When I started this blog, I swore to myself that I would not spend my time picking fights with radical feminists. The real enemy is the patriarchy, no? And mostly, I’ve kept to that, with a few exceptions.
But I just read something on I Blame the Patriarchy that made me say “oh … HELL no!” and well, what is a blog for if not to share those “oh … HELL no!” moments with the world?
From I Blame the Patriarchy:
Today’s feminist, empowered by all those articles on vibrators in Bust magazine, chooses choices of her own free will. These choices mirror her own unique sartorial, sexual, and philosophical personality. That these unique choices happen to align precisely with standard male porn fantasies, and that they are therefore rewarded with positive attention, is purely coincidental.
Note the smug sarcasm dripping from this passage? “Oh how adorable” reads the subtext. “You think you’re making a choice for yourself, but really, you’re just kidding yourself, girls. You’re doing what they want you to do!” Or: “aww, look at it wear a miniskirt! It thinks it’s feminists!”
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I really believe that one of the things that made me repress my submissive leanings for so long was the fear that, by acting them out, or even just admitting them to myself, I was giving Patriarchy what it wanted. I was playing into its game.
But now that seems so silly to me. Partly because who the hell really cares what I do sexually with a partner of my choosing? But also because, well, so what if my sexual identity and fantasies happen to complement the sexual identities and fantasies of some or even many men? I mean, assuming she’s right (which is a big assumption, but whatever): I’m a heterosexual woman – isn’t it a good thing for my sexual fantasies to complement those of the very people I prefer to have sex with? Doesn’t this mean better sex for everyone?
I think this, right here, is why I have never really felt comfortable identifying as a radical of any kind. Because this is what happens to most of the radicals I’ve known (and I’ve known a lot): they take these, often correct, ideas about the collective forces that are harming society (whether it’s deeply ingrained sexism or out-of-control capitalism) and they make it personal.
And that’s what Jill is doing here. She’s not just saying that sex-positive feminism plays into what patriarchy wants – she’s saying this plays into what men want. And that’s supposed to invalidate it. Because one can only be a true feminist if one is making men unhappy, I suppose.
Incidentally, this post seems to be an oblique reference to a post by Holly at Pervocracy, which in turn was a reference to an extremely frustrating thread on one of my favorite time-wasting sites, Metafilter. Something that came up in the thread on Metafilter, and that Jill seems to be implying here, is that sex-positive feminists are unreflective about the complexities of gender and sex and that we’re resistant to be challenged on these complexities.
Now, obviously, I don’t speak for all sex-positive feminists. I do think there is some truth to that assertion, sometimes. But I think even reading a few posts on my blog will show that I have certainly not spent too little time thinking about the complexities of gender expectations and how they relate to my sexuality.
But you know what? All that thought is only so helpful. Honestly, I will openly concur that my submissive sexuality has been at least partially shaped by my gender socialization. No shit. Does that mean I should go back to ignoring it? Just lock it away?
Oh … HELL no.