Friday, February 12, 2010

A Guest Post By Neographite

Neographite is kindly subbing for Suzie. This is the post:

Here's what I remember about sex in college (not specifically, now, but metaphorically): It could change things. This wasn't the first stage of free love, or of gays and lesbians coming out of the closet, but the stakes still seemed to be getting bigger. Back then, "queer" was contesting "gay and lesbian". Women's activism was as much about porn as reproductive rights. Silence equaled death. Sex was political.

Maybe you don't remember those days, but Foucault was in the air and activism had turned personal. Many people, myself included, thought that sex was a kind of battlefield, not between the two (or more) people engaged in it, but at a cultural/symbolic/political level. Certain kinds of love could change the world.

So I am wondering whether that energy went. Whatever happened to sex's politics? (Not, let me be clear, the sex/gender political implications, which any recent Supreme Court decision reminds us is still around, but the political implications of sexual desire and sexual action?) Part of it is probably personal – I'm older now, in a stable relationship, looking back through rose-colored glasses, etc. But it seems to go beyond that into the social realm. Not that there's anything wrong with gay marriage as a goal, but is that the limit of sex's imagination? Is normativizing enough?

The current issue of Trivia: Voices of Feminism brings these thoughts to mind with a series of essays asking "Are lesbians going extinct?" Extinct meaning here: losing meaning, losing power, losing importance. The contributors start off from Nicole Brossard's claim "A lesbian who does not reinvent the world is a lesbian going extinct." And what they are asking is much what I've been thinking about.

Posted by Neographite