other fetish shit that’s often lauded as “sexually deviant” and “liberal” is actually just born directly from conservative and repressive ideas about sex in our society.
    So yeah while I feel bad that Janie Fredell is being harassed by people for staying a virgin, she is not essentially challenging any paradigms (as she claims) either because she’s just running from the “slut” end of the spectrum to the “virgin” end. Two sides of the same coin. Damned patriarchy.
    IBTP.

  34. Loneoak

    I think one of the only proper Feminist responses to sex is to engage in sexual intercourse whenever it so pleases you do to so, and then ask everyone to mind their own fucking business as to your sex life.

    Seconded. I would add that the Virgin Extraordinaire is so Pure(TM) that she won’t even please herself:

    To the matter of masturbation, he said, “This was really tough for me . . . because when you have a habit that’s so deeply ingrained, it’s hard to stop.”

    Fredell, when asked about masturbation, just said, “Oh, God, no!”

    It was that passage which convinced me her opposition to sex was half conservative obstinacy, half ew-moistparts-ew, and half sky-daddy-says-no. She’s given into the patriarchy so thoroughly that she has lost access to even the possibility of pleasure. I sure hesitate to blame the victim like that, but she sure seems to play an unnecessarily enthusiastic role in her own oppression when so many other options are available in her environs.

  35. helen

    My jaw dropped, that essay was so earth-shatteringly good. Defining ourselves in terms of sex – jesus ain’t that the truth. We do it to ourselves, others do it to us.

  36. keshmeshi

    “And, to finish my post, that’s why not having sex in protest of the patriarchy doesn’t work. Basically, it’s just punishing yourself twice over.”

    Abstaining from fucking college boys is hardly a punishment.

    One argument in this young woman’s favor is at least she’s not rewarding those jackasses. College boys are particularly undesirable. They don’t care about their appearance (college women are lucky if their male peers bathe). They certainly don’t care about their sex partners’ pleasure. They don’t care about demonstrating a modicum of maturity or intelligence. In short, they expect to acquire sex with women without making any effort to attract those women, and of course they complain loudly and bitterly when faced with a woman who does not care about attracting them, whether that woman is an independently minded heterosexual or even a not-interested-in-men-for-obvious-reasons lesbian.

  37. Kay

    Pisaquari – I also dislike the word “abstain” in terms of sex. I’m not abstaining from sex, because I’m not resisting anything. I’m not having trouble continuing to not have sex, I sure as hell am not doing it because this idea of my virginity that has been moulded into a near-tangible trophy needs to be “saved”. I just happen to not be of the acquaintance of anyone that I would like to have sex with. Big freaking deal!

    Sex-neutral feminism doesn’t care about your sex life: Being a virgin does not make you a feminist (maybe all the talk about sexay-feminism has made people forget that the patriarchy has long used it as a tool to oppress us based on the presence of a piece of flesh that may not have been there in the first place?), and neither does having sex every five minutes. Is it possible that feminism is about more than sex???

  38. Larry

    Why can’t people just go about their sexual business and shut up about it? Would that be so hard?

  39. whyme63

    Let me get this straight. She hated getting preached at by the fundy movement so much that she was prompted to join a movement. And publicly advance the cause that movement advocates.

    So the difference between the preachy, pro-abstinence fundies and what she does is what, exactly?

    I loved this: “And if that weren’t bad enough, she got into Harvard and she still doesn’t know what “literally” means.”

  40. Serafina

    Even in the most progressive of relationships, we can’t avoid being affected by the patriarchy, whether it’s a fetish we would not have otherwise developed or in the subtle cues we get from our partners.

    Or the mere knowledge of the fact that your egalitarian relationship is unusual. Which isn’t a big deal, maybe, but it’s still there.

    I agree that Janie Fredell is punishing herself unnecessarily. Hopefully she’ll realize that one day. It’s good that she’s trying to challenge the paradigm, even if she’s naive and ineffective in how she’s going about it.

    Sex-neutral feminism doesn’t care about your sex life: Being a virgin does not make you a feminist (maybe all the talk about sexay-feminism has made people forget that the patriarchy has long used it as a tool to oppress us based on the presence of a piece of flesh that may not have been there in the first place?), and neither does having sex every five minutes. Is it possible that feminism is about more than sex???

    Word.

    I think Janie Fredell is trying to be more than about sex–in the same way that a woman might dress with extreme “modesty” in the hopes that it will make people less likely to perceive her as a sex object–and failing for the same exact reason, which is that she’s still using sex to define herself.

  41. AngryYoungFemme

    Keshmeshi: “Abstaining from fucking college boys is hardly a punishment.”

    I agree.

    However, I did not say not “fucking college boys” is punishment. What I meant, and what I should have said, is that, as Loneoak quoted, even the idea of masturbation disturbs her so much that she won’t even have sex with herself (sex, in this context, does not mean strictly hetero sex, but any kind of sex). Seems to me like she’s staying a virgin in reaction to others, not for herself. I just think hers is a sad situation. If she had said something to the degree of “I don’t have sex because I just don’t feel like it” as there are some people who have nearly non-existent sex drives, that would be a different matter, but she frames it in this religious-but-wait-actually-secular-because-I’m-a-(faux)femininist context. So she’s withholding part of the tactile pleasures of being a human from herself for what seem to me to arbitrary reasons. But hey, whatever floats her boat.

    Who knows, she’s probably interested in women and just doesn’t know it yet (goodbye, future husband).

  42. Jen

    I didn’t catch the ew-moistparts-ew (thanks for that Loneoak) in my first reading of the source material. My reading comprehension is abysmal.

    That basically seals it: this girl isn’t interested in Feminism or “rebel virginity”, she’s opposed to sex in all of its forms for women, even masturbation. If she was truly a Feminist, she’d have no trouble touching herself. There’s absolutely no reason not to masturbate, other than some religion garbage and antiquated ideas about female masturbation being deviant.

  43. Lara

    Well I barely masturbate just because often times I don’t feel like it, not at all because I am against it. In Fredell’s case, her words against masturbation are anti-feminist because she sees masturbation in and of itself wrong, not because she is not masturbating herself.

  44. J

    I love you.

  45. mearl

    Jen, don’t you know that masturbating makes you sprout horns and go BLIND?!

  46. Twisty

    Sex is all dudesex. Masturbation isn’t sex. It’s its own thing. Or, if it isn’t, it should be.

  47. TP

    I wouldn’t mind discussing Dworkin’s take on virginity because it took me completely by surprise. Plus, I’m reading it alone, not in a classroom full of feminists who could help me understand it better, and it is very dense and difficult stuff. She seems to be caught in a headlong rush of revelations that just pour from her mind. It is nothing – absolutely nothing – like I expected from all the media bias against her.

    Parenthetically, I would like to note that when I saw Karen Findlay perform some of her performance art it was equally astounding. Talk about an excoriated artist! And why? Because she has a uterus and dared to talk about femininity. I get so angry when I think of how the media raped her, and continues to rape her, every time you read her name in almost any context. The mythical yam indeed.

    And I chose that quote carefully because of the very reasons cristina noted. I thought of virginity being similar to sex-neutrality. And how a woman can simply renounce the patriarchy by refusing to be fucked.

    And now, for a rare but hopefully amusing what about teh menz comment: Masturbation, Twisty claims, is not about dudesex. Unless of course, you are a dude! Dudes masturbating themselves into a frenzy of male privilege and presumption sustains and is certainly strengthening the patriarchy more than any other single action I can think of. The need men have to continue to masturbate at a heightened level into middle age gives us the pornsick nation around us, and suchlike jaw-dropping hideosities as that judge who couldn’t even stop masturbating on the bench!

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2007/06/02/i-puke-on-dude-nation/

  48. TP

    Aagh! I pasted the wrong link in my last post. I failed to find the post about that judge who masturbated under his robes. Maybe I dreamed it in some nightmare. Very sorry!

  49. Jodie

    TP, you did not dream it; that happened here in Oklahoma. Or at least one of ‘em did.

  50. amber

    Why must we have a dichotomy of sex or no sex? And I don’t understand why people are lauded for “abstaining,” or taking control. When we congratulate people about these kinds of things, we imply that to go the other way is somehow dishonorable.

    What about those of us who aren’t virgins or sluts? Do we get laudatory praise for taking the middle road?

    I didn’t read the article, but yeah,enough with women and dessert. WTF.

  51. charlotte

    Oh, I know there’s another amber that sometimes posts here, so let’s pretend I’m Charlotte, instead. (referring to dichotomy of sex)

  52. LisaB

    Posting on this thread might be long over, but I thought it was worth noting that included in the same issue of the NY Times Magazine is a piece on Dita Von Teese.

    It is a regular column that takes some famous person and goes over what kind of crap they have in their house, what they eat for breakfast, what they drive, etc.

    Ms. Von Teese is the whole “feminine” package, to be sure. She collects women’s hats and ballet shoes, has a pink stove and refrigerator, sports an 18″ waist, and, of course, she strips.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/30/magazine/30wwln-domains-t.html?ref=magazine

    Thanks to the Times for balancing that poor prudish girl with the saucy Von Teese! I haven’t read the whole virginity story yet, but I can’t help thinking that Fredell’s conscious promotion of her sexual status does far more to advance the patriarchy than feminism. So, score 2 for the patriarchy (and probably more) in the March 30 issue of the NYT Sunday mag.

  53. Lindsey

    “Jen said: If she was truly a Feminist, she’d have no trouble touching herself. There’s absolutely no reason not to masturbate, other than some religion garbage and antiquated ideas about female masturbation being deviant.”

    Are you serious? So because I have no sexual drive and no desire to masturbate (and do not feel that it is a psychological problem like so many wayward sex therapists would have everyone believing when they start talking about ‘asexuals’) while not being anti-sex and anti-masturbation, in your eyes I cannot be a feminist? Someone posted just above you even saying that there are people with a lack of sex drive, I happen to be one of them posting here. I don’t care about sex, I don’t ever get the feeling, it rarely is even on my mind until I read about it online in a post like this one. So to please you and your idea of what a feminist is, I must masturbate even when I don’t feel like it? How is that doing anything differently from what the patriarchy wants? You are defining who I should be based on your views about masturbation and sex and I have already had enough of that happening by men.

  54. Lara

    I agree with Lindsey here. It’s ridiculous to say that women who don’t want to masturbate simply because they have no drive to are not feminist, just as it is ridiculous to criticize a woman as anti-feminist for not wanting to have sex with men (or whatever).

  55. mearl

    “Dudes masturbating themselves into a frenzy of male privilege and presumption sustains and is certainly strengthening the patriarchy more than any other single action I can think of.”

    -TP

    I laughed at the way you put this, and then cried at its horrible truth.

  56. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    This the post I link to when faced with yet another snorefest over whether or not X sex-related behavior is “feminist.” I can say OH WHO FECKING CARES IT DOESN’T MATTER and plink! A link that proves that yes, I DID think it through and NO I can’t explain it, so here go read Twisty instead. YEAH. Now shut up about my shoes.

    Hattie: Next time, interrupt the dude with “Oh that’s ok, we don’t mind: We lose interest in your kind long before menopause anyway. By the time guys like you finally lose interest we’re sick of faking our death and waiting for you to buy a clue. So don’t worry; it’s a win-win.”

  57. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    One more thing: From the header I can see that Twisty has taken the advice of the psych ward orderlies for dealing with toddlers and pre-rational young children: There can be only one crazy in the room at the time, so always make sure it’s you.

  58. nobodyinparticular

    Sex is all dudesex. Masturbation isn’t sex. It’s its own thing. Or, if it isn’t, it should be.

    Ah, Twisty, your words here are better than chocolate. Which in itself is better than any form of sex, *and also* better than masturbation.

  59. notmandy

    This is an interesting response from Leo (one of the subjects of the story) on how he was misrepresented in the article. I figured the students all had more depth than the journalist gave them.

    http://jezebel.com/377539/harvard-virgin-leo-keliher-not-as-horny-as-the-times-made-it-sound

  60. nakedthoughts

    “That’s the thing about patriarchy. It does the defining, not you. That’s what makes it the dominant paradigm. You can abstain from sex, you can fuck your way across the universe, you can be a stone butch dyke with a utility belt, you can get your boobs amputated and your uterus ripped out, you can be sex-neutral in your own crackpot mind, you can be ugly or hawt, you can be the Democrats’ presidential nominee, you can even age out of desirability, but you will always be defined in terms of, and used according to, that which the dominant culture describes as your essence: sex.”
    –Twisty (I Blame the Patriachy)

    I’ve added the above with the above credits to my favorite quotes on my facebook page. if that’s not ok let me know and I’ll take it down.

    thanks

    nakedthoughts

  61. Lara

    Twisty is it alright if I also quote you on my facebook? Yeah, yeah, I know…facebook…. :P
    Such a good idea nakedthoughts!

  62. Nakedthoughts

    Also… Not having a problem touching yourself is different than masturbating all the time. I don’t masturbate all the time myself, but I end up touching myself routinely as i use a Diva Cup or sea sponges (depending on my mood) for blood recepticals during my period. I’m ok letting my hand touch what many consider to be a “dirty vagina” I think that’s the point I think Jen was trying to make. It sounds like the girl DOES have a sex drive and is avoiding it because vaginas are icky to touch, Not because she’s not in the mood to orgasm:

    “Whenever sexual urges struck, she told me, she was able to manage them by going on a long run and assumed that everyone should be able to do the same.”

    and

    “Fredell, when asked about masturbation, just said, “Oh, God, no!””

  63. chlorophyll

    Sucks to be her. She may as well get used to the disappointment that is heterosexual sex right now rather than pin all her sexual hopes and dreams on marriage.

  64. Padraigin

    I have absolutely no interest in what some strange woman does with her vagina. None.

    I don’t care if she’s fucking dudes with it. I don’t care if she’s fucking women with it. I don’t care if she’s not fucking anyone, and I don’t care if she prefers to lie on her back, legs in the air, and use her vagina as a vase for pink roses (complete with water and the little packet of plant food).

    Don’t. Care.

    What does bother me, though, is her attempt to define women by what they do with their vaginas. We do a lot of different shit, and even if two people chose the same thing, it doesn’t mean it’s for the same reason. The same cause can propel two people to two very different extremes.

    She’s not 13 years old. She ought to be able to define herself without reference to all the fucking she’s not doing.

  65. GXB

    Blame the oppression of the Harvard Crimson, and the mainstream media for its collusion!

    Mainstream media quotes the Harvard Crimson as if it were a serious news source, and even the Harvard name itself doesn’t work for the other student publications in the way that it does along the stepping stone Harvard–>Crimson–>Public. I mean, after graduating, even Harvard students have to be doing something to get that kind of attention! Here’s the article Jamie wrote. It happens to other places too, but even then it’s usually a brand-name bias.

    Setting the source of such attention aside, it’s a real problem for those who receive it: first of all, most researched articles in the Crimson are written by freshmen participating in the year-long “comping” process, and if they get in they don’t have to write much. So most (probably almost all) students appear in the Crimson at some point, and if and when those articles make it into the New York Times or other large media outlets the corrections do not follow them there. Maybe that’s what normal journalism is like, but I then things like op-eds don’t normally win other media attention that way. College students can do a lot of important things and start shaping informed opinions, but that doesn’t mean we need the New York Times to tell us what one student opines based solely on personal experience before she gets back out into the rest of the world! So how about some worthwhile campus newspaper articles from your college of choice?

  1. on why empowerful (non) sex is useless in the revolution « mmm, brains!

    [...] by zombie z on April 3, 2008 Twisty on the new virgin menace: [O]nly a moron could fail to perceive that, from the default Dude Nation perspective, no matter [...]

  2. gwytherinn.com » Blog Archive » I love it

    [...] I Blame the Patriarchy: The New Virgin Menace You can’t get out of the sex class just by saying you’re out of it. Saying “no” to uncouth boys in preparation for heterosexual marriage (heterosexual marriage is the basic unit of patriarchy) and calling it “empowering” is no different from saying “yes” to uncouth boys in preparation for a BDSM three-way and calling that “empowering.” In trying to liberate themselves from what they have rationally identified as the constraints of the sex class mandate, both the virgin and the sex blogger actually capitulate by continuing to define themselves in terms of sex (Fredell even aligns herself with pornulists when she describes virginity as “extremely alluring”). Note that control of the concept of sex is not up to either of them. That pleasure falls strictly within the purview of the male-dominated social order. Thus, in a patriarchy, all sex, gay or straight, marital, pre-, or abstained-from, is dudesex. [...]

  3. Something to think about « Rage Against the Man-chine

    [...] to think about Jump to Comments From this post: “That’s the thing about patriarchy. It does the defining, not you. That’s what makes it [...]

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