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  Cathy Young might have been an antifeminist darling during the mid-1990s but now she is just another writer forced to market herself through a public blog (The Y Files), and faces constant criticism in her own space by men of no accomplishment. The retirement plan for antifeminist women is nearly as poor as that of feminist women: just ask Phyllis Schlafly on that account. She defeated the Equal Rights Amendment and all she got for it was a position as a columnist at the Eagle Forum. A man might have made congress or even president for such an achievement.    
   

Free-Speech Feminism:

The Far Right’s Favorite Sex Toy

By Richard Leader

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Radical feminists are dangerous creatures. They are at once an unseemly fringe element of society, something so outlandish that most people can scarcely even admit they still exist, and yet their stony eyes still bewitch the courts and media to do their bidding, damning the American public to their doleful Politically Correct agenda. Radical feminists are rather like Martians, only worse: Death Rays can only kill you; feminists can suck all the fun out of your life. For the crime of caring about sexual exploitation, prostitution in both its traditional and televised forms (the word pornography magically transforming an illegal act into protected “speech”), they are often accused of being “closet conservatives” who are more than willing to align themselves with religious fundamentalists.

Nothing could be further from the truth but the male Left requires such mythology: these allegations of collusion allow liberals to discount their own selfish attachment to sexism, choosing instead to view radical feminists (clearly “not the fun kind,” in the words of Gloria Steinem) as the greedy party: uppity women who are more than willing to jeopardize the rights of underprivileged men just to put an end to the sex industry’s exploitation of women. Worse, they even include the exploitation of those spoiled white women in that ambition. They now stand as perhaps the most universally despised demographic: even liberal white men popularly brag of their contempt for white women in order to displace their own responsibility for racial privilege. This deflection hides their misogyny under a slick veneer of progressivism. While the patriarchal reversal of “gluttonous” feminists, eager for more than their fair share, is hardly more clever than average for the genre, the guilt-trip it imparts has the advantage of encouraging it as a talking point amongst women themselves. This is especially true for feminists as they tend to be more sensitive to such issues to begin with, something their liberal male peers are more than willing to exploit.

Such complaints of rightwing-alliances are fantasies. There is no factual evidence behind the assertions of feminist censors—who, despite their purportedly dangerous and menacing qualities, were so stupid, pathetic, and inept that they got their own books banned, or so the misogynist joke paraded as fact goes—and these pop-cultural misrepresentations, or truths by tautology, are typically paired with willful ignorance of context and motive. It is one hell of a myopic cocktail that is being served up: the actions of feminists to free women and those of men who wish to dominate and enslave them (in a marginally different way than most Leftist men wish to dominate and enslave women) are viewed as fully equivalent, just because some of the same subject matter is discussed.

Garnishing this strange brew is the all too frequent assumption that radical feminists hold abundant amounts of legal and legislative power, enough to actually visit real oppression on not just other women but, now, also men—a longstanding paranoid fantasy that now has cross gender appeal to even some feminists. Women who are seen as going astray, like Phyllis Chesler, whose recent work has been deemed to be conservative for its strong stance against the treatment of women in Islamic states, are greeted with more pure venom and malice than actual conservatives, especially male ones. Chesler and women like her are especially vulnerable—personally, financially, and politically—to that sort of criticism.

Other scenarios, similarly dictated by reactionary knee-jerking, require the conflation of feminists dealing with publicly elected officials in their official capacities with some sort of heinous partisan intrigue that renders such women hypocrites and, by extension, their assertions concerning patriarchy null and void. (Are critics of police brutality required to forgo emergency services in a time of need?) This demands that all radical feminists to live up to some sort of impossible ideal of anarchism under the current administration—in effect, obliging women to wait until a male Democrat is again in power before they can even think about going on with their own agenda, something that is never asked of any other progressive movement in the same way.

George W. Bush’s stand against sexual trafficking, whatever might have inspired or informed it, has paradoxically hurt the cause of feminism and has marginalized radical feminists even further within the realm of the male-dominated Left. There are actually some people, confused as to whether a forest even has trees, who would advocate on behalf child pornography and sexual slavery just to spite Bush and his administration. Some of these people even call themselves feminists. To describe their enemies (those who would stand against sexual exploitation), they use fantastic terms like “crypto-fascists.” These convoluted epithets are infused with macho complexity designed to belie their fundamental meaninglessness and irrationality. Emotional appeals are gendered feminine, a weakness proponents of the sex industry cannot abide: grim neologisms, fabricated terms desperate for hyphens, allow for a masquerade of logic and reason, even in outbursts that resemble temper tantrums more than arguments.

These neologisms extend even to names of various sorts of feminists, categories that ever work (like “pro-life” rhetoric) to frame oppressive and colonialist powers as the beleaguered or marginalized party. Thus it is the “feminist” groups most useful and celebrated by men that are given protected status: Christina Hoff Sommers, a popular antifeminist writer, coined the term “equity feminists” to describe her bootstrapping friends, as opposed to “gender feminists,” those nasty women who want men to actually give something up—beyond a few token positions as pundits—in order to actually make the world a more equitable place.

The most popular and enduring example of this dynamic is “sex-positive feminism,” its very name serving as a challenge and an insult to other feminists. For women who did not previously include hierarchy, violence, and even rape as natural and enjoyable components of human sexuality, it often becomes a difficult proposition to explain why it is that they are suddenly sex-negative—a position that few ever imagined themselves entertaining—when confronted by these new definitions. Again, sex-positives tend to view themselves as the disenfranchised party, tilting at the windmill of feminist giants such as the late Andrea Dworkin, whose influence can be measured not in corporeal power and wealth but in the intensity of her convictions: self avowed sex-positives are guilty of conflating the two as if they always go hand in hand. Dworkin’s own brilliance, even in death, somehow renders her a privileged oppressor of the “common” woman, whose most pressing issue is evidently the right freely to consume or produce pornography. The significant “or” there represents a curious equivalency that is often offered up, using the needs of the consumed to rationalize the choices of the consumer—as if they are always synonymous and worthy of protection for exactly the same reasons.

If the feminist “sex-wars” are to be taken seriously as a philosophical conflict, if it takes scores of contemporary writers literally hundreds of volumes, printed on the glossy pages afforded by their male patrons, in order to counter a handful of books written decades ago, it either speaks poorly of sex-positive competency or signals a market deliberately ignorant of the circumstances for its own existence. In other words, perhaps even the most expressly political components of sex-positive literature is, in reality, merely part of the genre’s value as simple entertainment to its readers. All the grandstanding about “agency,” the hurt feelings from intergenerational conflicts, and the reports of vicious Second Wavers and their racist, out-of-touch Ivory Towerism (despite postmodernist sex-positivism’s stranglehold on far more institutions, particularly the most elite and prestigious of coastal universities), is simply for fun and games, misogynist allegory repackaged for female customers. That it is billed as groundbreaking political work only adds to the taboo thrill: with the invention of a thuggish mommy figure to rebel against, literary egg throwing and lawn trenching passes for mature given the NC-17 rating.

After all, if sex sells, and it is certainly easy for feminists to sell it these days—with companies like Seal Press and Cleis Press being far more apt to publish a title named Best Bondage Erotica 2, or a three or four in the series for that matter, than something critical of hierarchy and patriarchy’s love for it—it is beyond absurd to imagine that it is sex-positives who are being marginalized and shut out of the discourse. Equally ridiculous is the notion that it is radical feminists who are doing that shunning. Sex-positive feminists simply have a difficult time blaming men for their woes. Even as feminist bookstores are going out of business or are perennially on the verge, as in the case of the original Amazon Bookstore and Charis Books & More, few are willing to sacrifice their politics for cash. Conversely, allegedly feminist sex shops are now popping up out of the woodwork: despite their “by women for women” slogans, most find themselves maintaining large stocks of mainstream pornography in order to survive the exigencies of capitalism. Instead of blaming the powers that be or the marketplace, radical feminists become the whipping post for projected anger, self doubt, and fear.

In the early days of the sex-positive nomenclature, however, there was a parallel development: The Free-Speech Feminist. In the mid 1990s the internet held so much promise that many insisted on capitalizing the word, as if it were a brand name signifying everything dazzling and new: standing as a threat to this unlimited potential was the specter of censorship, a number of pending governmental bills that jeopardized to undermine the value of the medium. To make a long story short, a number of white men—lawyers and liberal politicians—discovered they could get rich defending the riches of other white men, pornographers, who had found their own business threatened by other white men, Republicans, who wanted to shore up their own powerbase and its derivative riches. Women were notoriously absent from the proceedings. Free-speech feminism was invented to remind those men that women could be lawyers, pornographers, and Republicans too: maybe all three at the same time, even if they never quite achieved the same levels of power or wealth as their male counterparts.

A decade later, internet censorship is hardly a blip on anyone’s political radar (though China’s draconian policies receive intermittent attention) and free-speech feminists seldom find themselves rallying under that banner, preferring the more relevant and understandable sex-positive nomenclature when dealing with other women. When dealing with men, however, those hats must often be exchanged: the free-speech label adds an additional layer of credibility when acting as the legal strong-arm of the sex-positive movement. White men value free speech over all other concerns because they have the privilege of misrepresenting their disproportionate control over society and the violence it takes to maintain and expand upon it as “speech.” While free-speech feminism no longer holds court at center stage, a detailed account of its beginnings and its continued—if subdued—existence can prove useful, as it provides insight into the current accusations of “closet conservatism” uttered against radical feminists. Indeed, the primary purpose of free-speech feminism is to disguise the very much open financial and philosophical links that sex-positivism has to conservative forces.

All free-speech feminism is intensely market driven: Avedon Carol’s Feminists Against Censorship “group” exists only to sell her 1994 book, Nudes, Prudes and Attitudes: Pornography and Censorship. The website that hosts it is owned and run by a man, Rob Hanson, while similar material by her is published by Bill Humphries, both adoring fans of her science-fiction work. The more glossy Feminists for Free Expression (FFE) counts Nadine Strossen (of ACLU fame, who wrote the 1995 Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women’s Rights) and the late Betty Friedan amongst its advisory board, but glamour seems to be the organization’s only ambition: it works to create a network to facilitate speaking engagements for associated authors (Betty Dodson, Erica Jong, Carol Queen, Annie Sprinkle, et al.), a fine enough goal if it were presented more honestly.

The very first announcement by the group, a latecomer to the game in 2001, was that “Board Member Candida Royalle and FFE President Mary D. Dorman will be among the Guest Speakers at a press conference held by Toys in Babeland, New York’s premier woman-owned sex toy store.” Their most recent announcement asks visitors to buy Candida Royalle’s latest, How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do, a book that curiously, or not, has a picture of a nearly naked woman on the cover in at least two different versions. The title itself is a paradox: it at once summons an image of dominance, a pose many view as explicitly feminist just because men are rumored to fear such treatment (just as general nonsense about “matriarchy” is often ascribed to feminists even though it is exclusively men who hold it as a fetish), and yet if women had genuine power they might not need instructions from a putative expert (the subtitle is “advice from a woman who knows”) on how to order this hypothetical “him” about.

That this mastery takes place at a moment of nudity well removed from the political sphere—at least according to the patriarchal imaginary of “politics” that is reticent to ever enter a heterosexual man’s bedroom and pass judgment—negates any of the great feminist narratives that the marketplace is ever so willing to credit it with: it is smut for smut’s sake and patriarchal smut at that. But the overlapping shadows of sex-positivism and free-speech feminism elevate the book beyond its rather banal objectives: to make its readers feel superior to other women who are not daring, secure, or sophisticated enough to direct amateur pornography in their own bedrooms. With or without a camera, fantasy role-playing evidently requires the idea of an outside audience in order to make the sex act both exciting and quantifiably real. The FFE bulletin goes on to ask readers to submit reviews of the title to Amazon.com, the commercial juggernaut that once went on a homophobic and antifeminist smear campaign when faced with a trademark infringement suit by the original, feminist, Amazon Bookstore.

The commitment of the Feminists for Free Expression to free speech is both ludicrous in its intensity and suspect in its sincerity. Ludicrous, in how they allow the issue to trump all other feminist concerns, including bodily integrity. An anonymous writer for the organization’s blog (amateurishly hosted at the free LiveJournal.com service) once reprinted an article proclaiming “Judge Alito fairly strong on free expression,” as if that were cause enough to endorse him. Other articles reposted on the blog from outside sources—typically in their entirety, the group acting either out of spite or dumb ignorance of fair use conventions—go out of their way to put speech and women’s rights at odds. They appear to take pleasure in placing them in separate categories, as in a more recent posting about a sexual harassment lawsuit against the writers of the television show, Friends, one that ultimately judged against the female plaintiff and in favor of a sexist “creative process.” Of course, that is to be expected from a group that once promoted, as did the conservative Cato Institute, Joan Kennedy Taylor’s insipid What to Do When You Don’t Want to Call the Cops: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Sexual Harassment.

On the other hand, it is equally easy to question the sincerity of the Feminists for Free Expression as they are not shy about their affiliations to people and groups who are more than willing to censor the words of women. The aforementioned “equity-feminist,” Christina Hoff Sommers, is on their “reading list,” with her 1994 ode to patriarchy, Who Stole Feminism, never mind that her Republican funded group, the Independent Women’s Forum, is hardly a paragon when it comes to defending free speech. One prominent member, Lynne Cheney, even demanded that her own smut not be republished, her 1982 Sapphic historical-romance, Sisters, serving as a political liability in her husband’s bid for vice-presidency.

Featured amongst the Feminists for Free Expressions speakers’ network is Wendy McElroy, a woman whose career has taken her from Penthouse magazine to FOX News, a progression more inevitable than many might expect. Her inclusion is presumably the direct result of her 1997 book XXX — A Woman’s Right to Pornography. She now operates an organization-slash-website (one that Avedon Carol also links to on her Feminists Against Censorship page) billing itself as ifeminists, or Individualist Feminists. The group’s name is yet another conservative neologism; it and the Independent Women’s Forum work as a counterpoint to an imagined breed of “dependent feminists.” This is simply the Far Right’s latest attempt to capitalize on its welfare queen folklore and bring it into the new millennium.

While McElroy’s libertarian funded group is generally much more robust on speech issues than her Republican counterpart, they were ironically forced to shut down their own online-forum after the antifeminist men who visited it riotously, and often profanely, decided that the antifeminist women serving as their hosts were not antifeminist enough. The ifeminists decided that less speech, rather than more, was the solution to the ridiculous fact that the demographic they were toiling on behalf of, white men, was utterly ungrateful for the consideration: no matter how articulate and distinguished the celebrity ifeminists were, they could be shouted into oblivion by any man off the street who chose to assert himself. The forum unsubtly demonstrated the obvious cracks in their philosophical underpinnings (that women can simply rise above patriarchy just by thinking positively and not rocking the boat), so it had to be abolished.

One issue of free speech has consistently brought McElroy’s libertarians and Hoff Sommer’s Republicans together, however. Both concertedly worked in the defense of Lawrence Summers, the Harvard President who gave a talk musing that the absence of women in science and mathematics programs might be the result of innate biological differences. While Summers eventually resigned and was never fired, McElroy actually objected to the fact that his peers chose to exercise their own free speech in a vote of “no confidence.” Because their speech had consequences, if not direct executive power, it was akin to “politically correct” fascism and was thus illegal in her mind: the consequences of Lawrence Summers’ speech, the biological determinism that patriarchy has put forth for all of recorded history to push females into narrowly defined roles, however, was evidently of no concern to her and her positive-thinking associates. McElroy even borrowed the language of “gender feminists” (who rule an “intimidated academia” and have an “almost blank check on policymaking”) from Hoff Sommers in articles for FOX News, a broadcaster that finds itself consistently at odds with real science. They retain corporate shills like Steven J. Milloy (of the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute) who argues against the established fact of global warming. What Milloy does for big oil is similar to what McElroy does for the pornographic industry.

Thus it is of little surprise that the Independent Women’s Forum actually came out in agreement with Lawrence Summers, asserting that there are indeed biological differences that predispose men being more successful at reasoning (and women in communicating), as if they are provable quantities in a culture biased towards patriarchal domination. IWF president and CEO, Nancy Pfotenhauer, accused “hard-line” feminists of rejecting “facts that don’t fit into their politically correct agenda” and of blaming the messenger, Summers. However, Pfotenhauer herself would quickly change to another tune when a Colorado geography teacher, Jay Bennish, became an instant public figure over potentially unpatriotic and anti-Bush remarks he had made to students. She fumed on FOX News that his speech crossed a line into proselytizing and argued for his dismissal.

Friends of the Feminists for Free Expression tend towards rabid partisanship: if a woman is not using her speech to protect conservative interests, whether that means supporting Republicans or prostituting herself to masculine sexuality, her speech is evidently not worth protecting. And although groups like the FFE were created in order to protest women’s general exclusion from the endless profiteering that surrounds the free speech debate, they also show little interest in expanding that ring to other women outside their own close-knit circle of capitalism. Unless one is listed amongst the biggest of the bigshots in the sex-positive marketplace-cum-subculture (less a pun than an unfortunate illustration) the chance of an invitation to the grownups’ table, free-speech feminism, is slim to nonexistent.

This is reflected in the hyperlinks to other websites on the FFE page: of the 21 links provided, only two are to groups or organizations with the word feminist in the title and both are long defunct. The second of those websites, the Northwest Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce, has been inactive since 1998 (before FFE even existed!) and is currently in the hands of an advertising firm. Even then, one must wonder what the Taskforce was truly about as much of the content they once offered, articles such as “Working Together to Assist Those Falsely Accused of Sexually Abusing Children,” are hardly mainstream considerations for either feminists or free speech advocates. Those issues are, however, important obsessions of antifeminist men’s and father’s rights organizations.

If free-speech feminists are the powerhouses of the sex-positive movement—the women with the most books published, speaking engagements, and political clout—the disconnect between their often rightwing stances and the more typical liberalism espoused by the average sex-positive woman is a jarring contrast, made even more so by its invisibility: no one speaks of it, no one writes of it, and it is especially unremarked upon when lies about the “conservatism” of radical feminists are being spread. One factor that allows this to take place is the conceit that free-speech feminist collaborations with the Far Right are seen as entirely pecuniary and secular in nature.

Radical feminists are seen as uncompromising and dogmatic—and hence, less rational and soundly masculine. While this has the advantage of smearing the women least useful to patriarchy, it has little grounding in reality. Not only are such feminists quite rational, men’s valuation of rationality itself is one of pragmatism. Up until Dick Cheney’s much-celebrated hunting accident, liberal vanity has always held that the bible-thumping George W. Bush was merely a puppet of the more prosaic, and thus more dangerous, Cheney. Their sudden reversal of fortunes in the alternative press, now eager to savagely ridicule Cheney and take Bush seriously as a Machiavellian threat, proves that male society always deems the more vulnerable, and thus feminine, party as the less rational one. The secular and religious components of patriarchy are like a “good cop, bad cop” routine: despite their often heated theatrics, the end result is the same for those shackled to the table.

Naïveté and ignorance also allows for the invisibility of sex-positive ties to conservative agents. There has been a substantial cultural campaign to portray pornographers as the vanguard of free speech advocacy and even general progressivism. The story of Larry Flynt became a four star movie where he was positioned as an innocent shot by a racist, rather than as one racist shot by another: for daring to exploit black women in his pornography he is to be held as a hero, even though the very notion that “interracial porn” constitutes a genre is itself racist, no matter how many anti-miscegenationists might object to it. Yet the fact that Flynt uses cartoons as a mechanism to flaunt ideas that are racist in no uncertain terms (black women are depicted with semen dripping out of them with flies buzzing about and their children are compared to monkeys) is invisible to the majority of liberals who continue to propagate the myth of his progressivism with no first-person experience of his publication.

As pornographers themselves have become iconic of free speech, many sex-positive feminists have accepted that even the excesses of “mainstream pornography” (a fairy-tale beast of rhetoric enabling an ever widening amount of pornographers, even male ones, to claim the title of feminist) are a necessary evil, in order to protect free speech for the rest of us. The possibility of pornographers themselves as censors seems like a stark impossibility. Yet anyone who has ever stood up against sexual exploitation knows that these ardent defenders of free speech are very quick to threaten feminists with lawsuits, claiming defamation, often demanding that articles or even entire websites (that have existed for years before offending the plaintiff) be taken down. While these threats rarely go to trial, they are an effective intimidation tactic. Pornographers have much more money than feminists to use as a war chest: calling their legal bluffs takes far more energy than it does for the industry to make them. Being that the recipients of such threats are typically advised to remain silent about them in order to prevent escalation, outsiders rarely hear about what transpires. Hence it is quite easy for sex-positive feminists, who have never angered the pornographic industry and thus have never experienced its wrath, to remain sanguine over its ownership of free speech activism.

Indeed, just as McElroy accused Harvard faculty of both fascism and censorship for expressing their own point of view, many sex-positive feminists have turned to treating anti-prostitution feminists the same way: merely arguing against the sex industry (and thereby making its defenders feel pangs of guilt) has become tantamount to censorship itself. Activists struggling against pornography are thereby fighting uphill on numerous fronts—not only is exercising their own speech somehow in violation of the free speech ethic, the speech of their opposition is canonized as an emblem of liberty. Legally, the same uneven footing persists. Feminist interpretations of the world are called slander and libel while patriarchal dominance is affirmed as satire, allegory, or even “scientific fact.” The worst kinds of radical subjectivity are often sanctified as objectivity given the presence of a penis. Groups like Nadine Strossen’s American Civil Liberties Union have not given feminists, not even the Feminists for Free Expression, the same amount of protection that they render to men. Instead, feminist women like Nikki Craft have been physically assaulted by ACLU lawyers—one staff attorney, Mathew Coles, even destroying a piece of her political artwork in a scuffle—for offering their own opinions in protest.

So not only are radical feminists often excluded from the same publishing opportunities afforded by the Seal Presses of the world, and forced to speak under the threat of legal censorship by litigious pornographers, they themselves have been positioned as the ultimate censors. Marxist theories that were once useful talking points, like “false consciousness,” have been abandoned as hopelessly “condescending,” an offense that is somehow proof of both privilege and the willingness to use it to oppress others. However, many of these verboten ideas are still required to challenge the status quo and revised, less potentially volatile, alternatives have not yet entered the discourse to any real extent. Yet the flattery that sex-positive feminists receive from male institutions is not seen as patronizing in the same way: a woman is never quite as smart as when she is “exploiting male sexuality” for her own benefit.

Liberal men might sometimes sneer mirthfully about Lynne Cheney and her Independent Women’s Forum, freely using scare quotes around their “feminism,” and yet they never acknowledge the connection of such rightwing women to the feminists that produce—or merely defend—some of the pornography that they consume. (Indeed, this is part of the IWF’s utility, a gift from the Right to their peers on the Left, allowing liberal men the opportunity to express some of their more basic misogynistic feelings under the guise of progressivism). Instead, such men work to connect the imaginary dots between those who would take away their unfettered access to women’s bodies, radical feminists, and religious fundamentalists who would only legislate a myriad of rules for such access—as if those are one and the same.

Antifeminist women are some of the most popular guests of Comedy Central’s brand of liberal entertainment, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, although a good number of their writers would deny being explicitly on the Left, many being too nihilistic to pick sides. Interviews with Christina Hoff Sommers, Cathy Young (The War Against Boys), Caitlin Flanagan (To Hell With All That), and others, tend to follow a predictable script. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, as hosts, are able to sit back and play along, mawkishly agreeing with their guest’s conclusions that feminism-has-gone-too-far, mocking the women with glowing praise. Such fare proved to be so popular that it escaped the medium of television, bloggers quick to quote the escapades, and clips of the women being sandbagged were rebroadcast in their entirety by Salon.com and other enterprises. Liberal media would rather revel at the expense of those women than give real time to actual, serious minded feminists.

When porn star Mary Carey and her pimp, Mark Kulkis, made a Republican bid as a publicity stunt, The Daily Show was equally enthusiastic in its coverage. While much fun was made of both Republicans and Carey herself, positioned as a senseless buffoon, Kulkis escaped any responsibility. He was allowed to fade invisibly into the woodwork, when convenient, while other times he was posed as hero for scamming the Grand Old Party. In fact, the racism of pornography was even reaffirmed by Steven Colbert, conducting the interview, where he helped finish an analogy Carey began, saying that Republicans are rich and powerful, by cutting her off and comparing Republicans to “tall, athletic black men.” In this rare example of liberal men acknowledging—if only in jest—a connection between the Right and pornography, it is a woman as an individual who is made to suffer. Men use the internet to rebroadcast video clips of her humiliation on The Daily Show as entertainment, much in the same way as they trade footage of her engaged in sexual acts.

Both liberal and conservative men create, purchase, and use pornography. Each side requires its own fictions to rationalize their choices, whether through glorification or denial. The installation of free-speech feminism as a category works to protect those fictions from close inspection so that men, across the political spectrum, retain the ability to make choices for women. This is evident in the ease that free-speech feminists, the most powerful members of the sex-positive movement, are able to put aside their own political differences: it is ironic that “sisterhood,” although not in any real feminist sense, is so easily achieved among the elite. Women with less influence and wealth, when facing the issue of pornography, often find themselves deeply at odds: the average sex-positive feminist has been educated by her superiors to view her Christian equivalent as a bourgeois prude with “vanilla” sensibilities. Similarly, the typical conservative woman is taught to have an equally unsympathetic view of those who tolerate pornography, women who must have low self-esteem or some other defect.

Yet the Ayn Rand set, privileged as they are, has been able to put aside the same differences that they encourage in other women—gleefully smashing their competing armies into oblivion as they themselves sup at the same table of free-speech feminism. They are given a strap-on to fuck other women on behalf of male power, a false phallus that can be taken away if they go astray and prove themselves threatening to the status quo. While the male Left lives in general denial of the existence of free-speech feminism, as acknowledgement of it would bring hidden realities of sex-positivism to light—for the Far Right, however, it exists as a favorite sex toy.

 

 
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