Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Sex positive feminism:" the Eternal Saga

Here's why it really matters to me, okay.

Off a conversation at Bitch | Lab's: I said, in response to whether "sex positive feminism" could legitimately be considered a theoretical branch in its own right, like socialist feminism:

Amanda had had that article about “major in feminism, minor in sex pos.”

but, I dunno if any of the actual sex positive -feminists- per se have written extensively about root causes of this or that, no;

but if one sees Wilhelm Reich as an ideological ancestor of the sex-pos movement, (feminist and otherwise) which I do, then a lot more clicks into place.

essentially, it’s the idea that sexual freedom matters -not- just because it’s part of individualism or expressing oneself or even cocking a snoot (ha! i love archaic slang) at outdated patriarchal sexual mores;

it matters because the erotic impulse is an incredibly powerful source of energy. if you don’t use it one way, it’s gonna pop out in another.

authoritarians have known (to whatever degree of consciousness) about this since time immemorial. There’s a reason why “patriarchy” is so emphatic about sexual repression. It’s not just taboos based on primal existential fears (although no doubt that’s part of what started it, and that’s always there); and it’s not just a nefarious plot to keep people miserable or even distracted from the “real” issues.

It’s a way of harnessing energy.

Magic, in other words.

in the case of mass movements like fascism, malign sorcery. all those brooms stand up and march, march, march…

Which is not how Reich puts it, of course. And I think Reich oversimplified a lot; he was a product of his time. There are other physioemotional energies that matter as well; the neo-Reichians and other somatic psychologists have a more integrative approach (not to mention a far less hetcentric/sexist one).

but, and I learned this organically through my own experience of internalized homophobia:

you can’t shut down one part of yourself and expect the rest to be unaffected.

teach people to become disconnected from their own bodies and desires and you can fill them with pretty much whatever crap you want to.

This is why “my body belongs to me” is so fucking important.

It’s not about the Meaning of the Womb or the Phallus or whatnot; that’s there, but it’s also more reification after a certain point.

It’s because what they call the “still small voice” in religious/spiritual circles, wherever its ultimate source, comes--I have found--from within.

and while erotic bodywork, getting touch with your own feelings and emotions and sensations is probably not sufficient of itself to get back in touch with that, it’s a key part and a damn good start. I’ve found.

One way or the other: if you don't reconnect to that voice? You'll forever be at the mercy of someone else's. One way or another. Some someone. Maybe a series of someones.

Someone who knows you better than you.

Someone who can tell you exactly what you need...for your own good.


midwesterntransport said...

>you can’t shut down one part of yourself and expect the rest to be unaffected.>


belle, that made me a bit teary. that applies to survivor stuff in a big way, i think.

belledame222 said...

thanks for saying so, mwt.

yeah of course one of the things that has driven me absolutely bugfuck about this whole thing is this assumption that if you prioritize "frivolous" shit like actual sexual contact the way you want it, you clearly Just Don't Understand serious sexual trauma.

tell it to Dorothy Allison.

Alex said...

teach people to become disconnected from their own bodies and desires and you can fill them with pretty much whatever crap you want to.


And: Fuck that noise.

Alon Levy said...

I think it's a largely Darwinian process. You can have fanaticism without puritanism, but then you encounter problems with people who think fucking is more fun than indoctrinating, slaving, enslaving, murdering, or destroying, so pretty soon this brand of fanaticism dies. The more stable brands are those that ensure, pace Orwell, that people's energies are singularly directed toward The Cause, and that means no sex (except for procreation), in fact no pleasure at all.

The most sadly hilarious thing here is that some people have internalized that view so much that they end up justifying pleasure on ideological grounds, as if "I like it, and it doesn't hurt you, so deal with it" isn't a good explanation.

belledame222 said...

I know, that's what boggles me.

It's like: okay, I understand the notion that individual choice ain't as simple as it sounds, arguably more so in some contexts than others (my argument is that YOUR OWN DAMN BODY is pretty straightforward, particularly when it comes to such shit as adornment and alteration and what you think about and how you get yourself off while thinking about it, never even mind the Talmudic subtleties some people go into wrt "consent" with a partner, and what this or the other act does or doesn't represent in some greater fucking sociological construct, pleasure be damned).

but, like, at the dinner with Amp, Amp sez well what about does someone "choose" to work for minimum wage?

and i was all...see, I just wouldn't even frame it like that. I mean yes the person does in fact make that choices; but the real question in that instance is "what are the actual choices?" Because if the alternatives are "turn to crime, go to jail" or "starve," then, you know, there's more going on here than "choice."

in short, i think, why I'm not an i-feminist.

no woman is an island and all that.


besides what (to me) is one of the fundamental percepts of feminism (My Body Belongs To Me, Dammit), I gotta say; if pleasure doesn't matter, then what's the fucking point? Bare survival? Well, shit, we're more or less doing that already, unless we aren't. Are we all supposed to live like fucking ants or something? Deeper meaning? Well y'know what, contrary to what our PATRIARCHAL (YES) training tells us, depth/soulfulness and sensual, even erotic pleasure are NOT bloody MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

that's the bottom line here, isn't it? I mean: "sexual pleasure is frivolous:" how frigging Calvinistic can you get? you think that's NOT "patriarchal?" oh, honey.

FoolishOwl said...

you can’t shut down one part of yourself and expect the rest to be unaffected.
Story of my (non)fucking life.

Bitch | Lab said...

i think that's the biggest misnomer in the 'choice' discourse.

it's always posed as choice or no choice.

rather, what is better is to see that our choices are delimited.

i mean, the simplistic analogy is this. we have all kinds of choices re: laundry detergent. and it's not even that the branding misleads us. because there really are some detergents that work better than others. I think it's pretty well proven that powder is better than liquid. and, dpeending on how much you trust Consumer Reports...

So, it's not that the choices are fake. Within the range of laundry detergents, there are real choices even if often enough what we see as real are the various brands rather than as some people do, choose based on Consumer Reports.

But the real issue isn't how our choices are shaped such that we choose brands rather than using science to decide which is the best detergent. that's important, of course, but it's just the first step. The end point is *not* to get us to the point where we use science to decide which is the best choice.

the issue is how did those choices get on the shelves in the first fucking place? Where is our choice, there?

supposedly, our choice lies in the voting power of our pocketbook.


this *is* where radfems have had much to say. but, the mistake they make (I think) is to zero in on the idea that we should just stop even if only publicly choosing any detergent at all.

if everyone stopped buying detergent and made their own, well then... the detergent companies would go right out of business.

and I'm thinking, honey. just no. the detergent companies would just buy up all the companies that produce lye and the herbs and oils you put in your soap to make it smell purty.

so, where'd you get?

belledame222 said...

yeah. sort of "I'll hold my breath till the Patriarchy/Corporate Hegemony falls down," eh.

i mean as a -personal- choice I'm all for getting off the grid, if that's what you need to do to make yourself happy. hell, I admire it. if all you're looking for is carving out a space for yourself, then, sure. hey, works/ed for the Amish, more or less.

but expecting it to be a useful tactic in getting the entire world to swing your way...well, yah, I think you're gonna be waiting a loooooong time.

Bitch | Lab said...

well, yah, but he point is to figure out how we can control the making of society on the grid! making a new grid. least for me.

and that's where the post-structuralism will always come in. there is no magic outside of society. we're sutck in it. you can't just dump it all and start fresh. it is a dream of deliverance that propelled people to come to this country and build their cities on the hill, to escape the corruption of europe. it is mythhology because they just brought it with them.

and that is what the book you mentioned last night seems to be getting at, yah? only it was framed theoretically and politically as "innocent of history".

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