Saturday, April 9, 2011

Andrea Dworkin said All Heterosexual Intercourse is Rape, or All Sex is Rape? Not so fast.

image of book cover with inscription (right) is from here

I have posted several times on the myth--promoted especially by men who love to rape women and call it "just sex", that Andrea Dworkin once wrote or said that "All heterosexual sex is rape" of women by men. She never said it or wrote it. She did speak on the subject quite clearly, however, in ways which make it clear--or, well, ought to make it clear--that she could conceive of sex being 'not rape' of women at all, even when the 'sex' was heterosexual intercourse. Proof follows. If you see this lie about her work being promoted online by men, please post a link to this blogpost here, to refute the lie. It's about time for it to die, as well as for rape (not "just sex") to stop. Let just sex continue; let unjust sex end, whether or not it is rape.

In case you are confused--and if you're a man, you're likely to be: I don't believe that all sex is any one thing at all. I don't think all sex is good, bad, moral, immoral, fun, painful, terrifying, pleasurable, or any other "one thing". I think sex, like life, is complicated and is many things at once, often enough. For those of us who are survivors of child sexual abuse, "sex" is rarely only one kind of experience.

For me, personally, it has been sometimes okay, sometimes triggering, sometimes pleasant, sometimes exciting, sometimes abusive, and sometimes a compulsory chore. Generally, it's not all that and a bag of chips. If I could do my life over again, I'd rather just have the chips, most of the time. That doesn't make me anti-sex. It makes me not interested in sex that isn't mutually enjoyable, intimate, and healthy. It you think being not that into sex that isn't mutually enjoyable, intimate, and healthy makes someone anti-sex, I'm sure glad I don't ever have to have sex with you.

One of the things sex is far too often is violating and oppressive to women when men "have" it. Because often enough--far too often--men who have sex think that entitles them to dominate, control, oppress, hurt, injure, physically violate, and emotionally terrify women and girls. Often enough, that's what men do when men think all they are doing is "having sex". I know this because I know there are millions of husbands of women who think it is their "fucking right" to rape women. And there are millions of fathers who think it is their fucking right to rape girls: often their own daughters. And there are millions of men who think it is their fucking right to rape women and girls in systems of prostitution, trafficking, and sexual slavery. That means there are lots of millions of men who do, in fact, not in theory, make sex into "rape". There's nothing anti-sex about noticing that and naming it. I'd say it's rather pro-sex to want rape to not be confused with sex in the minds and actions of men and boys.

It was not Andrea Dworkin, or any other radical feminist, who promoted the idea that all sex must be oppressive to women, or must make women into inferior creatures. In fact--SURPRISE--it is masculinist men, such as *ol' Kevin here*, who have promoted a truly absurd idea that because men often poke their penises into women's bodies, with or without permission, that means that heterosexual intercourse "naturally" and inevitably makes it an act that turns women into inferior creatures, while it simultaneously places men into a superior position, sexually and socially. I say to Kevin and all those who think (and behave) as he does: You are oppressive, ignorant pricks and I hope you stop having the kind of sex you think is natural.

Moving along to what Andrea Dworkin did, in fact, in text, write, we have this from the second edition of Intercourse, pages 80-82, by  Andrea Dworkin--the only edition I recommend getting*, other than the first.
[According to a typically male supremacist rationale] "men possess women when men fuck women because both experience the man being male. This is the stunning logic of male supremacy. In this view, which is the predominant one, maleness is aggressive and violent; and so fucking, in which both the man and the woman experience maleness essentially demands the disappearance of the woman as an individual; thus, in being fucked, she is possessed: ceases to exist as a discrete individual: is taken over.

"Remarkably, it is not the man who is considered possessed in intercourse, even though he (his penis) is buried inside another human being; and his penis is surrounded by strong muscles that contract like a fist shutting tight and release with a force that pushes hard on the tender thing, always so vulnerable no matter how hard. He is not possessed even though his penis is gone--disappeared inside someone else, enveloped, smothered, in the muscled lining of flesh that he never sees, only feels, gripping, releasing, gripping, tighter, harder, firmer, then pushing out: and can he get out alive? seems a fundamental anxiety that fuels male sexual compulsiveness and the whole discipline of depth psychology. The man is not possessed in fucking even though he is terrified of castration; even though he sometimes thinks--singly or collectively in a culture--that the vagina has teeth; but he goes inside anyway, out of compulsion, obsession: not obsessed with her, a particular woman; but with it, getting inside. He is not possessed even though he is terrified of never getting his cock back because she has it engulfed inside her, and it is small compared with the vagina around it pulling it in and pushing it out: clenching it, choking it, increasing the friction and the frisson as he tries to pull out. He is not possessed even though he rolls over dead and useless by virtue of the nature of the act; he has not been taken and conquered by her, to whom he finally surrenders, beat, defeated in endurance and strength both. And for him, this small annihilation, this little powerlessness, is not eroticized as sexual possession of him by her, intrinsic to the act; proof of an elemental reality, an unchanging relation between male and female. He experiences coitus as death; and he is sad; but he is not possessed.

"Men have admitted some form of sexual possessing of themselves by women in the fuck when they can characterize the women as witches, evil and carnal, and when the fuck occurs in their sleep at night. The witches have sex with men while they sleep; they use a man against his will, especially at night, when he is asleep and helpless. He ejaculates: proof that, by magic, a woman came to him in the night and did something to or with his penis."
(*See here for why that is.)

What follows shortly was written by a great reader and literary critic. Her name is Giney Villar. If only men, collectively, could read as well as she does singularly. But, alas, as a group, men do not and cannot--unless to analyse the work of men, and even then they often fail at it miserably. To all academically trained men: please learn how to read and analyse literature intelligently or shut the fuck up and keep your fingers off your keypads.

Villar asks an important question below: Why didn't Dworkin write about the politics of lesbian sexual intercourse?

I can only posit an answer: because in virtually all of Dworkin's work, she rarely took the focus off of what men do to women in male supremacist societies. The reality of how lesbians have sex is not the topic of this book--how men use their penises and social power to subjugate others, or to obtain something most het men mistakenly call "sex" (I mean as opposed to, say, what these het men actually mean, which is "heterosexual intercourse", or "heterosexual genital sex") is the focus of this book.

While, for decades, lesbian wimmin have been discussing how and to what degrees many forms of sexual contact between wimmin replicate or reinforce heteropatriarchal dynamics and oppressive values and practices, this inquiry was, in my view, beyond the scope of Dworkin's book. Her book is about what men do and with women that men call normal sex (as if het men were unable to imagine things otherwise): a good time for all. The book is about heterosexual genital intercourse as a male supremacist act as the act exists normally, in lived, felt reality, not in fantasy or theory alone, in male supremacist societies, protected and enforced by patriarchal law and custom.

There is one section on sexual intercourse between men and between women and men, in the chapter where she analyses (brilliantly) the work of James Baldwin. I see the purpose of this inclusion as necessary to note how it is men can conceive of sexual intercourse as many things--not just love and not just war--but that tends to happen if women are taken out of the picture altogether. When men include women, men tend to see "sex" as either love or war, or some strange and often intentional intermingling of the two.

The website which is the online home for what follows, which closes this post, is *here at Isis International*.
INTERCOURSE by Andrea Dworkin

by Giney Villar
Monday, 07 May 2007

Intercourse, Dworkin's monumental book on the complexities of sex, now on its tenth anniversary edition, remains as forceful today as when it first appeared in 1987. In her new preface (1997) Dworkin describes her book as "…a book that moves through the sexed world of dominance and submission…" and rightly so.

In this book, the author questions and challenges the value and meaning that men and women attach to Intercourse. While it is "easy" to read having been written in a lucid, scholarly manner without being highbrow, the book is difficult to comprehend. Intercourse compels its readers to rip open their bodies and minds and examine them under the stark illumination Dworkin beams. It is disturbing light, and she makes no excuse for casting it. Dworkin stops being female in this book and suggests that all women must begin to stop being women as constructed by men, for their integrity and survival.

Intercourse opens possibilities. It can be interpreted in many ways. This is what the book exactly aims to do. To pose questions, spur action and in the author's own words, "Intercourse is search and assertion, passion and fury; and its form—no less that its content—deserves critical scrutiny and respect."

The book is divided into three parts. The first part, "Intercourse in a Man-made World" illustrates the way men perceive women and themselves, as they sexually relate to women. In the section "Repulsion," Dworkin tells of the repulsion men have against women's bodies, sexual intercourse and their unbridled desires, as exemplified by Tolstoy's life and works. In Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata, a man kills his wife to end his own torment and pain about the possibility of losing control over her. The man reasons that with her death, his wife could no longer be capable of defying him, and he did not have to bear the responsibility of subjugating her and desiring her.

Dworkin asserts that men are obsessed with protecting their own vulnerability and they use women to draw attention away from this "nakedness." Men resort to violence against women for it is a way of getting what they want without exposing their own vulnerability. Sexual intercourse is likened to being "Skinless" where men and women merge and lose boundaries to become one flesh- male flesh.

Intercourse has also been understood as a form of possession. Women are being penetrated and thus conquered and dominated as objects. In so doing, men possess women but both experience the man being male. In the process, women essentially lose themselves when they are taken over by men. This is necessary for intercourse to be successful. Amazingly, men are not possessed even if they are literally enveloped by women during the sexual act. Women have been constructed by this type of sexuality. As the author puts it, "This being marked by sexuality requires a cold capacity to use and a pitiful vulnerability that comes from having been used." And because of the social context, women have learned to equate sex with love and desire. Thus, male possession has become an affirmation of desirability, womanhood and existence.

In part two, "The Female Condition," Dworkin talks about the situation of women and the way men maintain female subordination.

In her first example, Dworkin is the relationship between virginity and power as illustrated in the life of Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc, champion of France against the English, repudiated the way women were constructed and fought against the English until her capture by the Burgundians. For Joan of Arc, virginity was "a passage, not a permanent condition," an act of integrity and not a retreat from life. Her virginity and military prowess challenged patriarchal powers and for a time succeeded. She was accused of more than seventy crimes foremost of which was wearing male clothes.

The Inquisitors went out of their way to break her and make her female. To make her submit. Believing that her power emanated from her virginity, she was stripped of her male clothes, returned to prison and was possibly sexually violated by soldiers to put her in her place – a woman therefore an inferior being. Joan of Arc was burned for being inaccessible, for refusing to be female. It was a condition unacceptable to men.

Dworkin goes on to discuss another virginity in the manner the tragic fictional character Madame Bovary experienced it. Her virginity was "listless, dissatisfied ennui until awakened by the adventure of male sexual domination…" Virginity was equated with ignorance, until awakened by man. This is an idea that has prevented many women from enjoying satisfaction and wholeness within themselves. Men have made it impossible for these women to be happy without their approval and participation.

Finally, in Bram Stoker's Dracula, the author reveals a redefinition of virginity. In this classic tale, women remained virgins no matter how many times they had sex, as long as their blood was not spilled. For sex to be valid, one had to "die"—an idea akin to modern sado-masochist ideology.

Dworkin draws her readers attention about the fact that among subordinated groups of people, women's experience of being made for sexual intercourse has no parallel. She asserts that this is not because intercourse is not any less violative than other brutalities. She says that it has no equal because the realities attached with intercourse—the violation of boundaries, the physical occupation and the destruction of privacy—are considered normal and essential for the propagation of human existence. For Dworkin the question to problematise is the possibility or impossibility for a physically occupied people to be free.

She presents contending answers to this question. First, she says that some explanations contend that there is nothing implicit in sexual intercourse that mandates male domination of women. This view derives from a belief that intercourse is not an occupation or a violation of integrity because it is natural. It is a position that refuses to make a connection between intercourse and women's oppression.

Dworkin also talks about actions that have been taken to tilt the balance in favor of women. These efforts are directed to change the circumstances around intercourse ranging from raising the economic and political power of women, to more private recommendations such as more sensitivity and female choice in lovemaking. Dworkin recognizes that while such reforms may possibly provide incremental changes in the way intercourse is experienced—making it more "equal" between the sexes, they have so far not addressed the question of whether intercourse can be an expression of sexual equality in the current social context. A context, according to Dworkin, "in which the act takes place, whatever the meaning of the act in and of itself, is one in which men have social, economic, political and physical power over men."

Women, Dworkin suggests, are literally occupied in intercourse and perceive intercourse in the way men want women to perceive the act. By instilling fear among women, men have succeeded in alienating women from one another and consequently subordinating them. Fear has also assured women's complicity in their own domination and objectification—a requisite condition for intercourse.

This collaboration strips women of their self-esteem so women expend their energies preparing themselves for intercourse rather than for their own liberation. Dworkin believes that intercourse, for as long as it is "experienced under force, fear and inequality, destroys in women the will to political freedom…. We become female; occupied…The pleasure of submission does not and cannot change…the fact, the cost, the indignity, of inferiority."

Interestingly, while there was some discussion regarding male-to-male relations, no explicit mention of female-to-female relations—and its potential for transformation – can be found in the book. The reader might "read" the subtext, but one might be accused of over reading. It becomes more of a puzzle that this did not make it to the book given that the first edition was written in 1987, a time when the lesbian movement has already been around for a little less than twenty years in the USA.

I dare raise some questions spawned by my reading of this book. Is male-to-female penetration qualitatively different from female-to-female penetration, or is penetration, penetration every time with all its corresponding "ills"? Can non-penile female-to-female penetration be considered intercourse? Can two women fuck? If they can, is that a continuation of an oppressive cycle of domination and subordination or can it be liberative? Is it the act of penetration itself, as some feminists assert, that oppresses and thus breeds inequality, OR is it the penis, OR as with male/female intercourse is it all in the context?

In the last part of the book, "Power, Status and Hate," Dworkin further reinforces this belief. She outlines how laws have defined intercourse to ensure systemic male-domination and women's subordination. Sexual intercourse, the book claims, has never been a private matter. Laws have regulated it and thus society has participated in ensuring its power to continue to possess women.

According to Dworkin, laws emphasize gender polarity to avoid confusion of roles. This is especially evident in laws governing intercourse that is the most vital in maintaining gender as a "social absolute." Gender polarity in intercourse and the corresponding meanings and values attached to such differences also protects men from being treated as women—a detestable fate. For if men like women could be violated, their power and status would be seriously breached and thus be dealt a deathblow on the male dignity.

In drawing her discourse to a close, Dworkin expounds on misogyny and shows how women are equated with dirt. In the section "Dirt/Death," Dworkin explains how everything about a woman, from her body parts to her actions is reviled in a world that despises her. Men manifest their hate for women by genital mutilation and intercourse. Men punish themselves for feeling what they do and punish women for making them feel that way. In the end, whatever action men take against women, it still is and always will be women's fault.

Finally, Dworkin posits that for change to happen, a redistribution of power has to occur. A change in power relations and an equality of worth that is socially true. In this struggle, the power of language can only be potent in changing the status of women if its context is changed.

Intercourse evokes strong emotions in its readers with its choice of words, its imagery, and its controversial content. It is necessary to be passionate because Dworkin argues against the denial of women's existence. There is no other way to attack the subject matter.

The book consistently paints an antagonistic scenario between men and women, constantly at war with the odds stacked against women from the very start. Despite the occasional window that Dworkin opens for the readers to breathe some air and get some respite from her multi-faceted onslaught, readers will still come out of the experience, distressed. Dworkin refuses to write from the feminine posture of one knee bent in deference to the powers that be. Rightly so, for readers would need Dworkin's feet strongly planted in the ground to serve as anchor as she hurls her challenges to both men and women.

Unlike the celebratory feminist books that seem to be in vogue, Intercourse will appear to be the raving, uninvited gatecrasher to the polite little feminist discussions we have in the safety of our man-made edifices. It froths in the mouth, shocks and offends, but deep inside us we know that it speaks Truth.

Giney Villar is the Coordinator of the Women Supporting Women Committee, a lesbian organization in the Philippines. Giney is also an organizer of the Asian Lesbian Network.

This article originally appeared in Women in Action (3:1998)


lauren said...

Women are so colonized under patriarchy that we never question - those of us that have sex with men - if we even like this kind of sex. If you are a straight woman, this is the kind you have.

Shere Hite did extraordinary - and simple - research to prove just this three decades ago.

I understand why Andrea Dworkin's writing made men mad. But women?
To survive as a colonized woman you might have to think that you are not victimized, and that you love intercourse. That it is your free choice. So when Dworkin puts this under the feminist magnifying glass, it makes you look at just how much they have you. There is a big price in seeing it and then rejecting it.

Some het women may very well love intercourse. But not one of us has free will in what kind of sex we have - nor do we have a choice - as long as the dominating class decides it for us, and starts teaching it to us when we are small children.

Amna said...

Two points: Historically, initial sex with a virgin "maiden" has probably always been rape. The myth of bleeding the first time is really just that a myth. I didn't know that until recently. I thought I was just different or lacked a hymen or something.

Actually women often did not bleed and had to fake it (often with the help of other women) and if they do bleed, it is because of lack of stimulation and violent force.

So yeah... and I don't know at what point the vagina tightens (the way Dworkin has described it, since I have never had penile intercourse) but I have a feeling that the fast and hard "fucking" is meant just to keep the vagina off closing up, or in other words, a woman enjoying it, so that the man just shoves back and forth and hardly gives her an orgasm. This is totally biased, but why is it that only 28% women have vaginal orgasm even until 2000.

Also, is this idea of men fearing losing their penis Freudian? I am not particulary a fan of this theory, because I am not sure how often the vagina tightens up.

Julian Real said...

Hi Lauren,

Thank you for your comment.

It is a terrible consequence of being colonised that one's peers do the policing when the Master isn't around, or even when he is.

I love Shere Hite's work. Thanks for mentioning her.

How often do we--the collective we--ask one another how free female people are to live lives as males live theirs, not having their bodies targeted for very specific forms of objectification, fetishisation, harassment, intrusion, violation, penetration, and assault, from birth to death because of the social-political meaning of their female bodies?

How many girls and women can be certain "sex" will never mean conquest or domination by a man? How many girls and women will never experience "sex" as violation or invasion?

Dworkin "went there" in her book. And people across gender hate her for it. Not because she didn't ask important, difficult, uncomfortable questions. But because she asked and answered them, honestly.

Julian Real said...

Hi Amna,

Most "sex" had with girls and women, historically, is not something freely chosen by girls and women; it is something assumed to be a right of men to take from girls and women, to have, to possess, to do whatever they want with.

"Vagina Dentata" is an old, old myth that appears in various forms in many societies. It isn't Freudian at all. It pre-exists Freud. He may have offered up his own interpretation of it, but plenty of men seem to have similar views of it, including this one, which can be found on Wikipedia:

"In his book, The Wimp Factor, Stephen J. Ducat expresses the view that these myths express the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished."

We can note how Ducat assumes all men (as their penises) enter women's bodies "triumphantly", as if sex is conquest, competition, or an act of over-powering.

And men critique feminists for stating that men view rape and sex as synonymous??!! What about all the men who can't tell the difference, in practice or in fantasy?


Totally agree with Lauren's astute critique because women do not own their bodies and men's pseudo right of penetrating women's/girls' and even female bodies is considered to be sacroscant.

Shere Hite is demonised too for daring to provide factual evidence that intercourse is not 'real sex' neither is it what most women like/enjoy/desire.

However men as a group continue to promote the misogynistic claim that heterosex has not occurred until the penis penetrates a woman's vagina and/or her anus.

Raising the demand that women must be accorded the right of ownership of their bodies is still perceived as heresy by the male supremacist system.

Men's bodies are not supposed to be penetrated according to male supremacist dogma because that would mean supposedly reducing men to women's socio/economic natural (sic) inferior status.

Catherine A. McKinnon in her book Men's Laws Women's Lives states that reason why rape is commonly perceived as 'not real rape' is because the distinction between rape and normal (sic) male heterosex is very, very fine. Heterosex males are taught it is their right if they choose to initiate, control and dominate any sexual interaction with a woman/girl and that it is a male's right to force a female to submit to what he perceives as his 'sex right.' That is he has the innate right of penetrating a woman's body and can use coercion/threat of force in order to gain sexual access. That is why rape laws are so narrow - to protect men's pseudo sex right to women/girls and now even female babies.

Then too women have been taught and socialised for centuries that 'sex' as defined by men for men's sexual pleasure is 'real sex' and anything else is 'foreplay' or something prior to when the penis takes centre stage!

Women continue to be punished by men for refusing to engage in so-called 'real sex' (intercourse) and then too we need to remember intercourse is far more dangerous healthwise for women than it is for men. But never mind - women 'freely choose' do they not and untangling the male-centric myths concerning male sexuality is very, very difficult. That is because female sexuality is still defined by men because only men supposedly have the intellectual skills to define 'real sex!' Intercourse is a reproductive act first and foremost.

Amna said...

From what I read on wiki about vagina dentata, some aboriginal cultures had this myth to keep boys/ young men from having sex, or even raping girls/ women.

I just want to question how often men experience this feeling of trappedness, based on how frequently women's vaginal muscles are strong enough to contract upon the penis to warrant such fear.

Julian Real said...

Hi Amna,

I don't think there's anything "rational" going on with men's views of women, at all. I think it's all deeply delusional, full of projections and assumptions, full of misogynistic misinformation that men spread around among one another for the purposes of believing they are superior and women are inferior. Basically, patriarchy can only replicate itself on lies.

lauren said...

What a wonderful meeting of the minds!

Jennifer, your comment brings up so many issues. Shere Hite was not only demonized for her book 'Women and Love' but had to leave the country. It has been quite difficult to get her books here, some well known feminist had to petition a publishing company for 'Patriachy and the Family' to be distributed in the U.S.

She was the first woman I ever read who stated that many women do not like intercourse. I can not tell you how controversial it is to say this, even to radical hetero feminists. I get a bunch of hairy eyebrows, followed by quick defense of men and how much they love pentration. My gut feeling is that many hetero women have never even thought about it, because you have to get far enough outside of patriarchy to be brave enough to hear the answer.

I almost never read that intercourse is more dangerous for women than men, but of course it's true.

And the number of vaginal infections - caused by intercourse. How many hetero women haven't had one - or many - urinary tract infections from it? I think the Medical Establishment still assumes that
it's our burden as women, and continues to prescribe antibiotics and cranberry juice, just like they did decades ago. How come doctors don't say 'Well, don't have that kind of sex' ?

Julian Real said...


Your comment makes me think of a young white het man I spoke with a few years ago. I'd known him for a little while, mostly due to me knowing his mother. And when I ran into him I asked him how he was doing, and he launched into telling me all about this older woman he was seeing, mostly for sex, it turns out. And I asked him, "Do you use a condom?" And he said, "No. She doesn't require me to." And I got quite upset with him, honestly, telling him that he doesn't have to worry about getting cervical cancer because of HPV--which I knew he had. And how incredibly uncaring of her he was being, and of any other women he was having genital sexual intercourse with, to not automatically wear a condom, whether or not the woman asks him to!

And this is one of the "good guys" out there! Geesh.

Amna said...

I don't understand why there is such a business of female sex toys meant for penetration. Is it just brain-washing? Why do many homosexual men seem to enjoy penetrative sex?

Is the answer for both, learned masochism?

I should probably read the above mentioned writers before asking these questions, but any clues?


Hi, Lauren, apologies for not replying to your second comment sooner. Yes indeed it is wonderful when we discover that we are not alone in challenging the phallocentric mindset.

I know Shere Hite's books were deliberately 'censored' because her findings told the truth about women and how they are subjected to phallocentric lies concerning supposedly 'real female sexuality.'

Challenging phallocentric myths posing as 'truths' is an immense task particularly when talking to hetero feminists. Because we women have never been permitted to own our sexuality or bodies, since they supposedly are male property. Result is innumerable women have bought the lie that 'real sex is male penetration of female body!'

However, these phallocentric lies never succeed in subduing all women because there will always be resisters. Shere Hite's work is very, very important. Just as the late Andrea Dworkin's work is and that is why these two pioneers were/are subjected to such intense male hatred and contempt.

Phallocentricism is all about maintaining male supremacist domination and control over women. Women will never achieve human status until we eliminate male domination and male-centric lies concerning what supposedly passes for appropriate and 'correct' female sexual expression.

Question - why do so many men become enraged when heterosexual intercourse is critiqued? Is it because these men know deep down that 'heterosex' as defined by phallocentricism is all about upholding male domination and male power over women. Heterosex as defined by men is about eroticising male sexual power over women - but saying this is supposedly heretical.

You're right Lauren - women have to get far away outside from patriarchy before they can even begin to face up to what they have been brainwashed into believing as truth!

Julian Real said...

Hi Amna,

Men make money and take pleasure in promoting sex that involves penises and penis-like objects, used to make people think that we can't have sex without one, or something that looks like one.

It's "capitalist patriarchy" at work. And it works well, as men control advertising, pornography, and all other institutions and most sources of information too. So on the Right, we have men in churches and other religious institutions telling women to have sex with one man for her whole life, and on the Left we have men telling women to have sex with as many men as possible--however many men want to have sex.

I know women who enjoy some kinds of penetrative sex and I don't equate that with masochism. The point, politically, for me, is that most women do not live in societies in which men do not rule everything, including customs and laws about sex.

You also asked this:
Why do many homosexual men seem to enjoy penetrative sex?

Keep in mind the power dynamics between men are not the same as between women and men. I think it is far more likely that penetrative sex between women, and between men, can be egalitarian that between men and women, given the heteropatriarchal norms and social pressures.

This isn't to say that lesbian sex and gay sex can't or doesn't often replicate the power imbalances of heterosexist sex, but in my experience, the power relationship is entirely different.

Penetrative sex between (gay or bi) men can be an expression of love, affection, intimacy, pleasure, and everything else too. There is often an assumption made that the sex that men have together can't possibly be about love and affection and intimacy, which is homophobic nonsense.

I recommend reading the "Communion" chapter in Dworkin's book Intercourse, Amna. If you have questions after reading that, please ask me here.

lauren said...

This is a happening place :)

Julain, good points about gay male sex. I will never forget when a gay man I was becoming close friends with twenty years ago said 'I don't like penetration'. The world went quiet. It was extremely liberating to hear that from a man.

The portrayal of men having sex with men in film can be the opposite of tender and affectionate. I'm thinking of the difference between the love scene in My Beautiful Launderette, and comparing that to Brokeback Mountain. In the latter, the sex was rushed, hard, fast. Why couldn't it have been like 'Launderette' which, in my memory, was sweet, smiling and face to face?

Jennifer, I agree with everything you say. Yes, men do become enraged when penetration is challenged, and they have a whole army of intelligent women backing them. That's when I become the enemy - when I challenge the women.

If intercourse were 'natural' it would be so pleasurable for women that there would be no 'how much it hurt the first time' stories. A woman would not have to try and get used to it, her women friends insisting that it gets better with time.

Amna, I always wonder where this dildo business came from! I've read some lesbians who say it's marketing, not to buy them because your lover's fingers are much better. So who is buying the dildos in sex toy shops, like San Francisco's 'Good Vibrations'?

How much of hetero male sex is learned sex? If men were not trained to do it, would they even want to?

Julian Real said...

Hi Lauren,

I believe everything about heteropatriarchal sex is learned. All of it. In every story I've ever heard from het males, no het male ever "naturally knew" how to fuck, how to have sex, how to rape, or to do anything. All males I know--with no exceptions, had to learn what to do, when to do it, where things went, how to act, how to be, etc.

And all of that was and is heteropatriarchal training and socialisation, with plenty of force to back it all up. Generally, in practice and in reality, not in theory or in fantasy, boys teach boys how to "do it". And then boys practice it on girls. What girls learn is how to accommodate what boys and men want of them. That's my experience, talking with girls and women. Some girls and women feel or are more self-empowered to speak out about what they like and don't like. But no girl or woman I know has ever lived in a world in which males don't learn how to practice heteropatriarchal sex as "just plain ol' sex". For most males, in my experience, variations on heteropatriarchal sex are understood to be "natural sex". That's a big load of CRAP. So no matter how empowered any woman is, she's still negotiating a world where sex is overly determined by men.

Males do not naturally know that penises can be engulfed by vaginas. They have to learn it, and what they learn isn't that: what they learn is that they can stick or shove their penises into girls and women, in various places.

They sure as hell don't "naturally" know how to have genital intercourse, and generally any male that does have it "for the first time" is miserable at it, from his own or the female's point of view--or both. If it's all just so very "natural", why would that be? Why would it be that men who are not coached by women in the art of love-making, often remain miserable "lovers"? Is it natural for men to be miserable "lovers"? I don't think so. Everything about love and sex is learned in grossly heteropatriarchal contexts.

Het men learn a lot--most, I'd say--from pornography, from the stuff pimps produce that they claim is the truth about "sex" and "women", but also from male peers and or older males, such as older brothers or fathers. (Often by witnessing what those older males do to girls and women.) It's all "fucked up", and is usually about practicing heteropatriarchal assaults against women and girls by men as natural and good and fun--for the males.

Gay males learn most about sex from pornography too, as in the case of us, we don't have television media force-feeding us ridiculous depictions of gay romance and sex, the way straight media does for heterosexuals, making it seem as though "conquest" of "the other" is romantic, for example. Classic case: Luke meets Laura, Luke rapes Laura, Laura falls in love with Luke and they get married and it's one of the highest rated daytime soap opera events in the history of the U.S. (General Hospital)

Women are literally sold heteropatriarchal sex and "love" on commercial television. And as every advertising exec can tell you, they know what will effectively sell, and why, and to whom. They've got it all figured out, which is why they get rich doing it.

Julian Real said...

I have never welcomed or wanted genital-anal intercourse. I was asked to do it by the man who sexually exploited me for a few years in motel rooms. He wanted many forms of penetrative sex, and was himself an abuse survivor who had little idea about how to have intimacy and sex go together.

I've never genuinely or willfully chosen to have penetrative anal-genital sex. But I know some gay males do and enjoy it and they don't just enjoy it because it's mimicking heterosexual genital-genital sex. It isn't, for one thing. Males have prostate glands that are sexually sensitive to touch. Females do not. So why it is that het males want to insert their penises into females anuses is purely a product of consumption of pornography, or just an arrived at idea of what might be painful for her/fun for him, which seems to get a lot of het men off.

I don't know of gay men, personally, who have anal-genital intercourse in order to hurt one another. I know it happens. I know rape happens in gay dating and relationships. But it's not the same as what happens in heterosexual relationships, because in her relationships, the males have learned that to be female means to be penetrated, violated, conquered. It means confusing all those terms with one another. Not so with/among gay men.

As someone who doesn't identify as a gay man, but as someone who does identify as a gay male who practices radical feminist values interpersonally--imperfectly, I assure you--I don't feel at all obligated to have heteropatriarchal sex, at all. And so I don't.

I don't believe any het man is entitled to sex, needs to have sex to survive, or ought to have sex if the sex he wants to have and knows how to have is heteropatriarchal, oppressive to girls and women, exploitive of girls and women, or otherwise harmful or politically irresponsible.

Julian Real said...

Let me amend this:

"Women are literally sold heteropatriarchal sex and "love" on commercial television." to read as follows:

Women AND MEN and the rest of us are sold heteropatriarchal "sex" and "love" on commercial television.


I concur with Julian in that what supposedly passes for 'normal male heterosex' is learned behaviour. There is no such thing as 'natural sexuality' it is all learned. I remember reading a study wherein men were trained to view wellington boots or perhaps it was shoes as 'sexualised objects.' Whatever the specific item male subjects were swiftly indoctrinated into viewing inanimate objects as 'sexy.' Remind you of anything? Women's disembodied body parts are supposedly 'sexually attractive to men are they not.' But that ignores these parts are not 'objects' neither are female legs objects. But men believe women are disembodied sexualised objects.

Herstory tells us that women's sexuality has always been defined by men for men's sexual advantage/domination/pleasure. Once women were viewed as sexually voracious monsters whereas men were not driven by their sex drive. Then the social construction changed wherein men were supposedly driven by their sex drive and women were sexually passive creatures. Either way it was constructed to maintain lie that only men are human whereas women are either nymphomaniacs or sexually passive and submissive creatures.

Likewise as Julian says - men as boys do not wake up one day and say 'hey my penis needs to penetrate a female body in order to gain sexual satisfaction.' Men have to be taught how to 'do' sex on women and equally importantly men learn as boys that male sexuality is supposedly about dominating, invading, conquering and controlling those supposedly non-humans - females of course.

Then too not all men are penetration driven - some heterosexual men do not like or even want to engage in penetration but their experiences are silenced because male supremacy has to maintain the lie that male sexuality is a natural biological driven desire wherein men naturally supposedly need to regularly penetrate a woman's body.

Shere Hite dismantled the myth of compulsory heterosexuality and Sheila Jeffreys in her book The Spinster and Her Enemies documents the herstory of earlier radical feminists who dared to challenge the phallocentric lies. What happened? Why male sexology was created wherein science was used to supposedly prove men need to penetrate women in order to maintain their power over women.

I'm aware I am discussing a white western version of what supposedly passes for human sexuality but we also need to remember other non-western cultures are not obsessed with penetration of women's bodies as being 'real sex.' Other cultures have differing views of human sexual expression and they are not all male-centric or phallocentric. One swiftly disappearing society which lives in a remote region of China is matrilineal not patrilineal. This means men do not hold power over women but women decide when if and how they will engage in sexual activity with men. Matrilineal is not the same as matriarchal which MRAS commonly conflate as being identical.


As to why innumerable sex shops are promoting the use of dildoes - the answer is malestreaming of pornography. It is the co-optation of phallocentricism aka penis workship wherein even women who identify as lesbian supposedly need a dildo in order to gain sexual pleasure. Women must not sexually reject men or men's sexual organs because that would mean the end of worship of the penis and an end to male supremacy.

It is a rehashing of the old misogynistic lie that all women just need a penis or penii thrusting into their bodies in order to make a woman of whatever sexual orientation a 'real woman.'

Male supremacy has to maintain the myth of penis worship because this is another tool male supremacy uses to maintain male domination and male sex right to women and girls.

Julian is right the dynamics of domination/submission have filtered into lesbian relationships unfortunately and now lesbian women are supposed to want/need a dildo thrusting into their bodies. In other words male penetration (sic) of women is everywhere even when women are lesbians they continue to be subjected to male-centric claims concerning their sexual desires/expression.

We women have yet to be accorded our right of defining for ourselves our sexuality and our right of ownership of our bodies. We are still fighting for that right - men have been accorded this right ever since male supremacy was created. Why? Because it benefits men and the male supremacist system to maintain the lie that female sexuality is an adjunct of male sexuality and exists only to service men's sexual desires. Adrienne Rich wrote an essay on compulsory heterosexuality and she was roundly demonised. Such is the power of phallocentric male sexuality.

Just ask any woman if she can openly say to her male partner 'no I don't and won't be sexually penetrated by you.' The male response would be outrage/anger/sulking/threats of physical violence all because a woman dares to enact ownership of her body.

I know women who know their male partners would react with outrage and sulking if not worse if she dared to enact her 'choice.' That is why so many straight women refuse to see the truth - because they know men would simply ignore their demands and penetrate them anyway. That is very, very frightening for women so far better to fake it and claim 'penetration is wonderful etc. etc.' Sure it is for some women but we women do not have that choice - we are coerced/threatened into believing the lie male penetration of female body is 'real sex' for all straight women and men. So there is no choice or sexual autonomy for women - because men refuse to respect women's right of bodily sexual autonomy.

That is why rape is endemic because it is so hard to separate out rape from normal male heterosex given male domination and male conquering of women is de facto 'real male sexual expresion.'

Foreplay is a term coined by misogynist Havelock Ellis who claimed women are masochists and have an innate desire to be conquered and sexually controlled by men. Foreplay is not 'foreplay' it is often 'real sex' for women. But male supremacy worships the penis and having a penis is what supposedly defines 'real sex.'

lauren said...

A woman can think she gains control over her victimization by choosing a man who is a good lover, a gentle lover. But unless she has the right - without any repercussions - to sex w/o intercourse, she is still victimized.

theoreticalgrrrl said...

In his new book, Ideas That Matter: The Concepts That Shape the 21st Century, philosoper and 'public intellectual' A.C. Grayling says straight out that Andrea Dworkin believes 'all sex is rape' in his chapter on Feminism.

Actual research on the ideas you present in your book would have been helpful, A.C.
Just sayin'.

Julian Real said...

It never ceases to amaze and disappoint me how incredibly ignorant, often willfully so, self-declared "intellectuals" are. Did such people really not learn how to read feminist writings?

Apparently not. Or, apparently he's willing to promote a lie that is well-known (among any who've bothered to find out the truth) for being only an anti-feminist bit of fiction. I'll try and track him down to, um, "set him straight". Ahem.

Thanks for letting me know, theoreticalgrrrl!!!

Jed said...

Andrea Dworkin may not have said sex is rape, but Julian Real is so grossed out by men and women loving sex that he literally can't imagine how wonderful it is.

That is so sad. I would pity you, Julian, if you weren't so abusive.

Julian Real said...

Jed, just because I'd never have sex with YOU and men-as-obnoxious-as-you, and as intellectually preDICKtable as you, and as emotionally unattractive as you, doesn't mean I'm anti-sex, or against all the sex women and men have together.

You realise you're an awful researcher, don't you? Because if you even managed to check my ten most-visited posts on every A.R.P. blog page, you'd note that at least a couple of the "current top ten" links clearly promote pro-sex statements and discussion--including posts that promote good sex between women and men!! OMG, Jed! How could that be if I'm so "grossed out by women and men loving sex"!?!? (You're such as silly and strange man.)

Now please pay attention and try not to drift back into your delusional and reactionary thinking. To make things easier for you, I'll put some passages from my blog in bold. I hope that helps.

Let's start with this post:

In that one, I write: "There's nothing inherently degrading about non-abusive sex, and sex can be non-abusive and non-degrading, and that was the point of Dworkin's book, Intercourse."

Then there's this:

Here's an excerpt:
"I have heard, with sad regularity, young women speak to me about how they are terribly self-conscious about "what they smell like down there". I remind them that it is tremendously probable that women smell human down there, just as men's crotches smell human. And that boys and men don't seem especially obsessed about their own crotch's smell.

Advertising works, or it wouldn't exist as a multi-million dollar business. Girls and women, along with boys and men, absorb the message, delivered without relief, that their genitals need to be attended to with chemical washes and rinses before a boy or man's face can go near it. And what are the "cleansers" called for men to use to wash their crotches, besides soap? This matter of women's bodies, and specifically their genitals, being "dirty" is a powerful message in many patriarchal societies.

There's also this one too:

In which you'll find this written by guest-poster Cerien:
"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."

And there's this one too which is one of my favorite speeches and essays by Audre Lorde (have you ever heard of her?):

Jed, your logical phallusy is showing. Please zip up. You're only embarrassing yourself.

And please don't count on your comments being published here in the future. Because if this most recent example of your erroneous nonsense is the best you can come up with--and it is all you ever seem to come up with--I needn't waste my own (or any visitor's) time making the CRAP you say available to be read.

Julian Real said...

Now pay attention, Jed. Here's the current top ten most accessed pages on my blog. Ready?

FEEDJIT Live Page Popularity
Popular Pages Today
1. A Radical Profeminist: Thursday, February 18, 2010 33.60%

2. A Radical Profeminist: To Kevin, who insists Anatomy is Destiny when it comes to Vaginal-Penile Intercourse 21.38%

3. A Radical Profeminist 19.55%

4. A Radical Profeminist: Radical Feminist Audre Lorde's Famous Essay: "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House" 6.42%

5. A Radical Profeminist: Alice Walker's Open Letter to Tiger Woods 3.87%

6. A Radical Profeminist: Monday, May 24, 2010 3.67%

7. A Radical Profeminist: The Male "P" Spot: Why het men are so afraid to discover their own bodies' capacities for pleasure, from a sex organ that ISN'T a penis 3.36%

8. A Radical Profeminist: A Short Review of the Work of Nawal El Saadawi, and on Representing the Work of Women of Color 3.16%

9. A Radical Profeminist: Marimba Ani's Critique of Western Civilization 2.65%

10. A Radical Profeminist: What is Feminist Sex? Good Sex Advice and Feminist Sex Tips here, from Cerien 2.34%

Julian Real said...

You're done here, Jed. As in "not welcome to post comments here again".

Don't let the door hit ya
where the good lord split ya.

Teddy Douglas said...

Has Andrea Dworkin ever even seen a man? Spoken to one? Made love to one? She doesn't make even the mildest attempt to understand them and ends up reading them all wrong.

Julian Real said...

To Teddy Douglas (this reply may take a few comments to complete),

Are you kidding? Do you have a mind and a heart that function in the actual world?

Andrea had a very supportive, loving father, had a younger brother she adored, and had a nephew she loved very much. She lived with a man when a young adult. He was a Dutch radical activist named Cornelius (Iwan) Dirk de Bruin. He was a misogynist batterer and brutal sadist; she escaped. Then, after a couple of years she met the man she spent the last 30 or so years of her life with, a gay man named John Stoltenberg who was her life partner--not likely the sort of relationship you'd understand, I'm afraid--it was a loving one not based on sex. She was a lesbian-identified feminist.

For more, please read this--if you can read and comprehend what you read--it isn't clear to me that you can.

She had many male friends and many intellectual and caring men regarded her as brilliant, as do many women. As do I. That you would even think to ask such a silly question only means you are totally clueless and willfully ignorant.

What you fail to want to notice or acknowledge is that this isn't "all about Andrea's perceptions": this is about what men actually do to women and girls globally. Andrea wrote unflinchingly and unapologetically about what men do to anyone misogynist men deem to be too feminine or who such men see as female. You're queer, right? So you know what het men can do to gay men, don't you, and what queer males like us are called when we grow up--things that mean "like a girl", eh?

Julian Real said...

And you know het men beat the shit out of women they are married to and incest their daughters, right? That doesn't happen because Andrea wrote about it; she wrote about it because it has been happening for centuries--with no legal or social penalties to men whatsoever.

You get that het men rape girls all over the world, don't you? It's called trafficking and procuring. Just go listen to what Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have to say about this atrocity, if you only care to listen to white famous Hollywood celebrities.

Due to the complete absurdity and inanity of your first comment, it will also be your last here. Don't bother writing again. Go read up on men's crimes against women. Start with this:

Examples of Femicide

Instances of femicide have been pervasive throughout history, and range from the relatively wide-spread to the very specific, excluding any qualitative aspects to the term. Indeed, femicide can describe, for example, both a deliberate state/collective action against many women, and the more particular, but the rarely random killing of one woman. Consequently the term is qualitative, its essence being in both the subject and the motivation: the person killed is a woman, killed for the gender specific reason that she is a woman.

In the 16th to 17th century this took the form of killing witches deemed as being inherently evil. In modern day experiences, the term can be used to describe the legal killing of wives suspected of adultery, the burning of women in ‘shame’ killings, and female infanticide such as that sometimes practiced in China and Korea, for example, if there is a embedded preference for male children. The shooting of 14 female engineering students in Montreal in December 1989 by Marc Lepine – whose victims were referred to as ‘fucking feminists’ - is cited by the authors (Russell and Radford, 1992) as archetypal manifestation of prevalent women-hating attitudes. While femicide can be active, as in the examples cited above, it can also be permissive or indirect, such the death of women as the result of badly conducted abortions due to the lack of fertility rights in some countries, or deaths from unnecessary hysterectomies and clitorectomies. Furthermore, femicide describes death of girls or women from simple neglect, through starvation or ill-treatment.

Julian Real said...

In an attempt to counter mainstream critiques of feminism, which argue that advocates have a tendency to imply the universal nature of female experience, Radford and Russell insist that the nature of femicide varies, depending on the cultural, economic and social character of the society in question. As such, it comes in many forms ranging from serial or mass femicide, to homophobic femicide (otherwise termed ‘lesbicide’), to marital femicide. Furthermore, there is said to be a particularly strong link with racism, resulting in a high level of racist femicide. A more ‘modern’ example of a type of femicide resides in the deliberate transmission of HIV/AIDS virus, although this has yet to be given a specific name. Linked to all of the above, although having a strong link with ‘lesbiscide’ is the perception of homosexuality as a repressive social institution, which seeks to control all women who do not adhere to pre-defined male definitions of female behaviour, especially those who appear to challenge apparent male superiority and dominance.

Paradoxically, where women are thought most to be at risk is at home, conceived of traditionally – especially in non-feminist literature – as being a woman’s rightful place. Husbands are said to pose the biggest threat, especially for those women wishing to leave the home or begin divorce proceedings. However, such violence is certainly not limited to the home, but intrinsic to every aspect of society. Media representation of women, for example, when reporting deaths involving women and in pornography and ‘snuff’ films which depict apparently real violence against women for male sexual gratification, highlight the prominence of ‘male’ perspectives on issues that concern women and objectification of women, portrayed as devoid of any subjective experience. The judicial system also plays a role in perpetuating the structures that permit femicide due to the refusal to focus on the misogynistic nature of crimes, and the tendency to shift responsibility from the male killer to the woman killed. Women-blaming strategies which have even led to the codification of the term “provocation” in many legal systems, is part of the wider phenomenon of “victimology” which deflects blame away from the real culprits, and contributes to the failure of the state to protect women from male sexual violence.
(source: *here*)

Exercise your mind in humane, loving, and productive ways, Teddy. I hope you have love with a man and that he doesn't mistreat you. And I hope that you don't mistreat him either.

Moe Johnson said...

There are countless young women out there who would read this and sadly—by some need to belong or sheepish desire to follow—believe this nonsense as a result allowing themselves to be exploited by those who only seek to gain power and wealth at their expense under the guise of empowerment. These very misleading, irresponsible and even dangerous ideas can only serve to create confusion and contradiction among women, making them hateful of men with whom they must live and interact with and as a result leading a miserable existence.

The best way to think of sexual relationship between men and women is on an animal level. After all sexual activity is about two animals coming in contact with each other unconstrained by political positions, interest groups and other constructs.
To claim that heterosexual intercourse is unnatural or oppressive is to deny what's responsible for your very own existence; to be in contempt for your self and your very being (self hate). Keep in mind that being female or male is something that you are by virtue of birth, will always be regardless of how you feel about the opposite sex. We can’t deny the male animal is of course stronger and dominant across all creatures. However this doesn’t mean that women are any less. It’s just the way things are and if you don’t agree that’s between you and God. The relationship between these male and female creatures is one built on complementary interdependency. Complementary does not mean the same or equal but can mean different. Neither does it mean better or worse, but can be better exemplified by contrasts such as masculine-feminine, Dominant-submissive, etc....It’s a balance that is quite natural.

Uncomfortable questions to ponder:

1. Do you believe that your dad raped your mom in order to have you?
2. If heterosexual intercourse is rape does that then mean that we should all stop having sexual intercourse and bring the human race to extinction? May be it should have been done 100s of years ago so that we wouldn’t be here now?
3. Would you say that non human animals are out oppressing their female members because they engage in heterosexual intercourse?

Julian Real said...

Hi Moe,

Regarding paragraph one of your comment, I'd say the truth of the matter is that everything you say there applies not to the ideas of some radical feminists, but rather to the mandated and enforced ideologies of patriarchal men, passed off arrogantly as "human nature".

Regarding paragraph two, I see no reason to believe that "the best way to think of sexual relationship between men and women is on the animal level, if by animal you mean "not human".

Unlike every other animal on Earth that we know of, the human animal is uniquely shaped by philosophical ideas, cultural values, religious and non-religious morals, academic and non-academic education, social custom, and civic law, among other things. So your statement and what follows in that paragraph makes no sense to me at all.

There is no human experience that is "unconstrained by political positions" or "other constructs". The very terms "man" and "woman" are social, human terms, not non-human terms. The cultural mandates that go with each varies significantly from era to era and culture to culture, even while there are some disturbing patterns and similarities--social ones, not "natural" ones, such as men thinking they are superior to women; men thinking women exist for men to possess and control; and men thinking 'violation' is a synonym for 'sexual intercourse'.

Julian Real said...

Regarding paragraph three, I'll take this part by part:

"To claim that heterosexual intercourse is unnatural or oppressive is to deny what's responsible for your very own existence"

Not at all. To claim something is culturally relative or socially enforced, or shaped by religion or law is not to deny my existence. It is to acknowledge something quite obvious to many people. Why you don't see it is beyond me.

"to be in contempt for your self and your very being (self hate)"

This doesn't make any sense to me, Moe. Let's put it this way: if the experience of heterosexual intercourse in male supremacist societies is that it is often-enough oppressive--as many women experience it--then to deny that particular reality would be self-hating of humanity, would it not?

"Keep in mind that being female or male is something that you are by virtue of birth, will always be regardless of how you feel about the opposite sex."

But being male and female isn't the same thing as being a man and a woman. And there is no "opposite sex", Moe. Women and men are more alike than they are different, and are in no way opposites of one another, as, say, light is to dark, or evil is to goodness, or yes is to no.

"We can’t deny the male animal is of course stronger and dominant across all creatures."

This is patently false, and you might want to read up on animal behavior before making such an absurd comment. With many creatures, the female is larger, stronger, and occasionally destroys the male after mating. Because this happens in non-human natural settings, are we to conclude--as your logic thus far would--that this ought to happen all the time within human settings?

"However this doesn’t mean that women are any less."

Well, in practice among humans it actually does very much mean that, quite meanly.

"It’s just the way things are and if you don’t agree that’s between you and God."

Who's G-d is that, Moe? The white male sky-god or the Earth-based ones?

Putting that aside, that's statement carries us to quite a large step of evasion of responsibility, I'd say: with attitudes and beliefs that you put forth here, you don't have to be accountable to what you do that's oppressive to women, in bed and out of it. How convenient for the oppressors of the world to make such a premise into 'truth'.

"The relationship between these male and female creatures is one built on complementary interdependency. Complementary does not mean the same or equal but can mean different."

So too is the relationship among men, and among women. So too are most constructive, sustained relationships, regardless of gender. There's nothing intrinsically more "complimentary" or "interdependent" in heterosexual relationships than, say, in lesbian or gay relationships.

Julian Real said...

"Neither does it mean better or worse, but can be better exemplified by contrasts such as masculine-feminine, Dominant-submissive, etc....It’s a balance that is quite natural."

"Dominant and submissive" doesn't amount to a "balance", Moe. And it's a wild twist of logic that anyone would think so. Very social (and not at all asocial/natural), hierarchies in which one group controls and dominates another, such as the way Nazis, for a time, dominated parts of Europe, isn't "in balance" with the Jews, Roma, intellectuals, gay men, and disabled people who were gassed and burned in concentration camps.

Whites dominating and socially ruling over Black and Brown people isn't "in balance" either. The relationship isn't "complimentary", it's oppressive and dehumanizing.

Next up are your "Uncomfortable questions to ponder":

"1. Do you believe that your dad raped your mom in order to have you?"

No, I don't. My parents planned to have the children (including the number of children) they had, at the exact times in their lives that they had them.

So while marital rape is common in married life, I don't believe it was a factor in my conception.

It's disturbing to realise how often marital rape happens. It happens NOT because the mates are heterosexual. It happens so endemically because the het men in those relationships believe they have a right to behave aggressively and terroristically towards women they allegedly love and because misogynist customs and patriarchal laws historically protect men who behave that way.

"2. If heterosexual intercourse is rape does that then mean that we should all stop having sexual intercourse and bring the human race to extinction?"

You don't read the work of Andrea Dworkin or any other radical feminist very carefully, do you? Dworkin didn't say, write, or imply "all heterosexual sex is rape" in case you missed the theme of the post above your comment.

"May be it should have been done 100s of years ago so that we wouldn’t be here now?"

I'd argue that imperialism, colonialism,genocide, gynocide, and ecocide shouldn't have happened and shouldn't be happening over the last 500 or so years. And they shouldn't have happened so that extinct species of animals and plants, as well as human individuals and cultures, weren't and aren't wiped off the Earth.

"3. Would you say that non human animals are out oppressing their female members because they engage in heterosexual intercourse?"

No. Because 'oppression' is a human experience and condition, not a non-human one as far as we know. I would also say that heterosexual intercourse is **not** intrinsically oppressive, which is the main point, in case you have persisted in missing it until now. Let's consider this:

A woman and man have sexual intercourse. They talk with one another about what they each enjoy and engage in behavior that is enjoyable to each other. There is no violence, no aggression, no ignoring or misinterpreting the verbal and non-verbal communication. There is intimacy, sharing, and vulnerability on both their parts.

Such an act in a mutually respectful and non-violent relationship isn't oppressive. Yet it is heterosexual intercourse, is it not?

Philippe Laurent said...

I'm a man so feel free to hate me, I can take it. I have read your article and all the comments. I was finally glad to read at the very end the last part of your response to the last man.

It's a pity the men who have responded do far were not so bright. It seems that the majority of women posting are lesbians. I perceive a bit of hostility towards heterosexual women.suggestions that they are confused or unable to think clearly as lesbian women do and realize that heterosexual sex is an unnatural male invention to suppress women and can not provide a women with pleasure, not the kind she could get from another women.

Heterosexual women are just as smart, just as capable of self examination as lesbians.

Men are not evil. Men are capable of love. Men are capable of loving a women. When I have sex with a woman I don't assault her, threaten her or put fear into her. I don't know where you hot the idea that heterosexual sex is just the penis. Penetration of a woman without arousal is uncomfortable. Lesbians have to know this. It hurts the man and woman. I won't be graphic but good sex takes time. There are many positions and things to do. At the end of it everyone should feel satisfied, not terrified.

By the way many men feel pain the first time they have sex. The foreskin has not stretched yet and when pulled over the head of the penis and stretched for the first time, and as the penis expands, it can hurt. If you are rough with a woman who is a virgin she will feel pain. If you are slow, real slow and tender and are gentle and attend to desires and comfort she can have a great first experience. I have never left a woman in pain. I, a heterosexual man am capable of loving sexual relationships.

Julian Real said...

Hi Philippe,

I'd say you're not reading my blog's posts very carefully to come to some of the conclusions you come to. So, please read more here and please understand what I am saying.

I don't make a case for men being evil. I don't make the case that heterosexual women can't decide what's best for them, and what women--lesbian or not--say about heterosexuality under patriarchy is worth considering.

I know some men are loving, including sexually. And I know many men, millions of het men, confuse domination of women and and sex with women. And I'm sure you know plenty of men who do too.

I'd wager that most males with foreskins have had the experience of it retracting during masturbation, well before they have intercourse (with a woman or with a man). I doubt there are that many males who have that sometimes painful experience for the first time with someone else.

Back on point, Andrea didn't say or write many of the things anti-feminist and anti-Dworkin people, mostly men, say she did. I can't tell, given your comment, whether or not you're clear on that.

Have you read Intercourse? What did you learn from it? Because if you didn't learn anything, and assume all she is saying is "all heterosexual intercourse is rape" then you're not reading it very carefully, I'd say.

I recommend reading the chapter "Communion". Let me know what you think. I think it's quite brilliant.