In the leadup to our third issue, we launched an anonymous sex survey. We wanted to hear from you about your experiences with sex, your thoughts and feelings and your best stories. And you told us! We’re so grateful for all the incredible, honest answers we’ve received – you can check out the whole Open Secrets series here, and Part One of your answers on feminist sex here.
We wanted to preserve your voices and the spirit of your answers, so we haven’t edited any of the responses.
Here’s the question we asked:
How do you experience sex as a feminist?
- When I first started identifying as a feminist, sex got more complicated. I no longer wanted to have sex with people who I felt did not respect my body. This was a good shift – thanks feminism! On the other hand though, wanting to be roughed around, objectified, and being generally submissive in bed began to feel more loaded when I embraced feminism. I worried if these desires made me a bad feminist? But then I got over that concern, because I think that ultimately feminism asks us to own our desires, rather than shame ourselves for them.
- with powerful enjoyment. always showing what I need.
- Well… I identified as a feminist prior to transition, now I’m more inclined to say I’m pro-feminist values but I know it’s contentious for a guy to identify as a feminist so I don’t, it’s not for me to claim though it was the foundation both of my AR/AO beliefs and what made it possible for me to unpack my internalised transphobia enough to realise I’m pro-choice so it was a-okay to want a hysterectomy and oopherectomy.
But I guess my insistence on explicit, active consent, and establishing that I’m sex and body + (but not so body+ that I cringe if someone wants to medically transition, because I get it, I get how dysphoria can make it impossible to embrace certain parts of our bodies, without that meaning those body parts should be shamed.)
- I don’t know if I know what sex is like as a feminist? I guess perhaps – well – I am immediately turned off when sex is derogatory, dominating, and painful – that is an immediate “sex is over” for me.I need my man to use his strength and size on me, but I need his care and attention and compassion most of all.I need transparency and accountability and good intent – in a relationship of course, but most definitely also in sex.
- I tend to treat it with severe respect and reverence. I’m never the one to make the first move because somewhere deep inside me, it’s been ingrained that I need to respect every women fully and excessively, regardless of their needs or wants.
- I have no shame in wanting it, but i struggle with the less than perfect times. When it comes to straight sex, if he had more fun than me, I catch myself thinking…do i need more practise? (I believe I am responsible for my own orgasm) I always question whether that is a form.of blaming myself for our society teaching men to be oblivious of women’s sexual needs. Except it does get better with practise and I think my partners have been extremely interested in pleasing me. Probably a combination of these things
- I`m a celibate and single virgin feminist who believes that all people should be loved and valued equally. Both women and men need loving and respect at the same level. I do not think man-hating or man-bashing is a good way in our world and that is not the kind of feminism I endorse.
- I’m unsure how to answer this question, but my sexual relationships have always been very respectful. I’ve always felt that there’s been an equal give and take. I don’t judge people on what they like and I try and keep an open mind. I don’t have a problem with drawing boundaries and saying what makes me uncomfortable. I will not engage in something just because it’s common in porn if I find it degrading. At the same time, I don’t judge women who do engage in certain things if that’s what they’re into.
- I think sex is a big sham. It’s made up to be this important human event, whether physically or spiritually, and people have a “sexuality” that they have to “express” because they have a “right” to it. No, I think patriarchy and gender roles are behind that. Great sex is great, but I’ve only had great sex with a woman. With men, the cock-focus and the gendered expectations and the imbalance of power/vulnerability make sex a distasteful social performance *at best*, and a tool of oppression at worst. Quitting sex with men and learning to love sex with women has put my politics and pleasure into alignment for the first time.
- However you damn well please.
- This is an interesting question, and something that a lot of my friends as me from time to time. I get the “what can your sex life be like if you’re such a feminist? Do you just take control all the time?”. Well let me tell you, it can be pretty fucking great. I think that’s one of the perks of owning feminism and being a feminist – I believe in the equality between my partner and I, and that as a female, and a feminist, I can take my own agency in any sex or sex scene. And I do. But so does my partner. We’re able to have really open discussions about what we want from our sex and sexuality, and I don’t think that necessarily goes hand in hand with being a feminist, but it was certainly a perk of the feminism discussions we had.
- I’m not quite sure how to answer this, but I try to maintain an equal power dynamic and make sure everyone is on the same page. Sometimes things feel almost antagonistic, and just a means to an end and a release.
- By only having sex with other feminists
- Conflictedly! I tend to enjoy being sexually submissive but I think that is partially because of being socialized that way. I am slowly experimenting more and growing into feeling more confident in bed. I talk to the person I’m fucking a lot when we’re hooking up to see what they’re into, talk about boundaries, and make sure we’re both having a good time. It’s depressing that that isn’t the norm – when I first started sleeping with my partner I was so grateful for so long that he always checked in with me and asked me what I wanted to do and how I was feeling during sex, because most men don’t do that. I wish I didn’t have to say that consent and respect are crucial to me in my sex life, I wish it was a given – but it’s not, yet.
- With a great deal of consent (verbal, mostly–it is really not that awkward to ask “is this ok” or “do you like this”). With an awareness that my body is mine and my partner’s body is theirs, and how we present or care for our bodies is up to us, not external expectations. By trying to remember always that sex should be a source of pleasure, not of stress or anxiety or fear or shame.
- I’ve been with my man for almost two years now. I do find the political elements of sex come in to our relationship more than it ever has in the past with other relationships. Perhaps this is due to the dominant discourse around gender and consent shifting. There are times when we’ve been fighting all day and he says insensitive things, then we get home and he expects our sexy time to be unaffected, which pisses me off and I don’t oblige. But then sometimes we do hook up, and everything is forgotten. I can’t decide which is a better outcome. I think that’s a part of the reason I have a shrink.
- Being a feminist makes me better in bed. I’m confident, I know what I want and ask for it, he can ask for what he wants and not be afraid that I’ll do something I’m not comfortable with. I can fuck and love feminism at the same time.