'Feminist' perspectives on sexology

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Ironically, feminism itself has also proven to be no less unfriendly toward women outside gender/sexual norms. Western feminism in the 1970s began from a clear and repeated rejection of the essentialism and biologism of sexology by claiming that male sexuality (understood as mostly sexual harassment and sexual violence against women) is not biologically determined but socially constructed. Yet in its place, the feminists substituted an equally essentialistic idea, albeit in the language of social constructionism, of male sexual needs now redefined as male power needs. For those feminists, it is the exercise of male sexuality that creates and determines men's power, and yet it is the need to dominate and exercise power in sexual activity that determines the nature of male sexuality. Within such a "feminist" world picture, women are portrayed mostly as powerless and helpless, low in sexual drive and most vulnerable in sexual matters; and the biologism of sexology quietly re-enters through the back door.

Furthermore, the feminist proposal of social constructionism was rarely carried to its logical conclusion of actively creating/constructing possibilities for social and cultural change. Instead, feminism provided the discourse of victimology for women and an image of righteousness for the state to institute more rigid rules to govern all forms of sexual expression. The resulting indiscriminate ban on pornography, whatever its content or target audience, for example, has devastated the circulation of erotic literature for lesbians who are already at a disadvantage in relation to accessibility to cultural resources. The sex debates which stretch from the 1980s well into the 1990s document this critical exchange. [...]

Sexology has yet to affirm that sexuality can be as much about fear and anger as love and affection, as much about domination and subjection as mutuality and respect, and that sexuality is more than an interpersonal matter, more than a family affair, and that it reflects quite specific historical and cultural meanings. Unfortunately, such thoughts often lie outside the conceptual categories of sexology and beyond its explanatory power. In this respect, feminism, in all its varieties, serves as a sober reminder that there is much more to sexuality than sexology, or feminism itself, is ready to concede. [...] Hence, in the name of the pursuit of truth, sexologists would do well to welcome more sex minorites, such as transgenders, bisexuals, sex workers, SMers, and many others, to come out and come forward to challenge the discrimination and pathologization that pervades most sexology. [...] In other words, faced with sexual diversity and variance, sexology could become a "pleasure-centered sexology" rather than a juridical sexology absorbed in the search for etiology and cure.

source: Article < "Feminist" Perspectives on Sexology > by Prof. Josephine Chuen-juei Ho; sex.ncu.edu.tw/members/ho/paper/feministperspectives_on_sexology.pdf; 2000