Sex-positive feminism (also known as "pro-sex feminism") is a term that is in dispute within feminism. Many feminists question the meaning and purpose of this term, as "feminist" does not mean and has never meant "sex negative." Many feminists also view the use of this title as a tactic used by pro-pornography and pro-prostitution feminists to try to negatively label feminists who do not agree with them on the issue of pornography and prostitution (along the lines of the "pro-life" label used in the debate on abortion as a way to make a comparison to the opposing side as "anti-life.") Nevertheless, some feminists have felt the need to create this term to emphasize the need for sexual liberation and sexual freedom as a key component of women's liberation. Pornography is seen as being at least potentially a medium for women's sexual expression in this view. Sex-positive feminists view many radical feminist views on sexuality, including views on pornography, as being as oppressive as those of patriarchal religions and ideologies, and argue that anti-pornography feminist discourse ignores and trivializes women's sexual agency. Ellen Willis (who coined the term "pro-sex feminism") states "As we saw it, the claim that 'pornography is violence against women' was code for the neo-Victorian idea that men want sex and women endure it."
Self-titled "sex-positive" feminists take a variety of views towards existing pornography. Most view existing pornography as sexist and almost exclusive focused on the desires of heterosexual men. Nevertheless, many sex-positive feminists see even existing pornography as subverting many traditional ideas about women that they oppose, such as ideas that women do not like sex generally, only enjoy sex in a relational context, or that women only enjoy vanilla sex. They also argue that pornography sometimes shows women in sexually dominant roles and presents women with a greater variety of body types than are typical of mainstream entertainment and fashion. However, these qualities are arguably not the norm in mainstream pornography. Others view existing heterosexual male-oriented pornography as misogynist and rife with exploitation, but hold that feminist-produced and women-centered pornography is possible, and proposes to reform or radically alter the pornography industry.
Summary: This site publishes essays by professionals
in the study of human sexuality. This essay, “Feminism and Pornography: Building
Sensitive Research and Analytic Approaches”is a supportive example of material the site
has to offer. The subject matter is wide ranging and the academic journals
began in1998 to the present. The site also includes an extensive section on
“Book and Movie Reviews” that academically explore sexuality, found here. All
of the articles and essays relate sex and sexuality through a variety of
methods, such as sexual influence in history and in other countries. This site
is valuable for anyone interested in the research aspect of human sexuality.
This site also provides resources for those interested in sex-positivity, such
as the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture, found here.
Evaluation:The site is “A
Publication of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San
Francisco, California, USA .” The senior editor of the journal is a
professor in Human Sexuality at Walden University, an accredited online university.
It includes articles published at least within the last year and is
academically based. The essays are reviewed by a panel of peers before
publication, akin to the publishing process of other academic journals. Some of
the articles may not be pro-sex or related to feminism; however, it is clear
that this site supports scholarly knowledge and research of human sexuality.
Credentials are provided for the editors and peer reviewers; furthermore, all
essays and articles include a bibliography. Overall this site seems to be an
academically sound for the study of human sexuality and researching topics
relevant to sex-positive feminism.
Summary: This site provides academic journal or
magazine articles on the subject of sexuality in Africa. One can view the full
text articles on the page in pdf form.
This site can provide those interested in sexuality and pro-sex feminism with a different view comparatively to the United
States and Africa. One example of this is the article “Body
Image, Beauty, Culture and Language in the Nigerian African Context”which states that the “Sexual body is arguable
the most important aspect of sexualities in Africa”. This may not be in direct association
with sex-positive feminism; however,
learning about another culture's sexual traditions and views can help people in
America understand themselves and others in new contexts.
Evaluation: This site provides 20 full
issues of the “Sexuality in Africa Magazine”, each providing at least four
articles per issue. The site stopped updating the available pdfs; however, with
the amount and quality of the articles available it is still a good resource.
Each journal provides contact information and articles include bibliographies
and authors. The “African Regional Sexuality Resource Center”(ARSRC) , which
sponsored the magazine, also provides its information here.
Summary: Betty Dodson calls herself “A sex positive
feminist liberating women one orgasm at a time.” The site includes a blog by
Dodson and Ross that is updated regularly and frequently, with a section
regarding feminism. The site includes a free podcast section featuring podcasts and interviews with Betty Dodson.
Titles of the podcasts include, “Betty's Top Sex Questions”and “Women. Sex. Power.” If one has a personal question for Betty Dodson they can
ask her on the site at “Ask Dr. Betty”and the question
and reply will be posted on the site. Furthermore, others can add their input
upon the blog posts. Overall, the site is informative, provides opinions and
resources. Some areas of the site may require a paid membership to view, such
as the sexual or pornographic videos. Essays by Dodson can be found here, and one that addresses pro-sex feminism and pornography
can be found here. Dodson and Ross also have a Youtube channel with 135 free
videos that discuss various subjects relating to sex. Podcasts,
blogs,fine art, and informative videos
are free of charge to view and utilize.
Evaluation: Credentials for both Betty
Dodson and Carlin Ross can be found here.
Dodson has a Ph. D. from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human
Sexuality. She wrote her first book on women and sexuality in 1974, called “Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Selflove” and
since then has been a prominent figure in the pro-sex feminist world. Dodson is
also a sex coach in New York City and her contact information can be found
hereor one can contact Dodson or the other bloggers here.
The other head of the site is Carlin Ross, who is a sex-positive feminist with
a law media background, she later “created a lifestyle brand for women called:
cherrybomb”; more information can be
found here about Ross.
The credentials of the other bloggers on the site vary on the site; however,
they are all involved in sex-positive movement. The website is sponsored by the
company Dodson created, called Bad Media LLC. Even with the website being
mostly blog-style, the sources are primarily linked and have intelligent
opinions and research supporting the entries. Above all, this site demonstrates
that Dodson and Ross are serious about sex-positive feminism and helping
Summary: This site can be found in the resources
section of Feminist.comand features various articles regarding women's sexuality from a certified
OB/GYN. Dr. Christiane Northrup was a Diplomat for the American Board of
Holistic Medicine in 2005 and takes a spiritual approach to her advice on
women's sexuality. To view Dr. Northrup's articles on female sexuality, go here.
These articles cover sexuality for women of all ages from adolescence to menopause. Dr. Northrup
states on the sexuality page that, “Embracing our sexuality is a sure sign that we are heading
in the direction of a healthy and fulfilled life.” The information provided on the page can be
useful, but it is elaborated in her books.
Evaluation: This site is centered
on the work of Dr. Christiane Northrup. An extensive list of credentials
can be found on the page. She earned her M.D. in 1975 at Dartmouth Medical
School and since then has worked as an OB/GYN and wrote many books regarding
female health and sexuality, such as Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. The
information on the website may seem to be a promotion for her books, this is
apparent when she sites her own book in the bibliography. However, it could be
useful to understand women's sexuality and health on a holistic level. The site includes a contact form and
information. The site is well organized with tabs containing the appropriate
information; also, it is current with new events and speaking engagements with
Summary: Planned Parent realizes that
people are sexual and enjoy sex, this is supported with the statement, “We are
sexual from the day we are born until the day we die.” This site, specifically the selected
section is focused on human sexuality
and is designed to be informative especially those who are not well acquainted
with sexual activity. This site can be seen as support for the sex-positive
movement because to answer the question, “Is Sexual Pleasure Good for Us?” the
author answers, “Yes. Sexual pleasure can be important to our emotional and
physical health and well-being.” This can be found here under the topic of “Understanding Sexual Pleasure.”
Evaluation: This site is well-known and
its teachings support sex-positive feminist's views. It states that “Sexual pleasure enhances health and well-being” and it
advocates the practice of safe self through the importance of birth-control,
and exhaustive section of information can be found here. The articles within the site do not have a specific
author but are members of Planned Parenthood. Information about the Planned
Parenthood site can be found hereand various contact information can be found here. Overall, this site is simple and easy to use in order to
find desired information.
Summary: This is a site dedicated to the feminist who
coined the term, “pro-sex feminism,” Ellen Willis. Willis died in 2006, but her
legacy and work is still appreciated today. One can read a short biography
about Willis on the site's homepage.
Her work in relation to sex and feminism can be found here,
with links to her various articles. An example of Willis' sex-positive views
can be found here,
which address the anti-pornography movement.
Other tabs provide her articles on subjects like politics and religion.
Overall, the site provides numerous links and is well organized.
Evaluation: The author of the Ellen
Willis website does provide contact information on the homepage, though a name
is not clearly stated with credentials. However, one can find a link to the
site on the New York University website,
because Ellen Willis was a faculty member at the university prior to her
death. This site is valuable for anyone
interested in learning about the woman who helped start the pro-sex feminism
Summary: This site
focuses on women's sexuality throughout history. It primarily compares
women in the Victorian times who, “were not allowed
to freely engage themselves in sexual acts unless it was with the specific
purpose of procreation” to women in the 2000s which is,
“reaching its peak in today’s world in terms of the ability to freely practice
and talk about it”. The comparisons are separated into sections including
sexual activity, masturbation, homosexuality, and prostitution. The site also
includes other pages of relating to sex and feminism including, “Sex Work”and “Birth Control” both of which
provide comparisons between Victorian women and the early 2000s.
Evaluation: This site, specifically
the “Women's Sexuality” page is useful and informative for its historical
content. The overall website seems to be essays written by students for Melanie
Ulrich's class of “The Rhetoric for Anglo American-Feminism” at the University
of Texas at Austin for the Spring of 2002, perhaps for a final project. That year Ulrich was a graduate student at
the University of Texas working on her Ph.D. in English Literature. According to the website one can contact her
through email here;
however, the site was last updated in 2002. The assumed student who wrote the
essay, Joanna Watson, does not provide contact information on the page and
neither does the other students on the site. More information on Melanie Ulrich
can be found here, which provides a list of credentialsand the syllabus for her spring 2002 class. Overall the site is organized and provides valuable
information and comparisons on the subject of women's sexuality in a historical
Summary: This site was created in 1998 after the
graduation of the former Society for Human Sexuality at the University of
Washington in 1995, and it was
considered a sex-positive organization. This site includes full texts and books
about human sexuality, such as the complete book A New Look at Sex. To view click here. The site also includes a full transcript of Dr. Betty Dodson's presentation
“Looking at Women's Orgasm Over the Last Thirty Years”; this is amongst transcripts of other professionals within the field of
sexuality. One may find the transcript section to be the most useful when
researching sex-positive feminism topics.
Evaluation: The site states, “You affirm that you are 18 or older, that you freely wish
to read frank discussions of sexual matters, and that it is legal for you to do
so in your area.” Thus, that can be a restriction for some. The site seems to
be a compilation of many sources by various authors rather than one, yet the
information is useful, plentiful, and some is by accredited academic sources
like Dr. Betty Dodson. All of the transcripts are credited to the original
speaker, but the other sections may not have an author cited. The author of the
other sources may be uncertain, but one can assume that the members of the
organization wrote the other material. Sections of the site may be out of date,
but it still can be utilized for its historical value. Furthermore, a new
labeled and linked photograph is featured on the website's homepage daily.
Summary: The Annie Sprinkle website may not seem an
academically supported site; however, she can be seen as an expert in her field
of work. Sprinkle states on the site
that “I, Annie, have performed in, directed and
produced pornography for twenty five years” and she is a sex-positive feminist.
The section on her website called, “Writings and Musings” could be useful for
the research of the topic. There is a transcript of Annie having a conversation
with an anti-porn feminist, Mae Tyme, found here. An interview video is also included on the
sex-positive page of the “Life in America” webography page.
Evaluation: This site is considered pornographic with
explicit photographs of Annie Sprinkle and others, and one must be at 18 years
old to enter. Anyways, Annie Sprinkle is one woman who has lived and breathed
sex-positive feminism for most of her life. While some parts of this website
are not academically connected in the least bit, Sprinkle does cite her
credentials. Those can be found here
Sprinkle has a Bachelor's degree in Fine
Arts from the School of Visual Arts in NYC, also, “she
is now the first porn star in history to get a PhD, which she earned at The
Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, CA”. Sprinkle
may have been a porn star for many years but she has spoken at numerous
universities and taught sexuality classes. The site can be seen as a vehicle
for self-promotion; nevertheless, when searching for a primary account of a
sex-positive feminist, Annie Sprinkle's website can be a valuable resource.
Summary: This site is basically a webography of
women-oriented porn, which is a component of sex-positive feminism. “This site aims to help women find adult films that cater to
their needs, fantasies and desires."
It includes a section devoted to
female porn directors and the movies they have made.
Another useful section is the “Reviews of Porn Movies” which is an “ An honest appraisal of what's on offer, from a woman's
perspective. ” An example of a review can be found herefor the porn movie Life, Love, Lust. The
site offers useful links of sources for the information found on the site and
resources for women. The author of the site, Louise Lush states, “I've tried to choose films that
focus on female pleasure and that feature real female orgasms. I feel that
'pleasure equality' is vital when it
comes to making a film female-friendly. ” This site is a great example
of sex-positive feminism in action, it is dedicated to a woman's interest,
creation and enjoyment of porn.
Evaluation: This site warns that the
material found is unsuitable for those under 18 years old. It is part of the
“Porn for Women Network,"
which states that “It's pro-sex, and pro-women.” The
Porn Movies for Women site may not be academically supported, but is a prime
example of how women are involved in all aspects of porn and support the ideals
of pro-sex feminists. The site is updated regularly, especially with new porn
movie reviews. It seems to have a single author, Louise Lush; she is co-founder of the website “For the Girls," runs the blog “Ms. Naughty," and makes erotica
films for straight women. The best contact info found is located hereor via e-mail here. The site is a compilation of many different sources, as a
webography functions, but is a comprehensive and extensive in order to learn
about women who are involved and influential within the porn industry.