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Tag Archives: sexual liberation

Life between the parallel lines

In the mid-1800s, the virgin/whore dichotomy was at its most extreme, which meant one simple social rule: there was a line drawn on the ground, and if you crossed it you were no longer a virgin – you were a ruined woman, a whore. These (slightly) more enlightened times have brought more freedom to women (and men) but paradoxically the rules, for women, are now harder to follow.

This is because there is now another line – you can’t be “frigid” or a virgin. You have to date, you have to have a boyfriend, but at the same time you can’t step over that other line into glorious slutdom. You’re trapped, between the parallel lines.

The contested space between the lines is most overtly expressed in high school. If you’re percieved as too close to one line, you’re frigid, ugly, a lesbian, a snob, a virgin, a girl who can’t get a man. Yet step too close to that other line and you’re a slut, a whore, cheap, easy, a ho, skank, slag, or nasty girl. And the lines aren’t only present in high school; they’re prevalent everywhere.

In offices and families and friendship groups everywhere, women are trying to fit into that little space between the lines. Your colleagues might not yell “Slut!” at you or snicker that you’ll “die a virgin” but they can gossip behind you. Your relatives might moan that you’re still single or frown when you tell them you’ve got a new man (or more than one man). And a lot of us are familiar with the feeling of not being able to keep up with our friends who somehow effortlessly lay man after man, yet wonder how they’ll judge our own behaviour when we finally do get up the nerve to do something adventurous.

For those who are abstinent, there is pressure to “do it the world’s way”. Yet the world which seems so liberal to the abstinents is often judgemental and rejecting to polyamorous or kinky women – or even simply women who regularly have NSA sex.

So, whether you’re abstinent or polyamorous (or both!), maybe it’s time to fly upwards – out of that confined space between the painted lines on the ground. They are only paint, after all.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Feminism

 

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SlutWalks and blanket bans on porn/sex work

I just found a male feminist’s blog. His name is Hugo Schwyzer and he is a liberal feminist (not what he calls himself, but how I see him). In one post, he takes on Meghan Murphy, a female radical feminist (again, this label is attributed by myself).

Murphy, in response to a question about how she feels about the SlutWalks, says:

This so-called ‘movement’ is embarrassing. There is no cohesive message, no collective demands, and there is an unwillingness to name the problem, to address the root of violence against women. What will we gain from Slutwalk? The freedom to call ourselves sluts? The freedom to have sex with whomever we want, whenever we want? Well, we already have that.

[Really?! Female ‘pick up artists’ and players have it easy? Women don’t gossip behind your back if you pick up a different guy every other night or brag about your conquests? Men get called easy, whore, and slut? Girls whose parents are immigrants/Christian or who live in the U.S. South don’t face pressure to be abstinent more than boys?]

The fact that a movement which I had originally assumed to be, in the end, a protest against sexual assault and violence against women has somehow been conflated with sexual liberation is, well, confusing.

[It’s not confusing; it means we can protest rape while asserting our right to be sexual without fear of rape. Historically, only virgins could legally be raped. I mean, the law only recognised rape as rape if the woman was a virgin, not that it was legal to rape virgins. Historically, a rape victim’s sexual history was allowed as evidence in court. In the UK in 2008, a rape victim’s pants were shown in court as evidence that she had consented – the pants had the words ‘little devil’ printed on them. In 2008. SlutWalk’s message is clear – no more using shame-words to control women; no more rape. Women have the right to enjoy sex and be sex workers without being raped or being seen as “inviting” rape, a phrase which is of course a tautology – or that rape was ‘inevitable’ because of their job or lifestyle. Basically, the message is: no more slut-shaming, no more victim-blaming.]

Then, in response to another question says:

The fact that we do, as a culture, view men as the ‘actors’ and the penetrators and women as the passive receivers of penetration does speak to the way in which male power and domination plays out in the bedroom. And the fact that we have defined sex on that basis speaks to the way in which the world around us has been largely defined by men and patriarchal ideals.

[Yeah…isn’t that kinda what SlutWalk is against…??]

I’m going to stop reading now before I blow through twenty pages’ worth of blog. (That reminds me: Roland said I was good at oral; that is good news since it was my first time!) You may be wondering why I just put that last sentence in there, as it is irrelevant. Well, firstly because this blog is primarily a personal sex diary and therefore very informal with a sexual aspect; secondly, the word ‘blow’ really did trigger that meory of Roland praising my talents; thirdly, because I can; fourthly, I found it slightly amusing to do so; and fifthly – most importantly – I wanted to make the point that you can’t fully separate the politico-academic discourse and the lived experience. Which is what the radfem on that blog does, by claiming all porn and sex work should be criminalized even though some sex workers enjoy their work – because she “thinks” most of them don’t so it’s exploitation. How does she know??

Of course, one would have to be utterly insane to suggest that globally people (male and female, not just women!!) aren’t exploited by sex work. But common sense – as well as studies and academic texts – will tell you that, in Britain (and other similar countries) in 2012, most sex workers aren’t being exploited. Those who are exploited are usually exploited due to addiction or mental health problems (often exacerbated by violent partners)- they have little choice. But you are not going to starve if you do not do sex work. We have the NHS, benefits and council housing. We have agencies, programmes, funds and support centres that to be honest are just pure fantasy to people in other regions of the globe. I’m not saying that we don’t have many social problems or that every victim of everything is guaranteed help, I’m just saying that you don’t have to live on the street if you don’t sell yourself (although you may be harassed by the Jobcentre wanting to see you twice a week and send you off to do courses).

And criminalizing all sex work – thereby putting all sex workers in increased danger of violence – is not proportionate action to help the few streetwalkers who want or need help. Exiting strategies, rehabilitation programmes, training and the like are being used in Scotland right now. And they are dealing directly with the customers/sex workers who want out. Not like blanket-banning prostitution, which wouldn’t have such a direct impact on their lives/get them healthcare, off drugs, into work, teach them skills/SVQs, treat any mental illnesses…

And banning porn because it makes men rape? Women watch porn too, idiot. Women also rape; they may do it less than men, but it happens (remember the woman in Germany who locked a man in her house for three days and raped him over and over until he escaped and collapsed on the kerb outside her house?)  – and, if anything, men are probably even less likely to report rape/assault by a woman than a woman is to report rape/assault by a man.Maybe more women should be directing and scriptwriting porn, and owning porn companies. And more women should be watching porn – the only reason men watch more porn is because they’re expected/allowed to because of the double standard, which SlutWalk is trying to erase. Anyway, porn actresses get paid 10 times more than porn actors…so who exactly is being exploited? Porn films need men too, and most pornos feature a roughly equal number of men and women, but somehow the radfems are always silent about male porn stars being exploited.

The link to the blog post is here: http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2011/06/15/male-feminists-sex-work-and-slutwalk-part-two-of-a-conversation-with-meghan-murphy/#more-3998

And this is the general link to Hugo Schwyzer’s blog, it’s great! You should visit it. (Do I agree with everything he says? Nope. Does it matter? Nope; it’s really, really in depth and well-written.) http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/blog/

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Feminism

 

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