Fucking While Feminist

So, yeah: I’m a feminist. And that means that I have certain principles, and believe certain things about my body and others’ bodies. I have the right to decide what happens to my body, and with whom, and when it takes place. I believe that consent—true, joyous, enthusiastic consent—is important. (Ambiguous consent =/= sexy.) I also have the right not to have sex simply because I don’t want it, because I don’t owe sex to anyone.

But here’s where things get sticky: all those rights of mine? Everyone else has them too. And when it comes to sex, things tend not to be simple—and, because none of us are perfect, screw-ups and miscommunications and difficult moments happen at the junction where two (or more) sets of needs, wants, desires, and rejection meet.

For example: sometimes, you’re just not in the mood. And in a perfect world, this would mean absolutely nothing to anyone but you. Unfortunately, we don’t live there, and if you aren’t in the mood, but your partner is, it’s negotiation time—because while you have the right to say no, your partner’s needs/wants are probably important to you, and pulling the secret lever to rocket launch them from your place because you’re just not into the sexy right now is going to result in some hurt feelings.

There are also times when what you want seems to totally contradict your feminist principles. When that happens, are you making a feminist choice, precisely because you are choosing what you do/do not want? Or are you betraying your principles? Are you merely being hoodwinked into thinking that stereotypic/ gendered/ sexist behaviour [x] is desirable when it’s really just sexist and patriarchal and gross? These kinds of questions spring up around issues like stay-at-home mothers, wearing makeup, a woman taking her husband’s last name, dieting to be more attractive, and choosing how to structure your family.

And then there are times when, despite your feminist principles and critical thinking and empowerment, the cultural bullshit still drags you down. You know, the times when you know your partner thinks you’re the greatest thing since the invention of bacon, you know that you’re healthy, and that’s what matters, you know that the cultural beauty norms and media messages are a steaming load of horseshit . . . but you’re still horribly self-conscious about taking your clothes off.

And, if you’re knockin’ boots with your feminist principles on, it means that certain cultural norms are going to have to be adjusted, or dispensed with entirely, or renegotiated to suit the dynamics between you and your partner. Walking the line between desire and objectification isn’t easy, especially when every individual’s definition of what constitutes them is going to be a little different.

For me, there needed to be a renegotiation of “possessiveness”. Culture tells us that possessiveness in a romantic partner is a red flag, a warning sign of dangerous/abusive behaviour to come, that it’s demeaning and dehumanizing. I feel differently.

I am of the opinion that possessiveness, in and of itself, isn’t the problem. The problem is that it’s gotten too tangled up with other constructs, like jealousy and objectification. Jealous lovers tend to act irrationally, or even lash out, and objectifying your partner really is dehumanizing. (And if you want a non-human fuck buddy, there are dolls for that.) Possessiveness, when removed from these, has more to do with fidelity and belonging than with treating your lover poorly. In a committed relationship, a little bit of possessiveness can even be a good thing—if your partner doesn’t want to let you go, it helps them stay committed to you and to making the relationship work. When that possessiveness is reciprocal, it can help keep a relationship strong and deter unfaithfulness. Plus, well, for some people, feeling like they belong to someone is really nice.

I guess the bottom line is this: feminist principles are wonderful in theory, and more than a little difficult in practise. But they are worth it, because they make for better people—not because they’re feminist principles exactly (though, yeah, that helps) but because finding and committing to any set of principles takes discipline and self-control and a strong moral compass, all of which are pretty damn sexy.
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

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