Pleasure is still radical

‘I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure’ « Footsteps in the Dark

Now I don’t want to learn how to pole dance, because it is not my thing, and as such I probably wouldn’t attend any such workshop. The difference between me and Object is that if other women find exploring their sexuality and bodies in this way, then they have the choice to do so. If they can experiment in a safe feminist environment, if they can use what they learn to turn on their partner (s) and themselves: good for them, if this is what does it for them who am I to judge? Being a feminist does not give me the right to push my morality or sexuality onto other women. It does not give me the right to judge what other women find enjoyable or empowering. If they are not hurting other people they can get off on whatever the hell they like. This prescriptive, judgmental, puritanical ‘feminist police’ model which Object ascribe to, is essentially my major issue with them. As is the simplistic ‘ALL PORN IS BAD FOR ALL WOMEN, mmm’kay?’ Well, there’s a lot about the porn industry which is ugly, exploitative and damaging. This is undeniable. But: what about women consuming and enjoying porn?, what about women making porn?, what about how porn effects men?, what about men who work in porn? what about women’s agency and their ability to critically respond to images presented to them in the mainstream press? Their ability to build alternatives based on their desire? What about that huh??? Huh???

(Read the whole piece, please. I am quoting selectively because a) quoting the whole thing would be really bad manners b) if I wanted to republish the whole thing I should ask for the author’s permission. However, I promise I could have written every word in that post).

It seems that this Feminism in London event is getting a lot of traction in different social media lately. I’ve seen it pop up on Tweeter, on some blog posts, on Facebook, etc. I checked out their page because being in Amsterdam, I am close enough (and have friends I could stay with) that going would not be totally out of the question. But then, I saw, prominently displayed in their front page: “Panels and workshops include: Reports from the global women’s movement, Feminist self defence, Anti-porn slide show”. So, this is not really “Feminism in London”. This is more “Our preferred brand of sex normative feminism in London”. And of course, they get publicity and unlikely allies because nothing satisfies the patriarchy more than people having a say in women’s sexuality. Of course patriarchal structures approve of heteronormative porn because it is, after all, a great tool to perpetuate gender roles and appeal to the male gaze. However, the patriarchy also approves of anti porn stances in so far as it helps control sexuality further.

I called this blog Red Light Politics because I believe that, as a woman, the Red Light District in this city represents me. It is like a micro representation of how society views and treats women as a whole. I also choose the name because the place is populated by sex shops. And like porn, sex shops can be both a tool for objectification but also for gratification and power. I also choose the name because I believe the stigma of sexual pleasure is one of the most damaging things that ever happened to human beings. “Anti-porn slide show”? No, thanks. The patriarchy already does that pretty well. I don’t need other women, supposedly feminist, telling me what a bad slut I am.

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