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"Virgins, Bondage and A Shameful Media Fail"

on Saturday, 21 April 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

Thanks to its recent cover story, The Fantasy Life of Working Women: Why Sadomasochism is a Feminist Dream, millions of people can thank Newsweek for unfulfilling sex and a cynical undermining of feminism's attempts to change that. Instead of substantively considering the gendered nature of shame in our culture and how e-readers are being used by women to deal with its effects, the magazine perpetuated some pretty dubious and unsubstantiated theories about power, sexuality, gender and yes, feminism. The only trends that surface when considering the work cited in the article are women's use of technology, their openness to overtly sexual content and mainstream media's persistent misrepresentation of both women and the feminist movement.

The article in question relied largely on the success of the soft-core porn condage/dominance/sadomasochism (BDSM) series, 50 Shades of Grey, to explain why working women (mis-conflated with feminists) might be uncomfortable with free will. What drivel. Not only is women's consumption of BSDM (in the book or two other referenced media) not a trend, but there is also no connection between the theme of submission/dominance and women's "possible" discomfort with economic successes and power. The series' sales are unexceptional and their content ultimately traditional for the simple reason that the books are about romance in the context of VIRGINITY, SUBMISSION and the transformative power of what filmmaker and writer Therese Shechter calls "the magical penis" which awakens and transforms a woman in these narratives. The deep thread, not to be pulled by Newsweek's predictable trojan horse writer, connecting all of these things is gendered shame. Electronic readers are changing culture in lots of unexpected ways and this is one of them. Feminists aren't grappling with why women have submission fantasies. Women, liberated by feminist ideas about equality on many fronts including, but not limited to shame-free sex, are openly consuming sexual stories that interest them and talking about them to boot.

Sexuality is just one dimension of being human, and sex is probably best when pursued with consent between equals. It's just that misogynistic systems and the people that support them, both men and women, think of women as only here, ultimately, for men's sexual and reproductive use -- female desire, consent and equality being largely irrelevant. Feminists like me are more concerned with the pervasively destructive effects of living in a culture that says women's pleasure and reproduction are only legitimate when they serve the needs of men and shameful when they seek to define them on their own terms. It's subjugation, but not the kind Newsweek is irresponsibly touting. ...

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