Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is Feminist Sex? Good Sex Advice and Feminist Sex Tips here, from Cerien

image of not-good food is from here

Julian here, before getting to Cerien's latest guest post. Some herstory/history here on the matter of "what is feminist sex?" It ought to go without say that radical feminists have been having sex for a long time. Like, for decades and longer. And many have "played hard" to figure out how to not engage in the same OLD CRAPpy sexual dynamics that racist heteropatriarchy endlessly, relentlessly sells to us as "good sex"--which, if we're going to call it like it is, is really boring, dull, inhumane sex. Even when it produces orgasms. The idea that sex can suck doesn't really register in the minds of many liberals. "Sex" by definition, is "good". If it produces sexual sensation, arousal, and orgasm, it is "good" without question or qualification. This makes for a very sexually illiterate and erotically ignorant society; one that takes what CRAP offers as "the best we can do and be".

Radical feminist women have described feminist sexuality and eroticism in their writings. In prose, poetry, plays, and non-fiction. The problem is that by the late 1980s in the West, "pro-sex" became fused to being "pro-pornography" because--note the logic here: being anti-pornography got equated with being "anti-sex". And as anyone who sees enough pornography knows, there's not a lot that's "pro-sex" about it. The industry doesn't exist to teach us what's good about  sex, after all; it exists to profit off of racism, misogyny, and heterosexism and to repackage shame-as-sex, sex-as-dirty-and-disgusting, this time without a parentified authority telling us "you're bad if you like it". What the pornographers already worked out is that people will be degraded and dehumanised in the production of it, or will feel bad for using it because it's so degrading and dehumanising. (Patriarchal capitalism demands that we love CRAP and call it GRRRRRRRREAT!)

Why people think industrially mass produced sexualised white het male supremacy = good sex is one of the many issues before us. One answer is, "It's the only sex that is visibly out there." So we take what we know and call it good. If all you've ever eaten is McDonalds, you're likely to say, if asked what good food is, "McDonalds". But there is non-commercially grown organic food, and there is non-commercially produced sex too. And societies existed way before pornography did, and some of those folks had good sex. So the idea that we need the pornography industry to know what good sex is, is a preposterous and pro-pimp notion. And corporate pimps and pornographers work damn hard to get us to believe we can't live without their fucked up products, and without them. The first thing pimps do when they find a runaway teen is to convince her--usually a her--that she needs him. She needs him like she needs to be raped. For those of you who are confused, what I mean is this: SHE DOESN'T NEED HIM. He's got nothing good to offer her at all. Pornography is BAD SEX. Pornography is ANTI-SEX. And the sooner we collectively realise that, the better sex and society will be.

Here's the latest from A.R.P.'s guest blogger, Cerien:

I was re-reading that bit about the "pro-sex" advice list and wondered briefly why radical feminists don't have any "sex advice" lists, so I came up with my own. I thought you might like to see it.

Sex advice nowadays is dumb and creepy. Sometimes it can even be dumb, creepy and triggering. So, in fact, you could argue I am anti-sex, as long as you point out that I am anti-dumb, creepy, triggering sex.

I found Julian's post originally on XY Online [dot net]. I loved the commentary, but wanted to put together a list of sex tips for the egalitarian-sexual set. (Egalisexual?)

The first sex tip I have is that consent can actually be pretty fucking sexy, but it can be awkward to try to discuss and hash out everything you're going to do before you start having sex, especially since sex is amazingly spontaneous if you're not working off a porn script. So discuss sex while having sex. Say, "Would you like me to touch you here?" Or, "I want to see what you do if I stroke here..." Maybe even, "Can you get up on my stomach?" Wait for a response before actually doing it.

Do it even if you blush. Especially if you blush. Do you know why people react with cooing and giggles when someone blushes? It's because you're fucking cute when you blush. Wanting to hug someone who's blushing is actual human nature.

With time, it will get easier.

The second, and other huge sex tip I have, is to temporarily scratch penetrative sex off the possibilities list. Positions for sex, despite what certain untested 365-day peel-off calendars will tell you, are actually really limited when you focus them around penetration. And society's penetration fetish really limits our sexual imagination.

Another really awesome part of non-penetrative sex is that you have a greater possibility of sex for hours. The idea of holding off or abstaining from orgasm for greater satiation is pretty much the only Tantric concept I agree with.

Again, these are sex tips, so there's no suggestion here that you're uptight for not being interested in or not wanting to try any of them. I chose them specifically because I've found with my lovers that they teach me more about them and the way we function together. That's what's best about sex for me: intimacy with my partner. Not a predefined list of what is "hot" or not.
    Here's the rest of the list:
  • Experiment with parts of your body and your partner's body that you've never thought could be sensitive, and ways to stimulate those areas.
  • There's more than just sucking, kissing, biting, et al.: there's "blfrrt"ing (you know, vibrating your lips? Razzberries? Fart noises?); tickling; stroking (especially with different textures); even making a whole lot of weird noises against! Or towards!
  • Find out where sex feels best for you and your partner: in small enclosed spaces? Wide open spaces with lots of rolling-around room? Linoleum floors?
  • Incorporate sex as a normal part of your life - it doesn't have to end in orgasm. It doesn't have to do more than make you and your partner feel good. Take breaks. Feed each other. Watch a movie. Sex can be present during or around all of these things; it doesn't have to be a defined, orgasm-oriented activity. It can just be messing around.
  • Avant-garde the role-play: go to the shower; you be the plant, your partner gets to be a gardener. Or you get to be Voltaire and your partner gets to be, I dunno, Victoria Woodhull. If it doesn't end up being sexy, it is inevitably fun: the entire point of sex!
  • Play with positioning. Instead of aligning your genitals or faces, one of you gets to be held from the back by your partner while you do whatever with each other's bodies: stroking, fingering, etc. Or try "grinding" differently: vulvas and penises can be rubbed against more than fingers, genitals... One incredibly fun thing was my girlfriend getting off by grinding against my chest, where I could touch her and help. And it doesn't have to be with clothes on!
  • Horizontal yourself: experiment in giving each other pleasure where neither of you is placed vertically above the other.
  • Come up with new compliments for each other. Instead of, "you're so hot," you can try, "You are like a shining, emerald-eyed flower glittering in the moonlight." Or, not so elaborate, "You look like pumpkin bread. Soft, fluffy, exquisitely spiced, and best eaten with a hot cup of peppermint tea."
And, of course, the #1 sex tip ever is always going to be: the things that make sex consistently awesome have nothing to do with sex. They have to do with getting along, consideration for each other, willingness to change your behavior, curiosity about each other as people and wanting to make that time fun for both of you, regardless of how long or short that time will last.

One of the best things I ever did for my sex life was to fuse sex with play. One of the things that concerns me about pornography is the image of sex it presents - it's not funny, messy, accidental, divine, adventurous, spirited, kooky, casually generous, or... shared. Pornsex is specifically SRS BSNZ. It cannot stop and be caught up again later, it can't be easily regained, it has to go all the way through to the end (male orgasm). It is VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU NOT SCREW SEX UP. WE DON'T KNOW WHY. IT JUST IS.

Part of making sex always fun for me was getting rid of the "kinkiness," too. You can argue that my sex life is kinky, if not always traditionally (that is to say, in the ways of BDSM or power dynamics). But I've made a lot of effort to get rid of the "fetish" aspect I (and, I suspect, many others) was taught by porn. As I've observed, having a "kink" is more about having a script for sex than actually liking certain things within a sexual situation, and my definition of "fetish" is where you are sexually aroused by an action not by doing it with any given person, but by the action itself. So, if you have a fetish about "whipping," for example, you don't enjoy doing it with someone else; the act and object are primary, the person secondary. When the person is interchangeable, there's not really much point in sex; you could fantasize and masturbate and be doing essentially the same thing. Fetishism ruined a couple relationships because I wasn't having sex with a person: I was doing it for the fetish. And, as much as it seems dumb to pontificate about the healthiness of a particular kind of sex, it's true, and not just for sex - if you are doing something for a reason other than someone, it's unhealthy.

Relationships are about our interaction with that person, right now, whether or not we are being sexual. Getting absorbed in the matters society overlays on our relationships (capitalism, fetishism, materialism, religion, etc...) is a death knell for those relationships. Part of a radical redefinition of relationships is to make ourselves horizontal: person-to-person, as equals, regardless of whatever measure of "worthiness" is in vogue - size, shape, appearance, genitalia, sexuality, age, just... whatever.

This is one of the central tenets of anarchism: freedom of association. We associate with people, not because we need to get money or power or validation, but because we like them and want to be around them.

And anyway, aren't we supposed to be liberating sex? What's "liberating" supposed to be if not choosing to interact with someone based on them rather than a predefined kink or script, whether from society or inside our heads?


Jacquelyn said...

Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. Thank you for this fun, funny, heartening and enlightening post.

Anonymous said...

Cerien, are you also an incest survivor? If so, do you feel it helps your healing to reclaim the word "play" in terms of your sexuality? If not, how do you feel an incest survivor would feel about it?
And Julian, how do you feel about conflating the ideas of "sex" and "play"?

I'm a female incest and molestation survivor, and I'm not comfortable with it at all.

The unpleasant associations with pedophilia are enough to put me on guard. And for another thing, it smacks heavily of BDSM practitioners' constant insistence on infantilizing their abusive behavior by naming it as 'play' (trying to minimize it and make it seem innocent?). Also, all that aside, women across the board in patriarchy are perpetually considered childlike anyway.

This is not something I want to see more of, as I agree with Carolyn Gage's assessment that "the sexual behavior for women that patriarchy wants to idealize is identical to that of an enslaved child."

(quoted from here:

Also, appropriately, word verification asked me to type the word "sliced."

Julian Real said...

Hi paleotrees,

Thank you so much for your comment.

I don't use the word "play" for what adults do together that is sex, and certainly not for what adults do to children that the adults want to believe is "just sex".

I'm celibate, asexual, and not interested in sex with anyone. That's a consequence of my own history of being sexually abused in childhood by a predator/terrorist and other males who were less scary to me but also violating.

I think the perspective you bring is very important for anyone to consider--and be considerate of.

I hope more people write about this. I haven't seen that specific discussion much online. Thanks for the link too. Here it is so it works as a link:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, Julian.

I'm also celibate, and a lesbian. I just sometimes wonder about sexually active individuals' self-labeling of their activities, because, well, you know, I'm a judgmental prude and all. (/end feminist self-joke)

I keep meaning to blog about this, but then I don't. It's a very big deal, though, and one which makes men VERY VERY ANGRY.
I once tried to have a conversation about it with a male acquaintance, who had self-revealed some extremely disturbing things about himself while trying to assert that his sex life was "innocent" (as if!), and to put it lightly, he freaked his absolute shit.

It seems that some individuals are very invested in their "play," and woe be to anyone who asks them to analyze it.