Operation Caffeination

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Dear Katie Roiphe

with one comment

Feminism isn’t about promoting a single, rigid lifestyle. It is about recognizing each individual woman’s agency and autonomy, and honoring that individuality in the public sphere.

So, Katie Roiphe, if you like to get spanked and tied up and sexually dominated…you’ll find no judgment here. You can talk about it if you feel like it, and that’s your business. I don’t even care if you titillate your readers a bit for extra money. I’m all for sex workers’ rights, and I imagine writing erotic literature is a pretty safe gig. Have some fun with it, why not.

I’m annoyed, however, to find you telling the world that you know what goes on in my bedroom, that you know my desires and needs and have me all figured out, without even meeting me or talking to me. Ask my husband of five years; there is no formula, no direct approach, no safe bet with me, and personally I think that unpredictability is what makes me attractive. Ignoring and suppressing my quirks and subtleties and outrageousness and individual kinks would take the soul out of my sexuality. There’s plenty of empty boring porn on the Internet for the boys who want that kind of stuff. Don’t think that you’re doing those guys any favors by denying them the reality of true partnered sex, though. A consensual sexual partnership with real give and take and honest, fresh ideas brought to the table all the time, intimately and full of vulnerability, that’s a completely different experience from the one-size-fits-all, made for television sexuality you describe and I don’t think anyone who has had the full experience would happily return to the lite version. You are selling us all short, and that’s lame.

Here’s the real line in the sand, though, Roiphe: you can’t tell my husband what I “really” want. You can’t tell my son that he already knows his future girlfriends’ desires better than they ever will. You can’t tell high school boys that if a girl says “no,” what she really means is “more, please.” If you feel comfortable putting your sexuality on display in Newsweek for the entire world to analyze and enjoy, I am not going to tell you to hold back from that. Your sexual expression is your own, to enjoy as you please. But I am a rape survivor, Rophie, and I’m speaking out to tell you that you are contributing to a rape culture that makes the world dangerous for me and my daughter, my sisters and all of our friends. I won’t speak for my community because I don’t rob women of their autonomy, but personally, I found your piece triggering. I am disgusted and deeply disappointed to see you using your fifteen minutes of fame to do harm and contribute to the perpetuation of a lot of myths about female sexuality that have caused women like me to endure horrific, unimaginably painful and destructive experiences. If you really think rape is all that and a bag of chips, trade places with some eleven year old South African girl. I guarantee you she would speak more thoughtfully and responsibly about rape, fantasy and consent than you will ever be able to, even as a full grown woman who has had every opportunity to educate herself on the topic.

Keep your discussion of your sexuality centered on you, Roiphe. To do otherwise abuses your position of privilege and directly abuses women around the world who are fighting just to stay alive.


Written by GRSeim

April 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm

One Response

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  1. I am so confused by that essay. It seems to boil down to “even though equality is nearly won, some women still like being submissive! to dudes! which totes means that feminism has failed!!” and I’m just really not buying that. Either half of it.


    April 18, 2012 at 5:23 am

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