"All PIV is rape" - why I don't think this is helpful in giving women control over their sexual destiny

(97 Posts)

Ok.
Bear with me.
I am writing this down to get it right in my own head.
I would love it if somebody who knows more about RadFem theory could explain it to me.

I don't disagree with 'All PIV is rage' statement as an almost philosophical argument - I think I do get it.
But - it is such a radical statement for most 'normal' people who will see PIV as part of their every day sex lives and therefore as a statement is quite alienating and potentially off-putting rather than inviting debate or encouraging self-reflection.

I feel very strongly that women, particularly today's young girls/women (say, younger than 30 or so), are under terrible pressure to be sexually active very young and do things as a matter of course that would have been considered quite hard-core in my adolescence. I'd much rather somebody's first sexual experiences included nice gentle PIV rather than deep-throat oral or anal sex. If all PIV is rape, what on earth is some of the other stuff that goes on?
And I appreciate that there is no such thing as a 'better' or 'worse' rape, but it seems to minimise what women who survive abusive relationships or sexual assault go through.

I'd rather see young people to be encouraged to be respectful to each other, to fully expect to enjoy sex (I know - there's a radical concept! wink) and to not be made uncomfortable with whatever their choices are (whether that is to say 'No' or to swing from the chandeliers).

Be gentle with me, I don't post here v often and I am not well read on feminist theory. I suppose I am actually asking more about the 'practical' side of how this statement is helpful to the cause.

Beachcomber Sun 01-Jun-14 21:23:16

Dworkin's point is that female sexuality is defined by males via a male perspective.

She is arguing for true liberation of female sexuality and arguing against a male (supremacist) proscriptive dictated imposed version of female sexuality.

What she is saying is extremely pro woman and pro female sexuality. Of course lots of people interpret what she is saying to be antisex, which it isn't, it is anti sexism .

She is arguing for true sex freedom.

scallopsrgreat Sun 01-Jun-14 21:26:03

"Dworkin's point is that female sexuality is defined by males via a male perspective." Yes this.

ToffeePenny Sun 01-Jun-14 21:57:11
RhondaJean Sun 01-Jun-14 22:00:57

I was actually brought up to believe that piv was NOT right or good and was something to be avoided at best and tolerated at worst if I wanted children.

I refuse to subscribe to that paradigm. I knows own body and I am confident in my own choices which are made to suit me and not due to any patriarchal constraint.

I like men and I like sex in many forms and piv sex in particular. I like it for the physical sensation and not just the emotional connection and nothing else compares for me.

Out of interest, did mead look at the issue of unwanted conception and the avoidance of risk when studying these tribes?

As I said I am privileged to be living in a situation where the risk associated with piv sex is almost completely negated, leaving me free to enjoy the sensation.

And no I don't think it would take being told this is what normal sex is to figure out that part can go in this part... It's basic biology. Rewrite biology as male conspiracy all you want but it won't change the desire to put that in there.

Telling women it's men who enjoy piv is reducing to their sexuality and also allows men to basically continue being shit at piv sex.

Rhonda, I think what you are saying about PIV is describes rather vividly in the song that Really linked to (3rd post on this thread).

Hm.
I don't agree with Femonade but can see how Dworkin is arguing "true sex freedom" in which PIV is not the expected 'normal' outcome of a sexual encounter and in which all sorts of other sexual contact 'count' as having true sex.
Although I did like Femonade's topsy-turvy work in which PIV left men with all the risks and the question whether we'd still want it/demand it/take it.

Damn, I was not going to spill any personal beans, but here goes: I don't orgasm during PIV but do find it very arousing and like the physical sensation of being 'as one'. I think what I feel is quite nicely described as 'engulfing' him rather than being 'penetrated' by him IYSWIM. I don't see it going out of fashion any time soon, not just for the purposes of procreation but also as a recreational sport wink.

Thank you to everybody who has taken the time to post their opinions, explanations (I really needed them!) and links.
thanks

DadWasHere Mon 02-Jun-14 00:28:18

"Dworkin's point is that female sexuality is defined by males via a male perspective." Yes this.

All feminists think they are fighting for sexual equality and expression of female sexuality, from supporters of Dworkin to supporters of Belle Knox. The sticking point is the legitimacy of the expression of it.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Mon 02-Jun-14 10:37:11

^ I don't orgasm during PIV but do find it very arousing and like the physical sensation of being 'as one'.^

Sorry to quote you there grin

But I read that and thought, yep, that's how I feel, and then instantly thought if it's the emotional response we are looking for.. why do people still tend to do it when having a one night stand? Especially when drink has been had and the bloke is (let's be honest here) potentially going to be shit at best and worst struggle to keep it up?

ReallyFuckingFedUp Mon 02-Jun-14 10:39:09

In other words I don't need to be "as one" with Bob I just met down the pub. Nor have I got an desire to be but I still take on the risk of being Bob's baby's mamma and god knows what else

RhondaJean Mon 02-Jun-14 11:22:05

I've just watched that video!

Reminds me of the episode of family guy where the teens are all having "aural sex" cos ears don't count...

Really, that's kinda one of the points I was trying to make - its not necessarily emotional, for some of us at least there's just a biological imperative that means sometimes we just want to fuck - and other ways of doing it might get you off but the sensation is different.

I'm going to throw something out there which is quite badly worded so I do apologise but I hope you get the meaning...sometimes on MN I get the feeling that a lot of women (not on FWR) are NOT in control of their sexuality and are still led to think its something you do for the men - and I think we need to challenge that and let them know it is alright to enjoy it, it is alright to want it, and it's more than alright to expect your partner to work on the penetrative/copulative/use appropriate word part of it as well as the rest.

The language is interesting though - the word foreplay suggest that anything else is just a lead up to the main event. It doesn't need to be and it shouldn't be that every sexual encounter is automatically expected to end in piv but nor should there be an insinuation that we only do pic because we are socially conditioned to do it.

Apart from anything else it does excuse poor sexual technique in men!

I think it's good to see feminism as a broad church and see that women will be off exploring things in one direction 'spinning and weaving' as Mary Daly would put it and other women will go in another direction.
I'm not sure who a 'trusted author' or a 'trusted site' would be. I'd include FCM as a 'trusted' radical feminist for my own purposes. I'd 'trust' Valerie Solanas. But I also appreciate that other women's work is more accessible for other feminists - more interesting.
Witchwind has been around for a good long while though. And her work is standing on the shoulders of FCM, while obviously she has her own take on things. Not all radical feminists come from the same perspective but that doesn't mean Witchwind and FCM aren't radical feminists.
I think the main thing is not to dismiss women's work or thinking out of hand.
And also to try to see that when you react strongly to something, it's not necessarily because it's a bad idea or wrong-headed.
PIV is so incredibly bound-up with heterosexual relationships it's very hard to analyse while in a heterosexual relationship.
When I said, in my het relationship, I wanted to stop having PIV to see how that would work out, my ex walked out within weeks. I think that's telling. Not so much that women choose PIV because of course they do, often, within the confines of 'what is choice for women in patriarchy' but how men react when women refuse.
Radical feminism is provocative and challenging. I despair when I see radical feminists dismiss 'libfems' or 'funfems' because actually there's nothing wrong with fighting against male oppression of women from a liberal standpoint. But I think that trying to make radical feminism entirely inclusive of women who aren't radical feminists will result in an unsatisfactory mishmash, maybe - perhaps I'm wrong and a hybrid can be successful. But hopefully it wouldn't involve denouncing other women.

thearcticfeminist.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/radical-feminism-isnt-for-everybody/ A blog post that's relevant to what I'm trying to say.

calmet Tue 10-Jun-14 22:23:44

Radical feminism isn't about being inclusive, and we should never water down theory or analysis to appeal to more women. But I disagree with Terri in that many radical feminist analysis, actually do over time become mainstream. This doesn't mean that those women necessarily become radical feminist ideas, but many do over time take on particular radical feminist analysis and agree with it.

I think if you have the time, raeding books of radical feminist authors is far more enlightening than reading blog posts. Blog posts can be a good introduction to ideas, but it is rare to find a blog that doesn't oversimplify the original radical feminist ideas.

It is also important to understand that although there is agreement amingst radical feminists on the main tenets, there has always been disagreement between radical feminists on lots of issues. If you simply read a few main blogs, you can miss the diversity of thought that has always existed.

With the disclaimer that I know v little about Radical Feminism, I'd much rather think of feminism as a 'broad church' than have lots of narrow factions that in-fight.
Surely we need to aim for consensus to make our chances of achieving something a bit less dire?
That does not mean that thinking things through to their logical conclusion cannot be enlightening and interesting and in fact bringing things forward, but may have less practical application in the here and now.
Just like what a theoretical physicist does has little to do with what a plumber does although they both need to follow natural laws.

I don't have the time or brain space to read a daily paper, never mind blogs or actual books (even less books I'd actually have to switch my brain on to read).
Sigh. I suspect I shall remain a wishy-washy feminist who lurks and reads haphazardly and then gets things in their oversimplification wrong (see my OP).

Rhonda grin 'aural sex' - I've not seen that!

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 07:39:20

I think feminism as a movement is a very broad church.

Radical feminism is important to this broad church because the point of it is to unflinchingly and ruthlessly deconstruct patriarchal thinking and expose it for what it is. To shine a light on the ugliness and to shine that light into the darkest corners. Which is what makes it so uncomfortable.

I miss when we used to talk about the Overton window

DonkeySkin Thu 12-Jun-14 20:03:20

Radical feminism is important to this broad church because the point of it is to unflinchingly and ruthlessly deconstruct patriarchal thinking and expose it for what it is. To shine a light on the ugliness and to shine that light into the darkest corners. Which is what makes it so uncomfortable.

I agree, but I'm not sure that feminism could be described as a broad church anymore. Whereas once the radical and liberal wings of the movement did feed into each other in that there was an exchange of ideas (with the radicals often pushing the liberals to look at things they would rather not touch, such as male violence) and agreement on some core platforms, now radical feminism is very polarised from mainstream feminism, as third-wave feminists have increasingly adopted what I consider to be a frankly male supremacist line of thought. I read a radical feminist summing up today's feminism as being about 'men's right to buy women, men's right to be women', and sadly that's what it often looks like to me.

There's also the problem that most mainstream feminists refuse to countenance a radical analysis of sex-based oppression at all, and indeed often advocate for the censorship and no-platforming of women who advance such arguments (if they pertain to gender). So there's really no dialogue between feminism's radical and liberal wings anymore.

Beachcomber Fri 13-Jun-14 08:28:09

I agree with what you say DonkeySkin in terms of feminist organisation/internet feminism. It does feel like liberal feminism has been eaten by third wave nonsense and there is no longer a mutual respect and working together of radical and liberal feminism. And yes, that has made radical feminism seem really 'out there' and marginalized.

Politically I think the situation is very concerning - women's rights are never a given, they must be fought for and maintained and women must be vigilant, especially in these times of neoliberalism, pornification and ultra consumerism.

I do think, however, that there are a lot of women out there who do hold the beliefs of classic Liberal Feminism - it just seems that they don't have anything to organize under and are being pushed out of internet feminism because they don't identity with classic Radical Feminism and they are considered bigots/transphobes/prudes/anti-sex/anti-prostitutes by third wavers.

Third wavers are doing so much damage to feminism, I really hope the true Liberal Feminists organize and react. I do believe they are out there - indeed you see quite a few women on MN that I would consider classic Liberal Feminists, third wavers have totally co-opted the liberal space and turned it into something it is not.

As for third wavers, well how tedious and individualistic are they?? Seems like most of them don't know much women's history and have no idea that a couple of generations ago things were so much worse for women than they are now. And they don't get that they are propping up the 'modern face' of westernized patriarchy with all their sex positive/pomo/queer/porny/gender identity/gender studies bullshit. They don't know they are born. Where would all their sex positive crap be if second wavers hadn't fought for abortion rights? How does their sex positivism help women who have been violated through sexualised violence? How does it help traditionally sexually exploited populations such as black women, poor women, sexually abused women? I despair.

DonkeySkin Sat 14-Jun-14 01:22:03

You're right that there are a lot of women who do still hold to the beliefs of classical liberal feminism, Beach. I suppose I forget about them sometimes because the media landscape is so dominated by third-wave voices (no accident there). The fact that feminism now so often seems to be done through the media is part of the problem, I think. We need to get back to grassroots activism and organising and, if possible, face to face discussion/consciousness-raising groups, and through that work out an agenda of demands that we could work on pursuing. Of course there are a lot of women working every day for women, we just don't hear much about them.

As for third wavers, well how tedious and individualistic are they?? Seems like most of them don't know much women's history and have no idea that a couple of generations ago things were so much worse for women than they are now. And they don't get that they are propping up the 'modern face' of westernized patriarchy with all their sex positive/pomo/queer/porny/gender identity/gender studies bullshit.

This is so true. As far as I understand it, the second wave began with women organising together. Feminism was not a media phenomenon then and neither was it a matter for the academy. Somehow feminist discourse came under the control of both those institutions, which are, of course, dominated by men. That meant that women whose politics appealed to men (like post-modernists and pro-porn fun feminists) had their voices promoted, and radical women were frozen out and often had their work distorted and demonised (as in the case of Dworkin). That is how I explain the dominance of third-wave thinking among women of my generation and younger. Many just haven't even been exposed to any other kind of feminist thought.

The other contributing factor is the general spirit of neoliberalism that infects everything these days. Third-wave feminism chimes so perfectly with it. Everyone has 'agency', we are all free individuals freely choosing choices, and therefore the status quo is both natural and inevitable. In that climate, it's hard to imagine any collectivist movement emerging that could mount a serious challenge to hegemonic systems of power, whether that is patriarchy or capitalism. But a real feminist movement could do both - it could represent poor women and other traditionally exploited populations of women, to change social structures so that all women had real choices and could enact meaningful agency. It's so hard to even begin this conversation though, when so many people who call themselves feminists don't seem to understand that feminism is a collective struggle, not a matter of individual empowerment.

I think I understand the sentiment, because I feel like I'm living it.

I no longer enjoy or want PIV sex (with anyone, not down to 'bad' sex from DH or anything), unless it was to conceive another child. I just plain don't like it and would much prefer cuddling/touching, and occasional oral.

However, realistically I know my marriage would not survive on these terms. DH has a level of expectation that PIV is part of marriage, and that marriage is abnormal (failing even) without it. I don't blame him for those views because they've rubbed off on me also.

So, I keep my thoughts to myself, because I would rather have a lifetime of unwanted PIV and keep my husband/family intact, than break up the entire relationship.

Also, the vast majority of men will have exactly the same expectation (that PIV is a necessary part of a relationship), so its not as if I'd have a great deal of choice in PIV when it came to a new relationship anyway, unless it was with another female.

I don't resent DH for my position, but I do feel some anger toward society that it is set up this way, that men (and women) have expectation for PIV set so rigidly into them by society, that a relationship essentially cannot be seen as 'normal' without it.

If it were just one of a menu of sexual options, I'm sure we could find activities that pleased us both. But its not seen that way, its seen as mandatory... everything else is opt-in/opt-out, but PIV is pretty much non-negotiable in general.

ApocalypseThen Fri 11-Jul-14 21:59:36

As has been pointed out, context is key. In this case, we have to recall that rape within marriage was legal. So what was a woman's consent? Worthless, nothing, irrelevant. So yeah, in that context I do think that sexual acts like PIV can be considered to akin to rape. If you don't have the right to not consent, you can't really consent.

BriarRainbowshimmer Fri 11-Jul-14 22:22:55

When you think about it (ignoring patriarchal values) it's really strange how couples aren't seen as having real sex unless they, too often joylessly, keep imitating the act of impregnation over and over again. Surely orgasms = real sex?

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