I get that feminism is divided into lots of different factions, because it has to be. "Just as there is no one woman, there can be no one feminism", if you will. (I didn't say that - it was a quote I came across studying for my exams but it's a brilliant one) I'm cool with these factions - I don't have the same feminism needs as someone who is LGBT, or from another country - but when I read this article earlier today I couldn't help wondering just what these "feminists" were getting at. The article interviewed two "radical feminists", who go on to question consent and sex positive feminism. In an article that begins with "how two young feminists are using radical feminism to change the world", certain elements of the article seem just a little backward. It's no doubt an interesting read, but nonethless, parts of it rubbed me up the wrong way - so rather than tear the article apart (which, let's face it, I'm not clever enough to do) I'm just going to offer my two cents on bits and pieces of "radical" feminism that have bothered me for a while now.
First of all: yeah, we live in a hyper-sexualised society. The recent outrage at Kraft's at for Philidelphia shows that the hyper-sexualisation doesn't exactly go both ways: by and large, it's women who are presented as sex objects, not men. Things like capitalism are intertwined with this issue and that's a bloody problem. The portrayal of women in the media is one of those things I can't talk about without choking on my own-rage tears, unable to construct a proper argument. It's something that angers me to the point of incoherency. While I do see that society's ideals of women need to change, I don't think "sex negativity" is the way to do it.
A small history lesson: "sex-negative" feminism sprang up in the 1970's when a bunch of women decided porn was wrong. Fair enough. But it's other elements of it I dislike - Andrea Dworkin, for example, wrote a book (that I ought to read) called Intercourse, which kind of kicked off the sex-negative movement.
"Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women," - from "Intercourse"
From ideas like this, the idea of "consent" arises. Consent is important: durr. But some feminists would argue that consent is meaningless in a patriarchal society, which to me, sounds like undermining women in a huge way. From what I can gather from SNF, it seems to be arguing that sex is...well, bad for women. I think the TC quote was said in quite general terms, but it's still a dangerous thing to say . It's here my own life philosophy comes in: not your body? Not your problem. Consent is a thing between two people - yes, it's violated sometimes and that's horrific but I don't think that it's constantly undermined by the patriarchy. I try to keep the patriarchy out of my knickers in so far as possible.
" Even the notion of consent, considered by so many to be a simple matter, is problematic — in a patriarchal society where women’s agency is circumscribed by male supremacy, how meaningful is consent? These issues are purposefully obscured by sex-positive feminists who believe that sex is an inherent good and that to feel otherwise is somehow aberrant, abnormal, a position that should be remedied." - from Thought Catalog's interview
However, my real problem with sex-negative feminism is how problematic it is to an young Irish woman such as myself. It's adding to the double-standard that women have regarding sex. I'm not pretending to be an expert on anything in this area - I'm nineteen, for Christ's sake, and I've only identified as a feminist for about two years! Nonetheless, however, this idea makes me uncomfortable. Not only are Irish women dealing with slut-shaming, vague Catholic guilt and all those general worries about having sex, we're dealing with dissention from a movement that's supposed to be inclusive and safe for women. I'm beginning to view the anti-sex brigade as akin to the anti-choice brigade - I believe that the option to have sex should be there. Or to not have sex. No one will judge you for either choice, because guess what?
- What you do with your body is no one's problem but your own
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm no expert. There's a lot of elements to Radical Feminism that I do not understand. But just a quick scroll through Tumblr's sex negative tag brings up some pretty worrying stuff.
In essence, I still feel that women's sexualities are trodden down - by both men and other women - on a day to day basis in various ways. It's being called a slut, posts on Facebook about how women should keep their legs closed, being told that hair isn't sexy, Youth Defence, hundreds of ads, airbrushing, having things shouted at you in the street, being told to stop talking about sex or the worst, scariest parts things - it's there, it's happening on a daily basis, and it's terrifying. I am standing on a stool and shouting "I reject this!" because my sex life - and on that note, my body, my sexuality and my feelings - are not your problem. Just as yours isn't my problem.
Stop telling me what to do with my body, guys, you're acting like the patriarchy.