There’s a very interesting article over at feministe about bad sex. The author, EG, reflects on some extremely negative experiences of sex which were nevertheless consensual. She notes a tendency in sex-positive discourses to presume an exhaustive dichotomy between rape, on the one hand, and enjoyable sex, on the other. This implies that if sex was bad, it must have been rape – which is belied by the author’s experiences (and no doubt by the experiences of many others), as she says:
So why did I keep saying yes? I didn’t want him to stop liking me (fat chance). I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t cool. Nobody else had ever found me attractive. And while I knew I was smart–I had all kinds of support and validation for that–the idea that somebody thought I was pretty? Attractive? Beautiful? It was powerful. It was important. I really, really needed it. But understand: he never said anything like that. He never put any pressure on me. But I still ended up doing things I didn’t want to do and didn’t enjoy. My decisions were no doubt the result of a misogynist culture that taught me to value myself and my sexuality poorly; they were no doubt the result of rape culture that taught me to prioritize his experiences over my own. But they were mine. I was of age. I consented, repeatedly. This wasn’t rape.
The author invites feminists to consider this kind of experience. Is it gendered? (Note that it could be gendered without being an experience that is exclusive to women; for example, the bad sex experiences of women and men might have different features or consequences, or be differentially common.) Is it systematic? How does it intersect with issues of race, disability, and trans identity, among other axes of oppression? What power dynamics are or might be at play here, what philosophical tools can we bring to analysing them, and, most importantly, how can they be resisted?