Fucking Like A Feminist

Betty Dodson's picture
Mon, 07/28/2008 - 15:10
Submitted by Betty Dodson

There is little doubt that feminism lost ground with the last two generations of young women. I believe one reason for this has been mainstream feminists focus on rape, incest, and violence against women and girls. It's time to rescue sex from violence. We need to acknowledge sexuality as the life force that allows us to procreate and fuels our creative impulses through repeated experiences with pleasure.

This is one of the many reasons we're so excited about launching Betty Dodson Online with Carlin Ross. Our new website intends to establish a feminist theory of sexual pleasure that will revitalize the Women's Movement. Since Carlin is in her mid-thirties and I'm in my late seventies, we have the advantage of pursuing an intergenerational dialogue on sexuality and feminism. Together with our online community, we will explore what it means to be a sexually empowered woman by asking: "What does fucking like a feminist mean to you?"

In 1972, I stated the following in my first feminist manifesto that later became Liberating Masturbation: a Meditation on Selflove in 1974: "Among the many issues involved in the liberation of women, the two major fronts in my own personal liberation have been economics and sexuality. Ultimately they are not separable, not as long as the female genitals have economic value instead of sexual value for women."

Today I'd say it differently- money and sex are not separable as long as women look to men and marriage to secure our futures. (The reverse is also true). We become wives and mothers who are sexually owned and financially dependent. Eventually, most wives will find part time or low paying work outside the home. A few might marry well or inherit money. Some choose to be professional women who remain single and enjoy an alternative sexlife. A clever woman can turn multiple divorces into a lucrative business. Then there are a few women who embrace the inherent power of the female sex organ and achieve financial success with or without a partner. Only a handful of women will manage to "have it all" yet two generations were raised to believe they could have a perfect marriage, a successful career, and a happy family all at the same time. A better message is learning to choose your priorities and spreading them out over a lifetime. Most will agree that our current menu for sexual lifestyles is far too narrow in its scope.

My education was grounded in the fine arts until I segued to sex education for women. Carlin left a lucrative law practice to run a woman's website on sex and relationships. Together, we will explore available options with an eye on equal pay for equal work and putting an end to the sexual double standard. We'll look at women's relationships to sex, money and power. We will expand on our current choices so women as well as men can advance the ways we love, create, govern, and raise the next generation.

The Economic Front: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written by suffragist Alice Paul in 1921. Since 1923, it has been introduced in Congress during every session. In 1972, it finally passed Congress, but was not ratified by the necessary thirty-eight states by the 1982 deadline. Women's equal pay for equal work failed yet again in 2008. This time it was called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Lilly worked 19 years at Goodyear before she learned the men at her level were earning far more for the same work. She took her case all the way to a conservatively stacked Supreme Court- where five male justices ruled her claim invalid because she filed it more than 180 days after the discrimination started. These wealthy privileged men refused to take into account that she had just learned of this inequity. We must resurrect and pass the ERA.

The Sexual Front: feminists didn't move sexual pleasure further than giving women the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy with Roe vs. Wade. However, the right to choose is again under attack by many Republicans and the Christian right. A recent Supreme Court ruling doesn't even allow for an abortion to save a woman's life which means a fetus is more valuable than the mother. Keeping women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen calms the insecurity of those authoritarian men who need to dominate women in order to feel powerful.

While a handful of us were pushing for sex positive feminism in the 70's, the first blow came with Kate Millet's book, Sexual Politics. Analyzing Henry Miller's steamy writing, she coined the term "sexism" and named the patriarchy as the cause of all women's woes. This encouraged many feminists to turn into petulant daughters, wives and sweethearts who now blamed daddy, husbands, and lovers for their second class status and sexual problems. Men, rather than an authoritarian system that includes the necessary support of a matriarchy, kept women from full participation in society. The role of "Mother," as a matriarchal sex cop is always aimed at keeping daughters in their proper place. There would have been more clarity with the term "misogyny," the hatred of women, rather than using the term "sexism." As it turned out, many people believed a "feminist" was a woman who hated sex.

By the 80's, women began to see themselves as victims, an idea that led to a well-funded organized group called Women against Pornography (WAP). Instead of determining what they wanted to get out of sex, these misguided feminists criticized what men were looking at while they masturbated. Censoring porn was a destructive move for feminism. It put us in the same bed with religious bigots who have always fought against equal rights for women. Shockingly, the editors at Ms. Magazine supported WAP in spite of the fact that during the LBJ administration, a commission was appointed to determine if there was a link between pornography and sex crimes. After spending two million dollars on 80 independent scientific studies over the course of two years, no such relationship was found to exist.

Meanwhile, a misogynistic press loved to put feminists like Andrea Dworkin front and center. She presented a scary image; an unhealthy, obese, very angry woman dressed in overalls with wild unruly hair. Her message centered on the systematic destruction of women due to porn, rape and violence. A group of academic women started writing papers to counter the porn hysteria called Feminists Against Censorship Taskforce (FACT). While I joined their ranks, I kept longing for a group of feminists that was for something instead of always against something. Soon, an entire industry grew up around sexual abuse that chronically kept victims wallowing in their past and never free of it. Let's all agree that both women and men have suffered some form of sexual abuse. Research has shown that it's the lack of a dialogue about sex within a culture that creates deviant sexual behavior.

During Reagan's presidency with its Moral Majority, the only thing that trickled down was a worthless war on drugs and the Meese commission. After a series of public hearings with no scientific studies, misinformation was released claiming there was a link between porn and sex crimes which sent sexual imagery underground. The war on recreational drugs waged on while pharmaceutical companies began perfecting anti-depressants that would supply America's dependency on drugs that were known to interfere with the ability to enjoy orgasms. How perfect is that? Many of my women clients seeking help to discover their orgasms are taking one of these designer drugs to cope with depression often due to an unfulfilled sexlife.

The Clintons gave us a period of prosperity. We had a highly intelligent president with enormous charisma who liked sex. It appeared that happy days were here again until the religious right organized a plot to expose Clinton's sexual dalliances in the oval office. Never mind that most presidents, kings (and a few queens) have always taken advantage of their positions of power to enjoy extra-marital sex. Most Americans pretend that a faithful spouse is an integral part of all marriages, but in truth, monogamy is primarily practiced by women.

Although the women's movement practically disappeared, the 90's play "The Vagina Monologues" gave feminism a much needed shot in the arm. But again, this recent message left out women's sexual pleasure and centered on ending violence against women and girls. The Vagina Workshop monologue that was inspired by my work got watered down to women looking for their g-spot. The word "clitoris" was added after I told Eve Ensler that I would never have women looking for a spot inside their vaginas. The clitoris is our primary sex organ and the vagina is our birth canal. Think about it. How often do you see the word "clitoris" in print or hear someone say it on television or in the movies? Rarely, right? While I take my hat off to Eve for all the money she's raised to help women and girls who are victims of violence, the female sex organs are currently misnamed a "vagina" on stage, screen and print. Meanwhile, the clitoris has been replaced by the g-spot, which is indirect clitoral stimulation. As I enter my fourth decade teaching women to explore their bodies and orgasms, I say it's time to end the clitoral vs. vaginal orgasm controversy. Like we said back in the sixties, "Different strokes for different folks."

Today we have George W. Bush, our most unpopular president with a disapproval rating of 71% among Americans. Mr. Bush sent sex back to the dark ages with the abstinence only message. This is teen abuse with the number of unwanted pregnancies rapidly increasing along with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Our young girls are giving boys blowjobs just to be popular. The boys do not reciprocate with manual or oral sex for girls. Many young people do not think oral or anal sex counts because it isn't penis/vagina sex. Without a comprehensive sex education, our kids are getting disinformation that harms girls even more than boys. While we want to help women and girls in other parts of the world, our own women and girls, men and boys, desperately need our help here at home.

Our mission is to acknowledge and honor masturbation as the foundation for all of human sexuality. Masturbation is our first natural sexual activity. It's the way we learn to like our genitals and how we discover how to give ourselves pleasure. Once self-sexuality enters the lexicon of human sexuality, we will move into a new phase of social harmony within ourselves, our relationships, our families and the global community.

Sexual empowerment is about choice by an educated consumer. We will offer detailed verbal and visual sex information that will include basic pleasure skills. Every young person will be able to appreciate the form and function of their genitals, like their bodies and have a healthy amount of self-esteem. We will provide clear instructions on how girls can prepare their sex organs for a future of orgasmic pleasures, beginning with how to explore the pelvic floor muscles. Our straight forward approach will encourage self-exploration, clitoral stimulation and vaginal self-penetration to avoid the pain and embarrassment of first-time intercourse. Girls and boys will be able to masturbate to orgasm without apology, shame or guilt. Until girls stop using sex to be "popular" and women stop using sex to "get and keep a man," neither women nor men will be able to fully experience the joy of sex.

Betty Dodson Online with Carlin Ross will offer an intergenerational feminist dialogue on women and men's sexual pleasure and health- one important antidote to violence. With input from you, our friends and our community, together we will establish a Declaration of Sexual Independence that will be inclusive and diverse. So tell us how you would answer our burning question, "What does fucking like a feminist mean to you?"

FLF ANSWERS

David S. Hersch, Ed.D

Wonderful piece of writing. Thanks. I'd replace the word monogamous with sexually exclusive, as monogamous only means "married to one person," and says nothing about the assumed sexual exclusivity. In fact, I rarely use
the word monogamous.

Stay wet.

David S. Hersh, Ed.D

Clinical Sexologist

<http://doctor-sex.org/> http://Doctor-Sex.org 

Vena Blanchard

For me, "fucking like a feminist" means expressing my true self within and
through my eroticism -- allowing myself to explore and experience the
pleasure of my body; taking responsibility for my experience and my choices;
freely exploring and/or adopting any style, role and/or activity that
appeals to me (submissive or dominant; playful or romantic; voluntary
celibacy or polymorphous experimentation, etc.) and my partners, with
partners of my own choosing and honoring the same freedom of self discovery
and self expression for others.

As Madonna sang, "I ain't your Bitch; don't put your chains on me."

For me, "fucking like a feminist" is the manifestation of personal
empowerment, personal responsibility, and personal integrity, respect for
the complexity of self and others in the arena of eroticism. It is a
natural, balanced integration of erotic self within one's whole sense of
self.

It is freedom from rules and roles set by others in order to discover and be
true to my own nature, within a framework that is also respectful of others.

"Fucking like a feminist" is fundamentally, exquisitely personal and
relational, and it is also coincidentally, and unavoidably political.

ps. There was an interesting study, published in Journal of Sex Research a
few years ago, that suggested people don't like non-romantic (animalistic)
descriptions of sex because those descriptions remind them of their own
animal nature and consequently of their own mortality. This, I suspect, is
why many people don't like the word 'fucking' -- it alludes to unvarnished
sex; reproductive sex; penis and vagina sex; animalistic sex. For me, the
word fucking is more neutral than that. It's like a blank canvas. We only
know what kind of fucking we are talking about once the people who are doing
the fucking have splashed THEIR colors onto the canvas. The verb "fucking"
refers to the external manifestation of raw, animalistic feelings, which are
shaped into a noun by the choices of the artist. Maybe sculpture is the more
apt metaphor for sex - each turn, each subtle and not so subtle placement of
the sculptor's hands and tools; the artist's concept, insight and training.
Even mundane factors such as weather, timing, and relative sizes contribute
to the eventual shape of the final physical reality and the ultimate
emotional power or interpretation of the event.

Michele Sugg, MSW, LCSW

Fucking like a Feminist is about being responsible for your pleasure and
going for it. No acting, no pretending, no spectatoring, no holding in your
stomach to try to look better for your partner(s), no self-consciousness!
Bring on the toys! Bring in the fingers! Do what gives you pleasure!
Fucking like a Feminist is being unashamedly, unabashedly YOUR SEXUAL SELF
reveling in the chemistry that happens between you and your partner(s)!

Bec from Australia

Fucking like a feminist in 2008 has been revolutionized by the strong women
of the past decades. Only now is it accepted that women have the right to,
and enjoy, sexual pleasure. Endless supply of vibrators and toys, beautiful
lingerie and costumes, articles and open journals, porn made for women by
women downloaded straight to your ipod, only a click away! It is incredibly
powerful and freeing to know that today anytime, anywhere I can experience
pleasure. Be it sitting on a train with my ipod, in a park with my laptop,
at lunch with friends or with a vibrating egg at work:) Fucking like a
feminist means experiencing my entire capacity for sexual pleasure with
whomever or whatever I choose, with the absolute knowing that it is my right
as a woman to fuck as much as I like! My body is beautiful and capable of
feeling the most incredible sensations and I plan to access that as much as
I can. The biggest state of excitation is to know I can do so all day,
everyday for the rest of my life (if I so choose). I love technology!

Jane Jesse Cardinale

The question was posed, “What does fucking like a feminist mean to me?”

When the bemused smile left my face and I started to ponder the question, the more thought provoking this question actually became. My response to this sweet mystery begged for definitions of its words, namely feminism and fuck.

What is feminism? In my view there are two sides to this word, the ideology of feminism and the face of feminism.

At its core, feminist ideology embraces the concept of equality: politically, socially, economically, and sexually. It is a movement of power sharing, an equal participation in decision making in society. It is a collection of rights of equality, including reproductive rights, and an end to discrimination and violence towards women. It is an American concern; it is a global concern. Its historical impact is evolving today, even as we see a woman running for the presidential office.

The faces of feminism have changed throughout the years in what historians have labeled as ‘waves’. The first wave included those women suffragettes, braving imprisonment and torture and finally achieving the right to vote in 1920. The second wave saw the rise of woman activists in the 1960’s through the 1980’s that encouraged women to reflect on their own lives and understand the dynamics of a sexist power structure.

Then as we came through the late 1980’s, many feminists changed sexual liberation into sexual rage. The rush to classify themselves as victims had overshadowed women’s advances on the power platform. The face of feminism looked like Andrea Dworkin and Women Against Pornography (WAP) in the fight for censorship of pornography. The claim was made that pornography portrayed women as passive victims whose identity was expressed in eroticized degradation, humiliation or outright violence. Any perceived pleasure in viewing pornography was seen as a further indication of her brainwashing by a patriarchal society and further evidence of her victimization. She went further and said this in her book, Intercourse (The Free Press, 1987):

“But the hatred of women is a source of sexual pleasure for men in its own right. Intercourse appears to be the expression of that contempt in pure form, in the form of a sexed hierarchy; it requires no passion or heart because it is power without invention articulating the arrogance of those who do the fucking. Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women; but that contempt can turn gothic and express itself in many sexual and sadistic practices that eschew intercourse per se. Any violation of a woman’s body can become sex for men; this is the essential truth of pornography.”

This face of feminism laid blame on the man as tyrant and further solidified an ‘us against them’ dichotomy. This movement led the tidal wave of sexual disapproval and portrayed sex as anything but pleasure. A sad message was sent that the sexual liberation was really male oppression; heterosexual sex is rape; pornography is violence and nonconforming women are ill.

Women who were once proud of their sexual liberation achievements could now feel guilt yet again and were told that they were essentially taken advantage of and raped in every sex act. Men now felt further alienated from their partners and more frustrated than ever before. They were certainly in a no-win position, along with the women who were now forced to choose between the camps.

This feminist stereotype certainly did not facilitate the dialog between the sexes and gave feminism a bad rap that we still carry to this day. We are badly in need of a facelift to show the side of feminism that embraces positive activism and that is strong and powerful and continues to grow and change. The efforts to bridge the equity gap between the sexes requires support. We need to advance the agenda of sexual liberation and come as equal partners to the bedroom, knowledgeable of our sexual selves and accept responsibility for our own sexual gratification. With confidence and grace, we can be secure enough to ask for what we want in sex and liberate our male partners from our sexual dependency on them. We need to free ourselves from the use of sex as a bargaining chip in our relationships with men.

And while we’re at it, it’s high time we lose the white bridal dress. The notion of virginity is a concept that continues to cripple women’s sexual advancement. Virginity perpetuates the idea of sexual unawareness as purity and carnal knowledge as its ruination. It advances the perception of woman as property of a penis, as a vessel for only one man’s spilled seed. One only need to look globally to see countless incidents of young African women forcibly undergoing genital mutilation as a means to discourage sexual curiosity before marriage and Muslim women having their hymens surgically reconstructed in order to marry.

Looking further into the faces of feminism, I see men. Can they not also champion the initiatives of this movement, support equal rights and end the discrimination and violence towards women? Many men have helped the women’s movement, many have been good husbands, fathers, friends, sex partners, colleagues and employers. We need to become more inclusive with men who believe in feminism as a series of ethical ideals and human rights. Men’s involvement as pro-feminists is crucial if we are to achieve gender equality. This restructuring of gender requires our shared commitment and involvement.

And now onto fuck…

Our society’s use of the word fuck has so many meanings and bundled together doesn’t always shine with positive imagery. Not only does it mostly mean penetration and intercourse, but it also means to be taken advantage of, to interfere with, and to be cheated. It’s also used as an angry dismissal or a general insult. When speaking with my like-minded friends, we generally use it to describe our sexual experience on whatever path we take to sexual pleasure. But does the society at large think the way we do? Does society subliminally reinforce the idea that it’s all about the performance of a penis? I think it’s time to take back the word fuck and infuse it with new meaning.

Fucking simply as penetration so limits our sexual repertoire and sexual imagination. We need to bring some sense of equality to the sexual experience and validate the multiple paths leading to sexual satisfaction. Not everyone uses penetration, nor necessarily enjoys it. The path of sexual pleasure for most women is their clitoris, on the outside of their body, not inside their vaginal birth canal. Using the traditional meaning of fuck forces men to see sex through their penis and if they cannot perform they are cast as impotent and sexless and unable to please their partner. If only some of those male impotency campaigns would include some sexual education for both men and women on the myriad number of ways to achieve sexual satisfaction, we would be in such a better place. We need to give men a break and pull the focus off the penis and put it back into our biggest organ, the brain.

How often have we seen the scene in film where the guy who cannot get an erection turns away in frustration and ends the sex act, while his female partner has to act the part of therapist and mother to soothe his wounded psyche. What is wrong with this picture? Why can’t that imagery expand to the use of other methods for sexual gratification? Where is the oral sex, the mutual masturbation, the sex toys? Where is the imagination?

Sex can be a pleasurable palette of experiences. The common use of the word fuck excludes masturbation, solo or mutual, role play dynamics, the use of sex toys, visual and audio stimulation, manual manipulation, and oral sex just to name a few. Hanging onto fuck as penetration only reinforces the position of male as the dominate force in the sex act, the conductor of the orchestra. It’s time to expand our thinking on fuck.

The new third wave feminists believe it is better to change the meaning of a sexist word than to censor it from speech. Let’s infuse new meaning in both fuck and feminist.

It is my hope that our third wave of feminism advances and expands the agenda of the second wave and makes some thoughtful course corrections about sexual liberation.

Then we can all happily fuck like feminists.

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Fucking Like a Feminist

Thu, 10/15/2009 - 20:12
Philip (not verified)

Jane Jesse Cardinale wrote, "The new third wave feminists believe it is better to change the meaning of a sexist word than to censor it from speech. Let’s infuse new meaning in both fuck and feminist." Language evolves over time - the word swive means nothing these days while in the nineteenth century "gay" was a word commonly used to describe a female prostitute. Regrettably attempts to redefine words which have become ingrained in everyday language become immune to such change particularly in the case of sexually explicit words as these still form part of the verbal stimulation often needed by men to climax. You can blame it partly on D H Lawrence who provided a specific definition of fuck in Lady Chatterly's Lover. It is unlikely to change.

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