Life in America: The Reagan Years, A Webography

Sex-Positive Feminism: A Very Short Introduction

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.

Source:  “Feminist Views on Pornography.”  Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  4 Dec. 2010.  Web.  6 Jan. 2011.

The Naked Feminist (2004)

Annie Sprinkle Interview

Web Resources about Sex-Positive Feminism

The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality


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.

Sexuality in Africa Magazine


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.

Betty Dodson with Carlin Ross:  Sex Information Online

Score: 15

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 here or 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 others.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Score: 14

Summary: This site can be found in the resources section of and 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 Dr. Northrup.

Planned Parenthood: Sex and Sexuality

Score: 14

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 here and various contact information can be found here. Overall, this site is simple and easy to use in order to find desired information.

Ellen Willis

Score: 14

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 movement.

Women's Issues Then & Now:  A Feminist Overview of the Past Two Centuries

Score: 13

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 credentials and 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 view.

Sexuality.Org: Society for Human Sexuality

Score: 11

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.

Annie Sprinkle

Score: 11

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 or 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.

Porn Movies for Women

Score: 11

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 here for 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.

Content created by Jennifer Hojnacki.