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Jul 15 2008

He’d hit that

In a recent post I described an antifeminist magazine columnist as a “porn apologist” for suggesting that women should be all gung-ho to sex up in porn drag to make their men happy in the sack. A commenter then used the term “fucking rape apologist” to describe this columnist. Which prompted yet another commenter to take exception to this seeming escalation in rhetoric, fearful that it further demeans “real” rape victims to lump all victims of coercive sex, regardless of the degree of violence, into the same category.

“Maybe” she says, “I just don’t want a bunch of women showing up to rape survivors’ meetings saying, ‘I wore lingerie and heels for my husband, even though deep down I really didn’t want to.’”

Certainly the English language, which is chock full-o many excellent words, can accommodate, for the amelioration of poetry or politics or pornography, differing degrees of abomination in describing the sexual oppression of women. That’s because the English language is the language of men, a proud culture of domination that glorifies its lust for oppression with infinite variations. A woman can be violated, fucked, nailed, hit on (or just hit), ogled, degraded, fallen, debased, put on a pedestal, married, prostituted, impregnated, pronged, boinked, ravished, seduced, cajoled, beaten, videotaped, courted, sold, assaulted, wolf-whistled, harassed, enslaved, dominated and killed. O the pageantry.

On one end of the spectrum in this splendid tableau of violent misogyny is the Nigel who cajoles ‘consent’ with guilt and low-level duress (“come on, just a little longer, I’m almost there.”). On the other, the jewel in the crown of patriarchal dominion: physical assault under threat of injury or death, or what is popularly thought of as rape.

There are 578,843 different little hate crimes in between. I’ve written about a few of them. High heels, blow jobs, street harassment, feminist dudes, the normalization of porn culture. If you are a woman, you have experienced nearly all of them. If you are a straight woman, you have experienced nearly all of them a million times. When experienced incrementally, in small doses over the course of a lifetime, many women are Stockholm-syndromed into viewing these “lesser” violations as tolerable (or even desirable). Taken all at once, in the single violent outburst known as rape, it is a devastating, debilitating trauma.

But for the level of intensity, these are all points on the same continuum. What continuum is that, Twisty? Why, the continuum of rape culture, which is porn culture, which is male culture, which is the dominant culture. Duh, of course victims of violent assault have had a different experience than women who reluctantly pornulate themselves for their boyfriends. Rape survivors have been slammed with maximum hatred all at once in its most unambiguous form, whereas the lingerie girlfriend, ostensibly of her own volition, is merely putting on a cheap polyester teddy made in China. Different experience? Hell yeah. Different concept? Hell no.

It is of dire importance is to recognize that, within the profoundly misogynist climate of our social order, it is considered consistent with women’s essential nature that we are dudesex, and only dudesex. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this condition of oppression absolutely precludes the contingency of a woman’s genuine consent to anything. Therefore it does a disservice to all women if we reserve the concept of coerced sex for its most sensationally violent incarnation.

Get up offa that thing, girls, and see this sex class shit for what it is: a humanitarian crisis.

88 comments

4 pings

  1. Narya

    Twisty, I have a serious question: Is there room in that analysis for sexual pleasure? Because I agree with much of your analysis (but not all of it; I’m gonna come to Austin and buy you a taco sometime so we can argue about agency and the possibility of revolution), but it doesn’t seem to have room for that.

    Added to that, I think there are some age/generational differences that come into play as well, and that pornulation is much more widespread in particular ways than it was 30 years ago, in at least a few dimensions.

    All in all, though, love the analysis. Even the nits that I’d pick.

  2. Bushfire

    Well, I tried to explain it to RebelRebel so that you wouldn’t have to dish out Feminism 101 for the millionth time, but you’ve gone and said it so much better than I did. Twisty, you never cease to inspire awe. If I lived anywhere near Texas, I might buy you a taco too.

  3. Lara

    Your whole post here is quotable. Just struggled a lot to explain this to one or two folks in your other blog post you referred to, and, as Bushfire already said, you’ve expressed it way better than we could (or than I could, at least).
    Speaking of Texas and tacos, I am moving to Houston in about a month, and I’ve been to Austin before, and it was awesome! And I had great tacos there! (I know, I know, you don’t like the city of Austin itself that much, but understand I am a poor soul who’s been living in conservative-ass northern VA for several years now, so Austin is pretty heavenly in comparison :P ).

  4. Shira

    If you are a woman, you have experienced nearly all of them. If you are a straight woman, you have experienced nearly all of them a million times.

    Just this week!

  5. julybirthday

    Twisty, I am so happy that you do what you do! It makes my day to read your stuff, and I really mean it.

    And congrats on Stanley. He seems like a righteous dude.

  6. Azundris

    «Is there room in that analysis for sexual pleasure?»
    I see nothing in there that absolutely negates that? Or did you mean hetero~?

    With regard to the title, is there an etymology that doesn’t make the expression seem so /openly/ misogynistic (and semi-literate) as to be self-parody? Is this another weird AE/BE thing?

  7. RebelRebel

    Amen.

    That is all.

  8. Satsuma

    This article should be required reading for all women in America.

    It is the continuum of all of this that you so accurately reported on.

    I often think that straight women have no idea how bad this is most of the time. They’ve been taught to laugh off stuff, to not really know what an act of male aggression and contempt is.

    My solution has always been to get very aggressive very fast with men. I have a one strike policy, and often they are taken by surprise. They’ve done this nonsense to women so many times, that when a woman grabs them by the throat in retaliation, they don’t know what hit them.

    There is no negotiating with the oppressor/ aggressors in patriarchy– men understand simple commands, very much like dogs- sit, stay, play dead!

    There is the rape continuum, but basically it is men’s sense of entitlement to violate women — either through “jokes” or “having fun.” Anytime women feel uneasy about something men do, is a clear warning that their souls are being stolen bit by bit.

    Just listen to Tom Leykis on national radio, if you want to see how blatant the war on women really has become.

    Thanks Twisty for providing a blunt blog that hits the nail on the head every time!

  9. delagar

    Yes, yes, yes. Yes.

    I was watching some stupid movie with my Nigel the other night (Demolition Man, I believe) and he said some stupid thing about the women in it and I was struggling to articulate this exact point, which, even though he’s a clever boy, he could not grasp it.

    God, I love Twisty.

  10. Fred

    Nprmal male arousal is created by the absence of consent. We are taught from birth to hunt down and fuck what we desire. Men have internalized this to an unbelievable extent. We like to call it romance and seduction in order to convince ourselves we are not engaging in an essentially violent activity.

    The strong addictive pleasures of orgasm mask this sickness. It could be very different.

  11. ginmar

    You know, the patriachy gives you some very bad choices. If you toe the line, you’ll be dogged by a vague misery as you’re constantly stepped on, abused, preyed upon, ignored, condescended to, pressured, and so forth. If you reject the patriachy, you’re a pariah to whom everyone is hostile. You get varying degrees depending on how rebellious you are. Thanks, I’ll take rebellion. Here’s the thing: once you value yourself, you can tell at least some people to fuck off.

  12. Satsuma

    delagar, how draining to have to always explain painting to the blind!

  13. Jezebella

    Your wit is sharp like an obsidian blade, and this entire essay should be xeroxed and handed out to all females once they can read. When I am queen of everything, I will decree that it be plastered in baby books, in reading primers, and in yearbooks so that children will know it at least as well as they know the lyrics to High School Musical.

  14. goblinbee

    Twisty, brilliant article. Thank you.

    And Satsuma, I loved this line: “Anytime women feel uneasy about something men do, is a clear warning that their souls are being stolen bit by bit.”

    –g

  15. Satsuma

    Thanks Goblinbee! It just came to me in a flash of insight!

    On an unrelated subject: Have you ever read the wonderful Christina Rossetti poem “Goblin Market?” It is a great metaphor on the relationship of the bonding of women vs. the goblins of partriarchy. Who ever said that Victorian women weren’t on to all of this?

  16. goblinbee

    Thanks, I will look up the poem — it is a new one to me.
    My moniker is from a Dickinson poem, “If You Were Coming In the Fall.”
    Cheers, g

  17. Ayla

    I agree with every single thing you say except this part: “this condition of oppression absolutely precludes the contingency of a woman’s genuine consent to anything.”

    NO ONE takes away my ability to consent, make decisions, etc. NO ONE. If they did, I’d have killed myself by now. Railing against inequality is the only thing keeping me alive, and if I didn’t feel in my bones that every decision, and in particular sexual decisions, were 100% mine, I simply would not exist.

    Is it possible that the patriarchy takes away women’s ability to give true consent? It’s a certainty. However simple awareness is the first and most important step to true agency.

  18. slythwolf

    This is not actually a complicated concept to understand. The majority of human beings are prevented from understanding it by their patriarchal conditioning. We are taught from birth that men have an intrinsic right to fuck anything they choose, and it’s very difficult to exorcise that from our brains. We overlook that part of it, many of us, when we’re in our fledgling feminist stages, and so we get people like RebelRebel and in fact a bunch of people who used to be on my LiveJournal friends list who I had to defriend over it, who were saying things like “Well sure, he kept bugging me when I had said no, but then I said yes and I enjoyed it, so that makes it okay.”

    It doesn’t make it okay.

    The capacity to make a woman enjoy her own rape is probably the most insidious and damaging weapon the patriarchy can wield.

    I said it on the other post, I’ll say it again here: rape is what happens when some dude decides it doesn’t matter whether his partner wants to fuck him or not, and fucks her anyway. However he gets to that point, whatever threats or drugs or lies or other sneaky methods he uses, that shit doesn’t matter. What matters is that he is fucking a woman he would not have been fucking had he let her make her own decision unhindered.

  19. Twisty

    Sadly, the whole dealio with patriarchy is that you don’t get to decide, unilaterally, that you have agency dammit. You can decide that you ought to have it, and get pissed that you don’t, but if you are a woman, agency to consent as a fully human being is not available to you, period. This key point seems to trip up a lot of the grrl power crowd. As I have oft lamented, nobody wants to admit it, because doing so means giving up so much of what you think you have.

    As far as sexual pleasure goes, Narya: ain’t nothin wrong with sex. The problem is with patriarchy defining women’s sexuality as a lesser subsidiary of men’s sexuality. In the post-patriarchal world, sexual gratification would be unfettered by questions of personal sovereignty, and would equate to eating an heirloom peach, or jumping into a 75-degree pool on a 101 degree day; i.e., it would just be one of the pleasurable things a person does that has nothing to do with dominance and submission.

  20. MaryK

    Amazing post. Amazing.

    Fred, that was extremely insightful. I’ve recently been at a loss with some of my dude-friends, and that comment helps crystalize something I’ve been thinking lately. It makes sense why dudes aren’t interested in dating a woman who has initially come onto them–they’re not able to “seduce” (rape) that woman.

  21. Kathan

    Ugh, the title of this post gave me an awful flashback. When I was a sophomore in high school I had to give a presentation in Spanish class and I was extremely nervous. As I was trying to get through it, I heard the boy sitting before me in the front row whisper “Would you hit that?” to another boy, who shrugged. I remember being especially affected by his choice of words. I couldn’t believe I had just heard that, but I went on with my presentation. I felt paralyzed up there, like I couldn’t say or do anything. It seemed like he didn’t know if I had heard him or not, but he didn’t care anyway. I just didn’t matter in the least. I couldn’t believe I had to be subjected to this during my stupid Spanish presentation. I was so angry and hurt, and of course I still remember it 10 years later.

    “Anytime women feel uneasy about something men do, is a clear warning that their souls are being stolen bit by bit.” Satsuma, I love this line too!

  22. lawbitch

    I’m so touched that some dood is so worried about us rape survivors. May I expect you to show up at a local rape survivor group to support those us and confront the humanitarian crisis known as rape, sir? If not, STFU.

  23. Jen

    For the thousand ways I resist the patriarchy every day, there are another ten thousand ways in which I give in, lie back, and let the flow of oppression take me away. Ayla, Narya – I have never consented. Not once. Every single sexual encounter I have ever had with a man exists on the same spectrum of rape from the most obvious to the most insidious. Every time I do so much as shave my legs, simply because I have been conditioned to hate their natural state, my body is not my own. It is always a tool of the patriarchy, valued for its fuckibility. I stand in front of the mirror plucking my eyebrows weekly, pleased with their socially acceptable shape, but horrified by the realization that I have no idea what I would like my eyebrows to look like if I was a truly free of this horrid cycle of self-hatred and mental illness. I love myself for looking pretty, I hate myself for looking pretty. I love myself for resisting looking pretty, I hate myself for resisting looking pretty. This horror is specifically constructed to take away our consent in almost every detail of our lives.

    Every single one of us is sick. The society which has given us our life has taken away our identity and agency. Who am I outside of the short brunette with purposely tousled sexy hair? I have no idea. Simply the mental energy required to resist the smallest details of the patriarchy is beyond my grasp. I can float on top of this vast ocean of madness, but I am still a part of it and my toes are not dry.

    And I hate myself, almost as much as I hate the men who would use me and discard me as a temporary sheath for their penis. When I take the time to really think about who I am, and how I know who I am, its very clear that everything about me is manufactured for the profit or pleasure of someone other than myself. This sickness is like a cancer, a parasite, that encompasses my entire existance and being. Like Twisty said, it is Stockholm Syndrome. I am happy for being oppressed. I “consent” to oppression to be happy. All I can do is condemn the patriarchy while hypocritically adhering to it in ways unknown and known to me.

    This violence will not cease in so long as we remain complacent that our choices are good and just because they must be our own. The entire structure of society is based on a convenient lie. I did not manufacture this atrocity, I did not set the gears in motion. Sometimes I oil them, and sometimes I throw small pebbles into the clockwork out of futile spite. In my lifetime I will never be free of the patriarchy, no matter how far I run, and neither will anyone else.

    My only consolation is that I am self-aware enough to admit my madness, to morn for a world that is terminally sick, and that my purpose is this vast mechanism is to be oppressed rather than to enforce and perpetuate the oppression. Why I live is not that because of the knowledge that my choices are my own, because that delusion is not available to a critical mind. No, I live with the assurance that in so long as I live, I will never consent to bring another into this existance of internalized agony, nor will I ever pretend that this is what I would want, if I was ever, even for a moment, given the free choice.

  24. Flores

    In the post-patriarchy future, sex acts would be something people do together, rather than something men do to women. According to Firestone, every close relationship would include sensual and sexual elements. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but who knows what life will be like without the oppressive hierarchy? I’m conditioned to the current system, in which sex and power games go hand in hand.

  25. lawbitch

    “Rape survivors have been slammed with maximum hatred all at once in its most unambiguous form, whereas the lingerie girlfriend, ostensibly of her own volition, is merely putting on a cheap polyester teddy made in China.”

    These are intinisically connected. A woman who has been sexually assaulted may have traumatic flashbacks from “regular” sex in which she perceives that a man is using her as a sex doll in cheap lingerie. Even if the sex doll in cheap lingerie hasn’t been raped yet, there’s still the danger and threat that a man (any man) may rape her. It’s a vicious circle from which no woman can escape.

    [note: IBTP that I have to edit the above for passive voice to put the responsibility for rape on whom it belongs.]

  26. Chai Latte

    Sometimes I fucking hate men.

    But then I realize that it’s not men I hate, it’s the patriarchy. And the fact that most men I know benefit from it so much that they’d never try to change it. Even seeing what it does to the women in their lives. And that makes me want to cry.

    Like when my Nigel came to the beach with me, and later lamented that I had not worn a bikini. (I NEVER wear the damn things.) Don’t worry, I had a kickass response: “I’ll wear one, but only if you do.”

    I almost wish I’d never taken ‘the red pill’, so to speak. Because becoming aware of what’s really going on around you is horrifying in the extreme. (“The Patrix has you….”)

    But as I just thought of a fantastic movie parody due to my state of feminist hyper-awareness, I can’t complain too much.

  27. monika

    Ayla,

    I too have a strong aversion to someone saying that I have absolutely no free agency. But the more I live in the patriarchy, the more I become sadly aware that acts I have engaged in that I deemed “consensual” at the time were in fact manipulations and violations of my personhood. And I am not talking about men holding a knife up to my throat, or even initiating sexual activity persay. I am talking about the patriarchal conditioning I (and all other women) have experienced since the moment of birth that I am but an object to exist for the pleasure of males.

  28. Narya

    Thanks, Twisty; I like that. And it makes sense to me, because I’ve had flashes of it in my life–the post-patriarchal part–as well as oh-so-much experience with the fully enpatriarchalized version. There was a warp in the time-space continuum in the early 1970s where/when men and women were more free to come together (so to speak) to try to enact sex as eating an heirloom peach. I think a lot of the joy-of-sex crowd had some of that post-patriarchal vision in mind, even as their enactment of it was imperfect at best. (Given that it was not, in fact, a post-patriarchal world, that’s hardly a surprise.) In the ensuing 30 years, I’ve sensed a backlash, a battening down; the pornulation about which you so eloquently write is part of that. I realize that people’s mileage will vary on this, and the experiences I had may have been 2 stamdard devoiations from the mean.

  29. Bitch, Esquire

    Just to second or third the multitude:

    “Anytime women feel uneasy about something men do, is a clear warning that their souls are being stolen bit by bit.”

    Satsuma, that’s an awesome quote!

    Cajoling in particular is a behavior that (in my experience) isn’t used to coerce just sexual activity, but as thought control more generally. Whatever the woman thinks (assuming she dares to express an opinion to begin with), she must be brought to heel and agree with ME.

    “C’mon, agree with me.
    C’mon, agree with me.
    C’mon, agree with me.
    C’mon, agree with me.
    C’mon, agree with me.
    C’mon, agree with me.
    C’mon, agree with me.
    C’mon, agree with me.”

    My uneasiness never felt any different to me between caving in and having sex v. caving in and agreeing to do/be/say whatever it was HE wanted.

    Gah! Grrr. Am giving myself flashbacks.

  30. keres

    Ayla no one is saying that skillful maneuvering within patriarchy is not possible, only that choice, in the true sense of the word, is not possible within a compulsory society.

    But, while acknowledging that there are some things I can do to make my life better, I hesitate to cast myself or any other woman as particularly adept at navigating patriarchy’s toxic swamp. Because the flip-side of claiming any agency to better our lives is that the shit that happens to us is at least partially our fault (since we could have made “better” choices).

    I’m one smart radical feminist cookie (or biscuit, as we say in Australia), and I’m just as stuck as any woman between the cock rock and the hard-on place.

    When it comes to assigning responsibility, this sort of linguistic parsing is just another trap. IBTP.

    Chai Latte, please sign me on as a video editior for The Patrix.

  31. slythwolf

    Jesus, Jen. Nail on head.

    I’ve been thinking about this lately (heh, as always) and I’ve come to the realization that I don’t just capitulate to patriarchy to be happy–I do it to stay alive. And so does every woman. And that’s a sobering thought.

  32. Lara

    Wow, Jen, powerful. I deal with the same shit everyday. Your comment was so true and so painful to read. It needs to be said.

  33. TwissB

    Sally Kempton described the problem this way:

    “It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”

    —Sally Kempton, “Cutting Loose,” Esquire, July, 1970.

    Thanks for mentioning the “jokes,” Satsuma. It’s interesting how everyone waxed indignant this week when Obama was meanly used in a New Yorker cover that editor David Remnick tried to pass off as a political satire. But no one has taken Remnick (or his predecessor Tina Brown – who gave us Annie Lebowitz’s excursion into the gotcha! pornography of pregnancy with Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair) – to task for publishing many covers and photo spreads treating women’s bodies as a sniggery joke for men’s enjoyment.

  34. Citizen Jane

    Twisty, thank you. I’m so glad I found your blog. You know how I found it? A male friend said something sexist, and I confronted him in my female jokingly, giggly, not-at-all-confrontational-at-all way. He responded with “Oh dear, have you been reading I Blame the Patriarchy?”

    Naturally, I had to find out what this elusive blog of blame might be, and here I find you actually validating my feelings. Going around talking like I’m not some crazy, hysterical female for feeling insecure and isolated and, dare I say it, oppressed by compulsory sexiness.

  35. keres

    How timely (as if there’s ever a time this isn’t going on) – from my paper today:

    The interviewed women were uneasy about the research and questioned where the line was drawn between rape and “just getting it over and done with”. They also suggested “it’s just part of the compromise” and that “you don’t feel like it, but you do it for him”.

  36. Mikeb302000

    Thanks Twisty for the wonderful description of the “spectrum:”

    “the continuum of rape culture, which is porn culture, which is male culture, which is the dominant culture.”

    I know you’ve been over this many times, but it gets clearer to me each time.

  37. RebelRebel

    slythwolf, I don’t think I said whatever you think I said.

    I agree with all of Twisty’s post here, and I don’t know what I said to make anyone think I wouldn’t.

  38. slythwolf

    What you said, RebelRebel, was that coerced sex wasn’t rape.

  39. RebelRebel

    What I said was that I didn’t think the word “rape” should be used to describe all forms of sexual coercion.

    I didn’t say that I thought sexual coercion was okay, or that it wasn’t an important issue, or that it wasn’t one of the most insidious and destructive manifestations of the patriarchy. I brought up an issue of semantics (and, I guess, tactics to a certain extent), and it’s an issue that I really can see both sides of. It’s also an issue that we happen to disagree about, but I would hope that’s not enough to get me branded as the enemy.

  40. Cassie

    Thanks Twisty and blamers.

    Something has been bothering me more and more: the idea of a woman’s body being valued as useful or fitting only inasmuch as it serves or is valued by males. I know this is feminism 101, but I see it crop up in insidious ways, even in feminist discussions. Here are a couple of examples:

    1. discussions of rape of underage girls where the expression “her body wasn’t ready” or “her body wasn’t made for that” or words to that effect. All too true, but then the underlying assumption is that grown-up women’s bodies ARE made for that, that grown-women have the parts that “fit” for male sex, and are thus the ones with the responsibility to satisfy those irrepressible urges. I think this is really dangerous – the assumption should be that everyone’s body is their own, with no parts that belong or fit anyone else’s. To quote Twisty, the assumption should be that consent is NOT given, not for girls, women, prostitutes, men, anyone. The corollary to this principle, of course, is that everyone is responsible for their own sexual feelings. You’re horny? Your problem, deal. You’re only turned on when someone puts on lingerie? Tough luck, deal.

    2. this is more personal. When I was a teenager, I thought I was hot stuff by the standards in vogue, and I was bummed I was single since it seemed that my hotness was wasted if no one was there to enjoy it. Pretty messed up, huh? Just realizing it now in my thirties. Everyone should think they’re hot stuff, but that hotness should be theirs, not devalued if they are not on sale at the patriarchy meat-market.

    Sorry if this is OT or just me working through my personal muddle, but the rape culture not only permeates how we interact, but how we see ourselves at a very fundamental level. IBTP.

  41. Depresso

    Bit of a lurker here, delurking to say Twisty, you are todays girlcrush. In that I wish I could be you, nothing objectifying of course.

    I just clicked to my reader after getting a bit too engaged with my very first feminist concern troll on my own blog. Reading this post, has reaffirmed my strength to keep decrying the patriarchal rape culture that is enforced on us every damned day. Thank you!

  42. The Amazing Kim

    Sorry if this is OT or just me working through my personal muddle

    Do not apologise for living. The rest of the world can tell you that your life is not important enough to talk about. It is. And it’s how women become collective.

  43. ChapstickAddict

    Thank you for this. It’s always been hard for me to verbalize why what my ex did to me was so wrong. I mean, in mainstream technical terms, he didn’t rape me because I didn’t said no. But you know, he treated me as if sex was something that he should be getting regardless of what else I wanted to do, like sleep or take a shower. He would’ve been happy with a warm hole in a mattress. I used to be one of those sad young women saying stuff like “Let’s just get it over with” or “Relationships aren’t about being in love forever anyway.”

    After I broke up with him, even before I found feminism, I called what he did to me rape, even though others disagreed with me. If I would’ve found this website earlier, this post would’ve been my eureka moment.

    Keres:

    “The interviewed women were uneasy about the research and questioned where the line was drawn between rape and “just getting it over and done with”. They also suggested “it’s just part of the compromise” and that “you don’t feel like it, but you do it for him”.

    That is so sad, and I know exactly where they’re coming from.

  44. phio gistic

    Pornography is propaganda for the patriarchy. The patriarchy’s foundation is the belief that women are masochistic, that we consciously or subconsciously crave domination, humiliation, and pain. That’s what men want to give us, so they go to great effort to convince themselves that it is what we want.

  45. slashy

    You are so constantly inspirational, Twisty, and I have appreciated the voice you have here for so long now. Every now and then I remember to say ‘thanks’, so, thanks.

  46. Spiders

    “That’s what men want to give us, so they go to great effort to convince themselves that it is what we want.”

    And also to convince us that it’s really what we want by showing us “evidence” that it’s what all other women want. Porn becomes a prescription for how we are supposed to behave.

  47. Bushfire

    “When I was a teenager, I thought I was hot stuff by the standards in vogue, and I was bummed I was single since it seemed that my hotness was wasted if no one was there to enjoy it.”

    I felt this way as a teenager and young adult as well. I think it is quite relevent to the discussion. I’m only 23 still, and I’m still deconstructing a lot of things (with Twisty’s help) and a lot of the commenters here say things that hit home.

    Believing your body is “wasted” if no guy is pumping it is part of believing that your body is a possession or a tool instead of just your body. After the revolution, a woman’s body will just be a way for her to walk, talk and accomplish tasks, not a thing to be decorated and shown off like a centrepiece. Convincing us that our bodies are decorations and that we need to pluck, paint, starve, mutilate and degradate them just to make them worthwhile bodies is like being raped by the culture in general.

    I don’t have sex with guys any more but I did as a teenager. I did have a few mildly coercive episodes, but I always said yes to them. I never felt violated at the time but now when I look back I feel violated by the culture that made me want to say yes. For me it wasn’t even the individual men, it was my desire to be “fuckable” by society’s standards, which comes from all men (and some women) collectively. IBTP

  48. kiki

    As Ms. Woolf reminds us, we are nothing more than dogs dancing on our hind legs to them. Spot on Twisty, again.

  49. buggle

    Holy cow, there are some amazing posts here! Jen, what you said, just amazing. Damn. You said what I’ve been muddling around in my head trying to get clear on. I’m just so scared to actually say it out loud.

    Twisty, I’m so happy you are blogging again! The interwebs are just not the same without your voice.

  50. Roving Thundercloud

    Well done, Twisty! Not only is your post power-packed, but it has inspired some really great and chewy responses (thanks Jen, Satsuma, Slythwolf, et al).

  51. Bitch, Esquire

    Cassie:

    “[D]iscussions of rape of underage girls where the expression “her body wasn’t ready” or “her body wasn’t made for that” or words to that effect. All too true, but then the underlying assumption is that grown-up women’s bodies ARE made for that, that grown-women have the parts that “fit” for male sex, and are thus the ones with the responsibility to satisfy those irrepressible urges.”

    I’ve always thought of it as a comment on physical structure: a girl’s body literally lacks the physical capacity to handle intercourse due to size. I think when we’re expressing that horror (My god, her body’s not made for that!) we are 1) yes, admitting that a mature woman’s body has that capacity, and 2) responding to a forcible act that by its very nature can never ever be pleasurable and therefore can only ever be an infliction of pain and domination. It’s an extreme example, perhaps, of how patriarchy hurts us.

    I don’t follow your point about how admitting that a woman’s body is capable of sex imposes an obligation. Our body parts DO fit together (whether we actually fit them together or not).

  52. slythwolf

    I didn’t say that I thought sexual coercion was okay, or that it wasn’t an important issue, or that it wasn’t one of the most insidious and destructive manifestations of the patriarchy. I brought up an issue of semantics (and, I guess, tactics to a certain extent), and it’s an issue that I really can see both sides of. It’s also an issue that we happen to disagree about, but I would hope that’s not enough to get me branded as the enemy.

    I never called anyone the enemy. What you are, in my opinion, is someone who Doesn’t Get It, possibly with a “yet” tacked on at the end.

  53. Amananta

    It’s interesting, reading this, and contemplating the conversation I had with someone recently. For all the BDSM folks like to go on and on about consent and free choice for their practices, now that I’ve finally escaped from their world I’ve been slowly trying to put the pieces together. When I think about it, really think about it, I realize – the first person who made me a “sex slave” did so when I was seventeen years old, just escaping an abusive family, and almost completely sexually inexperienced. The “seduction” process lasted about 6 months, during which he slowly got me used to more and more humiliation and finally “agreed” to give up any last bits of agency I had to him in exchange for the money I needed to survive (as I was in a bad financial spot.) By the end of it all I was so turned around I really believed this was the natural, real me, that I had to keep it a secret from the world because they wouldn’t understand our special relationship (does that send up any warning flags?) What he did to me could be described as no less than brainwashing, much if it fitting the exact descriptions of how prisoners of war are brainwashed. After that relationship, of course, I was firmly established in this “cool”, “rebellious” underworld and praised for my “masochism” and sweet, submissive ways. It took me 18 years to break out of this. Every time I questioned the “lifestyle” I was soothed and comforted by others in the “scene” and told not to let “them” – those “vanilla” outsiders who just didn’t get it – to drag me away from who I really was.
    What this long bit of drivel winds up to be about is this – at various points I actually asked to be tortured – yes, actual torture I won’t describe for those who like to get off to this kind of thing – I would beg and whine and plead to be tortured and beaten. Therefore it was not only just “consent”, I was quite literally asking for it. You can say whatever you want to about my mental state that brought me to this pass – but what is most disturbing about this is that I never, ever lacked for someone willing to do this. The “doms” in question were always quite eager to get to it and would bring out all the cool expensive kinky leather equipment they kept around for the express purpose of torturing me – even the ones who admitted quite openly they believed I was insane.

    Can an insane person consent to be tortured? Is anyone who consents to be tortured sane? What notion of consent is this? I swear to you, I knew women (it was always women) in the BDSM scene who would openly tell their “lovers” that if they accidentally KILLED THEM during a “scene” they would want them to do whatever they had to do to not get in trouble, because they understood the horrible oppressive society in which we live and that they wouldn’t get a “fair trial” and they wouldn’t want them to be unfairly punished for having “sex”. Can you consent to be tortured to death? Can you?

  54. Flores

    Your comments make me think of Robert Anton Wilson’s defense of the Marquis de Sade, Amananta. (Yeah, Wilson was generally a sexist, but he seemed to get it in this particular piece.) He argued that de Sade recognized his desires coming from the culture of dominance and submission. Wilson suggested that the supposed followers of de Sade have misunderstood. He didn’t want to embrace such power plays uncritically, but as a way to understand the conditioning. His end goal was to overturn the long-established order of punishment.

    Now, I have no idea if Wilson’s correct about the historical figure. I haven’t read de Sade for myself. (I haven’t read Dworkin’s take on de Sade, either. I should probably do that.) Regardless, I’ll echo Wilson and say that the desire to be tortured and to torture comes from our society and its structure. It’s a rather natural extension of the patriarchy, hierarchy, and so on. You can connect it with the basic family setup, with parents we’re to simultaneously adore and dread.

    In this context of harmful conditioning, I don’t see how meaningful consent would be possible. Even if it were, a torturer is still a torturer. Why should our perhaps obsessive notions about freedom and consent be elevated above the principles of respect, equality, and causing no harm? I can’t stand how some folks think consent ends the debate. Choices should be analyzed critically.

    That BDSM scene terrifies me. A few of my friends are into it, or so their myspace profiles claim. We don’t talk about it.

  55. Amananta

    Wilson sometimes got it right, but in general he was a staunch enemy of feminism, lampooning them, over simplifying their message and pretending they were hatemongers, even though his own wife was active in the women’s movement. He worked for Playboy. He believed Hugh Hefner “made love” to his “bunnies” and in his books the only women portrayed sympathetically were the ones who were voraciously sexual, young, and conventionally gorgeous. Its hard fro me because I do actually like a lot of what he wrote, but in between is all this crap.

    Another darling of sci-fi fans and libertarians everywhere is Heinlein, whose works were introduced to me by my first “owner” and whose words an philosophies were extensively quoted as part of my introduction into BDSM.

    De Sade – while in the midst of my total acceptance of the beauty and grandeur of “the scene” I watched that movie about him, where he was this poor misunderstood man championing free expression and open beautiful sexuality, with the avid approval and encouragement, of course, of the women around him. Somehow they even managed to make his indirectly causing her rape/murder at the hands of another to be a point of sympathy for HIM. About the real De Sade I know little.

  56. Azundris

    If “consent” justifies anything and everything, why did people get upset about Bumfights? Guess they should have marketed those videos as “erotica” instead.

  57. Flores

    In the article about de Sade, Wilson seemed to recognize his own role as an oppressor. When he asked an imaginary Playboy bunny what she really thought of men, she replied, “What do cattle think of butchers?”

    He often annoys me. I stopped reading some other book of his once he started mocking feminism. I have the funny feeling he understood, at least at times, but rejected feminism because it threatened his privilege. Like so many.

  58. Ayla

    I appreciate the people who took the time to respond to my post, but I simply do not agree that it is impossible to have agency. Please don’t think it’s because I don’t understand fully or have never heard this before, because I have and I have probably put more thought into it than any other single question in terms of feminism. I have agency (as far as any human can) and that’s the end of it. Men, women, feminists, feminist theory, nothing takes that away. It’s about defining myself and I reserve absolute right to do that. It’s incredibly empowering and I’ll be dead the day I believe I’ve lost it. Just as being called a bitch or a slut or cookie monster does not make you such, being told you are without agency does not make it so, and trust me, I’m doing more than “maneuvering”… I’m living a life full of decisions, real issues, friends, happiness, sadness, and yes, even sex.

    And Twisty… I DO get to decide that I have agency, dammit! I already have so you’re too lot to tell me not to! Neener neener.

    I love your blog. Blame on!

  59. Spits the Dummy

    Ayla, I used to be where you are right now and I fought tooth and nail to hold on to the idea that I had personal “agency”. Mostly because it was too damned painful to face up to the myriad of ways my agency was infringed upon, twisted and blocked by the patriarchy.

    We still get to make personal choices in our lives and accept the consequences. BUT don’t ever mistake that for true agency, one free of patriarchal influence, which is what Twisty is talking about above. Because those choices are, as Keres said above, at best between the “cock rock and the hard-on place”.

  60. Ayla

    Spits, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. If you want to say that YOU don’t have agency, that’s one thing, but I have mine. This isn’t the first time I have had this discussion, and frankly, I run into the “you’ll change your mind” attitude at every turn. It’s almost scary how much it reminds me of people who say “you’ll change your mind” when I say I will never have children or get married. You don’t get to decide that. I do, and I have.

  61. Fiona

    Ayla said: “…being told you are without agency does not make it so…”

    Just as asserting you have agency does not make it so. Not as long as you’re living in a patriarchy.

    I’ve (only recently) learned not to confuse agency with the ability to make decisions within the ever-narrowing parameters set by the dominant for the dominated. In other words, the choices we make are among the choices we are allowed to make.

  62. Ayla

    Fiona… again, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m not trying to tell YOU whether you have agency or not… that’s up to you. I’m talking about ME.

    Anyway, I appreciate all of the opinions, but I’m starting to feel rather condescended to, sort of “we know the truth and you don’t” kind of thing, so for my own sanity I’ll be ending my participation in this particular post.

    Blame on blamers.

  63. panoptical

    I’ve heard a sort of witty remark from a few of my BDSM type friends: “The masochist says ‘beat me,’ the sadist replies ‘no.’” The supposed joke in this remark comes from an intentional misunderstanding of the role of the sadist and the masochist. The sadist and masochist are not supposed to exchange displeasure. They are supposed to exchange pleasure, which, to them, is brought about by the physical sensation that we know as pain. The sadist enjoys giving pain, and the masochist enjoys receiving pain. There are plenty of people who enjoy pain in a non-sexual context. I like the pain in my legs the day after a really strenuous hike. Some people like the pain of getting a tattoo or a piercing. I personally don’t find pain (either giving or receiving) to be sexually arousing, but I could see how someone else might.

    That being said, I think that someone could consent – in theory – to being beaten, tortured, etc. However, Twisty’s doctrine – “this condition of oppression absolutely precludes the contingency of a woman’s genuine consent to anything” – still applies. A man being beaten by a woman for sexual arousal doesn’t carry the same sort of added patriarchal weight as a woman being beaten by a man for sexual arousal – although some would claim that the desire for pain by someone of either sex is a product of the patriarchy and/or reinforces patriarchal roles.

    Either way, I say if we’re going to blame BDSM or the patriarchy, blame the patriarchy. We don’t know what life would be like in a non-patriarchal society. We don’t know if there would still be bondage, domination, submission, sadism, and/or masochism. But there might, and in the absence of patriarchal oppression, what would be wrong with it?

  64. Jen

    Ayla:

    My idea of agency is the freedom to go and do everything I wish to that does not hurt anyone without the threat of violence and rape and abuse. My idea of agency is turning on the news at night and hearing about what’s going on in the world, rather than endless report after report about woman X killed/beaten/abused/raped by man Y. My idea of agency is freedom and freedom from fear.

    Your idea of agency may be different. But I will never, ever, consider myself free in a world with rape. I am not free in a world where I chose not to have children, not because I do not want to be a mother, but because I feel that the choice to bring another life into this existance of fear and oppression and hate for my want of a child is endlessly selfish. I am not free in a world in which my own brother hates women with such a passion that I often wonder if I would feel better if he had died in a time where he was still innocent and represented all the world had to offer, rather than all the world had to pervert.

    So I am not free. The only agency I have, really, is to recognize that I do not have agency in all the ways that matter: in the ways that don’t result in fear for my life and the mental health of myself and those I love because of this sick mad world.

  65. Cassie

    Dunno if this thread is still alive, or if everyone is busy with the next one.

    Just to respond to Bitch, Esq: yes, I do think that the “bits that fit” concept is anti-feminist. It’s also a classic anti-gay argument: “you shouldn’t have sex with the person you’re attracted to, your bits don’t fit!” Human attraction makes lots of weird bits that don’t fit very important (I’m into necks, chins and ears for instance, not that anyone cares), as much or more important as the sex organs that are turned on by them.

    In a post-patriarchy world, hopefully my bits would be my own, without anyone going around thinking I have receptacle bits which are only for the male part of the race. If I chose to have sex with anyone, it would be based on the usual criteria of sense of humor, good cooking, nice to my cat – not on “my bits sure fit theirs”!

  66. Silence

    My sympathies to all you’re suffered, Amananta, as well as my congratulations for leaving that world behind.

    Unfortunately, I do know de Sade. I’ve studied the French Revolution period and read some of his work. It’s utter crap, and I’d say I’m surprised that anyone even reads his drivel today except that it is exactly the kind of horrific wet-dream shit that turns some men on. The movie you’re reference, Quills, was a horrible and historically inaccurate piece of shit too.

    De Sade only got away with his nonsense because he was an aristocrat. He killed and mutilated a serving girl in his youth and it was hushed up. His writing are all about torture and coercive sex. The ‘heroes’ of his work are the ones who do the torture and mutilation, and the perspective I always gained from them was that the people who were ‘strong enough’ to treat other humans as meat for the pleasure were the elite. Everything he wrote about was based on a paradigm of dominance and submission, and those who submitted could be murdered in a thousand painful and imaginative ways by the ones who dominated. It’s perfect patriarchal propaganda.

    I suppose some people see him as role model because he was, to some extent, anti-religion and establishment. But the truth is, the man had some sort of severe mental disorder and in today’s world, would be under medication. There’s a good reason why he fathered the word ‘sadism,’ folks, and if this were a sane world, his writing would only survive as a historical curiosity.

    Read Les Liaisons Dangereuses instead if you’re interested in literature from this era. It’s a brilliant book that actually examines the power play between the genders and it remains timeless to this day.

  67. Vibrating Liz

    Privilege grants the illusion of agency. The more you’re steeped in privilege (white privilege, financial privilege, able-bodied privilege, age privilege, etc.) the easier it is to maintain that illusion. Those at the very bottom rung of the privilege ladder are far less likely to cling to any illusions of agency, at least not without a little help from pharmaceutical supplements and/or theological superstition fantasies.

  68. Flores

    I don’t see how dominance and submission could be separated from a hierarchical and oppressive culture, panoptical. That’s what our current society is all about. Bosses and punishment. Order and status. In a post-patriarchal world, enjoying dominance and submission would be a minor recreation, an attempt to return to the old ways.

  69. Jennifer-Ruth

    Here is a question for all you clever women posting here:

    Can lesbian sex exist outside the all encompassing patriarchy? Can there be agency if a man is not involved? Or is patriarchy so insiduous and within us, that it has its effect even when a man is not present?

    I personally believe that there is no free agency, even within a lesbian relationship, because we have still been brought up in the patriarchy. As Jen says, the most we can hope for is to be aware of our own lack of agency.

    Second question: if we have no agency due to the the patriarchy, how do we destroy it? How can we possibly start the revolution?

    I look forward to reading what you all have to say.

  70. Jezebella

    Flores, you’re killin’ me. Suddenly I have a vision of future-post-patriarchy SCAdians dressed up as Ward and June Cleaver, “re-enacting” quaint dom/sub domestic roles and the like. “Let’s pretend I’m serving you jello salad!”

  71. Flores

    Makes me think of the prison roleplay in Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Folks in an anarchist society tried to recreate jail conditions for fun and education. It didn’t end well. Kind of like the Stanford experiment.

  72. Satsuma

    Silence — great summary of the historical background of de Sade. I’ve even hear male professors talk about the 18th century as the golden age of pornography among the aristocracy. Now we have Hollywood royalty, and their poisonous lives still contaminate feminists.

  73. Cassie

    ok, I am not able to let this drop, although I am the only one who cares about this aspect (the discussion on Sade has been fascinating and horrifying).

    Adult women’s bits don’t fit male bits, not without considerable preparation and cooperation. That’s why rape is physically horribly violent: it’s quite a bit worse than having to try on a sweater or hat you don’t like. I had boyfriends whose parts were just plain too big for mine, and we had to work around that (and their patriarchy-induced-guaranteed-to-result-in-bad-sex-assumptions that big=great, not so much dear).

    What’s my point? Women are not receptacles, women’s bits are not receptacles. The only (exceedingly rare) cases when they become so, it’s because that woman decided that that guy was interesting enough to her and they hit it off. For lesbians or gay men, it never even gets that far. Sex is not by any means a universal adapter hardware store kind of thing, and that’s no prism through which to view half of humankind.

  74. Flores

    I agree completely, Cassie. I remain baffled by the focus on penetration. Almost nobody questions it. Sex means sticking a penis into something. Gay men must have anal sex. Even lesbians should pretend by using dildos.

    There’s no notion that folks can avoid penetration in favor of other sex acts. Everything else is considered foreplay or a temporary substitute for the supposed real thing.

    I wonder who I should blame?

  75. Bigbalagan

    Twisty, you must have already come up with several hundred ways to express the connectedness of the continuum of sex class slavery, all of them pithy, complete and fiercely focused. As someone with male parts, my experience has been (to refer to the top of the thread) that there is, in general, no sexual experience that is not tortured out of human shape by the dominance of patriarchy. At the margin (again, speaking only of my own experience) it is possible to barricade off a little space of inter-personal pleasure, but by the definition of a dominant culture of oppression, there’s a lot of work to remove whatever modes of sexual oppression are mutually seen and understood within that small space, and it never gets anything like even half-way done. (Just consider Cassie’s comment directly above—how about a sexuality that is not entirely goalled toward penetration?) We can still attempt to express love in this way, but I think Twisty is right to insist that “pervasive” means “everywhere”.

  76. Lara

    Thank you Cassie, well said. Women should not be subject to compulsory sex or heterosexuality, by any means. My body is not “made for” sex with men. Period.

  77. Silence

    Your point is especially pertinent, Cassie, when you think of all the pressure that is put on males to have a big penis. Big dicks are a sign of masculinity and power; men with smaller genitals are supposed to be ashamed of themselves. We can infer from that that a big penis is ‘preferable’ because it penetrates deeper, makes more of an impact. A woman really knows she’s been fucked when she’s had one of those things, ya know?

    Once again, the way society orders its priorities reveals how deeply it’s based on a paradigm of dominance and submission. A big penis is that much more likely to cause discomfort or pain to even a willing woman, should she choose to have PVP with the man. At some level, a big penis serves as a metaphor for dominating a woman and making her suffer should she chose to engage in that particular sexual act.

    I’m not a proponent of PVP. That is, I do not care if people chose to engage in it, or in anal sex, but I am damned tired of it being considered the only ‘real’ form of sex — to such an extent that you’re considered a virgin if you haven’t been penetrated, no matter how many orgasms you’ve experienced. Thank you, put I’ll take the orgasms over the penetration. For me, the two are almost mutually exclusive, so I suppose my body wasn’t made for sex either. Perhaps I should celebrate.

    And yeah, I know entirely too much about the Marquis de Sade. Horrifying man, but fascinating to read about. Like not being able to turn your face away from a train wreck.

  78. Satsuma

    This is a good chat everyone. Penetration is something I would never ever do. No sex with men ever, and no dildos and dodads ever. Don’t know how many lesbians have this experience, but I believe that women’s power is to be completely free of this sort of thing.

    All penetration of women I think is problematic, and the male big penis obsession is amazing to behold.

    One elderly woman I know decried the invention of viagra for this very reason. Now men will never leave us alone she said!

    I’m amazed that men can think of no alternative to sex, and their very lack of imagination and understanding of the human body is about their eternal physical stupidity. We should simply throw all male sexual commentary out the window, get rid of their books, and start again from a woman centered physical reality.

    When men were left to their own insane sexual devices, we had a huge AIDS epidemic. Gay men have yet to fully comprehend that they were a part of consentual mass murder, when the cause of the disease became widely known. This is the U.S. version of AIDS. All because penetration kills!

    I don’t believe that women and men were made for each other at all. This was a mistake of evolution that may someday be corrected — parthenogenis anyone.

    Like Joan of Arc, I believe my power comes from my complete freedom of male contamination. I am even shocked that lesbians would have sperm in their bodies to have a baby, that’s how hard line I am on all of this.

  79. Flores

    There’s so little reason for society’s focus on penetrative sex. Biology only mandates the practice for conception. So why do folks insist on it when not trying to make babies? I can only assume personal preference and patriarchal dominance issues.

    Reducing penetrative sex acts would reduce unwanted pregnancy and STDs, but almost no one takes the idea seriously. Folks respond with amusement, derision, and confusion. (I’ve attempted the argument a few times.) It’s abstinence or traditional intercourse. No other options.

    Note that some queer men do oppose the community’s insistence on anal sex. It’s not quite as bleak as you suggest, Satsuma. Various voices question the sexual status quo.

    I guess we’ve all been conditioned by the patriarchy to see only penetration as real sex. It’s deeply ingrained. I remember hearing a coworker complaining about how his girlfriend would give him a hand job but not a blow job. She refused traditional intercourse as well, because she considered it uncomfortable. The other males, of course, expressed sympathy. They suggested dismissing the woman’s aversion to penetration as a religious hangup and using science to convince her that the practice was healthy and fun.

    IBTP.

  80. Silence

    Penetration is seen as ‘real sex’ because it’s seen as something only the male gender can achieve. The penis is the special member belonging to the gender society has set up as superior, so therefore, if it isn’t being used to its fullest extent, it isn’t ‘true’ sex. And now, so I hear, it isn’t enough to surrender your vagina to them. Anal sex is being requested (demanded) more and more frequently. I suppose the more orifices the Magic Wand of Sex gets stuck into, the more thoroughly you’re dominated.

    And why am I in no way surprised that a group of men dismissed a woman’s dislike (on grounds of pain) to PVP as a religious hangup? Just the way of the world — if you’re a woman and don’t like PVP, you don’t like sex, and if you don’t like sex, you’re some kind of weird neuter creature that needs therapy.

  81. Cassie

    Still reading and thinking on this thread (that’s a good thing, right?). I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t like the “penetration is bad” blanket statements. If you don’t like it, definitely don’t participate in it. But some people do like it, at least sometimes. They’re not all bad or patriarchy-supporters or anti-feminist or even male.

    My vision would be of free choice of the participants. I realize we’re conditioned towards certain choices, but we can try to free ourselves from those expectations by trying out lots of other stuff and seeing if we like it better. And I don’t mean anal or whatever the next “frontier” is, of course. In a free world, I think I’d have a pie-chart of sexual activity with maybe 25% of penetrative sex, and a whole bunch of other stuff on there. But I haven’t given myself the freedom to have that choice, since the default whenever I was horny was usual straight sex. I think I’m going to give myself that freedom now, or at least give it a shot, and if it works I expect everything to be more fun for all concerned.

  82. Satsuma

    What if women really had control over the sex act they liked, and absolutely positively refused to do anything they were even a teensie weesie uncomfortable with?

    Now that would be a revolution!

  83. Bushfire

    “When men were left to their own insane sexual devices, we had a huge AIDS epidemic. Gay men have yet to fully comprehend that they were a part of consentual mass murder, when the cause of the disease became widely known. This is the U.S. version of AIDS. All because penetration kills!”

    This comment has the flavour of blaming gay men for AIDS. Maybe that’s not what you meant to do, but, just to clarify, gay men are not responsible for AIDS. In fact, all the people in power (politicians, doctors, what have you) who kept silent about AIDS and did NOT tell people how to protect themselves are responsible for the deaths of countless gay men. Gay men were involved in the epidemic, yes, as a large amount of the victims of homophobia and regressive sexual mores.

    “Penetration is something I would never ever do. No sex with men ever, and no dildos and dodads ever. Don’t know how many lesbians have this experience, but I believe that women’s power is to be completely free of this sort of thing.

    All penetration of women I think is problematic, and the male big penis obsession is amazing to behold.”

    This is an interesting idea. I neither agree nor disagree with your dislike of penetration, but it makes me think. I do think there is something very powerful about lesbian sex. I think it has something to do with penetration. My experiences of sex with men are that foreplay is just something you do in order to grease her up for the real game, and the real game only has a purpose of his orgasm. My experience of lesbian sex is that two people pleasure each other in any way each other wishes, and since there is no sexual script for lesbians presented by the dominant culture, they generally decide for themselves what to do without any outside influence. I think this is very empowering, and it definitely moves the focus from penetration to clitoral stimulation, but it can still involve penetration if that’s what she likes.

  84. Silence

    I’m certainly not saying penetrative sex is bad as a blanket statement. What I am saying is that penetrative sex being seen as the only ‘real’ type of sex is bad. Very, very bad and destructive to many a woman’s psyche.

    As far as I’m concerned, sex will only be free when there is no more patriarchy (that is to say, never.) Until then, it is certain to be based on a system that thrives on dominance and submission. With luck and foresight, a woman can choose a good partner and escape a few of them ramifications of this paradigm. But no one can escape it entirely. It’s the sea we swim in.

  85. Silence

    And, Cassie, the very idea that you describe penetrative sex as ‘usual straight sex’ speaks worlds. Please understand I’m not trying to insult you or denigrate your opinion, but please think about what it implies to lesbians or women who are comfortable with PVP if penetrative sex is ‘normal.’ At a stroke, all these women are rendered ‘abnormal’ which means that society as a whole has less need to concern itself about them.

  86. Cassie

    Hi Silence,

    please look at my comments above, especially responding to Bitch Esq., we’re on the same page.

    I was using the term “usual” ironically, actually, and I qualified it with straight, thereby keeping my queer brethren out of it. I should probably have used quotes, now that I think of it.

  87. Silence

    Hi, Cassie,

    Cool. Language is such a bloody awkward tool, isn’t it? Pity we have nothing else to communicate with.

  88. Jezebella

    My jaw is still agape. Satsuma, you’ve gotta be kidding me with this:

    “When men were left to their own insane sexual devices, we had a huge AIDS epidemic. Gay men have yet to fully comprehend that they were a part of consentual mass murder, when the cause of the disease became widely known. This is the U.S. version of AIDS. All because penetration kills!”

    Are you fucking blaming GAY MEN for AIDS? Are you out of your mind? What the….? Do you recall the 80s, when no one knew what it was or what caused it or how one might get it, gay or straight? It wasn’t *consensual” mass murder. NO ONE KNEW WHAT CAUSED IT for years. NO ONE KNEW how to prevent it for years. Blame the patriarchy, blame Ronald Reagan, blame a monkey in Africa, I don’t give a shit, but do not blame dead men for AIDS. That shit is just W R O N G.

    Cheezus H. Christ on a Cracker.

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