Race, Class and Sex Positive Feminism

In a recent piece for Salon, writer/activist Lutze B. says that reclamation of the word “slut” is a white feminists game. She argues that the sex positive movement fails to understand or take into account how women of color have historically been cast with sexualized identities they did not choose, using the example of Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, where the former sees far less repercussions from acting overtly sexual than the latter. (This might be a tricky parallel for other reasons, but it’d be interesting to see what the writer has to say about Beyonce or Nicki Minaj in comparison). Other artists, like Madonna or Angelina Jolie, have the white privilege that allows them to repurpose the “slut” identity and then discard it when they choose. B.’s point is crucial to the movement of sex positive feminism: in fighting for a woman’s ability to be sexually empowered and protected from societal backlash and assault, all women must be considered worthy of defending, and race, class, and privilege cannot be overlooked.

B. concludes, “The bodies of black women are highly politicized and critiqued no matter who they belong to, from the first lady to “the help.” The physical movements and choices of black women are always viewed through a filter of suspicion. In order for me to claim my right to be a “slut,” I first must win the battle to be able to fully claim my humanity…White feminists who have large platforms and access to large platforms must make a real effort to include women of color and trans* women, and allow them to speak for themselves. As a black woman, I won’t be concerned with reclaiming my inner “slut” until white women show more interest in being in solidarity with me.”

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