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the feminist polemic might do itself a favour

by being more credible about sexual dynamics



relationships • 26.06.13

I’m sympathetic to feminists and the problems women have faced historically dealing with men and patriarchal power. The particular brand of masculinity I grew up around was especially odious and typified much of what feminism set itself against.

Yet when you listen to feminists there is rarely ever an indication of any converse grievances i.e. that the female of the species might be at all problematic to the male. Perhaps the case for men is for men to make. But if one of them utters a word against femininity or in defence of his own kind he is shot down as sexist and unworthy of being listened to.

Similar rhetorical devices are deployed in discussions around sex and its transgressions. The moralists speak of sex as if it is completely straightforward with no hinterland, no kinks and no complexity. Some go as far as to say that sex is rape if consent isn’t explicitly given. Reasonable discernment in an amorous situation isn’t enough apparently. This is only a step away from requiring a signature prior to the act and a mile away from what sexual engagement is actually like.

In truth sexuality is often problematic. There are few of us who haven’t been compromised by our love lives this way or that. Marriage and exclusive relationships are a civilised attempt to contain some of these problems keeping them private and away from wider scrutiny. Nevertheless, the difficult issues rage behind a cloak of family life in infinitely untold ways.

To approach the complexity of sex as if it is mundane and transactional has about as much erotic appeal as an insurance policy. It just doesn’t capture the essence. I’m in broad agreement with the feminist polemic, even at its most radical, but it might do itself a favour by being less pretentious and more credible about sexual dynamics and how women can contribute to the difficult issues that arise every bit as much as men.