Feminism | Posted by Katherine C on 09/24/2010

Sexual Autonomy (A Request to Fellow Feminists)

Dont We Deserve More Options Than This?

Don't We Deserve More Options Than This?

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot- on the FBomb and elsewhere- about the “conflict” between promiscuity, “self-respect,” and feminism. I won’t pretend that it hasn’t disturbed me. My first though is always a knee-jerk, “We have more important things to worry about than how we handle our own personal sexualities!”

When I read feminists expressing what I see as a very self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude regarding “overly sexual,” “promiscuous” women and how they are “hurting the feminist movement” (don’t they have any self-respect?! Why can’t they put on some goddamn underwear?! They are objectifying themselves, and giving the patriarchy permission to objectify womenkind!) I literally cringe at the control-freakiness of it all. But I likewise cringe when feminists write of the “self-empowerment” of pole-dancing, participating in orgies, giving blow jobs, and on and on and on (you have to liberate yourself! Ditch that puritanical second-wave shit! Women are sexual beings too, and we can be just as horny, if not more so, than guys!)- you may like it, love it, get an insane amount of pleasure from it, but don’t try to tell me that you are somehow liberating your “sisters” in sexual bondage.

To put all my cards on the table, I think of myself as an intrinsically sexual human being. This is not at all to say that I’m terribly sexually active, just that I am very aware of the sexual drives behind my creativity and passions. I’m bisexual, which I interpret to mean that I fall for the person, not *just* the body. I fall for the whole person- mind, body and soul. Although I can identify strangers and acquaintances as aesthetically beautiful, I can’t identify “sexiness” or “hotness” until I feel I know them. I don’t dress and groom myself to be “sexy”- I try to make myself aesthetically attractive according to my own standards. For me, sexuality is a very real, very volatile, but very personal thing.

So the thing is, I wouldn’t live my life and sexuality according to either of the extremes described above, but neither do I condemn them: sexuality is a personal thing. That’s what feminism is about- the right to live our lives as we see fit. Choice. You can be the proverbial virgin, or you can be the proverbial whore, or you can be one or more of the millions of options in between. And you can “own” those labels or bitterly reject them, or you can twist them around to fit the way you fit in your own personal world. Don’t try to parse and dictate the way other women live out their sexual lives, because that is not important. And the way that feminists bitterly debate proper “feminist” sexual behavior drives me nuts, because it seems to me that it’s a symptom, an internalization, of the way the patriarchy has tried to keep women under control by parsing and dictating their sexuality.

So I guess this is a request to all the feminists who actually want to make a difference in the way women are treated and perceived, mindset of this society, this world: No matter your personal choices- no matter how disgusted or how abhorrent you find other womens’ personal sex lives to be, don’t bash them for doing something you wouldn’t. Stand up for their right to freedom of choice, their freedom of sexuality. Practice what you preach, ditch the litmus tests, and work for what you know will actually make a difference.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Rate this post




1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (14 votes, average: 4.71 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...






Read other posts about: , , , , , , , , ,


Post Your Comment

  • Zahira S @ at 12:42 pm, September 24th, 2010

    This is what i’ve always thought ..
    you managed to put it into words :)

  • Christina @ at 1:52 pm, September 24th, 2010

    This is great!

  • Juliet @ at 5:24 pm, September 24th, 2010

    “So the thing is, I wouldn’t live my life and sexuality according to either of the extremes described above, but neither do I condemn them: sexuality is a personal thing.”

    This is exactly how I feel when I see any of these opinions on female sexuality. Every person chooses to express themselves differently, and as long as they have respect for themselves and their partners, who are we to judge?

  • Shanmin @ at 2:41 am, September 25th, 2010

    This is so awesome.

  • blakerivers @ at 7:49 am, September 26th, 2010

    Surely. People should be free to live and experience life as they will. If one’s behavior must be criticized, then there should be no difference between women and men. Women should not be expected to act more or less promiscuous than men, or any such difference.

    I’m glad that you consider yourself to be an “intrinsically sexual being.” Considering that that’s also true for over 99% of the population, it would make you quite abnormal if you weren’t :) No amount of puritanical pretense can change the fact that humans are largely sexually driven beings. Movies like “The Piano Teacher” make that obvious.

  • sandra @ at 10:24 am, October 4th, 2010

    I’m a 50 yr old feminist who’s also a socialist/anarchist & who worked in many feminist campaigns of the late 70s and 80s (domestic violence shelters, “take back the night” marches, educating local police authorities re rape and domestic violence) and who grew up with the pop culture of the 60s & 70s.

    Of course you’re a sexual being, we all are.

    The issue for me is that for women in a patriarchal society, that is how we are defined PRIMARILY and EXCLUSIVELY – in pop culture, traditional views of women, etc. I grew up watching TV shows in which the primary source of identity for a man was his job, his profession — women were secondary or not even in the equation. They were a distraction to him, a source of leisure during his time off.

    Women, on the other hand were primarily defined by their connection (or lack of connection) to a man – their availability to them (or lack of), their sexuality (or lack of). Their jobs or professions (if any) were secondary or not even in the equation.

    Patriarchy tells us that first and foremost, we are sexual and we have to navigate the contradictions and hypocrisies of patriarchal culture (as laid out in the diagram). It’s our primary responsibility to control our sexuality whereas men do not need to be responsible for their sexual conduct.

    So when I see the women of today defining “liberation” and feminism as giving into the straitjacket of what society tells us we must look like – mutilation of our bodies, incl. our vaginas according to porn standards, defining her self-worth and her primary identity thru her physical appearance – I despair at the DEVOLUTION of women’s consciousness.

    That’s not feminism. A crucial struggle of feminism is LIBERATION from what patriarchy tells us should be our exclusive priority and our primary source of identity and self-worth: our sexuality, our looks, our sexual availability.

    “Empowerment” is not having some surgeon mutilate your vagina so it can look like what you see in a porn movie.

  • Jake @ at 4:36 pm, October 7th, 2010

    …That’s I’m doing my part already? That I’m asexual, and not bashing people for engaging in relationships?

    Also, the author of the Venn diagram probably has never seen real nuns.

  • Serena @ at 9:59 pm, October 22nd, 2010

    Awesome! Just awesome!

  • Sydney @ at 9:22 pm, April 2nd, 2011

    “To put all my cards on the table, I think of myself as an intrinsically sexual human being. This is not at all to say that I’m terribly sexually active, just that I am very aware of the sexual drives behind my creativity and passions. I’m bisexual, which I interpret to mean that I fall for the person, not *just* the body. I fall for the whole person- mind, body and soul. Although I can identify strangers and acquaintances as aesthetically beautiful, I can’t identify ‘sexiness’ or ‘hotness’ until I feel I know them. I don’t dress and groom myself to be ‘sexy’ – I try to make myself aesthetically attractive according to my own standards. For me, sexuality is a very real, very volatile, but very personal thing.”

    I cannot tell you just how much I agree with this statement. I’m almost 18, and it had taken me the last 2 years to figure out and come to terms with what has been stated in a (relatively) concise paragraph.

    I would just like to add, as a bisexual, a subtle distinction that I feel is often forgotten. When I fall for the person (man or woman) that their gender is just as much a part of who they are as their intelligence or penchant for Batman t-shirts.

    Also, a person’s gender affects who they are in some pretty powerful ways. You can take the same basic “person” (general style, interests, personality, intelligence, etc.), but their gender identity can be the deciding factor in their likeablity or “hotness”. For example, I know for a fact that, given my basic face structure and personality, it would be difficult to like me as guy. But, as a girl, I’m quite likeable (if odd).

    Anyways, this is just my two cents on the concept of bisexuality, likeablity, and gender identity. Take from it what you will.

Leave a Reply