[a.k.a. Against Sex Positivity: The Third And Final Draft
hi internet! i saw that some people were reblogging the second draft of this piece still, which is super cool, but i figured it would help if yall had the final piece in rebloggable form. as much as i feel i’ve outgrown what i’ve written i still feel so proud of it and i hope that what reaches people is a somewhat more complete and polished presentation of my thoughts.
First published in Lies: A Journal of Materialist Feminism vol. 1 (the best journal! and free to download)
zine formatted by Negatecity
-caitlin n. party (c.e.)]
I - Starting
A story we are told:
You are on the brink of sexual freedom; it is here and at your disposal. It is asked only that you find it or make it. If before we were ugly, we may be beautiful now – still, you must make yourself natural, whole, and good. You were traumatized but you may recover, simply possess yourself. This is work to be done but it is a good work. Work on your shame, perhaps even fight those who shame you, and it follows that you will be free. At the end of it you will be whole and you will have reclaimed your natural pleasure. The right of man is to fuck and to orgasm. Feel free with your body to do these things because they are good. The feminists and the sexual liberationists knew this and this is why their movement is over. Cosmo and Oprah know this now and therefore everyone knows it. Sex is good and pleasure is powerful, and it is this proposition that will save us from our pain.
Michel Foucault repeats this tale in its barest bones: “someday, sex will be good again.” (1976) Yet for all such optimism may aspire to, it exists seamlessly with the brutal realities of gendered life. Rape goes on unabated; the lives of so many remain consumed in domestic and reproductive labor. It is not that optimism is simply ineffective, that it has been appropriated and de-fanged by a system of repression and may thus be saved, but rather that it exists alongside shame and silence, each playing their part in a broader production of sex and gender. If it was once radical and marginal to assert an essential, or simply available, goodness to sex, it is now central, institutional. Far from the domain of some radical set, it is at once an ideology of patriarchy and the majority of its opponents, a disparate, heterogeneous collection of discourses united in common aim. It is the optimism which insistently, cruelly returns us to the work of fucking.