Can we stop conflating liberal feminism and sex-positive feminism? .
Liberal feminist is the only form of feminism that tends to be represented in mainstream media, so many women will be liberal feminists as it is the only version of feminism they have had access to. This is because owning class women with a lot of privilege (white, straight, cis etc) who are feminists will almost always be liberal feminists, and these are the only women who have enough power in society to get their opinions published in mainstream media. This approach thinks society is generally OK, and just needs a bit of adjustment to address some lingering unfairness towards women. Key issues tend to be equal pay, abortion rights, increasing women’s access to male-dominated spheres such as politics and business.
Sex-positive feminism is generally more popular with younger women, particularly students, and is especially popular in the LGBTQ community. There is an emphasis on the idea that individuals exploring and expressing their sexuality, particularly through sexual behaviours that are ‘transgressive’ such as BDSM, polyamory, group sex, is empowering and feminist, and on the importance of not judging or shaming the sexual practices or others.
These are very different types of feminist with different origins (speaking from a UK perspective). While they may share some similarities (for example an emphasis on individual empowerment rather than collective liberation) for those of us who want to work with and share ideas with different ‘types’ of feminist it’s important we understand where these different women are coming from ideologically.