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Viva la Revolución!: The New Sexual Revolution

Originally Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Written by: Ali 

So, we’re in the midst of another sexual revolution. Strip clubs have become weekend hangouts. 45-year-old moms take “Strip Tease Aerobics” at their local gym. Thanks to the Internet, Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry.  In major cities all over the U.S. “sex parties” have become the latest craze. Sexuality education is the subject of heated debate, but many students are receiving it in a more comprehensive form than ever before.  (Trust me, as a sexual health educator I see daily that this battle is far from over.)

Sexual Freedom and Gender Inequality: A Modern Paradox

Women are finally beginning to have a taste of the sexual freedom that most men are seemingly born entitled to. I can walk into a store with my friends and buy pornography or sex toys and not feel ashamed or out of place. I can talk with my friends, male and female, openly about sex. Basically, these changes have the potential to do amazing things for our society. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite caused the revolution that some of us have been waiting for. Women are still judged based on their appearance and not their ability. Our power is often still limited to our sexuality and desirability. Let’s face it; we still live in a very sexist society.

Impact on Subcultures: Punk and Hardcore Scenes

 Of course, this revolution logically has trickled down into subcultures such as punk and hardcore. How are these changes affecting the scene?   Once very P.C. hardcore and punk bands now have merch and artwork that is blatantly sexist. Pay sites such as Burning Angel and Suicide Girls have popped up, depicting “alternative” women in photos and films.  Many hardcore kids watch porn and talk about it. There is very little stigma attached to the openness concerning sexuality in the scene. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have a positive impact on the way women in the scene are treated. Now that we are starting to own our sexuality, we often seemed to be trapped by it.

The Dilemma of ‘Alterna-Porn’ in Punk Culture

 The advent of supposedly revolutionary “alterna-porn” has also changed both the porn industry and the scene. The images of punk girls on many of the pay websites can pose a problem. Now that these sites exist it is almost as if girls who don’t fit the mainstream image of sexy or beautiful have been given a “get out of jail free card”. Punk is now pretty. Girls with tattoos and piercings are desirable. Now because of these sites, it’s suddenly ok for us to look the way we do. This can be a really positive thing for some of us. Everyone likes to feel attractive, and it’s great for different standards of beauty to be accepted. This can also cause a lot of problems. 

Challenges for Women in the Punk and Hardcore Scene

Girls who may have come to the scene because they did not want to fit into the mainstream definition of feminity are now being sexualized because of their appearance anyway.  It may not matter if you don’t wear halter-tops and high heels because just having tattoos or dressing like a hardcore kid can make you a sex object. The by-product is that just being a female at a show can make you a target for unwanted comments or attention.  Even worse is the insinuation that because you’re a girl in the scene, you should be participating in these sites.  

It’s not uncommon for comments to be made such as, “You’re hot, why don’t you go on Burning Angel?” This is not exactly an empowering thing to hear, especially for females who are musicians or promoters. It means the work we do for the scene means nothing when compared to our capacity to turn men on. How does this make me feel? Basically like women are good for getting men off, but we don’t deserve a voice or equality in the scene. Wow, that sounds a lot like MAINSTREAM American culture to me. Where’s the revolution in that?

The Misuse of Female Sexuality in the Scene

Women and girls are also made to feel like posing for these sites is a way into the scene. I’ve had girls tell me how disappointed they were because they submitted pictures to one pay porn website and were rejected.  How punk rock are we when a person can only be made to feel welcome in the scene by appearing sexually available to others?  The worst part is, when women do pose, many times they are still rejected. They’re called names and looked down on by the same people who pay money for the sites, videos, etc. Their bodies are criticized, judged and picked apart. For example, I’ve heard countless men and boys snicker and make derisive comments about girls at shows because they “saw her naked on a website.” Not only are they being disrespectful, but they’re also using her as a scapegoat to even more firmly secure their place in the scene.  What started as a way to gain acceptance of different kinds of beauty, becomes another way to keep women out of the scene.

Finding Empowerment While Navigating Sexual Expression

I’m all for attitudes about sex changing. I want everyone to feel free to express his or her sexuality and not be embarrassed or afraid of it. Watch porn. Masturbate. Pose Naked. Have great sex. The question is how do we accomplish this and make the scene a place of equality and acceptance? There is no clear solution, but there are some obvious things we can all do. Buy porn that you feel ok supporting. Don’t buy or watch what reduces men and women to the lame stereotypes society has created for us. If you were straightedge you wouldn’t buy beer, so why as a feminist would you buy something that is blatantly anti-feminist? Remember to watch porn within the larger context of American society, which is sexist. Just because you aren’t sexist doesn’t mean the money you spend won’t promote sexism.

Promoting Equality and Respect in the Scene

Even more importantly, remember that women are more than objects. Can’t a woman be hot and talented? Can’t someone pose naked on a website and still deserve your respect? I think they can. It’s perfectly acceptable to find someone attractive; it’s not acceptable to pretend that’s all they are. Remember, women are just as guilty of these judgments as men are!  This is not a blame game, this takes everyone working together. When you hear someone make a stupid comment about a female in the scene, challenge them. Ask them why they would say what they’re saying. Let them know you aren’t ok with it. I know sometimes people feel wary of being the one who calls others on that kind of stuff, but someone has to do it. It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in. Subcultures, such as hardcore and punk, exist to oppose mainstream ideas. They are the ideal place for change to occur. The changes we make can, in turn, help change society as a whole.

Fostering Change in Subcultures

The real revolution occurs when everyone feels welcome and equal in the scene.


Written by Guest on 2005-09-22 11:04:24
this is swell
Written by Guest on 2005-05-19 08:33:18this is truly the epitamy of contructive criticism. excellent article, and some great points explained.  
on a side note, id like to just say i feel it’s not necassarily the objectifying of women that’s really bad in porn (after all, if a man or woman is masturbating to images of perfect strangers, there is no real way to avoid objectifying them in a certain sense) the biggest problem lies in it bleeding into other parts of our lives. these alterna-porn sites hit a little too close to home and i think in the long run could potentially warp our society’s perception as their fan base grows and grows. it’s a rough topic… oh well, no hope for the future. keep bangin till we all drown- 
Another comment…
Written by Guest on 2005-04-11 10:49:28I would say it is even more  
complicated, even if I looked 
attractive which I do not (guy of 6’2” and 154 – blame  
veganism;-), for me it would be  
problematic to pose naked for a porno site since that could strenghten stereotypes in the society. Even although I would never judge or disrespect a person who did that for her/his personal pleasure, or in order not to starve… 
What is the point in alternative porno if you do not like how the people look like? So there are certain limits how “alternative” alternative porno may get… 
Antti R.  
Written by Guest on 2005-04-11 10:33:16One of the best articles 
I ever read about topic of 
scene and sexism.  
Antti R.

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