Thursday, January 19, 2006

I'm a big girl. I can take it.

With greater exposure comes greater scrutiny, and I've drawn some critics from my recent post about attitudes toward female libido. Unfortunately for my ego, they have a not insignificant amount of legitimacy to them.

First of all, sorry about the terminology goof. Sex-positive, pro-sex, whatever.

While I agree that sex-pos feminism isn't an orgasm contest, I do think that there is some evidence that this doesn't always come across. Between the Ann Landers letter, more than a few posts I've read at by women who say they masturbate but it doesn't feel good, and my own inadequacy issues in the past, I think this is not something that the sex-pos crowd should ignore.

A real doosey that I ran into recently was in the January issue of Elle magazine. The article (the title escapes me, but I'll find it) profiled a woman who is on a mission to prove that a combination of a certain diet and exercise will yeild untold amounts of pleasure and countless orgasms. I know that's the good part of the article, but it's not what I found the most interesting. The article was written by a woman who has ongoing issues with orgasms and libido, and it ended with the author saying that even with the reccomended diet and exercises, masturbation still felt like "work." The only reason to masturbate is because you like it. Something is getting lost in the mix here.

I did lay too much blame at the feet of sex-positive feminsm (or it may be more correct to say sex-positive feminists), however. A lot of sex-positive messages have been coopted for economic gain (i.e. Girls Gone Wild has its good points and bad points), and this commodification of female sexual empowerment does a good job of garbling the sex-positive message. It sucks and it's not the fault of sex-positive feminists, but that doesn't make it any less of a problem. The ideas is, after all, to get a message across. If what you're doing to get it across isn't working how it should, maybe something new or different is necessary.

I'm not suggesting that the baby be thrown out with the bathwater here. Far more people have been helped by the sex-positive message than have been hurt. But when these problematic byproducts of the movement present themselves, some red flags should pop up. Bitchlab's response to my original post, while I mostly dug it, came off with a tinge of blame for these women who are feeling inadequate or putting themselves through orgasm bootcamp.
It’s an argument against a sex positive feminism that just doesn’t exist. If it does, I saw no quote from or links to any women who exemplify this point of view (or even the other one,that of the “prude”).
I don't have any quotes handy, but I do have my experience of being a teenager who grew up reading sex-positive literature, and the hypersexual sex-positive feminist is the picture I ended up with. I may have been misinterpreting, but it would be a good idea for bitchlab and others to think about why.
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