Saturday, July 17, 2010


Sex sells and is sold.  It permeates our society, yet our sexuality is repressed and distorted.  Depending on who is doing it with whom, under what conditions and within or without what institutions, it is variably celebrated, condemned, or ignored.

Sex can be an expression of deep love, a casual fulfillment of a need or desire, or countless positive combinations on a spectrum between these two poles.

Yet for many, particularly many women, it is a painful experience, a denial of agency, control, or humanity.  Numerous studies show that over 15%, and as many as 20% of women in the US have been raped in their lifetime.  And despite the specter of the stranger hiding in the bushes, a 1998 survey of 8,000 women by the US Dept. of Justice found that over 3 in 4 women who have been raped were assaulted by their spouse, partner, or a date.

Widespread discomfort with talking about sex means that explicit consent is rare.  Many sexual encounters exist in a gray area between coercion and consent, with the implied threat of physical violence or emotional abuse bringing acquiescence.

Those who do not neatly fit into the boxes of heterosexual or cisgender (someone whose gender identity conforms with their birth sex; a man with a penis or a woman with a vagina) are oppressed based on their sexuality and/or gender identity.  Their relationships, bodies, and identities are treated as illegitimate, second-class, and 'unnatural' by the state, religious institutions, and large sections of the employing class.

Sex and sexuality do not exist in a vacuum.  Social movements, especially the women's and LGBT civil rights movements, have transformed the sexual landscape both with their victories and their defeats.  There are forces fighting for sexual liberation, and there are those who will stop at nothing to turn back the clock.

Sex is a basic human need.  Obviously, without sex the human race would quickly cease to exist.  But beyond simple procreation, and excepting a small minority of asexual folks, sex (whether with a partner(s) or riding solo) is something few of us can imagine a lifetime without.

I don't believe that true sexual liberation is possible under capitalism, a system that commodifies everything, not least human beings, including our sexuality.  Without human liberation, we cannot imagine true sexual liberation.

But sex can be better and more fulfilling this side of a revolution, both as a result of social movements but also by changing the way we think about and interact with ourselves and our partners.

We cannot escape the pressures and influences of a society whose institutions and norms restrict, deny, oppress, and commodify our sexualities, but we can be conscious of this and do what we can to resist it politically and personally, and we can recruit others to do the same.

This page will attempt to contribute to the project of sexual liberation by addressing issues big and small, from the attack on a woman's right to choose an abortion to simple sex advice, from the struggle for LGBT equality to finding a partner in whose flesh you can, if only for a brief while, escape the pressures and despair of daily life in a world where widespread want exists beside fabulous wealth.

Stay tuned.

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