Friday, November 12, 2010

What does "pro-sex" mean? And what can one read for GREAT SEX education?

image is from here
or 
 sexism+racism 
 +heterosexism  
    +capitalism    
          ???          


I just saw the second part of a program on television in which an audience of men spoke out, who were sexually abused as children. What was clear from listening to them and their partners--male and female--was that they had few words and a very limited vocabulary to discuss what had happened or why they couldn't lead healthy, fulfilling lives. These were mostly middle-class people and they were predominantly if not only white. These were the people who were once said to be living The American Dream. And they were crying, sad, lonely, and distant from one another and torn up within themselves.

The rate of sexual abuse of female children by all official estimates is twice the rate of sexual abuse of boys.   Girls are molested or incested at a rate of one in three. With boys it is one in six. At any rate, it is appalling. Some say the stats are too low because they are determined based only by what is reported. And most children don't speak out about having been sexually abused--whether female, intersex, or male.

The stats for women I know is about 80% were sexually abused as children. (Most of the rest were sexually abused when adults, as were most of those abused as children.) And I'd say about 20% of men I know were. That would be one in five boys. And that would be at least four out of five girls.

But even assuming "half of all girls" and "half of all boys" were abused this way, let's consider for a moment what that means: how half of all children learn to not be in their own bodies, to be detached, to become compulsive and addictive and depressed and withdrawn. And, of course, there's also physical and emotional abuse without sexual components. And there's plenty of neglect to go around too. This paints a picture of a lot of people who are hurting. And yet pro-sex websites tend to ignore this very stark reality, let alone factor in how that might shape the kind of sex we are able to have, or the kind of people we are able to be.

I'm going to attempt to demonstrate that what gets passed off as "good, sound, safe" sexual advice just might not be any of the above. And how completely shallow our own understandings of ourselves and our bodies have become. The loss of our own imaginations ought to concern us. Are we unilaterally handing over our sexual selves, or is our humanity being bought wholesale by corporations, fed back to us cut up and devalued, like taking whole food and producing McDonalds? Are we pretending that being offered a "Happy Meal" (with a prize toy inside) or taking whole people, individuals with complex histories bound up in social systems, and feeding that back to us as over-simplified and highly fetishised, dehumanised bodies and parts of bodies is "good"? Or is it just "good enough" given our own expectations and conditioned needs? This is what we have: mass produced sex. This is the time in which we are living: unsustainable lives. Deeper questions are needed. Deeper explorations of who we are and what we can be are required if we are to move beyond the status quo's version of our sex lives and ourselves.

Let's have a look at what a typical "pro-sex" website (it was top of the list when I googled "pro-sex") offers us for wise counsel on how to have good sex. What follows are recommendations from the Just Say Yes "pro-sex" website. What's in bold and in brackets was added by me, Julian. You should know, if you've read enough posts here, that "bold and in brackets" means "Julian's not going to let this text go unchallenged and unanalysed." Not when it comes to sex, I won't. Because unexamined sex is one of the silliest and most dangerous concepts around.

So this is how this post works. You're going to read the contents of a page from a "pro-sex" website. Just as it is presented. You can click on the link in the last paragraph to see it as it is presented there. THEN I'm going to take us through the exact same material, but with some editorialising by you-know-who. And please tell me how much you noticed that gets pointed out there. Or what you noticed that I didn't.

First up, the uninterrupted text:

Sex is everywhere -- on beer commercials, billboards, and in music lyrics. But most messages we get tell us that sex is something dirty that we shouldn't talk about or an act of violence. Most of us learn that our bodies, and our sex, are things to be ashamed of. Most of us learn that sex means a man on top of a woman, and that the only other choice is abstinence. But sex can be lots of things ...

Women have sex with women, men have sex with men, women have sex with men -- and sometimes the best sex is with yourself!

There are lots of safe and fun ways to get off, which you probably won't learn in school. You can do many of these things all by yourself as well as with others, and you can talk about them even if you don't want to do them. Don't feel like you have to do everything on this page, but don't feel like anything is automatically off limits either. The important thing is that everyone involved clearly says what they want and can make it stop when they want.

Just remember, sex is only fun if everyone agrees on what they're going to do.

you could ...
  • suck, kiss, touch, bite, fondle, nibble, squeeze, and lick someone's body, nipples, calves, toes, neck, ass, dick or vulva ...
  • jerk yourself or each other off, dry or using lots of lubricant ...
  • kiss for a long time, using lots of tongue ...
  • have sex in front of mirrors, or watch each other jerking off ...
  • get into role play (for instance, tie someone up and pleasure them) ...
  • look at sexy pictures and videos ...
  • make up or act out fantasies, talk dirty, dress up, strip down, or cross-dress (dressing in the clothes of the other gender) ...
  • call your friend and tell him or her your hottest fantasies ...
  • use cock rings, nipple clamps (or clothespins), or vibrators on your own or someone else's body ...
  • shower together, or grind against each other with your clothes on (dry humping) ...
  • cum on someone's belly, back, feet, chest -- instead of in them ...
  • play with your own or someone else's ass or vagina, put your fingers, dildoes, vegetables, or buttplugs into them.
If you're putting something into a butthole, make sure it has a flared base and looks something like the picture. That way it can't go all the way in and get stuck.
It's important to play safe. Use condoms and plastic wrap. Don't get blood or cum in a wound. See Safe Sex for more information.

Next, the same text with some questions and commentary.

Sex is everywhere -- on beer commercials, billboards, and in music lyrics. But most messages we get tell us that sex is something dirty that we shouldn't talk about or an act of violence. [Hold on. So would "talking dirty" to one another a way to have HOT SEX be considered something that makes sex dirty or not dirty? Is sex-made-dirty healthy and good or not? And, "the messages we get tell us sex is an act of violence"? Where? When? When I was being assaulted at twelve? When my female family members were being incested? No one talked to them about how "sex can be violent". No one talked to me, ever, about that. So this opening remark from the website posits a universe in which there is no dangerous sex, no threatening sex, and in which those who speak of it as possibly dangerous, or violent---pssst: "radical feminists!"--are the ones who are distorting what sex is, not the incest perpetrators, child molesters, rapists, pimps, and corporate ad execs who fuse "sex" to "violence" and violation constantly. And isn't it often suggested that causing our bodies pain, or hurting them, can be "good HOT sex"?]

Most of us learn that our bodies, and our sex, are things to be ashamed of. [And who teaches us that, and how? Through what means, practices, institutions? Religion. Check. Child molesting priests. Check. Incesting fathers. Wait--the "pro-sex" website's writer doesn't mention them? Child molesting neighbors and friends of the family? No mention. Abusive and neglectful parents? Not a word. Emotionally abusive systems in society, that embed racism and misogyny into children? No mention of that, because really, all there is in the social world are props and roles and people who have no personal histories at all; people who do not live inside political systems of exploitation and abuse and neglect. 

This isn't a specific critique of this one website. According to most "good sex" advice sites, this awareness is usually missing. Which makes those of us who DO have "issues" with our bodies and with "sex" feel even MORE ashamed, not less.]

Most of us learn that sex means a man on top of a woman, and that the only other choice is abstinence. But sex can be lots of things ...  [First, that's not "sex" that's everywhere. That's corporate, manipulative, propagandistic racist, heterosexist, misogynistic sexism. To call that "sex" is to not really grasp what's being sold to us. If it is only described on that website as "sex"--if people "come to believe" that what corporations sell us is "sex", then this alone perpetuates the idea that we need to buy stuff (packaged fantasies, ideas about domination and submission, pencil thin body-hating models, plastic toys, etc., in order to have "sex". We don't need any of that to have great sex. Believe it or not.]

Women have sex with women, men have sex with men, women have sex with men -- and sometimes the best sex is with yourself! [And trans, intergender, and intersex folks too: you all can have sex too! Not according to this list, but you can.]

There are lots of safe and fun ways to get off, which you probably won't learn in school. [There's a lot you won't learn in school, period. Like how many American Indians were slaughtered by butchering, thieving white men. Like how the enslavement of Blacks in the U.S. and elsewhere, like the Caribbean, still manifests in people's psyches and actions. Like how much slavery there is right now. Like how frequently incest and child sexual abuse happens. Like how being emotionally neglected shapes how you act out sexually.] 

You can do many of these things all by yourself  [How about "It would be wise to do ANYTHING first when alone, by yourself, to see how you feel about it before, during, and after, emotionally and physically. And how about reminding people that one in three girls and one in six boys--not sure about the stats on intersex children--are sexually abused? So what we do alone by the time we reach puberty might well incorporate what we were taught by those we love who violated us, betrayed us, caused us pain, and called it love.]

and the as well as with others, and you can talk about them even if you don't want to do them. [Does this mean "phone sex" or "sexting"? Or is this the only place so far when honest self-aware communication and the ability to know what we feel and think and want gets recognised as a centrally important feature of "good sex"? And does this mean that the porn-addicted boyfriend can keep asking about the anal sex, when the partner has already said no?]

Don't feel like you have to do everything on this page, but don't feel like anything is automatically off limits either. [Anything? Sex with pigeons isn't off limits?? Sex with babies isn't off-limits? Rapist seduction tactics aren't off limits? Mixing sex and inebriation isn't off limits?] 

The important thing is that everyone involved clearly says what they want and can make it stop when they want. [Would it have been too much of a not-hot thing to put that at the very top of the page, instead of father down here? The sites states: "everyone involved clearly says what they want and can make it stop when they want". That is about as ludicrous a concept as I've ever heard. In what universe does that happen? In what social space does "everyone involved" get the same levels of permission and entitlements to speak, let alone know WHAT they feel about something that may be happening at too fast a rate to proces? What about those of us with triggers, dissociation, and old patterns of "letting things happen" because once upon a time, when we were very, very young, to not let things happen might have meant we'd be dead--or at least our body-minds feared it could happen? What about those of us whose bodies register terror in an instant, when nothing terrifying is happening? What about those of us who feel "nothing" and "numb" when something scary or dangerous IS happening? How are we supposed to be able to communicate then?]

Just remember, sex is only fun if everyone agrees on what they're going to do. [Bullshit. That's one big load of CRAP. Because if you haven't done something yet, agreeing to do it is agreeing to possibly be able to consent to what's about to occur--because you don't know what's about to occur. Consent is relatively weak and unstable as an ethic, isn't it, if what you're agreeing to do is something you don't understand or know how your body and mind will experience? Like, say, if I agree to take crack cocaine for the first time. Or to try a new kind of alcoholic drink before having "sex". Or if I agree to be tied up because I've learned to do what is asked of me as soon as I enter a bedroom, but don't recall that my uncle did that to me when I was seven. What, exactly, am I agreeing to do when something new is asked of me?]
you could ...
  • suck, kiss, touch, bite, fondle, nibble, squeeze, and lick someone's body, nipples, calves, toes, neck, ass, dick or vulva ... [The very first recommendation is for us to think of people as body parts--and sexual pleasure as figuring out which parts feel what, rather than understanding what a person feels about sex is more complicated than what happens when you lick a nipple. This is a very mechanistic, non-holistic view of sex. So far, we don't need capitalism, however. Whew.]
  • jerk yourself or each other off, dry or using lots of lubricant ...[Uh oh. We need capitalism already to get that lubricant at a store. And no mention of what sorts of ingredients are in those store-bought or online-ordered lubricants. If petroleum based, then we're talking about something that isn't healthy to put into the body.]
  • kiss for a long time, using lots of tongue ... [or not using lots of tongue; spreading around saliva and/or deep penetration doesn't equal "a good time". The best sex I've had, when I was sexual, involved virtually no penetration at all and a very moderate amount of saliva--never leaving the mouth, either.]
  • have sex in front of mirrors, or watch each other jerking off ... [now we're kind of into class and capitalism. Lots of homes don't have lots of mirrors in which to pose oneself while being sexual with someone else. Besides that, we've arrived at sex being voyeurism and exhibitionism, small scale. See, with this simple list, we're going to ease our way deeper into the realities and "necessities" of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. Stay tuned...]
  • get into role play (for instance, tie someone up and pleasure them) ... [Ah, yes. "Role play". Curious that the example involves bondage. Because right there we're led to think that "role play" means someone has less movement, capacity to escape an unwanted situation, or even to participate equally. And the doors to white supremacy have now been opened. Also to patriarchy. Why isn't "role play" ever: "you be the person I adore and enjoy being with, and I'll be the person you adore and enjoy being with". Not sexy enough? Not "pro-sex" enough?]
  • look at sexy pictures and videos ... ["sexy" meaning what? Objectifying? Exploitive? Mechanistic? Images and videos of people who are trafficked? How are we supposed to know which people in which videos and images were there "consensually"? No mention or regard for that. Just find pix and vids that get you hot. No worries. Except, well, we've now combined capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy all into something that is allegedly and unambiguously "good sex".]
  • make up or act out fantasies, talk dirty, dress up, strip down, or cross-dress (dressing in the clothes of the other gender) ... [From roles, to videos, to fantasies. If you've been acting out roles and watching the videos, what might the content of those fantasies be? The same as what you've been consuming and acting out? Talking dirty?? I thought we were supposed to be promoting sex-as-not-dirty???? Dressing up--capitalism. Strip down--well, that tends to go with having sex, often. "Cross-dress"? Hmmm. So we're supposed to be buying into a hetero/sexist dress code, a set of roles that rigidly define gendered sex as happening between people who dress differently? If I wear my boyfriend's t-shirt and jeans and he wears mine, are we "cross-dressing" yet? Or does one of us need to put on garments that pimps require prostitutes to wear? I'm guessing not so much with the t-shirt and jeans, and a lot more of the stuff pimps and procurers want women to wear. I could be wrong.]
  • call your friend and tell him or her your hottest fantasies ... ["hottest" fantasies? What about most emotional, deepest, most liberating fantasies? What about the fantasies of liberation from capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy? What? That isn't "hot"?? Oh, you mean "hot" refers to superficial, buying what corporate racist patriarchy sells us as "hot"? Gotcha.]
  • use cock rings, nipple clamps (or clothespins), or vibrators on your own or someone else's body ... [now we're not only dealing with capitalism, but we're dealing with things that can harm our bodies. But it's all "good" and "pro-sex" right? Why isn't sexual practice that can't harm our bodies not "hot" or "good"? How about non-penetrative sex between full human beings, not people-with-toys as "hot" and "good"? Does corporate-produced plastic and corporate-produced electricity need to be present for us to have sex? Really? Was what everyone was doing prior to the advent of electricity and plastic not having enjoyable sex? Why just because products exist, sold to us for a profit, are we required to buy them in order to learn how to have enjoyable sex?]
  • shower together, or grind against each other with your clothes on (dry humping) ... [no complaints here. Well, except for one: we are always thinking, in this list, about ourselves as having to do shit to feel a certain way. There's truly no mention at all of "get to know who the person is" or "be together".]
  • cum on someone's belly, back, feet, chest -- instead of in them ... [Is this being addressed to women? How exactly might a woman enjoy cumming on someone else's chest? Oh, right, sex is androcentric and phallocentric, so "cum" means "male ejaculate" or "semen". The dead give-away is "instead of in them". Because while women can ejaculate fluid, it's not likely she's choosing between doing that "in" someone else, or outside of someone else. It's not like her partner is saying, "Hey, hon, just for kicks, why don't you ejaculate OUTSIDE my body this time!" So fun sex means heterosexist males who regard penetration using their penis as "normal", and shooting their semen onto people's bodies as "something different to try". Not for me. No thanks.]
  • play with your own or someone else's ass or vagina, put your fingers, dildoes, vegetables, or buttplugs into them. [The whole pre-occupation in this list with penetration as "necessary" or "normal" is truly invalidating of a lot of us who don't/can't/won't penetrate someone with parts of our bodies in order to have sex. It's able-ist, in some ways ageist. It's also terribly phallocentric and androcentric. Playing with someone else's body kind of goes without say, doesn't it? Oh, wait. Skype and webcams. Maybe not.So we're talking about solo masturbation as a way to find sexual intimacy and pleasure, then? Or are we just "performing" for someone who is looking at us? This notion of "sex" as "performance" is one of the most capitalistic ideas yet. As opposed, say, to "sex as intimacy" or "sex as sharing" or "sex as communication" or "sex as finding out who one is and who the other person is: "sex as discovery". What? Not "hot", huh? Oh, and you should wash any vegetables and probably wrap a condom on them if they are phallic shaped. And very hard vegetables aren't so good and can puncture or bruise soft internal flesh.]
If you're putting something into a butthole, make sure it has a flared base and looks something like the picture. That way it can't go all the way in and get stuck. [Into "a butthole"--it doesn't belong to anyone? Do buttholes just walk around? Well... kind of, yes. "Politicians" is what they're called in English. And again with the purchasing of objects to use in body parts also written about as if they are objects. More classism here; and more "penetration" AS "sex".]

It's important to play safe. Use condoms and plastic wrap. Don't get blood or cum in a wound. See Safe Sex for more information. [This is one of my pet peeves, I'll be honest. Because none of these sites discuss what "safe" sex is for those of us who were incested, molested, assaulted, raped, exploited, trafficked, and enslaved sexually. The assumption is that no one has traumas; difficulties being present; triggers. The assumptions, in fact, about the people having sex are not "normal" at all. Most people have challenges, whether due to traumas or dysfunctional childhoods, depression or substance misuse, other mental illness or physical disability. So we have to wonder whether this imaginary person even exists in actual life. How do we have emotionally safe sex? How about psychologically safe? Politically safe? Mentally safe? Why is the only "safety" caveat about using rubber and more plastic? Do you get what's so fucked up here? And, yes, we ought to be fully informed about STDs and STIs, but also about emotional coercion and physical manipulation that may be a normal part of a teenager's life and relationships. Oh, and PLASTIC WRAP ISN'T SAFE. It has holes in it that can pass disease and illness. So that's not even something that should be promoted even if we are going to pretend no one has "issues" and society isn't deeply fucked up in oppressive ways, not just "repressive" ones.]

See also *this post* on being anti-sexy vs. anti-sex. I will leave you with two pieces of writing, and I welcome you to compare the depth of feeling, the breadth of insight, in each, compared to the material you read above.

Here are the links, and this is what is being linked to:

Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, by Audre Lorde, in her book Sister Outsider. I know of no other single essay that so completely tears away what the status quo expects of us, to get down to the possibilities that lie beneath--for our sexual lives, which is also to say, for our lives. This essay, delivered first as a speech, if taken seriously, could radically transform how we experience sex, and what we come to understand is "good" about it.

"Communion" by Andrea Dworkin, a chapter in her book, Intercourse, analysing and discussing the work of James Baldwin--a gay author of amazing depth. The analysis really gets brilliant, for me, about a page and a half into the chapter, when she begins talking about what sex is that the dominant society won't tell you about, leading into Baldwin's work, which also discusses those exact same themes usually kept hidden and secret, unspoken about by the adherents of and apologists for dominant racist, capitalist patriarchal societies' core values.

A snippet, from each:

As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which values this depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men, but which fears this same depth too much to examine the possibilities of it within themselves. -- Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic (in Sister Outsider)

There is no imagination in fetishlike sexual conformity; and no questions are being asked in political discourse on sex about hope and sorrow, intimacy and anguish, communion and loss. [...] 
There is an awful poverty here, in this time and place: of questions; of meaning; of emotional empathy; of imagination. And so we are inarticulate about sex, even though we talk about it all the time to say how much we like it [...].  -- Andrea Dworkin, Communion (in Intercourse)

28 comments:

Owl Eyes said...

perfect! i love this. it ties into an interesting comment someone left on my newest blog post regarding this exact 'pro sex' term.

Julian Real said...

Awesome, Owl Eyes!

I'll have to stop by your blog and read that.

Petra said...

Thank you for this post, Julian !

I'm appalled how sex (I mean it in a broader context, not just the act of penetration) is dissected into acts performed on certain body parts and as a whole it is seen as doing something TO someone...

I wonder where all the delusional folk live when they think (or rather "think" ?) that everyone has an absolutely free will regarding their choices of sexual acts. It seems to me the understanding of what we experience in our lives, our character traits, the way we've been brought up and many other aspects influence our lives, our decision making is widely spread... yet when it comes to talking about sex, looks like we are all living in a vacuum...

What about negative feelings after a certain sexual act has been done ? From what I heard, read, experienced this variety of feelings is mostly shrugged off as "shame" or "fear of doing something dirty" usually linked to religious indoctrination. Some morons even consider sexual abuse survivor's reliving their traumatic experience as an exciting fantasy... ugh

I personally hate the term "having fun" when referring to doing some sexual act(s) with somebody else. First because of people who mostly use it and second because of what these people imply with this term - ignorance, stereotypes, diminishing and apologetic bullshit.

Julian Real said...

Hi Petra,

Writers I'm aware of who have dealt with these complexities are Sapphire, MacKinnon in a brief piece about how child sexual abuse constructs adult sex, and Carolyn Gage, re-assessing the case of Teena Brandon, given that she was an incest survivor.

There's such unwillingness to question much of anything these days. The protocol seems to be that if you don't accept the CRAP that's offered and smile about it, and reach orgasm to it, you're a [fill in the insult]. What a strange time we live in. What a strange, pro-ignorance, anti-knowledge era this is.

There's finally some work being done on how "not all orgasms are good or pleasant". Most "pro-sex" activists balk at such an idea. Sapphire's novel, Push, clearly makes the case.

Petra said...

Thanks a lot for the reading tips, Julian ! Btw. Wasn't Push by Sapphire turned into a movie called Precious ?

Totally ! Looks like the more mainstream encourages us to talk about sex and our personal sexual experience, the narrower the definition of sex and pleasure gets... Just shut your mouth and "enjoy" the physical reaction of your body euphemistically called orgasm and forget about the mental aspect and the circumstances... And if you don't want to say the sex you had last night was bad (because it's all fun, isn't it ?), derive your "pleasure" from your sex partner's claim that you were a good shag... And some call this liberation...

Julian Real said...

Hi Petra,

As is the case with any movie made from a novel written by a radical feminist, I much prefer the noval to the movie: The Color Purple being my introduction to why non-feminist men should never direct movies based on work by feminist women. Precious is another example. There are many.

A possible exception for me might be "Bandit Queen". A very intense and militantly feminist film that amazed me, while also being one of the most difficult films I've ever watched due to its unflinching depiction of men's sexual brutalities and callousness against girls and women.

But, as I understand it, even the woman the movie was based on, Phoolan Devi, didn't like the idea of the movie before she died. I've read somewhere it turns her into a kind of heterosexual femme-inised-for-the-screen figure. Again we are left with the tyranny of men's utterly heteropatriarchal predictable imaginations. And, that all said, it's one kick-ass movie about a feminist militantly resisting patriarchal atrocities and culture.

Julian Real said...

Part 2 to Petra,

The truth, more tragically, is that a great deal of "sex" isn't experientially especially good or enjoyable, even whether we use the model of "meaningful consent" or the model of "joy" being present. If we consider how many men "have sex", we have to account for the men who have it by paying for it, by manipulating others in order to get it, and by using force, plain and simple. The fact that so much of what men do "for sex" is experienced as violation or being frightened by the recipients needs to be taken into consideration, not just to make real the lives of the assaulted and traumatised, but also because these realities impact all other ones.

Most people don't have sex according to how much consent is present, but rather due to how much one is socialised or pressured into having "it". And I'm glad you and others are questioning what that "it" is.

Whether having "sex" due to socialisation in an anti-humane culture, or engaging in compulsory heteropatriarchal sexuality, or choosing to be with someone who doesn't know themselves and doesn't really want to get to know you--it's all "not very good"--surely our standards can be set beyond just tweaking the body in this way and that to produce arousal and possibly orgasm. That IS what the author above presents as being "pro-sex"!

Sex is so often had habitually and "addictively". I've read online some men who describe their sexual practice with using pornography. This would fit under the Solo Sex spoken about above. And what they talk about is a kind of mind-fog of self-manipulation, waiting to find images that bring them to orgasm. And that's behaving in a "pro-sex" way??? When will these men care to ask, "At whose expense?"

If it's not traumatic for someone, it's utterly boring for so many others, devoid of presence, caught up in terribly scripted image-gazing, and thoughtlessly involving images of people whose histories are impossible to know. This obliteration of self and other "in order to have sex" is quite a statement about the era we live in. It's like how white middle class and wealthy people mindlessly think "capitalism is good" because most of them don't have to witness the mass murder of Indigenous people and destruction of land required for us to live a certain way--exploiting and using up all of the world's natural and human resources: resources needed by the people being exploited and killed. Denial and dissociation are two key components in the manufacture of "good sex" and "good society".

Julian Real said...

Sex is many things--liberation isn't one of them, unless you're misusing the term to mean something as banal as an individualistic and momentary sense of being empowered or having affirmative agency. That's a rather pro-status quo, pro-oppression/anti-liberatory definition; it CRAPily co-opts "liberation" in a world where so many groups of people need something more than momentary sense of empowerment or agency. What we need is an end to atrocities such as sexual slavery and sexual terrorism, trafficking and pimping, poverty, limited access to holistic health care, unsustainable economies such as capitalism, corporate gross sexual exploitation-as-entertainment and consumable product, environmental destruction, racism, heterosexism, and misogyny, including an end to rape and child sexual abuse and every other form of sexualised domination and subordination. It' boggles the mind that people who work to accomplish those very things are called "anti-sex"!! And the people who accept them all as inevitable can believe they are "pro-sex". To accept all of those oppressive conditions as either "inevitable" or not at all impacting how we conceive of and practice "sex", is to not understand much about how human beings are people inextricably bound to their own histories, societies, and dominant cultural values. This sectioning off of "sex" from society and from one's own deepest, more complex self is quite a bizarre development in "sex education" and "sexual practice".

CRAP loves it, however. And CRAP is anti-sex.

JENNIFER DREW said...

'Don't feel like you have to do everything on this page, but don't feel like anything is automatically off limits either.' A typical neo-liberal claim wherein the writer says something along the lines 'yes women (because commonly it is women who are being told/coerced into doing whatever the heterosexual male demands) don't feel like you have to do everything on this page - BUT - and here's the clincher - 'dont' feel like anything is off limits either.' Completely negates the first part of this piece of pseudo advice.

In other words any woman who dares to say 'no I don't want this sexual act/abuse to be done to me is anti-sex because she should at the very least try it with her male partner.

Utterly neutralises the fact women still do not have ownership of their bodies but instead are constantly exhorted/commanded/threatened to do everything the male partner (because it is primarily the male) demands or wants.

Missing too is the fact we all learn sexual scripts and men's sexual scripts tell them it is their right to use whatever means they can to gain sexual access to women/girls.

Missing of course is the fact the person primarily male who seeks any sexual activity should engage in mutual agreement and if his female partner says no, then he must respect that. But no this artice promoting 'pro-sex' does not mention 'mutual agreement'instead it claims women because it is primarily addressed to women, apparently live in a vacuum wherein they are all free to do whatever they wish or desire in any sexual situation.

Womens' continued lack of power and autonomy doesn't exist in the pro-sex scenario - instead the assumption is there are two individuals who have equal access to power and social condition and who are able to make informed decisons safe in the knowledge their decisions will be respected.

But women do not live in this mythical world - we live in a world wherein women's and girls' bodies are supposedly the property of men and woe betide any woman who refuses to submit to any sexual act the male demands/expects.

Pro-sex - no rather it is pro-male supremacy wherein women must cater to every wish their male partner demands. Domination is the name of the game and sadly some women believe it is right to sexually dominate another human being (usually female) because it is supposedly transgressive whereas in fact it is mimicking male sexual supremacy.

Amna said...

Thank you for writing against the concept of "Pro-sex." In university, I was assistant editor of a magazine that was male-dominated and very sex oriented. A girl wrote an article about experimenting with your own body, and yet the language was male oriented. I had to edit it to make it slightly more egalitarian. On top of that, the layout guy put a picture of carrots and I found that quite idiotic knowing how sensitive female genitalia is.

Anyways, I have my own understanding of sex as well. I think that touching is sexualized so much that often it is considered wrong for family and friends to be touching. I think touching is a natural form of communication. When you talk about sex as a form of communication, I have a problem with that. For some time I felt that sex was a form of communication and for that reason I needed sex. However, what you are talking about is fore-play or showing affection. I can understand that you mean it is a form of communication between two people who have affection for each other. What is important to note is that it is not simply A form of communication, at least, of course not the penentrative kind.

Touching is a form of communication of warmth and affection. I remember I saw a hispanic movie in highschool, in which a brother and sister, in an intense moment of sadness and vulnerability, start to lightly rub their faces against each others. The class was surprised at such behaviour. We saw that as sexual and therefore, incestual.

It seems to me that touching is a key form of communication among animals, whether it is between siblings, parent and child, or parent to parent (after mating.)

Even between two romantically involved people, we need to understand what is sex and what isn't. Rubbing noses, faces, hands, etc-- is affection.

Anything that is intended to lead to intercourse, to my understanding, is sex.

I know I leave a huge gap here, of what isn't sex. Does mean that a sister and brother can hug while bare chested. I figure not, because of the society we live in.

Since, kissing of a certain time length was created as a sexual pleasure (apparently, it originated in India) it may just be a sexual thing. However, kissing does not always lead to intercourse so it may very well be thought affection, exclusive for lovers. When it leads to a more bodily session (let's say, then it's sexual).

I do not see how, one can avoid penentration or jerking/rubbing after reachin a certain point of arousal. What may ensue is coitus interruptus or mutual masturbation, etc.) Can you clarify that a bit. Isn't the whole point of fore-play to create enough arousal that the mind/body feels that either genital release is inevitable (for lack of a better way to put it.)

That's as far as my theory goes.

Julian Real said...

@Jennifer - Thanks, as always, for your succinct analysis of how male supremacy works against the interests of women.

@Amna - Thanks for your comment. This gives me pause. Something to think about. I appreciate the contribution to this discussion. I'll respond to portions of what is above.

Anyways, I have my own understanding of sex as well. I think that touching is sexualized so much that often it is considered wrong for family and friends to be touching.

I think that due to the oppressive and repressive conditions of the Western Christian-pornographic-dominatd society I live in, what sex is and what touch is are deeply messed up. I also think that due to the prevalence of child sexual assault, abuse, molestation, rape, and incest, and the climate of children growing up in homes where parents and care-givers' own experiences of sex and touch are mingled and entwined with abuse and neglect, that this makes for a very dangerous home environment for many children. And while there are many varied ways for touch to be expressed in homes--some men kiss on the lips or faces as a matter of affection, not sex. Some heterosexuals see any form of kissing or intimate touching as "too sexual" to display in front of children. I think it is difficult to find healthy ways of expressing affection, physically, when touch is so tainted by past experiences of touch-as-violation, for so many of us.

I think touching is a natural form of communication. When you talk about sex as a form of communication, I have a problem with that. For some time I felt that sex was a form of communication and for that reason I needed sex.

I surely don't wish to reinforce in anyone's mind the idea that because sex is communication, one must have sex to communicate. Yelling and screaming, jumping up and down, and having tantrums are also forms of communicating, but I'm not making any recommendations that adults do any of those things, necessarily. I fully support you communicating and touching only in ways that you welcome and want, desire and invite.

However, what you are talking about is fore-play or showing affection.

I'm not intending to speak about foreplay. First, that term is VERY problematic for me: I find it to be terribly heterosexist, anti-lesbian, and phallocentric in what it understands "sex" to be. I believe strangers engaging in sex in an ally are communicating, as well as lovers in the throws of adoration. It's all communication--the question is "What is being communicated?"

I strongly recommend, if you have access to it, that you read the Communion chapter of Andrea Dworkin's book, Intercourse. Because that chapter discusses sex-as-communication and touch-as-communication in the most brilliant ways I've ever read. If you read it, I'd be interested to know your thoughts about it, which I welcome you to put here on this "pro-sex" post's comments page.

Julian Real said...

I can understand that you mean it is a form of communication between two people who have affection for each other.

Or disdain. Or mutual disregard. Anything can be communicated through touch, and often is. The Communion chapter by Dworkin, linked to here, gets at this in far more eloquent and astounding ways than I can express.

What is important to note is that it is not simply A form of communication, at least, of course not the penentrative kind.

I agree with you!

Touching is a form of communication of warmth and affection.

I'd say "it can be a means, a way of communicating warmth and affection", as can terms of endearment being told to someone beloved. But it can be a means, a way of communicating coldness, distance, remoteness. How many times have two people hugged, and one comes away feeling how distant the other person was?

I remember I saw a hispanic movie in highschool, in which a brother and sister, in an intense moment of sadness and vulnerability, start to lightly rub their faces against each others. The class was surprised at such behaviour. We saw that as sexual and therefore, incestual.

In my own family experience, the Western cultures that are most northern and western european tend towards being less affectionate physically, so much so that when they witness how other societies engage with one another, they are shocked. Even within parts of Europe. Among many Eastern European countries, for example, men kissing on the lips is a greeting or a sign of supportive affection--such as when a male coach kisses his male athletes on the lips for doing a good job on the field or wherever. In the U.S., het men often freak out when they see this, and read it as "homosexual" when that's not what's going on. And in Southern Europe, as well as in many warmer climates, touch is far more common, acceptable, and appreciated without reservation.

Julian Real said...

I can understand that you mean it is a form of communication between two people who have affection for each other.

Or hatred. Or mutual disregard. Anything can be communicated through touch, and often is. The Communion chapter by Dworkin, linked to here, gets at this in far more eloquent and astounding ways than I can express.

What is important to note is that it is not simply A form of communication, at least, of course not the penentrative kind.

I agree with you!

Touching is a form of communication of warmth and affection.

I'd say "it can be a means, a way of communicating warmth and affection", as can terms of endearment being told to someone beloved. But it can be a means, a way of communicating coldness, distance, remoteness. How many times have two people hugged, and one comes away feeling how distant the other person was?

I remember I saw a hispanic movie in highschool, in which a brother and sister, in an intense moment of sadness and vulnerability, start to lightly rub their faces against each others. The class was surprised at such behaviour. We saw that as sexual and therefore, incestual.

In my own family experience, the Western cultures that are most northern and western european tend towards being less affectionate physically, so much so that when they witness how other societies engage with one another, they are shocked. Even within parts of Europe. Among many Eastern European countries, for example, men kissing on the lips is a greeting or a sign of supportive affection--such as when a male coach kisses his male athletes on the lips for doing a good job on the field or wherever. In the U.S., het men often freak out when they see this, and read it as "homosexual" when that's not what's going on. And in Southern Europe, as well as in many warmer climates, touch is far more common, acceptable, and appreciated without reservation.

It seems to me that touching is a key form of communication among animals, whether it is between siblings, parent and child, or parent to parent (after mating.)

Even between two romantically involved people, we need to understand what is sex and what isn't. Rubbing noses, faces, hands, etc-- is affection.


Amna, I'm hearing you wanting there to be clearly distinguished experiences--those that are "sexual" and those that are "not sexual". Also, to have clear division between touch that is affectionate and loving, and touch that is not.

I appreciate this desire to have those distinctions made in lived experience. In my own experience, they are not always so distinct, so separate. Although my touch of children never feels sexual to me--thank goodness, I know that when I was touched as a child it might feel a mix of things, which was sometimes confusing to me. I think it's important for children to feel what they feel, not be shamed, and also not be exploited by adults who prey on and grossly exploit and manipulate the fact that touch can be filled with many feelings for some children.

Julian Real said...

Anything that is intended to lead to intercourse, to my understanding, is sex.

Amna, do you see how completely heterosexist and anti-lesbian that statement is? Many of us, myself included, have never particularly enjoyed "sex that is penetration". I have always much preferred touch and affection, even if it is also sexual, when it doesn't involve penetration or intercourse. And many, many women I know have "sex" that is never, ever leading to intercourse. But if you're saying simply that that is how you experience and understand it, then that's cool. It just came across to me as reflective of what so many heterosexual people tell me "sex" is and means to them that discount, demean, or invisibilise other ways of being and touching and having sex.

I know I leave a huge gap here, of what isn't sex. Does mean that a sister and brother can hug while bare chested. I figure not, because of the society we live in.

Maybe if the sister and brother are both five! I'm in agreement with you that how a given society understands and names our experiences is part of what determines how we feel about them.

This argument is used in some fairly vicious ways by pro-misopedic/child molesting adults, as a way to say that "adult-child sex is only wrong because society says it is wrong." This is probably among the most selfish, self-serving, self-centered, and sociopathic arguments I've ever heard. Children need many things, but sex from adults is not something any child needs to grow up and be healthy, well, fulfilled, or liberated. I abhor adults who try and make a case for sexual touch being welcomed between children and adults.

Julian Real said...

Since, kissing of a certain time length was created as a sexual pleasure (apparently, it originated in India) it may just be a sexual thing. However, kissing does not always lead to intercourse so it may very well be thought affection, exclusive for lovers. When it leads to a more bodily session (let's say, then it's sexual).

I think that is an accepted view, Amna. I grew up thinking about sex that way. To be sure. But then I realised that what I most wanted was intimacy and affection, not sexual sensation. And for me that may well be because sexual sensation is what adults who abused me when I was young brought to me as "affection" and also as "abuse". Both. So I steer clear of "sex", no matter what it is: kissing, other kinds of touching, or penetrative contact.

I do not see how, one can avoid penentration or jerking/rubbing after reachin a certain point of arousal. What may ensue is coitus interruptus or mutual masturbation, etc.) Can you clarify that a bit. Isn't the whole point of fore-play to create enough arousal that the mind/body feels that either genital release is inevitable (for lack of a better way to put it.)

Well, in Western society, which is where I've grown up, the predominating view was very strange in some ways. It views sexual touch as "progressing" from maybe holding hands, to hugging, to kissing, to fondling, to intense body rubbing, to some form of penetrative sex, whether oral or genital or anal. That's what I was raised to think of as "The range of behaviors that are sexual". But Audre Lorde's essay on The Erotic--which I've posted here on this blog, and Andrea Dworkin's discussions of penetrative sex and affection, love, and touch, in her book Intercourse--see especially that chapter I linked to above--have allowed me to think about what "sex" is very differently.

On one level, I do think many people get together to experience more and more intense levels of sexual arousal in order to achieve orgasm. This tends to be how men have sex--stimulation for the purpose of experiencing an orgasm. But the Hite Reports on Female Sexuality revealed that women use "sex" and "touch" differently than men who are only into male supremacist sex do. So I'd recommend reading Shere Hite's reports on human sexuality, to see more about this. She's done some amazing social research in this area of sex in the West.

I'm eager to know where your theory-building goes, and where your thoughts and feelings about all this goes. I think you'll find those readings to be helpful to you, and I hope supportive of you finding joy and pleasure with touch.

Petra said...

Julian, I even wonder why non-feminist men might want to direct a movie based on a feminist woman's work...

It seems to me the men you mentioned won't ask "at whose expense" until they find themselves in the exactly same position as the ones they directly or indirectly abuse... oh, with the exception of pseudo "nice guys" who just whine about how men are being hurt the same way...

I think all the infliction of trauma or just boredom is here to make the unprivileged numb, resigned and passive.
And in my opinion it is linked among other things to the hatred of lesbian women and openly showing scorn to single women. A woman who is most likely not being directly damaged by CRAP (really like the acronym) on a regular basis is a bad bad woman.

What totally disgust me is if sexual assault/rape survivors refrain from doing sexual acts with others, it's supposed be of their fear of "sex" (whatever that means) and that they must be waiting for a "nice man" who will feel entitled to stick his dick wherever in their body he wants to and whenever he wants to, but he will "love" them (again, whatever that means). Huge difference, huh.

Then if such survivor wants to analyse the incident(s), take it for what it really was and do their best to make it never happen again to anyone, they are slandered and silenced. The "perfect" sexual assault/rape survivor becomes resigned, totally submissive and full of self-hate (which is usually labelled "sexy"). If an unprivileged person manages to become the same "by themselves", their "plus"... Pro-sex = shut the fuck up and choke on what we stuff in your mouth.

I would really like to know how can one remove themselves from this nightmare.

Julian Real said...

Hi Petra,

It should be more obvious that those the powerful slander are the truth-tellers about what the oppressors do and who they have chosen to become.

Dworkin is maligned and stigmatised not because she lies, but because she tells truths men don't want to acknowledge as within their own power to change. This willful refusal to become humane is a standard of being that only the most dehumanised can invest in.

If only children had an opportunity to know exactly what isn't worth their time--such as focusing their attention on men who only seek to use or abuse them.

To turn away from those male supremacist men, once and for all, and leave them to themselves, to take care of each other with skills they don't possess, because they've been too busy possessing people who take care of them.

Amna said...

Sorry, I haven't had the chance to read all of your reply, and I do see how my use of the word intercourse can come as heterosexist. I do not know many lesbians, but I do know some gay men and my assumption was that they can have intercourse. I do realize that I used the word incorrectly, since my assumption may be quite wrong and many gay men probably don't have intercourse. On the other hand, I did say genital release, and that is basically what I meant... whether it is through coitus interruptus or some form of masturbation. Of course, with lesbians there is what I would consider a form of intercourse, because both member's genitalia are involved, although there are other terms for it I guess, such as scissoring or whatever it may be. Also, with foreplay, I think that is not necessarily heterosexist because any arousal of the genitalia would include some touching in the beginning which can go for man to man or woman to woman as well.

If you look at the word intercourse, it used to be used like discourse in earlier times. That is why I tend to see it as more than penentrative sex, although it is definitely not used for lesbian genital sex.

Julian Real said...

Hi Amna,

"Intercourse" is a strange word in English. I'm not sure how this translates into other languages. How ironic, that we were talking about sex-as-communication, and "intercourse" means both "sex" and "communication"!!!

I understand much better what you were expressing. I personally never liked the idea of "an order of progress" with sexual expression--maybe because I grew up learning that what males do sexually is "go around the bases" using a ridiculous baseball metaphor:
1st base: kissing
2nd base: touching above the waist
3rd base: touching below the waist (and/or oral sex)
"home run": heterosexual genital-to-genital sexual intercourse.

I just reject the whole thing as patriarchally phallocratic and silly. People can touch and be close in so many ways, and the rush to orgasm thing always seemed focused on men's needs, not anyone else's. So I dumped that model. I was never into male team sports anyway! lol

Again, what Audre Lorde describes in Uses of the Erotic, and sex-as-meaningful connection, as honest communication that is nurturing or fun or joyful or soothing is more where it is at for me, in my mind and in my dreams.

I gave up "sex" because there was no way for me to experience it the way I imagined it could be. Too much about CRAP feeds its way into people's fantasies, I've found, in the past. I'm done with CRAPpy sex.

Amna said...

"I'm in agreement with you that how a given society understands and names our experiences is part of what determines how we feel about them.

This argument is used in some fairly vicious ways by pro-misopedic/child molesting adults, as a way to say that "adult-child sex is only wrong because society says it is wrong." This is probably among the most selfish, self-serving, self-centered, and sociopathic arguments I've ever heard. Children need many things, but sex from adults is not something any child needs to grow up and be healthy, well, fulfilled, or liberated. I abhor adults who try and make a case for sexual touch being welcomed between children and adults."

I am interested in reading about the chapters you have advised me to read, but can you also give me examples of pro-misopedic arguments. Where do you quote those words from that say sex is ok between children and adults.

Julian Real said...

Hi Amna,

There are many places and people who promote adults having sex with children.

Here is one website by my colleague, Nikki Craft, dedicated to exposing this atrocity in Nudist Groups.

http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/NudistHallofShame/WilcoxDuncanCross.html

I am working on a separate post, coming up here very soon, on this subject, so please look for that. It will contain links to CNN's Anderson Cooper exposing some of the ways Amazon.com promotes pro-misopedic (child-hating/pro-child molestation) books.

Julian Real said...

Here is that post:

Anderson Cooper, John Walsh, and Dr. Phil Call Out Amazon.com for Selling Books That Teach Men How to Molest Children and Get Away With It

laurelin said...

Amazing post, brilliant analysis. Thank you very much!

Julian Real said...

Hi laurelin,

Thank YOU very much for taking the time to share that with me. I'm glad the post was one you found helpful or validating in any way. :)

laurelin said...

It really resonates with me - when the 'advice' I was given by magazines or whatever didn't work, I assumed there was something wrong with me... or that the advice worked in theory but not in practice. But as Catharine Mackinnon said, 'if it doesn't work in practice, then it's not a good theory is it?' More thoughts later from me, if that's okay with you.

And:
'And, yes, we ought to be fully informed about STDs and STIs, but also about emotional coercion and physical manipulation that may be a normal part of a teenager's life and relationships.'

My old teenage self says 'yes please. Would've been really damned useful!'

What does pro-sex mean anyway? Sex is always to be supported? All sex is good? What about crap sex- are they 'pro' that? What are they so afraid of that they define themselves not in terms of freedom, emancipation, happiness or integrity but in terms of...sex? Sex is a poor substitute for freedom. As is 'agency', for that matter.

Julian Real said...

Hi laurelin,

The opening page and a half or so of the "Communion" chapter in Andrea Dworkin's book Intercourse engages your point very well, with a pretty clear answer, not one that pro-sex liberals want to hear: pro-sex means pro-male supremacy and pro-sexism. That's what it is supposed to mean, anyway. That's what it does mean, for all institutionalised intents and patriarchal purposes.

If you haven't yet read it, you can do so at Google Books, I believe.

Here's the opening section, which just precedes the passage I have at the bottom of the post above:

'In Amerika, there is the nearly universal conviction, or so it appears, that sex (fucking) is good and that liking it is right: morally right; a sign of human health; nearly a standard for citizenship. Even those who believe in original sin and have a theology of hellfire and damnation express the Amerikan creed, an optimism that glows in the dark: sex is good, healthy, wholesome, pleasant, fun; we like it, we enjoy it, we want it, we are cheerful about it; it is as simple as we are, the citizens of this strange country with no memory and no mind.

The current argument on sex between the Right and the Left is not about the nature of fucking as such. It is strictly about whether or not this good thing is good outside marriage or between persons of the same gender (however they manage it). [...]

On both the Right and Left, a citizen had best be prepared to affirm her loyalty to the act itself. Ambivalence or dissent impugns her credibility; a good attitude is requisite before she allowed to speak--in magazines, on television, in political groups. The tone and general posture of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders set the standard for a good attitude; not to have one is un-Amerikan and sick too. The social pressure to conform is fierce, ubiquitous, and self-righteous. Lost in the simple-minded prosex chauvinism of Right and Left is the real meaning of affirmation, or any consciousness of the complexity--the emotional tangledness--of a human life. "It is really quite impossible," writes James Baldwin, "to be affirmative about anything which one refuses to question; one is doomed to remain inarticulate about anything which one hasn't, by an act of imagination, made one's own." There is no imagination in fetishlike sexual conformity; and no questions are being asked in political discourse about hope and sorrow, intimacy and anguish, communion and loss.'

In the white male supremacist West, it makes sense, in a perverse sort of way, that because there is no value at all placed on meaningful liberation from systems of exploitation, poverty, rape, or genocide, we are left to shuffle around the cards which remain. We are not supposed to fantasize about freedom, if that means freedom from fucking as men define it and enforce it.

Instead, we are welcomed to take and hold dear the cards that are dealt us, as idealised values. As you note, agency, simple pleasure removed from collective consequences, fetishism, objectification, sexual commerce, domination, submission, and slavery are what remains when you remove from the deck, take out of the equation, the mere possibility--to say nothing of the probable reality--of genuine liberation from male supremacy-as-sex.

Whitney said...

This was an amazing article! We are doing a presentation on pornography and violence for my Intro to Feminism Theory class at USC, and I came across your article while searching the term "pro-sex". We are studying Iceland's current political agenda to ban the commercialized sex trade.

I suppose, my question would be, what are your thoughts on BDSM? It requires the purchase of material goods, is rooted in role-play of dominant v submissive types, and often involves pain. Do you think truly consensual BDSM communities are possible? We just studied that topic in class and I feel that it ties in with this as well! Thanks!

Julian Real said...

Hi and welcome, Whitney!

Thank you for your comment and question. First, I agree with the direction of your own thoughts on the subject. The businesses that provide BDSM practitioners with whips and other bondage gear generally promote the same values as industrial-strength international corporate pornography (i.e., trafficking with cameras). The Story of O (Pauline Reage, 1954) [for feminist analysis, see "Woman as Victim: Story of O", by Andrea Dworkin. Scroll down just a bit for that] and Fifty Shades of Grey (E. L. James, 2012) [see "Anti-Feminist Ideals in 'Fifty Shades of Grey'", by Marina Dellvecchio for analysis of that series] as you may well know, were popular anti-feminist novels, promoting male dominance and female submission as the hottest kind of sex and most intense kind of adoration. Female domination and male submission, and same-sex BDSM relationships, all exploit the same racist and misogynist narratives, the same values, the same unequal power relationships as "hot". Mutuality, intimacy, love, friendship, and individualised personal connections aren't understood in popular media as "sexy" because corporate pimps and pornographers, along with Big Media generally, have so dramatically defined and regulated what constitutes sex and desire.

I generally have questions when someone assures me they are in a community or relationship that practices meaningful consent. It's not that I don't think it can occur; it's that I think most people don't dig deeply enough into what it takes for it to exist. For one thing, patriarchal, capitalist, colonialist, and white supremacist values are so infused into many Western societies, perhaps least so in some Scandinavian countries, that I personally am not aware of any truly consensual communities, whether practicing BDSM, Christian values, or liberal to progressive politics.

Here is a recent post on the topic of consent: Rape + Consent = Rape. "Rape Redefined" by Catharine A. MacKinnon. Please also see: What is Feminist Sex? Good Sex Advice and Feminist Sex Tips here, from Cerien.

Here is a true story. About a decade ago, a very sweet young heterosexual man, thoughtful and conscientious, shared with me that a past girlfriend only wanted to have sex with him while watching pornography. He actually wasn't that into pornography at the time, but this was among his first serious relationships, and he wanted to go along with her wishes. He added that he didn't feel much connection with her during sex. I asked him if he knew anything about her childhood: did he know if she was a rape or incest survivor? His eyes widened and saddened. He said she had talked around the matter of coming from a fucked up home. I said that for those of us who are survivors of sexual abuse, one of the ways we survive it is to dissociate. Another way is to try and have control over dramas that left us horribly powerless and terrified. One of the ways to do both is to be lost in the fog of pornography use. Their relationship didn't last, and later he met a feminist woman who was troubled by his pornography collection, which he'd accumulated after that earlier relationship. It was she who recommended I speak with him, to sort through his confusion about it all. He found his way into that much healthier relationship, letting go of the collection and those early lessons in detached sex, once and for all.

Please feel free to follow up as needed or as you wish. I'm happy to assist you as best I can! :)