A friend of mine posted this link to a Tumblr post by legalisedlies about how liberal “feminists” say “listen to sex workers” but then they will only listen to the most privileged women in the sex trade because they support sex-pozzitive ideology. (I will not call them “sex-positive” with correct spelling because these people do not support healthy sexuality.) Legalizedlies wrote a fantastic comment response which I want to talk about:
Nah, they don’t. The fact that they call our lived experience “victim porn” says enough. They don’t propose to “listen to sex workers” because they give a damn about us. They do so because their “sex positive” ideology needs some steamy hot propaganda. We can’t let it happen that the trauma of these girls gets in the way of their porn addiction, right?
If they’d fully grasp the trauma of being violated in the sex industry, they can’t fetishise our rapes anymore. We can’t have that, can we?But i do acknowledge that they are victims in this too. I’m getting more concerned by the game that is rigged than the fact that they come back time and time again to lose, so to speak. Can we really blame libfems for fetishising the brutalisation of women if nobody under 30 can even imagine what healthy sex looks like, let alone communicate about it? Like i said: the game is rigged; we live in such a pornified world that at this stage, sex and dominance, submission and violence are synonyms. I can name 0 examples in the real world outside of my imagination where i’ve seen healthy sexuality. And even if we all had seen a few examples, when sexual violence against women is so eroticised, it would strike most as un-erotic. This fetishisation is taught behavior. The only thing that i feel that could change this is an end to capitalism and a complete removal of the sexualisation of dominance, submission and sexual violence against women from society. Untill that happens all we have is each other. I will continue to try to be in solidarity with other women and do damage control. We sometimes get frustrated with libfems, but maybe, just maybe, our work can make their lives less risky too. And that’s what it’s all about.
This is a fantastic summary of porn culture: young people are constantly fed unhealthy sexuality through pornography and pop culture and sex-pozzie “feminism” and they’re not getting any examples of healthy sexuality. It’s worth having conversations about what healthy sexuality is and what we should be striving for as we attempt to cleanse our minds of porn culture. I’m thinking about how I can write more about this topic, but for now, here are a few points about healthy sex.
Sex is not work or a job. It’s a leisure activity done just for the joy of it. I will compare sex to hanging out and spending time with your loved ones. It wouldn’t make any sense to say that hanging out watching a movie and laughing with your friends on a Friday night is “work” or that you could pay someone for it. Same with sex. It’s something you do because you feel like it, because it gives you joy and pleasure. If it feels like work to you, that’s because you’re not enjoying it and are doing it for someone else’s sake. You do not have to engage in sex that you don’t enjoy.
Sex is not a performance, nor is it glamorous. Sex is something private and vulnerable and sometimes messy. It involves real human bodies. Real human bodies are not cookie-cutter perfect, they aren’t always gorgeous to look at, and they do embarrassing things sometimes, like burp at the wrong moment. Orgasms aren’t always loud and obvious, some of them are rather quiet like a sigh or a whisper. Pleasure can be expressed loudly or subtly depending on the person and the situation.
During sex you should feel joyful, happy, relaxed, and excited. You should not feel nervous, bored, scared, or frozen. It’s possible you may feel a bit nervous if it’s a new partner and you’re super excited and hoping it will go well. But that is a nervousness based on excitement and desire, not a nervousness based on fear of the situation or the person. You should absolutely not be in fear.
Your partner should care about you and your pleasure. He/she should listen to you and the directions you give and should be excited to learn what pleases you. You should feel comfortable saying what you want and don’t want. If you don’t know what you want, just take it slowly, you will gradually figure it out.
There should be no consequence for saying “no” to something. If you say no to something your partner should immediately stop without complaining or demanding an explanation and should switch to something else that you like better. Your partner should not continue to do something you don’t like or try to talk you into it. She/he should be happy to switch to something you like better.
During good sex, you will probably smile and/or laugh with delight. You should feel relaxed enough to laugh if something funny happens. Sometimes bodies are hilarious.
Sex should not hurt, and it certainly should not cause injuries that require treatment. If it doesn’t feel good, you are allowed to stop. There is a myth that goes around that your first time will hurt. Sorry about the TMI, but my first time did not hurt, it felt great. I think if your first time hurts it’s because you aren’t actually aware that you are not aroused. I will repeat again: if it hurts, you are allowed to stop.
You should not have an expectation that sex needs to include specific acts. Rather, you should just do things that both you and your partner enjoy, regardless of whether or not you think other people do things that way. It doesn’t matter what everybody else is doing.
You should not have to drink alcohol or take drugs before sex in order to feel brave enough to go through with it. If you do not feel brave enough to go through with it, then you probably don’t actually want it. If you want sex, you’ll be eager to do it even while sober.
Sex is not about seeing how much you can get away with or seeing how far you can push someone. Sex is affection and caring expressed with your body. If it feels like you are “making hate” rather than “making love” then consider that this may be abuse.
You don’t have to feel ready to have sex at a certain age. You don’t have to like sex at all. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Just like you wouldn’t sign up for a photography class if you’re not interested in photography, if you’re not interested in sex you don’t have to sign up for it either. You don’t owe anyone sex for any reason, even if you’re in a relationship. No one owns your body but you.
A note about dominance and submission. One of the main things we learn from porn culture is that dominance and submission are sexy. Sex seems to get sexier according to how much power one person has over the other, and how far they can push the other to submit. This is not healthy. Neither you nor your partner should have power over the other, you should be equals who come together out of your own free will, because you like being together. If you find dominance and submission sexy, I’m not surprised, because most of us do. I do, too—it was taught to me by my culture. There’s nothing unique or special about a person who is acting out exactly what they’ve been taught. It’s pretty predictable, actually. Wanting to act out the sexual abuse we are saturated in is not a sexual orientation—it’s a response and a reaction to what we’ve been trained in. I believe this can be unlearned, although it’s not easy.
In a perfect world, sex is a fun and joyful experience between two equal partners who care about each other’s pleasure. It’s not an obligation or a source of pain. That’s what we’re striving for.