In my mind, sex is the best place to start being a feminist. After all, it's often when our gender identities are most strongly linked to our actions that the most radical of feminism can happen. I'd even go as far as to say that having sex as a feminist is the most powerful statement of your belief in gender equality … and also the best way to make sure that sex is always a positive, empowering and pleasurable experience - for everyone involved.
But what does it mean to be a feminist when it comes to sex? To answer this question, I came up with this feminist sex manifesto, and it isn't just for women - equality is sexy!
My body is beautiful and mine to use however I chooseThis is the most fundamental principle of feminist sexuality. Your body: it’s yours. It doesn’t belong to your family, your partner or your spouse. Your body is not the guardian of anyone’s honor. It is not your job to "preserve" others from temptation. How you use your body is your choice, and yours alone, and that includes sex.
So take ownership of what you've got. Dance naked in your living room. Get a tattoo. Wear a tie. When someone tells you how to dress or how to act, tell them to fuck off. And don't be ashamed of that body either. If you learn how it works - and learn to love it - sex will be a lot more fun. (For more on that, see Your Vagina Isn't Ugly, It Just Looks That Way.)
The only condition for sex is consensualityTraditional love stories and gender roles emphasize how women should love a man before she has sex with him. As a result, there’s a constant pressure to "not have sex on the first date" or to "not get used" by men for sex. As if women never use men!
Excuse the strong language, but I call bullshit. The only legitimate condition for sex is that both people involved want to have it. Sex doesn’t need to be part of an exclusive, monogamous relationship to be fun or fulfilling. Sex is just sex. (And consent is totally sexy.)
Feminism aims to break down the double standards defining both men and women. If men feel they can rightfully have sex with no strings attached, then women should have the same right. Men don’t get ostracized for having multiple partners. Women deserve the same.
If you want to get to bed with that guy you just met at the bar, then go ahead and have fun. The only condition is that both of you agree. (You should also, of course, be safe. Get some tips in The Ultimate Guide to Safer Sex.)
I hold men to a higher standardIn some feminist talk, men are presented as the enemy, the rapist in the street, the abuser at home, the oppressor of women in general, but that’s just taking the symptom for the disease. Men are not the cause of the problem - patriarchy is. Patriarchy is the cultural belief that men are superior to women.
Patriarchy also holds that men are sex-crazed idiots who can’t control themselves, hence the whole "women should hide their bodies to avoid exciting them" discourse.
Feminism holds men to a higher standard by giving them some credit. They're decent human beings and, as such, can control their so-called "urges." That's a view that serves everyone. Holding men to a higher standard means calling on them to be more attentive and better lovers. And that means better sex for both of you.
I ask for what I needNo one is born a sex specialist. Sex is a skill, something that’s learned and mastered with time and practice. By asking for what I need in bed, I make sure that my partner knows how I like to be touched and how I can achieve orgasm.
What’s feminist about that? Well, before feminism came around, women were often told that their only job in the marital bed was to satisfy their husbands. They weren’t supposed to ask for attention or refuse what they didn't like. They were told to be objects, not equal partners in a couple’s pleasure.
Of course, very few of us even think in these terms anymore, but certain deep-seated behaviors remain, like women not asking for what they want or men assuming that women will always pleasure them first.
Speak up. Tell your partner what you want. Say no to things you don’t like. You have just as much right to fun in bed as your partner. (Plus, who doesn't like a little dirty talk? Get some tips on how to do it right in Talk Dirty to Me: The Why and How of Hot Aural Sex.)
I speak up in the face of sexismThe only way we will achieve true gender equality is when sexism is no longer acceptable in our society. When faced with sexist attitudes, express your disagreement. Say it’s not cool. You don’t have to go on a feminist diatribe; just don’t ignore it. Silence is compliance. When more people speak up against sexism, it happens less often.
Why Feminists Have More FunDo you know why feminists (both women and men) have more fun in bed? Because they believe that sex is an act between between two equal, consenting partners. Two empowered partners means double the fun!
Ultimately, sex is about sex. It’s not about power or love or purity or honor. It's about using your body to enjoy its natural ability for pleasure. Feminists understand that. And the results can be pretty sexy.