Sex and Destiny: Sexuality

The mythology of the female orgasm could be considered the last ideological push of the heterosexual establishment…….Nothing however, could disguise the fact from women at least, that,
where male sexual response tends to the mechanical,
female response continues to manifest as unpredictable and variable…..
A man who knows which buttons to press to get his partner to come….is seeking to produce in his partner stereotyped factory orgasms rather like his own….

Only lesbians were able to handle the idea that female sexuality might not be symmetrical with male sexuality, and that reconstructing it to fit, might result in a net loss of delight.” Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman1999    

On one level, I have often been amused by sex researchers’ attempts to scientifically describe female sexuality in terms of male sexuality.    As a young woman discussing sexual matters with others, I was often struck by our lack of words with which to articulate our feelings and discoveries, whether lesbian or heterosexual.  Nothing that was used to describe male sexual responses seemed to ‘fit’ what I, or other women, had experienced.

Almost, but not quite.

This reconstruction of female sexuality to parallel that of males, including describing lesbian sexuality in terms of some kind of “mirror-image” of male homosexuality, does seem to parallel the reconstruction of all female biology.

In the search for ‘equality’ we seem to have settled for ‘equivalence’ of the kind that anything a man feels, a woman can too.

But anything a woman can feel and experience, but a man just can’t, just doesn’t exist.

In her book Sex and Destiny, Greer outlines her perception of the changing social concepts of sexuality, in that she believes that the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ was co-opted by patriarchy, and turned into the new religion of the West:

“Whether women like it or not, current sexual mores are conditioning them to become clitorally centred: their sexuality is being conditioned into the likeness and the counterpart of masculine response……Female sexuality has been tailored, pared-down, snipped to fit male inadequacy. One-dimensional man has been joined by his one-dimensional woman.”

Male sexuality is fixated upon genitals and penetration, and “factory orgasms” with the ultimate goal being an orgasm. Therefore – according to males, so must female sexuality,  in order to be ‘human’, it must be defined in terms of male biological experience of sexuality.

Women and men are ‘equal’ right?     Its religious nature underpins the consumer economy, which is also fixated on penetration of markets. The explosion of increasingly bizarre pornography, paraphilias, prostitution and sex-trade trafficking, has, at least partly, resulted from its promotion as the new ‘Opiate of the Masses’ – if you aint coming, you aint living, and true to its liberal roots, this new religion also embraces homosexuality in its ritual observances and homage to the Holy Orgasm. Also included are the ageing and elderly, with Viagra for men, and HRT to help post-menopausal women retain orgiastic potential.

The Celibate is ex-communicated from this new Church.

The basic premise of the liberal philosophy behind the sexual revolution of the 50s & 60s, (at its most simplistic), was that much of the authoritarian Apollonian macho patriarchal state was based on repression of sexuality. Free the libido and taboos and hey, presto – patriarchal structures would collapse, and the world would magically start to make love not war.

Many early feminists agreed with this stance. Denied women’s history, they were no more aware of women’s activity in previous generations, than any generation of women has ever been. For example, the Parisienne women of the 1890s, with their riotous bare arse, split legged displays designed to show utter contempt for their oppressors – as in ‘Kiss my fat arse!’, or F-You.  Similarly further back in time, in scenes of women characters of Henry Fielding’s novels like Moll Flanders.  Like many young adults, the ‘early feminists’ of the 70s were rebelling against their parental generation’s rigidity on sexual matters, they were going to change the world, by reclaiming and celebrating their sexuality.

Feminist erotica was born. (Again, -*sigh*).

Some important feminist variations on this theme, came with Kate Milett’s Sexual Politics, and from Juliet Mitchell in her book Woman’s Estate – in which she argued that transformation of four primary patriarchal institutions or “Estates’; production (workplace & economics), reproduction, sexuality and care/welfare/socialisation (of children, communities, sick, elderly etc) —  must be made if women’s liberation was to be achieved.

However, she also maintained that all four “Estates” must be transformed simultaneously, for transformation in only one, or even two – eg. transformation of sexuality & production – would only open the way to shift women’s oppression – for example, by increasing women’s sexual objectification in the former, and increasing women’s subjugation in ‘sweatshop’ slave industries in the latter. Mitchell’s prophetic speculations of 1971, seems to have gone unheard.

Many of these ‘early feminists’ adopting sexual liberation learned too late, but some admitted their mistakes in the hopes that future generations of feminists would not repeat their error. As Greer discussed her personally painful experiences in developing feminist erotica in Soho in 1960s London.  She pointed out in response – “ Sexuality might be the most subversive thing, but female sexual display, from the artistically tasteful to the most grotesque, is pure sexual conformism to the dominant male sexual paradigm.

What (we) so painfully learned from the pointless surrender of our own privacy, was the true extent of our powerlessness, in that female sexual display, whether hostile or seductive, submissive or dominant is a weapon that can only inflict injury on the displayer…. (emphasis mine)…

As long as men think of women’s bodies as commodities offered for their consumption, there is no liberation to be had either in taking clothes off, or keeping them covered, in either offerring willingly, or submitting unwillingly”.

Ohh.. Little Sister, don’t you do what your Big Sister done.

Nonetheless, it would appear that every new generation of young women tries again to make female sexuality ‘subversive’ in the name of ‘sexual liberation’. Here We Go Again.

From at least the 13th Century, from records feminist scholars have been able to unearth – and in the 1990s, we end up with ‘Grrl Power’, kinderwhores, Third-Wave and RiotGirls – those hard-drinking, sexually aggressive Courtney Love wannabes, along with pseudo-feminist arthouse films like Romance exploring the transcendental experience of rape and sado-masochistic sex.

Sex at the end of the century is no longer a matter of intercourse or even affection. The sex of the millennium is pornography. The only sexuality which has been freed is male sexuality, but almost as an afterthought, women are invited to participate in the name of equality, as long as their sexual expression parallels the dominant masculine paradigm.

As might be expected with the freeing of male sexuality, so has woman-hatred been freed and expanded:

“Our culture is far more masculinist than it was 30 years ago. Movies deal with male obsessions….the rock music that appeals to men is deliberately, unbelievably and outrageously misogynist.  While women were struggling to live as responsible dignified adults, men have retreated into extravagantly masculinist fantasies and behaviours. Every day terrible revenges are enacted on women who have dared to use their new privileges…..yet every day we are told there is nothing left to fight for…..Feminism has served is purpose, and can now eff off.”

…along with all those Mad, Mad Women Erasing their bodies, Erasing their Selves – may they Rest in Peace.

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9 thoughts on “Sex and Destiny: Sexuality

  1. I am really enjoying the Sex and Destiny series. You are giving me so much new food for thought. I had never even considered some of these point of views. Thanks for writing these and I hope you’ll keep writing such posts.

    As far as radical feminism goes, I think I just have barely scratched the surface of the wealth of information that is out there.

  2. Pingback: Re-Membering | Radfem Hub

  3. Pingback: Re-Membering (via Radfem Hub) « Rain's place

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