There are times, you know, when I just want to just throw up…..and throw up my hands in disgust at what is passing for “radicalfeminist” activism these days.
I mean, what can you do when you attempt a passionate yet measured critique of “radicalfeminist” policy towards sex work and pornography based on genuine institutional cultural theory…..and promptly get accused of “hurting feminists and feminism“???? Let alone, having your past history snooped, your intellect directly challenged as a “liar” who pretends to be a scholar; and your private name threatened to be exposed in public??
If you happen to be Bitch|Lab…..well, I’ll just let her spell out the ramifications of Ann Bartow’s treachery of threatening to out her (as she described in comments at her blog):
I vascillate back and forth between staying and shutting down the blog.
I have nothing to hide, but I do have a small and struggling business. We’ll be lucky to make $15k this year. This is the only place I have to let off steam regarding clients. While we’re doing the freelance thing, I’m also in the market for a normal job.
I simply cannot blog as me. I was in the information security business for five years — still am. I KNOW exactly what companies do these days in the hiring process: Google.
So, if she wants to out me — for what I have no clue — all that happens is that I start a new blog and take extra pains to conceal who I am.
And the saddest part is, I’ve been to this rodeo before. She won’t be condemned for doing it. And if she is, the condemnation will be a vocal minority.
Knowing the cult of MacDworkinism as I do, Miz B’s probably understating it a bit….but not much.
I’m beginning to think that Alice Walker had it right when she broke out the “womanist” thing to seperate herself and other WOC feminists from the White bougeiousie that is running it to the ground these days…any movement that tolerates this kind of bullshit deserves to be undermined.
Either way, Miz B has reacted in kind with a few….errrrr, changes in concept to her blog. Having been outed out of feminism for good, she seems to finally be discovering her sex-poz freak side….check out her latest here.
On the other hand, Greta Christina is one sex-positive radical who hasn’t (yet) abandoned the feminist label; yet, unlike the radfems, she actually does attempt to treat women who like sex or do sex work as something a bit more than just brain-dead sexbots. Over at her excellent blog, she has a piece up which attempts to seperate the asshattery and assholeery of Girls Gone Wild founder/serial rapist/misogynist fuckwad Joe Francis from the young women featured in his profit-making boob-flash-and-lip-lock picture shows. The whole article is worth a gander; but these are the money paragraphs that I especially appluded:
The writing I’ve seen about Girls Gone Wild is largely taking two directions. One is pity/concern for the poor exploited girls who are being taken advantage of when they’re too excited/too young/too drunk to know what they’re doing. The other is pity/contempt for the vulgar idiot girls who are squandering their feminist heritage by pulling their shirts up on camera… and are ruining things for the rest of us.
And I have much the same problem with both. I think there’s more than a whiff of patronization, and elitism even, in both attitudes.
Let me talk about the first one first. In the strict Marxist sense, of course the women in GGW are being exploited. They’re being paid a disproportionately low amount for their labor — they’re getting paid in T-shirts and Mardi Gras beads, so duh — and someone else is getting rich off that labor. But I’ve seen a few of these videos, and it sure looks to me like most of these girls know what they’re doing and very much want to be doing it. They like the attention; they get off on exhibitionism; they enjoy feeling sexy and wild; they like having an excuse to do dirty things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.Will they regret it later? Maybe. Some of them almost certainly will. But you know, a lot of us have done things in our youths that we now regret and can’t take back. (My entire first relationship leaps to mind.) Making dumb choices that you regret is part of being young. It’s the flip side of risk-taking and adventure.
As to the women being too drunk to consent goes, I’m not seeing it. I’ve seen tipsiness in the GGW videos, high spirits, probably even some impaired judgement — but not blackout drunkenness, not drunkenness that would obliterate consent. I could be wrong, I’m not there on the streets of Spring Break with a Breathalyzer and a lie detector test (those don’t work, anyway)… but it sure looks to me like, hammered though many of them are, most of these girls know what they’re doing and know what they want.
Which brings me to my second point: the “they’re squandering their feminist heritage” argument.
This is the one that really bugs me. It’s as if sexual liberation is only for those of us with the right sex-positive feminist credentials — not for yahoo sorority girls who want to pull their shirts up on camera. Like they don’t deserve to have sexual choices, because they’ll make the wrong ones.
But we all deserve sexual liberation. We all deserve the freedom to make sexual choices — even dumb ones or crass ones. As someone whose name I can’t remember once said, not all censorship battles can be about Ulysses. (Does anyone know the source for that quote, btw? I couldn’t find it.) And the battle for sexual liberation and the right to sexual expression can’t always be about brilliant sex-themed performance art, or beautiful ecstatic lovemaking in loving long-term relationships. Sometimes it’s about college girls at big drunken parties pulling their shirts off for the video cameras. That’s the whole point of feminist sexual liberation — we don’t get to go around scolding other women for their consenting sexual choices. (Not on moral or political grounds, anyway. On aesthetic grounds… that’s another story.)
I’ve seen arguments that the problem with GGW isn’t the girls whipping their tops off for the camera — it’s the people behind the camera, the crassness of the videos and the company and the grotesqueness of the main man behind them. It’s not liberated or empowering if you’re whipping your top off for exploitative assholes, or so goes the argument. But while I’m certainly not going to defend the motives of the GGW empire (especially not now), I still think we should support the sexual agency of the wild girls themselves. Do you think every single porn movie that Annie Sprinkle or Nina Hartley ever made was a delicate work of artistic beauty and profound insight, made by sensitive feminists, with the profits going to rape crisis centers and saving the rainforest? I sure don’t. I’m sure that at least some of their movies were silly and dumb, and that the profits from at least some of them went to pay for the sports cars and coke habits of nitwit Silicone Valley porn producers. That doesn’t negate Nina and Annie’s sexual agency and power.
And I think a lot of the “won’t somebody please think of the children?” hysteria about the women in the GGW videos is just flat-out sexist. The same company that makes the “Girls Gone Wild” videos also makes “Guys Gone Wild” videos as well… and I think it’s extremely interesting that nobody, not one person that I’ve heard or read on this subject, has gotten upset about the poor stupid young college boys with low self-esteem who got drunk and let themselves be manipulated into flashing their asses and dicks on camera, and who are going to feel violated and ashamed the next morning and will regret it for the rest of their lives. It’s apparently just young women who are incapable of making their own sexual decisions and living with the consequences.
Now that’s what you call a genuine sex-positive feminist who gets it.
Needless to say, Greta’s going into the SmackChron Blogroll and the Sexy Intellectual listings as soon as I finish and publish this post.
A few more of Greta and B|L and a lot less RMildred and AB would do the world and sexual relations a lot better, I’d think.