Female sexuality has always been a touchy subject even since the 60's when sex became "kind of okay". But there seems to be no logical reasoning behind it. Male sexuality is so deeply engrained into our culture that we have naked women on the front page of magazines, ready for young boys to see so they know exactly what to expect from women in their adult years.
Second wave feminism in the 1970's challenged these ideas surrounding female sexuality. Women were protesting for abortions, and in 1974 The Pill became readily available for young single women in Britain. Feminist writers such as Angela Carter appeared in the mid to late seventies publishing works explicitly exploring female sexuality; in such work we would see female characters who wanted to be dominated, menstruation was discussed like the norm that it is, and females actually enjoying sex.
In the 1980's sex-positive or pro-sex feminism became widely recognised following many protests against sex work, pornography and BDSM by some feminist organisations. Pro-sex feminism is the belief in the sexual liberation of women, following on from what was discussed in the late 70's.
Many feminist organisations disagree with sex workers such as strippers, exotic dancers and prostitutes. Sex-positive feminists believe that both men and women can have positive experiences in the sex work environment, providing that environment is not linked to abuse or trafficking. It is generally accepted by pro-sex feminists to not stigmatise or discriminate against sex workers, male or female.
A lot of feminists find pornography to be sexually discriminatory to women, and a lot of women forbid their husbands or boyfriends to watch it as well as campaign to make pornography illegal. However pro-sex feminists believe that criminalising pornography violates female freedom of speech. There is nothing specifically degrading to women about pornography, and it is watched and enjoyed by men as well as women across the world. Also, professional pornography (as opposed to home-videos and revenge-porn) involve actors who have consented to be in the film.
BDSM is the practice of bondage and sadomasochism and, like pornography, is enjoyed by both men and women all over the world. The mantra of the BDSM community is "safe, sane, consensual", meaning that true BDSM has to involve consent. With that said, discriminating against women who have chosen that lifestyle from themselves is more demeaning to their sexuality than the practice itself. Some feminists view BDSM as glorifying misogyny and rape, however roles in BDSM are not fixed to gender - males can be the submissive and females can be the dominant.
Overall, the sex-positive view of feminism is the one that will push the movement forwards. By restricting female sexuality and the exploration of this sexuality, is effectively pushing feminism back to pre-second wave. As a movement and as a community, man or woman, feminists should strive to move forwards towards complete equality. With the complete disregard for female sexual liberation from members of our own community, there is no hope.
Wednesday, 1 April 2015
So, you've been arsing around on the internet and you've managed to cause some offence. You've had a snotty comment or tweet in response to an opinion you have decided to share, and you want to know where you go from here:
- Was your opinion something really awful and Hitler-ish like believing that old people shouldn't be allowed to leave the house?
- If YES then the person is probably right. Please disconnect your internet. Or maybe email Katie Hopkins in regards to a job opportunity..
- If NO then your opinion must be something reasonable. But, can you see the other person's reasoning behind getting offended?
- If NO then chances are they're pissed off about something really strange, like you posting what your favourite yoghurt is. Come up with a witty response and wait for your fans to join in and laugh at them.
- If YES then you are a decent human, and the opinion you have just might not be shared with a lot of people. Start your reply by addressing that you see how they could disagree with you, but you personally feel strongly about your way of viewing the situation.
- REMEMBER no-one's opinion is correct or incorrect. Deciding whether the world should be pro-choice or pro-life is not as simple as solving a maths problem. Do not tell this person that their opinion is wrong.
- HOWEVER as Salman Rushdie once said "Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn't exist in any declaration I have ever read. If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people." Don't feel pressured into changing your beliefs.
- Even though it is perfectly reasonable to voice an opinion you have in a world of free speech, remember that some things aren't okay. Comments trivialising suicide, rape, self-harm, eating disorders are likely not to be taken too well. However making informed and educated comments on these issues is perfectly okay, you may still be met with some criticism, but remember that more sensitive subjects such as these act as psychological triggers to some people if they are associated with painful memories.
- When you make your argument remember to be as intelligent as possible, don't resort to throwing insults around. Also, eloquence tends to stump people. For some reason they don't know what to do if you sound like you know what you're talking about. Drop some stats in as well. Why not.
- All in all remember that this person probably has a valid reason for being offended, but you don't have a valid reason for abandoning your beliefs. Above all if someone doesn't like you being pro-choice or whatever, that's their problem.