Monday, 1 November 2010

Dear Stephen Fry

Dear Stephen Fry,

I appreciate you feel you have been misquoted, however, there is a point at which we must conclude the sentiments conveyed were there on some level.

I put to you this. Might women not have sex on the same terms as men precisely because the terms are not the same?

When women can have sex with who they want and how they want, without being shamed by labels such as 'slut', 'slag', and haunted by the inevitable whore stigma, then we might just be able to begin discussion about whether women are truly less sexual than men.

But Stephen, I’m afraid this would mean the erasure of millenia of societal mores, codes and discourse. You’re an intelligent man, I’m sure you’ve read a bit of Foucault.

Additionally Stephen, might one conclude that similar prohibitive social codes are precisely the reason why non-heterosexual sexuality has been effectively relegated to designated social spaces? Some might even use the word ‘segregated’. Might we not dare to dream that in a freer less heteronormative society - freedom to enjoy the sex one wants might not be confined to a park (you reference Hampstead Heath). Or is that what untrammelled sexuality looks like?

Some of the homophobic newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph are using this as a reason to attack to you for your sexuality – what does he know about heterosexual relations, he’s gay? Indeed, even the Guardian will say, what does he know about women, he’s a man?

For me, this side-steps another more important point: I don’t believe anyone is in any great position to make generalisations about human sexuality, whether male or female, whether L or G or B or T or Q or I. We are all quite different. In the same way it might rightfully be considered offensive to make broad statements that infer all women either don’t like sex as much as men, or indeed dislike it and use it as a bartering tool* it is as presumptious and ill-fitting to generalise that all gay men will enjoy the kind of casual sex synonymous with ‘cruising’.

I, as a woman, would not deign to say I can therefore speak for all other women’s sexual proclivities. How could I? So how can you?

Lots of Love, Helen

* More analyses to follow.

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