Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Full Frontal Feminism.

I just read Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism, an eminently reasonable and plain-spoken explanation of why young women today still need feminism. It's written from a very down-to-earth, mostly heterosexual (but not heteronormative!) perspective, and it manages to be non-academic without being stupid, if you know what I mean and that's not a common feat in this type of book.

In the past, I've been a little wary of feminism, because my initial exposure was way too academic and way too unrealistic. No, I don't feel that my life is unbearably suffused with phallic energy, and no, I don't believe that the world used to be a utopian matriarchy, and no, I don't think that having sex with boys--including nasty filthy sex, including sex on camera--is betraying the Sisters.

Fortunately it turns out that these things are not necessary to be a feminist. What is necessary is a desire for honest equality, and the understanding that it hasn't happened yet. To be honest it's the second part that I was slower to get to. I mean, I hold a job, I go to school, I vote, nobody ever says to my face that "you can't do this, you're a girl", so what was the big deal? Beer ads?

Actually, yeah, beer ads are a small part of it, but the main thing is a pervasive cultural mindset. It has very real, very obvious effects like women earning less than men and women being denied contraception and given abstinence education. And just the general idea--the feeling you can get from media and politics and casual conversation that men are people and women are a weird subcategory of people. It's everything from talk about "women voters" (men are just voters) to the reason this site doesn't feature my face and last name. (Not that a man could, but someone who didn't talk about sex could. And anti-sex sentiments are directly connected to anti-feminist ones.)

So I guess I'm a feminist because I'd like to be a person, not just a woman. Yeah, we're closer to the ideal than we were in the 1950's; no, we ain't nearly there yet.

And I'm also a feminist because I like to fuck, and I resent everything and everyone that would make that a secret shame. I fuck not to make marriages or babies but simply to fuck, and I am sick and fucking tired of the government and beer ads and my friends and fucking Cosmopolitan telling me there's something wrong with that.

I love men. I love them as partners and as friends and as people. I just want to be 100% certain that I'm people too.

(At least 50% of the people who read this know my face and last name. And home phone number for that matter. But it's the principle of the thing, okay?)


  1. I gotta tellya, I always respect you in the morning...

  2. Why are so many people ashamed to admit they are feminist? In every issue of BUST mag they interview women and ask them point blank if they consider themselves a feminist, and most of them weasel out of it or deny it. The best excuse I've heard is "I consider myself a humanist." Oh fine.

    I like when men call themselves feminist. God that's hot.

    TBK who embraces the F word

  3. Why are so many people ashamed to admit they are feminist?

    Unfortunately, TBK, there are feminists who present such hateful views of men, that other feminists try to distance themselves from such venom by abandoning the name. Which is a mistake, IMO.

    The fact that Holly can present her views without denigrating others makes me very grateful that she is blogging.

    Great post, Holly. I hope that, despite the tribulations that afflict so many women bloggers, you will continue to write here.


  4. Great post! It's funny, this has been something I've been dealing with a lot lately in my own life. I'm really glad I stumbled across this blog (thank you tumblr) -- I'm going to enjoy reading your other posts.

    I actually in the last year put my name (and a picture--now taken down) on my blog. The shitstorm that followed was just what I'd been afraid of. Nothing as serious as a boss finding my page, thankfully, since I do write about sex and feminism quite candidly. However, several folks found out about my blog and used it as a medium to say some pretty oppressive stuff.

    So I'm with you on that front-- It'd be nice to be able to talk about sex and be female and not get labelled a slut (which is supposedly a less "valid" identity?). But in the meantime... I'm going to the library and getting Valenti's book.

  5. ...holy crap, I just realized this is from three years ago. Looks like I've got some catching up to do!

  6. I don't think you need to abandon the name "feminist" to distance yourself from the venom - if anything, we should embrace it and change that stereotype.

    Also. I was just asking some friends last night why it's wrong for a woman to enjoy sex as much as a man. Why does it make me a "slut" in other peoples' eyes, even when I'm only fucking one person?

    The world is a messed up place.

  7. Jaxibella, I think it's a denigration of heart-centered tenderness, which men, due to their physical configuration, can maintain and still be sexually aroused, at the cost of deep self-ignorance, of course. Women can do that too, but only by learning to enjoy the drama of being conquered, disrespected, and abused, at least in sexual situations. Separating tenderness and caring from sex is (arguably) not healthy for a person of either sex, but takes more of an effort for women, and takes more of a toll on them too, I think, because it's more unnatural for a person whose sexual mode is to be entered, rather than to enter.

    As a male, I am pretty confident I'm not lying when I say that a woman who takes joy in the sexual act as one of the few nearly-unadulterated goodies of physical incarnation, whose selected partners' erections are friendly, respectful (if maybe a bit single-minded, or even in some cases, actually *obsessed*), and intent on gaining the outcome of pleasure for both (or "all") participants, where both partners' beauty, kisses, saliva, skin-taste, tickle-spots, and subtly-or-strongly scented sexual fluids are pure glory -- a woman like that is to be embraced, kissed, and, if her life circumstances permit (not wanting to screw up her relationship(s), etc.), fucked to her heart's content.

    1. @ Separating tenderness and caring from sex is (arguably) not healthy for a person of either sex, but takes more of an effort for women, and takes more of a toll on them too, I think, because it's more unnatural for a person whose sexual mode is to be entered, rather than to enter.

      Anon, having a vagina does not make it more difficult for a female to differentiate between sex for pleasure and sex for pleasurable bonding. It is perfectly healthy for someone to have sex for pleasure, and if a person is having difficulty not becoming attached, it is because of their psychology, not their gender or sex.

    2. Anonymous - I believe you are being a bit of a flowery dick.

    3. "Flowery dick." I love that phrase.