Harlots Parlour

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I have borrowed a term; “Organic Feminism” which refers to a “naïve” acceptance of our humanity unaffected by patriarchal notions of societal guilt and shame. It is an idea of humanity that remembers the idealism of the Enlightenment from which the concept of the rights of man and eventually the human rights movement evolved.
Feminism once supported ideals that recognised and accepted diversity and worked along side other groups to forge a society where ability was not limited because of gender or sexual orientation. Feminism encouraged women and men to discover sexual freedom on their own terms and to question societal perceptions of gender roles both in and out of the bedroom. Now self appointed representatives of feminism prefer to denigrate disparities within sexual orientation. and to stereotype heterosexual men as misogynists. Is it any wonder that women now refuse to identify as feminists and feel increasingly alienated from a movement that claims to speak for them?

Feminism does not have to be like this. We do have a pro sex feminist movement who support sexual liberation but is that in itself enough? How can feminism once again become an exciting and dynamic social movement that inspires women and men not by negatively demonising sex but by positively presenting diversity within sexual orientation and encouraging fluidity of thought within our perceptions of gender consciousness? It is hard now to imagine feminism as a positive and inspiring reflection and celebration of our collective humanity because it has acquired such negative connotations.
This is where “Organic Feminism” comes to the rescue. It reflects the aspirations of women and men stripped of the layers of societal guilt by which the patriarchy have governed us for generations. Organic feminism would not lay blame or find scapegoats within a damaged society but instead question societal influences upon individuals within that society. Only if we question the influence of society upon an individual’s action can we truly have a sexual and social revolution.
When so called feminists for example blame the negative influence of pornography for objectifying women and as a corrupting influence upon children we should perhaps ask are they not really reflecting how societal influences have corrupted our experience of sexual imagery. If society negatively influences individuals perceptions of their own bodies then that will be reflected on how we both as a society and as individuals perceive sexual images. Perhaps we should ask, is it society that has a corrupting influence and not the images themselves. Can an image really corrupt with out the viewer themselves having been first corrupted in their understanding and perception of that image?
Is society’s hypocritical attitude toward women a reflection of natural sexual prudery or rather the unhealthy influence of a patriarchal, society that protects male dominance through the paternal ownership of children?
If so called feminist attack men as misogynists and prostitutes as victims are they really challenging age old perceptions of good and bad women or simply re-establishing in their own terms old prejudices? An organic feminist would ask why men are trapped into accepting ideas of women as good and bad based on their sexual behaviour. Why do men assume ownership of “his” woman, “his” children? Organic feminism would recognise that you cannot change society or achieve real and lasting gender equality by simply repackaging false notions of gender roles that conveniently label men as predators, husbands, fathers or abusers or women as mothers, virgins, whores and victims. Adopting age old patriarchal stereotypes of men and women to justify negative anti sex, anti male, anti human rhetoric is not feminism.
A real sexual and social revolution would not fear sex or the sex industry. Pornography for instance reflects the capacity of the human sexual imagination in it most varied forms and that should be celebrated. The fact that it is not reflects not human reticence but rather the reluctance of institutionalised, self appointed censors to accept sexual freedom. Sexual freedom challenges patriarchal constraints based on fear and shame by which they control a society created to maintain and control heterosexual, monogamous relationships.

There is no celebration of the diverse experiences and choices of women and men within those cliques who now claim to be feminists. What do those so called feminists who howl outside lap dancing clubs or intimidate customers of sex shops, finding scapegoats in women and men who do not share their fear of human sexual expression really say that is positive about the human sexual experience?
Women over the last few decades have rediscovered that they can both enjoy sex and use their sexuality to their advantage in a society that is less censorious of sexual imagery or sexual diversity. While so called feminists debate gender equality in negative terms of sexual objectification women are rediscovering that sexual imagery is a powerful tool not only for sexual gratification but for personal financial gain.
Many in western feminism prefer to distinguish in very simplistic terms divisions between men and women and as a result have difficulty accepting realities like women buying sex or enjoying sexual imagery because it does not fit easily into their age old patriarchal simplistic notions of gender. The truth is that human sexuality is complicated. Criminalising, admonishing and making people feel shameful or guilty about sex is not healthy either for individuals or for our society. Organic feminists do not have easy answers but do offer an alternative, non dogmatic, understanding of sexuality. It is hard to imagine feminism as an affirming model for women and men which encourages an awareness of individual sexual and social needs based not on patriarchal notions of gender and ownership but upon an understanding of individualism and of a celebration of humanity. Organic feminism as an ideal perhaps could once again excite women to engage in the struggle for equality and social liberty with out feeling censored by those who claim to represent them.


About Douglas Fox


  1. Marie Brown
    4 September, 2010

    I neither understand nor respect your disgusting and irrational hatred of feminsim; this strikes me as anti-American – which is shameful and unpatriotic. How DARE you attack us Americans. This is unforgivaeble.

    The premise that you propose – that to be feminist is to be anti-prostitution – is stupid, and therefore displays your lack of intellect. – not to mention your hatred of us Americans.

    Your asinine viewpoint that feminism is synonimous with anti-prostitution is stupid and just not true. It also displays your ignorance of American society. Regarding us Americans: you are an ignorant fool. To us Americans, feminism simply means equality between the sexes and to treat women as respectfully as men. Your FAILURE to understand this proves you’re not very bright.

    Here in America, we subscribe to the Native American Indian thought that women “hold up half the sky”. Shame on you for not bothering to understand the American way of life. That proves you are an ignorant bigot.

  2. Douglas Fox
    4 September, 2010

    Hi Marie is your comment about my post ?

    I don’t mention America?

    The post is very supportive of the original motivation of feminism and suggests that for feminism to become once again a “popular” movement it has to disassociate itself from those who have hi jacked feminism for their own narrow minded political and moral agenda.

    I really do not understand your comment.

  3. Marie
    4 September, 2010

    The article seems to imply that all people who consider themselves to be feminist as a bunch of intolerant “man-haters” and priggish prudes who want to keep prostitution illegal – and this is definitely not the case.

  4. Douglas Fox
    4 September, 2010

    Marie the piece is a discussion piece. It is a piece that refers back to the roots of feminism. No where do I say anything that is anti feminist in fact quite the opposite. I praise the pro sex feminist movement. As the owner and an author on a pro feminist blog I would be very foolish and hypocritical to say anything that is anti feminist or anti sex work for that matter.

    No where in this piece is there anything that is anti American. Despite this you accuse me of being a bigot and anti American which I find extraordinary.

    I would understand if Julie Bindel or someone in her camp derided me in public because yes I do not accept her or her allies as feminist but rather the enemies of feminism but for you to say the things you did is just weird.

    But you are entitled to your opinion and this blog will never censor (unless libellous) least of all comments about me.

  5. Jazzy
    4 September, 2010

    I have read re-read and read again. I can’t see where America is even mentioned in the article. Marie is being completely irrational and making out something that isn’t even there in the first place. ” How dare you attack us Americans “. I wasn’t aware that it was directed at Americans. If any New Zealanders want to consider that they’re being attacked I am sure they can leave a comment as that country wasn’t mentioned either.

    Bizarre !!!!

  6. Douglas Fox
    5 September, 2010

    Perhaps anti sex and pro sex feminists alike are more interested in protecting their cliques rather than questioning their beliefs?

    I often think that the term feminism has become a term of defence rather than a motivation for questioning society.
    Rather like religious fundamentalist so called feminists now shake their fists and demand blood and shout and scream in order to defend their “orthodoxy” rather than engage in debate.

    Perhaps real feminism is dead and all we have left are fanatics who use the term feminism as a shield to hide agendas that are the opposite of the ideals that feminism once stood for?

    It is very sad.

  7. Teegan
    6 September, 2010

    I do love that term “Organic Feminist”. I hope you dont mind but I will adopt that term.
    It has concerned me for many years the modern view of Feminism, and I have often pondered about what has happened to genuine equality, espeicially within the sexual arena. For a woman to be sexually free and to make her own choices (regardless of societies views or “radfem” political outburts) is highlly liberating.
    I celebrate my femininity through my humanity, its a continuing flow of expression of who I am.
    I am not within a set of dogma dictated by others.
    I am a woman, strong, confident, sexual and organic 😉

    I dont think real feminism is dead, but its voice is just a whisper at the moment and maybe should come under a different term. Organic feminist v Radfem possibly. Two camps, two outlooks.

    I am confused by Maries comments. Having read the article a few times, I can only assume that she has mistaken the term “…western feminism…” as meaning “American”. Rather a big leap. Maybe some therapy might help!!

  8. Douglas Fox
    6 September, 2010

    I certainly hope feminism is not dead. I just have not read anything within the context of “feminism” that has made me “think differently” or made me go “WOW” 🙂

    All I ever seem to read are defencive comments of an orthodoxy that will not contemplate any questioning. Increasingly it is all about power.

    I remember my sisters ( I have three who are much older than me) all being proud feminists but now they smirk when anyone calls themselves a feminist and roll their eyes. Similarly all the younger women in my family refuse to identify as feminists.

    Something somewhere has gone very wrong.

    I now identify as an Organic feminist so yes feel free to adopt the term. It may not be a new term. But perhaps its time has arrived.

  9. Michael Goodyear
    7 September, 2010

    I think Marie’s position – and I believe I have come across similar comments from her before, simply reflect the deep polarity of discourses on sex work. If you adhere to the sex work is violence against women faith, anything that appears not to condemn sex work out of hand will appear hateful and bigoted and an attack on feminism, or at least how feminism is constructed by the reader.

    Apart from the fact that many of the women (and men) writing about sex work would be considered feminists, some of the earliest work, such as Eileen McLeod’s “Women Working: Prostitution Now” stem from deeply held feminist beliefs that upholding sex workers’ rights is fundamental to feminism. Add to this the number of sex workers who would also identify as feminists.

    The label feminism has never implied an immutable orthodoxy, and indeed has stumbled many times over issues such as class, race, homosexuality and particularism. Its strengths and weaknesses lie in its diversity. I see the attempt to impose one radical view upon the whole movement as destructive.

    Sex work is totally compatible with feminism. I would recommend to Marie the recent essay by two Swedish feminist politicians, Camilla Lindberg and Marianne Berg in which they outline their fears that the sex work is violence against women mode of thinking is actually anti-feminist. It simply re-inscribes patriarchy by constructing heterosexuality through a male lens, while denying female sexuality, or moral agency.

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This entry was posted on 3 September, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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