Saturday, April 24, 2010

What is Feminist Sex?

Hestia over at The Coming Night wrote a piece asking just that question, and looking at it from a second wave and radical perspective, though she herself is not a feminist.  I came to a different answer than she did, since the feminism I and most of my feminist contemporaries embrace is not that of the radicals or the second wavers.

Feminist sex is that which is consensual, freely chosen, and takes into consideration the pleasure of all the parties involved.  I was curious to see if my friends had a similar take on it, so I asked a couple of them before writing this post.

"I think feminist sex is about getting what you want out of sex and not faking the Big O" --Jane

"Clearly consensual, with carefully sourced porn.  Takes into account the pleasure and preferences of both partners." --Jenny

Feminist sex is sex that realizes that what women want matters every bit as much as what men want.  Feminist sex is sex which is focused on pleasure and the journey, rather than solely the goal of male orgasm.  Feminist sex is sex where neither party is pressured to "perform" for the self esteem of the other.  Feminist sex can be man on top or woman on top, doggy style, include a element of S&M, vanilla, all oral, use sex toys, be inside a heterosexual marriage or happen during a lesbian three ways of strangers, be the best sex of your life or be just an average encounter.  The trappings of it don't matter as much as the spirit.

I know there are people who disagree with me.  Separatist feminists, radical feminists, and political lesbians all likely do.  Sex positive feminists, formal equality feminists, and liberal feminists are far more likely to agree with me.  It's actually really hard to try to pin down "feminist sex" because... well, it's hard to pin down feminism.  Different people automatically associate themselves with the different subsets.  I'm a liberal sex positive third wave feminist, as are most of the feminists I know- and I have a very strong feeling that liberal, sex positive feminism is what is currently dominating the feminism movement.  So I don't have any qualms saying that sex with a man, inside a heterosexual marriage, that includes giving oral sex and being tied to the bed for penetrative sex, is just as feminist as lesbian sex where both participants give and receive exactly the same actions, or heterosexual sex where the man is the one giving oral sex and tied to the bed for a session of pegging.  

I know some people will argue that whenever a woman is being dominated, it's unfeminist, and that if she thinks she likes it, she's a victim of false consciousness.  I'll admit that there are probably some women out there who are victims of false consciousness... but there are also those of us who are given to a lot of introspection and analysis of our thoughts, feelings, and desires.  Telling women they can't be submissive in bed as just as restrictive as telling them they must be.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that your desires are off the beaten path-- and if you have a partner that thinks it sounds interesting, there's nothing wrong with exploring those desires.  There's also nothing inherently degrading or demeaning about oral sex for either party-- because there is nothing unfeminist about wanting to give your partner pleasure.  If you are always only focused on your partner's pleasure at the expense of your own, that's like a problem, and likely not feminist sex.  But giving oral because you love your partner and want to make him or her happy, and because you delight in your partner's happiness?  I don't see any way that isn't feminist. 

Feminism is about choices-- and men and women having the equal ability to make choices that determine their lives and to have equal access and opportunity to act on their choices.  As such, any attempt to tell a woman that for her sex to be feminist it must stick to certain scripts and ignore any desires that place her partner in power over her must ultimately fail.  The keys to feminist sex are choice, communication, and having an active role in making sure all participants enjoy the sex they're having.


Anonymous said...


Masculinist said...

I've heard that a lot of modern feminists like to fuck their boyfriends, sex partners, and/or husbands in the ass with a strap-on. So some kind of movement in feminist sex is women as penetrators and men as penetrated -- truly disgusting.

What a bunch of degenerates. These types of people are literally turning human nature upside down -- actually, not just human nature, but mammalian instict -- in all mammals, the male does the penetrating and the female is penetrated. But these freaks get off on sick shit like women fucking men in the ass. What a disgusting world we live in: maybe it really is the 'Kali Yuga' we are living in?

Em said...

@ Masculinist - do the men who are being fucked in the ass not have a say? Maybe, just maybe, some men *like* being fucked by their partners. Ever think of that? Also... mammalian instinct is all well and good but we have higher intelligence (well, most of us do) and as such don't rely on instinct alone. Thank God.

Great post on feminist sex though, thanks (linked via feministe)

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what's degenerate: shaving legs and pubic areas. After all, our traditional ancestors never did that either! Now there's turning human nature upside down. And human nature doesn't include blow jobs, because it's just not natural. Well, I'm glad we cleared that up.

Anonymous said...

Feminist sex is great in principle but try to make it happen. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times guys have gone down on me, including when I *asked* them to. Then, 90 per cent of the guys in question would ask "are you done yet" after about 30 seconds. In other words: they would spoil the mood intentionally so that I would want them to stop. Charming. Blow jobs? Supposed to be mandatory, 'cause you're not a good gf if you don't. If I did to every guy while blowing them what they did to me while eating me out, they would probably feel entitled to complain out loud. My worst session was 45 minutes. Now there's a reason to ask "are you done yet" or more specifically, "why the hell don't you ask your doc for Viagra". Needless to say, oral isn't on my menu anymore. Too one-sided. I suppose that's "feminist sex" in action, but it would be better the other way, with absolutely mutual effort.

Snap said...

This whole blog post makes me roflcopter.

Anonymous said...

"And human nature doesn't include blow jobs, because it's just not natural. Well, I'm glad we cleared that up."

Oh yea? And Cunnilingus is natural? You GO GRRRRL!!!

Anonymous said...

And, for the record, Our ancesters didnt shave their bodies because they NEEDED THE FUCKING HAIR. A little thing called electricity changed this. (which, you know, is just another invention of MEN). So, seriously woman, if you are going to sound this completely fucking idiotic, dont even bother posting.

Anonymous said...

You suggested that feminist sex is sex that is equally pleasurable for both partners. I'd go a stage further and say it's sex guided by and principally for the enjoyment of a woman.

For thousands of years, sex has been focused principally on male desires and the male orgasm. Which is crazy, if you think of it: the male orgasm carries risks of pregnancy and disease transmission that are not invoked by the female equivalent; also men's climaxes are shorter and less intense than women's, and we guys have fewer of them.

There have been times in the relatively recent past when the female orgasm was seen as an impossibility or an aberration; even now, there are communities in which the clitoris is excised to prevent it. With the world's population now more than seven billion, I wonder whether the time has come to try to suppress the male climax, and for sex to become recreational and female-focused.

Generations of conditioning affect all men, myself included. But if we're honest with ourselves I suspect most of us would rather go down on the woman we love, or give her an intimate massage, than practise vanilla vaginal intercourse culminating in ejaculation.