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Sex positivity requires intersectionality

Somehow after decades of the feminist movement, including both the first and second waves, feminism still seems to be one of the most misunderstood concepts in society. Feminism is about empowerment and equality of all genders. An even more misunderstood concept is intersectional feminism.

It may just sound like a fancy word, but in today’s society, it’s not enough to just be a feminist. If you aren’t also standing up for the equality of races, genders, sexualities, etc. then you are part of the problem.

This may seem like a cliché conversation to be having, but these issues are still relevant within our society and within our campus community. Wooster is more inclusive and accepting than many other communities but that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have improvements to be made. I know that I have a lot of privilege compared to other members of our community.

However, as a bisexual woman, there are still many microaggressions that I experience on a regular basis, and I think it’s time we discuss them.

As a woman, I know firsthand how prevalent slut shaming can be. I hear every day people putting other women down for how much sex they’re having, the kind of sex they’re having or who they’re having sex with. I’ve heard men and women on campus say that they don’t like a girl “because she sleeps with everyone” and to that I ask, “why?” If it were a man having sex with many different people, chances are that no one would think twice, or say anything negative about his actions.

So, why is it that when a woman has many sexual partners it’s a problem? Why does it reflect on a woman’s character negatively when she has an active sex life, but reflect positively on a man’s character?

The feminist movement is trying to help combat this double standard by empowering women to have as much sex as they want and be as open as they want about it. Feminism doesn’t only empower women, but empowers all genders.

Intersectional feminism takes empowerment to a new level by acknowledging that different people deal with different types of prejudice. Intersectional feminism focuses not only on gender equality but also on creating equality for members of the LGBTQ+ community and different races and ethnicities. It recognizes that equality is more complex than just gender and that gender equality will never be complete unless we are equal in all other capacities as well.

Intersectional feminism is important in conversations of sex positivity because different groups of people experience different double standards when it comes to sex. For instance, it is often assumed that bisexual women are just “experimenting” and are actually either straight or lesbian. While some women do experiment, and that’s perfectly okay too, it is invalidating to be told that your sexual orientation is just a phase.

It is also often assumed that bisexual women are willing to “perform” for the entertainment of straight men. Some women may enjoy this, but to many women this is harmful, invalidating and demeaning. Intersectional feminism is a movement that is working to empower bisexual women to be comfortable in whatever type of sex they enjoy with whatever gender they may choose.

Intersectional feminism seeks to not only empower women to have sex (or not) as much as they want and to be comfortable in doing so, but to also combat many stereotypes that other groups face in regard to sex.

Sex positivity is a much deeper issue than just empowering women to be comfortable with their sex lives and not subscribe to the standards that society sets out for them.

We cannot truly embrace a culture of sex positivity, here on campus or in society as a whole, until we embrace the many different types of sex that different people have. We need to work every day to eradicate the stereotypes that surround individuals and what we think their sex lives should be.

Katie Schwab, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at KSchwab20@wooster.edu.

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