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Sex, gender and feminism in the Lone Star State.

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4 Responses to About

  1. Dear Andrea, I discovered your great comment on Julian Assange via UK’s The Guardian. You might enjoy my latest post, with best wishes from Caroline.

    ‘Sex, Condoms and Wikileaks.

    Sex with someone, especially for the first time, often entails a moment of indecision. Shall I? Should I? Most often this is the time when contraception and condoms for sexually transmitted diseases (STD’S) are discussed. Is it safe? Do you want to use yours or mine? If, at this point, a person refuses to use a condom then that usually decides the indecision. The rule is: No Condom, No Penetrative Sex. It is not sexy to argue. If a person refuses to use a condom all that should be necessary is a polite excuse me. As the great teacher Erasmus said: “Whoever is good mannered will not commit a crime”. And if a person impolitely demands sex without a condom and uses force then they are quite simply bad, immoral and dangerous – a whole lot of verbal dexterity will be needed to retreat from the situation. Or the bad, careless, potential rapist will be asked to leave, please. Non-consensual sex is rape. Each and every sexual encounter needs consent.

    So what happens when rules of common sexual decency are broken? Here is a scenario, a fictional infotainment, that may help to explain why most feminists agree that the alleged behaviour of Julian Assange is at least bad mannered and potentially criminal:

    A commissioning editor from a world famous TV channel visits the location of one of her projects. She has a controversial international profile because of her campaign to abolish copyright. She creates a buzz – careers depend on making a good impression on her. At dinner the project’s film director and writer, John Pilger, is as charming as he can be to his famous boss. Later, exceptionally, because he is usually so professional, he finds himself in bed with her.

    Intimacy is rushed. John pulls back. He must find a condom. “No” she insists, “no, I don’t like using condoms…!” She is thrusting herself on to John. Does he offend his boss by putting a stop to her lust? He contemplates getting out of bed. But, wisely he believes, he is able to persuade her to stop while he puts on a condom. And, soon they fall asleep.

    John is gaining consciousness – what’s happening – where am I – my morning erection… To John’s sleepy dismay he realises that the commissioning editor is astride him, fucking him, without a condom.

    At this point, many of us, even those who are not what Julian Assange condemns as ‘revolutionary feminists’, would agree with Andrea Dworkin that here we have a scandal that should not be characterised as sexual: “It’s an abuse of power scandal”.

    Disturbed by his boss’s behaviour, anxious about his health, the John Pilger of our story gets back to work. The film crew josh him about his nighttime ‘indiscretion’ – ho, ho, ho – and he quips back about some ‘full-on animal’ behaviour! Only, a few days later in a bar, John hears his lighting cameraman complaining. As John listens in to the drunken conversation he realises that a ribald story is being told about the cameraman and the famous commissioning editor. “She refused to wear a condom, but it was too good a score to pass up!” the cameraman boasts.

    John Pilger feels faint. And outraged. So the woman was two-timing him on location! And her with her moral crusade to abolish copyright! Now, what does John do in this imaginary situation? Does he ask the commissioning editor to prove she has not got HIV by getting a test? Does he go for an STD test himself? He has his partner to consider… Does he decide, because he thinks the woman’s personal behaviour is immoral and at odds with her moral crusade against copyright, to go public and ‘take her down’? After all, he is a radical campaigner against American foreign policy, especially when American Aid is tied to religious objections to condoms and birth control.

    The real life John Pilger is supporting Julian Assange as if it is unthinkable that a person’s public moral crusade could be at odds with their private moral behaviour.
    What this non sequitur belief indicates is that John Pilger has failed to absorb the principal reason for feminism. Feminism’s principal reason has always been to unify public patriarchal pronouncements about morality and the good (or the religiously pious) life with the way men actually live their lives in private. Feminism has always drawn attention to how even males celebrated as Great and Good in public have thought it a normal entitlement to be criminal in private to children, women, wives and sex workers.

    John Pilger, along with other men and ‘celebrities’ are defending Assange by crying ‘American Deportation Conspiracy!’ These are people, I am sure, who often use epithets like Whore, Tart, Slapper etcetera to describe women who enjoy sex. Assange’s assertion that women are in a “tizzy” if they want to protect themselves from STD’s is similarly sexist and ignorant. The enlightened position is not who a person has sex with or the number of people we have sex with but HOW we have sex. The enlightend position is to stop vexing that sex per se is immoral and bad and instead consider how to be good in bed. Being good in bed is about taking moral responsibility for our own sexual behaviour by ensuring that we do not create unwanted children, that we do not spread diseases, that we understand the concept of consent and that we do not use force, threats or violence.

    We should be pleased that the Wikileaks Swedish Condom Saga has given fresh impetus to the public debate about private sexual behaviour and manners. The feminist dictum ‘the personal is political’ has never been truer! Those of us who have supported Wikileaks in order to destabilise government’s unnecessary, unworkable, undemocratic fetish for self-important secrecy have always felt uneasy about the anarchy that Wikileaks also represents. Maybe we should not have been surprised that Assange’s alleged private life is ugly and careless? What is wrong with people that they can ruin their public reputations by behaving in private like beasts?

    Religion is partly to blame. Religion has thwarted open and frank discussions, especially among young people in school, about how to have good sex. Meanwhile we are inundated with images of sexual sadistic masochism and violence, a very public depiction of male dominated sex that is inhumane, rude, careless and unkind.

    If we taught the ethics of how to be good in our sex lives, if we taught young people how to have good sex, if we taught the technique of being patient and calm, of how to take time to use birth control and STD protection then the chasm between bad private behaviour and high public moral tone would close.

    How significant it would have been for the reputation of Wikileaks had gossip about Assange’s visit to Sweden spread word that he is a good lover, an enlightened, considerate and careful human being!

    Happy New Year!’

  2. Mr. Divine says:

    I’m leaving comments in Pilger’s New Statesman comment sections about this. Why not copy me and get stuck into him and his groupies.

  3. Betsy says:

    Just wondering if your misspelling of “hey” is intentional. Is there a reason why you used a word that means grass and legumes for animal feed?

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