Feminist, Pro-Sex, Celibate, and sub (Why These Words Aren’t Mutually Exclusive)
April 10, 2011 3 Comments
It all starts and ends with the big C.
And you know what? I credit feminism with my own understanding of why consent matters. Feminism gave me the tools to exercise and build my agency, helped me learn not only about the power to say “NO!” but to also say “YES!”. Loud, unashamed, hair pulling, toe-curling, yes! It taught me why the media doesn’t love my body, its blackness, its thickness, and explained in the simplest terms why the media is wrong. Feminism gave me the tools to look in the mirror and form healthy opinions about my body, my sexuality, and my self.
Which is why it cuts a bit when this same feminism that opened up these possibilities, chooses to police me. Here I thought feminism supported my right to my own choices, my own decisions about my body, but suddenly certain consensual choices are a threat to feminism?
The core tenet of any healthy BDSM scene is, and there’s that word again, CONSENT. There is power, even in submissiveness; it lies in the choice to give consent, the choice to end the scene at any time and to have that choice respected. Unfortunately the mainstreaming of BDSM has done nothing but corrupt its principles. It’s become cliches of darkness, dungeons, despair, latex, and leather. Not that there’s anything wrong with dungeons and leather, just that it’s become all of what BDSM involves, developed into a stereotype (and stereotypes are, by nature of them being stereotypes, oppressive). Mainstream porn takes it even further by eliminating dialogue for consent. Instead the usual mainstream porn-flick specializes in humiliating, violating, and dehumanizing women; all of this performed for the entertainment and fulfillment of the patriarchal (usually male) gaze.
Even though BDSM (as practiced by individuals not the mess mainlined in sexist media) is not a culture that agrees on everything (you’ve got RACK, PRICK, SSC, CCC, etc.) there has always been one common agreeable thread in all these conversations, CONSENT. Guess who taught me to own my power of consent! Feminism gave me the tools, the rhetoric, to own my power, to share that when I chose to.
To have sex when I want to.
To not have sex when I don’t want to.
Our current culture keeps me in quite the bind, I’ll be slut-shamed for having too much sex, and condemned as cold for not having enough sex- which flavor(s) of patriarchy will you be subject to today? Feminist circles don’t have enough conversations about celibacy as a pro-sex, feminist choice. I blame the Right and their religion limited/contextualized vision of abstinence based on patriarchal ownership of a woman’s sexuality.
So how can anyone be sex-positive and celibate at the same time? Simple, by being sex-positive and celibate, at the same time. Sex-positive celibacy does not equal a condemning of sex, it just means that while one is sex-positive, one can make the informed decision not to have sex, because it’s their choice!
Sex-positive feminism should celebrate individual autonomy, all the yes’es and no’s. Its high time we have all these conversations, on feminism, on acceptance, and on sex-positivity in all its flavors.
- Eliminating CONSENT from any sexual encounter, BDSM or not, is sexual assault. It’s rape.
- When I talk about the feminism that formed me, I’m not just talking about western, USian feminism (restrictive and exclusive as it sometimes can be). I’m talking about the feminism developed of my own thoughts, from belonging to a non-USian culture, feminism I was gifted by mother and her sisters.
- I use the in its widest definition of sexuality; not just as a matter of who I have sex with, but how I do or don’t have sex.
- There is good BDSM porn out there, with emphasis on consent. You just have to look for it. There is also good non-BDSM porn out there that isn’t sexist, homophobic, ableist, or racist. Again, it’s a hunt.
- Please note that celibacy does not negate sexuality; also understand that celibacy is not asexuality!