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July 12, 2007
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Sex Positive… and Not Fucking

Wendy Shalit (yes, she of the cartel of virtue) has a new book out — one that I’ve been anticipating for a whole year. It’s not so much that I’m jonesing to read about girls reclaiming modesty (though I do think it is an interesting topic): mostly I’m interested in reading it because there’s a chance I might be in it.

Oh yes: Wendy Shalit interviewed me for her book on modest girls. Not because she considered me modest, obviously, but (I assume) because she wanted to go straight to the source of sex positive feminism, to get a slut’s opinion on her choice to be modest.

What interested me, in a lot of ways, was learning that there was a lot that Ms. Shalit and I agreed on. Though we varied in the details (I can’t see her ever making porn, or even thinking it a good idea), we both were on the same page about individualism: which is to say, feminism is about what’s doing right for you — be that expressing yourself sexually or hiding behind a veil of modesty (not that the two are mutually exclusive), be that bending your gender or embracing traditional male/female roles.

We could both agree that the pressure to be sexual and exhibitionistic is every bit as damaging as the pressure to be demure and chaste: that what hurts, more than anything, is the pressure. What damages is forced expectations, is the assumption that everyone should be one way, regardless of individual circumstances.

It’s never healthy to assume that there could ever be a one size fits all solution to life — and doubly so when it comes to something as complicated as sexuality.

Which is why I found myself so upset this morning as I skimmed through Jezebel and came across this piece, which professes shock at the revelation that the average age of first sex in China is a relatively high 22.1 years, and goes on to label the entire country a land of “total prudes,” all of whom must be completely repressed.

I don’t see how condeming someone for choosing not to have sex (because some people do make that choice, by the way) is any different than condeming someone for choosing to have sex.

“Sex-positive” doesn’t mean saying yes to sex at every opportunity: it means viewing sex as a good, fundamentally healthy experience that we can choose to indulge in when the circumstances are correct. Sex-positive also means recognizing that sexuality is a fundamental part of all of us: that we are sexual even when we’re not having sex, that we are sexual beings even if we choose to never have sex.

And yes: sometimes sex-positive means saying no to sex.

I choose to dress a certain way, I choose to have a certain kind of sex, and yes, I chose to be naked on the Internet. Those were (and are) my choices, every last one of them, and I stand by them. But I also stand by the right of everyone else in the world to choose something completely different.

Because, really, who the fuck am I to make your choices for you?

[Photo by cpil]

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