Where do I even start with this? How did I get into Sex Pos in the first place?
When I was a young, feminine looking feminist, I bought the sex pozzie fem (SPF) crap hook, line, and sinker. I didn’t really get into it as an all encompassing philosophy, I just knew that I wanted to be one of those “good feminists” that wasn’t a man hater (no, not me!) and loved sex. I was liberated! I could have sex like the boys did! It was a perfect fit for me, since I had been very promiscuous as a teen and felt the shame and social pressure because of it. Sex Pos let me not only feel good about these sexual experiences (many of which were horrible), but even made me feel free, even superior, for having all this casual sex. It was an antidote to the shame that came from my sexual desire, and gave me permission to have the sex I (thought I) wanted.
There are reasons why there are women that *feel* sex pos is empowering. One of the big ones is that after a lifetime of hearing how women that wanted/had sex were worthless slutty sluts, all of a sudden our sexual choices were considered enlightened and progressive, among our peers. All the people that I respected and liked held these, or similar, ideals. Yeah, the godbag conservatives still thought we were soiled (while buying us in their spare time…), but who cared about those uptight dinosaurs anyway? We knew they were just regressive perverts that hated women (true), and were oppressed about sex, so we would show them! How very rebellious of us!
Other things that we took as empowering were some types of sex work. Stripping was just a job, where I could feel attractive and get positive attention for my looks. A job that could even turn the tables on men, giving me power over them, just like being a Dominatrix could. Every job I had prior to stripping had a huge heaping of sexual harassment, even assault, but required unending hours of drudgery for the most meager of paychecks. It was actually a step up to be making huge stacks of cash, all in a small fraction of the time- with *less* harassment than my low wage jobs. I always said if I sold my body, I still got to keep it, but if I sold my time, it was gone forever, so getting the most cash in the shortest amount of time was paramount. Gross sexual behavior was always part of any job, why not get paid for it?
Plus, SPF meant I didn’t have to change anything; Iooking sexy was great, powerful, so long as I willingly chose it. Make up, provocative clothing, and even plastic surgery may be part of the evil beauty industry, but since femininity was just a put on that you could opt into, it was an acceptable choice. If it improved your self esteem, it was a good choice. Sleeping with many men, and having all manner of sexual exploits, was just a matter of free expression. Experimenting with bisexuality was not taboo, it was exciting, and open minded. Participating in BDSM was edgy and cool, as were any kinks the men had. Best part, I could do all of this, while thinking I was a feminist, helping the cause, expanding minds, raising consciousness.
Of course since sex positive “feminism” mirrored my behaviors, I wanted to think this was healthy and awesome, so I latched on uncritically. I did think about it, but what I heard seemed to make good sense. Girl Power was just starting to get influential back then, so I thought it was what feminism was all about, and didn’t know there was any other type of feminism. I wanted equality and equal pay, the end of double standards, available birth control and abortion rights. I knew beauty myth was harmful, gender was made up, and both were damaging, and I was aware that we lived in a patriarchy.
And that is as far as it went. It’s not like I was unwilling to learn, its just that feminism was not a big part of my life, so I didn’t search any harder than what I happened across. The web was so new that it wasn’t part of my everyday life for years to come, but being among other women like me, (and men, men, always men), was, so it was easy to overlook other feminist thought. SPF was merely one choice among many, chosen mostly for the way it made me feel (which was good), and because of my existing desire to see women have better lives and status.
While believing in SPF is not an excuse for my choices, it absolutely influenced them. At every turn I was told that what I was doing was right, even making empowering and radical (HA!) choices. Any doubts I had were easily explained away as a hang over from a repressive culture, just baggage holding me back. Uncomfortable feelings about sex were things to be worked on, in order to become fully empowered, and open minded- two things I so desperately wanted to believe about myself.
Next up- Part 2. The Damage Done