Minister of Propaganda for the Decepticon Empire (fierceawakening) wrote,
Minister of Propaganda for the Decepticon Empire
fierceawakening

The Politics of Penetration

For those of you who think the penetration bits of the sex wars are over... well, mainly yes, but not to everyone. To wit, here's everyone's favorite Biting Beaver on PIV intercourse, feminism, and men. Note that it's tagged "Feminism 101":

Women today grow up being told, from a relatively young age, that 'sex' is defined as a penis entering her body. She is then told that this idea of 'sex' is the standard by which recreational 'sex' is measured (obviously this mode of 'sex' is necessary for procreation). 'Sex' is said not to have occurred unless her body has been penetrated by a penis. Furthermore women who do not engage in this form of sex are said to have something wrong with them.

Now, to begin to understand some of the implications of this we must first look at who stands to gain the most from this definition of 'sex'. The truth of the matter is that most estimates place the women who can orgasm at all from p-V intercourse between 24% and 30%. This means that fully 70% of women or more are simply not deriving physical orgasm from p-V sex.

Men, on the other hand, are orgasming with far greater frequency with p-V intercourse. Indeed, some studies show that the rate of orgasm with p-V intercourse for males is 98% of the time. Given that we live in a male dominated word it's very difficult to not notice the blinding fact that, as far as orgasms go, penetration is the most foolproof way for males to orgasm. Yet, as it pertains to females, penetration is the least effective method.

As a radical feminist who spends lots of time thinking about male domination and the pillars of sexism I must say that this is a fact that is not of small meaning.

As far as this society goes in most states a marriage can be annulled if a woman doesn't submit to p-V intercourse. Indeed, a woman can give blow jobs until the cows come home, she can give him hand jobs until her fingers ache, she can let him fuck her anally, but she cannot legally withhold vaginal penetration and still be able to get divorce rights. What I mean when I say this is that without consummation a marriage can be annulled, that is to say it is completely erased from existence. This obviously disallows a woman from spousal support and so forth.

....Next, a woman who decides, for whatever reason, that she doesn't wish to engage in p-V intercourse with her husband is often made into a scapegoat for all sorts of horrible behavior. Even if the woman will engage in other aspects of sexuality, her refusal to allow her penetration, for whatever reason, is often cited as being 'cruel' or 'abusive' to her male spouse.

In other words, A woman's refusal to be penetrated is seen by many as abusive. Almost every other definition of abuse necessarily insists that one person DO something to another, that one person ACT upon another. p-V intercourse is considered by many in this culture to be so important that the normal and appropriate definitions of abuse are thrown out the window. Her mere decision to not consent is the fulcrum upon which this notion of abuse is based. Her decision to not allow something to be done TO her is determined, by this ideology, to be abusive.

We can see the absurdity of this assumption when we reverse the actors. For example: Absolutely nobody would agree with a wife's assertion that she was being cruelly treated and even abused by her husband because he is denying her consent to regularly stick a dildo up his ass.

Yet, I have heard feminists argue that to withhold p-V intercourse is abusive or cruel. I suppose that conclusion can only be reached by a person who has completely integrated the notion that being penetrated is the normal state of affairs for females while the same is not expected of males. The default for females is penetration; the default for males is bodily autonomy.
The thing that fascinates me is I've had lovers who have been cis men and never penetrated me in any way at all... and I have never had that somehow thrown back at me as abusive, terrible, or awful.

I have vaginismus. Getting penetrated anywhere other than my mouth, with anything, is, for me, a bit more of an adventure than I gather it is for many of my friends with similar parts. Can be awesome, but also can involve a fair bit of discomfort. Because of that, it's not often the first or primary kind of sex I want with a casual lover.

I wouldn't have had nearly as many of those (not that I've had tons) if men really defaulted to thinking of me as an abuser for saying "No, I'd rather we did something else instead. How about --?"

Yet every once in a while I see women who, for whatever reason, political or personal don't currently or ever have intercourse, who constantly fret about how terribly pressured they are and how they're deemed abusive and unfair.

Part of this may be that part of the reason I'm close to stone is issues related to my disability. Maybe it does come across differently when it's "well, you know, sometimes that's not the easiest thing for me to do, and you know what I REALLY think we'd both get off on right now? This."

In fact, I'm sure it does. I strongly suspect that a part of the reason PIV is so fraught for these people is more closely tied to their reasons than to their refusal.

Like it or not, most people don't want politics intruding in their bedroom. "I don't want to do that because I'm offended by the idea of it, as a [member of political movement]" would feel very different to me, as a justification coming from a lover I'm dying to, say, buttfuck than "I don't want to do that. I've tried and didn't like it" or "In the past, a lover tried that with me and hurt me very badly. I don't think I can do that. But I do think you're super -- let's find some other way to have sex/play/etc." Or even, yes Virginia, "that's not something I'd like to try" -- as long as there are things we both would like to try. (If not, well, no hard feelings, but there's no particular reason to have sex.)

Actually, honestly, I've had a couple conversations that are very close that exact conversation. I've had guys who were stunned I was okay with "No," and could shrug and get excited about some other delightful thing to do, like spankings or getting my boots licked or whatever. I've had guys who've asked me repeatedly over a long time "I know you like this. Is it okay that my answer is still no?"

And, funnily enough, I've felt the same way with some lovers. Hey, we never had PIV -- he still OK with me? You know what: the answer was yes.

And that really factors into what I see other women doing and saying. OK, so you don't want penetration. How are you dealing with that? By cussing and kicking up a fuss if your lover so much as fantasizes about that with you? By understanding what someone you care about wants? By being willing to try it, or to try something else that works (say, using fingers or small toys if you have vaginismus like me)?

Or by suddenly going into Feminist Overdrive and panicking and throwing Dworkin's Intercourse at someone who, well gee, would like to experience what you feel like inside?

I think that the thing to remember is that we must all, each and every one of us, ask ourselves the hard questions and answer them honestly. Do some critical thinking and try to see if you can notate all the ways that women are normalized into p-V sex before they ever even have it. How this world society normalizes and enforces the p-V heteronormative sex and how that may have affected you or your partner.
I'd be violating every rule of netiquette that exists and a few that haven't been invented yet were I to shout "give me a fucking break" loudly enough to this. So the woman who loves it and has found she orgasms principally by getting fucked has to ask herself tough questions before she can get off?

That doesn't sound much like feminism to me.
Tags: feminist, oh no they didn't, penetration, sex positive
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  • oh, fucking hell.

    I've never been big on Ani DiFranco really. I do love some of her old songs, especially "Shy" and "Buildings and Bridges,"…

  • Times when you just hate being right.

    Anyone remember the whole kerfuffle that went down in Greater Feminist Bloglandia about Kyle Payne, Mr. Anti-Porn Male Feminist Hypocrite some time…

  • Oh the subway, how I occasionally loathe you

    Guy on subway, to me, suddenly and too loudly: Merry Christmas! Me: *blinks, considers whether to respond, slightly unnerved by his tone* Guy…