Sex is beautiful is given as an excuse for sexist incidents, especially creating a sexualized environment.
The argument is that sex is a natural, enjoyable part of human interactions, and our culture (or an interlocator's culture) unnecessarily makes sex something shameful and banishes it to certain regulated spheres. In a more free society sex would be openly discussed and celebrated, and using sexual images and metaphors in non-sexual contexts is just an example of this. Therefore feminists should not suppress or criticise sexual speech or activity but instead promote it. As an argument it appeals to a straw man of feminists being anti-sex.
Objections to sexual objectificationEdit
Geek feminists do not in fact argue that sex is intrinsically shameful or that our culture is sexually healthy. However, sexual images typically reinforce heterosexual androcentrism by:
- Featuring women as sex objects instead of men as sex objects;
- Expecting the viewer (subject) to be a man who is sexually attracted to women, instead of considering that the viewer (subject) may be a woman.
A further problem with sexually objectifying women is that it portrays women, a subset of human beings, as a visual shorthand for sex itself, as if sex is universally experienced from the perspective of a heterosexual man.
“Sexual objectification” of women is not an academic euphemism for “women are wearing revealing clothing”. Sexual objectification means using women to symbolize or represent sex, when sex is something that occurs between men and women, men and men, or women and women. However, the idea that women = sex is so ingrained that any critique of sexual objectification of women is interpreted as being against sex.
Critics of popular culture use the term 'male gaze' to describe the objectification of women in media. During a sex scene, the camera will focus on the face and body (particularly the breasts and/or buttocks) of the woman, and largely ignore the man's body. The idea behind the male gaze is that it is how a stereotypical heterosexual male would want to view the scene. It can be applied to phenomena beyond film and television; for example, "booth babes" at conferences assume that the viewer is a heterosexual man, and so attractive women are recruited as a draw for the male gaze.
Objections to sexualising environments without consentEdit
Feminists also argue that in a more sexually healthy society active, enthusiastic consent would be the requirement for sexual interactions between people, rather than that every interaction would be sexualized. Those who use the "sex is beautiful" argument to defend all depictions of sex in all circumstances are often unaware that the culture around sex, in its current manifestation, is mostly defined and maintained by men and often not consensual.
See sexualized environment for some specific reasons that the use of sexual material in non-sexual contexts is criticised.
Some examples of the "sex is beautiful" excuse being used include: