On Carrie Prejean

I don't care how many tapes Carrie Prejan made of herself masturbating. I don't care how many nude or semi-nude photos she shot of herself or let other people shoot of her. I don't care if she had breast augmentation surgery. I don't care what she does with her body or what she does sexually, as long as it's consensual.

And neither should anyone else who rightfully objected to her anti-same-sex marriage sentiments.

Support for same-sex marriage is rooted in a belief that people have the rights to love and fuck and spend time with whoever they want, and to do whatever they want with their own bodies. It reflects the idea that sexuality is a private matter—not in the sense that it shouldn't be seen in public, but in the sense that any individual person's sexuality doesn't personally affect anyone else who isn't sexually involved themselves with that person.

So what difference does it make, in terms of Prejean's bigotry, that she has a sexual life of her own? None. Because denying fellow citizens equal rights is wrong no matter what.

She was wrong when she said it before anyone knew she had a "sex tape," and she's wrong now. The existence of a "sex tape" doesn't somehow make her more wrong.

I see a lot of people, including self-identified progressives, cheering the "schadenfreude" of Prejean's being revealed as—what?—having a sexuality, I guess. But slut-shaming Prejean for expressing her sexuality merely perpetuates a culture in which the objection to same-sex marriage is justified with distaste for the icky, icky gay sex. Entrenching puritanical narratives about "deviant" sexuality (and let's all stop and note the hilarious irony that young women who actually express the sexuality the entire culture admonishes them to express are immediately slut-shamed and accused of aberrant behavior) does not help the cause of gay rights. Or women's rights. Which are both denied on the basis of kyriarchal control of bodies that are Othered.

So if you find yourself tempted to crow over Prejean's "hypocrisy," consider that the tapes were made privately and not intended for public consumption. To make hay out of that, when we argue sexuality is a private matter, is a hypocrisy all its own.

And worse than that: To make an issue out of these tapes, to endorse or encourage their release for any reason, is to perpetuate the rape culture. Despite our collective refusal to regard them thus, celebrity sex tapes released without the participants' consent is sexual assault. Consenting to the sex act, even consenting to its being filmed, is not implicit consent that images of the act be publicly distributed.

Prejean was wrong about same-sex marriage. She's not any more wrong if she's a moral scold with an expressed sexuality of her own. And being a bigot doesn't give other people license to victimize her.

These shouldn't be controversial statements.

I don't know Carrie Prejean, and what I know of her makes me suspect I wouldn't like her very much if I did. I couldn't disagree with her more strongly about same-sex marriage, and I daresay that's merely the tip of what's almost certainly a vast iceberg of ideological disagreements.

But it's because I disagree with her—because I believe firmly in every person's right to hir sexuality, because I believe firmly in not treating expressions of consenting sexuality as perversions, because I believe firmly in respecting people's right to privacy regarding their bodies and their consensual sex acts—that I will not shame her for filming herself having a wank, or taking sexy photos, or whatever. I don't abandon my principles just because I don't like someone.

I will, however, invite Ms. Prejean to tea, where I will explain to her the benefits of progressive queer feminism, and how we might rightly be allies, if she's willing to open her mind and heart to it.

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