vergoldung: (and when the storm's gone?)
[personal profile] vergoldung
(Two days late, because real life exists. But I'm sure you all will be clement and forgive me!)

Because she knows where it hurts, [livejournal.com profile] kwritten came at me with false positives of the "sex positive" feminist dialogue. And well. Angst lies ahead, folks.

This is a hard one, because it hits so close to home. I believe it's really important to be supportive of all women owning their sexuality in the ways that works for them individually, so in theory I'm all for sex positivity. But in reality? I feel very at odds with what I've experienced sex positivity to be like and what I feel mainstream sex positivity stands for as of today. This is not to say that I disagree with the original sentiment, no. But as far as I'm concerned, there are a lot of things to be said about how much the sex positive movement fails in execution.

I want to be clear that I'm not making this post to shit all over feminism not being perfect. That's not what I'm trying to do. But the way "mainstream" sex positivity established itself as PRO SEX AND IF YOU DISAGREE YOU'RE WRONG OR OPRESSED doesn't work for me. I can't shake the sentiment that mainstream sex positivity movement is roaring in such a loud and radical way to get everybody else to shut the fuck up. And I get that the intention is to shut up the patriarchy and its incessant slut-shaming, I do. But the mainstream sex positivity dialog is rooted in White Feminism™ and doesn't care about the complexity of the sexuality spectrum, is automatically talking over many many women and that should never be okay.

I'm not here to discuss how nuanced this or that sex positivity activists are. That's not the problem. I know the fundamentals of the movement are good job and want to defend all women and their sexuality, but to get to that nice place I need to look up sex positivity and go get the parts of the dialog that are inclusive and truly positive. Because just like how Feminism is fundamentally about all women, the political reality of it is still alienating many women (especially WoC and trans women), because what's being blasted at full sound power is not speaking to everybody. What I'm trying to say is that what sucks is how the MAINSTREAM EFFECT drains so many things out of the sex positive dialog and makes it something that I - and many other people - feel antagonized by. Because the mainstream effect is about big titles, shock factor and slogans, the only things you absorb as a noob to something is what's being said loud and repeatedly. So until I looked into sex positivity on my own the way sex positivity presented itself to me was all about freeing the sluts and fighting the shame. Which good. (Really, I'm 100% behind this.) But if that's all the sex positivity movement was going to say, then I'm sorry to say that I would have needed a sex negativity movement. There, I said it.

What frustrates me the most about mainstream sex positivity is that it feels like it's addressing men/patriarchy and saying "you're not allowed to define our sexuality and even less shame us for it". Which again, good. Great even! I think that's really a really important thing to establish. BUT IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A MOVEMENT ABOUT SEX AND WOMEN CAN WE PLEASE ADDRESS WOMEN FIRST? CAN WE PLEASE TRY TO PROTECT YOUNG WOMEN WHO ARE MAYBE JUST ABOUT TO HAVE A FIRST TASTE OF SEXUALITY WITHIN A KYRIARCHAL WORLD? CAN WE CARE ABOUT ALL WOMEN? CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE COMPLEXITY OF CONSENT FIRST AND FOREMOST? CAN WE PLEASE PLEASE WORRY ABOUT GIVING ALL WOMEN TOOLS TO A SAFE AND HEALTHY SEXUALITY FIRST AND TELL MEN OFF IN SECOND PLACE? TOOLS MEANING INFORMATION AND VALIDATION, SEXUALITY INCLUDING ASEXUALITY AND ALL WOMEN INCLUDING ALL WOMEN.

(I hesitated a bit about writing this following part down, but here it goes, mostly uncensored.) I'm a bit less bitter now, but if you had talked to me about sex positivity two months ago, I would have told you how BETRAYED I was feeling. Feminism really let me down on that one and I was feeling vindictive as fuck. Still do, a little bit. I know it's not fair to put the blame on Feminism for what happened. Feminism had nothing to do with it. But regardless of that, a big part of me is desperately disappointed that Feminism didn't protect me. That nobody cared to tell me "you don't need to have sex EVER". For somebody to say "you can be accomplished and worthy of love and respect, even if you NEVER have sex in your life". Why couldn't I have heard that somewhere? Why did I have to look this up by myself to hear that for the first time? It could have made such a difference for me to know that not having sex ever was an actual option in life.

Myriam wrote this sentence in her comment to my post about virginity and it is such an accurate description of my line of thought at seventeen it hurts: "It's gonna happen someday anyway so it's best to get ready for it and experience it so this way you'll know what to expect." THERE WAS NO OPTION. Just getting ready to bear it.

I guess what hurts me the most is that we truly lack a mass movement that teaches women how to say no. (And this is not just about me, although I really would like somebody to teach me how to say no.) It's about the entire female population living in a patriarchal world where they are already expected to say yes. Sure it's not a powerful yes that's encouraged. But it's a yes nonetheless? In fact the whole point of rape culture is to get victims to say yes I want(ed) it, so that it's not rape anymore. (Ugh, I'm probably explaining this all wrong.) All the romantic tropes groom girls to internalize the idea that it's good to say no and play coy because that makes you more desirable, but that there is no place for a real DEFINITIVE and non-negotiable no. Everything is done to guilt-trip females when they attract attention, and especially male attention. And when you're intrinsically culpable of people disrespecting your consent, it's really difficult to believe you have the right to stand up for yourself. After all, the other is suffering too, right? Flat out rejection is not something that is encouraged as such. Rejection of the "wrong, unsuitable" is encouraged, yes. But that's when society agrees with you that you should say no. When social pressure, rape culture, romance tropes all work together to tell you that you're the one that's UNGRATEFUL, you're the one that's being DIFFICULT, you will LEARN to like it with TIME, don't be so UPTIGHT, etc etc… Saying no is not something you can afford do too often and it always needs to be well argued. BUT WHERE ARE THE ARGUMENTS TO SHIELD YOURSELF WITH? In a patriarchal culture that systematically values male desire over female desire, saying "I don't want" it is not really a relevant argument because HE DOES, too bad.

No means no, is a good campaign. But what does it help if it's so much easier to say yes? It's so much easier to say yes to something that you didn't really want, than have to face the fact that somebody you trusted raped you. Everybody wants you to say yes, why would you say no. WHERE IS THE GAIN IN SAYING NO? That's what needs to be addressed loud and clear. Because only when you're allowed to truly say no, can you also give a real yes.
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