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Sex-positive feminism is a movement that began in the early 1980s centering on the idea that sexual freedom[ vague ] is an essential component of women's freedom.[ citation needed ] Some feminists [ who? ] became involved in the sex-positive feminist movement in response to efforts by anti-pornography feminists to put pornography at the center of a feminist explanation of women's oppression.
This period of intense debate and acrimony between sex-positive and anti-pornography feminists during the early 1980s is often referred to as the feminist sex wars. Other feminists[ who? ] identifying as sex-positive became involved in the debate, not in opposition to other feminists, but in direct response to what they saw as patriarchal control[ vague ] of sexuality.[ citation needed ]
Sex-positive feminism centers on the idea that sexual freedom [ vague ] is an essential component of women's freedom. They[ who? ] oppose legal or social efforts to control sexual activities between consenting adults, whether they are initiated by the government, other feminists, opponents of feminism, or any other institution.[ citation needed ] They[ who? ] embrace sexual minority groups, endorsing the value of coalition-building with marginalized groups.[ citation needed ] Sex-positive feminism is connected with the sex-positive movement.
Sex-positive feminism brings together anti-censorship activists,[ citation needed ] LGBT activists,[ citation needed ] feminist scholars,[ citation needed ] sex radicals[ vague ],[ citation needed ] producers of pornography and erotica,[ citation needed ] among others. Sex-positive feminists[ who? ] generally agree that prostitutes themselves should not be criminalized or penalized.[ citation needed ]
It is also known as pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism.
Gayle Rubin summarizes the conflict over sex within feminism. She says that one feminist stream criticizes the sexual constraints and difficulties faced by sexually active women (e.g., access to abortion), while another stream views sexual liberalization as an extension "male privilege".
Sex-positive feminists reject the vilification of male sexuality that many attribute to radical feminism, and instead embrace the entire range of human sexuality. They argue that the patriarchy limits sexual expression and are in favor of giving people of all genders more sexual opportunities, rather than restricting pornography.Sex-positive feminists generally reject sexual essentialism, defined by Rubin as "the idea that sex is a natural force that exists prior to social life and shapes institutions". Rather, they see sexual orientation and gender as social constructs that are heavily influenced by society.
Some radical feminists reject the dichotomy of "sex-positive" and "sex-negative" feminism, suggesting that instead, the real divide is between liberal feminism and radical feminism.
Sex-radical feminists in particular, come to a sex-positive stance from a deep distrust in the patriarchy's ability to secure women's best interest in sexually limiting laws. Other feminists identify women's sexual liberation as the real motive behind the women's movement. Naomi Wolf writes, "Orgasm is the body's natural call to feminist politics."Sharon Presley, the National Coordinator of the Association of Libertarian Feminists, writes that in the area of sexuality, government blatantly discriminates against women.
The social background in which sex-positive feminism operates must also be understood: Christian societies are often influenced by what is understood as 'traditional' sexual morality: according to the Christian doctrine, sexual activity must only take place in marriage, and must be vaginal intercourse; sexual acts outside marriage and 'unnatural sex' (i.e. oral, anal sex, termed as "sodomy") are forbidden; yet forced sexual intercourse within marriage is not seen as immoral by a few social and religious conservatives, owing to the existence of so-called 'conjugal rights'defined in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
Such organization of sexuality has increasingly come under legal and social attack in recent decades.
In addition, in certain cultures, particularly in Mediterranean countries influenced by Roman Catholicism, traditional ideas of masculinity and female purity. This has led to what many interpret as a double standard between male and female sexuality; men are expected to be sexually assertive as a way of affirming their masculinity, but for a woman to be considered 'good', she must remain pure.Indeed, Cesare Lombroso claimed in his book, The Female Offender, that women could be categorized into three types: the Criminal Woman, the Prostitute , and the Normal Woman. As such, highly sexed women (prostitutes) were deemed as abnormal.
Feminists who have advocated a sex-positive position include writer Kathy Acker, academic Camille Paglia, sex educator Megan Andelloux, Susie Bright, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Diana Cage, Avedon Carol, Patrick Califia, Betty Dodson, Nancy Friday, Jane Gallop, Laci Green, porn performer Nina Hartley, Josephine Ho, Amber L. Hollibaugh, Brenda Howard, Laura Kipnis, Wendy McElroy, Inga Muscio, Joan Nestle, Marcia Pally, Carol Queen, Candida Royalle, Gayle Rubin, Annie Sprinkle, Tristan Taormino, Ellen Willis, and Mireille Miller- Young.
Authors such as Gayle Rubin and Wendy McElroy see the roots of sex-positive feminism stemming from the work of sex reformers and workers for sex education and access to contraception, such as Havelock Ellis, Margaret Sanger, Mary Dennett and, later, Alfred Kinsey and Shere Hite.However, the contemporary incarnation of sex-positive feminism appeared more recently, following an increasing feminist focus on pornography as a source of women's oppression in the 1970s.
The rise of second-wave feminism was concurrent with the sexual revolution and rulings that loosened legal restrictions on access to pornography. In the 1970s, radical feminists became increasingly focused on issues around sexuality in a patriarchal society. Some feminist groups began to concern themselves with prescribing what proper feminist sexuality should look like. This was especially characteristic of lesbian separatist groups, but some heterosexual women's groups, such as Redstockings, became engaged with this issue as well. On the other hand, there were also feminists, such as Betty Dodson, who saw women's sexual pleasure and masturbation as central to women's liberation. Pornography was not a major issue during this era; radical feminists were generally opposed to pornography, but the issue was not treated as especially important until the mid-1970s.
There were, however, feminist prostitutes-rights advocates, such as COYOTE, which campaigned for the decriminalization of prostitution.
The late 1970s found American culture becoming increasingly concerned about the aftermath of a decade of greater sexual freedom, including concerns about explicit violent and sexual imagery in the media, the mainstreaming of pornography, increased sexual activity among teenagers, and issues such as the dissemination of child pornography and the purported rise of "snuff films".[ citation needed ] (Critics maintain that this atmosphere amounted to a moral panic, which reached its peak in the mid-1980s.[ citation needed ]). These concerns were reflected in the feminist movement, with radical feminist groups claiming that pornography was a central underpinning of patriarchy and a direct cause of violence against women. Robin Morgan summarized this idea in her statement, "Pornography is the theory; rape the practice."
Andrea Dworkin and Robin Morgan began articulating a vehemently anti-porn stance based in radical feminism beginning in 1974, and anti-porn feminist groups, such as Women Against Pornography and similar organizations, became highly active in various US cities during the late 1970s. As anti-porn feminists broadened their criticism and activism to include not only pornography, but prostitution and sadomasochism, other feminists became concerned about the direction the movement was taking and grew more critical of anti-porn feminism.
This included feminist BDSM practitioners (notably Samois), prostitutes-rights advocates, and many liberal and anti-authoritarian feminists for whom free speech, sexual freedom, and advocacy of women's agency were central concerns.
One of the earliest feminist arguments against this anti-pornography trend amongst feminists was Ellen Willis's essay "Feminism, Moralism, and Pornography" first published in October 1979 in the Village Voice .In response to the formation of Women Against Pornography in 1979, Willis wrote an article (the origin of the term, "pro-sex feminism"), expressing worries about anti-pornography feminists' attempts to make feminism into a single-issue movement, arguing that feminists should not issue a blanket condemnation against all pornography and that restrictions on pornography could just as easily be applied to speech that feminists found favorable to themselves.
Rubin calls for a new feminist theory of sex, saying that existing feminist thoughts on sex had frequently considered sexual liberalization as a trend that only increases male privilege. Rubin criticizes anti-pornography feminists who she claims "have condemned virtually every variant of sexual expression as anti-feminist," arguing that their view of sexuality is dangerously close to anti-feminist, conservative sexual morality. Rubin encourages feminists to consider the political aspects of sexuality without promoting sexual repression. She also argues that the blame for women's oppression should be put on targets who deserve it: "the family, religion, education, child-rearing practices, the media, the state, psychiatry, job discrimination, and unequal pay..." rather than on relatively un-influential sexual minorities.
McElroy (1995) argues that for feminists in the 1970s and 1980s, turning to matters of sexual expression was a result of frustration with feminism's apparent failure to achieve success through political channels: in the United States, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had failed, and abortion rights came under attack during the Reagan administration.
Chinese scholar Elaine Jeffreys observes that the 'anti-prostitute' position gained increased critical purchase during the establishment of the international movement for prostitutes in 1985, demanding recognition of prostitutes' rights as an emancipation and labor issue rather than of criminality, immorality or disease. By the 2000s, the positive-sex position had driven various international human rights NGOs to actively pressure the Chinese government to abandon its official policy of banning prostitution in post-reform China and recognize voluntary prostitution as legitimate work.
The issue of pornography was perhaps the first issue to unite sex-positive feminists, though current sex-positive views on the subject are wide-ranging and complex. During the 1980s, Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, as well as activists inspired by their writings, worked in favor of anti-pornography ordinances in a number of U.S. cities, as well as in Canada. The first such ordinance was passed by the city council in Minneapolis in 1983. MacKinnon and Dworkin took the tactic of framing pornography as a civil rights issue, arguing that showing pornography constituted sex discrimination against women. The sex-positive movement response to this argument was that legislation against pornography violates women's right to free speech. Soon after, a coalition of anti-porn feminists and right-wing groups succeeded in passing a similar ordinance in Indianapolis. This ordinance was later declared unconstitutional by a Federal court in American Booksellers v. Hudnut .
Rubin writes that anti-pornography feminists exaggerate the dangers of pornography by showing the most shocking pornographic images (such as those associated with sadomasochism) out of context, in a way that implies that the women depicted are actually being raped, rather than emphasizing that these scenes depict fantasies and use actors who have consented to be shown in such a way.Sex-positive feminists argue that access to pornography is as important to women as to men and that there is nothing inherently degrading to women about pornography. However, anti-pornography feminists disagree, often arguing that the very depiction of such acts leads to the actual acts being encouraged and committed.
Feminist curators such as Jasmin Hagendorfer organize feminist and queer porn film festivals (e.g. PFFV in Vienna).
Some sex-positive feminists believe that women and men can have positive experiences as sex workers and that where it is illegal, prostitution should be decriminalized. They argue that prostitution is not necessarily bad for women if prostitutes are treated with respect and if the professions within sex work are destigmatized.
Other sex-positive feminists hold a range of views on prostitution, with widely varying views on prostitution as it relates to class, race, human trafficking, and many other issues.Sex-positive feminists generally agree that prostitutes themselves should not be criminalized or penalized.
Sadomasochism (BDSM) has been criticized by anti porn feminists for eroticizing power and violence and for reinforcing misogyny (Rubin, 1984). They argue that women who choose to engage in BDSM are making a choice that is ultimately bad for women. Sex-positive feminists argue that consensual BDSM activities are enjoyed by many women and validate these women's sexual inclinations. They argue that feminists should not attack other women's sexual desires as being "anti-feminist" or internalizing oppression and that there is no connection between consensual sexually kinky activities and sex crimes.
While some anti-porn feminists suggest connections between consensual BDSM scenes and rape and sexual assault, sex-positive feminists find this to be insulting to women. It is often mentioned that in BDSM, roles aren't fixed to gender, but personal preferences. Furthermore, many argue that playing with power (such as rape scenes) through BDSM is a way of challenging and subverting that power, rather than reifying it.
While the negativities about BDSM are discussed a lot, sex-positive feminists are focusing on safety in the BDSM community. Consent is the most important rule when it comes to BDSM.
Cara Dunkley and Lori Brotto discuss the importance of consent in their journal:
Consent represents an ongoing interactive and dynamic process that entails several precautionary measures, including negotiations of play, open communication of desires and boundaries, mutually defining terms, the notion of responsibility and transparency, and ensuring protection from harm through competence and skill.
Critics discuss that communication with sexual partners is very important.
McElroy argues that many feminists have been afraid of being associated with homosexuality.Betty Friedan, one of the founders of second-wave feminism, warned against lesbianism and called it "the lavender menace" (a view she later renounced). Sex-positive feminists believe that accepting the validity of all sexual orientations is necessary in order to allow women full sexual freedom. Rather than distancing themselves from homosexuality and bisexuality because they fear it will hurt mainstream acceptance of feminism, sex-positive feminists believe that women's liberation cannot be achieved without also promoting acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality.
Some feminists, such as Germaine Greer, have criticized transgender women (male-to-female) as men attempting to appropriate female identity while retaining male privilege, and transgender men (female-to-male) as women who reject solidarity with their gender. One of the main exponents of this point of view is Janice Raymond.In The Whole Woman , Greer went so far as to explicitly compare transgender women to rapists for forcing themselves into women's spaces.
Many transgender people see gender identity as an innate part of a person. Some feminists also criticize this belief, arguing instead that gender roles are societal constructs, and are not related to any natural factor.Sex-positive feminists support the right of all individuals to determine their own gender and promote gender fluidity as one means for achieving gender equality. Patrick Califia has written extensively about issues surrounding feminism and transgender issues, especially in Sex Changes: Transgender Politics.
Like feminism itself, sex-positive feminism is difficult to define, and few within the movement (particularly the academic arm of the movement) agree on any one ideology or policy agenda.
An example of how feminists may disagree on whether a particular cultural work exemplifies sex-positivity is Betty Dodson's critique of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues . Dodson argues that the play promotes a negative view of sexuality, emphasizing sexual violence against women rather than the redemptive value of female sexuality. Many other sex-positive feminists have embraced Ensler's work for its encouragement of openness about women's bodies and sexuality.[ citation needed ]
There is debate among sex-positive feminists about whether statutory rape laws are a form of sexism.As illustrated by the controversy over "The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could" from the Vagina Monologues, some sex-positive feminists do not consider all consensual activity between young adolescents and older people as inherently harmful. There has been debate among feminists about whether statutory rape laws benefit or harm teenage girls and about whether the gender of participants should influence the law's treatment of sexual encounters. Some sex-positive feminists argue that statutory rape laws were made with non-gender neutral intentions and are presently enforced as such, with the assumption that teenage girls are naive, nonsexual, and in need of protection.
Sex-positive feminists with this view believe that "teen girls and boys are equally capable of making informed choices in regard to their sexuality"and that statutory rape laws are actually meant to protect "good girls" from sex. Other feminists are opposed or ambivalent about strengthening statutory rape statutes because these preclude young women from entering consensual sexual relationships, even if competent to consent.
These feminists view statutory rape laws as more controlling than protective – and of course part of the law's historic role was protecting the female's chastity as valuable property. One writer also noted that, at that time, in some states, the previous sexual experience of a teenager could be used as a defense by one accused of statutory rape. She argued that this showed that the laws were intended to protect chastity rather than consent.
Works that critique sex-positive feminism includes those of Catharine MacKinnon,Germaine Greer, Pamela Paul, and the essays by Dorchen Leidholdt, among others. Their main arguments are that certain sexual practices (such as prostitution and pornography) exploit women and have historically benefited men rather than women and that the indiscriminate promotion of all kinds of sexual practices merely contributes to female oppression.
Catharine MacKinnon argues that any concept of sexual liberation must be understood within the framework of male domination in society, in the context of an imbalance of power between men and women, and with due regard to the history of male and female sexuality; she writes: "Men have eroticized the idea that their sexuality has been denied, but their sexuality has been nothing but expressed and expressed and expressed. Sexual liberation, from this perspective, looks like a male rationalization for forcing sex on women."
In her 2005 book Female Chauvinist Pigs , Ariel Levy also critiques sex-positive feminism. While not opposed to sex-positive feminism per se, nor wishing specifically to prescribe certain forms of sexual behavior, she sees a popularized form of sex-positivity as constituting a kind of "raunch culture" in which women internalize objectifying male views of themselves and other women. Levy believes it is a mistake to see this as empowering and further holds that women should develop their own forms of sexual expression.The response by sex-positive feminists to Levy's book has been mixed; Susie Bright viewed the book quite favorably, stating that much of what can be seen as "raunch culture" represents a bastardization of the work of earlier sex-positive feminists such as herself.
Others, such as Rachel Kramer Bussel, see Levy as largely ignoring much of the female-empowered sexual expression of the last 20 years, or misinterpreting it as internalization of male fantasy.Kara Jesella argued that sex-positivity may not necessarily be empowering, but it may also not be disempowering.
Dorchen Leidholdt argues that "sex" (the way sexuality is expressed in society) must be understood as a social construct defined by patriarchal social structures, and therefore must be scrutinized; she writes, "If you understand that sex is socially constructed—which we do—and if you see that male supremacy does the constructing—which we see—and if the sex in question is the sex men use to establish their dominance over women, then yes we're against it."According to Ann Ferguson, sex-positive feminists' only restriction on sexual activity should be the requirement of consent, yet she argues that sex-positive feminism has provided inadequate definitions of consent.
Also, in an effort to reconcile radical and libertarian feminism, Ferguson argues that sexual behavior should be either basic, risky, or forbidden, specifying that forbidden sexual practices "include incest, rape, domestic violence, and sexual relations between very young children and adults,"as well as any other activities for which there is evidence of resulting subordination. This evidence is key for Ferguson in identifying a forbidden sexual activity.
Sheila Jeffreys argues that the "sexual revolution" on men's terms has contributed less to women's freedom than to their continued oppression.She argues that existing traditional ideas about heterosexual sexual relations, such as male sexual entitlement within marriage, are aggravated by sex-positive ideology.
bell hooks argues that one problem with sexual liberation movements is that they focus on the right to engage in sexual activity, but often ignore the right to refuse to engage in sexual acts.Another criticism is that what is often presented as feminist ideas are in fact ideas originating in male-dominated sexology.
Authors and activists who have written important works about sex-positive feminism, and/or contributed to educating the public about it, include Kathy Acker, Megan Andelloux, Susie Bright, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Diana Cage, Avedon Carol, Patrick Califia, Betty Dodson, Nancy Friday, Jane Gallop, Nina Hartley, Josephine Ho, Amber L. Hollibaugh, Brenda Howard, Laura Kipnis, Wendy McElroy, Inga Muscio, Joan Nestle, Erika Lust, Carol Queen, Candida Royalle, Gayle Rubin, Annie Sprinkle, Tristan Taormino and Ellen Willis. Several of these have written from the perspective of feminist women working in the sex industry.
Information on formal organizations that endorse sex-positive feminism seems lacking but one major outpost of sex-positive feminism is the former cooperative business Good Vibrations founded by Joani Blank in 1977 in order to sell sex toys and publications about sex in an environment welcoming to women. Blank also founded Down There Press which has published various educational publications inspired by sex-positivity. There are a number of other sex-positive feminist businesses who thrive on a combination of sex toy sales and distribution of educational materials. Good For Her, a woman-owned sex-toy shop in Toronto, Ontario, holds an annual Feminist Porn Awards.
Nonprofit groups supporting sex-positive feminism include the currently defunct Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force associated with Carole Vance and Ann Snitow, Feminists for Free Expression, founded by Marcia Pally, and Feminists Against Censorship associated with anti-censorship and civil liberties campaigner Avedon Carol.
Feminist pornography is a small but growing[ citation needed ] segment of the pornography industry. A Feminist Porn Award was established in 2006. The equivalent in Europe is the PorYes award for feminist porn, established in 2009. The magazine On Our Backs was founded in 1986 to promote a more positive attitude towards erotica within the community of lesbian and bisexual women. It flourished until 1994, struggled with financial problems and changing ownership and the final edition was published in 2006.
Feminist work on wife rape has uncovered a vast secret world of anguish in which women are used in this way by husbands and partners. The study by Diana E. H. Russell of rape in marriage gives us some illuminating insights into women's understanding of consent to sexual intercourse. She found that rape by husbands or ex-husbands, defined conservatively as vaginal, oral or anal penetration with the threat or use of force, was reported by 14 per cent of her respondents. This might seem a high figure to those who are committed to recognising only rape which fits the police-blotter rapist model and to idealising marriage. But more interesting for our present purposes is the existence she reveals of a widespread submission to sexual intercourse which did not fall into her category of rape, and would be likely to be seen as consensual in most jurisdictions and probably by most of the men and women involved. [...] The force which has operated on them [women] all their lives and continues to operate on them within marriages and relationships remains largely invisible. [...] Such forces include the massive industry of sexology, sex therapy, sex advice literature, all of which make women feel guilty and inadequate for any unwillingness to fulfil a man's sexual desires.
The focus on “sexual liberation” has always carried with it the assumption that the goal of such effort is to make it possible for individuals to engage in more and/or better sexual activity. Yet one assumption of sexual norms that many people find oppressive is the assumption that one “should” be engaged in sexual activity. This “should” is one expression of sexual coercion. Advocates of sexual liberation often imply that any individual who is not concerned about the quality of their experience or exercising greater sexual freedom is mentally disturbed or sexually repressed.
Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts, while recognizing that women's experiences are also affected by other social divisions such as in race, class, and sexual orientation.
The sexual revolution, also known as a time of sexual liberation, was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the United States and subsequently, the wider world, from the 1960s to the 1980s. Sexual liberation included increased acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationships. The normalization of contraception and the pill, public nudity, pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, masturbation, alternative forms of sexuality, and the legalization of abortion all followed.
Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person solely as an object of sexual desire. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity. Objectification is most commonly examined at the level of a society, but can also refer to the behavior of individuals and is a type of dehumanization.
The sex-positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that seeks to change cultural attitudes and norms around sexuality, promoting the recognition of sexuality as a natural and healthy part of the human experience and emphasizing the importance of personal sovereignty, safer sex practices, and consensual sex. It covers every aspect of sexual identity including gender expression, orientation, relationship to the body, relationship-style choice, and reproductive rights. Sex-positivity is "an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, encouraging sexual pleasure and experimentation." The sex-positive movement also advocates for comprehensive sex education and safe sex as part of its campaign. The movement generally makes no moral distinctions among types of sexual activities, regarding these choices as matters of personal preference.
John Stoltenberg is an American radical feminist activist, author, and magazine editor. He is the former managing editor of AARP The Magazine, a bimonthly publication of the United States-based advocacy group AARP, a position he held from 2004 until 2012.
Patrick Califia is an American writer of non-fiction essays about sexuality and of erotic fiction and poetry. Califia is a bisexual trans man. Prior to transitioning, he identified as a lesbian and as such, wrote for many years a sex advice column for the gay men's leather magazine Drummer. His writings explore sexuality and gender identity, and have included lesbian erotica and works about BDSM subculture. Califia is a member of the third-wave feminism movement.
Reasons for opposition to pornography include religious objections, feminist concerns, and claims of harmful effects, such as pornography addiction. Anti-pornography movements have allied disparate social activists in opposition to pornography, from social conservatives to harm reduction advocates.
Women Against Pornography (WAP) was a radical feminist activist group based out of New York City that had an influential force in the anti-pornography movement of the late 1970s and the 1980s.
Sheila Jeffreys is a former professor of political science at the University of Melbourne. An English expatriate and lesbian feminist scholar, she analyses the history and politics of human sexuality.
The feminist sex wars, also known as the lesbian sex wars, or simply the sex wars or porn wars, are terms used to refer to collective debates amongst feminists regarding a number of issues broadly relating to sexuality and sexual activity. Differences of opinion on matters of sexuality deeply polarized the feminist movement, particularly leading feminist thinkers, in the late 1970s and early 1980s and continue to influence debate amongst feminists to this day.
Pornography is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including magazines, animation, writing, film, video, and video games. The term does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. The primary subjects of present-day pornographic depictions are pornographic models, who pose for still photographs, and pornographic actors who engage in filmed sex acts.
Feminist sexology is an offshoot of traditional studies of sexology that focuses on the intersectionality of sex and gender in relation to the sexual lives of women. Sexology has a basis in psychoanalysis, specifically Freudian theory, which played a big role in early sexology. This reactionary field of feminist sexology seeks to be inclusive of experiences of sexuality and break down the problematic ideas that have been expressed by sexology in the past. Feminist sexology shares many principles with the overarching field of sexology; in particular, it does not try to prescribe a certain path or "normality" for women's sexuality, but only observe and note the different and varied ways in which women express their sexuality. It is a young field, but one that is growing rapidly.
There exists a diversity of feminist views on prostitution. Many of these positions can be loosely arranged into an overarching standpoint that is generally either critical or supportive of prostitution and sex work.
Feminist views on pornography range from condemnation of all of it as a form of violence against women, to an embracing of some forms as a medium of feminist expression. This debate reflects larger concerns surrounding feminist views on sexuality, and is closely related to those on prostitution, on BDSM, and other issues. Pornography has been one of the most divisive issues in feminism, particularly in anglophone (English-speaking) countries. This deep division was exemplified in the feminist sex wars of the 1980s, which pitted anti-pornography activists against sex-positive ones.
Feminism has affected culture in many ways, and has famously been theorized in relation to culture by Angela McRobbie, Laura Mulvey and others. Timothy Laurie and Jessica Kean have argued that "one of [feminism's] most important innovations has been to seriously examine the ways women receive popular culture, given that so much pop culture is made by and for men." This is reflected in a variety of forms, including literature, music, film and other screen cultures.
Feminist views on BDSM vary widely from acceptance to rejection. BDSM refers to bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and Sado-Masochism. In order to evaluate its perception, two polarizing frameworks are compared. Some feminists, such as Gayle Rubin and Patrick Califia, perceive BDSM as a valid form of expression of female sexuality, while other feminists, such as Andrea Dworkin and Susan Griffin, have stated that they regard BDSM as a form of woman-hating violence. Some lesbian feminists practice BDSM and regard it as part of their sexual identity.
Feminist pornography is a genre of film developed by or for those dedicated to gender equality. It was created for the purposes of encouraging women in their pursuit of freedom through sexuality, equality, and pleasure. Many third-wave feminists are open to seeking freedom and rights of sexual equality through entering the adult entertainment workforce. However, many second-wave feminists believe that the oppression and/or sexual objectification of women is inherent in all pornography involving them. The conflict between the two waves causes many struggles between these different feminist views of pornography.
Feminist views on sexuality widely vary. Many feminists, particularly radical feminists, are highly critical of what they see as sexual objectification and sexual exploitation in the media and society. Radical feminists are often opposed to the sex industry, including opposition to prostitution and pornography. Other feminists define themselves as sex-positive feminists and believe that a wide variety of expressions of female sexuality can be empowering to women when they are freely chosen. Some feminists support efforts to reform the sex industry to become less sexist, such as the feminist pornography movement.
Women's pornography, sometimes referred to as sex-positive pornography, is pornography often produced by women and aimed specifically at the female market – rejecting the view that pornography is only for men.
The Spinster and Her Enemies: Feminism and Sexuality 1880–1930 is a book by the political scientist Sheila Jeffreys, in which the author examines feminist involvement in the Social Purity movement, and discusses the change in sexual attitudes that occurred in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, criticizing the idea that it represented a shift from sexual puritanism to sexual revolution.
Let the husband render to his wife the...