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Jaclyn On Fucking While Feminist

March 26, 2010

Amanda Hess interviewed Jaclyn about “fucking while feminist.”

I have long believed in the importance of talking about this stuff, so that we can substitute sunlight and solidarity for shame and silence in sexuality. Carol Hanisch recently wrote a new introduction to her 1970 classic essay, “The Personal Is Political.” In it, she says the essay arose in response to male New Left radicals who “belittled us no end for trying to bring our so-called ‘personal problems’ into the public arena—especially ‘all those body issues’ like sex, appearance, and abortion.” Struggling to explain to the male-dominated radical crowd of the time the importance of consciousness raising and an independent women’s movement, the second-wavers had to explain the value of sharing their “personal” experiences so that they could identify the commonalities, recognize the interplay of power and strategize for change. Hanisch continues:

Political struggle or debate is the key to good political theory. A theory is just a bunch of words— sometimes interesting to think about, but just words, nevertheless—until it is tested in real life. Many a theory has delivered surprises, both positive and negative, when an attempt has been made to put it into practice.

We live in a culture that throws sexual imagery at us all the time, that bombards and drowns us with it — but not with our own real sexuality. We are bombarded with a marketing-based set of images, a phony simulation with all the wholesome goodness bleached out of it, fit into narrow and mainstream-friendly pigeon-holes. For those of us that don’t entirely fit what is being sold — and in at least some ways I think that’s most of us, the din can be so overwhelming that it can drown out even our internal voices, until the media is telling us our sexual selves.

I prefer to say out loud who my sexual self is, and I think it is a political act when others do that. What Jaclyn says in her interview is valuable; it is authentic, and it is valuable because it is authentic.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. christopher permalink
    March 27, 2010 11:52 am

    I think openness is commendable, but not as much as is open mindedness.

    I find Jaclyn’s mate selection criteria to be offensive. Litmus tests treat people as stereotypes not complex individuals. Please see Thomas’ comment about liking Fight Club.

    Sexism and racism,are all based on that type of thinking. Since the article title included fucking, I was hoping to learn about books JF liked, techniques, etc. Instead I got a surprising interview that put her in a much different light. I am really disappointed.

    • March 27, 2010 4:27 pm

      “I find Jaclyn’s mate selection criteria to be offensive.”

      What, the fact that when browsing online profiles she looks for guys who list some female singers in their favourite music and female-centred films in their favourite movies?

      Granted, it’s not a sure way to find the perfect man. But I don’t think her “system” makes her a monster, either. And don’t we all have weird/irrational little things that’ll put us off about someone?

    • rebekah permalink
      March 28, 2010 12:31 pm

      chris,
      I would like to point out that a woman (or a man) gets to decide who they want to date regardless of anything else. She gets to decide that she is not going to date people for whatever the hell reason she wants to. If she decided that she only wanted to date men who liked to eat french fries while swimming she could. That is her choice. She is the one in a relationship with this person, not you. Unless the person one is dating turns out to be an abusive fuckhead, no one gets to tell another person who they should and should not date. That is up to the individual dating, not other people

      • Christopher permalink
        March 28, 2010 5:25 pm

        Umm Rebekah

        Just as a woman (or man) “gets” to use litmus tests, I also “get” to challenge her (or his) use of them. This is especially true for those in the profession of criticizing others as is Jaclyn. So I must ask, where is your spirited defense of what I “get” to do?

        I also want you know that your timing feels odd as the public was just a short time ago treated to John Mayer’s comments about his” heart being Benetton, but his dick being David Duke” in reference to not finding black women sexy. The public reaction to John’s remarks was criticism like I expressed, not a vigorous support of “dating rights” as you saw fit to do.

        Ultimately, I expected a lot less bigoted process from someone who fashions herself as Jaclyn does. Whether its fucking or relationships, asking not assuming, is the ethical thing to do.

  2. March 27, 2010 4:02 pm

    “Struggling to explain to the male-dominated radical crowd of the time the importance of consciousness raising and an independent women’s movement, the second-wavers had to explain the value of sharing their “personal” experiences so that they could identify the commonalities, recognize the interplay of power and strategize for change.”

    This seems to me like a direct parallel to the archetypal wifebeater thing: an abusive man will typically cut his partner off from the outside world, preventing her (either physically or through emotional manipulation or both) from seeing her family and friends. Why? Because the abuser has created his own little world for the two of them (a patriarchy, if you will…), and if his woman strays outside it she’ll realize there are better, happier places to be.

    Consciousness-raising is, in macrocosm, a version of having coffee with your best friend, telling her about some shitty thing your boyfriend said to you, and having her go “Dude! You could do soooo much better than Marty. Seriously.” 😀

  3. March 27, 2010 5:02 pm

    That was a great interview; thanks for linking to it. Your own interview was really good, too!

    The comments to those things are always … exhausting. Why can’t people stop being wrong on the internet?

  4. Wendell permalink
    March 27, 2010 10:02 pm

    “…the din can be so overwhelming that it can drown out even our internal voices, until the media is telling us our sexual selves.”

    Hell. Yes. Not just ‘the media,’ but larger sexuality narratives in history. Of course these stories can change dramatically–blame Victorians for much of our current sexual repression patterns, not so much the Puritans–and they are changed by the people who live them.

  5. March 28, 2010 8:10 am

    x, thank you. You’re very kind. Mine went over well, but Jaclyn’s is an instant classic. About people being wrong, Gandhi’s progression: “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight with you, then you win.”

  6. March 28, 2010 5:36 pm

    The problem with being easygoing is that folks start to show up and change the nature of this space. This is not a marketplace of ideas, a concept I’m critical of in many respects. This is a hothouse, and I am going to get back to policing the conversation vigorously.

    We won’t be seeing Christopher anymore.

    • March 29, 2010 12:20 pm

      What’s wrong with the concept of The Marketplace of Ideas?

      If your ideas are valid, they can survive the test of the marketplace and they don’t need a Hothouse to artificially prop them up.

      On the other hand, if your ideas are so weak that they can only survive in a hothouse….

      A word to the wise is sufficient.

      Gregory A. Butler

      • Sarah permalink
        March 29, 2010 1:22 pm

        I’m aghast that a black man living in the United States would ever support the theory of the “marketplace of ideas.”

      • Wendell permalink
        March 29, 2010 3:57 pm

        ?

        I’m not sure how bringing up race/ethnicity is relevant or even useful here. Granted, I do find myself disagreeing with him a lot, including the notion of a marketplace of ideas, but I’m not into this comment of yours. Maybe bring up his work with communist orgs, which one would assume do anti-imperialist/anti-capitalist work?

        Marketplace of ideas = social darwinism of ideas?!😉

      • Sarah permalink
        March 29, 2010 4:26 pm

        Wendell,

        Because of the historical ways in which civil rights were treated in the “marketplace” and the ridiculously racist ideas which gained prominence in that “marketplace”.

        From a historical perspective, the “marketplace” has failed black America far more often than not.

      • Wendell permalink
        March 29, 2010 5:19 pm

        I agree on that, no question. But I don’t see how implying he should recognize such a cognitive dissonance because he’s black is a useful way of countering his argument. In a sense, to me it’s like assuming a woman should care access to abortion services is being restricted to a horrifying degree, even though she might be anti-choice. Though this may be a bad analogy. Hmm, my apologies for the OT.

        I’ll get back on topic.🙂 I’m absolutely in favor of heavy moderation, because I’ve found it helps make a blog a safe space for people to share their stories, and these stories make concrete the ideas discussed here.

      • March 30, 2010 9:10 pm

        “If your ideas are valid, they can survive the test of the marketplace and they don’t need a Hothouse to artificially prop them up.”

        Yeah, but this statement fails to take trolling into account. It’s just irritating to try to have a rational discussion when someone comes along spouting off bullshit for the express purpose of riling everyone up. Plus the subject matter of this blog will tend to attract survivors of rape and abuse – people whom trolling can traumatize fairly severely. It’s one thing to be on a movie message board and have one’s taste criticized; it’s quite another to be on a message board about rape culture, confide that you were sexually attacked as a teenager, and have someone tell you you deserved it.

        There are plenty of other “marketplaces” on the internet. I’m happy to have a spot to discuss gender issues with people who actually get what I’m saying and want to have a productive conversation about it.

  7. March 29, 2010 12:36 pm

    Even the capital markets don’t operate with perfect efficiency. Humans are not pure creatures of reason, just creatures that reason. Ideas can be marginalized and shouted down even when they are good — just look at the way in American electoral politics actual policy ideas get shouted down by soundbites and noise.

    The history of ideas is the history of alignments of power determining whether they get accepted or not. Take, for example, the concept of sexual orientation. Why has this concept (as opposed to a concept of same-sex behavior) been around forever? Because the structure of the world was such that some ideas did not have space to operate.

    I’ve seen in so many online discussions good ideas drown in threads of people throwing up crap, derailing, tone-checking, etc.

    So, basically, I just disagree with you.

  8. rebekah permalink
    March 31, 2010 1:18 pm

    okay this is a reply to christopher since my comp won’t let me reply directly to him

    no, you don’t get to criticize a person’s “list”. Your argument makes no sense. This is the logic you follow: Since she gets to date whoever she wants, I get to criticize her “list” for dating. That is a logical fallacy. Please gain some common sense and try again

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