Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bringing The Sex-Positive Feminism! And Links For Sex-Positive Goodness!

when i speak of the erotic, i speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of the creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.
~audre lorde

Mostly re-inspired by connecting with the folks at the Good Vibrations blog, I have realized that this blog is missing something. Something i can’t believe i haven’t properly emphasized before. Sex-positive links and posts! I mean, I have a couple links in the blogroll and stuff, and write about sexuality and gender... but haven’t been really getting into the juicy fun stuff :)

and before jumping straight into the hotness, just a bit more heady talk. As a feminist-identified hetero bio male individual, i feel i should qualify what sex positive feminism means to me. First of all, what it *doesn’t* mean to me is that there is a binary where if you don’t identify as a sex positive feminist, then you are a repressed body-phobic wet blanket. Not trying to frame stuff like that. Second of all, there is a radical left feminist theory that all sex is rape, because we haven’t consented to live under patriarchy, and a manifestation of living under patriarchy is eroticizing power dynamics in constructions of gender(anyone have a citation for that? can't find it). I would say sex positive feminism is further right of that, but still on the “left” (what is right wing feminism, one might ask? Sarah Palin apparently!!) Sex positive feminism affirms autonomy of our bodies and consensual pleasure. It also moves away from shame-based ideas around sexuality and bodies that come from institutionalized sexism, religion, culture, etc. In the context of women's bodies, which have been under fire in various ways under patriarchy, Sex-positive feminism strikes me as a movement to reclaim the body.

Personally, i have various intersections with sex-positive feminism. I would say that one of the ways i manifest that is to eroticize communication, respect, balance of power and safety in romantic relationships. Deep and honest communication is just sexy. It has also been affirmed to me that it is sexy for a man to ask if he may enter a woman, even if its the umpteenth gazillion time they have had sex. This speaks to the piece on eroticizing respect and communication. But grounded in real loving respect for a woman and her body, not just saying stuff cuz it sounds hot. Going deeper into communication, i would say that deliberately placing oneself in a space of emotional vulnerability with a lover creates a space where one’s partner can also feel safe to share and be vulnerable. By being a man willing to make myself emotionally vulnerable to a woman, i see this as not only a loving act, but a re-balancing of gendered roles. It is one way to live everyday as a man committed to these issues. It really shouldn’t be like that as far as i’m concerned, that just being a emotionally communicative man becomes *gasp* bordering on radical, but hey. Just to be clear, i’m not lobbying for cookies here, just sayin’!!

Deep mutual communication leads to deeper intimacy and trust. Deeper intimacy and trust leads to safety. And once both people (or more for that matter) feel safety, then the boundaries of consensual sexual exploration may be able to expand deliciously. Respect becomes an operative word here as well, in tandem with the trust. For example, a sex-positive feminist woman should feel free to be lead around on a leash by a man at a sex-party if she wants to, especially if she has the trust and respect of that man, AND most importantly, if that is her CHOICE for how she wants to be pleased. Obviously, a woman can do what-freakin-ever she wants to do with her body, i am just getting at the thing that a woman and a man could act out this scene and still both define themselves as feminists. This is of course where feminists can butt heads, and very understandably so. 

*I've recenty had a very strong reaction to this scenario, which is understandable. I don't wish to upset more women, so I will try to be clearer. I want to stress that i am not saying that women need to be on leashes by men in order to find healing or mutual respect. My focus for this post is on women's choice, pleasure and healing, and finding partners that can aid in that journey in consensual ways. Trust becomes paramount, because there are some acts that simply require it in order for it to not be traumatizing. My focus is not on men finding women who will play out potentially degrading roles for male pleasure. A tamer example might be: If a woman wants to be gruffly held down by her partner and penetrated with hard and fast rhythms, that is her choice for how she wants to be pleased, and in my opinion does not make her any less of a feminist. 

My honey also added that although not everyone may know themselves well enough to know whether they are in fact reproducing patriarchal toxicity from sexual power play, it is also not accurate to generalize that all sexual power play is inherently oppressive.

I believe that playing with power and gendered roles in consensual, pre-negotiated and varying ways can be hot, radical, body reclaiming and healing. Because being “top/dominant” in a consensual loving scene doesn’t have to mean reproducing tropes of real oppression. Oppression doesn’t respect, love and pre-negotiate consensual arrangements. In BDSM circles, it is said that the “bottom/submissive” has the most power because the scene can only go as far as they allow it to go anyways. 

Women are tethered by patriarchy. In the real world, there are many oppressive situations where women do not have choice. For some women, I can imagine that it can be healing to metaphorically simulate a situation where there is an illusion of powerlessness during sex play... but in fact, the woman still is in control, and can control the outcome. There is Choice. 

I also believe that sex-positive feminism literally becomes about being the loving change we want to see in the world. If we can work through issues of power, oppression and love in our most intimate and loving relationships, then we are building progressive community, and really becoming the loving, liberating revolution that is needed. And i am talking about something with a lot more intention than the sexual revolutions of the 60's. I am talking about a sweet union of Love and Justice.

Well that’s some food for thought, enough honey to spread liberally before diving in. I was also going to review this movie that my friend is in, but i think that deserves a post all by itself. But be sure to check out the new sex-positive links in the right margin, which include Black Erotica, a radical manifesto for a poly-revolution, The Center For Sex Positive Culture, Babeland Toys, Feminist BDSM, my friend Jiz Lee’s site, and more!

Hope that this has been stimulating... holla!


Gina said...

Word! As you know, I am all about sex-positivity. :) Now, if only more hetero (non-trans) men would discover how to simultaneously be a feminist AND be a top AND be emotionally vulnerable....

Thanks for this post, Richard.

Michelle said...

With as simultaneously puritanical and exploitative this society can be, it can be tough to carve the path of sex positivity. So I love the idea of supporting each other to create, foster, explore it! I think, as you suggest, exploring power dynamics in intimate relationships can have a transformative effect on all aspects of our lives--as these dynamics are not compartmentalized. Also, being able to be your most authentic in an intimate relationship--which in some ways is the scariest place to be authentic--can be self-affirming & transformative. Although I would say, I don't think one needs a romantic relationship to have these experiences. But it can be a (fun, sexy, blessedly good) opportunity. :)

richard said...

Gina! Thanks for the comment, my sex-positive sista! :) Hopefully some more men like that will comment here. Transmen too!

Michelle, again your words are so on point! I am with you on your reflections of supportive community, the transformative power of playing with power, and the transformative roles of authenticity. I'm tellin you, i am still waiting for your blog!

You also named the cultural Catch 22... living in a culture that is basically body-phobic and body-exploitative at the same time. I mean, every curse word in the US has to do with a body part or bodily action. Meanwhile women and people of color's bodies are hyper-sexualized/exotified (Well, men's bodies too, but more so in a queer context), and queer bodies and sexuality are vilified (or exotified!). It is a challenge to feel positive about our bodies and sexualities, so much unlearning has to be done, so much self-acceptance and healing, in the face of adherents to a heteronormative, sexist, racist, monogamy-supremacist, body-phobic, body-objectifying culture.

Revolution Starts At Home! Intimacy And Orgasms Brings Us Closer To Liberation!!

Michelle said...

So true! Unlearning and self-acceptance is right on. It's the deconstruct/ reconstruct model. That's my theme of late. The Hong & Rivera article that you linked to really emphasizes unlearning and creating your own path. Whether you're poly or not, a right on, inspiring article to live your life with authenticity & integrity to yourself & others. thanks for sharing to Gina & you!

Gina said...

p.s. The only reason I mentioned non-trans men is because I feel like most transmen I know already have feminist, pro-sex queer politics. It's the non-trans men who don't (for the most part).

p.p.s. I like to fuck. :)

richard said...

Michelle: that article rocks my effin world!!

Gina: re: ps: hmm.. i hear ya, and at the same time i know transdudes who casually refer to bio women with the b-word.

re: pps: hahaha!!! claim it!!!!

aimee said...

word! speak on it...