My thinking along these lines has changed a lot over the years. In my 20s, I stashed it all under the category of "objectifying", and disdained it. I read a lot of classic second-stage feminist work, and was friends with many women much older than me, and was influenced by the anti-porn, anti-display mentality. This is not a bad thing, even if I don't agree with all of it anymore.
In more recent years, through activism, I've found myself working with women 15, 20 years younger than me. They are feminists through and through, but to many of them, those attitudes seem prudish and narrow-minded - where feminism meets Victorianism, you could say.
Several have done some kind of sex work or stripping/dancing. Others have helped put themselves through college doing ovum extraction (that is, donating their eggs for other women to use for in vitro fertilization - another huge can of feminist worms). They are people who make choices consciously, thinking about the social implications, and they see no disconnect between their feminist ideals and, say, working in a strip club.
Part of the change in my thinking comes from knowing more lesbian and bisexual women. In a queer community, you get stuck with this basic question: why is it wrong for men to look at pictures of naked women, but ok if women do it? Hmmm... In my younger days, I (naively) thought porn was just for men. Look, I said I was naive. I've learned.
I can't possibly go into all the many threads these issues touch on; it's really complicated stuff. But I'm curious about what wmtc readers think. Several of us identify as feminists, and many who might not are feminists in reality anyway. (That is, you believe in the essential equality of all people.)
I'll trust everyone to refrain from stupid frat-boy comments. I'll also offer this potential bit of devil's advocacy, brought to us by the great Katha Pollitt:
Women have learned to describe everything they do, no matter how apparently conformist, submissive, self-destructive or humiliating, as a personal choice that cannot be criticized because personal choice is what feminism is all about.Something is not necessarily right, just because it's a choice. People internalize oppression and make choices that are against their best interests. I'm just saying.
I don't usually do the "what I'm thinking about" posts, and I see wmtc is sliding down the slippery slope of blogdom. Soon I'll be telling you what I had for breakfast. (Kidding.)