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Lina of Uncool, as part of a post about the (real or perceived) lack of sexy images of men on sex-positive sites, and comcommitant (also real or perceived) over-representation of sexy images of women, asks:

"So yeah, why is this 'male-centric'? Why is it seen to be pandering to men or patriarchy? Why is [a woman] being naked and sexual seen to be trying to please men?"

Specifically, she's wondering why (some... hell, quite a few) self-identified feminists would reflexively assume that.

The answer to that, it seems to me, is, "Because men are pleased by it." Never mind that the male pleasure may be purely incidental - the woman may be being naked and sexual for her own pleasure, or for that of her female lover (or for that matter for the pleasure of her male lover as distinct from any other men who might observe it). Never mind that some or even all of the men observing might be appreciating her sexual agency, the evident fact of her active sexuality ('cause, know what? Quite a few men find active female sexuality more attractive than passivity. Like JFP for one ::blows kiss::, and come to think of it, I've a shrewd suspicion that's true of most if not all of my male readers.)

No, the problem is that men are pleased - and We Can't Have That!

To a certain breed of feminist, the only way to subvert the "women as sex class" paradigm is to intentionally avoid pleasing men; women who do things that men are pleased by (even if their motivations have sweet fuck-all to do with men) are undermining the subversion effort.

In a resultant private e-conversation, others deconstructed the logical inconsistencies better (certainly more succinctly) than I could, so I quote:

Belledame: "[D]ude, if you spend all your time worrying about what men think,
you're...still spending all your time worrying about what men think."

[ profile] ksej: "And the irony is that this is still letting men's desires control them, just in the other direction."

Yep. Anyone who sees female sexuality only in context of how men respond to it, as if it had no existence outside that context, is - intentionally or unintentionally - reinforcing the "women as sex class" paradigm, not subverting it. Seeing any feminist action only in context of its effect on men undermines its feminism by implying that what doesn't affect men isn't important.

And, y'know, sex isn't an invention of Teh Ev0l Patriarchy; it's just the way human reproduction works. A case can be made, however (historically simplistic, but more logically consistent) , that the stigmatization of sex as dirty, impure, and uncivilized (a stigmatization reinforced by that breed of feminist's distaste for overt sexuality) is a patriarchal construct.

That's not a reason to negate sexuality in the name of feminism, it's a reason to celebrate it.

November 2009



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