I received the following question on tumblr: what would you say to those radfeminists who think what you do is for the male gaze, and that toy/strapon sex is perpetuates penis in vagina sex, which they consider rape(even when it's between two consenting married couples)? I ask cause I saw one site discussing the issue of porn and your name came up, and said you are just part of the rape culture of porn.
This is my response:
I read a lot of radical feminist literature when I was younger, and I think that there are aspects of that analysis that are valid. I still read some radical feminist stuff that I agree with. You may heard me talk about “The Void” before, by which I mean things like death and unfairness that are the inescapable context of the world. Radical feminism looks at the void regarding sex.
For much of human history, and in much of the world, women were/are very much subjugated. Your distaff line and mine are legacies of forced marriage and second class citizenship and stifled potential and war rape and and the stoning of adulteresses and generation upon generation of women as less than and the world we live in now was built upon that foundation. At least from the advent of agriculture, women have been resources or property as much as people. It’s in all the old books. It’s in the Bible. It’s in a million different little things about the way we talk and the way we live. This is the patriarchy. Radical feminists understand how insidious this is, how it is everywhere and in everything. I noticed it when I was very young, and it horrified me the way that understanding death horrified me.
It’s asinine to say it isn’t real, or that it’s over because women in the Western world have jobs now…but this is a wide lens analysis. It’s stepping back and looking at the power structures of the world. When you try to use it on a tight lens, it’s much less effective. When you use it to demand some sort of ideological purity, it’s really less effective. Men aren’t bad. Men are people. The power structure that favors them is fucked up, like all of our various power systems that grant people unfair advantage (racism, classism, etc) but it’s not MEN EVIL WOMEN GOOD. It’s the STRUCTURE that is the problem. It fucks things up for men too, it just fucks it up for women more.
I think we need to be aware of this stuff and let it inform our approach to other people. This word “privilege” that gets bandied about (and frankly, overused, but that’s for another time) means the ability to stick your fingers in your ears and La-La-La your way through life, judging people based on your own lens instead of being aware of the ways that the context informs people’s lives. I’m from Malibu. When I moved to Kentucky to work on a horse farm, I changed the way I thought about a lot of stuff, because I saw how differently people lived and how much things like poverty mattered. It’s easy to be a judgmental ass when you think everyone has the same opportunities as you. It’s also easy to be a judgmental ass when you think you’ve figured out the secret to life and no one else gets it. I think some of the radfems are guilty of the latter. A lot of the radical feminist discourse is really black and white, and any time you have black and white thinking you have a problem. A lot of queer discourse is too, which is why these two factions clash so fucking hard. There is no black and white. There is only gray, and as humans we must draw borders around the gray and name them because we have evolved to seek patterns and to map words onto things. We improve the world when we are able to really look at where each other are coming from, rather than attempting to impose our own understanding on others. This doesn’t mean no one should ever be checked, or that everyone’s opinion is right, it means that to have justice and consensus and anything of value we must first have understanding.
Of course I invite the male gaze with my work. I was going to get it anyway. It’s a rare day that I take a walk without being hit on. From the moment my tits came in I felt the eyes of men on me. I’d rather work with the world than scream at it. You want to look? Look. Look on my terms. Pay me. You can’t have me. You can never have me. But you can fucking watch.
I do not believe that men looking is inherently damaging or bad. I think there is beauty too in men’s visual and visceral response. I think that the way the world has been structured to favor men-as-a-class means that many men don’t learn how to use this aspect for good, but many man want to. Many men LOVE women. Women do want to be told they are beautiful…they don’t want to feel that that is all they are. Women don’t want to be followed down the street or made to feel like prey…but it feels good to be desired. Women don’t want to be seen as weak and useless, but it feels good to have someone care about you and want to protect or take care of you. We can de-gender all of this. Women can love each other. Men can love each other. People can love each other. It’s about learning how to interact with your sexuality in positive ways so that it doesn’t hurt people. Money is sometimes a part of that. Sure, capitalism is also fucked…but it’s where we’re at.
The radical feminists talk about sex-for-money as being solely a form of oppression. But what makes sex different from other labor? I would way, way, way, a thousand times rather be naked on the Internet than work some soulless job that I don’t love. I love being naked. I love having sex. Sex isn’t sacred, and we do it for all kinds of reasons. I do think that many women fall into sex work because they don’t have other options, and that is sad, but I do not believe than in some perfect world we would not trade sex for other stuff. We’ve always done it, and our ape relatives do it, and it can be done in a way that is fair and positive for both parties. What should a lonely old guy whose wife has died do with his sexual energy? Kill it? Masturbate only to fantasies in his head? What’s wrong with him spending money on a webcam girl who will listen to him, make him feel wanted, and allow him to have a positive sexual experience? She trades her time for his money, just like she would if she worked at a store or in any other job. What’s wrong with watching porn that was made by people who wanted to make that porn? How is it different from other filmed content?
The “all intercourse is rape” business is silly. Is there a context of domination to heterosexual sex? Often, yes, but to say that women can’t consent to sex with men is to take away women’s agency. It took me forever to be alright with penetrative sex because I was caught up in this kind of discourse, as if liking my vagina fucked made me less gay or something. Male and female evolved together. We are mostly the same and only a little bit different. All of the awesome shit we can do with sex as human beings was built on a scaffolding of reproductive interaction. We can game the system, as humans. We can teach ourselves to have sex longer and better and in different ways. Most animal sex is fleeting. They fuck for two minutes a few different times during a certain time of the year and then later they give birth and don’t even know the two events are connected. Humans and our closest relatives have taken sex a bit father. We use it for other stuff. We build societies around it.
I do see strap-on sex as a sort of perfected form of intercourse - taking the animal out a bit. When I fuck women, pleasure is the only context. There is no pregnancy…but none of it would exist without that. There is nothing wrong with men and women fucking each other…what is a problem is that the “each other” is so often missing. I do think many male/female interactions are kind of gross, from both sides, women who feel obligated to fuck, men who feel entitled to sex, jealousy promoted as a value instead of understood as a weakness, people who don’t understand each other because they are invested in being MAN and WOMAN and not HUMAN. The world’s fucked. It’s always been fucked.
There is a cost to all of our existences. We destroy to live, and we hurt other people all the time, without meaning to. I live in California because my ancestors came here and took it from people who used to live here. We are all the children of history’s victors. We can’t eliminate all injustice. We can’t live without killing stuff. It does no good to stare endlessly backwards, lamenting the context. What we can do is endeavor not to make it worse, and to make the cost worth it. I live a life I chose, and it makes me happy. People tell me every day that I have turned them on and made them feel good. If you really think that I’m some dark force increasing the negativity in the universe, that’s your opinion, but I’m not going to stop doing what I do.