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Why consent is not enough

Consent is the magical fairy dust which turns rape into sex; trafficking into free speech; and sexualized abuse, torture, and subjugation into sexual liberation — or so many people claim. Many “sex-positive feminists” acknowledge the legal standard of consent (defined as a lack of active resistance) is problematic: it is victim-blaming, it normalizes male sexual aggression, it arbitrarily draws a line between how much coercion is “too much” (it generally does not allow direct physical coercion, but permits social, emotional, and economic coercion), and it is irrelevant whether a woman wants to engage in sexual activity or merely submits to it. For many, valuing individuality through permitting us to pursue our personal preferences and determine for ourselves how we live is central to human dignity, which is why consent...
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Witch hunt! Terry Richardson responds to sexual assault allegations. (Also, libertarianism will be the death of us)

After yet another model* came out with sexual assault allegations against Terry Richardson this past week, the photographer has responded in a letter published over at Page Six. Turns out everyone is a lying liar and Richardson is the victim of a witch hunt! But you knew that, didn’t you. Classic you, society — what with your centuries-old history of burning heterosexual white men at the stake. Last year I wrote about the “Tyranny of Consent,” arguing: In feminism, as well as in other liberal-type circles, we talk about consent a lot. “Anything that happens between consenting adults…” is the mantra. Those who have formed critiques of the sex industry, of course, are well aware of the ways in which this “consent is magic” ethos oversimplifies the concept of...
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Liberal feminists realize that feminism is a movement after all. Confusion ensues.

Elizabeth Wurtzel published an article in The Atlantic on June 15th, arguing that women who choose housewifery are ruining feminism for everyone else. She gets close to making some good points about women’s independence from men being largely dependent on their ability to be financially independent as well as the idea that OH GOSH YOU KNOW WHAT? Just because a woman makes a choice to do something, it doesn’t automatically make that choice a feminist one. Jill Filipovic over at Feministe picked up on the piece and added all sorts of things that I agree with, such as the idea that feminism is actually a movement, not just a fun time lady party that’s all about making ourselves feel good as individuals. She says: Feminism is not about choice...
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It's International Women's Day; are our foremothers rolling over in their graves?

It’s hard not to heave a big ol’ feminist sigh on International Women’s Day. But, in many ways, I think that’s just fine. International Women’s Day isn’t intended to be a celebration, from my perspective. Rather, it is a reminder. A reminder that we still need an International Women’s Day. Across the world women are fighting for their rights. They are fighting for equality, for workers’ rights, for reproductive rights, they are protesting poverty and raising awareness about violence against women. Strangely, many Westerners like to imagine that we inhabit an egalitarian society. I’m not sure where they’re looking, but from where I’m standing, we still have a lot of work to do. On Friday, Jarrah Hodge covered the Vancouver and District Labour Council’s annual International Women’s Day Dinner....
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On 'sex-positivity' and misunderstandings

The Pervocracy published a post on Friday, intended to set all us feminist critics of ‘sex-positive’ discourse, language, and arguments straight. According to the author, who, strangely, avoids referencing anyone or using any specific quotes to back up many of her claims, argues that feminists who critique ‘sex-positivity’ A) don’t understand what the term ‘sex-positive’ means, and B) generally are just hating on women “who wear high heels and shave their legs and…giggle and… act all flirty and give blowjobs…” We are, apparently, “disgusted” by these women and therefore we are not only “obnoxious, elitist, sexist, and counterproductive,” but our criticisms are straight up wrong. This is a common rebuttal made by those who identify as ‘sex-positive.’ Charlie Glickman, in response to Robert Jensen’s critiques of the language and discourse of ‘sex-positivity’...
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My performance of femininity and why it isn't all about me.

Look. I’m going to let you in on a little secret unbeknownst to anyone but my closest 455 Facebook friends, my real-life friends (somewhere between 4-70, I’d guess), every single person who sees me out and about, and now, everyone who reads this.  So DON’T tell anyone. …I wear eyeliner. Almost every day. Why? While the reasons may be more complicated than: ‘Because I feel like it’, the simple answers remain squarely located in boring-town: I feel more presentable when wearing eyeliner. I’ve become addicted to the ritual that is ‘putting on my face’.  I’m very pale and I look sickly without blush. Yeah. Excuses, excuses. The real-life story is that I have learned both a) that my appearance matters, and b) how to perform femininity. Though I am...
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The Pornstitution* Debates: Some thoughts on civil debate with Hugo Schwyzer et al.

I wanted to call this post ‘Well, that was a big waste of time’, but am working on presenting a semblance of professionalism and making an effort against cynicism. I’ll keep working at it… While the purpose of these conversations was to, somehow, engage a civil debate between liberal and radical feminist strains of thought, I am having trouble feeling like this was anything other than a pretty big, fat, fail. Regardless of what was argued by myself, or by commenters, the responses from those who advocate for ‘sex work’ sounded eerily similar. These were some of the more common points made in response to my and/or some of the commenters’ arguments around prostitutution / pornography and misogyny: 1)    All men aren’t the same and therefore arguments around what...
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The Trouble With Choosing Your Choice

I’ve re-posted my piece here, originally posted on Kickaction for their annual Blogging Carnival. Check it out – there are a lot of great blogs/bloggers participating. Within feminist or, what some might call ‘post-feminist’ discourse today, ‘choice’ is front and center – it makes up the framework within which so many debates begin and end. And indeed, ‘choice’ is often used as a way to end the conversation. “Well, it’s my choice.” or “No one was ‘forced’ they just ‘chose’ to take off their shirts.” or “These women aren’t victims, they have ‘choice.” are commonly thrown about as ways to defend women’s choices and actions as being representative of freedom and to present every female choice as, in fact, a feminist act. This kind of ‘anything-goes-so-long-as-we-call-it-a-choice’ discourse often, rather...
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Burlesque: They tell me it’s just for fun…Except I’m not having any.

Two weeks ago we ran our 2-part series on burlesque. Considering the many varied perspectives among women and feminists, we felt it wouldn’t be quite sufficient nor would it present an entirely accurate representation of those varied views if we explored only one side of the argument. The first show featured local burlesque superstar, Crystal Precious and PhD Candidate, Mary Shearman, who we brought on in order to present a look at burlesque that included feminism and female empowerment, rather than a straightforward rejection of it. The conversation could have easily gone on for another hour. Our guests provided us with some super interesting ways of looking at this ‘neo-burlesque movement’, as it’s been coined. We were presented with some ways in which burlesque could, potentially, be subversive. Both...
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