Sex-positivity and feminism

April 8, 2009


Amanda Hess’s absolutely awesome post on the “sex-positivity” aspect of feminism is a must read!  The thing that set her off on her rant was the selection of Annie Sprinkle as the keynote speaker at American University’s Visions in Feminism conference.  She argues that “sex-positivity” is a dull and worthless concept that adds nothing to the movement and even belittles it by implying that the sexiness of orgasms is essential to feminism.  While I agree with her that “sex-positivity” does get really old, I think she actually gets at something important when she says:

If people who like sex see sex-positivity as a part of the feminist movement, maybe they’ll see feminism as less prude and scary and icky and straight-laced and serious and anti-man. 

The unfortunately truth is that feminism is still fighting the negative uptight anti-man image and that features like “sex-positivity” do bring some people in the door who might otherwise turn and walk the other way.  Especially on college campuses.

While my own feminism and understanding of feminism has changed dramatically over the years, in college, sex-positivity was a huge aspect of my feminist identity.  I was so proud of my ability to reclaim sex for my gender.  I saw my comfort with my own sexuality as a political statement.  “That’s right! I like feminist porn- you got a problem with that?” Blah, blah, blah.  An attitude that I may find laughably embarrassing now, but at the time it was incredibly important to me and one that then led me to read more and take more classes in feminist theory.

So while, I completely agree with Hess that sex-positivity is tedious and, yes, even condescending to feminism, unfortunately I think it may serve a purpose.


One Response to “Sex-positivity and feminism”

  1. A.Y. Siu Says:

    It is a little bit weird, considering I have yet to meet or read a feminist who is sex-negative… okay, you could make a case for Andrea Dworkin, but pretty much anyone else is sex-positive (just rape-negative or misogynist-porn-negative).

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