Audio: "Performing Sex: The Making and Unmaking of Women's Erotic Lives" w/Breanne Fahs
by Breanne Fahs
On May 16th, 2012, feminist, professor, and scholar of Women and Gender Studies, Breanne Fahs, came to Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse to discuss her new book Performing Sex: The Making and Unmaking of Women's Erotic Lives. To an engaged packed house, Fahs lively and candidly discussed her research, work, and critique. In Performing Sex, Fahs does immense research into "women's erotic lives", as well as interviews forty women about their relationships to their own sexual subjectivites.
Fahs findings are at once surprising, but only due to the resonance of their frank revelations. As is highly detailed in her book, and seen through the active discussion at the event, a large portion of women can relate on various levels to Fahs's portrayals.
We have undergone numerous "waves" of feminism and, in many ways, women have more sexual autonomy and freedom than ever before. However, oppression always finds a means in which to sequester liberation. Fahs details that women today are caught in a perilous period "between postsexual revolution celebrations of progress and alarmingly regressive new modes of disempowerment." (Performing Sex)
Her account reveals: women's immensity and frequency of faking orgams, habitual inability to orgasm but pressure to do so, fantasies that downplay or eliminate their own agency, regular distaste for sex, and alarming ways in which they approach/perform sex not for their own - or collective - pleasure but purely for their partner's.
In this discussion, Fahs asks us to critique the world we've inherited from prior feminist movements, oppression's backlash results that we must grapple with today, and the long road we still must travel down in order to find, meet, know, embrace, unabashedly pursue our own female needs and desires. A key point that Fahs stressed was that not only do we need to work for the freedom to but also the freedom from. Sexual liberation does not only lie in the ability to desire sex but also in the ability/acceptance for lack of desire. She asks to analyze and acknowledge the complexities in our sexual selves and in ourselves.
The female-lead collaborative discussion weaved through topics as diverse as the regulation of female body hair, to traversing these territories in LGBTQ relationships, to engaging on these issues with male partners (and males in general), and to a plethora of other terrains.
Here is audio from this event:
You can purchase a copy of Performing Sex: The Making and Unmaking of Women's Erotic Lives at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse.
Please check soon for a coming full review of Breanne Fahs's book, at indyreader.org