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Feb 07 2009

Women’s Sexuality 2.0

brownreclusespider.jpg

As is my custom of a Saturday morning, I was just settling into a bell hooks essay [1], an aerosol waffle by my side, admiring from the corner of my eye the noble drooling countenance of my golden retriever Bert, when suddenly –

But wait a second. bell hooks has reminded me that I was, before my computer meltdown crisis threw me into a tailspin-cum-funk the size of Guam, about to declare war on this whole pro-sex/anti-sex/3rd wave/2nd wave/mix-n-match feminism-fight theme that keeps me awake at night. To wit:

In 1994 hooks published an anti-funfeminism essay wherein she explains that, within a feminist framework, being “pro-sex” is not the same as being pro-dudeliocentric pornulational prong-a-rama pole-dancin dick-suckin degrade-me-baby submission [2]. Being pro-sex, she says, means “mov[ing] away from sexually dead encounters with patriarchal men who eroticize exploitative power and domination scenarios that in no way embrace female sexual agency.” She envisions a sexuality that is both “liberatory and fun.”

But uh-oh. The feminist movement has failed to provide women with a blueprint for a sexuality that is liberatory and fun, i.e., not rooted in power politics. This is not surprising to the spinster aunt, since the only available blueprint for any human behavior is the one authored by a culture of domination outside of which it is prohibitively difficult, if not impossible, to exist.

hooks perceives that this lack-of-blueprint situation has engendered a fatal hitch in feminism’s gitalong, which hitch has pretty much invited the invention of funfeminism. She views the situation as a bi-componential publicity problem.

One: humorless, prudey, anti-sex, “ruthlessly dogmatic” white chick feminists have drowned out the radical “pro-sex collective.” Because humorless, prudey, anti-sex, ruthlessly dogmatic white chicks are so easily derided by Dude Nation, hooks says, they’re the only ones who get any press, so feminism as a whole gets a bad rap. “It is no wonder,” she writes, “that the public voices of puritanical, reformist feminism turn most folks off.”

Two: the pro-sex collective has not produced sufficient quantities of “counter-hegemonic evidence to disprove the popular sexist stereotype that women in [the] feminist movement are antisex and antimen.” This evidence would take the form of art, literature, and film, and would document the new women’s sexuality, currently defined only as “new, exciting, liberatory, and fun.” Presumably the world would then see what a feminist really looks like: a chick who digs sex (not dude-sex).

Thus has feminism more or less unraveled into this pro vs. anti dealio. Meanwhile, into the gaping void left by prude-silenced pro-sexers has shimmied, with stripper pole and Brazilian wax complete, the phallocentric antithesis of feminism: funfeminism. hooks refers to it by its 1994 moniker “new feminism,” describing it as a mass-media “marketing ploy to advance the opportunistic concerns of individual women while simultaneously acting as an agent of antifeminist backlash by undermining feminism’s radical / revolutionary gains.” She identifies funfeminism as a commodity sold to a public made queasy by the thought of a sexual dynamic that doesn’t fetishize oppression. It is “being brought to us as a product that works effectively to set women against one another, to engage us in competition wars over which brand of feminism is more effective.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: funfeminism isn’t a movement, it’s a consumer lifestyle, and it’s male-identified to boot. It appropriates the tired old patriarchal model, announces “I choose to be degraded, so shut your pie-hole!” and is rewarded with approbative dudely analyses praising its practitioners for having the sense to be antifeminist feminists. That it’s still raunchin’ strong 15 years after hooks lambasted it pretty much proves her point, that feminism got behind the 8-ball with this sex thing and just couldn’t recover.

Take note: hooks is not maintaining that feminism screwed up because it wasn’t sexay enough. She’s saying that, owing to race and class issues within the movement, it couldn’t cohere sufficiently to deliver an alternative to sexay that acknowledges that women can be sexual and human at the same time.

[What hooks doesn't mention in her essay -- perhaps because they were, in the pre-Palin days of yore, still under the radar -- is funfeminism's sister group, also rushing in to fill the gap left by unresolved contradictions within the feminist movement: the right-wing Bible-thumpin' anti-abortion pearl-clutchers. What a masochistic bunch of misogynists they are! Those who don't openly revile feminism in the public square often describe their women-hatin' ways as feminist. Keepers of the status quo reward this gang for playing virgin to the funfeminist's whore. But I digress.]

Well, enough already. Here’s my point at long fucking last: Pro-sexitude, as envisioned by hooks, is a radical feminist consummation devoutly to be wished. I am not entirely convinced that global acclimation to such a radically new (and to some, totally unpalatable) dynamic can be accomplished through art, but there can be no doubt that the concept of women as human beings — the nexus of any feminist view of sexuality — could really use some positive mainstream publicity.

However, in the event that art should fail as a feminist growth medium, I suggest revolution. A post-patriarchal society would, by definition, include Women’s Sexuality 2.0.

Anti-men is dumb. Anti-sex is dumber. But having sex with men, when doing so eroticizes your own oppression, is the dumbest thing ever. Women to whom feminism is important enough will make it a priority to run screaming from such dehumanizing encounters. And if they are bell hooksian enough, they will document themselves with a camcorder and put it up on YouTube (or whatever corner of the internet permits radical feminist video).

I was going to propose some suggestions for a new, exciting, liberatory, and fun sexuality, but I couldn’t think of anything except this:

Do it with girls!

I know. Not helpful. But what about this:

If your Nigel’s flaws include an antifeminist worldview — and I include under that heading the disturbing habit of flapping the covers around after farting in bed — dump him.

Like I said. Envisioning new, exciting, liberatory, fun sex is tough. When gazing beyond the suffocating perimeter of this oppressive patriarchy set-up — which set-up inflicts derision, violence, and loneliness on those who resist it — enlightenment and liberation are but mirages shimmering on a desert horizon.

Anyway, the really important thing I was gonna say before I got off on this goofy bell hooks tangent was: holy shit! There’s a brown recluse spider in my sink! It’s got six eyes!

__________________________
1. hooks, bell. “Power to the Pussy: We Don’t Wannabe Dicks in Drag.” Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representation. New York: Routledge, 1994. 9-23.

2. Ibid. “Talking Sex.” 73-81.

113 comments

7 pings

  1. incognotter

    Nice photo. But better your sink than mine.

    I am grossly unqualified to discuss liberation sexuality, so I will leave that to someone with a sex life.

  2. Amananta

    “One: humorless, prudey, anti-sex, “ruthlessly dogmatic” white chick feminists have drowned out the radical “pro-sex collective.””

    Except they don’t exist. They are a media construct. Are a few scattered individuals in all truth, anti-sex? I’m sure they are. But then you have people like me described by the above when it is not actually true.
    If there is an above contingent of white chicks who hate sex and are going to any length to stop people from having it in the name of feminism, I have yet to encounter a single one of them.

  3. JulieRuin

    I don’t think sexuality exists in binary.

    Great sex comes from intimacy, and intimacy can come from any gender. The first sexual experience I had with a woman was a little awkward because both of us were new to it, but still really fun because we loved each other and were comfortable around each other, and it felt really great.
    Great, not because we fucked each others’ brains out, but because we were actually paying attention to what the other person responded to.

    In conclusion, everyone is at least 20% gay.

  4. Anna Belle

    I support revolution and change through art mediums, including, or perhaps most especially, with television/movies. We’re always talking about male privilege, but we rarely talk about how male fantasy is what drives privilege.

    I’m not just talking about erotica and porn, either. Imagine, if you will, a Superbowl camera “manned” (heh) by a female. Instead of all the crazy fat dudes with painted chests and the hot chicks in hot pants, what would her camera linger on as she scanned the crowd? Whatever that is, assuming she isn’t tomgirled out via her experience training and working in that clusterfuck of maleness (not bloody likely!), that would be what female fantasy is. I think more examples of authentic female fantasy would absolutely change things. Getting to that authentic part is part of the problem, of course.

  5. palmtrees

    My nigel doesn’t do that (of course not – he says) – flap the sheets around I mean. But he did have the grace to laugh and say ‘Who on earth has written that?’

  6. Pinko Punko

    A great post.

    Let us discuss tangentially for one moment the possible deadliness of that spider. How deadly (scale of 1-10)?

    Doesn’t their venom rot your toe off or some such?

  7. Cimorene

    “If your Nigel’s flaws include an antifeminist worldview — and I include under that heading the disturbing habit of flapping the covers around after farting in bed — dump him.”

    WAIT! If my Nigel is indeed a fellow of the hooksian, paying-attention, anti-patriarchy variety, and I (radical feminist–or NOT?!?!) partake in such uncouth cover-flapping, does he need to dump me?!?!?! Crisis in the Cimorene Boudoir!

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Also I like what JulieRuin had to say about good, “liberatory and fun” sex–namely, that is mostly involves paying attention to the person with whom you’re doin’ it. Unfortunately, not all the girls I did it with were able to do so (of course, the same was true of me), so doing it with girls won’t solve the problem entirely. (It will probably help, though–just saying.) It’s too late for such a simple cure for most women, who have already internalized funfeminism’s obsession with degrading sex, and (in my experience) tend to view all sexual encounters through a complicated, double- or triple-mirrored gaze and end up mimicking the icky het sex we’re all trying to eradicate. We need to start schools or something.

  8. yttik

    I think women have to figure out how not to allow ourselves to be divided into all these little groups. We’ve got first wave, second wave, third wave, fun feminists, stay at home mothers, zero population people, pro-sex, no sex, “anti abortion pearl clutchers” etc, etc. We got stereotypes up the ying yang. And the patriarchy thrives on this! We’re divided into groups from day one and taught to criticize each other for our differences. Separate, divide, control.

    One problem I see is we’re tricked into constantly trying to define feminism. Is it man hating, pro sex, no-sex, liberal, stay at home, no kids, no marriage? I think it’s fabulous to discuss these things, what is patriarchy, what are the different aspects of feminism. But what I get concerned about is that the core principle of loyalty to gender always gets lost in the discussion. If women ever united simply because of our gender, the patriarchy would be history.

  9. Kate Dino

    Yay Yttik.

  10. polly styrene

    Fun and liberatory: Drugs and rock n’roll?

  11. Langsuyar

    Wait.. what? We should dump our boyfriends if they are douchebags?! Twisty, that’s a crazy idea! You clearly don’t know how wonderful he is, aside from the fact that he doesn’t think I’m human. I mean, if women went around not fucking guys that are douchebags, how would douchebaggy guys ever get any? That’s so not fair to them. They have a right to vag, too, the same right enjoyed by feminist men.

  12. TP

    1994? Holy shit. And yet, here we still are.

    I find it difficult to even define sex outside of the cultural construct, which is, from the male point of view, contaminated to the point of pure poison by the desire to represent sex as porn. So many people, who when they think of sex, think of porn, that you wonder if they are thinking sex or if they are thinking a representation of sex that gets them off that is defined and constructed from male oppression; and represented by dehumanized bodies pumping each other into orgasm.

    Since I have had sex both within and outside of a porn-informed construct, I can understand thinking sex is nothing but porn that happens to me, and understand that, once that has been imprinted in my response mechanism, it can lead to orgasms, which imprints one further with the idea that degradation equals orgasm.

    Thankfully I think I can have sex outside of a pornographic mindset, since that’s how I started and that’s how I’m wired anyway. This idea of a sexuality without oppression hasn’t been fully explored by feminism, because, let’s face it, women are being raped and murdered and abused in the name of sex so often that the enormity of the crimes outweighs any need to hold the hands of those who are frightened that they might miss out on a few orgasms if they fight for their own liberation.

  13. niki

    Wouldn’t that be swell if sexual attraction on a neurological level was something that could be completely re-hardwired by logic alone!

    I’m a fan of sex with men on a purely aesthetic and sensation-based level. However, it’s more of a scarce, random-style situation that manifests once in a blue bonobo than a practice – a setup I in no way lament due to, as you wittily chart them, the politics of heterosexual relationships.

    Amazingly and fantastically enough, it’s easier to shrug the ‘celibacy = death!’ mantra than the media would have you realize (the bastards). I mean, you don’t have to have sex with girls if you’re not having sex with guys. You don’t have to have sex with other people at all, and can still summon the Mystical Orgasm whenever you feel like it. Imagine that!

  14. TP

    I can imagine a sexual idea, like having sex with women, that de-emphasizes oppression: Have sex with younger men. No that such sex will lead to the kind of long-term mutual romantic love we’ve all been sold on. But the power dynamic can be quite different for a while, at least. If you can get to a boy before he’s seen much porn, so much the better. In any case, many boys still feel like older women are figures of some authority, and have a hard time understanding that they must oppress them.

    Not a fool proof scenario, but certainly a possibility. And one that is pretty much frowned upon by the culture in general, so there must be something to it.

  15. Anna Belle

    TP- it worked for me! My Nigel is five years younger.

  16. Lauren O

    If you can get to a boy before he’s seen much porn, so much the better.

    This probably would have worked better before the Internet came around. All the guys I know have been watching porn since they were 13 or 14. When I was 17-19, I dated a guy who was two years younger than I was (pretty much the youngest possible person anyone could date), and every aspect of our sex life (and a lot of our relationship in general) was based on porn. (Yes, it was colossally stupid, I’ve learned my lesson, I swear.)

    In fact, Boing Boing just clued me into this site, made by a woman who often sleeps with younger guys and got so sick of their reliance on porn tropes during sex that she felt compelled to make an entire website and TED speech out of teaching them that real sex has very little to do with what you see in porn.

    Younger guys are still probably more likely to be educated about feminist issues than older guys, though. And your point about the older woman as authority figure is interesting indeed.

  17. Nepenthe

    TP, this may be too personal a question, but how have you had sex, as you say, “outside of a porn-informed construct”? I’m having trouble conceiving of such a thing.

  18. pulltaffy

    TP- Me too! Mine is only three years younger, but was unspoiled by the pornification of sexuality, or at least as unspoiled as it is possible to be in our sexed-up society. I think you’re on to something, because without the baggage of the expectation of “what happens in porn will happen in real life” and/or “what happens in porn is an accurate portrayal of male/female roles” sex is, as Maude Lebowski puts it “a lusty, zesty enterprise.”

    And, as Twisty said, if your partner (male or female, I’d venture to say) is a knob, get rid of them. It seems simple but I think we all have seen and felt the pressure to be coupled up even when one’s significant other is sub-par. I wish I could say I’m surprised by this, but sadly I’m not.

  19. Twisty

    “Doesn’t their venom rot your toe off or some such?”

    Finally, somebody asks about the spider!

    The brown recluse has a very nasty venom that has been known to kill humans who are particularly sensitive to it, but usually it just causes your flesh to rot away for months and months, leaving nasty scars, requiring plastic surgery, racking up huge medical bills, etc. I’ve seen a horse with brown recluse necrosis and it’s one of the most disgusting things ever.

    A brown recluse is not what you want to see in your personal sink at 8 in the morning, about sums it up. The imagination starts to run wild, and you begin freaking out at every little spider you see for the rest of the day. I’ll be checking the sheets with a flashlight and a magnifying glass tonight.

  20. Laurel

    Much to my surprise, I wound up with a younger man as well; he’s 25 to my 31. Whether or not Lauren and TP are right that younger men are more hesitant to act oppressively toward an older woman and whether or not younger men are more likely to have been exposed to feminist ideals, I would make the completely unresearched claim that older women as a group are probably more clear with themselves and others about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors (for both themselves and others) within what is supposed to be a loving partnership.

    I know I certainly call crap on things much more vociferously now than I did at the tender age of 22. Part of that is that I’ve better developed my blaming skills, so I can now pinpoint what bothers me and why about a situation. Another part of it is that I have become very clear that I’m not willing to slog along and suck it up when I feel like a second class citizen. Not even if the dude treating me or other women like second class citizens “likes” me and thinks I’m smart and pretty. If honestly and constructively speaking my piece about feminist issues kills the relationship, then that relationship deserves to die.

    (Young blamers, please take that last sentence to heart.)

    For me personally, I don’t think it’s any mistake that I didn’t have a truly healthy and satisfying relationship until I was 29. Despite my general independence, it wasn’t until then that I decided on a bone-deep level I’d had enough of pandering to the big P. While some of us may feel we have to make some concessions and “do” femininity in the public sphere to one degree or another in order to increase our job opportunities or what have you, I think something is truly wrong if we are willing to accept dancing that dance in our private lives and most intimate relationships.

    Women’s oppression is a human rights issue that directly affects you. If your “life partner” is unwilling to stand with you and work to ensure that women get treated like humans…why are you still with him?

  21. Twisty

    “While some of us may feel we have to make some concessions and “do” femininity in the public sphere to one degree or another in order to increase our job opportunities or what have you, I think something is truly wrong if we are willing to accept dancing that dance in our private lives and most intimate relationships.”

    Nice blaming, Laurel.

  22. Stella

    What Laurel said.

    (Except 29 and 26.)

  23. Serene Wright

    The day I realized my erotic fantasies revolved around either a straight woman or a gay man being seduced or raped, I stopped being sexual all together. I think there’s something about erotising somebody’s oppression that is an inherent component of sex, at least for me. And, no matter what, the idea of sleeping with women has no appeal at all, so that’s out.

    Just to change the subject, have started seeing more and more articles where women claim that wife and motherhood are far more fulfilling than any feminist ideal could ever be. Are those of us who refuse to embrace our own oppression tilting at windmills where the rest of womanhood is concerned? We’re lucky to have the option to be this enlightened, but, I’m afraid we are a very thin minority.

  24. Lexie

    My Nigel isn’t perfectly free of oppressive male ideals, of course, but he is the closest to it of any male I’ve ever met.

    Here is what is interesting to me about him, though. He was raised on an island in a social democracy in Europe. The island is quite rural, and they grew up with three channels that had content controlled by the (some would say prudish) government. Second, he has been blind since the age of 11, so he is not bombarded visually in the same way as the rest of us are with all the sexualized and pornafied images.

    There are other factors, of course. I would say his father was more of the benevolent sexist kind of dad. Which, no…not perfect but still not a raging asshole, either. Also, his mother seems like a pretty staunch second waver. So, there’s that.

    But I have had problems with the previously mentioned vaginismus. And he is the only guy I’ve ever met who told me to just not have sex then if it hurts. And that if we never had PIV sex then it would be fine with him. Ironically, this is what finally led me to be the initiater of (non painful and ocassional) PIV sex with him.

    I still beat him over the head sometimes about how unaware he is about certain more subliminal patriarchal ideas. But he is aware of his unawareness, and it is as close as I can get (and closer than almost anyone I’ve ever met seems to have gotten) to kicking the patriarchy out of my intimate life.

    I settled for a lot of shit in my 20s. No more.

  25. Jonathan

    @Nepenthe

    “how have you had sex, as you say, “outside of a porn-informed construct”? I’m having trouble conceiving of such a thing.”

    This may not be the it, but let me relate one possibility for a more feminist sexuality:

    My S.O. and I have been together for six years. There have been no blowjobs, ever, and there was no pressure on her to have sex. I told her I would have been fine with a celibate relationship. That didn’t happen. We had vaginal intercourse a couple times at first, before she told me she didn’t like it, and we haven’t had it since. This was a no-brainer: when someone says that they don’t like a sexual practice, you ditch it from your lovemaking and try something else. Outside of the Patriarchy, this would be called sanity. It wasn’t a homewrecker, it was never even an “issue”. In fact, I would place the decision at a level of importance akin to picking what kind of mustard goes on my sandwich. I wouldn’t give it much thought if it wasn’t for the socio-political weight that the Patriarchy as attached to one’s private sexual practices.

    Instead, our lovemaking culminates with cunnilingus. Her orgasms are much bigger than anything I could ever achieve with my body in twenty years, and I think that is fantastic! This is because I love my S.O. and I am so happy for the joy I can give her. This is because sex IS better, and orgasms ARE bigger, when two people are relaxed, free, and safe enough to meet as human beings. Human empathy (that feeling men are normally forbidden from experiencing) allows men to share in a woman’s cosmic orgasm. Of course, the P really does not want anyone to realize that!

    The fact that most men think that sex has to revolve entirely around them (and their porn soundtracks), has to culminate with them (as they lack empathy for other humans), and that THEY MUST be the ones getting the most pleasure, is just puerile and disgusting.

    I know that the Dude’s way is not the way it has to be, and it is truly fucked up that couples can’t see past their rigid, un-intimate, and criminally anti-human sexual practices to realize that they can have better lovemaking by simply NOT doing what they are told they must be currently doing!

    Of course, overthrowing the culture and not having a porn-ruined guy is a prerequisite. I am so glad my dad didn’t keep porn around, or bring me to a strip club when I turned 16. My friend’s dad brought him porn for his birthday, and brought him to a strip club at his coming of age. He is serving in Iraq right now (although THAT is a whole other can of worms).

    The key lesson is that the P has been totally wrong about everything, from the economy to war to the bedroom, over and over again!

    Alas, I might be the exception that proves the rule, but I am not a fucking Nigel! And it needs to be said as many times as it can be proven:

    There CAN be a different way! From the bedroom onward!

    (PS. The brown recluse is my new personal nightmare.)

  26. KMTBERRY

    THe natural habitues of the Hill Country (Brown recluse spiders, scorpions, rattlesnakes, cotton-mouths, tarantulas, Black Wdow spiders, leprosy-drenched armadillos)(oh, and FIRE ANTS!!) are what convinced Daniel Johnston that Texas was “of Satan”.

    If we could just publicize it more, MAYBE we could stem the tide of newcomers a little..at least until it RAINS….for a solid year…or something.

    (aren’t we going to run out of water soon?)

  27. denelian

    on the brown recluse.

    we had an infestion, did not know we had an infestatiom until i got. an at first, i thought was just smallisg bug bit. by en NIYd of a 5day week, theb on me – thar visfewdr\s he BIT me, skin, in a roughlt sperial mannerm had turned SOMETHING nu, it started leaking BLACK. dont let it happen to you,

  28. VibratingLiz

    (Brown recluse spiders, scorpions, rattlesnakes, cotton-mouths, tarantulas, Black Wdow spiders, leprosy-drenched armadillos)(oh, and FIRE ANTS!!)

    Ha. What y’all refer to as “Texas” sounds like nothing more than a case of Louisiana Lite. Like a dryer, more temperate western annex with exactly the same creepy-crawly habitues, EXCEPT without the giant gluttonous swamp leeches, the killer attack alligators, the rabid vampire mosquitos, the Satanic flying roaches the size of Buicks, the frenzied Brazilian termites that swarm up through the toilets, or David Duke. Y’all got it easy.

  29. A Lurking Girl

    Nice post, Twisty. I’ve been working on removing dehumanizing sexual encounters from my private life for the past few months.

    It’s all boiled down to being insistent on just a few things, really: Don’t perform sexual acts that cause any, even a smidge, of discomfort. It’s working quite well for me! Insist on lots of nice skin contact, mutual pleasuring, and laughing. Laughing during sex is wonderful.

  30. Laurel

    I love when Liz comes to play.

    Yay, Liz!

  31. Alderson Warm-Fork

    What about female dominance/male submission? I know people have a lot of disagreements over BDSM, but I was surprised no-one’s talking about this.

    You might think that a liberatory sexuality would be purged of power dynamics. Quite possibly. But equal power associated with men and with women, power dynamics de-coupled from gender, seems to me a lot better than power dynamics that endlessly repeat one pattern. So F/m might be a transitional tool for breaking down patriarchal assumptions, that then fades away post-revolution.

  32. Twisty

    “Ha. What y’all refer to as “Texas” sounds like nothing more than a case of Louisiana Lite. Like a dryer, more temperate western annex with exactly the same creepy-crawly habitues, EXCEPT without the giant gluttonous swamp leeches, the killer attack alligators, the rabid vampire mosquitos, the Satanic flying roaches the size of Buicks, the frenzied Brazilian termites that swarm up through the toilets, or David Duke. Y’all got it easy.”

    I am pretty sure I would revel all day if I saw a killer attack alligator. From a distance.

    Some of you Aussies ought to chime in here. I understand that all reptilian and invertebrate life on your island is venomous and twice the size of my dog.

    Liz, are there those 6″ long, 3/4″ wide shiny black centipedes with the yellow legs? I have to say that, of all the critters that have found their way into my personal bedroom the past few months — a list which includes a baby cottonmouth, countless scorpions, and now, of course, a venomous spider — that centipede blew my lobe the furthest.

  33. Pam I

    So is the little pet still alive? Did you carefully pick it up in a mug and tip it outside in a place far away? That’s what I have to do with my (totally harmless tho with very many eyes) little visitors; despite my being very phobic, I don’t think they have less right to live than I do.

  34. Pam I

    Speaking of places very far away, here’s a great reason for keeping alive a woman who’s been in a coma for 17 years – she’s still able to breed. It must be true, the prime minister of Italy says he got a direct message from the pop himself.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/08/englaro-italy-vatican
    ‘Justifying his campaign to save Englaro’s life, the prime minister added that, physically at least, she was “in the condition to have babies” ‘
    Bit tricky to eroticise that process, except for very specialist dudes. I hope.

  35. speedbudget

    I wholeheartedly agree with everyone up post talking about how they only started having partnerships near 30. I think 30 is the magical age for us women.

    First, we start to become the ponocracy’s idea of “unfuckable,” which tends to free ya up. No more pressure to jack tits up to chin and paste on make up. So nice to go out and be comfortable.

    Second, around 30, you start to realize that the shit you’ve been putting up with is just that: shit. And if you don’t like shit, why are you eating it?

    In your 20s, there is tons of pressure on a woman to be in a relationship with a guy, any guy. Doesn’t matter if you’re miserable and he’s a bastard. You’ve got a guy. You’re a real person now. In your 30s, people start to look at you differently. You’re old and dried up now. No hope for you! So you actually have the freedom to look for someone who is right for you, not just right for being a guy that is with you. Plus, by 30, you’ve got your career track set, you’re making money and independent, you are fully capable of taking care of yourself, so fuck any guy who doesn’t measure up.

    And voila. You find the right Nigel. Mine happens to be a nurse. I fucking love that. He totally gets that I am a person. He gets the whole movement. We talk and argue and disagree and it makes both of us want each other more. He calls me on my shit, as I call him on his. It’s fucking great.

    The truth is, there is always something better floating out there around the corner. In my 20s, I didn’t get that. I thought I would be lonely forever if I didn’t just put up with this dude’s assholery. The thing I forgot is, I know 100% this relationship sucks. I got a 50/50 chance the next one will be better. Once I figured that out, I got what I was looking for.

  36. speedbudget

    Oh, and Pam I, if it can kill me or make my skin rot off, damn straight I am not going to try to deposit in in a jar and put it outside. I get a can of Raid and I kill the bastard. Just sayin’.

  37. undercover punk

    At the risk of being a humorless, dogmatic radfem, I think that this discussion of the spider trivializes the importance of the primary discussion. Twisty, is this a damn test or something? With all due respect to the OASIS that this blog is for me, unless there’s some relevant analogy to the patriarchy that I’m missing, I think spiders and other off-topic tangents would be best discussed as separate posts.

    Secondly, the suggestion that sleeping with younger men can get us closer to equality is completely ridiculous. Men, *as a group,* develop at intellectually slower rate than women, so specifically targeting “younger men” in your search for sexual or life partners is akin to *settling* (for something less than you are worth). Assuming that I am wrong about this, young men are no less affected by our patriarchal culture than older men.

    “In any case, many boys still feel like older women are figures of some authority, and have a hard time understanding that they must oppress them.”

    This may be true and/or it may phrased in a seemingly acceptable fashion, but does it NOT implicitly reference a reversal of the unequal power dynamic that we are trying to escape??? I mean, does sleeping with an inexperienced and ignorant person get us inherently closer to sexual equality?? Seriously.

    As a bi-sexual woman, the choice to life a lesbian lifestyle is a no-brainer. If a woman claims to be conscious of the many insidious ways that patriarchal dominance and oppression invades our everyday lives and our private relationships, AND feels any sexual attraction to women (and considering how the female body is so fetishized by mainstream culture, I really cannot conceive of any way NOT to internalize this at lease to some small degree), WHY would a smart, rational woman choose to sleep with men at all???? Unless you have found one of these unicorns like Jonathan, I simply do not understand.

    Lastly, even lesbian culture adopts the oppressive, dominating characteristics of the patriarchy and it too, makes my stomach turn. See http://www.cafepress.com/suburbanlesbian/157874

    (My partner and I have been together for over 8 years, so luckily this is not something that I have deal with at the moment.)

    I think Twisty was right no when she says:
    “…since the only available blueprint for any human behavior is the one authored by a culture of domination outside of which it is prohibitively difficult, if not impossible, to exist.”

    Nevertheless, asexuality and celibacy are not solutions. I think it’s better to fail trying than not to try at all.

  38. alphabitch

    I gotta say, I came here to IBTP at 1st for the varmint pics and stayed for the hot & spicy blaming action. And the tacos. The brown recluse pic is totally awesome.

    I only ever saw one up close & personal was once when I scooped up a spider on a file folder under a glass, took her outside to release (I was in a hurry) and only IDd her as she ran off onto the stone wall outside my door. Even then, I had no clue about the necrosis, etc., until I consulted my Field Guide to Venomous Varmints to confirm my hunch. I’m glad I didn’t know, because I’m not certain that I would have been able to kill a spider even if I’d realized all that before lifting the glass.

    And call me a man-hating lesbian all you want, but I think that the noble spider offers a valid enough model for women’s sexuality 2.0. Sorry, Nigel.

  39. Theriomorph

    Damn, Twisty. During the Brown Widow infestation of the VT mountain house restoration, I caulked the hell out of everything. It helped, but one or two of them still appeared every now and then. They can kill dog-sized critters right quick, those venomous critters usually non-fatal to humans: so I say kill it. Fast. And I see a clear link between flesh rotting spiders and pornified sex, so.

    Love me some bell hooks, and didn’t know this essay (bought the collection). Thanks for pointing it out & your usual scintillating scorn for the slime.

  40. Silence

    “Asexuality and celibacy are not solutions?” Sorry, undercover punk, I realize that this is the internet and other people’s posts are not to be taken personally, but that statement really chaffs my hide. I am tired to the point of exasperation by the ceaseless cry of ‘fuck or die!’ I hear echoing all about me every day, every time I go out or turn on the television. It’s a tool of the patriarchy, a meme that insists that you absolutely have to paired off to have any worth as a human being.

    Some people are naturally asexual. That means they have no desire for this fucking stuff in the first place and any attempt to shame them into getting a sex drive is akin to giving a gay person electroshock treatment to turn them straight. Other people may decide, after a few bad experiences, that they’re happy pursuing orgasms on their own. They can occur; in fact I’ve always found that I have much more success on solo flights than with a male partner that refuses to consider me as a human being.

    The word ‘failure’ should never enter into the equation. People must and should have the damned right to opt out of the entire sexual business if it pleases them and your part in the matter is to keep your mouth shut. Other people will continue to thread their way through the sexual jungle in the hopes of finding a caring partner. And everyone should be wished the best of luck, regardless of their choice.

  41. Cimorene

    “Ha. What y’all refer to as “Texas” sounds like nothing more than a case of Louisiana Lite. Like a dryer, more temperate western annex with exactly the same creepy-crawly habitues, EXCEPT without the giant gluttonous swamp leeches, the killer attack alligators, the rabid vampire mosquitos, the Satanic flying roaches the size of Buicks, the frenzied Brazilian termites that swarm up through the toilets, or David Duke. Y’all got it easy.”

    Lots of times people from the south tell me that they don’t know how I can live through 5 feet of snow blizzards, ice storms, losing power for a few days, and 50 mph winds whipping around the snow.

    But for serious, y’all. Snow doesn’t make my skin rot off. And I prefer sparkly precipitation to a freaking nightmarish land of critters just waiting to putrefy my flesh. That shit is horrifying. I can’t even handle spiring time ants or you average house spider without achieving near-panic-attack levels of fear and stress.

  42. delphyne

    Where is this radical pro-sex collective that Hooks speaks of? The only sex radicals I ever come across are ones who are into BDSM and pornography which aren’t radical in the slightest and you could pretty much argue are anti-sex given the focus on women’s pain rather than pleasure.

    She seems to be using patriarchy’s trick of blaming women for our own oppression – it’s not radical feminism’s (white or otherwise) fault that the backlash happened. The patriarchy engineered it. It’s not because we didn’t envision a blueprint sexuality that is “liberatory and fun” (is that a Hooksian way of saying we can fuck our way to freedom?). It’s because women continue to be raped and oppressed by men all across the planet. All we need for liberatory sexuality is for the rape to stop – rape of women, rape of children, rape of men by other men.

    Just to add the patriarchy is men. I find it really odd that a word that was used to describe the systematic oppression of women by men, has recently had that key ingredient emptied out of it. It’s almost like people don’t want us to name our oppressors.

  43. Twisty

    “All we need for liberatory sexuality is for the rape to stop – rape of women, rape of children, rape of men by other men.”

    Good point.

  44. figleaf

    It’s more insidious than you think, even if you think it’s really insidious: you use the word women ten times in this post. And girls once: “do it with girls.” Harder than it looks, eh?

    I totally agree about there really not being very many feminists who are really, truly anti *sex.* Anti sex with *men,* for instance, isn’t anti *sex.*

    Based on conversations and readings, though, I think a lot of push back against what people call “anti-sex” is really pushing back at what’s perceived as dictating what should or shouldn’t be done, or (gee, why does this example come to mind) calling a real, live, lives-in-my-neighborhood human being a toilet for not seeing it your way. But here’s the deal with that: wanting to dictate, limit, restrict, or otherwise rigidly control sex isn’t being *anti sex.* (Good luck with that “have sex with a girl” thing even though I know you really meant have sex with a woman — if the “ex-gay movement” is an oppressive lie and a scam I don’t see how an “ex-straight” one is going to do a better job. And even the flipping *ex-gay* crowd isn’t anti *sex,* they’re just *anti-LGBT* sex.)

    Anyway, by coincidence last night and this morning I was thinking something along the same lines you were and, I guess, bell hooks was too about how a) sex with incredible emotional and physical intensity is really, really great but b) the two main, standard models we have for that for heterosexuals are either Victorian high/poetic romance or Victorian BDSM. And, especially being Victorian, there’s really no place in those scenarios for women except holding the short end of the stick.

    Which is one of the cool things about bell hooks’s and your point about finding some other way to make sex do what it really ought to do, and *not* do all the stuff it’s really not made for — like validating egos, currying favors, accumulating points, getting anybody “lucky,” using up one of your “numbers,” “making” anybody a man or woman, etc. Loading down sex with all that crap means we mostly just think we’re having it.

    (And there *really* ought to be education and communication about generating that emotional and physical intensity thing without making it about who’s dominating and who’s submitting…. whatever their sex, gender and orientation.)

    One key, by the way, is in your advice to “do it with a woman.” Where the emphasis is on “do” and “with” and not the standard “be done to” or “do to.” Most people don’t ride *with* their horse, because a horse is an object to be ridden. You don’t drink *with* a glass of wine, because your glass of wine is an object you drink. On the other hand you don’t “lunch” human friends the way you ride a horse or drink a glass of wine. Humans *aren’t* objects so you have lunch together, *with* them. Same with sex. You don’t do it *to* things. You do it *with* other human beings. If you can’t do it that way then whether it’s girls or men or your horse it’s not sex it’s rape. (*If* you really want to do it at all, either this week or ever — hardly anybody ever acknowledges the 10-15% of men and women who don’t want to do it with girls *or* boys *or* women or men.)

    Without figuring all that out first your revolution isn’t going to turn out the way you want it. (See undercover punk.)

    figleaf

  45. Twisty

    “calling a real, live, lives-in-my-neighborhood human being a toilet for not seeing it your way”

    Would you be so kind as to tell me who, specifically, I called a toilet? Also where, and when. I have no recollection of this incident. I speak to real live human beings so infrequently I think I would remember something like that if it were not imaginary.

  46. Anna Belle

    Mine happens to be a nurse. I fucking love that. He totally gets that I am a person. He gets the whole movement. We talk and argue and disagree and it makes both of us want each other more. He calls me on my shit, as I call him on his. It’s fucking great.

    Mine is a nurse too. Except that you don’t discuss domestic labor retraining (which I’ve had to do with My Nigel), your relationship sounds like mine. Mine is a nurse because he’s incredibly smart, and has a) a very compassionate nature, and b) an aversion to exercising authority/aggression, which he sees as arrogant and destructive.

    I also liked your points about waiting until you’re older. I’ve been passively trying to suggest this option for my 15 year old daughter for her entire life, and it seems to be working. She sees her twenties as the time to get her life together for herself, and later she might consider marriage and adopting kids. She doesn’t want to have any. I’m incredibly proud of her for naturally developing this attitude (with my gentle guidance, of course). I had her when I was just 23, was a single mother for more than a decade before I finally married My Nigel at 36. Waiting was the best decision I ever made, and I felt incredible pressure to marry because of my status as a single mother. Overcoming that pressure was incredibly hard, and quite frankly heart-breaking. Becoming aware is a painful process sometimes, but is so worth it.

    As far as my sexual development, and bless you if you’ve read this far, I have actually been in pursuit of a healthy sexuality since my teens. Like a lot of women, I’m a survivor of sex abuse, and I worked my ass off during my teens and twenties to counter and overcome the effects. As a working class girl, my life has been sexualized from very early on, and I’ve had to overcome that. I was raised to join the sexual slaughterhouse that is working class femininity, and despite making many mistakes, I always instinctively “knew” there was a better way and sought it out.

    I got turned on to a lot of feminist literature at a very young age, too, reading shit like Sylvia Plath and Nancy Friday as a teen, and also reading a lot of recovery stories. I’ve got a weird knack for discerning trends, and I discerned at 20 that if I didn’t actively work on making myself a whole, healthy woman, I would end up like the women I was reading about, breaking open at 35 or 36 and struggling to catch up fast, or just giving up altogether. Exploring sexuality was a big part of that.

    Someone mentioned awareness of fantasy, and I had this experience too. Because of the Friday influence, I’d had a rich fantasy life pretty early, but at a certain point I realized that those fantasies where pretty fucked up. They usually involved strangers and were very porn-influenced. What can I say? Playboy was a staple in my childhood home; I was giving strip shows to little boys in my closet at the age of five. That’s a lot to overcome. I forced myself. I wasn’t about to give up masturbating, so I had to change my fantasies.

    Now forgive me for getting freaky, but female fantasy is pretty freaky in the context of the patriarchy. Intimate sex is hot, of course, but it’s not the only kind of hot sex. After years of training myself to fantasize about intimate sex, which paid off tremendously, I began explore other kinds of fantasy. I can’t believe I’m going to confess this, but wtf, it is a radical feminist discussion about women’s sexuality.

    I have developed a whole line of fantasies around–get this–a male prostitution service. And it’s not just a sexual fantasy. In my fantasies, all the guys are paid very well, doing exactly what they want to do, and protected from perform sexual acts they don’t want to, and from having sex with people they aren’t attracted to. They also understand that the enterprise is a feminist one and their job is to help women open up and ask for what they want. They receive A LOT of training before they begin, and I’ve created a whole fantasy world of de-programming rhetoric. Incredibly, I’ve had some amazing fantasy conversations with “my johnny” about the nature of permission and authority in sexual acts. Also, the sex is awesome. Heh.

    Maybe I’m crazy and am actually participating in more patriarchal fantasy, which I’m sure someone will pipe up and say here soon enough. It is prostitution, after all, but I like to think of it as sexual therapy and training for how to isolate sexual satisfaction out of the whole bag that is the sex experience.

    Anyway, I suppose that’s an overdose of Anna Belle on this Sunday, but dang it Twisty, you’re so provocative!

  47. Lovepug

    I tried Funfeminism, and it just left me with a waxy, yellow build-up.

  48. Daisy P

    Oh man…..these people are just sitting waiting, for hours, waiting for the next installment of Twisty Towers. I just can’t compete with that so will have to settle for being blamer no. 678 yet again.

    What I did, over a period of about 3 years, with the Internationl Smeg-oid of the Year/s, and during which time I did decide that it was time to don my BIG Feminist Hat yet again (the evolution since, well, for the sake of staying on topic here- the mid-nineties), and it was dawning on me, that no, the forces of Commerce were just not going to leave feminisim alone, that they had well-and-truly hi-jacked it, and were very successfully selling back to us, what I did, with Smeg, was this……

    At every opportunity, I let rip with him, told him I was not having porn-sex with him, and, when he’d try to coerce me, I would tell him it was rape, only slower and more insidious, told him where to stick it when I got the lies about how he hated porn, and just tried to partly educate him, and partly punish him for being a Smeg-azoid.

    This, in fact, became so impossible to keep up, from a sheer energy point of view, it was just no do-able any longe, and I finally threw him and his smeg-encrusted genitalia to the provervial wolves. But, I did make him think. For awhile. This strategy is only for the super-healthy, and not for the faint of heart.

    But Hooray for the Funsters of Fem!! We have become both the product AND the consumers!! Three cheers, oh hell, 33 cheers for making Feminism FUN as defined by market forces (translation: men, many pornographers, and many just men, in it to make a lot of money).

    Ps…. I have considered “going with wimmin”, but, I do know I am not homosexual, I have also not entirely shrugged off my oppressive porn-sex conditioning (I mean, what is that? I’m so conditioned, I don’t entirely know what that is, and yes, it would be nice to have something to hang onto culture-wise in this respect), so…. I would “bat for the same side”, however,even the Fun Fems are calling part of this new liberation, “lesbianism” (go on try it girls, your man will love it…oh, go on, at least be bi). This lesbianism seems to be in a lot of the porn that hetero men look at. I wonder if they really are lesbians??? I mean they look so much like the straight porn performers. Could it be something orchestrated as part of this new fun liberation movement?? Surely not!

    So, that is why, if you are still awake, and even I am having trouble keeping track of what I’m saying, that is why, I just tell men to shove it where the sun don’t shine keep their stinky smegness, and I have no sexual contact with anyone, as I am sure that whatever I chose to do, it would be tinged with male-power and control, somewhere along the line. Fuck me! I mean, no don’t!

    I have never been happier!

  49. Daisy P

    Dammit…2 typos…I could swear I double-checked that FFS.

  50. Laurel

    Undercover Punk:

    Asexuality and celibacy may not be “solutions” to the problem of oppressive sex constructs, but I don’t think they’re necessarily reactionary behaviors, as your characterization implies. Truth is, they are find and dandy lifestyles for some people.

    Sex is sex is sex. There’s nothing inherently magical about it, as Silence alludes above. Intimacy and love aren’t dependent on sex, and not everyone has a rip-roaring sex drive. Some of those people who don’t have strong sex drives choose to have sex anyway. Others of them don’t.

    Either way, I think if the Extreme Importance of Sex got deflated a bit culturally, a whole lot of people would be better off for it. Perhaps the motives for having sex would be more autonomously determined. And if that’s not a move towards sexual liberation, I’ll eat a brown recluse. (Though here at the Casa de Laurel, it’s the black widows we have in abundance. And the bark scorpions.)

  51. a Nigel named Dave

    I’m an Aussie, and while it is true that just about everything here is venomous, the spiders aren’t particularly evil — at least on this side of the country (the West), in the East they have funnwelwebs that pretty vicious). Here we just have redbacks, which are fairly poisonous, and I got bitten by one of those once. Unpleasant testicle pain like I’d been kicked there, and while I did get treated at a hospital, still made me sick for a week. So, in my personal experience, avoid being bitten by spiders.

    I’m a man in a relationship with a woman. I don’t have an anti-feminist worldview (and I don’t do that cover flapping thing), and I try (not always 100% successfully) not to be a douchebag. And I really do try to find that exciting liberatory sex you speak of. Engaging intimately with an equal appeals to me a lot more than eroticised oppression. My point is it isn’t just dudes who have their brains saturated with pornoriffic imagery, and you know, that shit really does get in, leaking into the lowest levels of our sexual psyche. Learning to only have sex in a fully liberated, fun way unbesmirched by creepy patriarchal imagery is something that is difficult for many feminist women, even with the right partner (male or female), and more difficult for men than that. When we’ve been bombarded with imagery since childhood, of course some of it is going to leak into our personal sexual respons. Twisty is right — we have deeply internalised the patriarchy blueprints just by having grown up within a patriarchal culture, and trying to expunge it from our sexual responses can be a big task, and while finding a non-douchebag partner is a good and necessary start, it really is just the beginning of the task.

  52. Hedgepig

    “asexuality and celibacy are not solutions”

    What Laurel and Silence said. I think it’s interesting that people define their sexuality by which sex acts with whom get them off, but no one’s allowed to say “I’m an onanist.”

    There’s this assumption that an orgasm you have alone is necessarily inferior to one with another person, or indeed, just sexual contact with another person. In my early 20s I had a friend who was attractive to men and had been having sex since she was 15 and had never had an orgasm. I was a virgin with zero male interest in me, and had been having spectacular orgasms alone since about the same age. Guess who we both thought was the success and who was the failure?

    There are so many ways to connect with other people and have meaningful intimacy with them without genitalia being involved at all. I don’t think sex has anything to do with intimacy. Sexual desire is an appetite. I’m sick of seeing it elevated to the status of emotions like affection and love.

  53. thebewilderness

    Nevertheless, asexuality and celibacy are not solutions.

    Works for me.
    Also, what Hedgepig said.

  54. Cunnus

    ‘There are so many ways to connect with other people and have meaningful intimacy with them without genitalia being involved at all. I don’t think sex has anything to do with intimacy. Sexual desire is an appetite. I’m sick of seeing it elevated to the status of emotions like affection and love.’

    I second that!

  55. Pinko Punko

    This is almost as scary- (from wikipedia)- sometimes they think you have a brown recluse bite, but instead, it’s just a garden variety flesh eating bacteria.

    “In fact, many wounds that are necrotic and diagnosed as brown recluse bites can actually be Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)”

    The fact that the two are comparable says a lot I think.

  56. not a dudetiful wife

    as far as doing it with girls, I think sexuality has to be not so much a choice, because if it were so, I’d probably be gay. There are many more women that really like women than men that really like women. Don’t get me wrong, though, there are women that are really haters of their own sex. If only there were a switch….
    I get a big kick out of the “pro-sex” feminists, because it doesn’t seem to be about more pleasure or more orgasms for them or more acceptance of their own bodies and sexuality, but for the performance for men and their ability to expose and pose themselves with daring. Especially sad the youngest women who don’t even know that oral sex has a meaning beyond blow job on a man. To make demands on a man to met your satisfaction doesn’t make you popular. But when will they see it makes you powerful? To measure yourself totally on the angular lift you create in a penis seems to be how they measure their empowerful power. Not their own pleasure.

  57. Twisty

    “In fact, many wounds that are necrotic and diagnosed as brown recluse bites can actually be Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)”

    I have an MRSA story — you can only catch this in hospitals, where I’ve spent some time — but it’s too gross and embarrassing and would violate the Spinster TMI Clause.

  58. Pinko Punko

    Considering the Twistian travails that have been detailed in this space without fear or societally determined modes of “modesty” my mind reels at the possibilities. However, I would certainly hope that the MRSA menace has been eradicated. Sometimes when I see MRSA I think “MRA” and both can be filed in the pernicious bin.

    Even in the absence of MRSA or brown recluse, certain ulcerating wounds can be simply insane. Like having a little window into your limb that refuses to close. A good friend had one and was threatened with 6 months of daily treatment in the Michael Jackson chamber. Yikes.

  59. Sylvanite

    I would love to see the development of a model of sexual behavior that transcended the dominance paradigm. I can barely conceive what it would look like.

  60. Twisty

    “I would love to see the development of a model of sexual behavior that transcended the dominance paradigm. I can barely conceive what it would look like.”

    It is not available to the current generation. Pornography has to be eradicated before the model to which you allude can exist; its practioners must needs be unexposed to eroticized dominance and submission.

  61. Hedgepig

    “It is not available to the current generation”

    This is true. And why I think we all should keep our genitals to ourselves, reproduce via the turkey-baster method and then teach the resulting off-spring that there is no connection between “making babies” and “sexuality”. That would eliminate the “it’s natural” clout currently wielded by heteronormative sex, and open up lots of healthy alternatives.
    Of course we would have to keep our offspring away from mainstream culture entirely.

    Easy peasy.

  62. TP

    Nepenthe –

    When I was a young boy having sex, porn was something rare and difficult to come by, believe it or not. I can’t claim ever having sex innocent of porn, but I can claim that porn didn’t construct my ideas of sex the way boys today grow up.

    I certainly always had sex within this patriarchal structure, but it was a time – the mid seventies – when feminism was strong and the influence on me very strong indeed, because of my being raised by a single mother who herself had a strong dominant mother. My patriarchal influences were weak and mostly silent, except my dad, who treated me so terribly that I never saw him as anything but a model to avoid.

    Sex was, for me, a matter of falling in love. That’s what it was to me, more than anything – this mystical experience that would be all rainbows and starshine and what have you. I believed fervently that the best sex would be sex with someone I loved, and that’s how I made love – the physical understanding of doing it mostly came from the feminist classic “Our Bodies, Our Selves”, which we all studied in secret.

    I had a lot of anxiety about sex because back then there was a clear idea in the culture that men who didn’t perform up to snuff for women would be rejected. A lot of the damage done to women since then in the name of style and the furtherance of porn culture is so horribly obvious to me that I can hardly believe it at times.

    So that’s what I’m talking about. It’s an exaggerated claim perhaps, but still with a foundation in my true self.

  63. TP

    I have to add that, as I grew, and became more and more exposed to porn ideas, I willfully engrained them into my consciousness through the practice of masturbation. After becoming more enlightened by the common sense ideas of radical feminism, I started to realize that all my fantasies had some element of coercion to them, no matter how subtle. I had explained this to myself as the need to have lust take us over, both male and female, but it was still completely removed from the kind of love that I had dreamed about as a teen.

    I think that once these ideas are embedded in your brain they are almost impossible to dislodge.

    I also believe that real sex will happen far less frequently than is currently ideal. Sex outside of a porn-centric culture will happen only when arousal is true, not when it is triggered by the fetishization of dominance or the tropes of degradation. And I think it will be really fantastic, because nobody will feel used afterward – even by their own responses.

  64. Nepenthe

    TP-

    Wow, that’s actually kind of beautiful.

    I don’t know whether it indicts more my individual borked-ness or the accelerating pornulation of our culture, but by the time I started masturbating as a wee bairn in 1995 my fantasies all revolved around me being tied up and forced to do… something. I grew up sufficiently sheltered that I didn’t fully understand the mechanics of coitus until 13 and definitely at 7 had not been exposed to any sexual content, pornographic or otherwise. Was the culture in my ’90s so much different than yours in the ’70s

  65. Jonathan

    @Alderson Warm-Fork

    “What about female dominance/male submission? I know people have a lot of disagreements over BDSM, but I was surprised no-one’s talking about this.

    “You might think that a liberatory sexuality would be purged of power dynamics. Quite possibly. But equal power associated with men and with women, power dynamics de-coupled from gender, seems to me a lot better than power dynamics that endlessly repeat one pattern. So F/m might be a transitional tool for breaking down patriarchal assumptions, that then fades away post-revolution.”

    BDSM, even women-dominant BDSM, still legitimizes one of the prime evils of Patriarchy: the social/moral/sexual/etc. dichotomy imposed on equal human beings.

    To quote Dworkin:

    “In considering male intellectual and scientific argumentation in conjunction with male history, one is forced to conclude that men as a class are moral cretins. The vital question is: are we to accept their world view of a moral polarity that is biologically fixed, genetically or hormonally or genitally (or whatever organ or secretion or molecular particle they scapegoat next) absolute; or does our own historical experience of social deprivation and injustice teach us that to be free in a just world we will have to destroy the power, the dignity, the efficacy of this one idea above all others?”
    (Andrea Dworkin. Part III TAKE BACK THE DAY. Biological Superiority: The World’s Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea. 1977.)

    I just can’t see how utilizing the same old Patriarchal narrative of superiority/inferiority, even to a lesser degree, can be liberating.

  66. Jonathan

    @a Nigel named Dave

    “When we’ve been bombarded with imagery since childhood, of course some of it is going to leak into our personal sexual response.”

    @TP

    “After becoming more enlightened by the common sense ideas of radical feminism, I started to realize that all my fantasies had some element of coercion to them, no matter how subtle. I had explained this to myself as the need to have lust take us over, both male and female, but it was still completely removed from the kind of love that I had dreamed about as a teen.

    I think that once these ideas are embedded in your brain they are almost impossible to dislodge.”

    No, the shit can be dislodged.

    Porn gives you a switch in your mind that takes your ability to feel, empathize, and care about other people, and turns it into a 24/7 quick-fast oppression-fueled orgasm cue.

    To dislodge that hideous propaganda programming, you gotta re-learn empathy, REAL empathy! You have to feel the pain that half of the species lives with. You have to remove the blinders and see, all the time, the violence wrought behind the makeup and heels.

    There are many ways to do this. For various reasons not related to porn, I volunteered for awhile helping sexual assault survivors in emergency rooms. One effect of my work was that it effectively killed porn brainwashing for me. I can’t even look at a Bebe ad now without getting nauseous. I still have flashbacks to what I saw in the ER, and they keep me from ever becoming a pornified monster.

    Guess I was lucky that real empathy wasn’t beaten out of me when I was a boy.

  67. Alderson Warm-Fork

    @ Jonathan:

    “I just can’t see how utilizing the same old Patriarchal narrative of superiority/inferiority, even to a lesser degree, can be liberating.”

    I can see where this is coming from, but if no change in the conditions of oppression ever made liberation easier, then we’d be fairly screwed. A lot of history looks to me like a succession of things that destabilise oppression while still working within it. For example, work is generally a horrible activity under current conditions – soul-grinding, exploitative, deadening, etc. Doesn’t mean that women moving into the workforce didn’t strengthen them as a group. Similarly, it’s not obviously absurd to attach some importance to Clinton’s presidential bid, even though it would mean her taking over the role of imperialist-in-chief.

    And the Dworkin quote you mention seemed to be entirely about making the “one idea above all” of roles being essentially tied to and rooted in gender. What I mentioned, however vaguely, was about de-coupling roles from gender.

  68. Breeze

    It all comes down to the same old patriarchal propaganda. Women’s sexuality is for men’s sexual pleasure and no way must women demand or expect men to actually listen and respect what women want and desire sexually. All women are the same according to Patriarchy and all women desire/want/need penis in vagina sex because this is supposedly ‘real sex’ under patriarchy’s definitions. Vaginismus does exist but it has been conveniently conflated with patriarchy’s claim that any woman, whether she is heterosexual/bi or whatever does not want to be penetrated by the mighty penis is supposedly suffering from a pyschological illness and in dire need of ‘fixing.’

    In an ideal world it would be accepted as normal for women to say ‘no to penis in vagina’ and have it accepted. Women would not be coerced, pressurised or pathologised as being prudes, frigid or even suffering from sexual dysfunction, because ‘sexual activity’ would not be phallocentric.

    Likewise it would be accepted as normal that not all men want/desire or need to have their penises thrust into a woman’s body because not all men are the same.

    But it is very hard to get men’s and women’s ideas of what supposedly comprises ‘real sex’ to change. Individual men and women can negotiate with their partners if their partners are willing to listen but that is very different from the dominant cultural definition of what supposedly comprises ‘real sex.’ Now of course the backlash is very much dominant and women are being sold a pup by claims catering to men’s sexual desires and supposed needs ‘empowers them.’ Pornography is not revolutionary or edgy instead it is more of the old patriarchal lies and oppression being sold to women and men as a group are avidly believing it because it reinforces their notion of male sex right to women.

    So, what this means is no woman is pathological if she has no desire or wish to be penetrated by any object or penis. Likewise some women desire and like penetration – fine nothing wrong in either view but Patriarchy does not want that because this would give women equal sexual autonomy with men and we can’t have that can we? So we have this male professional claiming to ‘fix women’s problems’ by inserting botox into their sexual organs. This is just another variation on patriarchy’s claim ‘real sex = penis in vagina otherwise real sex has not occurred. For more than a century women have been told, ordered and counselled for not adapting their bodies to accept penis in vagina as the real sexual act. Male medical professionals, male sexologists and self-help books on overcoming supposed female sexual dysfunction have all been enlisted in promoting patriarchy’s propaganda. So, we must ask ourselves why is there so much emphasis on what supposedly passes for ‘real female sexual expression’ when it is always phallocentric.

    Penis in vagina is basically a reproductive act and yet so many women do not want to become pregnant so what happens? Why it is women who take birth control pills and it is women’s bodies which are subjected to various birth control methods because no way must the patriarchal myth ‘real sex = penis in vagina’ be de-centralised and reduced to just an option of which there are many. More importantly women are expected to submit to painful penetration because the more they do, the more they supposedly get used to it. Patriarchy says, ‘pain = pleasure because women’s bodies are innately masochistic and without pain there is no pleasure.’ I blame patriarchy and it is time we saw through the coercion, pressure and threats – because human sexuality is not about one person enacting domination and control over another individual who has to ‘submit’ because she is seen as not human according to patriarchal definitions.

  69. undercover punk

    First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere apologies to any people who felt offended by or defensive of my assertion that “Asexuality and celibacy are not solutions” to sexual oppression. I honestly meant no offense to any individual persons. This is the greatest sounding-board of feminist philosophy on the internet and it is my great intellectual pleasure to participate in it. Thank you for calling me out.

    Asexuality, according to the all-knowing internet, is defined as one who does not experience sexual attraction. This is not a choice. Celibacy is a choice. And choosing celibacy when the only known alternative is oppressive or otherwise emotionally harmful experiences and relationships is *clearly preferable.* However, when she chooses to sexually pleasure herself, I wonder whether one is consciously choosing celibacy or is passively experiencing asexuality (no attraction to another object)? Is asexuality the *absence* of sexuality or is it sexuality with no object of desire (possibly, besides the self)? It seems to me that some kind of “sexuality” is present when a person engages in sexual stimulation with themselves–if so, what is that sexuality called? Self-professed asexuals, please help me understand.

    Regardless of my understanding and whatever the response may be, I shall now speak only to celibacy.

    I still cannot agree with the idea that instructing or suggesting to women that they eliminate sex from their lives is a solution to sexual oppression in general. Abstinence is a sure-fire way to AVOID or prevent sexual oppression on an individual level, but it s not a cure.
    (Again, it may be the lesser of many evils under individual circumstances and it is undoubtedly preferable to empty and/or harmful sexual acts with others. As such, I make no judgment about those who make this deliberate decision after evaluating their personal situation, external conditions, and available objects of desire.)
    Further, I don’t believe it is possible to extricate sex from its cultural context, which is why *I* conceive of celibacy as reactionary–and in many cases, reasonably so!

    HOWEVER and at the same time, women canNOT allow others to own sex and to define it entirely. I wonder if we aren’t, by implication when we refuse to engage in sex at all, acknowledging its great power? I mean, if sexual acts are capable of making us feel so horrible (oppression, domination, shame, etc.), doesn’t it stand to reason that sexual acts are also capable of making us feel good as well, that they might be able to offer some redeeming benefits to us? If we refuse to engage in sex at all (even with each other–ahhh!!), we are denying ourselves an experience that offers unique emotional and physical pleasures.

    Personally, I have had sex, and envision in an ideal world, the purpose of sex as getting us closer to the *pre-existing* exchange of love between people. Our culture has elevated, glorified, and bastardized “sex” beyond reason. I believe the true purpose of sex is to facilitate and augment the authentic human emotions of love, connection, and intimacy (the only reasons to attempt human relationships, sexual or otherwise, in the first place!). I do not believe that this physical act, especially when involving another person, can be removed from emotion (good or bad). In my experience, they are entirely inseparable–though others may disagree.

    Finally, I’d like to echo TP’s prediction that in an ideal world, when sex is simply an act that serves to make us feel “happy” and connected to another being,

    “…real sex will happen far less frequently than is currently ideal. Sex outside of a porn-centric culture will happen only when arousal is true, not when it is triggered by the fetishization of dominance or the tropes of degradation. And I think it will be really fantastic, because nobody will feel used afterward – even by their own responses.”

    This ideal is what we should strive for. Engaging in sexual acts is a personal choice, not a human necessity. For those of us who want and choose to engage in sexual acts with others, we should ONLY have sex with others who appreciate and respond to our desires in a positive way–whether male or female, young or old.

    Oh wait, one more thing, oftentimes it is only during or after-the-sex-fact that we realize our decision to participate in a sex act has caused us emotional harm–this is what I consider to be an *unsuccessful* attempt at sexual equality and empowerment. *Failure* is a similar term, but I acknowledge that implicates an element of “personal responsibility” that renders it inappropriate for usage in a discussion of female sexual activity. I was hasty in choosing that word. My sincere apologies.

  70. Natalia

    If a woman claims to be conscious of the many insidious ways that patriarchal dominance and oppression invades our everyday lives and our private relationships, AND feels any sexual attraction to women (and considering how the female body is so fetishized by mainstream culture, I really cannot conceive of any way NOT to internalize this at lease to some small degree), WHY would a smart, rational woman choose to sleep with men at all????

    I think ladies are as nice to look at as the fellas, always have, but sex with the former just doesn’t appeal to me. I like what was said about this “ex-straight” thing – it’s just as pernicious as teaching an “ex-gay” lifestyle. This isn’t to say that I think sexuality is static, people figure out new stuff about themselves all the time, but you can’t turn it into a conversion cause, and I don’t think you ought to suggest to another woman that if only she was “smart” or “rational” enough, she’d ditch heterosexuality.

    Speaking about the gist of this piece – I think what epitomizes “fun” or “liberation” in the bedroom (in the living room, kitchen, backyard, changing booth at Dillard’s, however you roll) changes for everyone over time. Relationships ebb and flow, and sex itself can be radically different from year to year, even week to week.

    Power dynamics themselves are a strange thing, depending on which angle you’re looking from. Domination isn’t the only component, there is also trust.

    When I asked myself a few years ago – “Natalia why is it that you always ask for thing A way more than, say, for thing B, especially if the former is generally defined as submissive?” – I realized that I enjoy being vulnerable with someone who I trust won’t take advantage of my vulnerability. As someone who goes through life waiting for people to pounce on her, it makes even more sense.

    I think the problem is – society still by and large defines sex as something that is done “to” women. Women are defined as passive and blank, and female desire is this “mysterious” and amorphous thing that individual women shouldn’t get to define on their own terms. And the fact that PIV intercourse is seen as the only “real” sexual activity is just the tip of the iceberg.

    /no comment on the funfeminism from this funfeminist (she is tired, and her cats have been screaming to be fed ever since she sat down to type this comment).

  71. Sarah

    Have you read “Female Chauvinist Pigs?” Sort of fits right in with your description of the anti-feminist ‘i’m so emancipated I can degrade women right along with boys’ thing you are writing about, in part, here.

  72. Silence

    No offense meant or taken, undercover punk, and I’m always glad for a debate.

    I don’t know what the current, official definition of ‘asexual’ is according to Wikipedia or whatever, but in my books, it has always meant someone who has a very slight or nonexistent sex drive. There are people in this world to whom an orgasm is about as exciting and desirable as a sneeze. In fact, I remember Twisty once posting that the same brain cells are triggered in both these activities.

    A celibate is merely someone who has, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently, decided to hold off ‘having sex’ — whatever that definition may be. And I believe that celibacy, done in a thoughtful way, is the most empowering choice available to women.

    First, society does put a lot of pressure on women to ‘have sex,’ which mostly means PVP intercourse with a male partner. Masturbation does not count, and indeed if you admit to it in public, unless you are sure of your audience, you’ll probably soon find yourself being routinely shamed. Women who are single, completely single face constant subtle (and not so subtle) shaming until they submit. Just ask yourself: why is there a term ‘old maid’ and no corresponding one for the male gender? You’ve all already figured that one out, of course.

    But if you can get past the insistence on ‘fuck or die,’ you’ll very quickly come to realize that you can gratify your sexual urges on your own. If you need a fantasy of dominance/submission to bring yourself off rather than just being able to enjoy your body’s responses, perhaps that is a clue that there is something in your head that you should get straight before you attempt a relationship. Celibacy need not be permanent; it can be a period while you look for a partner who sees you as a person. Personally, I’ll be damned before I’ll shag someone who doesn’t see me as a fellow human being. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt, burned it along with my bra.

    As I’m sitting here typing this, I’m wondering if ‘celibacy’ should truly be considered as such if you’re capable of achieving sexual gratification solo. Should celibacy be defined as a person who refuses to attempt any sexual gratification whatsoever and need there be another term for those for seek it by themselves? Because people who wish to experience sexual pleasure but are incapable of achieving it outside of a relationship probably do need a little therapy. They’ve probably been subjected to some form of sexual shame during their lives (well, who hasn’t?) and need to come to terms with it. After all, your body is YOUR body. It’s an unholy fuck of a sad situation when someone feels other people are entitled to play with it but they themselves are not allowed to.

    No, there’s just no good solution in today’s world. Until the revolution, we’ll just have to muddle along as best we can and try to fling out lines of support to one another. With that in mind, I truly wish everyone here joy in their relationships and, for the rest, joy in their lack of a relationship.

    Now I’m off to read a book, pet my cat, and eat a dark chocolate bar with cherries. Better than sex any day, in my opinion.

  73. AdmirerofEmily

    “Some of you Aussies ought to chime in here. I understand that all reptilian and invertebrate life on your island is venomous and twice the size of my dog.”

    Ok here goes:

    Redback spiders (they named my favourite beer after them) white tailed spiders, black snakes, brown snakes, sea snakes, bluebottle jellyfish, drop bears, box jellyfish, stone fish, cone shells, dingoes, crocodiles, magpies in spring, sting rays, funnel web spiders, ticks. Have I missed anything? Oh … sharks. Grey nurse sharks, great white pointer sharks.

    And, I wasn’t going to tell this story cos I thought it might freak people out too much. But seein as y’all asked… just last week I heard tell of 10cm long centipedes (that’s about 4 inches for you imperial folk) on an island way up north, close to Indonesia. They are killing bats. What they do see, is they climb up the bat cave walls, then HANG OUT OFF THE WALL AND WAVE AROUND, until a tiny, unspuspecting bat the size of your big toe flies past and WHAMMO, they bite, they eat.

  74. AdmirerofEmily

    Oh yeah, and emus and kangaroos can land a nasty punch too.

  75. Spiders

    AdmirerofEmily, you left a few out there; Fred Nile, Tony Abbott, Dave Hughes and all The Chaser Boys.

  76. AdmirerofEmily

    o well, if we want to go there: Steve Fielding, Bill Heffernan, Peter Costello and The Footy Show. But there is a near endless list of course

  77. ZoBabe

    Back to the spider:
    Personal anecdote: Once in a dank dark room in SF, I sprouted a small blister on my leg. It quickly transformed into a rather disgusting canker, that festered for what seemed like forever (two or three months at least). I was not otherwise ill, and all medical testing revealed no nasty diseases that would cause such a thing.
    It eventually cleared up, and left a nice round scar that looks like nothing so much as a 22 caliber bullet wound (I joke about changing the story to gun fight in order to sound cooler).
    It has been speculated that it could have been caused by one of those (if it were a really little one, maybe).
    Not sure exactly how to BTP for that one. I’ll work on it…

  78. undercover punk

    Silence, I think we’re on the same page with asexuality, if not celibacy! See Jocelyn Elders re: masturbation. She was so right, society was soooo wrong. Luckily, we here at IBTP are enlightened. There ought to be some term for the self-loving person who chooses NOT to share her sex with another person. It clearly does not exist, therefore, it is ripe for the defining! Let’s DO IT!!!
    …………………………………
    Next, Natalia, thank you for addressing my question about bisexual feminists sleeping with men. This is my favorite topic. I am strongly committed to a paradigm of women-loving-women, which I shall address shortly, but first I must clear this up:

    You said,
    “…I don’t think you ought to suggest to another woman that if only she was “smart” or “rational” enough, she’d ditch heterosexuality.”

    I did *not* say that if you were smart or rational ENOUGH, you would not participate in heterosexuality.

    I did, however, QUESTION the *motivations* of feminist bi-sexual women (bisexual to any degree) for having sex with men, in general. Let us discuss.

    To begin, an important underlying assumption of this debate is *whether sexuality is constructed.* If you agree that is, let’s continue. Even if you don’t, but you agree to having some attraction to the lovely female, let’s continue.

    We here at IBTP, we blame the patriarchy. We acknowledge the insidious nature of the patriarchy and the many subtle ways that it CREEPS unwelcome into our daily lives, our personal relationships, our thoughts, our unconscious desires, and our very measures of SELF-worth. SO, assuming this understanding of the patriarchy’s power AND assuming your bi-sexuality (such that is is), WHY would anyone consciously, deliberately, voluntarily *seek out* and/or *focus on,* for one’s sexual gratification or romantic partnership, a person (male) with whom it is inherently MORE difficult to achieve and maintain an equal power dynamic with?!? Why would one hold-out for the lone enlightened unicorn of a truly feminist-minded man that you might never meet?? Why *wouldn’t* you shift your focus to females as the reasonably agreeable object of your sexual or romantic desires?? That is my question.

    Now, let us assume that sexuality is NOT constructed. It is a natural, biological, immutable attraction that rarely (though occasionally, I will concede) manifests itself as a desire for purely one “type” of object (i.e., 100% straight or 100% gay). What *degree of intensity* would one’s uncontrollable/ involuntary sexual attraction to men have to be to outweigh the rational desire (even intellectual and emotional need) for a sexual and/or romantic relationship that acknowledges your full humanity as a woman? How *strong* would that attraction have to be??

    You say:
    “I think ladies are as nice to look at as the fellas, always have, but sex with the former just doesn’t appeal to me.”

    Just doesn’t appeal to you, huh? Do you think that a woman can’t give you an orgasm? Do you think that a woman can’t LOVE you? What aspects of heterosexuality/man-sex appeal to you so overwhelmingly that having sex with a woman is, by comparison, unappealing?

    You also said:
    “I like what was said about this “ex-straight” thing – it’s just as pernicious as teaching an “ex-gay” lifestyle. This isn’t to say that I think sexuality is static, people figure out new stuff about themselves all the time, but you can’t turn it into a conversion cause…”

    I could not possibly “convert” those who are already attracted to women. Conversion has nothing to with it. Consciously, rationally, deliberately recognizing and subverting an oppressive ideology and its corresponding lifestyle does.
    ……………………………………………………..
    As I stated from the get-go, this is one of my favorite topics. I am passionate about it, but I am also sincerely interested in discussing it. In my current mindset, heterosexuality for the self-aware bisexual feminist does not compute. Please help me understand. I will read and consider your response with an open mind. Seriously.

  79. Inkling

    “In fact, Boing Boing just clued me into this site, made by a woman who often sleeps with younger guys and got so sick of their reliance on porn tropes during sex that she felt compelled to make an entire website and TED speech out of teaching them that real sex has very little to do with what you see in porn.”

    Big problem with that site. It’s patently obvious that she is still heavily influenced by the patriarchal domination/subjugation model of sexuality and is, therefore, inadvertantly continuing to advocate pornulated sex. The first porn vs. real sex lesson I encountered declared that in “real sex” “some women like to have their faces cummed on, some don’t”. NO! That is just more of the same oppressive pornulated crapola masquerading as an authentic sexual “choice”. Cumming on faces would never happen in a post-patriarchal world. Spewing spunk on any body part is like planting a tiny, slimy flag of conquest on a woman’s body (VENI, VICI! May The Patriarchy Live Long And Prosper!). Especially the face, which is about as degrading a sex act as you can get.

    I had to leave that site in a hurry before my head exploded. Great concept, terribly misguided execution.

    Despite the repeated assertions to the contrary in this thread, I don’t think it’s all that difficult to distinguish between non-pornulated, egalitarian sex and the stuff that glorifies the dom/sub dynamic. Real sex is about passion and sensuality, you feel connected on more than just a physical level. It’s always fun, there’s plenty of laughter, lots of smiling, deep and meaningful eye contact. It never hurts, it’s never uncomfortable, it never leaves you feeling cheap, used, or with a nebulous sense of unease. Events unfold naturally, there is never an element of coercion, everyone feels respected and cared for. There is an abundance of caressing, kissing, gentle murmuring. You feel like your partner is completely in sync with you. It should leave you feeling like your spirit is on fire.

    Don’t accept cheap imitations; life is far too short for that sh**.

    “Celibacy need not be permanent; it can be a period while you look for a partner who sees you as a person. Personally, I’ll be damned before I’ll shag someone who doesn’t see me as a fellow human being. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt, burned it along with my bra.”

    Amen, sister! I made that vow to myself years ago. My bed is strictly off-limits to any man who can’t demonstrate a profound admiration for myself and my gender. There are more than enough fun and inexpensive toys on the market to tide me over between high quality lovers. Self lovin’ is infinitely preferable to the emotionally detached, flesh-pounding, pornulated sleazefests that pass for sex these days.

  80. Valerie

    There’s a what on your what? Jesus, don’t those things kill you? They always told me in grade school that those things would kill you, so don’t get near ‘em.

  81. undercover punk

    Naturally, I’ve continued to think about the question of bisexual feminists choosing or preferring a heteronormative lifestyle, and seeing as how I continue to agree with myself, I just thought I’d come back to say that I don’t ask anyone to justify their *individual situation.* I responded specifically to Natalia’s comment, but I raise the question because it’s one that I’ve struggled with for over 10 years. It’s a question that I think we should have a more open dialogue about.

    If we are able to ask ourselves, as Natalia does: “Natalia why is it that you always ask for thing A way more than, say, for thing B, especially if the former is generally defined as submissive?” then allow me to substitute sexual/romantic encounters with a man for *A* and *B* is those same acts with a woman–its the same line of reasoning. And not one that I think is or should be beyond the scope of our bisexual feminist questioning.

    My ultimate point, if I may blame the patriarchy, is that maybe rejecting a heteronormative lifestyle on its most fundamental level by *instead* participating in a woman-loving-women lifestyle and ALL of the associated social (externalized) stigma that said lesbian lifestyle is inextricably encumbered with, that maybe this is MORE terrifying than the reality of a heterosexual relationship including all of *its* patriarchal complications (internalized). Maybe.

    I’m just saying….I mean, asking.

    (I’ve said it before, but let me just say it again as a crucial caveat to this question, lesbians are in NO WAY inherently free from eroticizing the nasty patriarchal dichotomy of domination/submission. They’re just more *likely* to view and treat their fellow woman as an equal…or at least as a full human.)

  82. Elizabeth

    Great discussion, especially when the smart people like Twisty chime in. The porn paradigm is in the way, and must go.

    But I really wrote to tell all of you with critter horror stories that you make me so glad I live in the frozen north of Wisconsin. Nothing I can’t handle up here. I used to envy your warm weather, but my heart is probably not strong enough for any of Twisty’s arthropod or arachnid encounters.

  83. Natalia

    Hi Undercover Punk!

    I dedicated an entire essay to your question!

    I hope you (or anyone else reading_ might find it useful.

  84. thebewilderness

    I suggest people, like myself, who have a fairly active sex drive but are not aroused by, attracted to, or interested in, having sex with anyone else might call ourselves idiosexual.

    Celibate used to mean unmarried, but now it seems to mean not having sex at all. I suppose it has to do with priests having to give up running brothels and all that.

  85. undercover punk

    thebewilderness, I must confess that I was initially perplexed, but upon investigation into the meaning of IDIO as a prefix–

    idio- (id?? ?, -?)

    one’s own, personal, distinct idiomorphic

    Etymology: Gr idio- L suus, his, her, one’s, OE swæs, beloved, own

    –I must agree, IDIOSEXUAL is an excellent suggestion for this brave “new” world of self-loving sexuality!

    Any objectors? Supporters?

    The call has been made.

  86. undercover punk

    SORRY!!!

  87. thebewilderness

    I beg your pardon, undercover punk, what are you apologizing for?

  88. Hedgepig

    “Idiosexual” has a nice ring to it. What do we think of “metasexual”?

  89. Inkling

    “I suggest people, like myself, who have a fairly active sex drive but are not aroused by, attracted to, or interested in, having sex with anyone else might call ourselves idiosexual.”

    OK, but what’s a good term for someone who is aroused by, attracted to, and interested in having sexual relations with others, but since current prospective lovers aren’t quite up to standards of boinkability, they take it upon themselves to tend to their sexual needs sans a partner?

  90. madeleine

    undercoverpunk, pray tell me, who are you to define the way you like it as the only ‘real sex’? Aren’t you maybe a bit patriarchy-influenced in describing getting other people’s fluids on the face as ‘degrading’?

  91. Twisty

    “Hi Undercover Punk! I dedicated an entire essay to your question! ”

    Goddamned internet! Always disencrapulating the human condition by providing the framework for lively discourse between people with disparate backgrounds who would otherwise never know each other. Pfui.

  92. undercover punk

    thebewilderness, I apologized because I cut & pasted the
    “idio” definition and all this CRAZY html programming crap showed up & I was afraid that I’d messed with the mysterios inner-workings of the bolg–luckily, everything seems to be working just fine now. I couldn’t delete my “SORRY!” after I wrote it.

    I think we have another vote for IDIOSEXUAL!!

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    madeleine, I have yet to broach the topic of fluid on other people’s faces–maybe you meant to address someone else. I don’t expect to going anywhere near that topic, actually. I enjoy the philosophical discussion of what we should be ASKING ourselves in regards to our sexuality, NOT what is the right or wrong *manifestation* of that sexuality. Questions are for public discourse, how you answer those questions is necessarily and inseparably informed by the personal.

  93. madeleine

    Oops, undercoverpunk, I’m totally sorry about that. My comment was meant for Inkling.

  94. undercover punk

    No prob, carry on!

  95. bonobobabe

    I think it’s interesting that people define their sexuality by which sex acts with whom get them off, but no one’s allowed to say “I’m an onanist.”

    I love that! I might start calling myself that. And I agree with your entire comment, Hedgepig.

    But I also love thebewilderness’ idiosexual. That’s also a cool term.

    Onanist is more shocking, of course, b/c of the religious context. But idiosexual sounds very clinical and scientific.

  96. buggle

    Uh, madeleine, do you really think that women just “naturally” love it when men cum on their faces? You don’t think this might have anything to do with, say, the patriarchy? Seriously?

  97. Lar

    “It’s like a dog marking its territory. You know, why do dogs pee on fire hydrants and trees? I don’t know. It’s just like a man will leave his mark on a woman. You see something beautiful, you’ve got to let them know you were there.”
    -Pornographer Brandon Iron, explaining why men like to ejaculate onto women’s faces

    I think it has everything to do with the Patriarchy.

  98. Nolabelfits

    Ugh. Thanks, Lar. Now I’m really depressed.

  99. madeleine

    Buggle, I don’t think “that women just “naturally” love it when men cum on their faces”, I just wanted to assert that getting other peoples’ fluids on your face isn’t ALWAYS degrading, as Inkling insists. As soon as the association with “conquest” etc. is absent, as in a relationship of equals of whatever gender, it can be just part of all the fun and games. I’m not saying that happens very often, just that it isn’t impossible.

  100. Inkling

    “…I just wanted to assert that getting other peoples’ fluids on your face isn’t ALWAYS degrading, as Inkling insists. As soon as the association with “conquest” etc. is absent, as in a relationship of equals of whatever gender, it can be just part of all the fun and games. I’m not saying that happens very often, just that it isn’t impossible.”

    Yes, it is impossible. And any man who gets his rocks off by “defacing” you with his ejaculate does not view you as his equal.

    When feminists talk about mainstream pornography as the graphic representation of rape, and sociologists proclaim that over 80% of mainstream porn contains misogynistic content, which sex acts do you think they are referring to? I’m not pretentious enough to assert my opinions as irrefutable fact. I’m not voicing my opinion when I declare “facials” a degrading sex act. What I’m doing, in actuality, first and foremost, is parroting what 3/4 of the men I’ve discussed this act with say they like about it. Let’s just say I’ve had occasion to ask more than a dozen men, and have read the testimonies of countless others, why the facial appeals to them. They like it *because* it’s degrading (yep, some men really are bold enough to come right out and say that, or it makes them feel like “manly men”, or brings out their “inner caveman” — same diff; it’s all about the domination factor). There is a small minority who are either too ashamed to admit the truth, or haven’t bothered to analyze their motivations, who metaphorically shuffle their feet and stammer that they like it “because it’s sexy”. “Because it’s sexy” is not a valid reason for performing a sex act. There’s always an extant intrinsic quality of the act that causes it to be “sexy”, and any person who can’t articulate their motives either doesn’t want to confront the shameful truth, or they’ve been brainwashed by pornography to the extent that they’ve lost touch with their sexuality and are, instead, substituting some sleazebag misogynistic dickwad pornographer’s jerk-off fantasy for it. In fact, this is the primary reason I no longer date men who use porn. They have no sexuality, they’ve forgotten what it is (if they ever knew what is was), and are merely, mechanically, acting out a mental repertoire of risibly tacky, violent, degrading, dull, passionless scenes they’ve passively absorbed and memorized thanks to their addiction to sleazebag pornographers’ jerk-off fantasies.

    But I digress. Let’s talk about facials and why they are fundamentally degrading (aside from the fact that men like them for that reason). The facial is an act historically weighted with symbolism, having its origins in the Japanese practice of bukakke, which is a quaint cultural ritual performed by a loving husband for the sole purpose of punishing a disobedient wife. If the patriarch of the family wanted to put the little woman in her place, show her who’s boss and why she should never forget that, “defacing” her with your semen was the way to go.

    Pornographers, being the notorious woman-hating shit-for-brains asshats that they are, always on the prowl for some new misogynistic trick to add a little novelty and spice to their productions, plumbed the depths of history and discovered the creative gem of sexual degradation that is bukkake. After what I imagine was a marathon circle jerk of epic proportions celebrating the discovery of yet another fun and inventive way to stick it to those uppity bitches who think they deserve to be lavished with frivolous luxuries such as “respect”, they incorporated bukakke into their (ah, I can’t say it with a straight face) “scripts”, it quickly caught on and became a pornographic meme infecting the male populace and serving, like all fun misogynistic tricks, as inspiration for “trying something new” in the bedroom.

    Because the symbolism of the act is not readily apparent to the half of the species that has been conditioned to conflate the domination/submission paradigm with normal male/female interaction (except to well-trained rad fems and social scientists, who can spot a needle of misogyny in society’s haystack from 50 yards), women have been duped, once again, into participating in their own oppression.

    “These chicks are our natural enemy…It is time we do battle with them…What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart.” –Hugh Hefner

    “Women are here to serve men. Look at them, they got to squat to piss. Hell, that proves it.” –Larry Flynt

    “I’d like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women. I firmly believe that we serve a purpose by showing that.

    The most violent we can get is the cum shot in the face.

    Men get off behind that, because they get even with the women they can’t have. We try to inundate the world with orgasms in the face.”
    – Bill Margold, porn industry veteran

    “Men hate you.” –Twisty Faster

  101. Twisty

    ““Men hate you.” –Twisty Faster”

    Actually, the credit for this concept goes to Germaine Greer, who famously wrote “women have no idea how much men hate them.” She complains that she is oft misquoted. Guilty!

  102. Twisty

    Oh, and I’m with you with the degrading symbolism of the icky stuff to which you allude.

  103. Inkling

    “Actually, the credit for this concept goes to Germaine Greer, who famously wrote “women have no idea how much men hate them.” She complains that she is oft misquoted. Guilty!”

    Oh, yes, I’ve seen the Greer quote, but you know what they say about great minds. I didn’t necessarily think you were paraphrasing her so much as expressing the same revelatory thought in that unique grab-and-shake-you-by-the-shoulders Twistified way. I won’t repeat that particular quote if it makes you uncomfortable, however. No probs.

    “Oh, and I’m with you with the degrading symbolism of the icky stuff to which you allude.”

    I had a feeling you would be! *grins* You know, the historical significance of the facial (isn’t it clever how the woman-haters slyly branded this particular misogyny-laden bedroom trick with a name that evokes luxurious pampering? The pig rats), the historical significance doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that men are enjoying it because it allows them to feel that the right and natural patriarchal order of the universe has been restored (though most would verbalize it as “feeling like a man”, or “a stud”, or “masculine”, but it all comes down to exercising power over your partner using your dick).

  104. SoJo

    Its strange to have to tell someone that a facial is degrading….seems obvious doesn’t it? Would the man trying to give you a facial enjoy the experience of it himself? I think that should be the rule when you date men, ask them to do all this stuff first and see how they like it.

  105. madeleine

    Inkling, thank you so much for denying and devaluing my experience and reality, instead of being curious how any association of “conquest” can be removed from sex. But then, how did I not realize that discussion is useless with people who define what must be “real sex” for everybody without exception – hey, just now I saw a discussion about that phenomenon somewhere near, might it have been on this blog?

    You write: “I don’t think it’s all that difficult to distinguish between non-pornulated, egalitarian sex and the stuff that glorifies the dom/sub dynamic.” I completely agree with you there, it’s easy. For me too.

  106. delphyne

    Once again, there’s always Solanas:

    “Sexuality: Sex is not part of a relationship: on the contrary, it is a solitary experience, non-creative, a gross waste of time. The female can easily — far more easily than she may think — condition away her sex drive, leaving her completely cool and cerebral and free to pursue truly worthy relationships and activities; but the male, who seems to dig women sexually and who seeks out constantly to arouse them, stimulates the highly sexed female to frenzies of lust, throwing her into a sex bag from which few women ever escape. The lecherous male excited the lustful female; he has to — when the female transcends her body, rises above animalism, the male, whose ego consists of his cock, will disappear.”

    Maybe the whole concept of “sexuality” is a patriarchal trick to keep our minds off other things, like the fact that men won’t stop raping us.

  107. CoolAunt

    Its strange to have to tell someone that a facial is degrading….seems obvious doesn’t it?

    Just a couple of weeks ago, while visiting a woman I recently met through a mutual friend, she and another of her friends just had to show me the funniest graphic that yet another woman had sent to them via cell phone. What they just had to show me was an animated gif depicting a man slapping a woman across the face with his pornulation-sized penis.

    Upon seeing the graphic, I turned away with a wince and told them, “That’s awful. The sexual humiliation of women isn’t funny.” The room went so silent that for about 30 seconds you could have heard a pin drop. You would have thought that women would know this, too, but their silence and the glee with which they showed the graphic to others who joined us later is proof that they didn’t know that then nor do they believe it now.

    Incidentally, I’ve since been informed that those women have decided that they don’t like me after all. I’m not surprised by this. In the few years since I’ve discovered radical feminism, I find myself being disliked by more and more people, especially other women, believe it or not, usually and ironically due to my defense of women. Go figure.

  108. nobodyinparticular

    Not fucking is the easiest and most natural thing I’ve ever done.

  109. Rebekka

    “Some of you Aussies ought to chime in here. I understand that all reptilian and invertebrate life on your island is venomous and twice the size of my dog.”

    Oh yeah. We’ve got snakes that kill you, jellyfish that kill you, scorpions that kill you, spiders that kill you, fish that kill you, crocodiles that don’t just kill you; they eat you, and centipedes, wasps, bees and ants that might not kill you, but will certainly make you hurt.

    Most of them are a lot bigger than your dog. And did I mention the drop bears?

  110. Inkling

    “I think that should be the rule when you date men, ask them to do all this stuff first and see how they like it.”

    Better yet, ask them what their ideal sex partner is like before you even get to the bedroom. That will clue you into what sort of guy you’re dealing with. Watch out for telling adjectives like “open-minded”, which is patriarchal code for “will do any pornulated crap I suggest”.

    Even better yet, date a guy who doesn’t use porn. A) You’ll know that he’s in the very least a decent soul who has actually spent some valuable philosophical time developing an ethos, and, B) You’ll know he’s self-disciplined because he’s successfully conquered one of the most common addictions known to dudekind. Oh, and, C) You’ll know he isn’t sex-addicted (porn usage keeps people in an artificial state of hyperarousal, which can, and often does, lead down all sorts of nasty alleyways).

    **********************************

    “In the few years since I’ve discovered radical feminism, I find myself being disliked by more and more people, especially other women, believe it or not, usually and ironically due to my defense of women. Go figure.”

    That comes as no surprise at all to me. Atheism helped prepare me for feminism. I’ve occasionally been treated like I’m infected with a deadly pathogen by those of the Christian faith, and I’ve never done anything to elicit this reaction aside from actively choose to disengage from religion. It’s as if my very existence threatens to turn their world upside-down. I don’t have to say a word; I might be the friendliest, least confrontational person in the room at that moment. And yet, the cognitive dissonance can get so thick, you could cut it with a spoon. Fear of exploring the niggling doubts and incongruities quickly turns to anger, and that anger gets projected onto me. I become the living representation of the emotional chaos that follows in the wake of a life-altering revelation about reality. The status quo is familiar, it may hurt sometimes, but not nearly as much as the acknowledgement that everything you’ve believed about life and humanity since birth is a lie. It’s no different being the only feminist in a room full of unenlightened women. You may as well be carrying a deadly and highly contagious disease.

  111. Inkling

    “Inkling, thank you so much for denying and devaluing my experience and reality, instead of being curious how any association of “conquest” can be removed from sex.”

    Oh, no, I did not deny or devalue *your* experience and reality. I am fully cognizant of the fact that the “facial” has a distinct meaning for you separate from its inherent meaning. To put it another way: If I’m eating mint chocolate chip ice cream and decide that it tastes nothing like that to me, that maybe it tastes more like pineapple orange ice cream, my experience is that it tastes like pineapple orange ice cream. That doesn’t change the fact that I am, in actuality, eating mint chocolate chip ice cream. I fully respect that your experience is your own. I’m not trying to tell you how *you* perceive this sex act, I already know how you perceive it and I respect that there is a rationale behind the significance you’ve attached to the act, and that you’ve probably spent some time thoughtfully constructing a rationale that appeals to you. I respect that your rationale is important to you.

    Yet, here you are, on a rad fem blog, talking about facials, and you had to know where that discussion was going to lead.

    Now you know the history of the facial, you know why pornographers include it in their work, you know why men get off on it, and so maybe you can begin to see that there is a larger cultural context in which this act exists that already defines the act. If you want to point at a knife and call it a shoe, that’s your business, but you should anticipate some strange looks from those around you, and please don’t expect them to start calling your knife a shoe because it would make you oh so happy if only people would validate your right to call a knife a shoe. The facial already has a meaning, that meaning is sexual domination/degradation. If you don’t like that meaning, you are free to tell yourself any story you want about it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are allowing yourself to be dominated/degraded.

    Quick: What does the idiom “in your face” mean? Why is it an egregious insult to throw something in someone’s face? Now, if you’d like, you can choose to walk up to a loved one and throw a glass of water in their face as a gensture of affection — that is entirely your business. Don’t forget to tell them that you are “removing the association of insult” from the act of throwing water in someone’s face, and so they should accept your new definition unquestioningly.

  112. madeleine

    Inkling, please do read again what I wrote. That is not what I was saying at all. I completely agree with you if it is a so-called facial, which is meant to be degrading. I was just overreacting to your:
    “The first porn vs. real sex lesson I encountered declared that in “real sex” “some women like to have their faces cummed on, some don’t”. NO!”
    And your strict definition of “real sex”.
    I agree with your intentions, but not with your words.

    Some people may like to play and roll all over each other, without any “gentle murmurings”, it may accidentally become uncomfortable or painful, and both may get their fluids on each others faces. You are defining that as “not real sex” by the whay you choose your words.

    In these discussions it is important for me to be clear about which part of a practice is evil and which possibly neutral part is used to do evil.
    As the Buddha would say: It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

  113. Foilwoman

    I’ve linked to this post in my blog. If that’s not okay, just tell me so and I’ll delink.

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