Added: Caryn Alling - Date: 13.01.2022 04:00 - Views: 42955 - Clicks: 4063
Porno chic! Clitoral orgasms! Being a lusty, modern woman, I was enthralled. I resolved to write my senior thesis on the role of that period in changing sexual mores.
And then, pretty quickly, I was confused. Was pornography a vanguard of sexual freedom or a tool of the patriarchy? She enlightened me to a strain of early radical feminism that would forever change my thinking on the importance of pleasure politics. Both pornography and men could be misogynistic and predatory, she told me. There are real reasons younger and older women may be experiencing this moment differently.
Add that to a perennial pastime of hating on that nebulous group called millennials and we have the makings of what, on the surface, can be read as a generational feud. And yet most of the disagreement has to do with ideas about sex, power and the function of social movements — disputes that have divided feminists for decades. There have always been liberal feminists, from Betty Friedan to Sheryl Sandberg, who wanted a seat at the table rather than to reset the table, who seek equal opportunity within existing power structures. But there are younger feminists, too, who wish MeToo would focus on predetermined bad behavior, like rape, rather than rethink tolerated behavior, like sexual pressure, and bristle at suggestions of a connection between the two.
And there have always been radical feminists, who want to see the system upended. In fact, the most famous radicals were Second Wave feminists, and some of their work provided the blueprint for MeToo. Of course, this wing of radical feminism veered into cries of censorship and victimhood, endorsing a sexual moralism disturbingly similar to the religious right. But what both activists and their critics are missing is that if MeToo draws on the work of Ms.
MacKinnon and Ms. These women were absolutely pro-sex, pro-pleasure and pro-freedom.
But they also understood that if rape and harassment were political, so was bad sex. I was reminded of this history when the website Babe published its Aziz Ansari article in January. The of the so-called bad date, during which Mr. But the instinct that it was an important article was correct. The issue of consensual yet joyless and unsatisfying sex was the same one my mom and her friends were grappling with 50 years ago. At bottom, MeToo is not about hashtags or individual firings. For such a movement, the history of Second Wave pro-sex feminism should serve as both North Star and cautionary tale.
Ultimately, the arguments of these women got swallowed up by the more coherent, consistent narrative of sexual conservatism, and later by a largely depoliticized version of pro-sex feminism that presented hot-pink dildos as the key to liberation.
One reason this might have happened is that amid these conversations, men were at best ancillary and at worst demonized, an understandable impulse in the s, when the most basic feminist ideas were scary and radical. But there may be a deeper reason this history has been obscured. Instead, just a few years later, protection from violence became the narrow, defensive definition of feminist sexual politics, and the concept of pleasure became synonymous with narcissism and self-indulgence.
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