Rape and harassment scandals have coexisted easily with the banning, blacklisting, and battering of gay personnel, and with the sexual exploitation of women not in the armed forces. "Rest and relaxation," a term used in official army communications, has come to be synonymous with the procurement of young, often forcibly trafficked, sex workers in and from Southeast Asia. Most famously, the US Army floated ships full of procured Filipina sex workers in the Persian Gulf during the last war for the enjoyment of US soldiers there. Invasion and war are often likened to rape because they represent the extreme in nonconsensuality and destruction; what is obfuscated in these metaphors is that rape and assault (as well as the coerced sexual labor that resembles them) are integral to war and to military culture. Although the United States Armed Forces condones and sponsors sex between American men and Third World women, the United States government sponsors abstinence-until-marriage family planning abroad, denying funding to programs that would give Third World women access to contraceptives and to abortion, or to information about them.
Is there a connection between state coercion and--well--state coercion? I mean, could there possibly be connections among the cynical and brutal treatment of Third World bodies by the US government and corporations, the cynical and brutal treatment of the bodies of people of color in the US, and the economic and political suppression of any kind of moderately liberated sexuality whatsoever in our own country, including sexualities-like that of consenting, monogamous, unmarried hetero adults having missionary vanilla sex-that in other contexts might not appear particularly liberated? Could there be a connection between the violence of global militarism and the economic and social violence against women and sexual minorities at home?
Sex radicals think so. And in response to these three aspects of the war on sexual deviance - the primacy of marriage, the war on women and queers, and the close connection between enforcing sexual normativity and American imperialism - sex radicalism offers a political, serious alternative. A defining feature of sex radicalism is the near-sacred status of full, informed consent and collaboration. Consent is what sanctifies and unites all sexual practices done by all sex radicals, from a simple gay blow job to intergenerational sex to nonmonogamy to bondage-and that sets them apart, in the eyes of many sex radicals, from acts done under the aegis of state-sanctioned heteronormativity. The consent fixation is, of course, a pretty sane and moderate ethos that begins to look entirely alien and radical against the backdrop of state coercion, and state-sanctioned personal coercion, into heterosexuality, parenthood, and marriage; of the US Army's wholesale use of underpaid sex workers to accompany missions; of the sexual assault, violence against women, and gay-bashing that are yawningly common in the US; and of course, of the investor-rights globalization and war on terror that are the international backdrop of our lives.
Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here
Shtupping in the Shadow
of the Bomb
The Mall Balloon-Man Moment of the Spirit
Beats, Rhymes & Nigguns
Matthue Roth & Juez
Susan H. Case
Josh Gets his Checkup
The Ritual of Family Photography