Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Name-Dropping - Stop Trying to Make Sex-Critical a Thing

It’s not. It’s sex-negative panty-policing, just re-branded. Maybe toned down a bit. But it’s still thinking that, as a selective group of people, you know what’s best for everyone. Especially women. Especially, when it comes to women’s sex lives.

Please, I know you’re well-intentioned, but you’re being as invasive, as condescending, and as patronizingly prescriptive as the patriarchy.

Because assuming sex-positive people haven’t critically thought about their position is arrogant and, more often than not, wrong. Just because they don’t agree with you, does not mean they haven’t thought about it. It just means, most likely, they’ve thought about it and think you’re wrong.

Most kink-positive, sex-positive people aren’t foisting sex on anyone. They aren’t forcing anyone to have sex they don’t want. They’re asking for the freedom and acceptance to have the kind of sex they personally want, without unfair judgement or condemnation. If you don’t want to have a particular form of sex or any sex at all, for that matter, that’s fine. But let the people who do want it do it in peace.

And, if you’re worried that we’re hurting ourselves, please don’t. Seriously, stop it. It’s not your job to decide how we have sex, anymore than it’s some conservative politician’s job to decide whether we should be able to have access to safe abortions or not. It’s our bodies, it’s our lives; stop trying to act as if you have some kind of God-given or philosophically superior claim over it. If no one is being harmed, it’s absolutely and without exception none of your business.

If you do think someone is being harmed, then ask them. Listen to them. Have a conversation with them. If they tell you that they need help, then help them. Find out the best way to help them, by asking them what they need. Then help them the way that they asked.

Because “helping” them when they don’t want your help or in a way that they don’t believe helps them is not helping. That kind of help comes from a selfish, egocentric place and never works well for anyone. And can cause more damage than it sought to solve. Stop. Helping someone should come from a selfless place, where you put your ego and agenda aside to focus on that person’s needs, not yours.

I’ll agree that not all sex-positive people are alike. It can be used as a shield to protect some awful practices and beliefs. But being sex-positive does not automatically mean we, as a movement, think sex is exempt from critical thought.

Sex positivity isn’t a thoughtless, libidinous cry for some kind of sexual free-for-all. We aren’t saying all porn is perfect; in fact, we’re often the first and loudest voices asking to fix and reform the the porn industry. But we do so in a way that listens to the performers in the industry and to the people who feel excluded from the mainstream. We’re the ones asking for better pay and conditions for performers and to remove the stigma of sex work, so people don’t have to feel like they’re in the industry under financial duress and have options if and when they choose to leave the industry. We’re the ones asking for more diversity and realism in porn. We’re the ones asking for sex work to be legal and reasonably regulated so we can stop busting consensual sex workers and focus on stopping human trafficking. We’re the ones trying to stress the importance of consent in sex education, as well as what options people have available to them like birth control and medical care. We’re the ones saying there needs to be standards and practices in place to ensure safety and consent in kink. We’re the ones yelling to the rafters that women are more than just sex objects. That no matter what a woman is wearing or if she took naked selfies or if she’s a sex worker or if she’s your wife, nothing means yes but yes. We’re the ones demanding equal representation and help for male victims of sexual harassment and assault and domestic violence. We’re the ones telling people that everybody—every body, orientation, gender, expression, etc.—deserves the opportunity to feel beautiful and unashamed. We’re the ones saying that, however you and your partner consensually express your love—gay, straight, poly, monogamous, kinky, vanilla, abstinent, or enjoying sex all the time—love is love.

Tell me again how, just because we aren’t being prescriptively critical in a way that satisfies your particular opinions, we aren’t thinking critically.

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