Grey woman with the staff of Aaron, art by Siku

About my feminism

(For the avoidance of doubt, the staff in the image above is a reference to Aaron’s staff and, in context, it’s a symbol of protection and life. It’s by Siku, @theartofsiku)

I support women’s equality and the ending of violence against women. I volunteered an afternoon a week for a year with a domestic violence charity, and whereas domestic violence isn’t my primary blogging focus, I do write about abuse dynamics.

Also, and it might seem weird that I feel I need to say this, but I’ll say it anyway: I don’t believe that benevolent administration of patriarchal structures will ever create societies where women are truly able to act as equals and be treated as such. I get the impression sometimes that Christians believe patriarchy could and really would work, so long as men are upstanding and monogamous. Well, I don’t agree.

Why I focus on purity culture

When I write about feminist issues, I focus mainly on iterations of purity culture. This is partly because:

  • I can speak to my personal experience of how it impacted my sex life,
  • It has strong ties to modesty culture, and
  • It links in with the Old Testament passages that are of particular interest to me.

More significantly though, I believe purity ideology underpins the most horrific forms of gender violence including: FGM, child marriage, forced marriage, ‘honour’ based violence and sex trafficking. I see purity ideology as part of what fuels the fear and stigma associated with revenge porn.

Which takes me onto some of the more controversial parts of where I stand as a feminist.

Before I get to those though, I want to make a few things very, very clear.

My lines in the sand

I am against human trafficking.

I am against non-consensual sex and non-consensual sexual acts.

I am against non-consensual porn and revenge porn.

It should therefore go without saying that I’m against child sexual abuse (and indeed all abuse against children). Still, I think it’s worth being more specific than just that, because age, maturity and sex-related matters intersect in very complicated ways.

So, here goes:

  • I support age-related legislation that places restrictions on both consensual sex and consensual marriage. (Remember, I have no time for anything that is non-consensual.) I recognise that such legislation is not a substitute for sex education or sexual health services, nor can it perfectly meet the developmental circumstances of all people. However, even with those inherent limitations, I think age-related legislation can be a good tool.
  • I support ‘age of consent’ legislation, particularly as a mechanism to protect minors from abusive adults, and young adults from abusers in positions of trust. In the UK, the age of consent is set at 16.
  • I don’t think it makes sense for the state to recognise a person as legally married but not legally an adult, so I would support the prohibition of marriage involving anyone who has not reached the age of majority. In the UK, the age of majority is 18. Marriage is legal from the age of 16 in the UK, under restricted circumstances, but I would support a blanket ban.
  • I support the prohibition of sex work involving anyone who has not reached the age of majority. Moreover, I do not think the state should consider a person able to consent to the public dissemination of themselves (or an image of themselves) in a sexualised context, when the state does not consider that person to be an adult.

Where I stand on BDSM

This blog is not here to promote consensual BDSM.

I do however want to promote awareness of what consensual BDSM is and isn’t; I think the BDSM community has some very good things to say about consent and misinformation doesn’t help anyone. More details here.

Meanwhile, I don’t believe a person can consent to grievous bodily harm or death. And I have serious misgivings about consenting to anything that has more than a remote risk of grievous bodily harm or death, even though I know that such risk is considered acceptable in other contexts (e.g. boxing). I also have serious misgivings about 24/7 dominant/submissive dynamics, despite having friends who would describe themselves as in such a dynamic. Plus there’s a whole heap of grooming and abuse that I know takes place in the BDSM scene, yet there are also BDSM-ers out there who actively work against that.

In other words, there’s plenty to have misgivings about, but there are also people of integrity and whatever dialogue we have about BDSM should take account of that.

So, I’m not about to kink-shame (I actively try not to), but I’m not about to promote BDSM practices as a way to spice up your sex life.

Where I stand on porn

This blog is not here to promote porn, nor will I post pornographic content on it.

Most of what I’ve heard about mainstream porn leads me to believe that it’s unethical (good grief, the stories I’ve read about Pornhub are appalling). However, I am open to the possibility that there is or could be such a thing as ethical sexual imagery and I’m interested in having a fair dialogue on that topic — I’m tired of consensual and non-consensual porn being conflated with each other. That said, I also want to be respectful of the fact that some people have had very, very negative experiences with porn, and you’ll see that in how I write about this subject.

I have absolutely zero time for revenge porn and image-based abuse.

Where I stand on sex work

Similar to porn, I find most discussions about sex work frustrating, because they don’t differentiate between (i) sex trafficking, (ii) legal sex work where the worker freely exercises their agency (including their economic agency), and (iii) everyone in between.

I don’t think I will ever recommend sex work as a life choice to anyone, even in a legal context. I would only offer reasons not to go into it, search out alternatives and, at best, say “Well, it’s your choice, it’s your body and it’s legal; insofar as it’s down to you, please make your customer due diligence good enough so that you won’t become a means for people to cheat on their partners.”

So I’m not exactly ‘pro’ sex work.

However, I have issue with the standard feminist stance that says all sex work is just part of how men oppress women. I think it’s more complicated than that.

So: I’m not going to talk about sex work in a wholly negative light. I’m not going to promote the consumption or commissioning of it, but I’m not going to hate on it either.

For one thing, I think it carries way too much stigma — and that stigma adds to the awful impact of revenge porn. Imagine if that that stigma could just… not be an issue?

Theologically, I also have difficulty painting sex work as wholly bad. In the Old Testament, prostitution in certain circumstances was legal, and that’s not to mention the (righteous) example of Rahab. I know that some Christians see sex in sacred terms and that, for example, CS Lewis said that money was an “unnatural” reward for love, with the implication that all sex work is bad. But… I can’t help but suspect that Christians hyper-elevate sex and that this pedestalling is misguided.

So, to wrap up, I’m not going to promote sex work, but if I see interesting articles and threads about sex work, I may well share them and write about them. Plus, if I see good writing about consent or bodily autonomy etc, I’m not going to hold back from sharing that just because the person who wrote it was a sex worker.

Also, whilst not all sex bloggers are sex workers, it should go without saying that if I’m prepared to listen to the perspectives of sex workers, then I’m willing to listen to sex bloggers too.

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