Seriously, Autostraddle?

Autostraddle published another super-gross article that takes an element of women’s oppression and rebrands it as “empowering.” (Of course, there is no end of articles like this in the world—neoliberalism has been deliberately rebranding oppression as empowerment for at least three decades, for the purpose of destroying leftist movements and supporting capitalism.)

Anyway, this article is called “How My Dad’s Dirty Magazines Shaped My Queer Sexuality.”  Like most sex-pozzie articles on Autostraddle, this should have come with a damn trigger warning.

The author narrates how, as a young teen, she used to come home quickly after school to look through her dad’s magazines while she had an opportunity to be alone in the house. She started on motorcycle magazines with sexy women draped over the motorcycles like decorations, and then moved on to magazines with real nudity, then eventually moved on to Internet porn from there. She says she was about 13.

She thinks the whole experience was positive and empowering:

“More powerful than guilt, shame or feeling just plain ugly was the sense of empowerment I got from those magazines. I believe that sexual images of women are a positive thing. Porn and dirty magazines were a huge part of finding myself, taking ownership of my sexuality and seeing other women empowered by theirs. Looking through my dad’s dirty magazines was an integral part of my self-discovery as a queer woman.”

Does anyone else cringe when they hear the word empowerment, because of the ridiculous misuse of this word by third-wave sex-pozzies?

Being a passive object who is sexualized by other people is the exact opposite of empowerment. The people with the power are those who get to be seen as full human beings and who have the ability to reduce others to objects. One of the most important elements of third-wave sex-pozzie politics is the use of disingenuous claims that are so obviously untrue that one wonders how anyone can claim them with a straight face. The claim that black is white, up is down, freedom is slavery, submission is empowerment! Sorry, sex-pozzies, but this is a bald-faced lie, and you look totally silly saying it.

A lot of the things this writer describes happened to me, too. I used to also come home from school before anyone else in my family and relish the time I had alone to look at my own dad’s magazine stash. I also learned the joy of looking at naked women at the ripe age of 13. I also moved on to Internet porn eventually, having developed a taste for it. Like everyone else in the goddamn world, I learned to sexualize objectification, dominance and submission. How could I not—this stuff is everywhere. It’s in our own homes as we grow up.

The difference between this writer and me is that I became a radical feminist and she did not. She is continuing to sexualize objectification while I am writing against it. Here’s my take on why it’s not “empowering” to “discover your sexuality” while looking at your dad’s magazine stash.

First of all, your own sexuality is not what you see other people creating and publishing, your own sexuality is your own thoughts, feelings, desires, needs, and wants. You don’t learn about yourself by internalizing someone else’s idea of sexuality. The best way to learn about your own sexuality is to just interact with your peers in a normal way, and discover who strikes you as attractive and what you find yourself wanting to do with them. You also learn about your own sexuality by masturbating WITHOUT PORN and by thinking about things that naturally interest you.

Using porn is not discovering your sexuality, using porn is looking upon depictions of sexual abuse and learning to find it arousing. There are no depictions of healthy sexuality in commercial pornography. There is dominance and submission, and men are always dominant. Women are objects for consumption, we are painted with make-up, shaved, placed in submissive poses, and sold for entertainment. We are passive things being acted upon. Women’s sexuality is not being portrayed in porn. Men’s idea of what women should be is what’s portrayed in porn.

The girl who uses porn learns to think of herself and other girls as sexualized objects, and learns to identify with both the sexualized object and the oppressor at the same time. She learns to crave being sexualized and objectified because that’s what gives girls validation that they are worthy. She learns to identify with the male gaze and look upon other girls as objects for her use. When a “queer” girl discovers her sexuality through porn, she discovers a world of dominance and submission where she can play both parts, oppressor and oppressed, and where objectification is what makes sex sexy. This is all a process of grooming—it prepares her to be a sexual libertarian and to accept sexual abuse.

It took me several years to unlearn what I learned from porn, to see myself as a subject rather than an object, to understand that to objectify is to abuse, to really understand and feel that my worth as a person is not based on my ability to be a sex object, to separate my own real desires from what I learned to sexualize while viewing porn. The person who helped me the most with this was Gail Dines. Her Ted talk “Growing Up in a Pornified Culture” is incredibly valuable.

What the author of this article is remembering fondly and practically gushing about is something that is abusive and that she hasn’t been able to recognize as abuse. How strange it is to browse through Autostraddle, which is apparently a magazine for “queer women,” and find articles that sexualize the abuse of queer women. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt sick to my stomach after reading one of these articles because something negative in my life that I’ve worked to overcome is being presented as “empowering.”

Of course, I could just ignore Autostraddle entirely, but I read this stuff and write this stuff to “pay it forward”—I learned feminism from anonymous bloggers, and I’m doing the same for anyone else out there who needs it. Women need to know that there’s something more helpful out there than the stupid abusive bullshit that passes for “feminism” in sex-pozzie publications. Women deserve to be able to learn that being positive toward sex means being negative toward abuse. We deserve to learn to identify abuse, since our culture is constantly trying to confuse us by selling abuse as “empowerment.”

There is a vague, eerie suggestion of incest in the idea that girls can “learn their sexuality” from something their dad does. The fact that there is a long tradition of dads leaving porn around the house for their kids to find is a sign of how little anyone cares about sexual abuse. It’s totally normal for dads to groom their kids into abusive sexuality by leaving porn around. It’s totally normal because abuse is totally normal. This writer really should start thinking about the negative effects of dads showing their kids porn instead of waxing lyrically about it.

I hope that, now that people only use porn on the Internet, and every idiot knows how to delete their browsing history, this tradition will stop. But that’s hardly comforting considering that 11-year-olds have their own smart phones, and what they will be exposed to there is much worse than the pin-ups we used to look at.

This is the concluding paragraph from the article:

“In a time where queerness wasn’t as accepted, I’m thankful that I had an outlet (however pervy it was) to explore my identity. Dirty magazines and porn were a large part of my self-discovery and have positively influenced my sexuality as it is today. Even though identifying myself as queer when I was young seemed terrifying, seeing women unabashedly owning their sexuality taught me to be unashamed of sexuality. I missed a lot of shame and guilt surrounding sex, because I introduced myself to it so young. Being in tune with my sexuality, or even being in tune with my confusion — just simply letting myself feel and experience has led to me being a sexually empowered adult. I thank and honor the perverted 11-year-old I was; she created the proud queer woman and writer I am today.”

Nah, porn didn’t “positively influence” your sexuality. This whole article is a demonstration of the grooming you experienced, that you still have not been able to escape from. One of the primary things that helped me recognize my own grooming was the Ted Talk by Gail Dines that I posted above. She mentions that she has gone to prisons to interview convicted sex offenders, and they have told her that they hardly had to groom their victims at all, because the victims were already ready and accepting of sexual abuse. Victims are coming “pre-groomed” now, thanks to porn itself and also porn culture in general. The sex-pozzitive movement is a movement that gets people to accept porn, prostitution, dominance and submission—it’s a process of grooming. Anyone who wants to put an end to sexual abuse needs to name this, analyze it, and then stop it.

It seems so incredibly obvious that I can’t understand how even Autostraddle doesn’t see it. Women who love women shouldn’t be learning their sexuality from abusive men.

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“Safer sex” guide for trans people is unprofessional and unsafe

This is a post about a new “Safer Sex” guide for trans people. Thanks to our friend Donesoverydone for the link. From the HRC article introducing the guide:

 “Today, the HRC Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, and Whitman-Walker Health, a community health center with special expertise in LGBTQ and HIV-related care, released Safer Sex for Trans Bodies, a comprehensive sexual health guide for transgender and gender expansive people and their partners. The guide fills a significant gap in inclusive, publicly-available sexual health resources for transgender and gender expansive people.

This first-of-its kind resource was drafted by HRC and Whitman-Walker Health in consultation with Casa Ruby, Trans United Fund, and TransLatin@ Coalition. It was made possible with support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation.”

I read through it and although there’s a couple of good points in it (such as “use a condom” and “don’t have sex with a drunk person”), most of it is a train wreck. To do a full critique of this guide would probably turn into an entire dissertation, so I’m just going to focus on a few particular things, mostly involving the renaming of body parts and the inclusion of BDSM and “transactional sex” (prostitution). There’s some information in there about preventing HIV using certain drugs, and I am not informed in the area of HIV drugs so I will not comment on that, but that is surely an interesting conversation too.

The guide begins by defining some terms:

“We, as trans people, use a variety of words to describe our gender and our body parts, and these words can be very unique and personal. There’s no one right way to refer to our bodies, but to keep things consistent in this guide, we’ve decided to use the following words in the following ways.

TRANS: Anyone and everyone who feels they are part of the transgender community, including folks who identify outside of the gender binary. Being trans does not necessarily mean that you have had surgery, want to transition or use specific pronouns. It’s all about how you understand yourself.”

Right…so anyone can be trans for any reason. This definition leaves it so wide open that the term is completely meaningless. “It’s all about how you understand yourself” could mean absolutely anything. Reading through this guide makes me think that “trans” probably refers to “people who want to rename their body parts.”

“TRANSFEMININE: Anyone who was assigned male at birth and now identifies with femininity.

TRANSMASCULINE: Anyone who was assigned female at birth and now identifies with masculinity.”

Fair enough. You can be male and identify with femininity. You can be female and identify with masculinity. That’s fine! It’s not a problem and it doesn’t require a solution.

The next section is where it gets real fun. Just to warn you now, you might spit out your coffee (or burn down civilization) when you read this next part.

“PARTS: We use this word when we’re talking about genitals or sexual anatomy of any kind.

DICK: We use this word to describe external genitals. Dicks come in all shapes and sizes and can belong to people of all genders.

FRONT HOLE: We use this word to talk about internal genitals, sometimes referred to as a vagina. A front hole may self-lubricate, depending on age and hormones.

STRAPLESS: We use this word to describe the genitals of trans women who have not had genital reconstruction (or “bottom surgery”), sometimes referred to as a penis.

VAGINA: We use this word to talk about the genitals of trans women who have had bottom surgery.”

Where to even start with this shit show?

Medical/psychological professionals should use correct clinical words at all times. One of the marks of professionalism is using the correct terminology for your field. These words like “front hole” and “strapless” are fucked up things that people say about their genitals when they are dissociating from their bodies and trying to imagine themselves as someone else. They are also words that only make sense in the context of the porn-soaked sex-pozzie movement. It is completely wrong for medical/psychological professionals to take people’s coping mechanisms and creepy reinterpretations of their genitals and turn them into terminology in a health guide.

This is the entire issue with transgenderism, of course. Gender dysphoria is the only condition where a medical professional will affirm someone’s coping mechanisms as an “identity” instead of treating their underlying issues. Once upon a time, I went to counselling because I believed I was stupid and worthless. They didn’t affirm my identity as a stupid person and try to get me legally labelled as having an intellectual disability, they recognized that I had low self-esteem and helped me with that, like professionals do, and I am now a healthy and happy person.

Now what mental health professionals are doing is just taking the words of people with mental health issues at face value when they reinterpret reality, and inscribing that faulty interpretation into law, medicine, education, and health care. It’s fucking scary.

The word vagina has been taken away from women and given to men. A woman’s vagina is called a “front hole” while an inverted penis is called a vagina. Men have always wanted to own vaginas. Even the word vagina means “sheath for a sword” because men appropriate vaginas for their own uses, believing that they exist for them to stick their penises into. But vaginas actually exist to allow a passage from the uterus to the outside of the body to allow menstrual blood and babies to exit the uterus. The transwoman who gets a surgically created hole in his body sort of does have a “sheath for a sword,” because that’s all it is—it’s not a birth canal. The term “front hole” would be more accurately used on a transwoman’s hole than on a real woman’s vagina. Our vaginas are not just holes, and calling it that is disrespectful.

A transwoman’s penis is called a “strapless” as a way of comparing his penis to a strap-on dildo. Presumably, a transwoman’s penis is a dildo that doesn’t require a harness. This term would surely be used by a transwoman who is attracted to women and thinks of himself as a “lesbian.” Transwomen cannot be lesbians because lesbians are females who are attracted to females. A male penis is not a dildo and does not resemble one in the slightest. A dildo is an inanimate object that lesbians use to pleasure each other, and a penis is a male organ that is a part of the male body. Although lesbians may be interested in dildos, we are not interested in penises. Calling a transwoman’s penis a “strapless” can definitely be seen as insulting to lesbians.

“Don’t assume that every person you meet—trans or otherwise—will use or understand these words. In most cases, the best thing you can do is ask which words a person uses to describe their body. Remember: Our bodies are our own to name and use.”

You’re not just supposed to ask for a person’s pronouns anymore, you have to also ask what words they call their body parts. Dating one of these people must be a mine field.

There are quotes from trans people throughout the guide, and here’s one from “Cole, 29, male (FtM)”:

“Call it my dick, and don’t hesitate when you say it, because that’s how I know what you think and how you feel about what you’re saying. Don’t say cunnilingus, say head. Use the words you would use for any other guy. …My body is different. Chances are good that I have more experience with it than you, or anyone. I probably know what feels good. Whether that’s what I like to be called… or how I want to be touched.”

This is fascinating. What do women gain from calling their clitoris a “dick”? How does it change their sexual experience? What does the word “dick” mean for them? When this person says “that’s how I know how you feel about what you’re saying” what does she think her partner feels? Obviously the word “dick” carries a meaning for these folks about how they feel about their clits, and I’d sure like to know what that feeling is. My TERFy advice, of course, is that however you experience and relate to your clitoris, you are a normal female. Any way a female feels is a female feeling.

Look at how they throw in these fake terms for genitals when talking about STIs:

“Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are passed from person to person through sexual contact, primarily through bodily fluids (e.g., blood, breast milk, front hole or anal fluids, semen/cum and pre-cum). While STIs are generally curable or treatable, they can cause serious health problems if left ignored and untreated.”

Front hole fluids! Jaysus. I’m surprised they are even allowed to say “breast milk.” Shouldn’t they say “chest milk”? They’re probably gonna get in trouble with the breastfeeding FtMs over this one.

Here is a paragraph about condoms that becomes completely incoherent to anyone not fluent in Trans Speak:

“A glove can also be turned into a barrier that accommodates a dick exposed to hormones or a smaller strapless. You can make this combo dental dam/condom (a condam!) from a glove by cutting a line up the pinky-finger side, removing the fingers (but be sure not to cut the thumb) of the glove, and placing the thumb hole over the dick or strapless. This way you can lick, suck or stimulate all the sensitive parts in that area.”

So to translate this into English, you can make a combination condom/dental dam by cutting the fingers (but not the thumb) from a glove. The thumb of the glove goes over the protruding genitals and the “hand” part of the glove covers the surrounding area. This works well for a penis that has been reduced by female hormones, or a clitoris that has been enlarged by male hormones. This is good advice, actually, however incoherently written.

This guide talks about consent, which is good, but look how they throw in a sentence about “transactional sex.”

“Consent is the enthusiastic, mutual and voluntary agreement to do whatever activity you’re discussing. Giving consent is an ongoing process: You always have the right to say “yes” or “no” to any sexual activity regardless of whether you’ve done it before, whether you know your partner really likes it or whether you’re in the middle of doing it. We also recognize that transactional sex complicates consent. If at any point you change your mind about doing something, you should say so and your partner needs to stop.”

Whoa! “We also recognize that transactional sex complicates consent.” Is that maybe because “transactional sex” is a euphemism for prostitution, where a man who feels entitled to using another person’s body for sexual gratification pays money to a vulnerable person for the use of her/his body? Yeah, that fucking complicates consent, seeing as it’s not consensual sex at all when someone is paying you. When two people mutually decide to have sex because they actually want to, nobody pays anyone.

In their section on communication, they talk about “transactional sex” again:

“We recognize that communication can be complicated with transactional sex partners. In some cases, the recognition of the sex transaction can actually help frame sexual negotiation, but power and control dynamics can also make this more challenging. Hopefully, ongoing communication can help us have sexual experiences where we all feel safe and respected.”

Yeah, the power and control dynamics make communication of consent in “transactional sex” (prostitution) more challenging, because johns believe they are owed anything they want once they’ve paid their money and do not believe in the humanity of prostituted persons. (Or in some cases, they do believe in their humanity and specifically get off on dehumanizing someone they know is human.) The one who pays the money is the one who gets to decide, because that is the person with the power. If the people were on equal footing, there would be no exchange of currency. Once again, this is medical/psychological professionals affirming the coping mechanisms of vulnerable people. Prostituted people have to believe they can be safe and in control in a situation with a john, because without this belief, they wouldn’t be able to do what they have to do. But they aren’t in control as long as they have to fulfill other people’s wishes for money, and whenever a john feels like being violent, he gets away with it, because of his power.

This brings us to my next issue with this guide. There is a BDSM section! There seems to be a correlation between trans and BDSM. (Even a bloody summer camp for trans people has a BDSM workshop at it.) They introduce the BDSM section by specifically recommending it for people who don’t like using their genitals during sex:

“While plenty of us feel comfortable using our parts during sex, it’s also ok if you don’t feel comfortable doing that. Luckily, sexuality is broad, and there are lots of ways to be sexual without using your parts at all.”

If this paragraph just stood alone, I would be all for it. Like, if you don’t feel like you can have genital sex there are other ways to be intimate, like kissing, cuddling, and massage—which are all wonderful activities to do with a partner. But those sorts of things just don’t appeal to sex-pozzies, who are only into performance and transaction and being cool and edgy. What this paragraph is actually doing is recommending BDSM for people who can’t use their genitals during sex. And who can’t use their genitals during sex? People who are traumatized and disassociating from their bodies. Obviously the cure for trauma and disassociation is acting out scenes of violence or enacting actual violence!

“BDSM is short for Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism and Masochism, and encompasses a huge array of activities that some of us do for fun, sometimes in a sexual way. And of course, because many of these activities don’t involve our parts, they’re generally very low risk for transmitting STIs! However, there are some higher-risk BDSM activities that may expose you and your partner(s) to bodily fluids, including blood. All of these activities require a high level of skill and communication, and should not be attempted without mentorship or supervision by a more experienced person in the BDSM community. And since blood can transmit STIs, including HIV and Hepatitis C, these activities also require safety precautions to prevent transmission. Always use sterile needles, knives or blades; wipe up excess blood with a single-use cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol; and avoid cutting or touching any open sores on the skin. Because BDSM activities can involve very intense physical sensations as well as scenarios where people are reacting in situation-specific ways, most people use a safeword to indicate when a boundary has been crossed or when play should stop. Accordingly, a safeword is usually a word that you would not ordinarily say during play, such as “red,” “pineapple” or even “safeword.” You should always discuss your safeword with your partner(s) BEFORE beginning any kind of BDSM activity.”

(Emphasis mine.) In my official capacity as a Vanilla Supremacist Kink-Shaming Shitlord, allow me to offer some better advice than this: DO NOT USE NEEDLES, KNIVES OR BLADES DURING SEX. If anyone wants to use weapons on you or harm you during sex, that person is abusive and is not a safe person to be around. The safest thing for you to do is get as far away from that person as possible. There should never be a reason to have to wipe up blood during sex, unless you are on your period and it’s menstrual blood.

Here’s how they describe the changes that testosterone makes in female bodies:

“Many transmasculine people taking testosterone will notice an increased sex drive, and your orgasms may feel stronger and more intense. It may, however, be harder for your front hole to get wet once you start taking testosterone, so it’s especially important to use lube to prevent tearing during sex. Tearing in your front hole can make you particularly susceptible to contracting STIs. Testosterone also causes your dick to grow (up to a couple of centimeters) and after a while, you will stop getting a regular period. If you are taking testosterone and having sex with someone who produces sperm and has not had their tubes tied (a vasectomy), even if you’re not getting your period regularly, you can still get pregnant. The only exception is if you’ve had your uterus and/or ovaries removed, your fallopian tubes tied or blocked, or effective contraception is being used. Again, feel free to ask your healthcare provider if you are concerned about causing an unwanted pregnancy.”

Thanks goodness they at least mention that trans men can become pregnant. No matter how masculine a female may feel, her female body creates a baby when sperm fertilizes her ovum.

Here are some surgeries that transmasculine people can get:

“Mastectomy/Chest Reconstruction: Remove excess tissue from the chest and masculinize its shape
Hysterectomy: Remove the uterus and sometimes the cervix
Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes
Vaginectomy: Remove the front hole
Metoidioplasty: Free a dick exposed to hormones from the ligaments in the labia to let it hang lower
Phalloplasty: Form a larger dick (with implant for creating an erection) using skin grafted from the arm, back, or thigh After metoidioplasty or phalloplasty, you may sometimes pee a teaspoon’s worth of fluid during sex. When you wear an external condom, make sure to pinch the tip to make space for the fluid. If a condom doesn’t fit snugly, but a finger cot is too small for your dick, you can use a cock ring to keep a condom in place.”

Breasts are “excess tissue.” A vaginectomy removes the “front hole.” Shouldn’t it be called frontholectomy? What’s the ‘vag’ in vaginectomy anyway? Could it be VAGINA? (But above they said only transwomen had vaginas!) Metoidioplasty: free your dick from your labia! You don’t want those pesky labia in the way of your “dick” when you’re trying to be all manly! And phalloplasty, where to get started on that? You can watch an actual phalloplasty being performed on YouTube. Surgeons take a large chunk of skin from a woman’s arm or leg and roll it into a cylinder and sew it onto her genitals. It does not resemble a penis in the slightest, nor does it work the way a penis does. It looks like a cylinder of arm flesh sewn onto a female. It comes with complications such as “persistently high rates of urethral fistulas and strictures.” Phalloplasty is an absolutely terrible idea. Even in this guide they admit you might pee a little during sex!

Let’s summarize the problems with this “safer sex guide,” shall we?

  • Normalizing the terminology of the trans cult that reimagines body parts as something else
  • Making it sound as though prostitution is basically acceptable and just makes communication slightly more challenging
  • Promoting BDSM and making it sound as though it’s okay to use weapons to injure people during sex as long as they’re sterile weapons
  • Promoting surgeries that have high risks of complications that put the patient’s health at risk

This doesn’t look like a safer sex guide to me. This looks like more trans propaganda that attempts to normalize the dysfunctional behavior of people who are struggling with trauma and disassociation, and that steers them toward more trauma and more disassociation rather than steering them toward health.

The way to have a healthy sex life is to love and accept your body and your self as you are and to have respectful and healthy relationships with people who care about you, while protecting yourself and your partner from STIs and pregnancy using the same methods that everyone else uses. This guide does not help with that. All it does is reflect people’s mistaken beliefs back at them, which is an unhelpful and unprofessional thing to do.

Sex-pozzies and their “feminist porn”

A piece of anti-feminist propaganda published in the Guardian recently preaches that yes, feminists can have rape fantasies! And it’s all subversive and revolutionary when we do, of course.

The title of the article is Spanking, caning and consent play: how feminist porn frees women from shame.

The main gist of this article is that women just intrinsically want to fantasize about rape, and create porn that depicts rape, and they are ashamed of this because of the shaming coming from repressed, anti-sex prudes.

This shit is not new. Sex-pozzie “feminism” has been around for decades as a backlash against radical feminism. The sex-pozzies don’t like when feminists talk about serious topics like rape, incest, pornography, prostitution, and sexual slavery, and they prefer to turn the conversation back to their fun sexytimes. Because they are really fun people who just want to have a good time and they’re not like those ugly, man-hating feminists.

The article begins thusly:

“Can a feminist have rape fantasies?

According to feminist pornography producer Pandora Blake, who runs the fetish porn site Dreams of Spanking and frequently portrays fantasies of “non-consent”, the answer is a no-brainer. “Absolutely.”

The general consensus in the feminist porn movement is that no fantasy, no matter how anti-feminist the subject matter appears to be, is off limits. To tell a woman what she is and is not allowed to be turned on by is just about as anti-feminist as it gets.

“Removing shame from hardcore BDSM desire and rape play and age play and all of the kinky taboos that women just have not been allowed to like ever, that’s the kind of stuff that really draws me into the feminist porn movement,” says Courtney Trouble, the producer behind Trouble Productions and a past Feminist Porn Conference keynote speaker.”

Where to even get started with this “feminist porn” business? The people quoted in this article are suggesting that “feminist porn” can have just as much abusive content as regular porn—they say that nothing is off-limits, including hardcore BDSM and rape. So what is the difference then, between what they’re creating and the rest of the misogynist porn industry?

The “feminist pornographers” explain that in their porn, performers are allowed to cut the scene if they are uncomfortable with something, they talk about consent first, fat people are allowed, and only people who are kinky in real life do kink scenes, so that no vanilla prudes will be made uncomfortable. So basically the only difference between “feminist porn” and regular porn is that no one is outright being raped, and there is more variety in body type. Everything else is the same though—the eroticization of dominance and submission and the portrayal of oppression as sexy is left intact. The same message is being sent to the viewer: the sexual abuse of women is sexy.

When it comes down to it, the main difference between “feminist porn” and regular porn is that in “feminist porn” it’s women volunteering for their own degradation, instead of men enforcing it on them. How revolutionary! But this is what third wave sex-pozzie “feminism” is. It’s when women take over doing the hard work of oppressing women so that men can relax and just enjoy the show. Women volunteer to be oppressed instead of being helpless victims of oppression. Because if we volunteer for our oppression, it isn’t oppressing us anymore. You can fight a revolution without changing the material conditions of women’s lives—you simply rebrand what’s happening to you as something else and voilà—oppression gone!

Liberal feminism

Back in 2008, Twisty Faster wrote about a “feminist” burlesque show that was a lot like this, in the sense that it was about how it’s a “feminist” act for women to volunteer to be objectified. She wrote one of the best blog titles I’ve ever seen:

“Pornulation empowerfulizes us, say humorous ironic hotties”

Fucking genius.This is a great piece of hers, however short, and it contains these gems, which are applicable to the current “feminist porn” article.

“How is fun-feminism different from regular feminism? Not at all, except that it’s antifeminist. It’s when you capitulate to, participate in, embrace, and openly promote rape culture in exchange for approval, claiming that it empowerfulizes you.”

And…

“The idea that women’s public sexuality can so precisely mirror traditional male fantasy while simultaneously existing in a kind of pro-woman, I-do-it-for-myself alternate universe is the cornerstone of funfeminist “thought.” The flaw in this reasoning is that all women must participate in patriarchy regardless of what they say motivates their participation; patriarchy is the dominant culture, and there is no opting out. Which means there is no opting in, either. Do it for me, do it for you, whatever; the primary beneficiaries of women’s participation — willing or unwilling, ironic or sincere — in patriarchy, are men.”

Even funfeminists should be able to realize, if they bothered to think about it, that when you promote the idea that rape is sexy, the people who benefit from that are rapists.

One of the interviewees, Blake, presents her desire for kink as a naturally-occurring trait that she discovered while growing up, and that she had to work through her shame around it in order to become her kinky self. I call bullshit on that. The idea that a woman’s inborn sexual desires perfectly resemble the oppression that men subject us to is actually a misogynist idea that men have been using against us for centuries. Men have always claimed that women naturally want to submit to men, and that we want to be controlled, used, and abused, because this justifies women’s oppression. MRAs are still saying this today. (Notice that sex-pozzies and MRAs agree on a lot of things?) Of course, if you bring this up to a kinkster, you’ll be dismissed, name-called, and booted out. That’s because they don’t want to think about the social context of their desires or the political implications of what they’re doing. That would totally kill their buzz, and their buzz is way more important to them than liberating the female sex class from oppression.

“What’s hot about spanking is the fear of it, the anxiety and anticipation of what’s coming,” Blake says.

Well I must be a vanilla shitlord, because I don’t believe that anxiety and fear are a part of a healthy sex life. I think that what people should feel during sex are love, joy, arousal, fun, excitement, climax, and release, not fear or pain.

“Feminists routinely fight for sexual agency – a woman’s right to make decisions about her own sexuality, including when and with whom to have sex, and when, if ever, to get pregnant. Feminists traditionally rebel against the forces that would hem in these rights: the puritanical voices that say that a woman who enjoys sex is a slut, that would restrict access to contraceptives, that claim that dressing provocatively is inviting rape.”

Real feminists, not the fun kind, realize that fighting for women’s sexual agency means making material changes in the world that allow women to say no, because when you don’t have the option of saying ‘no,’ your ‘yes’ is meaningless. For example, when feminists fought for the right to divorce, the right to work for our own wages, and the right to access birth control and abortion, those changes all made it easier for women to control when and how and with whom we have sex or get pregnant. By controlling our own lives and not being dependent on a husband we are free to make our own sexual and reproductive decisions. But when funfeminists talk about “fighting for women’s sexual agency” they actually mean celebrating middle-class women’s choices to participate in the exact patriarchal institutions that deny agency to countless women who are less fortunate than they are. Creating your own pornography is only fun for middle-class women. Women who have no real choices and are desperate for money and find that their only option is the sex industry find it a lot less fun.

Funfeminists vaguely understand that there is something wrong with mainstream porn, but because their understanding is very limited, they don’t have any useful solutions.

“Certainly there are things in mainstream porn that I think are stereotypical, or repetitive, boring, or even offensive,” Taormino told me, “but the answer is not to shut down porn. The answer is to make more porn.”

I’m going to use an analogy here that comes from Gail Dines. People call her “anti-sex” because she opposes the porn industry. As she explains, that would be like calling someone “anti-food” because they criticized the fast food industry. The problem with the porn industry is not that a few movies are bad, it’s that the industry as a whole harms women as a group. It’s an industry that profits from male power and sexualizes women’s submission, it teaches that rape is sexy, it grooms entire generations into accepting abusive behavior, it reduces women to a collection of holes to fuck instead of whole human beings. The answer to this industry is not to set up one porn studio that makes so-called “ethical porn.” That would be like trying to counteract the negative effects of capitalism by opening one ethically-run business. That one ethically-run business does absolutely nothing to negate the fact that unethical business practices are institutionalized worldwide and harming most of the world’s people. And by the way, when your porn studio produces rape scenes, “age play,” and hardcore BDSM, then it’s already unethical, even if your actors talk about consent before they shoot the scene.

Let’s talk about what “age play” is. This is a euphemism for acting out the sexual abuse of an underage person. We are even given an example of it in the article:

“like a schoolgirl who knows she’s going to get a caning after school and can’t think about anything else and she’s asking her friends how bad it’s going to be, if it’s going to hurt.”

It should be obvious to anyone that this is the sexualization of child abuse.

“Removing shame from hardcore BDSM desire and rape play and age play and all of the kinky taboos that women just have not been allowed to like ever, that’s the kind of stuff that really draws me into the feminist porn movement,” says Courtney Trouble.

So this “feminist” thinks that removing shame from the eroticization of things like rape and child sexual abuse is a part of the “feminist porn movement.” I disagree. If you are fantasizing about hurting a woman or a child you SHOULD be ashamed. And as for women who fantasize about being on the receiving end of abuse, they have a responsibility to realize that this is not some sort of innate “kink” to celebrate having, it’s a response to being treated in an abusive way and being taught to sexualize that abuse. It’s not necessary to be ashamed if you have internalized harmful messages from your culture, but it’s necessary to realize they are harmful and to avoid defending and promoting them.

“In a world where porn is the de facto sex education for any teenager with an internet connection, socially responsible producers have to think not only about what will get people off, but what people will learn.”

This sentence coming from someone who thinks that “rape play,” “age play” and “hardcore BDSM” are okay? Are these the things that they want teenagers to learn? That’s absolutely frightening.

I will never call these people sex-positive, because they are actually positive toward abuse, not sex. They are as far from being feminists as the average MRA, and they are not fighting a social justice movement. Women already have the right to be abused. What we need is the right to be free from abuse. Only the radical feminists are fighting for that.

P.S.—The mainstream media loves publishing these sorts of articles. That’s because part of the backlash against feminism is a sort of fake version of feminism that gets promoted by people who have an interest in the continuation of capitalism and patriarchy. They promote a neo-liberal version of feminism that is all about women being “empowered” by making consumer choices, and women participating in patriarchy while rebranding it as their “agency” in a deliberate strategy to kill the feminist movement. There is no better explanation of this phenomenon than Gail Dines’ lecture Neo-Liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism. Neo-liberalism has also killed the Left, because it has turned us away from class analysis and toward pointless wanking over “identities.” Anyone wanting to learn about feminism should avoid the mainstream media altogether and just read either Feminst Current, print books by feminists, or anonymous blogs by feminists. Not the fun kind.