At some point in the middle of Simon Sheppard's "The Sluts of San Francisco" I must have reached some kind of macho "sex-positive" saturation point. I noticed some steam coming out of my ears, so I put the book down and went looking for some kind of brain coolant. Ah, yes.
The engine appears to have rolled its eyes and died of boredom!
I think this was the sentence that did it: "And, as any female to male transsexual can tell you, testosterone gives guys the souls of sex pigs, no matter how polished the facade" (fighting urge to do MLA citation, 103). Oh, for crying out loud. This came in the middle of a lengthy virgin/whore tirade, the kind typical in "sex radical" writings. You know, where it's the good girls vs the sluts again, but this time the sluts win and the good girls lose. Sheppard, unbelievably, actually used those terms--good girls and sluts! Unfortunately, bereft of any feminist analysis, he fails to note that in the patriarchal high school rubric he has adopted, good girls and sluts BOTH lose, in the end.
At any rate, there is a lot of this macho posturing about "sluts" and "pigs" and what have you in "sex radical" writing (any more scare quotes and I am going to jam my apostrophe key). It's boring and useless quite simply because it is taking the same old socially constructed dichotomy and turning it upside-down so someone different is on "top" this time. Now "prudes" are the sexual deviants and "whores" are the goddess-like image we all must aspire to. Yawn. Still no other options, still sexuality is the main way of evaluating someone's character, still someone is considered better than someone else for an arbitrary reason. This is "radical"?
Oh, the other one they like to do is monogamy vs promiscuous, again with promiscuous beating out the incumbent candidate, monogamy, for moral superiority and style. Again, as though those two options were the only ones, and as though they were automatically in opposition, and as though only one could be correct.
Sex radicalism, were such a thing to actually exist without scare quotes, would look a lot different from Patrick Califia's leather-clad posturing and annoying whining about how the bourgeoisie just needs to get laid in the street by a transsexual dominatrix. It would start with the radical (aha!) idea that there's more to being a sensual human being than sexual preferences and genitals. It would have a little more Carroll Smith-Rosenberg and a lot less Carol Queen. People would understand their sexuality in terms of pleasure, comfort, and exhiliration, not numbers, either/or dichotomies, and permitted/forbidden taboos. More touching, less bragging; more tenderness, less shock value; more quality, less accounting and obsessing about numbers. A truly radical sex radicalism would not eschew, marginalize, or objectify the feminine while elevating masculinity to de rigeur status. I mean the only cool femme in the world of Califia is either one spread out before him to devour, or one tougher and more manly than he is--a domme, or someone similar.
While I am sure some people would still prefer a hardboiled, backroom, leather whips 'n' chains sexuality in my sex radical world, some people would, without irony, shame, or embarrassment, quietly share a glass of red wine and look into each others eyes with a sunset backdrop and soft Latin music playing and tingle to the tips of their toes.
Anyhow. Maybe I am just a bitchy old grouch. Maybe I just have heard the words "butch bottom" spoken defensively by beautiful feminine people too many times. Maybe I am tired of "radical" paradigms that still require me to be either/or. Maybe I take offense to the idea that femininity (and by extension then, effeminacy) must be either weak and submissive or sexily dominant and ball-bustin'. Maybe I'm just jealous of all those Real Men (TM) who can take it like one, because I'm just too much of a sissypants to get off on meanness. Maybe I'm just vain and I want society to stop licking their chops at all those big leather daddies and leather dykes and more-leather-than-thou trannyfags and take a look over here and appreciate my fabulousness in all its soft, mushy, pink glory. Maybe I'm just, as an ex-friend annoyed me to death reiterating daily, a bitter queen.
Or maybe I have a point.
(crossposted, with some editing, from my LJ)