Lately there's been a bit of a back-and-forth over which sex acts it's reasonable for a feminist to perform. Personally, I . .&npsp;.
Whoa. Hold up. Back up a bit there. Feminists are monitoring each other's sex lives? Not on an individual level, of course, but there's a line being drawn between acts that are acceptable1 and which are not.
Sometimes it's explicit. The women who wrote the essays in Against Sadomasochism and their allies, for example, who respond to people who note that it's consensual by saying, basically, "no it isn't." There's no way to respond to that -- no foundation for discussion -- and that's not what I want to address.
I'm referring to claims that women who enjoy particular sex acts are wrong. It's not always that blatant; on the other hand, the penalty for being wrong isn't always as severe as having one's feminist buttons cut off. Sometimes it's as seemingly benign as saying, as my (possibly now erstwhile) buddy Amanda Marcotte did, "If you love getting your ass whupped in the bedroom, go with Jesus." Even this, however, carries a definite whiff of condemnation. I'm all for encouraging people to question their own opinions and beliefs and tastes in an effort to determine where they came from -- and, yes, whether they're legitimate or not -- but I acknowledge that the fact that they came to different conclusions than I did doesn't mean they didn't examine themselves.
In other words, I find nothing objectionable about a woman (or a man, for that matter) saying "I can't think of a way I can do activity X without bringing in and being co-opted by a sexist society." Bryan at Faits de la Fiction is perfectly correct in saying that
"[i]f a woman feels the need to perform (sexually) in a certain way because of external pressures and coersion, then it becomes a larger problem." But to dismiss as unfathomable something one simply doesn't enjoy, why, that would be like a
lesbian straight dude talking about how foul fellatio is. More seriously, I could even argue that it differs more in degree than in kind from Against Sadomasochism: to say that a woman who says she enjoys an act doesn't really enjoy it is basically to say she's lying2, and that prevents discussion from happening here too.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say we are denying women agency and voices when we say "I feel that activity supports patriarchy, so you must not have thought it through." You thought you liked giving head, pondered it, and realized what you liked was the validation you got for fulfilling your patriarchal role? Fine. Stop doing it (and I mean that sincerely). The unexamined sex life is not worth living, after all. But don't go telling other women who've determined they genuinely enjoy doing oral sex to men (or whatever) that they're wrong.
1I don't take issue with the acts deemed acceptable
2That should not be taken to indicate I think Ms. Marcotte intends to call submissive women liars. This woman intends to call submissive women liars. I trust you can see the distinction.