In my last piece, I wrote:
Want to be able to discuss violence against women and the importance of claiming your sexual pleasure without setting up permanent camp – or throwing rocks – at either end of the philosophical spectrum.
In the comments, Dawn Haney made a terrific point:
I’ve been in the violence against women “camp”, working at rape crisis centers for years. And I would say that nearly all of us (at least those in the under-40 crowd), are doing that work because we are pro-sex, because we want to be able to claim the full range of our sexuality, because we don’t want to walk around in fear that we’ll be punished or violated for embracing sex. So while the manifesta is waiting to be written, these camps are already intermingling on the ground.
Dawn’s point is an important corrective: I took Betty Dodson’s critique of Eve Ensler and used it as emblematic of a contradiction within feminism that possibly exists more in theory than in reality.
Dawn’s experience, when I reflect on it, echoes my own. A long time ago, and for a very brief time, I volunteered as a rape crisis counselor – and the people working together in that collective were absolutely pro-sex. So there is no disconnect or contradiction between
- acknowledging oppression, supporting women experiencing violence and campaigning against it, and
- embracing sexual power and pleasure.
I think it’s important to remember that at the heart of feminism is the goal for women to be able to have enjoyment of our lives and the freedom to make our own choices and take our own journeys. We all also get to have our own ideas and opinions about what feminism is or should be: not all feminist women agree that this thing or that is or is not feminist. It’s a movement made of people, and people vary and also adjust our ideas, and thus, the movement itself, as we all go through our own processes.