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!
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:
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.”
“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.