Secular Liberal Author Doesn’t Think A Woman Choosing to Be Celibate is A Form of Feminism – Especially if Motivated in Part by Religious Convictions
This is another one of those posts I didn’t want to write.
Previously, I blogged about this:
This editorial by Bryan, which was originally published on The Washington Post, did not sit well with writer Aimée Lutkin over at left wing feminist site Jezebel. Lutkin spends much of her post summarizing Bryan’s editorial.
Here are excerpts from Lutkin’s piece,
(Link): Purity Culture May Get You What You Want, But That Doesn’t Make It Feminist
Being happy and fulfilled and a woman at the same time does not automatically make one a feminist.
….Considering Bryan’s scholarly pursuits and her immersion in purity culture, it seems likely that her choices are influenced more by her Catholicism than the fight for equality between the sexes.
But hey, if Bryan feels free to disregard the needs of men to pursue goals like learning to scull on the Potomac and working a job she says is the best she’s had in her life, perhaps she has achieved her idea of equality through sexual abstinence.
In a world that frequently feels like it specifically wants to make women miserable, feeling some measure of happiness as an independent woman is a triumph. But although equality is a kind of triumph, triumph is not necessarily equality. Bryan says:
…Personally, my feminist dream definitely includes lots of consensual, joyful, sexual congress outside of marriage, without shame or religious condemnation, but we’re all dreaming a different dream.
Regarding this comment by Lutkin:
But hey, if Bryan feels free to disregard the needs of men…
I’m sorry, but what? Since when is sex a “need,” and who of the female sex cares if men are going without sex? Women are not obligated to give men sex to meet their supposed “need for sex.”
I thought feminists fought against men objectifying women to be used as sex objects? I thought feminists at Jezebel like to say, “Men, we don’t care about your boners.” Now, here we have a feminist writer at Jezebel telling women that they really need to care about men’s boners.
I note that left wing feminists are arrogant enough to think they alone get to determine and define for other women what feminism is.
I also rarely see left wing, secular feminists who support a woman’s choice to sexually abstain. Generally most left wingers (and lots of right wingers too) mock or ridicule any adult who is celibate, whether by choice or circumstance. Celibates and Virgins are consistently Celibate-Shamed and Virgin-Shamed. It is considered weird or repressive to refrain from sexual behavior.
I don’t see Lutkin really affirming Bryan’s sexual choices here, but she seems to be subtly disrespecting them. Goodness knows she makes it clear that she doesn’t consider sexual abstinence to be a form of feminism.
Elsewhere in the commentary, Lutkin links Bryan’s stand on celibacy to Bryan’s Catholicism, as if to say if a woman is motivated in part or primarily by religious convictions, this is not feminism, or is not compatible with feminism. Why does Lutkin feel she gets to define feminism for other women, or consider feminism to be off-limits in regards to religion?
Maybe Lutkin is not aware, but there have been (and probably still are today) secular, liberal feminists who adhere to a view that women and girls should be having sex, and that having all the extra-marital sex girls or women want is a form of “female empowerment” (a sentiment with which I disagree strongly). This was certainly what liberal feminists were braying all the time when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.
Feminists did not, and do not, give girls or women sexual choices. The only “choice” secular feminists affirm is having sex, while denying women the right to chose to decline having sex.
Women who choose to be celibate or to remain virgins until marriage are most often mocked by liberals, or their choice is mocked, such as (Marcotte is a left wing, feminist woman):
Said one commentator, halenawwwat the bottom of the Jezebel page:
“There’s nothing inherently feminist about abstinence..”
I think perhaps an argument can be made that there is something at least somewhat feminist about women choosing to abstain. In many patriarchal cultures, women are not allowed to be chaste, and girls are given to older men in forced arranged marriages.
Singleness and celibacy are not choices permitted women in many cultures through out time, or, in other cultures that limit married women, women who remain single and celibate obtain power and rights they other wise would not have.
See these pages:
(Link): Sworn Virgins of Albania
Said another commentator, “ThatBurnerIsMyDestination,” at the Jezebel site:
Right. There is nothing wrong with having sex, and there is nothing wrong with not having sex. But No Unmarried Person Should Have Sex Because It Makes Jesus Sad isn’t feminism. It is just shaming people into conforming to a weird, creepy ideal of purity culture propped up by the same book that assures you that some guy who was killed in the Middle East thousands of years ago is Totally Coming Back, You Guys.
Why can’t a woman base her choice to be celibate in whole or in part on religious considerations and that not also be a form of feminism? I don’t see where these secular, left wing feminists (some of whom are obviously hostile towards religion or theism) get to play final judge of what are proper “feminist” reasons to motivate someone’s actions, whether concerning sex or some other issue.
I personally don’t see anything intrinsically “feminist” about women having extra-marital sex, but a lot of feminists behave as though there is.
People both in secular American culture and in Christian culture equate having sex with adulthood. Ergo, people who remain single and/or celibate past the age of 25 or 35 are treated as though they are children, which is very condescending and rude.
More on that:
Then you have these weird, insulting views about women adult virgins such as
I would like to end by quoting a few lines by Shae Collins,
(from the secular editorial (Link): I Shouldn’t Need An Excuse To Be A Virgin)
This is why I don’t identify as sex positive. In trying to eradicate the stigma that is attached to women having sex, they’ve created pressure for women to have sex (before people start whining at me saying that:
I know, I know, not all sex positive feminists have done this. But enough of them have that they’ve created a community in which sex is the expectation, instead of one where there are no expectations at all).
But my whole thing is: if you don’t have the ability to say no, you also don’t have the ability to say yes in any meaningful way.
(Link): Family Guy airs controversial Jesus episode, ‘The 2,000-year-old virgin’ – Secular Cartoon Show Ridicules Virgin Status of Jesus of Nazareth – Contra Stereotype, Having Sex is Not Necessary to Become an Adult
This page also corrects false views about adult celibacy:
(Link): Preacher Mark Driscoll Basically Says No, Single Christian Males Cannot or Should Not Serve as Preachers / in Leadership Positions – Attempts to Justify Unbiblical, Anti Singleness Christian Bias