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1 post categorized "feminist carnival of sexual freedom and autonomy"

August 08, 2008

7th Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy

Firstly, welcome to the 7th Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy and a huge thank you to everyone who submitted links for this edition. Secondly, apologies for the delay, the main reason behind my delay has been ordinary – a tad of repetitive strain (RSI) that comes from seemingly endless typing, in my right hand which made typing a literal pain for two days. Then there is the other, the subject of sexual freedom and autonomy covers many branching subjects, many of which can be found within submitted posts, so it is like going on a journey of ideas.

One area of interest is how men view feminism or how they define it in today's terms, especially when divisions exist, and there are divisions among many social/religions groups. In religion, we see basic divisions within faiths (Islam: Sunni and Shi'ite, Judaism: Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Romaniote, etc and the various Christian denominations). So it is not surprising to see sex positive feminism and radical feminism, as two distinct feminist divisions in contemporary society, but this carnival is concerned with sex positive feminism as it is more dynamic in embracing evolving sexualities and sexual choices (personal and professional) within society. Therefore the first two posts, introduce the basic foundation or definitions within feminism.

A Femanist View tackles the definition of feminism and takes the word 'radical', redefining it thus:

"The Chambers English Dictionary gives the political definition of "radical" as, "favouring, involving or necessitating thorough-going but constitutional social and political reform". I'm not sure that I agree with the "constitutional" aspect, given that some radical groups used to be interested in violent change! Given that "radical" also carries connotations of "fundamental" and "from the root", it might be better to recast this definition as "a belief in the need for social and political reform that goes right to the roots of society".

This, to me, describes very accurately my attitude to feminism, and in particular, to sex-positivity. I don't know what the term "radical feminist" really means nowadays as a "technical term", but in plain English, as far as I can see, I am a "radical sex-positive feminist".

Amber quotes a portion she read in another blog, one that went as far as to reduce the definition of sex positivity:

"I saw this comment from Emilie Dice and it irritated me:

Because men are already “sex positive” by cultural default. It’s not an issue for them. Of course they want women making the right choice to cater to their sexist demands. It’s a given.

That really annoys me because it is so NOT what being sex-positive is about. It reminds me of non-sex-positive feminists who say, “I like sex! So how can I be sex-negative?”

Further on, sex positive feminism and autonomy, in my mind at least, is about having the freedom to make a choice, and believe it or not there are strands of feminism that prefer slotting women in convenient categories, using the age old 'patriarchal' banner for every social problem, that often has a completely different point of origin and has little to do with sex work and pornography. A recent post demonizing burlesque dancing in the 'I Blame the Patriarchy' blog, fired debate.

Suzi (FemAcadem) discusses the futility of banning porn and sex work in her post, Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones:

"I just don’t think that banning porn and sex work and effectively demonizing sex and sexuality is the way forward. I think it’s important to remember that actually there are lots of sex workers who aren’t trafficked and didn’t have horrific lives of abuse leading to their sex work, and aren’t drug users and are there because they want to be, because they choose to be, whilst also working to help those who are there and don’t want to be. I think it is important to remember to that these are people that we oh so sanctimoniously blog about. These are women, and men, cis and transgendered living their lives the way they choose. And who the fuck am I or you to come along, tell them they are wrong, remove their humanity by using terms like ‘funfeminist’ in a derogatory fashion."

To further clarify the inflexible domain of radical feminism, and dare I say, include a link that some may find offensive, I chose Maggie Hays and her self-created definition of porno-iarchy, a term that isn't only difficult to pronounce, but frames Suzi's above post on the futility of sexual bans. Maggie's post is here because it clarifies the mentality of blame culture that threads radical feminism, that offers women few options and contains a series of expectations. Renegade Evolution isn't a wallflower, and she tackles the narrow minded attitudes head on and responds to Maggie Hays' "Manifesto" on the porno-iarchy.

The restrictive ideology of radical feminism raises questions. How healthy is such an ideology or paradigm in promoting constructive relationships between men and women when one gender (usually the male) is automatically tarred and feathered as a rapist or potential rapist, based on gender? How constructive is the tiresome 'patriarchal' excuse? It isn't constructive or positive, as Caroline points out in a post that many may find disturbing (for the quotes Caroline has gathered - and argued against - from radical feminist blogs).

Hypocrisy is no stranger to society, and it has permeated the virtual world. What better medium than a blog? Unfortunately, this means that supposed advocates of women's rights (including autonomy and the freedom of choice) manipulate the issues with false representations of themselves. It is an issue that I have discussed on this blog recently, where bloggers (example: Maggie Hays) censor feedback from women, raising many questions about women's rights. If supposed feminists censor other women, then what is the point of discussion? What does that mean for women who do want to raise their own points, even if they have differences of opinion? Once again, Renegade Evolution highlights the issue of hypocrisy and manipulation (that, like it or not, appear in radical feminist blogs). Renegade informs readers of the bumpy ride to come (within her post), and it is bumpy because it is raw, genuine expression that isn't edited for posterity and political correctness (PC tends to censor intellectual freedom):

"So yeah, I sit around reading blogs, and I see a lot of anti-sex industry types talking on and on about how people in the biz, voluntary or not, are selling themselves. Hey, doesn’t much matter what the actual people in the biz say, they say it anyway. Me? I think we all do it to an extent. You go on a job interview? You’re not just selling your ability to do the job, you’re selling you. There is a reason people shower, shave, dress up, brush their teeth, dress nicely when they go on interviews, and it’s because we all know, deep down, part of the product we’re selling is ourselves. And sure enough, in my time, I’ve know some people who do it really well, some real slick, stylish sorts, hustlers, whores, artists, lawyers, husbands and wives, spin men and promoters, hell, from IT guys to waitresses who can turn bullshit into gold or have a great line on a bridge if you want to buy it. Sure enough, I’ve seen some people who are damn good at selling themselves."

The sale of the self, or self-advertising is an everyday event. It unfolds in the most ordinary job interview. People have to sell themselves for jobs in call centres, never mind other industries, and employers prefer this or use this to assess a potential employee's 'initiative.' It goes both ways.

The body is many things and sexuality does focus on the body, but is the adage 'our body, our selves' true? Commerce tends to shape an ideal image, but sexual freedom also encompasses the human body, or self perception. Sexuality, or the right to have sex, can extend to the body (including the mind), and all idealistic pornographic imagery aside, sexual freedom also includes the rights of those who are discriminated against based on their physicality. Thus, the subject of sex and disability, is equally important in a commercialized sexual world (virtual and real), and is explored by Trinity (The Strangest Alchemy):

"I think this article (article link), about deterring people in mental hospitals from having consensual sex, is actually rather timely given the back and forths in the blogoverse lately about "sex-positivity" and what it means.

When I say I am sex-positive, I don't just mean it in some vacuum where white girls think flashing their breasts is funny/gets attention hee hee hee. I mean it because I'm part of a world in which many disadvantaged people are denied sexualities at all. (And, as Gabe points out here, also a world in which privileged people's sexualities are assumed to be freakish and violent parodies of real pleasure or intimacy no matter what, which I also think is damaging.) I mean it because I'm a person with a disability, and we're assumed not to be sexual at all."

The subject of the body is often associated with image/beauty. The tendency to categorize feminists, based on looks is ongoing. Caroline at Uncool quotes a narrow minded perception of what feminists 'ought to be' (based on 'looks'), providing an image of herself to refute the Feminist Anonymist. This post explores the radical feminist pastime of 'slut shaming':

"So yeah, that's what's disappoiting. Being constantly on the defense against people who actually dare to think their opinion is worth something when it's utterly unresearched. Why the fuck should anyone listen to 'sex positive feminism' is fun feminism? What exactly is fun about repressed sexuality? Because that's what we're dealing with. Slut-shaming? What's fun about that? What's fun about jokes regarding dead sex workers? Rape? And what, pray tell me, is fun about having arseholes like you bitch on about 'pretty women'?"

Sex positive feminism isn't about women versus men, or 'let's blame the patriarchy for everything that is wrong in our world.' After all, women have shared this world since the dawn of time, since our species entered the sapiens stage of evolution in fact, and this branch of feminism doesn't exclude a specific variable (the male gender). As in nature, or logic, how can one exclude variables within equations? It's not possible and what is more, variables cannot be excluded based on hatred, frustration and personal bias.

Thank you for visiting this page/blog/post. For more information on upcoming carnivals, visit the official carnival blog.

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