Where do you point a male feminist ally (whose alliance up until now has been based on largely unexamined egalitarian impulses, but who hasn’t read any theory) to find good introductory analysis of gendered dominance in sexual behaviours, and how attitudes towards and about sexual behaviours play back into gender relations more widely?
Some of his questions:
- Do languages other than English use slurs based on domination by penetration to designate others as inferior or designate events as problems e.g. “we’re so screwed”?
(I believe the answer is yes, but languages aren’t my forte.)
- If other languages use such slurs, does that mean that the penetration=domination paradigm is not just cultural?
(I warned him against the essentialist fallacy here, in that acculturation is not just ethnically specific, and shared cross-cultural behaviours don’t necessarily mean an underlying biological explanation.)
- Why is popular culture emphasing acquiescence to brutal domination in sexual encounters as being somehow more satisfying than consensual non-brutal egalitarian sexual behaviours?
(I said “more satisfying for who?” and pointed him towards Faludi’s Backlash.)
- If the penetration=domination is such a monolithic worldwide point of view, how can subverting that paradigm in favour of egalitarian sexuality be done?
There’s an awful lot to unpack in those questions, which is why I’m a bit stumped.
As a start, I’m pretty happy with Backlash as an overview of much background that will be required before he can fully examine the issues he has raised. He’s old enough to be moderately familiar with a lot of Second-Wave personalities and broad concepts from a pop culture point of view, but hasn’t delved more deeply.
What else other than Backlash?