Rebel Grrrls

Posted: July 28, 2010 in Desire, Feminism, Freedom of Speech

The inspirational @footstepszine has written a sequel to her post on feminism, sex work and pleasure . It places her position in the context of her own experience, which I think is a brave and in her case,  also a very  insightful thing to do. I am linking to it here, and also to my own, not quite as brave or insightful post about my experience of becoming a ‘sex-positive’ feminist. Though I don’t use either term much anymore. Here is footstepszine’s post:

And here is mine (ah, my old blogspot blog looks so quaint! Also I no longer agree with everything it says as my knowledge of porn and the sex industry has developed. But I am leaving it as a record)

One observation I have of this stand-off in feminism between ‘sex-positive’ and ‘anti-sex industry’ feminists is that the willingness of ‘pro-sex’ feminists to talk about their own, often painful experiences of sex, power, gender, body image, sex work, is much more apparent than those who take the ‘anti-sex industry’ stance. They may wheel out accounts from ‘exited’ sex workers to add a personal element to their writing. But to actually sit down and confront your own past, and your own reasons for becoming the person you are, and taking the position you take, involves some soul-searching, and some attention to detail. And some compassion for other people. I recommend it I really do.

I also recommend this:

  1. Kimboosan says:

    I love love LOVE your point about personal stories, which to me are a crucial part of activism (any activism). Going back in time, I remember my mother’s feminism of the 70s was ALL ABOUT the personal – feminist womens’ groups meeting at YWCAs to share their path to enlightenment and awareness. It seems so quaint now, but it was important; small presses printing not just feminist tracts but autobiographies and biographies. Rediscovering female writers of the past as a way to expand our voices, not to support theories or political agendas. “The personal IS political” is now a dated battle cry but it applies here, where some feminists are using theory and philosophy as bludgeons to enforce their concept of feminism and sexuality, over and above the voices of the actual, living breathing women around them.

    To hijack an old Zen aphorism: First theory, then the laundry.

  2. hi Kim!

    I think that current feminism does trade on the ‘personal is political’ though. But it does it in an exploitative way. It takes people’s personal stories to make a political point, instead of confronting your own personal experience and how that has informed your politics. Do you see what I mean?

    I think the language of current feminism is very ’emotional’ and ‘personal’ but the feminists in question will not relate it to their own experience. And if others do recount personal experiences they can use them against them in argument. eg my admission about being into BDSM and about having not been raped have both been used in discussions with feminists against me…

    I think the more of us who tell our stories the better! I really do.

    • Kimboosan says:

      Hmmm…yes, I see what you mean. In trying to parse the difference, have come up with the concept that these mainstream feminists (I call them 2wfeminists, for “second wave” because they really seem stuck there) use a top down approach, telling “us” what is politically personal, displaying others’ personal stories as revealing truths in an attempt to control the discussion; whereas you and footstepzine, for instance, stand up and say, “no, personal is ME”, allowing for the chaos that comes with that. 2wfeminists are married (and I use that word deliberately) to their theories and manifestos, turning “the personal IS political” into a directive instead of an experience.

      /thinky thoughty coffee-time ponderings

  3. Very insightful thinky-thoughty ponderings Kim!

    I like the term 2wfeminists, because it reads a bit like ‘twoo feminists’ as in ‘true feminists’ …

    Yes this is my conclusion too. The thing I hate about it amongst many things, is how insulting it is to the women who do share their personal and very often painful stories. They get exploited and appropriated in the name of ‘the cause’. It reeks of a kind of religious cult to me the way they take vulnerable individuals and use them to promote their dogma.

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