I didn’t realize that I wasn’t a virgin until the day, after coming home from Grade 1, I finally worked up the courage to ask my mother what sex was. I remember experiencing a strange sinking feeling as she calmly described to me some vague approximation of the terrifying ritual which a group of older boys I knew had been forcing me to perform with them for some time. When I started to become acquainted in later years with the world of feminist activism, I immediately felt alienated by the ways in which mainstream feminist movements approached things like sexual empowerment and body acceptance. Almost 10 years later, the face of popular, “sex-positive” feminism seems to have changed very little.
Such a powerful article. It brings up issues around sex-positivity that have been on my mind a lot lately and that I feel should be more widely acknowledged.
Sexual empowerment is an extremely complex issue that goes way beyond “OWN YOUR BODY OWN SEX NO SHAME”. For anyone lucky enough to feel 100% comfortable with themselves and sex, good on you. Sometimes it takes a while to get there, and if/when you do, it’s truly fantastic. It’s a long road for many, however, and even more never get there at all.
Because sexual abuse and early-life sexual shaming and confusion are so common, I find some aspects of sex-positive feminism hard to appreciate. “OWN YOUR BODY. OWN SEX. OWN IT. NOW. DO IT. SEX IS GREAT. YOU’RE GREAT. DEAL WITH IT”. I am absolutely against slut-shaming, but when I see a young girl flaunting her bits in public, there is a part of me that feels genuine fear for her. My reasons for this are, a) why does this already beautiful girl feel the need to find validation in strangers desiring her sexually? What happened there? and b) we live in a predatory society. I’ve had gross experiences where I’ve been preyed upon, as have so many of my female friends. It sucks that as girls and women we are so easily targeted, no matter how we dress or choose to present ourselves. There will always be people – either also traumatized or simply machismos staking their claims – who feel the need to dominate and demand ownership over others in their various, often scarring ways. I think a girl can dress however she wants, but good god please be safe. Please be smart.
I think the reactions of some people to sexual exhibitionism come from a place of legitimate fear. It’s not just people yelling “SHAME”, it can be victims crying “PLEASE BE CAREFUL”. There are people, many many people, who have been so wrenched apart by sexual experiences that sex-positivity is wholly alien to them. Some thought needs to be given to these people before we DEMAND that women empower themselves sexually, and before we cry “SLUT SHAMER” each time someone raises a slight note of caution.
I have two small daughters and arming them with a healthy sexual self-image AS WELL AS methods to protect and defend themselves AS WELL AS the smarts to make their own choices when things get weird is THE top priority for me as a mother. Life is beautiful and terrifying, I want them to feel capable and secure, and I’ll be damned if either one of them ends up seeking the bullshit approval of anonymous creep boners.
there’s this really awesome photo of me licking my boyfriends cock, you can see my face looking up, and in the background behind me there’s a mirror and you can see my naked butt and thighs, with a waist cincher above it. It’s such an great photo (one I would totally post to this here blog) BUT MY FACE IS IN IT.
I know I will regret it being on the internets, especially if I ever go into politics. But wah, I’d love to be able to post it.