This video is from the Momentum Conference in Silver Spring, MD, April 3, 2011: “Making Waves in Sexuality, Feminism & Relationship Through New Media.” The panel was composed of multi-generational feminist pornographers (check out more clips over at Susie’s blog).
The clip is over seven minutes long and I don’t have the proper software to transcribe it without more time than I currently have available, but my favorite sound bite is as follows:
I would say this is the classic feminist movement reaction [to the first centerfold published in On Our Backs published in 1984]: “Dear On Our Backs, I do not know how to feel about your centerfold. What if she is not a good person? I do not know her polics. I cannot decide whether I should attempt to Jill off to this picture when I do not know where she stands on ecology, race relations, veganism …” That … I was like, “We have our work cut out for us! These people are just so messed up!” Like I wrote this one letter, I was like, “You know has someone ever handed you a bouquet of roses and you just smelled it? And it felt good? Like, could you get in touch with just appreciating sensuality and beauty and tenderness and excitement and sounds and just … can you feel it?” I just … that was tough.
Honestly? I’ll admit that I’ve been on both sides of this (admittedly caricatured) view of feminism + erotica. The place where I basically agree with the imagined letter-writer is that I do believe that politics matter when it comes to sexuality. Sex doesn’t happen in a vacuum, our desires don’t activate in a moral-free or ethics-free zone. So yeah, sometimes it does (or should) matter whether the person you’re turned on by is “good” in terms of whatever values you hold dear.
But where I agree with Susie in this clip is that the issue of whether this person you’re turned on by is “good” shouldn’t preclude you recognizing and experiencing the sensations of desire, of arousal. Don’t check your ethics at the door … but also don’t check your physical and emotional responses at the door. Because if you’ve divorced yourself from immediate sensation then that’s also a dangerous place to be in — a place where you aren’t in tune with what you, subjectively, experience as a sexual/sensual being.
Do y’all have places in your life (not limited to sexuality!) where it’s difficult to be in tune with your subjective feelings before you start to intellectualize or politicize your experience? I’m not saying such intellectualizing/politicizing is bad — only that sometimes it can happen so quickly we forget to pay attention to the experience itself and what our bodies are telling us. If so, do you have strategies for combating that inattention to bodily response?