Archive | June, 2011

I support rape – who knew?

23 Jun

I recently came across this post, about how to identify a male rape supporter. The phrasing squicked me out a bit, but hey, I have definitely had some nasty surpises in terms of learning that guys I was dating weren’t quite so pro-feminism and sex-positive as I’d thought, so I gave it a bit of a read.

But I’d forgotten the Rule of Sex-Negative People: anything to do with sex that makes them feel uncomfortable is not OK, and might actually be rape. So according to this post, the following things are signs a dude might be a Rape Supporter. I chose these to highlight because they are actually things that apply to me, a feminist woman:

He characterizes prostitution as a “legitimate” “job” “choice” or defends men who purchase prostitutes.

First off, nice scare quotes. I absolutely think prostitution is a legitimate job choice. I worry about safety, and it sickens me that many involved in the industry are not there fully of their volition, but I believe that is entirely separate from the question of whether or not it’s a legitimate choice for a woman to make. Also, customers do not “purchase” prostitutes any more than your boss “purchases” you.

He has gone to a strip club.

I’ve been to strip clubs. Not on my top-100 list of favorite ways to spend a Saturday night, but I’ve gone, because the concept is interesting and I wanted to better understand it.

He is pro-”choice” because he believes abortion access will make women more sexually available.

Well, that’s certainly not the only reason, but I know that I’m a lot more “sexually available” when I know that the consequence of an “oops” doesn’t need to be fundamentally life-altering. Abortion, along with preventative birth control, makes both women and men more “available for sex” and that’s a good thing, dammit.

He frames discussions of pornography in terms of “freedom of speech.”

Yes, freedom of speech is indeed something that exists and protects porn. You don’t get to suspend freedom of speech for things you don’t agree with – that’s the whole point.

He watches pornography in which women are depicted.

I suspect the blogger left out some words here, so I won’t be too mean, but – ah, fuck it. So, what if he watches porn that only depicts men? Is that ok? Why? Because men “can’t be raped”?

He watches any pornography in which sexual acts are depicted as a struggle for power or domination, regardless of whether women are present.

Ah, that’s my favorite kind of porn. I actually got a little turned on just reading this one.

He characterizes the self-sexualizing behavior of some women, such as wearing make-up or high heels, as evidence of women’s desire to “get” a man.

Well, that’s not always what it’s about, but that’s what it’s about sometimes, no? There’s a universe of difference between acknowledging that sometimes women do want to have sex with men and being a rape apologist.

He expresses enjoyment of movies/musicals/TV shows/plays in which women are sexually demeaned or presented as sexual objects

This is damn near all media. And I don’t enjoy it for the sexual objectification (I’m less into vague, culturally-mandated objectification, and more into consensual, “you’re my fucktoy, aren’t you?” objectification) but, honestly, I’ve been conditioned to not even really notice it any more unless it’s super-obvious. And I was a women’s studies major!

He supports sexual “liberation” and claims women would have more sex with (more) men if society did not “inhibit” them.

Well, this entire blog is devoted to sexual liberation, and I would definitely have had more sex with more men if society (and radical feminism was a big part of this) had not inhibited me from accepting my kinks.

He defends the physical abuse of women on the grounds of “consent.”

Um, I kinda think she’s talking about BDSM here, and that’s totally not cool. And again, the scare-quotes around consent really piss me off. I guess my consent is invalid?

He argues that people (or just “men”) have sexual “needs.”

Wait, what? Of course people have sexual needs. I do find it irritating when people say that only men have sexual needs, but that’s because we all do.

He defends these actions by saying that some women also engage in them.

Oh hey, I see what you did there.

So I suppose I’m a rape supporter. But wait, hey, I’m a woman, not a man, so I guess I’m not?

This gets to the heart of what I find so deeply disturbing about many sex-negative feminists approaches to the “sex wars:” it’s almost as if women are non-actors. We can’t really give consent to things they find icky, like so-called “abuse,” and it doesn’t matter whether we watch porn, because obviously only men like things like that. So if we’re watching porn or being “abused” (or are engaged in sex work) it’s because our boyfriends made us do it, or maybe we were just brainwashed by the patriarchy. How fucking disempowering is that?

This is all kinds of messed up. For one thing, it trivializes consent. If we can’t actually consent to things, consent ceases to matter.

Second, it completely erases female desire and, worse, erases women with “problematic” desires. I had a bit of fun pointing out the ways that I identified with many of these “rape-supporter red flags” because I am now comfortable with my sexuality.

But if I had read this when I was in college, when my deepest, darkest secret was that I got off almost exclusively to rape stories on Literotica, I would have felt horrible. Sure, I would have known this was silly and over-the-top, but there would have been a part of me that would have said “see, you really are a bad person for having these fantasies.” I know this because that actually was how I felt, and that feeling was a big factor in why it took me so long to accept my sexuality.

Look, this is not my first time at the Feminism Rodeo by a long shot. The whole “rape culture” idea is based on the idea that women are sexual objects to be used by men, and I agree with that, to an extent (being a social scientist, I can’t totally agree with it because it’s never been proven in a peer-reviewed study). However, I think another thing that encourages rape is the idea that women are not independent sexual beings with their own desires and agency. And posts like the one I’m talking about reinforce that idea.

Also, it’s one thing to say “we live in a culture with narratives that promote rape” and whole other to say “you are a rape supporter if you do or say any of these things that, by my own admission, most men do or say.”

But really, the post pissed me off because I actually take rape seriously. Porn does not cause rape*, and being sexist does not cause rape. I’ve known “nice, aware” feminist guys who were rapists, and traditional, conservative guys who spoke up vociferously at even the slightest hint of a rape joke.

Rape is a specific act that occurs when a person’s sexual consent is violated. It’s a crime that needs to be taken seriously, not taken advantage of by those who want to push an anti-sex agenda.

Hat-tip to Dissenting Leftist, for alerting me to this post!

* According to RAINN, sexual assault rates have gone down by 60% since 1993, roughly the same time period that porn became widely available on the internet. This is actually an amazing feminist victory that we don’t hear enough about.

My porn boyfriend, James Deen (NSFW/your grandma’s house)

5 Jun

This feminist has a crush on a porn star, and his name is James Deen. Some of you are probably already nodding your heads.

I’m putting the rest of this behind the cut, since it’s long and has some sexy images. Yep, I’m basically pretending this blog is a dirty tumblr.
Continue reading

Why I Like Rihanna

2 Jun

At one point, I’d planned to write a whole post about Rihanna, “S&M” and abuse, but then it seemed like The Cultural Moment had passed, and so I never did. But some of the comments on my little post yesterday got me thinking, so I figured, who cares about the cultural moment? I think this stuff is interesting.

Here’s the thing: I really like Rihanna a lot. Partly, I just like her music. Yes, it’s cheesy pop music, etc., etc. But Rihanna has an amazing voice and works with some great producers. Excellent driving-to-work music.

When S&M came out, I saw three major criticisms:

1. This isn’t what BDSM really looks like!

2. She’s obviously not really into BDSM herself.

3. Clearly, this means that she wanted to get beat up by her boyfriend!

I’m not going to even address #3, because I doubt that anyone who feels that way is actually reading this blog. #1 is a bit trickier, but to that I say, “um, when is any kind of sex in a music video representative of real sex?”  As I said in my post yesterday, the video doesn’t really “speak to me,” and I’m sort of annoyed at the “ooh, whips and chains” cheesiness of it, but I’m generally annoyed at the cheesiness of how sex is portrayed in things like music videos. However, I do find the song catchy and the video fun.

#2 is the one I really want to address. It’s sort of the hipster-kinkster argument: she’s a kinky poser! Except that she’s not, as she told Rolling Stone last month:

“I like to take charge, but I love to be submissive … Being submissive in the bedroom is really fun. You get to be a little lady, to have somebody be macho and in charge of your shit. That’s sexy to me. I work a lot, and I have to make a lot of executive decisions, so when it comes to being intimate, I like to feel like I’m somebody’s girl … I like to be spanked. Being tied up is fun. I like to keep it spontaneous. Sometimes whips and chains can be overly planned – you gotta stop, get the whip from the drawer downstairs. . . . I’d rather have him use his hands.”

And here’s the thing I really like about Rihanna – her public image is of a self-assured, sexually empowered woman who knows what she wants – and what she wants, sexually, is to take a submissive role.

This is something you almost never see in mainstream pop culture. Ever since the third wave of feminism hit, we’re all supposed to be sexually empowered, which is great. But the way that’s talked about most of the time is that you need to “be in charge” and “take what you want.” This was horribly confusing to me for a long time, because “being in charge” was completely unsexy to me, so I wondered if that meant I was just sexually stunted.

And the messages out there that do encourage being sexually submissive are all about Pleasing Your Man (see Pervocracy’s excellent and hilarious monthly mocking of Cosmo for more on this). But honestly, I’m wracking my brain to think of another example of a woman whose image is centered around being sexually empowered and who talks about taking a submissive role and I can’t think of anyone else.

The other great thing about this quote is the reference to gender performance. She talks about getting to be “someone’s girl” with a macho guy taking charge. But she’s not saying “I have to act like a man in the real world, but really, I want to be a little girl because that is my True Essence.” She’s saying “it’s fun to play with gender and act out these scripts that make us both feel sexy.”

It’s damn refreshing – but also damn depressing that she’s the only one I can think of who’s managed to strike this “empowered submissive” balance in mainstream pop culture. Please, tell me I’m wrong about this!

Whips and chains

1 Jun

So, it’s definitely kinda weird to be at a baseball game with all your coworkers and hear the song “S&M” by Rihanna come on (by which I mean, “na na na come on, come on, come on“) over the loudspeaker. I wanted to turn to my work BFF and be all “can you believe they’re playing this?” but of course, to him it’s just another cheesy pop song. And it is a cheesy pop song. But I like it. I don’t necessarily feel like it speaks to me, but I love that the video portrays BDSM as fun and sexy and sort of silly, not mean and scary and dark.

Ah, well, I giggled to myself at least.