part 2: why I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure

That last article kicked off big time and I wasn’t expecting it.  I’ve been supported and challenged (which doesn’t have to be a bad thing).  Thank you for your interest!

But being asked to talk about who I was and where I come from has made me think about Toast and Jam, the eating disorder zine (collected stories of survival and recovery, not just mine) I published when I was a wee teen.  Its no longer in print but you can read about it in Teal Trigg’s great book ‘Below Critical Radar’  I often forget about where I come from, the places I’ve moved on from and try and put behind me. 

But I think this has a strong  relation to the previous post on the Radical Possibilities of Pleasure, also my use of the term ‘sex positive’ which I can see is problematic, esp in this context: i.e ‘If you don’t agree with me, yr not positive about sex’.  That wasn’t what I meant, but I can see how people read it in this way.  I’m happy to learn, admit my mistakes and develop as both a feminist and a human being. 

As Footsteps in the Dark is/was a perzine and I’ve already given away quite a bit of personal info about myself, I wanted to follow it up, with a more personal post on why I felt the need to write my previous entry. 

Because for a lot of my youth I wasn’t ‘sex positive’, in quite an extreme way.  I hated my body and I hated my sexuality.  I gave starving myself to death a bloody good shot.  This is not the shrinks lounge and there are a million reasons why a woman may do that to herself.  I don’t know all of what motivated me: but I’m certain that my perfectionism, negative teen experiences of sex, negative images of women in the media were tied into it.  Aged 14 and curled up on the bathroom floor, I despised my ‘fat’, female body, I cut my flesh: I made my periods stop for two years. I had reverted my body back to its pre-pubescent state.

Enter Riot Grrrl. And its not that bloody straightforward, but when I say Bikini Kill saved my life: I’m not being (just) hyperbolic.  The (now battered) mixtape another young women sent me opened up to me this amazing world of feminist theory, queer history, counter culture, DIY…..and more than that. watching footage of Kathleen Hanna stood on stage, with her strong thighs and female body (which used to look like mine), screaming her guts out ‘Rights?! Rights?! YOU DO HAVE RIGHTS’  it blew me away. Thinking about it now makes the hairs on the back of my arms stand on end.  It was this alternative reality ‘role model’ of a strong, confident (sexual) woman which I was so, so desperate for. And this is a longer story than I want to get into here, but I met amazing people, we did amazing things, I felt alive and loved and positive.  It was a mind blowing revelation. It was a revolution.  And I want more young women to feel that way (which is why, for my money Rock and Roll camp for girls is the most inspiring feminist campaign out there hear that The Guardian?!?)

So what the fuck does this have to do with ‘porn’ or a ‘feminist porn’?: well for me, many of these inspiring models of feminine sexuality, used images and activities which I could see Object criticising.   Be that JD’s Lesbian Calendar (photographs by Cass Bird Or Beth Ditto  getting wild and naked in a performance at Ladyfest Glasgow which is still going down as my favourite concert EVER, or a band like Jean Genet (are they still going?!?)

This is why I feel so motivated to put myself out on the internet, to personal criticism and scrutiny. Not (just) to knock Object, but to defend the feminists and activists I love and feel are being sidelined. 

And I’m going to finish with a quote from Judith Butler, who I like (but don’t always understand). To me it articulates my position and why I hope a feminist porn is possible

‘performativity describes this relation of being implicated in that which one opposes, this turning power against itself to produce alternative modalities of power’ Judith Butler

And I think that’s all I have to say O:


About Rachel

zinester/diy-til-i-die/love hate relationship with arts admin/girlpunkfeminist/geek
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7 Responses to part 2: why I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure

  1. Thanks so much for your honesty.
    I love Riot Grrl as you can probably tell from my name! I don’t have such a definitive story to tell but PJ Harvey, Hole, Babes in Toyland, Bikin Kill and my stepsister who introduced me to them really made me feel better about being alive and being who I was in my own body, as well. I hope Lady Gaga, Rhianna, MIA and others are also positive sexy musicians to young women. But the politics of Riot Grrl is quite unique and I am sad that less and less young feminist women seem influenced by them.

    Here is my less good post on my journey into ‘sex-positive’ feminism. XX

  2. Pingback: I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure #2 « Quiet Riot Girl

  3. Great post and I do identify with much of what you say here. I credit Skunk Anansie for kickstarting my own recovery from depression and self-harm – just the idea that it was okay to be angry, to kick out, it was okay to be shaven-headed and wear combat boots and that someone could be all the above AND sexy as hell – it sounds silly now but it was an eye opener for me at that age.

    I consider myself sex positive but I’m not keen on porn. It’s twofold for me: firstly the exploitation issue – although, as with prostitution, I disagree with censorship – just creating a better environment for those women who work in the industry – and secondly because it just doesn’t float my personal boat, but that’s an each to their own issue. I’m all for feminist porn, though.

    • Thanks for the comments: yr story about Skin *isn’t* stupid at all! I believe the accessibility strong women in popular culture can do *so* much good. Its important to challenge exploitation but also to support alternative models. That’s what Ladyfest does and why Object going after them got under my skin so much.

      Oh and before riot grrrl was justine frischmann (elastica) short hair, jeans, rocked like a bastad. smart, sexy and cool. Yay! for the women of popular culture who brighten young girls yoofs (:

      • Justine Frischmann! Yes! In fact that early 90’s period was fantastic for kickass ladies, inspired me to get up off my arse and stop being scared to be myself….Shirley Manson, Courtney Love, Louise Wener, Jack off Jill, Sleater Kinney…

        There are some parts of Object’s campaign that I agree with, but I find the blanket approach they take to be unhelpful at best, harmful at worst.

  4. and just in case we thought we couldn’t get more postmodern, here is my post that links back to your post!

  5. QRG you’ve kept me sane through all this madness and thank you for your follow up post, its *amaaaaaaazing*. grrrrl love and feminism xxxxxxxx Rachel xxxxxx

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