I really like a recent post from the sex-positive feminist blogger Holly Pervocracy, and I’m about to link to it. But before I do that, I want to note that in part of the post, Holly explicitly goes after a radical feminist blogger named Twisty Faster, who blogs over at I Blame The Patriarchy. (Holly’s entire post isn’t about Twisty, but part of it is.)
I have personally drawn a lot of insight from radical feminism, although I often disagree with radical feminists. And so, while I too feel frustrated and angry and hurt by misguided radical feminist attacks on sex-positive feminists, and while I agree with most of the points that Holly makes in her post … I just want to make it absolutely clear that I, Clarisse Thorn, notwithstanding being one of those evil “sex-pozzies”, respect radical feminism as a movement, and I respect Twisty Faster as a blogger. I have learned a lot from radical feminists, and I hope that we can find ways to make our disagreements productive.
So anyways, here’s Holly’s post. I struggled to figure out what to snip, because Holly says so much good stuff. I settled for snipping this:
Criticism of sex-positive feminism is often sexist.
A lot of criticism of sex-positive feminism is really criticism of sexy women. It’s hard to find a piece that isn’t dripping with disgusted descriptions of women who wear high heels and shave their legs and then they giggle and they act all flirty and give blowjobs, oh my God. And it’s hard for me to see the difference between this and plain old slut-shaming. It always seems undercut with the implication that sexy women aren’t just unfeminist, they’re icky.
If you treat sexy women with disgust and pity, you’re not protecting their rights; you’re just gleefully participating in their public humiliation. (You’re also often attacking them on a subject that’s highly intertwined with culture, class, age, and even body shape. Not everyone who looks “sexy” to you is doing it on purpose, much less doing it to serve the patriarchy.)
And you’re falling into the old sexist trap of judging women by their sexuality. A woman being sexy doesn’t make women part of “the sex class”; refusing to see a woman as a powerful individual because she’s sexy absolutely does. It says that her sexiness speaks louder than her actual voice, that who she is sexually tells you everything you need to know about who she is as a person. It’s hard to get more sexist than that. At least “Playboy” publishes little interview blurbs with their sex objects.
Sex still matters.
So these are all reasons that people who think it’s okay to call me a stupid cock-sucking bimbo under the guise of “feminism” are poopyheads. But what’s my reason for remaining a cock-sucking bimbo? Why do I think sexual freedom is important to feminism?
Well, for the long answer, see this entire blog. But for the short answer: because it’s impossible for women to be accepted as human beings if we aren’t accepted as sexual beings. If women’s dignity is contingent on our not being too sexy, we’re never going to have dignity. We have to accustom ourselves to the idea that someone can be highly sexual, publicly sexual, sexual in a way that we would totally never do ourselves because whoa… and still have dignity.
If there’s a secret motive to my making my sexuality public, it’s that I want to show someone can be sexual and also other things. I want to show that I can be sexual and also funny and interesting; I want to show that I can be sexual and also ornery and argumentative; I want to show that I can be sexual and also save lives and get colds and play with guinea pigs.
Finally, part of making life better is about making sex better. I don’t just talk about sex to say “HEY EVERYBODY I’M INTO SEX”; I talk about it in terms of promoting enthusiastic consent, promoting body acceptance, promoting the idea of finding out and coming to terms with your own sexual desires. I think having the sex life that’s right for you is an important part of being a self-actualized person. And I’m not going to avoid these discussions just because someone might think they’re titillating.
Awesome work, Holly. Read her post, please read it all.
Relatedly: A while back, I attempted to write a sex-positive feminist 101. It’s a work in progress and comments are always welcome.