Saturday, June 17, 2006

You All Can Blow Me. Or Not.

Much ado about Twisty's latest drama-fest at I Blame the Patriarchy. Basically, Twisty says that blowjobs are gross, and that women don't like them. People have maintained that Twisty was just having fun and expected her readership to laugh politely and go, "Oh, Twisty." But maybe Twisty hasn't noticed that she is apparently the most read feminist blog online, or something.

Everyone who has been criticizing Twisty, in their varying ways, thinks they're being controversial or whatever, but, uh, they're not. Wow, challenging a minority opinion! You're a big kid now!

At first, I admit, I wasn't too keen on this new argument. Not because I disagreed, but because I really kind of thought this was just done to stir up some shit. And then I remembered, wait, I'm a mean feminist, I should be supporting this! Identity re-realized, I decided to rededicate myself to meanity anew. (But whew! That was a close call! The nice feminists almost has me, there!)

Mostly, people don't like Twisty's (totally right-on, in my book) opinion because it insinuates that there's nothing feminist about being a heterosexual. To which I counter with, "duh." Isn't that obviously true, gang? Heterosexuality is NOT implicitly feminist. In fact, you could argue that heterosexuality is implicity sexist, but I'm not. I think heterosexuality, while never having the ability to be feminist, can certainly be non-sexist.

Yeah, it's "easier" for us lesbians, in this one tiny bit of feminist discourse (as opposed to how it's easier for heterosexuals, everywhere else, in all contexts). I'm sex-critical, gang. So you know what, I'm not going to conclude that all sex practices are okay and non-sexist. I'm not going to conclude that any way you get off is super fine. I'm not going to call orgasms feminist liberation this morning. So yeah, there are ways of having sex which are not feminist, and there are ways of having sex which are feminist.

As always, as with anything I have ever said on the webz about pornography, prostitution, BDSM, stripping, makeup, shaving, bra-wearing, and so forth: no one can do everything perfectly feminist (or even non-sexist) in their life all the time. We are human, and we are victimized 24/7 by a horrific patriarchy that does not allow us to make any pro-feminist decision without scads of backlash. It is not right to tell a woman that she must choose to make only pro-feminist decisions at the expense of her sanity and health.

In my book, there's nothing hypocritical about being a feminist and making sexist choices (if you are female) because I don't blame the victim (women) for not being able to live an ideal, sexism-free life because for most (if not all) of us, that is just impossible. You do the best you can do.

What I DO object to is pretending sexist practices are feminist. Maybe blowjobs are a sexist practice all the time, though I think it's possible that they differ on context. They're certainly not pro-feminist, however, so let's stop pretending that they are. Let's stop pretending that everything a feminist does for pleasure is somehow feminist.

And most of all, please people, stop pretending as though Twisty or ANY sex-critical individual has the power in feminism, not you. Whoever defends the practices/ideals of the mainstream is always the one with the power. And whoever defends the idea that sexual liberation means doing whatever you want sexually, is defending the ideals of the mainstream. And what's the mainstream ruled by? I'll give you a hint: it starts with a "p." Vicky has pointed out to me that most of the bad things in the world start with a "p" so really, if we were really radical, we should get rid of "p"-words all together. But I'm not a letter blamer, so we'll hold off on that for now.

19 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

" ... we should get rid of "p"-words all together."

MY PONY? My pony's pole (top of his head), my posting trot, polo wraps, Percheron horses down the road, my palomino Bailey horse, piaffe and passage, or in German, my pferd??? PSHAW and PHOOEY!

I can EASILY lose patriarchy, pedophile, penises (in plural form, ridiculous at best, frightening at worst), "phat," polyp and patronizing.

What do we do about "pussy?"

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no! Not "pool!"

3:47 PM  
Blogger ms. jared said...

down with puppies! and pasta! and palm trees!

fuck porcupines and the police!!!! and penicillin! and punctuation!

i love this game! and exclamation points!! i can go on forever!!!

xoxo, jared

4:47 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

On a more serious note, I responded to this post on my blog so as not to take over your Comments. Comments that would be rife with my typos to boot, as Comments have no spell-checker and I am challenged by these boxy little spaces in Comments.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Edith said...

Anonymous, I didn't think about "pools"! That is the only seriously awesome p-word the lot of you have come up with, IMHO. So sorry, peeps. Ah! PEEPS! I guess there are some good p's. What, as Kaka Mak rightly mentions, would I do without the ability to vocalize "Pshaw!" Also, I am hesitant to say "down with palm trees" Ms. Jared! Especially for all the poor (bad p!) folk standing under them!

3:09 PM  
Blogger Vicky Vengeance said...

For my take on all this y'all can look at my comments on kaka mak's recent post responding to edith.

Also, the main BAD P Words I was thinking about were:

Patriarchy
Penises
Pedophiles
Pornography (Unless you mean that album by The Cure of course, ha ha)
Prostitution

And I think we could (and maybe we should) do an entire post "Pussy" kaka mak. I mean, you know, if inga could do an entire book about cunt . . .

7:31 PM  
Blogger alyx said...

"Mostly, people don't like Twisty's (totally right-on, in my book) opinion because it insinuates that there's nothing feminist about being a heterosexual."

You're equating being het with giving blow-jobs. Not every heterosexual woman is a bj-giver.

IMNSHO, that's what the problem is: Patriarchy has so defined female sexuality that the pro-bj crowd thought that to critique bratwurst-sucking was to critique heterosexuality as a whole. Not that the latter hasn't been done before (or isn't a fine endeavour) but if het & bi women think fucking men is all about shlong-gobbling, then it kinda proves whatever point twisty was trying to make about the patriarchal co-option of female sexuality.

I agree with the rest of what you said: It depends on the context, and these sort of things are certainly worth examining.

(p.s. dig your writing style. It's wonderfully acerbic!)

3:20 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

"...but if het & bi women think fucking men is all about shlong-gobbling, then it kinda proves whatever point twisty was trying to make about the patriarchal co-option of female sexuality."

AGREED, agreed, AGREED!
I COULD wax on, as Alyx says, "shlong-gobbling," for a VERY long time. But, you know, I kinda just don't WANNA. I avoided that all together in my post, because, frankly, what if my dad is reading? (gave him the link a long time ago, much to my utter chagrin later on.)

Plus, certain things about "my sexuality" are just, well, maybe should remain private? Also, if I were to reveal things about what I do or don't do sexually, I'd be revealing details about my partner's (yes, husband, but I don't like the word husband or wife, for that matter) sex life as well -- which isn't really fair.

For what it's worth, shlong-gobbling porn shots are most hated.
Hands down.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Bitch | Lab said...

you probably need to demonstrate who said waxing the carrot was femnist. good luck with that.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I agree with bitchlab here - I keep reading about how people are apparently defining things as feminist, but have never seen anyone do anything more than say things are not anti-feminist. No one said wearing makeup was feminist, no one said giving bjs is feminist, people just argue that they are not necessarily anti-feminist or sexist.

And a question: if me kissing or sucking or licking my boyfriend's penis is sexist and anti-feminist, what do you call it when he goes exactly the same thing to my vagina? Am I anti-women because I like and enjoy my boyfriend's penis? If so, is he anti-men because he likes and enjoys my vagina? Three questions, but I am intrigued. (And, yes, I see that girls randomly giving guys BJs in clubs is a product of porn and the patriarchy, but I fail to see how this makes the act of female on male oral sex inevitably anti-feminist and sexist).

1:15 PM  
Anonymous a louis wain cat said...

*delurk* I really shouldn't get into this one, but-

you probably need to demonstrate who said waxing the carrot was femnist. good luck with that.

Well... there's this post, which was one of the more hailed responses to Twisty, in which we find this quote:

So what you have here is a lesbian who has gotten all her information about fellatio from the patriarchy itself, including her asshole boyfriend of once-upon-a-time and who therefore has a strangely conspicuous lack of comprehension regarding how subversive fellatio can be to both social heteronormitivity and the patriarchy itself if one puts some thought into the act and does it correctly.


Now, I'm finding that hard to interpret that last part in any way other than "blowjobs can be actively feminist if you do them right." I mean, if they can be subversive to the patriarchy itself, what else can you call it? No details on what this revolutionary method of fellatio involves, though. It must be really powerful or something, to be able to smash the patriarchy like that. You wouldn't want secrets like that falling into the wrong hands. Yeah.

(sorry for the snark, but I'm in the sex-critical camp myself, and after seeing this whole pile-on, and reading some tooth-grindingly patronizing armchair psychology of Twisty and radical feminists in general, I'm not in the best of moods. I did at least find this blog in the course of the whole thing, which gladdens me. The world needs more humorous radical feminist blogs.)

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Amananata said...

(Waxing the carrot?!?!)

Sorry.

Hi, I've seen you around, thought I'd say hi. Maybe you even commented on my blog recently? I am a bit scaterbrained so I'm not sure. Anyway hi, love the post, lots of good stuff there! :)

I think that bjs can be part of a non-patriarchal sex context, but most of the time they aren't. I used to give bjs to boyfriends because I felt I had to in order to keep them happy, so I would do it even though I felt miserable and struggled to keep from retching and crying. Now I only do it if I really feel like being nice, or sometimes I do it because I want to have a sort of intimacy but don't want actual intercourse. It has to be comfortable for me or I won't do it. It helps to have partners who do not pressure me. But I realize, both from seeing other women talk about their sex lives and from past experiences, that to have a man aound who doesn't pressure his wife or girlfriend to give them the kind of sex they want regardless of how she feels about it is unfortunately pretty rare. Combine this with the popularized porn idea, promoted everywhere I see this BS advice on how to give bjs, that if you really love him you'll learn how to deep throat, and - ugh. I refuse to do the deep throat thing, it isn't necessary at all, it's a power thing IMO. There's plenty of pleasurable things a woman can do to a man that don't involve her struggling not to puke. So much that I wonder if men who demand deep throating aren't getting off on watching her struggle.

Anyway sorry if I ventured into TMI territory there but this whole topic sort of lends itself to that, doesn't it?

5:21 PM  
Blogger alyx said...

To clarify: I've never said bjs are innately anti-feminist, or sexist. Because I don't think that. My issue is not with specific sex acts per se but the reason people have for choosing them.

My problem is that some people seem to think heterosexuality= blowjobs. It doesn't.

Bjs and cunniligus aren't accorded the same status under patriarchy. A lot of teenagers don't even know what the word 'cunnilingus' means (I teach teens, so I'm not speaking out my arse here). If I asked them to tell me what 'blow-job' meant, however, I'm pretty sure they'd be able to supply me with an adequate defintion, if not a demonstration!

This doesn't mean every feminist should cease & desist! with the blow-jobs, but it does mean we should question things like why giving head is accorded such a sacred space under patriarchy that to even joke about it is to leave yourself open for an arse-reeming.

And Twisty was only kidding. If people are so secure in their sexual practices, why should they give two shits what anyone else thinks?

5:29 PM  
Blogger Edith said...

First of all, can I just say I've been dreading making any kind of response here because I really, really, really hate talking about blowjobs.

Really.

You all make excellent points, although "waxing the carrot" is now officially banned from using as a phrase anymore as I don't want to have any negative connotations associated with carrots, which I eat regularly. Ew, stop it, not like that.

Heterosexuality does not equal blowjobs, true enough. Maybe Twisty was just saying that blowjobs are gross (and not implicitly feminist) and didn't want you to take the leap that heterosexuality is not implicitly feminist, but I do.

That said, the best arguments I've heard in favor of blowjobs is, "At least it's not fucking." Between the choice of a dick in the mouth or a dick in my vagina, let's just say I'd pick mouth every time. (My mouth has teeth.)

Twisty was kidding around, but she's not saying anything she doesn't believe. She does, indeed, believe that blowjobs are gross. I am kidding around too, FYI, but I do, indeed, believe that blowjobs aren't implicitly feminist.

And no, Laura, Bitch|Lab: no one is saying that they ARE implicitly feminist. People ARE saying, however, that any way a woman decides to get off is fine and that having the power to determine and go for what and who gets you off IS feminist. And that includes blowjobs. And that basically shuts the door on critiquing any sexual practice that women enjoy, because it's not right, you know, to impose your views on another woman's pussy pleasure.

That's just not how I think. But hey, you know, that's that.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Heart said...

Whoever defends the practices/ideals of the mainstream is always the one with the power.

Underline it, bold it, draw a bright red circle around it and arrows pointing to it. YES.

I love this post and this thread. :)

I am nodding my head emphatically as to the "tooth-grindingly patronizing armchair psychologizing of Twisty and radical feminists." The hell.

As to comparing the overall tool-of-the-patriarchy-ness of men going down on their girlfriends with their girlfriends giving them blowjobs: when the former is central to misogynist pornography and the rough equivalent of a woman-on-man money shot is mandatory to misogynist porn, then the comparison works. Until then it doesn't. I've thought off and on about the avatar this repulsive guy who used to troll the Ms boards used: it was an image of a male bodybuilder with his buff muscley arms folded across his chest in a spirit of "dig me," with three naked porn-star-like women on their knees giving him a blow job all at once. Blow job imagery is subordinating, degrading-to-women imagery. Does that mean every blow job degrades all women? Hell no. But it does mean the act has been given a certain meaning under male heterosupremacy and that is something worth considering. Beyond that, anybody who has spent any time listening to what men say about going down on women is going to have heard the insulting, offensive, misogyny in the way men think and talk about our bodies. They don't -- as women repeatedly have in this discussion all over the blogosphere -- talk about how much they enjoy giving women pleasure and how central this is to their enjoyment of sex and how much they really love our labia and vaginas and bodily fluids and how they like to swallow the latter, etc. They make fun of our bodies. They talk about how disgusting our bodies are, how bad we smell, and they call us names. And that's another reason why it doesn't work to compare men going down on us with us giving them blowjobs.

What a comment to start the day with!

:/

Heart

9:00 AM  
Blogger piny said...

Gahhhh. And I was so grateful for your bearded-lady post, too!

Everyone who has been criticizing Twisty, in their varying ways, thinks they're being controversial or whatever, but, uh, they're not. Wow, challenging a minority opinion! You're a big kid now!

Riiiight. That's why people complained: they wanted to feel controversial.

No, that's not what I was saying at all. My problem was with framing the argument so as to lose the patriarchy altogether. A focus on the putative objective grossness of blowjobs is a great way to divert attention from the misogynist context in which blowjobs take place. It wouldn't matter if it really were like sucking a lollipop, and it doesn't matter if some women really do think it's comparable, or even if they might think that without pressure. The problem is that it's a forced "choice."

I am nodding my head emphatically as to the "tooth-grindingly patronizing armchair psychologizing of Twisty and radical feminists." The hell.

Any post about false consciousness under patriarchy has already opened the door to "patronizing armchair psychologizing." I don't think either side had clean hands.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Heart said...

I haven't seen anyone focusing on the putative grossness of blowjobs, other than when someone was being sarcastic or deliberately overstating to make a point. We all know it's not about the grossness, putative or otherwise, of blowjobs. I also don't think "forced choice" is the issue. I think most girls and women don't even know that they *have* choices when it comes to sex. They look at sex as it's presented to all of us and think, "Oh, when you have sex with a man, you do X,Y and Z," to include blowing the guy. What is important, therefore, for feminists to do is to say, "You girls and women don't have to do one damn thing for men during sex. You can reinvent the whole experience. If getting your scalp and feet simultaneously massaged equals hot intimacy and/or sex to you and genital contact is optional, that is something you should ask for and expect from any man who wants to have sex with you. Everything you see all around you? Everything you hear? It was all invented and created and foist on all of us by men throughout history, the same men who have made heterosexuality compulsory. You have the right to re-create sex and make it whatever you want to be. You don't have to choose between blow jobs or no blow jobs. Blowjobs can be as legitimately irrelevant to any sex you want to have as penis-in-vagina sex might be irrelevant as anything else might be. We think about blowjobs in connection with het sex ONLY because we've been taught to and we've been taught to because we are women under male heterosupremacy."

Nobody has said anything about "false consciousness" in this discussion so far that I have seen, but if someone has seen that, please post it. I have seen LOTS of mischaracterizing of what radical feminists have said, lots of making shit up about what we've said, but then, there's nothing novel or different about that.

Heart

2:52 PM  
Blogger piny said...

I haven't seen anyone focusing on the putative grossness of blowjobs, other than when someone was being sarcastic or deliberately overstating to make a point. We all know it's not about the grossness, putative or otherwise, of blowjobs.

See, that part about "deliberately overstating to make a point?" Is Not gonna work. No one, not even Twisty, has the right to expect that their hyperbole is going to be read that way, not when they use language that conflates the two.

I also don't think "forced choice" is the issue. I think most girls and women don't even know that they *have* choices when it comes to sex. They look at sex as it's presented to all of us and think, "Oh, when you have sex with a man, you do X,Y and Z," to include blowing the guy.

Really? Because Twisty's follow-up post, and approximately one out of every three commenters on both threads, did talk about mistaking pressure for free choice.

What is important, therefore, for feminists to do is to say, "You girls and women don't have to do one damn thing for men during sex. You can reinvent the whole experience. If getting your scalp and feet simultaneously massaged equals hot intimacy and/or sex to you and genital contact is optional, that is something you should ask for and expect from any man who wants to have sex with you. Everything you see all around you? Everything you hear? It was all invented and created and foist on all of us by men throughout history, the same men who have made heterosexuality compulsory. You have the right to re-create sex and make it whatever you want to be. You don't have to choose between blow jobs or no blow jobs. Blowjobs can be as legitimately irrelevant to any sex you want to have as penis-in-vagina sex might be irrelevant as anything else might be. We think about blowjobs in connection with het sex ONLY because we've been taught to and we've been taught to because we are women under male heterosupremacy."

All of which would have been fantastic, and none of which was in Twisty's post. That was not what she said, and therefore not what people responded to.

Nobody has said anything about "false consciousness" in this discussion so far that I have seen, but if someone has seen that, please post it. I have seen LOTS of mischaracterizing of what radical feminists have said, lots of making shit up about what we've said, but then, there's nothing novel or different about that.

I've seen lots of mischaracterizing these women as asinine, defensive, and obsessed with red herrings.

Here's your false consciousness:

Except, it turns out, relationships wherein women suck cock! That’s when patriarchy miraculously recedes into the aether and male privilege becomes a distant memory! No woman was ever so free as the woman with a mouth full of throbbing gristle! How could I have been so blind? Less blaming and more cocksucking, that’s my new motto! Mystery solved! The struggle is over!

4:52 PM  
Blogger alyx said...

"Here's your false consciousness:

Except, it turns out, relationships wherein women suck cock! Etc."

That's not false consciousness. That's called asking women to examine why they make the sexual choices that they do. We examine all our other choices: Make-up-wearing, clothing preferences, etc. Why should blow-jobs be immune from scrutiny?

Anyway, Twisty's follow-up post was inspired by a commenter who said this:

"Patriarchy will be defeated by blow-jobs. Up with blow-jobs! Down with patriarchy!"

So, sucking dick is a pre-requisite to defeating the patriarchy? Pity 'bout the lesbians! There's your 'blow-jobs are feminist' comment.

"All of which would have been fantastic, and none of which was in Twisty's post. That was not what she said, and therefore not what people responded to."

Twisty's commenters are smart people. I'm sure they can read into things. Some just don't want to.

5:24 PM  

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