Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Am I Or Not?

Cool reader Trix recently alerted me to the fact that I was quoted in this book: Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. Sexy blogger/author/editor Rachel Kramer Bussell wrote an essay entitled: "Beyond Yes or No: Consent as Sexual Process" in which she talks about consent as an ongoing activity.

The quote is from a Stranger column I wrote called "The A Word", which can be read in all it's ranty glory here.

This is what RKB said...
"It benefits both halves of a couple (or coupling) to know what the other is into.... As dominatrix and sex columnist Mistress Matisse wrote in The Stranger, "Some of the pleasure I take in kink is the continual seduction of consent. I love the fact that I can get my partners to let me to do things to them that they never thought they'd let anyone do--and better yet, I can make them like it. That's hot."
So I bought a copy, naturally, and yep, there I am. I'm flattered and pleased, of course. But it's sort of strange to see myself referenced in a feminist anthology. Not bad, just... strange.

People ask me, "Are you a feminist?" And I usually say something like, "Do you think I am?"

Sometimes they say, "Oh yes, definitely!"

And I smile and say "All right then, I am."

Sometimes they say "No! Women like you are antithetical to feminism."

And I shrug and say, "Then we don't have anything else to talk about, do we?"

Because I'm just not going to play that game. When I was a very young woman, I did a lot of college-based political activism. Mainly pro-choice stuff, and some GLBT issues, and then later, AIDS activism. I called myself a feminist, and I encountered other women who also called themselves feminists.

Now, no one woman - or any group of women - have sole ownership of that word. I know that. But at that time in my life, when the Feminist Sex Wars were still being fought in many circles, I met a lot of feminist-identified women who acted as if they did. And the very clear message I got from them was that I was wrong. The way I looked was wrong, the books I read, the kind of music I listened to - but most of all, the kind of sex I liked. My whole sex life was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I spent some time trying to reconcile who I felt I was with the message I was getting from those women. But I wasn't able to do that, so I walked away from the movement.

I still support the same values and causes I always did: equal pay, the right to an abortion, ect. But I decided not to devote time, money and energy to advancing the broader political philosophies of people who didn't accept me and my choices. You might say that I fight in some battles, but I decline to re-enlist in the army.

Yes, I know about the sex-positive feminist movement. I think the women who identify themselves as such are great people. But to me, if I have to qualify myself to say I belong to your club, then I don't want in. Take me as I am, or not at all.

I am not saying that I don't support feminists. I do. If you think I'm a feminist and wish to call me so, I'm fine with that. If you are a feminist, I'm happy to be quoted in support of whatever you're saying.

But if you're someone who thinks a woman like me - kinky, sex-working, high-heel-wearing me - can't possibly be part of your feminist movement... Then you're right. I'm not.

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