Amanda, who has never been accused of knowing when to quit, has opened up the sex-positive feminist debate again, with a post about what she considers to be very revealing language on the part of a self-identified sex-radical feminist:
Feminists are just like any other women, with a range of sexual desires and practices from doggy-style to bukkake, and it’d be a shame for us to hold back in a misguided attempt to live up to the legacies of Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem. We can choose to be celibate or to have someone come on our face. Having a full range of sexual options should be a high-priority feminist goal.
I suspect that this woman is arguing against what she perceives as two different prohibitions here. On the one hand, there’s the idea that celibacy cannot be empowering or coexist with a full and feminist life; on the other, that certain sexual practices are by definition demeaning. Maybe I’m being charitable; maybe she’s representing these as extremes of “asexual” and “sexual” rather than two feminist arguments as described by their opponents.
Even if that’s true, Amanda is absolutely right to be annoyed by the two possibilities as presented, particularly since they’re the only two that make it into the writer’s thesis statement:
The full range of sexual options, from her examples provided, appear to vary from sporting a patriarchy-approved purity ring to sex acts that are about men humiliating women. Awesome. I feel so empowered. I hate to sound like a sex-hating strawfeminist, but when coming up with a bona fide full range of options, I’d like to at least imagine that there’s women who aren’t religious nuts or sexually submissive might enjoy. And not to sound like a man-hater, but it seems a little more fair if the range of options involves women who are dominating as well as men who are. She does include examples of men who like to be humiliated in bed, too, but otherwise, despite her claims to sexual radicalism, she avoids the larger issue of whose sexuality is actually considered a threat in this society—you know, the non-submissive sluts of the world.
In response to a commenter, she says this:
PR, wow. I couldn’t have been clearer. If you love getting your ass whupped in the bedroom, go with Jesus. But it would be nice if there’s room for those of us who don’t have a need for a woman to be in a submissive/humiliating position for sex to occur to also get to be included in the “full range”. The “full range” she allows is one where women are submissive or don’t fuck at all.
I’d say that people whose Sexual Political Correctness that says that I have to love getting spanked or have semen shot into my eye in order to be sexually “radical” are the ones who need to fucking open their minds.
I would also point out that this conflation is beloved of anti-sex misogynists, e.g. Doris Dawn. That philosophy works the equation from the other end, but sex and degradation are still inextricable for women. The only way a woman can be sexual is to accept sexual humiliation. Sex is inherently demeaning to women. Female desire outside of marriage involves being used by men; female sexual desire within marriage involves being used by men. So her phrasing is regressive in more ways than one.