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Parent categories: post- - feminism

People: Avedon Carol - Elizabeth Grosz - Luce Irigaray - Camille Paglia


Post-feminism, or postfeminism, is an anti-essentialist philosophy that opposes simplistic gender constructs of binary opposition (i.e., man and woman) in order to explore and identify conceptions of women outside of the mother/whore dichotomy. Post-feminist discourse examines the gradual elimination of another form of binary opposition as well: "feminists" versus "non-feminists". The defactionalization of these once clearly-delineated groups is a result of the success of feminist praxis and activism in making gender inequality a concern of mainstream culture, in Western civilization and in other sociocultural contexts.

The term post-feminism does not imply that the era of feminist theory and activism have concluded (victoriously or otherwise). Rather, post-feminism acknowledges that the fractured identity of the individual has changed in the postmodern society, informed by social change predicated in part by feminist influence; it is a tangential evolution of feminist thought.

The work of Angela Carter (especially her 1977 book The Passion of New Eve) and various "gender-bending" authors—such as Jeanette Winterson, Patricia Duncker, and Judith Butler—exhibit nuances of post-feminist thought.

Pornography is often cited as the first post-feminist industry, since it breaks the mother/whore dichotomy, and commoditizes gender and sexuality. Since many people decry pornography as inherently mysogynistic, some may confuse post-feminist politics with misogyny. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-feminism [Jan 2006]

Pro-sex feminism

Pro-sex feminism (also known as sexually liberal feminism, sex-positive feminism)

Within pro-sex feminism there has been debate about what constitutes pro-sex feminism, and what constitutes maintaining a pro-sex position. Feminists with widely differing views on central issues like pornography describe themselves as pro-sex feminists. It is both a solipsism and a tautology that all people are pro-sex, for those forms of human sexuality which they approve of. For the purpose of this article, the philosophy discussed is that of the first people to call themselves "pro-sex feminists" and those who have very similar views on this issue. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-sex_feminism [Apr 2005]

Pro-sex theorists and practicioners

Sex-positive feminism has more been a movement of conscious thinkers than an activist social movement, as such its nature is best explored through the work of its leading theorists and practicioners.

Susie Bright
Susie Bright (also Susie Sexpert) is a populist sex pundit who broadcasts a regular internet radio programme. Bright has authored and edited a variety of erotically oriented and advice oriented sexual works since 1988. [edit]

Betty Dodson
Betty Dodson is a sex educator, and is most famous for her advocacy of masturbation. Dodson began to focus on sexuality in the 1970s as part of a feminist consciousness raising (CR) group. Dodson holds a Doctorate (Ph.D.) from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality for her research work on sexuality.

Xaviera Hollander
Xaviera Hollander is an author. Her 1971 autobiography, The Happy Hooker: My Own Story, startled the public with its positive coverage of Hollander's time spent as a sex worker. Hollander's primary sexual writing was her long running Penthouse advice column.

Camille Paglia [...]
Camille Paglia is a major American social critic. Paglia's academic writing focuses on the role of vibrant dangerous sexuality in human history. Paglia's key importance to sex-positive feminism is not only her writings on sex, but her advocacy of "traditional" values like canon texts. Paglia is somewhat of an intellectual enigma, a conservative and academic feminist, who revels in low and high culture alike and celebrates sexualities disapproved of by mainstream Western culture. Paglia has, in many ways, presented a "respectable" face for pro-sex feminism to the world at large.

Annie Sprinkle [...]
Annie Sprinkle (born Ellen Steinberg) is a sex worker. Sprinkle's work has covered prostitution, stripping, film pornography, editing and writing text pornography, sexual performance art and sexual education. Sprinkle is famous for displaying her cervix to audiences using a speculum and flashlight. Sprinkle's work is an extensive and egotistical sexual autobiography played out to the world at large. It draws heavily on the burlesque traditions, but without the traditional last minute retreat from pornography associated with burlesque.

Kathy Acker [...]
Kathy Acker was an American underground writer, whose works were first ignored in the 1970s. Acker's works achieved counter-culture prominence in the underground publications of the mid 1980s American art scence (Re/Search, Rapid Eye). Acker's work was aesthetically and culturally raw, and presented a lurid, personal sexual vision which has been compared to William S. Burroughs' sexual writing. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-sex_feminism#Leading_theorists_and_practicioners [Apr 2005]

French feminism

"French feminism" (which is a phrase mostly used in English-speaking countries) refers to the work of a group of feminists in France from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

French feminism, compared to Anglophone feminism, is distinguished by an approach which is at once more philosophical and more literary. Its texts are effusive, metaphorical, and conceptually rich, rather than pragmatic; they are not as concerned with pragmatism, immediate political doctrine, or a "materialism" which is not of the body.

The writers most commonly associated with the "French feminist" label include:

  • Simone de Beauvoir is a clear forerunner of French feminism, as is Marguerite Duras.

    Common themes of this work include at least some degree of anti-essentialism, écriture féminine, and a critique of phallogocentrism informed by contemporary developments in Continental philosophy.

    Feminists against censorship

    The media may have given you the impression that feminists support moves to censor sexual media, so you might be surprised to know just how many feminists out there have been actively opposing such censorship since long before there was an Internet. And we still do. --http://www.fiawol.demon.co.uk/FAC/

    Why have feminists historically opposed censorship - particularly of material with sexual content? Because no matter how we are assured that the censorship is meant to protect us, the targets of such censorship invariably turn out to include feminist ideas and ideals, information that benefits women and challenges sexism. --Carol Avedon


    About seven years ago, in her article ‘Daughter of the Movements: The psychodynamics of Lesbian s/m fantasy’, Julia Creet asked herself to what degree feminism as an intellectual and activist movement had lost its credibility with a younger generation of women in search of new definitions of sexuality. Due to feminism’s lack of recognition of masochism as a sexual identity, Creet pronounced a rebellion against feminist modes of public culture: "The symbolic Mother has come to be the repository of the prohibitions of feminism ... feminism itself has become a source of approval or disapproval." (1991: 144) As a supervising symbolic mother, American anti-pornography feminism in particular, has often denounced womens’ public sex work and/or pornographic artwork, thus supporting an alliance with right-wing censoring organs. Katrien Jacobs [...]


    As a feminist, I resent the extremists and conservative feminists who assume that pornography is detrimental to women and causes violence against them. Such radical ideas are usually based on the 1986 Final Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, which was a hoax. Or such ideas are based on assumptions, skewed personal experiences, or flawed logic.

    Andrea Dworkin is probably the loudest self-proclaimed feminist to vocalize the harms pornography brings to women. She is adamantly opposed to porn. In her book, Woman Hating, she uses extreme examples of the most explicit pornography ever written to support her views. The pornography she illustrates to support her negative opinion toward porn depicts illegal acts such as rape, mutilation, murder and violence - all sexual and violent acts that are already illegal. -- Colleen McEneany http://www.amazoncastle.com/feminism/porn.shtml [...]

    Camille Paglia

    YJE: How would you define feminism and do you consider yourself a feminist?

    CP: Yes, I consider myself 100 percent a feminist, at odds with the feminist establishment in America. For me the great mission of feminism is to seek the full political and legal equality of women with men. However, I disagree with many of my fellow feminists as an equal opportunity feminist, who believes that feminism should only be interested in equal rights before the law. I utterly oppose special protection for women where I think that a lot of the feminist establishment has drifted in the last 20 years. The hot button issue that I have become notorious for is date rape. The modern independent woman has to be fully responsible for her behavior and experiences in every social encounter. I do not want a situation where we have women running to authority figures to intervene for them with men. In 1964, I arrived at college at a time when women were second class citizens and there was an elaborate system of protectionism. We were kept in sexually segregated dorms under lock and key. While the men could go out all night long, we had to be in at 11:00 p.m. and sign in. The colleges were acting in loco parentis in place of the parent and they in effect said to us, RWe must protect you. The world is a dangerous place you could be raped. And what we women of the 60s said was, Give us the freedom to risk rape we want equality with men. Truly free modern women must expect the possibility that they can be attacked if they are going to go out with strangers. I cannot stand the young feminists of the late 80s and 90s who demand that authority figures come back into sex. We women of the 60s shoved authority figures out of sex. [...]


    1. Speculum of the Other Woman - Luce Irigaray [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      Those unfamiliar with Plato, Descartes, Freud and Lacan will find great challenges in understanding this rather poetic book. Luce Irigary examines these figures in light of the "symbolic order" to detail phallocentricism in the development of Western thought in general as well as psychoanalysis, revealing what is, according to the author, the nature of feminine sexuality and gender identity. Reading this text, written by a former student of Lacan's expelled over ideological differences, was transforming and has left a permanent perspective from which to percieve and critique philosophical arguments as well as science, medicine, and psychotherapy. --jheidos@cs.com for amazon.com

    2. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (Theories of Representation and Difference) - Elizabeth Grosz [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      Elizabeth Grosz's work is a triumph of corporeal phenomenology. The book discusses the role of the body as it pertains to gender, race and sex. The body is not just an atomic aggregate but rather a lived experience. The first part of the book, "Inside Out," explores the psychoanalytic view of the body whereas the part titled "Outside In" covers society's pressures on the body. Grosz concludes by addressing the differences between the male and female body, and how the body-politic cannot be ignored when disucssing femininsm. --sofiaphile for amazon.com

    3. Re/Search Angry Women - Andrea Juno (Editor), V. Vale (Editor [1 book, Amazon US]
      An enduring bestseller since its first printing in 1991, "Angry Women" has been equipping a new generation of women with an expanded vision of what feminism could be, influencing Riot Grrrls, neo-feminists, lipstick lesbians, and suburban breeders alike. A classic textbook widespread in college curriculae, Angry Women is the most influential book on women, culture, and radical ideology since The Second Sex.

      "This is hardly the nurturing, womanist vision espoused in the 1970s. The view here is largely pro-sex, pro-porn, and pro-choice. Separatism is out, community in. Art and activism are inseparable from life and being." - The Village Voice

      Juno publishes books on all aspects of modern culture, but especially those on the fringes -- the weird, the wacky, the downright disturbing. One recent title is Horror Hospital Unplugged.

      In 1980, Andrea Juno co-founded Re/Search Publications. She has produced and edited 26 books and logged thousands of hours of recorded interviews with some of the most fascinating culture-shapers, from J.G. Ballard and William Burroughs to Diamanda Galas and Annie Sprinkle. In 1996, the company metamorphosed into Juno Books. [...] [...]

    4. Annie Sprinkle: Post-Porn Modernist - Annie Sprinkle [1 book, Amazon US]
      Porn-star-turned-performance-artist Annie Sprinkle presents an illustrated history of her 25-year career, documenting her transformation from ugly duckling to prostitute to porn queen to sexual healer, activist, and educator. Although she began as "an excruciatingly shy girl" selling popcorn at an adult theater showing Deep Throat, her playful and uninhibited nature was soon recognized. When the police closed the theater, she asked a spiritualist friend for a spell that might bring her a new job. "It was my first experience with witchcraft," Sprinkle recalls, "and I didn't really expect it to work. But did it ever! I hit the jackpot. Maybe it was just good luck, but a week later I was working as a prostitute." She was discovered by porn producers soon afterward and went on to make over 200 hardcore films before leaving the industry to develop her own public performances, the most famous of which was her "Public Cervix Announcement," in which she allowed audience members to view her interior using a speculum and a flashlight. Well-written, well-illustrated, and calmly outrageous, Post-Porn Modernist is a great introduction to an American original. --Regina Marler [...]

    5. Bad Girls and Sick Boys - Linda Kauffman [1 book, Amazon US]
      Linda S. Kauffman turns the pornography debate on its head with this audacious analysis of recent taboo-shattering fiction, film, and performance art. Investigating the role of fantasy in art, politics, and popular culture, she shows how technological advances in medicine and science (magnetic resonance imaging, computers, and telecommunications) have profoundly altered our concepts of the human body. Cyberspace is producing new forms of identity and subjectivity. The novelists, filmmakers, and performers in Bad Girls and Sick Boys are the interpreters of these brave new worlds, cartographers who are busy mapping the fin-de-millennium environment that already envelops us. Bad Girls and Sick Boys offers a vital and entertaining tour of the current cultural landscape. Kauffman boldly connects the dots between the radical artists who shatter taboos and challenge legal and aesthetic conventions. She links writers like John Hawkes and Robert Coover to Kathy Acker and William Vollmann; filmmakers like Ngozi Onwurah and Isaac Julien to Brian De Palma and Gus Van Sant; and performers like Carolee Schneemann and Annie Sprinkle to the visual arts. Kauffman's lively interviews with J. G. Ballard, David Cronenberg, Bob Flanagan, and Orlan add an extraordinary dimension to her timely and convincing argument.
      [Introduced me to Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Introduction" and having a picture with James Woods having his hand in his belly in Cronenberg's Videodrome, this book proves to be an easy read too. Recommended, from 1998.]

    6. Pomosexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality [Amazon.com]
      We live in a complicated world, and according to PoMoSexuals, it is a lot more complicated than we thought. Now that society has become accustomed to the idea that gay men and lesbians exist, Lawrence Schimel and Carol Queen have brought together 15 essays dedicated to demolishing those categories. They are not, of course, arguing that homosexuals don't exist, but simply that these categories and words cannot do justice to the wondrous complexity of human sexuality. In PoMoSexuals you can read about heterosexual women who identify as gay men, the politics of placing a transgendered personal ad, and how trendy gay male ghetto culture is less about sexual liberation than brand-name accumulation. No matter what your sexual identity is, PoMoSexuals will startle and enlighten, provoke and entertain.

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