ANSWERING OBJECTIONS [to her kink-shaming]
“You can’t shame people for their sexual preferences or sexual orientation.”
First, I have already noted that preferences are (often) socially conditioned. Second, the mere fact of having a preference, orientation, or identity carries no weight. We can, and should, make judgments about the content of that preference or identity. Some people strongly identify as white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Some people may consider their sexual orientation to involve pedophilia or rape or murder; the fact that it is their sexual orientation does not make pedophilia or rape or serial murder acceptable.
“You don’t speak for all women. These women don’t see it as a harm.”
I do not deny that a woman may genuinely feel that pain and subjugation is sexy. This is precisely why consciousness-raising is a necessary component to the feminist political project. As a feminist, I can validate a woman’s experience without endorsing the content, which has been shaped by conditions of inequality. For example, I do not deny that women are ashamed of their bodies and feel the need to be impossibly thin, but I do not endorse that they should be ashamed of their bodies or that they should starve themselves.
Harm is not subjective and cannot merely be a product of someone’s feelings. First, because we know that people, due to socialization, invalidation, and inequality, are not always aware of the harm as harm. Second, because we would not say, for example, that men are “harmed” if they cannot have sex with any woman they want or that Christians are “harmed” by homosexuality even though many clearly feel that way.
“You are denying women their agency and not valuing their individual choice.”
There is never a question of a woman’s agency. At a trivial and metaphysical level, we are always free to choose what we do unless we are unconscious, under the influence of hallucinogens, or physically disabled. I am not judging or arguing against what women are choosing when they “consent” but what men (and some women) choose to do to them. What is important is the social norms, practices, and conditions that make that choice possible. Prostitution could not be a choice if there were no demand and if we did not think that people were things to be bought and sold.
“What if we make pornography with men in the submissive role?”
Equalizing violence does not create equal conditions. We do not solve the problem of racial inequality by having the police arrest and violate the civil liberties of an equal number of white males; we eradicate inequality by eradicating the conditions of subordination and creating positive, material change that truly values all people as free and equal.