Facials (that is dudes jizzing on a ladies face, did you really not know that?) are a hot topic of conversation on feminist blogs these days. Personally, I find it problematic when people start labeling personal acts as progressive vs non-progressive or feminist vs anti-feminist. It’s always bad when people start telling others that they aren’t feminist because they enjoy being degraded in bed or they’re a bad feminist because they shave their arm pits. Some people like weird stuff in bed. Who knows where those impulses and desires come from? Fantasies and sexual desires shouldn’t be policed. As long as everyone is consenting and having fun, I don’t see what the problem is.
Amanda Hess at The Washington City Paper’s The Sexist blog argues similarly:
“Of course, that doesn’t mean that enjoying performing or receiving facials means that you hate women, or that you have no self-respect, or that you’re a bad feminist. It just means that the patriarchy affects a lot of the things that we perform and enjoy on a daily basis, and it’s good to remember that our attempts to recast these acts as “empowering” isn’t so much transgressive as it is convenient.”
And yet, I cringe at her conclusion that reclaiming acts as empowering doesn’t really make them so. Is there no way to make traditionally sexist stuff empowering or at least not sexist anymore? Has feminism not yet brought us to the point where women can be honest about their desires and not be labeled as being into sexist sex acts? Are facials in porn degrading because some dudes get off on that and most porn is made for male audiences (here’s where I plug PoolBoy Magazine)? Are facials that happen between loving partners still degrading? And what’s so wrong with being degraded once in awhile anyway? Some women like being degraded (check out The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek for an interesting fictitious read on sexual degradation). And some men do too if the successful employment of many dommes is any indication.
Who is to say what is patriarchal in bed and what is not? Does the dude being on top mean missionary position is not a feminist position? Please don’t tell me doggy style is not feminist approved. You might as well just shoot me in the face (ha ha!). Sex is sex. And while I’m not personally into porn where degrading facials are the grand finale, some women and men partake in facials in their private sex lives and still respect each other in the morning. Women getting off on pleasing their male partners isn’t a bad thing. There just better be some serious cunnilingus in return, if you ask me.
In the end I do love how Hess compares facials to marriage:
“See, facials are like weddings. We all know that the institution of marriage is one of the patriarchy’s all-time greatest hits, in which women are sold into sexual slavery from father to husband in exchange for livestock. And yet, who derives the greatest joy from weddings? Women! It’s the craziest thing. But even though we all know that weddings were clearly institutionalized to facilitate the willing subjugation of women, feminists figure out a way to do it anyway. Why? Probably because even though we all know it’s sexist as fuck, weddings—like facial ejaculation—still make some people happy. And feminists deserve to be happy, too.”
Marriage is a sexist institution, yes. Does that mean that you aren’t a good feminist if you get married? Nope. Just like you can still let a dude blow his load in your face and be feminist as fuck.