The con game that’s been practiced on all of us has been the equation of sex with violence, as if we have to choose between being sexual and victims of violence on the one hand or no-violence-therefore-no-sex on the other. If we detest the violence inherent in our sexual experiences in the world as it is, the culture gives us to understand that we are denying sexuality itself; if we choose the positive good of sexuality itself (and I certainly believe that sexual expression is per se a very valuable and important thing) the culture then insists that we must also choose violence. If some of us go a little gaga and talk as if any exhibition of sexuality (especially male sexuality) were humiliating and coercive, it’s no wonder. Meanwhile others of us are going out of our gourds in the other direction, insisting that even obviously hostile books and pictures are redeemed because they have sex in them at all.–
A short excerpt from Pornography and the Doubleness of Sex for Women [TW: descriptions of rape and sexual assault including incest] by Joanna Russ, suggested to me in the comments to The Ethical Prude: Imagining An Authentic Sex-Negative Feminism.
I’m going to add a personal note here, because I’ve found it sadly inevitable that this quote will be misread. Where Russ writes, “the culture”, I am certain that she is referring to the mainstream culture, in its imagery and its practice. She is not referring to the way in which feminists have named the problem as a “culture” which creates it.
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