My Open Knees Are None of Your Business

Woman reclining with knees up, close-up of bare legs
Woman reclining with knees up, close-up of bare legs

I watched Amy Schumer's HBO special the other night. Her performance at the Apollo Theater is one of the most brilliant stand-up routines I've ever seen. Aside from being hysterically funny, she's a thought-provoking feminist who understands how to turn everyday situations into comedy gold.

Schumer talked at length about sex and noted that women enjoy sex despite the stereotypes we often see on television where the man/husband has a 24/7 boner and the woman/wife is always fighting him off. (Incidentally, she's considered a sex comic even though male comics who talk about sex aren't.) While this male/female sexual stereotype happens in real life, it isn't the only sexual dynamic between couples. Women get horny and it isn't dirty or shameful. It's the way our bodies were designed. Women have clitorises which means we have orgasms and we enjoy rolls in the hay just as much as men. In fact, science suggests that women might even have more fun than their male partners.

(The clitoris contains at least 8,000 sensory nerve endings. The head of the penis only has about 4,000 and is less compact than its female counterpart. And even though the clitoris is small, the sensations affect 15,000 other nerve endings.)

This brings me to the conservative message about personal responsibility, "values" and the constant need to shame women for enjoying a body part which, some believe, God gave us.

There's the victim blaming:

Recently, a judge in Canada (conservative, of course) is facing career ruin because of his extreme commentary on the topic of female sexuality -- and deservedly so. Judge Robin Camp was presiding over a sexual assault trial where the victim was a 19-year-old homeless girl. After hearing the case, Camp said because the victim was drunk, there was an "onus on her to be more careful." He referred to the alleged assault as a "misbehav[ior]" on the part of the accused.

Camp asked if the homeless 19-year-old victim had truly been frightened of her 240-lb. alleged rapist as events unfolded in a bathroom on December, 2011, wouldn't she have screamed?

The judge told prosecutors that while the accused had been a little rough, "sex is very often a challenge."

When the homeless victim said the experience was physically painful, Camp argued that a bit of vaginal pain was perfectly natural, "Sex and pain sometimes go together, that -- that's not necessarily a bad thing," he said.

Camp directly told the alleged victim if she didn't want to be penetrated, "why couldn't you just keep your knees together?"

And then there's the slut shaming:

In 2012, a judgy conservative, Foster Friess, was elaborating on the contraception debate and said, "You know, back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly."

That's only two examples of older conservative men attempting to shame and blame women. This behavior can be found all over the internet. Whether it's Mike Huckabee saying women are dependent on Uncle Sugar; Men's Rights Activists Facebook pages that post victim blaming graphics; comments from the low-information knuckle-draggers; or the brainwashed evangelicals who want to force their religious morality down everyone's throats, women are told that enjoying sex is slutty and whorish and it's our fault for being violently assaulted. You've seen the comments. We've all seen the comments.

All those comments and judgements make me want to film myself having and enjoying an orgy.

The truth is I've never participated in an orgy, and I have no actual desire to do it -- but judgy conservatives make me want to do it as a way to hold up my middle finger. It's my body and I'll get off any way I see fit. Judgy conservatives make me want to run through the streets with no clothes on, screaming about women's sexual pleasure and the joy of orgasms.

The irony is that I've always been a bit modest. I usually don't walk around naked in front of anyone. This is none of your business, but I share this to make a point: all of this shaming pisses me off. It makes me feel rebellious and I'm not alone.

My point is simple: the more fake Puritans try to shame women, the more women like me, who are sick and tired of the BS, will stand up and say "screw you!" (No pun intended.)

There will always be conservative prudes who can't stand that sex is fun for both genders. We'll never change them and we won't rid the planet of sexist misogynists. But we do have some control, and that is with legislation. Too many Republican lawmakers are obsessed with legislating sexuality, while, by the way, too many are getting caught wearing diapers for prostitutes (looking at you, Senator Vitter). Whether it's about making contraception more difficult to acquire, or removing and eroding abortion rights, they seem to be hell-bent on keeping the "little ladies" of America in their proper places, and desperately want them to pretend to hate sex -- except, of course, when their men demand sex from them. When the sexist men are aroused, they want their little women to become their own personal sex dolls who will do any freaky act that pleases their man, but also understands they aren't really supposed to enjoy it. The women are supposed to endure it.

I am woman. I enjoy sex. I'm not alone. If you don't like it, I don't care. My knees and what's north of them are none of your concern. Ever. No other person gets to decide when, where and for whom I'll be opening my knees.

And I will do one thing that will help rid America of archaic purity zealots: I will vote in every election. I will vote for senators and representatives in presidential and midterm elections because Congress is responsible for legislating -- not the president. Members of Congress are deciding if rapists are allowed to sue their victims for custody if a pregnancy is a result of a violent assault. Congress and the Supreme Court are deciding if businesses can dictate whether or not a third party insurance carrier can provide employees with contraception. And Congress is in charge of laws regarding abortion rights.

Let's all take a clue from Amy Schumer and own our sexuality and our sexual desire. After all, it's how God made us -- if you believe in her.