So a lot of people have already answered this question, but as usual, I’m slow with the thinking. See brilliance, for example, from Sarah J, from Caroline, from belledame (note particularly belledame’s points about the heteronormative attitude toward female same-sex attraction in the question).
It’s an extremely frustrating question. I joined in the snark inherent in putting a bunch of sexy hockey player pictures up for a couple of reasons (the first being sexy hockey players), but I’m under no illusion that doing so answered the question or got anywhere near the problem with the question, so allow me to go on a bit of a ramble that hopefully knocks out some insight or insight-inducing obviousness, at the very least.
First, Laura notes that she hates the term “sex positive”, but that there isn’t a better one. Personally, I hate it too, and generally only see it being used mockingly by those who oppose it, though they seem to hate it too and use it with attached disclaimers like “self-described” or “self-proclaimed”. Even the Carnival is called “Sexual Freedom and Autonomy”. I didn’t really ever declare myself “sex positive”. The closest I really came was on this post, when I said:
If this makes me a twittery sex-pos moron, well, hook me up. Hearing echoes of the words of rapists from the mouths of self-identified feminists is not on my list of ways to have a good time.
That’s reason #1 for the frustration. I may be wrong, but nobody seems happy with this term, and yet somehow everybody seems to think it’s the best of the available options, despite the fact that dialogue around it seriously loses focus because nobody being happy with it means nobody really has a good sense of what it means.
Reason #2 for the frustration is also pretty well covered in that post of mine that I linked – I stumbled into “sex positivity” not because I was looking for ways to be turned on, or because I was looking for a philosophical/political way to reconcile my feminism with liking p*rn, or because I felt like it would make me more popular with the boys (newsflash: it hasn’t), or because I don’t give a fuck about violence against women and would rather talk about cutesy sparkliness and hot het sex. I came to this position because more and more, I’m convinced that politically, placing limits – be they legal or social – on sexuality and on sexual expression is only serving and can only serve to increase rates of violence against women, decrease options for doing anything about it, and worsen the impact of the events. So this kind of “riddle me this, ladies” tone smacks of missing the point, to me – “if you all are so all about the feminism, why don’t you think there should be more pictures of men, hmm?”. And then the “gotcha” in the comments, from Jennifer Drew:
Well the answer is obvious because men’s naked bodies must never ever be exposed. Only women are sexualised objects never, ever men. But still it is sex positive because women’s naked bodies are exposed for men to leer at and other women too can look and compare themselves to such images. It is called male-centric ideologies but masking itself as ‘sex positive’ which means women = sexual commodities but never ever men.
Now, in my case, I’m not linking to pictures or anything anyway (also, most of the world and I remain in blissful ignorance of one another), so I know I’m not really the target for the question, but God-fucking-dammit does this “obvious” answer piss me off. In so far as I’m a “sex positive” feminist, I focus primarily on talking about how women are affected because I can see with my obvious-seeing eyes that women in our society have been the ones who haven’t been allowed to enjoy/express/appreciate the full range of human experiences, including sexuality. Virgin/whore dichotomies ensure that no matter what, no matter in what environment, no matter what choice a woman makes, she will be subjected to sexual scrutiny that is inherently dehumanizing. “Radical” feminists denigrating women who participate in p*rn as “fuck holes” (and sidebar: is anyone asking them why they’re not questioning how the men are seen as merely “fuck sticks”, there only to give the women screaming orgasms?) are participating in exactly that game. “Beyond” feminist cartoonists who justify mocking conventionally attractive women by saying that their beauty is placing pressure on the rest of us are participating in that game. Frustrated feminists who emphasize that at least “a little bit of kink/p*rn watching” has become practically mandatory in young liberal culture (wish I could find the link to the thread that was saying that repeatedly, but I totally can’t remember where I saw it) and who blame “sex-positivity” for the fact that some assholes call them “prudes” are participating in that game (and missing the point about who the other participants are).
Yesterday, I decided my “Female Desire Week” angle would be the hockey players, for reasons that are extremely obvious if you know anything about either hockey or real-life me. Others posted pics and videos of actors, musicians, other athletes, etc. And you know, in light of how Madonna/Beyoncé/Scarlett Johanssen and women like them are getting shit for daring to be (conventionally) attractive in addition to talented and for posing in ways that might turn men on or whatever, here’s something that strikes me about this whole “where are the men in this equation” question: If you look through those pictures I posted, Sergei Federov and Sheldon Souray in particular are *clearly* posed in a way that is pretty much *nothing but* sexual. Sidney Crosby is a little bit of sport, a whole lot of sex. Sarah J’s posted shot of Vinnie Lecavalier? Same thing. But all of those guys are still hockey players, no one’s suggesting they’re diminishing the quality of their game by posing, and no one seems to be criticizing them for daring to have bodies that they use for sex in addition to hitting other men into boards. I noted the double bind of finding them attractive in yesterday’s post: if I’m turned on by sexy men while watching hockey, I’m likely to be mocked as a giggly, boy-crazy ditz who can’t appreciate the beautiful poetry on ice or whateverthefuck, but even as friends are teasing me for this, I’m told that women aren’t as visually stimulated.
See the problem here? Men are allowed to be sexual entities and simultaneously talented, accomplished, successful individuals. Men are presumed to be sexually free to do what they want with their bodies. If I’m focusing on women, it’s because, duh, they’re the ones who still aren’t able to do that. This would be what’s known as “not rocket science”.
I do want to look at least a little at how I reconcile this “sex positivity” (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) with practicing my faith, but this would be, as usual, far too long already.