This chapter, entitled: "Feminism and Sexuality", like the other chapters of this book,should be considered by the reader in it's interrelationship to the other chapters of this book rather than a separate entity. Further, sexuality is a particularly individual matter with individuals of both genders and of varied political persuasions, including feminists, having varied tastes, political, cultural, ethical, religious, and individual proclivities related to human sexuality. The author presents,in this chapter, however, the general feminist, political, ethical, and cultural norms related to sexuality.
Within this context, in the USA and much of the West, human sexuality has been intimately related to the feminist movement through laws, customs, and norms which have as their purposes the discriminatory and oppressive promulgation of unjust laws and norms against male sexuality and for female sexuality by a myriad of overt and covert means.
"Human sexuality is the capacity of humans to have erotic experiences and responses. A person's sexual orientation can influence their sexual interest and attraction for another person. Sexuality may be experienced and expressed in a variety of ways; including thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles, and relationships. These may manifest themselves in biological, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual aspects. The biological and physical aspects of sexuality largely concern the human reproductive functions, including the human sexual response cycle and the basic biological drive that exists in all species. Physical and emotional aspects of sexuality include bonds between individuals that is expressed through profound feelings or physical manifestations of love, trust, and care. Social aspects deal with the effects of human society on one's sexuality, while spirituality concerns an individual's spiritual connection with others. Sexuality also affects and is affected by cultural, political, legal, philosophical, moral, ethical, and religious aspects of life." 1.
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"Antisexualism is opposition or hostility towards sexual behavior and sexuality. In pre-modern times, antisexual social movements were usually expressed in religious terms; but,they now often have a secular reform agenda. Most antisexual people believe that sexuality is a kind of addiction resulting in both physical and social effects, that it disrupts relationships, and causes people to lie and cheat to achieve the pleasure of sexual gratification. Antisexuals are not necessarily antinatalist so they do not necessarily object to sex for procreation. Some antisexuals believe sexuality to be the cause of many of the world's problems. Antisexuals can, also, be opposed to the idea of romantic love with some describing it as an "addiction to a person." 2.
"The Junior Anti-Sex League in George Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was a group of young adult Party members devoted to banning all sexual intercourse and replacing its procreative functions with the use of artificial insemination (children would be raised in public institutions, rather than in individual families). Though the League was founded and countenanced by the all-powerful totalitarian Party, the Party leadership did not allow it to succeed in its goals. However, the existence of the League served as an important public reminder of the Party's disapproval of all attachments and activities which could diminish exclusive loyalty to the Party and that everything other than "normal intercourse between man and wife for the sole purpose of begetting children and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman" was forbidden sexcrime which could be punished by death. 3.
The Feminist Sex Wars
Feminists are not uniform in their approach to sexuality with the debate in question between feminists referred to as the "Feminist Sex Wars." 4.
"Sex-positive feminism, also known as pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism is a movement that began in the early 1980s that centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women's freedom.---
As such, sex-positive feminists oppose legal or social efforts to control sexual activities between consenting adults,whether these efforts 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 members targeted by sex-negativity. Sex-positive feminism is connected with the sex-positive movement
Gayle Rubin (Rubin, 1984) 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."
The cause of sex-positive feminism 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 they attribute to many radical feminists; 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 (Queen, 1996). Sex-positive feminists generally reject sexual essentialism, defined by (Rubin, 1984) as " the idea tht sex is a natural force that exists prior to social life and shapes institutions." Rather, they see sexual orientation and gender as social constructs that are heavily influenced by society.
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." Sharon Presley, the National Coordinator of the Association of Libertarian Feminists, writes that in the area of sexuality, the government blatantly discriminates against women.
Authors such as Gayle Rubin (Rubin, 1984) and Wendy McElroy (McElroy, 1995) see the roots of sex-positive feminism in the work of sex reformers and workers for sex education and access to contraception such as Havelock, Ellis, Margaret Sanger, Mary Dennett and later, Alfred Kinsey and Shere Hite. However, the contemporary incarnation of sex-positive feminism appeared more recently, following the increase in feminist focus on pornography as a source of women's oppression in the 1970s. The rise of second-wave feminism, which began in the 1960s, was concurrent with the sexual revolution and legal rulings that loosened legal restrictions on access to pornography. In the 1970s, radical feminists became increasingly focused on issues around sexuality in a patriarchal society. Some feminist groups began to concern themselves with prescribing what proper feminist sexuality should look like. This was especially characteristic of lesbian separatist groups; but, some heterosexual women's groups, such as Redstockings, became caught up with this issue as well. On the other hand, there were, also, feminists,such Betty Dodson, who saw women's sexual pleasure and masturbation as central to women's liberation. Pornography, however, was not a major issue; radical feminists were, generally, opposed to pornography, but the issue was not treated as especially important until the mid-1970s. (There were, however, feminist prostitutes-rights advocates, such as COYOTE, which campaigned for the decriminalization of prostitution.)
The late 1970s found American culture becoming increasingly concerned about the aftermath of a decade of greater sexual freedom, including concerns about explicit violent and sexual imagery in the media, the mainstreaming of pornography, increased sexual activity among teenagers, and issues such as the dissemination of child pornography and the purported rise of "snuff films". (Critics maintain that this atmosphere amount to a moral panic,which reached its peak in the mid-1980s) These concerns were reflected in the feminist movement, with radical feminist groups claiming that pornography was a central underpinning of patriarchy and and a direct cause of violence against women. Robin Morgan summarized this idea in her statement, "Pornography is the theory; rape the practice."
Andrea Dworkin and Robin Morgan began articulating a vehemently anti-porn stance based in radical feminism beginning in 1974; and, anti-porn feminist groups, such as Women Against Pornography and similar organizations, became highly active in various US cities during the late 1970s. As anti-porn feminists broadened their criticism and activism to include not only pornography, but prostitution and sadomasochism, other feminists became concerned about the direction the movement was taking and grew more critical of anti-porn feminism This included feminist BDSM practitioners (notably Samois), prostitute-rights advocates, and many liberal and anti-authoritarian feminists for whom free speech, sexual freedom, and advocacy of women's agency were central concerns.----
Sex-positive feminists argue that access to pornography is as important women as to men; and, that there is nothing inherently degrading to women about pornography (McElroy, 1996; Strossen, 2000). Anti-pornography feminists, however, disagree often arguing that the very depiction of such acts leads to actual acts being encouraged and committed.
Some sex-positive feminists believe that women and men can have positive experiences as sex workers; and, that where it is illegal, prostitution should be decriminalized They argue that prostitution isn't necessarily bad for women, if prostitutes are treated with respect and if the professions within sex work are de-stigmatized.
Sadomasochism (BDSM) has been criticized by anti porn feminists for eroticizing power and violence and for reinforcing misogyny (Rubin,984). They argue that women who chose to engage in BDSM are making a choice that is ultimately bad for women. Sex-positive feminists argue that consensual BDSM activities are enjoyed by many women and validate these women's sexual inclinations. They argue that feminists should not attack other women's sexual desires as being "anti-feminist" or internalizing oppression; and, that there is no connection between consensual sexually kinky activities and sex crimes.
Sex-positive feminists believe that accepting the validity of all sexual orientations is necessary in order to allow women full sexual freedom. Rather than distancing themselves from homosexuality and bisexuality because they fear it will hurt mainstream acceptance of feminism, sex-positive feminists believe that women's liberation cannot be achieved without also promoting acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality.
Some feminists have criticized transgender women (male-to-female) as men attempting to appropriate female identity while retaining male privilege and transgender men (female-to-male) as women who reject solidarity with their gender. One of the main exponents of this point of view is Janice Raymond (Raymond,1979).
Sex-positive feminists support the right of all individuals to determine their own gender and promote gender fluidity as one means for achieving gender equality.---
There is a debate among sex-positive feminists about whether statutory rape laws are a form of sexism. ---
The argument that is brought by some sex-positive feminists against these statutory rape laws is that they were made with non-gender neutral intentions and are presently enforced as such with the assumption that teenage girls are naive and nonsexual and need to be protected.---
In "Sex-Bias Topics in the Criminal Law Course: A Survey of Criminal Law Professors" 24 U. Mich. J.L. Ref. 189 (1990), it is said: "Other feminists are opposed to or ambivalent about strengthening statutory rape statutes because such protection also precludes a young woman from entering a consensual relationship to which she may be competent to consent. These feminists view statutory rape laws as more controlling than protective--and of course part of the law's historic role was protecting the female's chastity as valuable property." She, also, noted that, at that time, in some states the previous sexual experience of a teenager could be used as a defense by one accused of statutory rape. She argued that this showed that the laws were intended to protect ideals of chastity rather than issues of consent.
Works that critique sex-positive feminism include those of Catharine MacKinnon (1987), Germaine Greer (1999), Pamela Paul (2005), and essays by Dorchen Liedholdt (1990), among others. Their main arguments are that certain sexual practices (such as prostitution and pornography) are exploitative toward women and have historically benefited men rather than women, and that thus, the indiscriminate promotion of all kinds of sexual practices merely contributes to female oppression. " 5.
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Prostitution Should Be Legalized, Taxed, and Regulated
The YouTube presentation supporting the legalization of prostitution entitled: "Benefits of Legal Prostitution-MGTOW" by Sandman provides good arguments and facts supporting the legalization of prostitution. 6.
Another good on line article in support of legalizing prostitution, by Teresa Smith, is entitled: "Legalizing Prostitution: A Step Towards Freedom". 7. The URL of this article is: http://www.szasz.com/undergraduate/Smith.html .
The following arguments in favor of legalizing prostitution are the author's opinion. The need for sexual satisfaction is a basic human need. As such, laws which prohibit adult individuals who wish to freely and without compulsion engage in sex without or without compensation from fulfilling that basic need amount to oppressive conduct amounting to a violation of basic human rights.
Ecclesiastical arguments against the same lack logical validity. Those that state that sexuality, especially male sexuality, is basically evil only demonstrate their sexual bigotry.
The reality is that marriage is the West amounts to a form of covert prostitution with women seeking wealthy men to marry. Women seek men who are wealthy to further their social, cultural, political, economic goals and promise to supply sex for them if men do the same.
Prostitution is a more honest and direct form of sexual exchange. Part of the opposition by women to legalizing prostitution is "sexual unionism" by women who hope to enhance their social, cultural, political, and economic status by limiting sexual opportunities to men.
Feminists are divided on the issue of the legalizing of prostitution. Some favor the legalization of prostitution (The National Organization for Women favors legalizing). Other feminist and feminist groups oppose it (this controversy over legalization within the feminist movement has been referred to as "the feminist wars.).
Logical, ethical, and legal inconsistencies within the West indicate that the criminalization of prostitution is intimately related to female socio-cultural-economic-political privilege and the oppression of men that exists along a continuum of discriminatory laws, customs, and norms.
The legalization of prostitution should be seen as ethically, legally, socially, and culturally a fundamental right for both men and women.
Given the aforementioned, prostitution should be legalized, regulated, and taxed.
Men's Rights and Human Sexuality
Many men's rights advocates have asserted that men should have their sexual rights restored and enhanced.
An on line article entitled "Anti-Feminist Theory of Men's Rights, Male Sexuality, Feminism" (Posted on November 17, 2012) delineates some reasonable demands in this regard. 8. The author of this book may not agree with all of the recommendations presented in this on line post. A partial quote from the same lists these demands follows:
" An end to the criminalization of male sexuality. Whilst we recognise that new technology sometimes requires legislation to be modified in order to protect the vulnerable from new threats, it must also be recognised that a ‘legislative creep’ is taking place, based primarily on moral panics and media manipulation, that appears to have no end, and which will ultimately lead to crimes against humanity (if it has not already done so). The criminalization of Sexual Trade Unionism. We demand that it should be recognised that sex laws that benefit the makers and promoters of those laws – whether financially, sexually, psychologically, or otherwise – be subjected to intense objective and independent scrutiny. We demand further that if those laws that may have sprung from a selfish motive are found to be lobbied for on the basis of any lies or exaggerations, the individuals concerned be punished severely by law for ‘Sexual Trade Unionism’. Another way of expressing this demand is the desire that it be made a criminal offence to exploit the vulnerability or sexuality of a child or young person for the financial, sexual, or psychological gain of an adult under the guise of ‘child protection’. The right to anonymity of those men (and women) accused of sex crimes. This basic demand simply recognises the transparent fact that sex crimes are unique in that the mere public accusation can destroy a man’s life, even if he subsequently be found innocent, and that this represents not only a manifest injustice but may also serve as a motive for such false accusations in itself. A false accuser should face the same punishment as the accused would face if found guilty of the alleged crime. A ‘false accuser’ register should be set up – as long as a sex offenders register exists, so should a register for women who make false allegations against men. An end to the ‘sex offenders register’, and it’s replacement (if a replacement is needed) with a ‘violent offenders register’. This recognises that the focus and obsession with sex offences, many of which are non-violent, as compared with violent offences, is a projection of female values upon the world that is only possible because of the disregard and disposability of male needs and values. It is noted that repeated studies confirm that most abuse of children is physical and carried out by the child’s mother. It is also noted that studies also repeatedly demonstrate that non-violent sex offenders are less recidivist than violent non-sexual offenders. A limit of statutations upon all sex crimes. (statue of limitations in the USA) Sex offences are the most subject to the passing hysterias and fads of society, as well as the scope for re-interpretation by individual victims over years and decades. Therefore, it is manifestly wrong to allow the possibility that a man can be judged for a historical offence by a different era, and by essentially a different women (or man) than the original ‘victim’, and even face a different and much harsher punishment than if he had been tried soon after the original offence. The right of two adults to engage in paid for sexual transactions to be enshrined in law. It should be recognised as a fundamental human right in a democratic and free society to be able to question the laws that govern society without fear of persecution or prosecution. This is particularly true in regard to sex laws, given that it is these laws that feminists want to outlaw criticism of in particular, and also because, as previously mentioned, such laws are most likely to be relative in fact to the particular moral fads and hysterias of society. The recognition that if these fascist laws restricting the right to even question the law had existed even half a century ago, we would likely still be performing crimes against humanity – for example executing and/or castrating homosexuals such as Alan Turing." 9.
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An appropriate quote from William Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It" Act II, Scene VII,:
" All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then, a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice,In fair round belly, with a good capon lined, With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws, and modern instances, And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,That ends this strange eventful history,Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." 10.