Sex-positive feminism: sexual freedom is women’s freedom

November 15, 2018 By Jaime Marie Charlotte

Sex-positive feminism: sexual freedom is women’s freedom

The Sex-positive feminism centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women’s freedom.

As such, sex-positive feminism activists, oppose legal or social efforts to control sexual activities between consenting adults, whether they are initiated by the government, other feminists, opponents of feminism, or any other institution.

They embrace sexual minority groups, endorsing the value of coalition-building with marginalized groups. Sex-positive feminism is connected with the sex-positive movement.

Gayle Rubin summarizes the conflict over sex within feminism:

…There have been two strains of feminist thought on the subject. One tendency has criticized the restrictions on women’s sexual behavior and denounced the high costs imposed on women for being sexually active. This tradition of feminist sexual thought has called for a sexual liberation that would work for women as well as for men. The second tendency has considered sexual liberalization to be inherently a mere extension of male privilege. This tradition resonates with conservative, anti-sexual discourse.

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Sex-positive feminism: sexual freedom is women’s freedom

The sex-positive feminism cause brings together anti-censorship activists, LGBT activists, feminist scholars, sex radicals, producers of pornography and erotica, among others (though not all members of these groups are necessarily both feminists and sex-positive people). Sex-positive feminists reject the vilification of male sexuality that many attributes to radical feminism, and instead embrace the entire range of human sexuality.

They argue that the patriarchy limits sexual expression and are in favor of giving people of all genders more sexual opportunities, rather than restricting pornography.

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Sharon Presley, the National Coordinator of the Association of Libertarian Feminists, writes that in the area of sexuality, government blatantly discriminates against women.

The social background in which sex-positive feminism operates must be understood: Christian societies are often influenced by what is understood as ‘traditional’ sexual morality: according to the Christian doctrine, sexual activity must only take place in marriage, and must be vaginal intercourse; sexual acts outside marriage and ‘unnatural sex’ (i.e. oral, anal sex, termed as “sodomy”) are forbidden; yet forced sexual intercourse within marriage is not seen as immoral by many social and religious conservatives, owing to the existence of so-called ‘conjugal rights’ defined in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.

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In addition, in certain cultures, particularly in Mediterranean countries influenced by Roman Catholicism, traditional ideas of masculinity and female purity. This has led to what many interpret as a double standard between male and female sexuality; men are expected to be sexually assertive as a way of affirming their masculinity, but for a woman to be considered ‘good’, she must remain pure.

Indeed, Cesare Lombroso claimed in his book, The Female Offender, that women could be categorized into three types: the Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman. As such, highly sexed women (prostitutes) were deemed as abnormal

Such organization of sexuality has increasingly come under legal and social attack in recent decades.

Sex-positive feminists generally see sexual orientation and gender as social constructs that are heavily influenced by society and reject sexual essentialism, defined by Rubin as:

“the idea that sex is a natural force that exists prior to social life and shapes institutions”.

Sex-radical feminists in ,particular, come to a sex-positive stance from a deep distrust in the patriarchy’s ability to secure women’s best interest in sexually limiting laws.

Other feminists identify women’s sexual liberation as the real motive behind the women’s movement.

Naomi Wolf writes:

“Orgasm is the body’s natural call to feminist politics.”

 

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