Friday, September 7, 2007

WS 200 Blog #1: Sex-Positive Feminism

Elena Funk
7 September 2007
Joelle Ryan
WS 200 H 001
Blog Entry #1: Sex-Positive Feminism
Sex has always seemed to be a sensitive issue in the public eye. It became a heated discussion in the early 1980s between the newly dubbed anti-sex feminists and sex-positive feminists when there was a view of “patriarchal control over sexuality” (Corbin). Over time and with help from several passionate feminists sex-positive feminism has grown into a branch of feminist movement with distinct core values and beliefs. Exploring the components of sex-positive feminism will give me better insight as to what kind of feminist I am becoming.
To understand sex-positive feminism one must find a definition. Wikipedia offers the following: “Sex-positive feminism centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women’s freedom.” In general, the view that sex is something to be shameful of is rejected. Conflict arises through the interpretation of “sexual freedom.” While some may see this a women being able to have as many sexual partners as they please without retribution it could also be seen as men and patriarchal women having “free and easy access to sex without… protocol, courtship, and responsibility” (Nickel). Some key issues of this type of feminism include opposition to control of any kind over sexual activities and that sexual minorities are seen as valuable members who “[endorse] the value of coalition-building” (“Sex-positive feminism”). Sex-positive feminism differs from other types of feminism in that its prime concern is the acceptance of every human’s bodily needs. Sex is seen as a natural human function and however a person wishes to fulfill their sexual desires is acceptable in the eyes of sex-positive feminists.
My relation to sex-positive feminism is just being realized, but I do fully agree with one of its core values: sexual freedom. I believe it is wrong to restrict a person’s sexual activities due to gender, race, or sexual preference. Each human has basic needs and being sexually fulfilled is one of them. I would not personally practice some of methods that are used to satisfy one’s sexual desires, but to each his or her own. If a person finds they can reach orgasm by dressing up as a fox and having “fuzzy sex” with another human dressed as a rabbit that is their choice and I would not try to say it cannot be done. In reality I would be better settled if I started seeing more gay/lesbian couples at the pool I lifeguard at than the usual heterosexual couples. I see no shame in an individual’s sexual desires so I find it shameful that the general public would try to control someone’s individuality. Another important facet of sexual freedom, mainly for women, is safe and dependable birth control. In her book Feminism is for Everybody Bell Hooks describes this as a necessity for women to have “full control of the outcome of sexual activity” (Hooks 86). I certainly agree with this because I have and still use such precautions before coming into sexual contact with my partner. Not having spent copious amounts of time studying and practicing sex-positive feminism I cannot say I am a cut-and-dry sex-positive feminist, but having learned about a few key issues I believe I am well on my way to fully accepting this branch of feminism.
Researching different components of sex-positive feminism has helped me begin to realize the type of feminism my personal traits embody. I believe each person is entitled to sexual freedom and should not be persecuted or controlled in regards to their sexual activities. While I would not be sexually active in the manner some people are, I do not see their actions as shameful. For feminist movement to be fully realized by everybody each subtype of feminism must be understood and respected by society. Sex-positivity may be a sensitive issue now and for some time, but through widespread understanding a society can exist where women, men, lesbian, transsexual, and many more are viewed on an equal sexual plane.

Works Cited
Corbin, Kat. “Cutting off your Nose to Spite your Face.” Serendip 15 Dec. 2005. 6 September 2007
Hooks, Bell. Feminism is for Everybody. Cambridge: South End Press, 2000.
Nickel, Lucky. “On Sex Positiveness.” Feminista! Volume 6 No 1. 6 September 2007
“Sex-positive feminism.” Wikipedia. 6 September 2007 <

Additional Resources
Sex Positve Literature
Benjamin, Jessica (1983). Master and Slave: The Fantasy of Erotic Domination. In Ann Snitow,
Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson (Ed.), Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality, pp. 460–467. New York (Monthly Review Press).
Califia, Patrick (2003). Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism. Pittsburgh (Cleis Press).
Easton, Dossie and Catherine A. Liszt (1998). The Ethical Slut. CA: Greenery PressGerhard,
Jane. (2001). Desiring Revolution: Second-Wave Feminism and the Rewriting of American Sexual Thought, 1920 to 1982. New York: Columbia Univ Pr.
Greer, Germaine (1999). The Whole Woman. New York (Knopf.)
Hopkins, Susan. Girl Heroes: The New Force In Popular Culture. Annandale NSW: Pluto Press
Australia, 2002.
Leidholdt, Dorchen and Raymond, Janice (1990) The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism
(Pergammon Press)
Levy, Ariel (2005). Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. New York:
Free Press.
MacKinnon, Catharine (1987). Feminism Unmodified. Cambridge (Harvard University Press).
McElroy, Wendy (1995). XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography. New York (St. Martin's Press).
Paul, Pamela (2005). Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our
Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Times Books.
Queen, Carol (1996). Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture. Pittsburgh (Cleis
Raymond, Janice (1979). The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-male". Teachers College
Rubin, Gayle (1984). Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality. In
Carole S. Vance (Ed.), Pleasure and Danger: exploring female sexuality, pp. 267–319. Boston (Routledge & Kegan Paul).
Strossen, Nadine (2000). Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's
Rights. New York (New York University Press).
Willis, Ellen (1992a). Feminism, Moralism, and Pornography. In: Ellen Willis, Beginning to See
the Light: Sex, Hope, and Rock-and-Roll. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University PressWillis, Ellen (1992b). Lust Horizons: Is the Women's Movement Pro-Sex? In: Ellen Willis, No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays. Wesleyan University Pr.
Wolf, Naomi, Feminist Fatale:a reply to Camille Paglia, The New Republic, March 16,1992

Advocacy Articles
"The Prime of Miss Kitty MacKinnon" by Susie Bright, East Bay Express, October 1993. (archived at Susie Bright's Journal (website))
"A Feminist Overview of Pornography, Ending in a Defense Thereof" by Wendy McElroy,
"From a Sexually Incorrect Feminist" by Wendy McElroy, Penthouse, July 1995. (archived at
"Obscene feminists: Why women are leading the battle against censorship" by Annalee Newitz, San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 8, 2002.

Feminists for Free Expression
Feminists Against Censorship
Sex Worker Outreach Program

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