By Sheila Jeffreys

A critique of the lesbian intercourse industry's efforts to benefit from women's oppression.

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The tiny flame grows into a bright orange burst, then races up your arm and towards your face. 29 In an afterword the writer explains that only the towel on the woman’s head was soaked in petrol. Her body was really covered in water but the bottom did not know that she was not offering up her life. It may be that this is a safety tip lest enthusiastic lesbians try this scenario. It has to be remembered when proponents of sadomasochism justify their practice with the idea of consent that there are lesbians who are prepared to die as well as submit themselves to brutal mutilation.

It was understood by those who considered themselves progressive that to criticise any form of sexual expression is to fall into the hands of the deep, dark forces of repression, the Catholic Church, the inquisition and Victorianism. The male supremacist forces that represent the ‘sex is bad’ side of the dualism still exist and need to be challenged but should not be used to prove that it is too dangerous to talk about sex politically. Another key idea that inhibits the political discussion of sexual practice is that there must be a suspension of values when sexuality is approached.

Women can have orgasms during rape and sexual abuse. Such orgasms do not prove that the women ‘wanted it’ or that anything positive has happened. There are not words as yet to describe sexual feelings which are the opposite of positive. There are only words such as pleasure and enjoyment. It is important to call the whole concept of sexual pleasure into question and not assume that sexual feelings are necessarily positive. It will then be possible to develop a more sensitive and nuanced vocabulary which will enable women to express a wider range of sexual feelings including those which are experienced as unambiguously negative.

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