Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

November 22 2014


sex positivity and rape culture: the case for bodily autonomy



ok, i’m gonna try to actually formulate this argument instead of just screaming my thesis over and over again into the void.  my thinking on this is pretty indebted to this article by radtransfem.  it’s been a few years since i read it last and i don’t really want to reread the whole thing right now b/c i’m lazy so it may be that my opinion diverges from hers.  the part of her argument that i want to talk about is at the very beginning anyway:

“A slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you,” write Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy in The Ethical Slut: A guide to infinite sexual possibilities.

In doing so, they create space for every sexual possibility except for one: the possibility to consider whether sex may not be nice.

Some might suggest this space exists, already populated by woman-haters, given the shame, hatred and violence on offer for women who dare to have sex on their own terms. But these moralistic right-wing views don’t hold that sex is not nice – they hold that women who have sex (and others who are seen to be treated as women in sex) are not nice.

As such it is both progressive and radical to say that sex is not shameful for women, and that a woman should not be punished for her sexual choices; radical, because shaming and punishment are both commonplace.

But in the present day it is not radical to say that “sex is nice”. If anything, it’s tautological. Sex, for all practical purposes, is defined much of the time as only “that which is nice” – in many feminist discourses, if it is not nice, it is not sex.

This precludes certain ways of thinking about sex. I would like to look at the things we are able to think when we allow ourselves to criticise not just singular sex acts but the ‘niceness’ of sex under patriarchy as a whole.

i co-sign this passage unreservedly.  i am a survivor of rape and abuse at the hands of a straight white cis man.  my ex used sex-positive rhetoric and ideas, particularly kink positivity, to manipulate and coerce me into having painful, violent sex with him over and over again.  he framed every rape as something i had done to him, as my failure as a partner who did not communicate clearly enough.  if i had just told him what i wanted so that he could understand it, he posited, the rapes would never have occurred.  i was so wrapped up in the idea of being a ggg partner, and in my firm belief in the niceness of sex, that i wasn’t able to recognize the abuse as it was happening.

i realize that this situation is typical for people in abusive, romantic relationships. i am not trying to blame the sex-posi movement for everything my ex did to me.  what i would like to talk about are the issues inherent in an ideology that made it so easy for him to emotionally manipulate me and wave away his abusive actions, including unambiguous physical and sexual violence, as breakdowns in communication.

  • "good, giving, game": compulsory sexuality and sex positivity

dan savage is a misogynist, a transmisogynist, a biphobe, and a transphobe.  he’s also one of the loudest and most recognizable voices of the sex-posi movement.  he coined the term ‘ggg’ on his shitty sex advice column, savage love.  here’s the definition:

[O]ne should strive to be Good in bed, Giving ”equal time and equal pleasure” to one’s partner, and Game ”for anything—within reason.” [x]

this seemed like a pretty reasonable sexual ethos to 19-year-old me.  try to make your partner happy?  make sure their needs are being met?  seek someone who will likewise prioritize my needs?  sure!

the problem with the concept of ggg-ness is that it puts you in the position of feeling obligated to prioritize your partner’s needs above your own.  uncomfortable with x sex act for y reason?  that’s not very ggg of you.  it’s not like he wants to shit in your mouth* or something.

the underlying assumption behind the term is that sex is nice, so why would you not want to try new things?  why would you not want to have a lot of it?  if sex is nice, then the only people who aren’t ggg are selfish jerks, freaky-deaky moralists, or damaged goods.  

the presumed niceness of sex is present in the label itself: sex positivity.  there can be no room under the sex-positive umbrella for negativity about sex, for an understanding of bad sexual experiences as anything other than aberrant.  sex-positive rhetoric may include people who are uninterested as sex as an afterthought or a footnote, but typically the sex-posi response to people’s negative feelings about sex falls into one of three categories: talking over them, incredulity, or backpedaling.  ”you just don’t understand.”  ”but that wasn’t really sex because it wasn’t consensual!”  ”but why wouldn’t you want to do it?”  ”you could at least try."  "oh, well, of course if you’re asexual… anyway.”  all of these responses make perfect sense when we accept the niceness of sex as axiomatic.

  • "if it is not nice, it is not sex": rape and sex positivity

rape is commonly defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse.  a lot of people argue that rape is not sex because it is not consensual.  sex positivity uses this formulation, stating that all sex is by definition consensual.  the line of thinking is that, if it was not consensual, it can’t be called sex.  this forms the basis of the argument that sex is nice.  semantically centering consent is all well and good, but there’s just one problem:  it’s bullshit.

of course rape is sex!  it’s literally sexual contact.  my ex boyfriend hurt me repeatedly, violently, during and by means of the sex acts he performed on my body.  the western feminist case for rape as not sex stems from the trivialization and normalization of rape under the patriarchy:  calling rape “sex” implies that no harm was done to the victim.  the point is that we should not lie about violence against women — don’t sugarcoat it, call a spade a goddamn spade for fuck’s sake.  it’s like calling squares rectangles:  technically accurate, but not common parlance and therefore misleading.  however, sex-positive rhetoric does not acknowledge this nuance.  the sex-positive formulation of sex looks like this:


when sex actually looks more like this, in my experience:


when my ex-boyfriend raped me, he was having sex with me.  we both understood it as such, and so did any other participants as far as i know.  the sex-positive definition of sex is harmful because it assumes that there is a clear and obvious divide between sex and rape.  as the vast majority of rape survivors will be able to tell you, that is absolutely not the case.

my rapes were very sexual, and because i frequently initiated the contact or requested the acts that he hurt me with, i did not understand them as rape.  if rape was not sex, then how could i have been sexually assaulted when i understood what had happened to me as sex, not rape?  if sex was nice, then why couldn’t i stop crying?  if rape is not clearly and immediately identifiable to the victim, how can the assumption that sex is nice possibly help her?

i don’t think it can.

  • the case for bodily autonomy

as you’ve probably gathered by now, i am not sex-positive.  i might call myself sex-negative, although i’d want to read radtransfem’s article again before taking up that banner.  i am certainly kink-critical.  i think that sex positivity is a harmful concept when treated as a complete analysis of sex under the patriarchy in western culture.  i think it excludes and shames asexuals, demisexuals, rape survivors, abuse survivors, and people who are otherwise uninterested in or have a difficult relationship with sex.  i think it supports the concept of 'gray rape' and places the onus on rape victims to make sure their assailants understand that they do not consent.  in short, i think it’s misogynistic.

in lieu of sex positivity, i propose a sexual ethos of bodily autonomy.  i believe that all people have the right to dictate how others interact with them sexually.  i believe that all people should be free to structure their sex lives and pursue their sexual interests in whatever way makes them most comfortable, happy, and fulfilled, as long as they are not violating the bodily autonomy of another.  the central concept of bodily autonomy is not that sex is nice, but that your body is yours, and no one else’s.  

bodily autonomy attaches no value judgments to sex — it treats sexual contact as an activity that comes with potential risks and rewards like any other.  sex is just a thing you can do with your body, if you choose to.  there is room for the a person to like or dislike sex, have sex frequently or rarely, to hate sex, to fear sex, to love sex, to want sex, and on and on.  the statement “sex is good!” makes no sense in terms of bodily autonomy — one would instead say, “sex is good for me."  

bodily autonomy centers consent explicitly, not implicitly.  it leaves room for a vast multiplicity of experiences with and feelings toward sex without erasure or judgment.  sex positivity is moralistic, but bodily autonomy is flexible.  it’s a big umbrella with room under it for all of us, not just those who enjoy or desire regular sexual contact with others.  what’s more, it’s an ethos that makes me feel safe as a sexual assault survivor, rather than alienated and threatened.  for that reason alone, i think it’s a concept well worth exploring.


* or, you know, whatever

naw you got it. :)

i reckon in going for “body autonomy” the next step is to go, ok, what is the pressure that makes it hard for me to have autonomy? and when i look at it, “people think bad things about me when i have sex” (sex moralism) isn’t that pressure. sure it sucks, but the one that’s killing me is, “people think bad things about me when I don’t have sex” (compulsory sexuality). so for me to get autonomy, i need to push back against that one.

and since i wrote that article, i’ve been prodded into realising by several Black woman writers that there’s something more general going on, and that you can rephrase it like this: the problem with majority sex-positive discourse is that it takes the subject - the kind of person - that it’s trying to liberate, as a particular kind of white woman. one for whom the biggest problem is, “people think bad things about me when i have sex”. and it goes, ok, that liberates me & mine, that must be what Women™ need to liberate them!

i wanna reiterate (or iterate, not sure if i’ve said it before) that there is tonnes of sex+ theory which says, “hey, sex is bad sometimes, we gotta look at that”. but in The Ethical Prude I focused on sex+ practice and on the atmospheres that billow around the communities i’m in. what does that theory do when it hits the ground? where does it become praxis? how does it intermix with other attitudes, how is it coopted, what are its limits? what are the actual effects of it on, say, trans women? and that’s where i’m coming from when i wrote The Ethical Prude.

Tree of Color — sex positivity and rape culture: the case for bodily autonomy
Reposted frommanxx manxx
Reposted fromnaich naich viamanxx manxx
9567 9ec7 390
7435 eee2 390


for a satire news site they hit the nail on the head

Reposted fromrubesdragon rubesdragon vianerdanel nerdanel
2468 30c9


When your playing a fighting game for the first time with your friend.

Reposted fromtayfun tayfun viahanse hanse
3484 5ec4 390










I showed this post to my boyfriend and he tried to take his shirt off like a girl and 



Out of the 82k notes my post got this is by far the best comment holy shit thank u for being u

So i tried it both ways and uh

i mean how do you do the first one without pulling out all your hair?

this made me laugh really hard….

and it made me realize that girls and boys pull their shirt off differently. /amazed

but seriously I think girls just do the cross arm thing because of HAIR like demonstrated 

So one year, one URL change, and a hair cut later, I decide to try again… FOR SCIENCE! 

Its not science unless you write it down so 

First method:

Well done, i guess…


I fucked up

Girls… how?



It’s all in the way that girl/boys shirts are made.

Girls shirts have less armpit room then boy’s do and are generally shorter so pulling it off over your head is more practical because by lifting your arms all the way up you make enough room for the sleeves to just slip off.

Boys shirts have more room and are generally longer so it is easy to slip them off over your head.

but if you take a girls shirt off like a boys shirt you will get your arms caught because there isn’t much armpit space.

and if you take a boys shirt off like a girls shit you will still have your head in it when you’ve lifted your arms all the way up because of the shirt’s length.

It has nothing to do with us. It is entirely to do with how our shirts are made. I figured it out for you. YOU’RE WELCOME!

bless you

Reposted fromrewywewy rewywewy viahanse hanse
Play fullscreen
Every Mumford and Sons Song Basically by Dion Beary

okay, so it's not a cover of one specific song  XD
Reposted fromsongsung songsung viahairinmy hairinmy
Play fullscreen
Deaf Metal Commercial
Reposted fromPornobalken Pornobalken viahairinmy hairinmy


because nothing says christmas like your soulmate dying of radiation poisoning giving you one last goodbye kiss through the glass while your knees crumple under the weight of your sorrow, the upcoming 2015 wrath of khan hallmark christmas ornament is a must have!

Reposted fromtreksoup treksoup viahairinmy hairinmy
9319 01b5 390
Reposted fromfungi fungi viacygenb0ck cygenb0ck
1028 13b7 390
Touchdown confirmed, Captain!
Reposted fromtreksoup treksoup viahairinmy hairinmy

Reposted fromhairinmy hairinmy
7744 c69d 390
Reposted fromEctopia Ectopia viapaket paket
Reposted fromDennkost Dennkost viarainbows rainbows
5754 becc 390
Reposted fromBattlecake Battlecake viathepunnery thepunnery
6150 fbfc 390


This weekend, activists in Uganda - a country where homosexuality is punishable by death - held their first Pride. 

This is the epitome of courage. I have no other words. 

Reposted frommanxx manxx
Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.