Monday, August 4, 2008

XXBlaze Has Moved!!!

From today on, consider this site officially closed. I will leave it up here, but all new updates will go on http://xxblaze.wordpress.com. Please update your blogrolls, feed readers, and bookmarks!

I'm very tired of deleting comments and not having as much control over them as I would like. Plus, if you recall, I made a kick-ass new banner a few weeks ago, and I am looking forward to using it. Being able to post on my blog, and know that it looks nothing like anyone else's will be a real treat. I guess it will just feel more like real blogging instead of LJ-style ranting.

One feature that Wordpress has that Blogspot does not is the magnificent ability to truncate posts. The new front-page will allow you to quickly scan through my posts without having to scroll through thousands of words of my pedantic speechery. If you want to read the entire text of posts, all you have to do is click on the handy-dandy "more" links at the bottom of post.

Anyways, Blogspot was awesome while it lasted, but I'm moving on for greener pastures. Actually, I lied. The new blog is red.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A little political pontification

I like to keep my blog focused on feminism, particularly the theoretical parts of the movement, simply because current events depress me too much.

As time goes on, and the economy worsens, I'm full of this rage. It makes no sense, generally, and it's completely directionless. But it's there. And I catch myself, frequently, wanting to hit someone who bemoans how much it costs to fill up their new Accord.

I guess it is related to feminism, in a way, because I have little pity for those unwilling to look past their own privilege. Sometimes, I think that my anger with gender relations is so tied up with my rage at classism that I have a hard time pinpointing exactly why I am angry.

With more and more people falling out of the middle class, I'm filled with anything but pity. Perhaps it's because I've always been here, in the lower classes, ever since that day my father walked out and fought tooth and nail over every last penny with my ex-homemaker mother. So when someone remarks how much their life sucks because they cannot take their kids to Disneyland this year, I just want to say, "so what? I haven't been out of state since the 90s" But I keep my mouth shut.

That's what we do, the working classes, we keep our mouths shut. We're told that it can always be worse. That tomorrow we might not have a house. And it's true, really.  My family has lived beyond it's means for years, and something as simple as me losing my scholarships, loans, or job would make my mother unable to pay the mortgage.

But please, don't talk to me about new cars and gas mileage. I just don't give a flying fuck. I've had the same car since I was 16 (which I bought to get to work on time, to be able to drive myself to my out-of-district school I tested into, and to be able to go for tutoring that I paid for myself) and it's never had good gas mileage. The first thing I look at when I buy something is price. It always comes down to money. Everything in my life is ruled by the dollar, simply because I don't have enough and I never really did.

And so when others, the middle class families that come to my cash register, make small talk about how it's hard to "make ends meet" with keys in their hands for Hondas and Cadillacs and Lexus, I want to sneer.But I keep it inside, and I smile.

As the economy worsens, I take some sort of sick glee in the fact that maybe those with agency, the middle classes and above, will finally know what's its like to have to budget. Maybe they'll think about how it feels to grow up without piano lessons, gated neighborhoods, and labeled clothing. Maybe they'll just stop being so fucking smug about how the lower classes are poor and stupid and bigots, and that's why we never get ahead.

Because, you see, it's never enough. I'll never be the top of my class in so long as I have to work and live in a house that is more like a boxing ring. I'm not always on time to job interviews and things because my car is ten years old. I don't have nice shoes and straight creases in my pants and I can't gush about my new Coach purse.

And the lack of such things makes me bad, makes me wrong, makes me stupid. Nobody really gives a shit about how and why the girl who sits in the front and gets the highest grades on tests gets B+s because she can't get the points for regular attendance. Nobody thinks that maybe my shirts don't fit well because I can't afford ones that do. Nobody cares that the reason my health is bad, I'm out of shape, and I eat greasy shit is because I can't afford doctor's fees, gym memberships and fresh produce. Nobody thinks that when I can't make it to so and so's party it's because I don't have the time for anything but survival some days. Nobody thinks that anything I do and say and think is rational, because I'm just another faceless member of the lower class, and I've always been like this.

When the politicians take their pulpit, and preach about change, I'm the spoilsport. They say that I should be happy for compromise. Bullshit. I know good and well that when compromise happens, it's always me and mine that are left behind. I never had power, and if I ever do, it will be because I've worked fifteen times harder than anyone else to get it.

Then those same politicians sell out. Their slogans are empty, like always, but nobody looks at me and mine and says that we were right. They bemoan that they should have known things that we knew all along. We've always known that our purpose in life is to be used and discarded. Empty faces on cash registers, in cubicles, shuffling from job to job (never a career) in the futile search for someone that gives a shit about the children we have to go home to watch, the doctors we have to see for our stress-induced ulcers, and the houses we clean ourselves.

And the middle-class campaigners on campus will ask me to vote for their beloved Democrat. They'll call me stupid when I say I won't. I was told never to settle for second best, so I'm not going to. And if McCain wins, well, that's your politician's damn fault. You have all the time in the world to understand the lower class, to reach out to us, to comprehend this repressed rage, and you won't. You haven't for decades, so it's not like you're doing anything other than what I expect of you, which is nothing.

We, well, we just live. We don't have time for politics and campaigns and taking off time to vote. I'm thankful for mail-in ballots, otherwise I'd miss my next deadline for a paper, I'd arrive late to work, or I'd have to drag myself away from the couple of times a month I have enough money and time to act like I have a life.

Yeah, it could be a lot worse. It could also be a lot better. Don't expect me to kiss your fucking righteous ass when you begin to understand the conditions that I've lived my entire life in.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mussolini and Hitler would hate me

So I've done quite a bit on deconstructing sex-positivism and anti-abortion, and I'm frankly quite tired of both issues.

Regardless, two terms I see thrown around a lot to describe my views are Feminazi or Fascist.

First, may I take this opportunity to say that anyone that expresses such sentiments in anything other than jest is an enormous fucktard whose most frequent use of their cranium is during a self-colonoscopy.

For the life of me, I simply cannot think of two political movements more fundamentally anti-feminist than Fascism and Nazism. I attempted to illustrate this with the lovely photo I uncovered from the internets of two female anti-feminist neo-nazis, wearing their idiocy across their chests and displaying it on a flag.

Fascism, as anyone with a high school diploma should know, is both an authoritarian and nationalist political ideology that seeks to halt cultural decline and liberalism by protecting and enforcing corporativism, militarism, and traditionalism.

Likewise, Nazism is basically a form of fascism, albeit a form that is less concerned with corporativism and more with eugenics. If I had to piece together the -isms of Hitler, I'd say he was anti-parliamentarist, anti-liberal, anti-communist, an ethnic nationalist, a racist, a collectivist, and an antisemite.

I feel no need to source the above statements, because I assume that readers of my blog stumble upon here with a basic knowledge of world history. My feelings are that if you can't identify the key components of Nazism and Fascism other than "lol, dead Jews" or "bad shit happened", kindly fuck off and take your stupidity with you.

I'm much more forgiving, however, with the definition of feminism. In my explorations of the label, I've come up with more concrete ideas of what Feminism is not, rather than what it is in anything other than nebulous terms.

If pressed, I would admit that Feminism is not impressed by race or nationality. It is unabashedly liberal by necessity and nature. Analysis of popular culture leads feminism to be partially or wholly anti-corporate and critical of traditional or social conventions.

Basically, in less words, if I had to create a two-dimensional continuum of political ideologies with liberals on one side and conservatives on the other, Hitler and I would be so far apart as to be in different galaxies. The thought that what I express is somehow conservative, let alone bears a certain resemblance to dead fascists, is simply mind-bogglingly stupid.

Can there really be anything more forcibly masculine as a bunch of brainwashed militaristic lunatics killing people to make themselves out to be suitable members of the dominant culture? I think the only thing stereotypically feminine Hitler ever did was write a book, about how liberalism, Jews, and homosexuals will destroy the world, and it was written in prison. The only thing more masculine than prison is writing a long book about how people suck because they don't look like you or, like women, they fuck men.

If that doesn't convince you, let's take a look at Mussolini. If you are ever on the "Fascist Italy" category in Jeopardy, it might be useful to know that Mussolini though the only purpose of women was to get married and have lots and lots of babies. He thought that this was so important that in 1927 he launched a program called the Battle for Births. You can't build a large army to make others submit to your authoritarian racism without lots and lots of babies. To accomplish this task, Mussolini gave out tax benefits to people with lots of kids, and taxed the hell out of single women and men for having the audacity to not be using their reproductive organs to further the state's war machine.

Can there really be anything more virile and awesome than infecting the world with your plentiful fascist spawn? This of course, must be accomplished with the suitably masculine pursuit of marrying some woman to chain, pregnant, to the stove.

In conclusion, the only thing more asinine than the use of "Feminist" as an insult is the use of "Feminazi". Watch out: this bisexual Jewish feminist is going to force her liberalism and anti-corporatism upon you in a fashion totally parallel to homophobic, anti-Semitic and traditionalist historical regimes!

Friday, August 1, 2008

And now, an interjection from a sex-positive feminist

When I usually encounter a "sex-positive" on the internet, they are about as far from being feminists as humanly possible. I submit for your evidence: Bang-Bros (don't worry, it's just a wikipedia link).

Occasionally, I actually stumble upon an actual feminist, not someone who is posing as one to write off their nasty exploitive shit as art, who submits that they are "sex-positive".

Via Feministe, KaeLyn's Feminist Porn: Sex, Consent, and Getting Off. I was pleasantly surprised. No overt anti-feminist sentiments were expressed. No glaring logical holes were presented. The comment thread, quite long at this point, is mostly civil.

Nevertheless, the post bothered me. Not in the way that inspires me to hurt inanimate objects, but in the way that I felt that the work of my feminist icons and my own opinions were being unintentionally misunderstood and discarded.

I find it most constructive to refer to the actual post for my analysis. KaeLyn starts her prose with:

Feminism has a love/hate relationship with sex.

How so? I have yet to meet a feminist that isn't a parody of the word that actually loathes mutual sexual satisfaction between various amount of people of various genders and non-genders. I simply have an issue with how that mutually consensual contact may be expressed in fashions that I feel have more to do with social convention and gender roles than reciprocal respect and genuine want. I don't hate sex, and I surmise that even the most strident of radical feminists doesn't either. Merely, most of us don't consider some forms of popularly considered "sex" sex at all. Where the average Joe sees a particular act as sex (for example, having sex with a sleeping girlfriend), I might see rape. That doesn't mean I hate sex, that means I hate rape and rapists. Also, there is a bunch of sexual expressions that are not rape in the legal/criminal sense, but I feel would not be possible outside of the pressures of a patriarchal society. Again, that is not a hatred of sex. Also, I have yet to find any sort of feminist that truly hates sex. It would probably be prudent of KaeLyn to reference a "feminist" that she assumes hates sex, so that I am not puzzled as to what she is referring to.

I once spent an evening at a hole-in-the-wall strip club with a 20-something friend fiercely debating her anti-pornography/anti-prostitution position. We spent half an hour of that night talking with a dancer, a young single mom and the only woman-of-color on the floor. She said it was better than working at a grocery store; she made more money and didn’t have to pay for day care. How could I blame her? It was niave and classist for us to engage her in this conversation, but I was in college and didn’t know how stupid I was being.

How is it naïve and classist to want to know the justifications and thoughts of a stripper? I think it's actually quite insulting to assume that the acts and works of a stripper are beyond question, or that engaging a stripper in conversation about her work, in so long as she is willing to talk, is demeaning. No human is ever beyond question, period. Of course, there is a right and wrong way to do everything. Simply discussing stripping with a stripper with the goal of understanding her is fine, in so long as she is willing to talk. Denigrating her lifestyle, however, would be sexist and classist.

Furthermore, is it naïve or stupid of me to wish that there were no women in the world that would have to pick between a minimum wage job and sex work? I strongly feel that true agency is not found between a rock and a hard place.

In the 60’s and 70’s, Andrea Dworkin led a brilliant fight to expose and illuminate rape culture and end violence against women. Her analysis of the gender binary, pornography, and theories of penetrative sex as a patriarchal act is at the titillating center of a lively and necessary conversation in the feminist community. I also believe the work of Dworkin and her peers has contributed to the division of lesbian and heterosexual feminists, persecution and demoralization of sex work and sex workers, exclusion of transfolk from feminist spaces, and a whole lot of personal feminist guilt. But I gotta’ give kudos to Dworkin for putting rape culture on the map and, there are many awesome, inspiring, fabulous feminist leaders I admire who also happen to be card-carrying members of the anti-prostitution camp including Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan.

How and why has Dworkin divided lesbians and heterosexual feminists? I consider myself a member of the "not heterosexual" category, and I don't feel ostracized and neglected by feminism. That mainly is because feminism is concerned with gender roles, and those are most often expressed in the relationships between two people of the opposite gender identity. Also, it might have something to do with the fact that heterosexuals are the majority of the population, and their experiences are more shaped by social norms and more common to come across. That is not to say that feminism never touches lesbianism, bisexuality, or any other deviancies from the gender binary. For example, the Beyond Masculinity project touched on the these issues from the perspective of genetic males.

Also, I have never heard of feminists persecuting and demoralizing sex workers. We criticize sex work, true, but that's because the conditions of every facet of the industry are so heinous that ignoring them would be tantamount to malicious neglect. If we truly want to fight against rape and sexism, I feel that we ought to look at the parts of our economy that are responsible for the most paid rape, infidelity, murder, abuse, disenfranchisement, child exploitation, and objectification. Simply wringing our hands about how much housework an upper-class woman does in comparison to her husband is a worthy discussion, but the seriousness of that issue pales in comparison to things like how the legal system ignores violence against sex workers but defends those that profit the most off of sex work, namely pimps, pornographers, and people like Hugh Hefner. All of the above, I might add, are idolized by popular culture while sex workers are vilified or objectified.

Furthermore, since when has Dworkin said anything nasty about transsfolk? The draft of her civil rights ordinance that characterized pornography as "the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words" states that the use of men, children, and transsexuals in the above context is also relevant. I recall, although I cannot locate a direct quote, that in Woman Hating she stated something to the effect that transfolk wouldn't exist if we lived in a completely unsexist world, although that doesn't mean that they don't live in a state of emergency and deserve full state funding for any and all medical procedures. By that, I gather that without a patriarchy, gender really doesn't matter much at all. In fact, gender will be as unremarkable as having grey or green eyes. Thus, if we change our gender, it would have very little effect on how people perceive us, much like wearing colored contacts or having your irises tattooed a different color. I do not interpret these as anti-transsexual sentiments.

All that said, a reproductive justice framework, in my mind, calls for the full rights of sex workers and a liberation of sexuality that goes beyond mainstream pornography and sex work. Don’t women, and all people, have the right to control their bodies, access their sexual desires, and to enjoy safe and consensual sexual pleasure?

Ironically, I completely agree with the above statement, but I draw completely different conclusions from it than those that KaeLyn expresses.

And while the porn and sex/adult industry is currently geared towards men and definitely objectifies women, forgets women’s pleasure, and supports an oppressive rape culture, I see a bigger solution than attempting to censor or criminalize sex. Like abortion, homosexuality, and other social issues that have been labeled “deviant” and make people uncomfortable, sex work and the sex trade will always go on, even if pushed underground. And legalization and support of sex work can open the door to helping the sex/adult industry become safer and healthier for sex workers and a more welcoming and affirming place for feminists and all people.

KaeLyn's initial reaction to the sex/adult industries are completely correct. Then, she errs. Radical feminists want to criminalize acts and depictions of rape and objectification, not sex. Abortion and homosexuality are not fraught with the same ethically wrong abuses as the sex industry. Pornography, stripping, and prostitution are not true depictions of sexuality and sex any more so than two actors in a sex scene are actually having sex. Some radical feminists don't even want to criminalize those things, but they would like a strong stigma to be attached to them and demand to increase for actual depictions of true desire and sexuality. My feeling is that the aforementioned is impossible in our current society because of the gender binary and roles. Patriarchy is still alive and well, and it is still best expressed through sex, and reinforced through orgasm. In a true "chicken or the egg" dilemma, the sexist sentiments of society demand demeaning sexist porn, and then the porn further warps and twists definitions of sexuality. This theory is correct, simply because the instances of non-objectifying porn are extremely rare. If I rented the 100 most popular porn videos, and magically brought them to life, I would have 100 sexual situations that I would wish to have no part of. I submit that those that remain pro-porn have an extremely romanticized and erroneous view of our sex industry, of the demand that fuels it, and the conditions that allow it to flourish and proliferate.

It is right, however, to assume that it will go on as normal if it is illegal. However, legalizing it will hardly make those that sell objectifying disgusting smut easier to catch. Simply, our justice system is very concerned with the First Amendment and "innocent until proven guilty". Without suspicion of a crime, no investigation will take place. Our justice system is totally inept when it comes to combating things like child pornography, rape, human trafficking, and prostitution while those acts are illegal. Imagine how little will get done once the justice system has to have reasonable doubt of abuse, not just prostitution, before they break into a massage parlor that is holding women in sexual slavery. The justice system is not concerned, at all, with the plight of sex workers. The link I provided above to the man that received only a day in jail for killing a prostitute should make that abundantly clear. Donald Trump hires an underage nude model, offers an extremely transparent excuse, and receives no penalty. A Dallas strip club makes a 12-year old runaway perform in exchange for board, and is still open for business. These acts are blatantly illegal, exploitive, and foul, and still the justice system does nothing. Giving those that profit off the sex industry even more legal room to operate will hardly solve the problem. Ever since the Netherlands legalized prostitution, 80% of prostitutes are foreigners, and 70% have no papers, suggesting that they are trafficked. In contrast, once Sweden criminalized buying sex while legalizing selling sex and provided extensive exit programs for sex workers, demand for prostitutes has fallen, the number of prostitutes has fallen, and human trafficking has decreased at a rate unsurpassed by the usually ineffective anti-trafficking measures.

Making the demand for sex work legal will not magically transform the sex industries overnight into a feminist paradise. We should know better. The people who fuel and profit off of these industries the most are bigots, liars, criminals, traffickers, abusive pimps, cheating johns, pedophiles, and woman-haters. Simply put, the average john, porn-viewer, and strip club regular is not an up-standing member of the community. These are not curious people wanting to learn more about their sexuality (a ludicrous assumption, because there is very little in porn, prostitution, and stripping that has anything to do with real sexuality), these are people that, at best, are capable of completely divorcing the sensation of sexual arousal from respect and emotion. At worst, they are addicts to exploitation and degradation, constantly demanding more and more extreme porn until they glean sexual pleasure from rape, murder, children, abuse, and the most vile and inhuman acts.

I, and others in the pro-sex camp like Pat Califia and Betty Dodson, believe in a society that truly values gender justice, where women can make free and safe choices about sex and sexuality, be free from abuse and assault, and have available to them the same frank and authentic access to their sexual selves that Western culture affords men from the day they pop out of the womb.

Again, what would really help women make "free and save choices about sex and sexuality" is a society in which female sexuality is not defined by catering to the pleasures of her viewer. This is an evitable part of any economic exchange: by the very act of someone paying me to do something, it is assumed that the act itself is not pleasurable enough for me to do it without pay. A choice between minimum wage and stripping is not a choice that men have to make, so why should women? Also, a culture of men that masturbate to images of women that cannot and will not say no (or if they do, in the case of rape porn, they are forced anyway) is hardly going to convince anyone of anything other than the assumption that women are sexual property, open and welcoming to the male gaze, and always perpetually sexually available. These attitudes absolutely fuel the rape culture. In fact, I cannot think of a single man I have every slept with, who later admitted that he views porn, who seemed to have a good working knowledge of anything but what he wanted in bed and what he assumed I wanted by watching a bunch of smut. On the contrary, my best lover was a virgin who thought pornography was disgusting. We explored what we both liked without any preconceived notions of what sex ought to look like and what "real men" could get their women to do in bed.

Of course, it is more complicated then just embracing porn. I, obviously, do not condone human trafficking or sexual slavery. I do believe that legalizing sex work will help regulate and prosecute human trafficking and sexual slavery and will create human rights for sex workers. I do not believe that all pornography should be legal. Porn or sex work that involves minors, animals, killing of people or animals, and rape should be criminalized to the fullest extent of the law. I do think that pornography that include consensual sex between adults, including rape fantasy, incest taboo, BDSM, and other “kinky” sex should be legal and can be deconstructed and even embraced by feminist pedagogy.

Like I explained above, all evidence points towards the fact that legalizing the demand for the sex industry allows the most heinous of exploitations, while criminalizing it has proven to be the most successful policy. That is not to say, however, that the legality or illegality of sex work fuels exploitation. My theory is that neither matter much. What does matter is the simple fact that the justice system does not give a damn about the abuse of sex workers, even when such abuses are illegal. Legalizing sex work will only give them another excuse to fail to uphold the laws or put forth no effort in criminal investigations, and provide even more opportunities for pornographers, pimps, and johns to slip out of any charge brought against them.

KaeLyn's portrayal of "consensual" sex in this context is extremely limited. In a patriarchy, like I said, all sex acts lie along a continuum of non-consent. To simply group all sex acts into black and white categories of "consensual" and "non-consensual" is far too simplistic. In order to have such a sharp divide, the law would have to define consent in such a way that all acts could therefore be categorized easily and efficiently. As I have explained in a prior post about rape trails, the legal definition of consent is currently so easily manipulated that more women wind up shamed and alienated by rape trials than rapists wind up behind bars. This is because the law will say that consent is the difference between "yes" and NO. But that no has to be firmly and repeatedly stated. Oh, and there have to be bruises all over her body. Don't forget the signed witness statements of ten other people. They're only good witnesses if they are sober though.

Does anyone see the problem here? If rape porn is legal, how the hell is someone going to prove non-consent? If a woman will lose her only source of income and be popularly recognized as a prostitute or porn star, why the fuck would she come forward? If every sexual act she has ever done in her entire life is opened for scrutiny, why would she even bother? In fact, how could a prostitute living barely above the poverty line go after her upper-class pimp, or a single mother porn star working three jobs pay her legal fees?

The answer is that they cannot. If normal women cannot make rape charges stick, well, what hope do porn stars, prostitutes, and strippers have? Our legal system is so hopelessly fucked that our entire society would have to be re-ordered to deal with the legal demands of a regulated healthy sex industry. In so long as sexism, misogyny, and violence are demanded by the masturbating public, does anyone even for a second believe that this is possible?

So theories and pontificating aside, let’s add reality to the mix. The reality of what women, even feminists, find pleasurable is not always politically correct. Sexuality is not neat and clean. I have talked to many feminist women who struggle to balance what really happens behind closed doors and what they feel the bedroom politics of a “good feminist” should be. Enjoying BDSM, strap-on sex and sex toys, genderplay, rape and incest taboo, mainstream pornography, and other “deviant” sexual taboos with a consensual partner does not make a person a “bad feminist” or a hypocrite. To the contrary, feminism is what gave me permission to love sex, with myself and with others, to embrace my sexual orientation, and find out what turns me on. Pro-sex feminism argues that recognizing the role of fantasy in sexual arousal and coming out of shame about sexual desires opens the door to a more frank and honest discussion about women’s bodies, consent, and safer sex. And that leads to better, safer sex that encourages communication and complete, enthusiastic consent to sex that is fulfilling and healthy. How is that not feminist?

Of course sexuality isn't always "neat and clean". If you masturbate to objectification, rape, or children enough you're going to want to objectify your sexual partners, rape some people, and have sex with children. In fact, you'll think this is perfectly normal. Take, for instance, the state of rape law today. Many people persist with the bizarre notion that is it perfectly normal for a man who sees a drunk attractive woman in a miniskirt to rape her. In fact, it's her fault that she got raped, because men are incapable of controlling their penises. Some people even go so far as to say that men who rape children are normal because she wanted his approval and dressed like a whore. The social definition of rape, consent, and sexual desire is so fucked up by the legacy of thousands of years of treating women like sexual property that the idea that the average person knows the difference between non-consent and consent without careful introspection is, frankly, extremely optimistic and dangerous.

My thoughts are that if you genuinely cannot get off without your rape role-playing and heavy BDSM you have serious issues. Sex is exciting enough with normal varieties like different positions and toys, why the hell does everyone have to add this undercurrent of submission/domination and objectification to get off? I personally have absolutely no desire to treat someone I respect or love as a masturbatory object, and I don't think that I could have a relationship with someone who does. You know, variety is the spice of life, but if all that gets the blood pounding is images and acts of objectification, exploitation, pain, and abuse, then please stay far far away from me. The notion that things like rape fantasies and heavy BDSM are feminist is bizarre. I cannot think of anything less feminist than the use of someone's submission, pain, and abuse to orgasm. At the very least, these acts are neutral. At most, they're criminal.

Of course, feminism did give me the agency to "find out what turns me on", but it also, to a great extent, showed me what does not. What does not turn me on, in any way or form, is violence, abuse, and exploitation. Feminism gave me the voice to say "fuck you and your porn, you're not getting that dick anywhere near my ass", and the knowledge to figure out it's better to want someone than to do what someone else wants because you want them to want you.

I also reject the use of "pro-sex feminist". All feminists are pro-sex and pro-women. Nothing is more "pro-sex" than telling people that want to define me in terms of what they want me to do and be to fuck off. What KaeLyn is implying is that I am "anti-sex". Which would be false, being that I love a little genital friction like any other human being. What I don't like is rape and exploitation. Thus, I do not like stripping, porn, and prostitution. I am capable of separating porn stars from pornographers, johns from hookers, and viewers from strippers. I follow the money and power. Who ever has it, and gets the most of it, is probably responsible for the disgusting state of the sex industry. Thus, I'm quite capable of not vilifying a woman that chooses between minimum wage and stripping, but wanting to drag the mutilated body of someone who goes on sex vacations through Thailand to fuck toddlers through the streets.

Frankly, discussion of why we get turned on by the things we do is healthy. After I was raped by a boyfriend, I had fantasies of someone tying me up and telling me I was a "sheath for his cock". I really don't consider that a healthy expression of my sexuality. Shame when it comes to sexual deviancy is healthy. It's what keeps a potential pedophile away from real children. Not all sex acts are equal. Just because it feels good doesn't mean it's moral. Seriously, do I even have to state something so obvious?

What would really lead to better safer sex is a society in which men don't assume women want exactly what they want because they masturbate to nothing but paid performances. A society in which I am not assumed to be perpetually sexually available by a culture of viewers who see image after image of women that never ever say no. A legal system that locks away rapists and abusers instead of vilifying their victims. A society in which I discovered what I wanted sexually before I discovered what I had to be for people to want me.

Underneath her prose, KaeLyn lists various porn sites that are owned by women, open to many kinds of beauty, pro-feminist, or trans-accepting.

I clicked on many of them, I didn't find really much of anything I could get off with. Mainly, because the majority of the sites still featured women for men to look at. They didn't even have the decency to have many woman that I would like to look at. I saw fetishizations of the menstrual cycle, hairy women, transsexuals, "alternative" women, feet, and vegans. But all of these lifestyles weren't respected for being genuine political statements, they were just another gimmick to wank to. That's the difference between someone who understands my anger and opinions and wants to do some serious introspection and research themselves, and someone that sees my anger, thinks its hot, and wants to fuck me without ever thinking about the words and feelings that I express.

That's not feminism, it's the fetizishation of feminism. If I wanted people to want to fuck me because I'm a feminist, I wouldn't be a feminist all! In this society, nothing is more disgusting than an opinionated cynical woman who doesn't shave her legs, doesn't give a shit about her weight, and is not impressed by your love of anal sex. What would really be a true expression of sexuality is someone who understands my message, understands me, respects me, and wants me because he/she likes me for who I am and what I think. A very shallow and hollow sentiment would be someone who still doesn't give a shit about what I say, but thinks my hairy legs are hot, and thinks my mouth could be put to better use than talking about rape at a Take Back the Night rally.

Also, the sentiment that a few women-friendly (or at the least, not insulting) porn sites are enough to combat the massive demand and supply of really disgusting abusive shit is silly. That's like Michael Jordan and Bill Cosby going to Africa and telling all the Africans that being white is not an advantage in this world, because look at all they accomplished!

Assuming that a stripper wouldn't want to be a stripper if she was offered a chance in her life to be a high-paid lawyer isn't insulting, it's realistic. I feel that the entire ideology of sex-positive feminism is built upon an overly optimistic view of the sex industry and its customers, an invented "anti-sex" opponent, and the unwillingness to face the facts that pleasure and exploitation are not incompatible, and never have been. Furthermore, until we look inside ourselves and at others and say to them, "you do not have the right to demand exploitive sex, have exploitive sex, pay for exploitive sex, or fuel the demand for exploitive sex", then we're never going to even dent the rape culture.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stripping is not a fucking revolution

Seriously.

As much as people say it is, it still is not. I'm amazed I have to say this.

Yes, and this post will alienate a very large population of the sex-positives and liberal dudez. I don't cater to hypocrites though1, and there is such a large pile of rotting fecal hypocrisy in the notions that stripping is a revolution that I'm amazed that very little people (beside the ever wonderful Twisty or Nine-Deuce2, for example) have pointed them out.

Namely, it is this: those that profess stripping, porn, and prostitution are feminist in nature, can be feminist, or are progressive in any way or form are typically enamored of using some sort of appeal to history, such as some deviation of the phrase that "prostitution is the oldest profession".

How telling! Did anyone else notice that?

If prostitution, the buying of a woman's sexuality for the pleasure of a man (or a richer woman) is the "oldest profession" there really cannot be anything revolutionary, progressive, or new about it and its various forms3.

When Disney produced a movie about the "happy slave" to differentiate American slavery from really horrible slavery, nobody with any sort of intellect would dare express that what was shown was not slavery or not morally wrong.

Likewise, if the women slithering up and down poles today have the right to vote, take off their clothes and not be stoned in the public square, and express their "revolution" via odd consumerist tendencies of blue hair and nipple piercings, that doesn't make what they are doing anything more than dressing up the oldest form of female objectification with half-hearted "counter-culture" symbols. A happy slave is still a slave because he is treated as a slave and looked upon as a slave. A "neo-burlesque performer" is still a stripper because she is treated like a stripper and looked upon in the same fashion as strippers have been for thousands of years.

Women dancing and decorating themselves for men's pleasure is hardly something new. In every single ancient culture, I'm sure you'll find some instance of this sort of objectification. The only thing new about it is that it is now done by privileged and unprivileged women alike.

What is not new about it is why it is successful. Men visiting a brothel in ancient Mesopotamia and men paying a high-class modern escort have quite a lot in common. No matter how much agency the women on poles and in laps and naked on screen might claim they have4, the men having them do not agree. They express this disagreement not with words, but with the continued vilification of sex workers, the celebration of pimps, the disgust of the natural female body and function, and the demand for a male vision of sexuality rather than a celebration of real female sexuality.

And I know all of this because men pay for it. If my job did not pay me, I would not do it. I don't shelf books out of the goodness of my heart, I do it for the paycheck. Women don't take off their clothes, pose provocatively, and commit to strenuous workouts and beauty routines because in a vacuum, they'd want to. They do all of this because their submission is rewarded with male attention, and in the case of sex workers, money.

I also know this because in the places and societies and circumstances in which men did not pay for sex, yet visited places where they could view female bodies in the manner they want and use them how they wish, the women were most frequently slaves, or abused, or kidnapped, or trafficked.

Regardless, women have been ignoring their own sexuality, to the point that hardly any of us can differentiate it from the sensation of wanting someone to want us, for as long as history as been recorded. They have done this for survival, for self-defense, for acceptance, for love, and sometimes for money. Thus, the perpetuation of this behavior today is not a fucking revolution.

It is more of the same. No matter what color the hair might be, or how many trendy tattoos are displayed. Not even if the stripper is wealthy, white, and does so of her "free will". Even, contrary to what some say, if the women own the methods of distributing this show of femininity for male sexual pleasure or they display it by a performance of domination.

But let's pretend that stripping, porn, and prostitution does not have such a grim legacy and doesn't exist today in a largely inhumane fashion. Is sex work an act of feminism, or can it be?

The answer is still no.

The consumers of a message determine its validity. If I draw a really cool poster that I think depicts the idiocy of my political opponents' racism and it winds up really pissing off both the people I'm defending and my allies, then my poster is not an act of rebellion, but an act of racism.

Likewise, if I take off my clothes and say to myself, "I am expressing my sexuality and my empowerment", but the men in the audience say "woo, titties!" and masturbate with a furious glee indistinguishable from their reaction to the disgusting rape porn stockpiled at home, then by taking off my clothes I am not the fueling the revolution, but just crafting another expression of the same old objectification.

Someone will read this post and wibble on about how I am shaming women and taking away their agency. I am not. I will not profess that I want to stop women for making money and having sex in any fashion that does not harm others in any way they so choose. Rather, I wish to say that no matter how much we close our eyes and wish for fairies and pink fields of equality, an act that someone calls a "rebellion" that looks exactly like the same old song and dance, just modernized for consumability, and does not in any way shape or fashion alter the opinions of the viewers or powerful class, is not an act of rebellion at all.

Thus, I leave you with this thought: Feminism has accomplished many things--better rape laws, the right to vote, more equal pay, more opportunities, the right to own property, the right to our own bodies--but none of those things were accomplished by taking off our clothes.

1I am physically incapable of it via my philosophy degree. My background in logic and reason is highly damaging to the social appeal of my message, I fear. On an unrelated note, I love footnotes.
2If either of them stumble upon my tiny corner of the internetz and are distressed by my fan-worship of what little modern radical feminist thought I can consume on a regular basis, I will gladly remove my plugs and slink off to a corner to cry about my inadequacies.
3Of which, I include porn and stripping, both of which are the buying of a woman's sexuality for the pleasure of a man
4And most don't. According to a study done by Farley, Baral, Kiremire, and Sezgin in 1998, 92% of the sex workers surveyed would leave prostitution immediately if they had other viable options

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On abortion, part trois

This will be a post about abortion and rape, although not in the way most people relate the issues.

I promise.

In my last abortion post, I said a fetus cannot survive without the willing cooperation of the mother. It is simply not a viable organism on its own. I claimed that I have never heard a viable moral argument that would substantiate the anti-abortion position that a fetus is guaranteed the support of an unwilling mother. I realize that I was giving this specific line of thought not enough attention. Very few people outside of academic Ethics have heard of Judith Thompson's "right to life" thought experiment which I have quoted here:

The fetus is an innocent person with a right to life. Abortion results in the death of a fetus. Therefore, abortion is morally wrong. In her thought experiment we are asked to imagine a famous violinist falling into a coma. The society of music lovers determines from medical records that you and you alone can save the violinist's life by being hooked up to him for nine months. The music lovers break into your home while you are asleep and hook the unconscious (and unknowing, hence innocent) violinist to you. You may want to unhook him, but you are then faced with this argument put forward by the music lovers: The violinist is an innocent person with a right to life. Unhooking him will result in his death. Therefore, unhooking him is morally wrong.

However, the argument does not seem convincing in this case. You would be very generous to remain attached and in bed for nine months, but you are not morally obliged to do so. The parallel with the abortion case is evident. The thought experiment is effective in distinguishing two concepts that had previously been run together: “right to life” and “right to what is needed to sustain life.” The fetus and the violinist may each have the former, but it is not evident that either has the latter. The upshot is that even if the fetus has a right to life (which Thompson does not believe but allows for the sake of the argument), it may still be morally permissible to abort.

For those too lazy to read the above, Judith Thompson's thought experiment quite eloquently shows that even if we assume that a fetus has a right to life (which I do not think it does, but is allowed for the sake of argument), it may not have the right to the means to support life, especially from an unwilling mother.

Ah, but then we run into complications. Mainly, the usual sexist line used by anti-abortionists when they are pushed up against a wall: "you knew the potential consequences for your sex act when you engaged in it, therefore, take responsibility for your actions you irresponsible whore". Okay, so they usually do not call anyone a whore. That epithet is heavily implied by the statement itself, however, so I have no trouble raising my brows to the obvious anti-woman sentiments. It takes two to tango, and to reproduce, and so it should go without saying that the idea that the woman is the only named irresponsible party if she gets pregnant is incredibly misogynist. A large proportion of people that fornicate use birth control. Furthermore, I very highly doubt that the majority of people who have sex and then seek an abortion if fertilization occurs ever knowingly said to themselves, "gee, let's go fuck and if we have a baby, oh well". Usually, because those same people are using birth control. Notice that I explicitly use the plural we in that sentence. Boys and girls have different parts, and without them, babies are not made. This is hardly rocket science people! To assume that the women is the most responsible party for preventing reproduction, or dealing with the consequences if they occur, is so mind-boggling stupid, and sexist, that I really do not know quite where to begin. Of course, I have found quite a bit of anti-abortionist "liberals" who also rage against she-witches that steal poor menz hard-earned monies with the gun-enforced horrors of child support. Those people, if it wasn't obvious, are MRAs, even if they do not yet know it. There is a very large and obvious hypocrisy in anyone's logic if they think that I cannot see the double standard that is being anti-abortion because women have to be responsible for their actions and being anti-child-support because men don't have to be responsible for their actions. And, if it wasn't clear above, having sex with birth control is not consenting to pregnancy. How hard is that concept? I accept the risk every day that I might die by getting in my car and driving to work, but that hardly means that a court could excuse a drunk driver that hit and killed me by claiming that I consented to someone killing me. I hate that I have to state this, but accepting the minimal risk of something bad is not allowing that something bad to happen to you on the assumption that if it does, it is your fault. That's called victim-blaming. Please knock that shit off.

Well all of this is well and good. What about women who thought they might want to get pregnant, and now find themselves in dire straights? Or women that forgot a condom and find themselves up the duff as the result of a little consensual hanky-panky? Here I bring in the topic of rape. Not to trivialize the issue, but there is an understanding in rape awareness circles that consenting to one sex act does not mean that you consent to another. Meaning that if I am engaged in some fun with my current partner, but I have quite clearly stated before that there will be absolutely no anal sex, and he hold me down and fucks me in the ass anyway, that's rape. Even if I said okay to vaginal sex, it's still rape. Vaginal sex is not equivalent to anal sex. Getting pregnant is not equivalent to becoming a mother. Is this concept really so bizarre? Just because a mother consents to pregnancy, or actively seeks it, does not mean that she consents to carrying the thing to term.

Furthermore, as in the case with rape, consent can be withdrawn at any time. If I consent to sex with someone, I I change my mind in the midst of foreplay, that doesn't mean that he can just carry on and it's not rape. I apply this same principle to pregnancy: just because I consent to have a child, and change my mind in the middle of the pregnancy, does not mean that I have the obligation to continue to term.

The really great thing is, all of the above arguments still hold true if we assume that a fetus is alive, human, and even has a right to life. Anti-abortionists, philosophically, do not have a leg to stand on. I feel quite foolish pointing this out, because it should be blindingly obvious.

Monday, July 28, 2008

If patriarchy had a red button, I'd push the shit out of it

I admit that being conventionally attractive (although less so today than before, being that I stopped caring about what pant size I wear) and white severely benefits my social reception. It also helps that my French and South-eastern European background always give me a "knowledgeable" air by the nature of my sharp features and dark hair. Regardless, I absolutely notice the difference with how people treat me depending on what I wear. I used to be very self-conscious when I ran to the corner store in wrinkled shorts and sans makeup, but recently, I find myself forgetting to shave my legs for a week or more. I still do the "fat check" in the mirror, and I wish I could stop. I put on clothes, and then check to make sure, at various angles, that bits of untoned and flabby stomach, thighs, and back don't noticeably show. I hate this tendency in myself, but I have no idea how to stop it. Perhaps someone, someone blindingly stupid, might read this and think, "gee Jenn, lose some weight and you'll feel better about yourself!" And the fact of the matter is that no, I won't feel better about myself or lose weight, thanks ever so much. I feel better about myself when I am in shape and doing well in my social and school life. When I was the skinniest I ever have been in my life, a size two, and closely resembled Natalie Portman, I thought I was the ugliest and fattest girl in school. My negative body-thoughts now, at a size 12, are much less frequent. Still, they persist.

The fact is that I still wish I could change this in myself. Ha! I might as well submit myself to the illusion that I am a god, not a human, and that my perception of myself is not at all linked to society's judgement. Humans are inevitably social creatures. Every time I submit to patriarchal guidelines of dress my submission is rewarded with praise, attention, and sometimes, love. To think that anyone could erase that influence in their lifetime is beyond absurd. To even dream that my "fat check" ritual is a choice in the real sense of the word is shear idiocy. I know that this lack of choice and individuality bother the typical Western "master of my own destiny" philosophy, but we should all know by now what I think of the utter bullshit that taints mind of the average American.

I apologize for the digression, but it is relevant. I notice how people perceive me in public simply because a social organism, I am programmed by evolution to do so. For someone to come along and say "stick it up and stop caring what people think of you!" is just so utterly simplistic that I seriously question the validity of conventional wisdom. One day, I will write a critically acclaimed philosophical treatise on what utter nonsense conventional "wisdom" is, and how it serves the interests of those in power. Perhaps this is wishful thinking.

Nevertheless, when I venture out of the house bedecked in large trendy jewelry, clingy tops, matching shoes, and a tastefully made-up face, I definitely notice the difference between that and "normal mode": unshaven legs, no makeup, shorts, old faded tees, hair up, and sometimes, godforbid, glasses. My hygiene is always impeccable in either case. My hair, even when I don't do much to it, stays neat by the good care of my fantastic hair stylist and her shampoo recommendations. I never ever smell, even in the disgusting Arizona summers. But still, in "glamour mode" I find that men smile at me, clerks make small talk, my friends make more eye contact, women graciously let me cut in front of them if I have fewer items, kids grin at me, and my family talks more about my successes than failures. In "normal mode" I am completely invisible. I still can get stares by the nature of my disproportionately large breasts and lips, but it's in a "eww slutty homeless crack addict/hooker" way, not in a "where did you get that cute top?" way. Men ignore me. Clerks don't make small talk and get angry if I notice a mistake rather than apologize. Women look down on me and turn up their noses. Children stare at me, sometimes point out my hairy legs to their mothers. And my family, the worst of all, tells me how worried they are about how I don't have a boyfriend, how I seem depressed, and how I come off as cold and bitchy. All of this after I have taken painful introspective care to make sure that my mannerisms do not change at all regardless of how I am dressed.

And it is beyond stupid to ask myself to be angry because I am too shallow to let go of what others think about me. I simply cannot, and I submit that no other human on the face of this planet can either. We can bottle these feelings of inadequacy up as much as we want, but they will persist in things like depression, domestic disturbances, eating disorders, and various other widespread social ills. What makes me so incredibly angry is that I feel this way at all. I cannot defeat human nature. What humanity could do, and it chooses not to, is destroy these stupid gender expectations. Erase the taint of marketing. Ship everyone out who uses power to sell a product or idea on our inadequacies to some deserted island, and then wipe it off the face of the planet with those stockpiled missiles. I, personally, would push that little red button until it cracked in half under the strain of my fervor. Everything in me hates this violence humanity submits itself to, and then viciously defends regardless of social class, political alliances, or privileges. And the shear gall of those who would deny it! Humanity as we know it is terminally ill. The thought that my inclination to destroy those parts of our culture that I feel are responsible for most of our present ills would be reviled as insane rather than praised as enlightened is truly a testament to how far this madness has encroached on our mental territory.

To this day, I hate myself no matter how far or close to the patriarchal guidelines I find myself. The only thing that at all diminishes this relentless self-hatred is the knowledge that I never, not once, consented to this nonsense. I urge everyone else to stop thinking of themselves as the instruments of their own self-destruction and start recognizing how the system we inhabit is specifically designed to make us hate ourselves and destroy ourselves, and then fool each other into thinking that everything is alright, that the most oppressed is responsible for our suffering (racism anyone?), or that the individual who cries silently to themselves with the thought that they cannot overcome this madness is pathetic and weak.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those that are oppressed by the patriarchy, and those that think they are not.

But godammit, if you're going to try to push my hands away from that red button, at least understand my urge to claw your fucking face off.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On abortion, part deux

The biggest disconnect between the two sides of the abortion debate is that both are talking about entirely different things. The pro-abortionists are, rightly, concerned about the rights of the mother. The anti-abortionists are concerned with the rights and status of the fetus.

It is from this that antagonism spawns. It should be obvious that I am patently and unapologetically pro-abortion. I am ready and willing to take on any anti-abortion debates. Why? Well, anti-abortion debates are usually founded upon the principle that a fetus is human, and is therefore entitled to all human rights. They point towards shoddy research, stating such things like at what point a fetus feels pain, or at what point it has fingers. They might also claim that a fetus is human at the point of conception, because it has a full set of human DNA. If they are feeling particularly inspired, they will appeal to a higher authority, citing that abortion is against the will of God and misinterpreting various passages of the Bible.

Firstly, all the research in the world about when a fetus has brain waves or hair is all for naught. I have not stumbled upon a single rational argument as to why a fetus unable to survive without the willing cooperation of the mother is somehow guaranteed that cooperation, or why exactly a fetus is human. The fact that a fetus has a full set of DNA is also inconsequential, because so does my spleen and the nails I just clipped. The greatest abortionist of all, God, also cannot save your shoddy argument, for it is fate that aborts more fertilized ovum than any number of willing women.

All of the anti-abortionist logic can easily be defeated. What cannot be brushed off, however, is that there is a very real infringement of rights that would result from the banning of abortion. There are women that would die, unnecessarily, from illegal and unsanitary abortions. These are facts. Incontrovertible facts.

Anti-abortionists give me no such relevant facts. In the interests of my rights and my innate rationality, I cede unqualified victory to pro-abortionists. The very real fact of the matter is that anti-abortionists cannot prove that anything necessarily morally wrong happens during an abortion. Whereas, pro-abortionists can prove, with little effort, how legalized abortion saves human lives and grants half of the population reproductive rights.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Photoshop + Feminism

So I was working on a new banner for the blog, and I came up with the above. I really like it a lot. I think I might port this blog over to Wordpress, simply because I like the features over there more. I'm up in the air, though, of what exactly I'm going to do. I do think that the new layout is going to be something with a lot of red, and something with a lot more sidebars than what I currently have. I want people to stumble upon my blog and immediately know what they're looking at, but I also want a lot of interactive features. Currently, Blogger doesn't do so well on tags and comments. I abhor their comment system.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Search terms that uncover radical feminist blogs

I really love my sitemeter, the unintentional source of much hilarity. Among the searches that lead people to this page are:

  1. why do men constantly masturbate if they have a significant other?
  2. beauty teen 12 years old xx
  3. preteen forced sex
  4. middle school girl xx
  5. preteen orgasms
  6. free home made porn older women younger men
  7. xx larger sexy woman porn

1. Well, I don't know. I don't have a penis. You're not going to find the answer here, sorry. If I may make an educated guess, it's probably because sometimes it's just easier to masturbate. At least for me, I don't have to worry about what I smell like or if I feel like reciprocating. Don't take it personally, okay?

2-5. I find it unintentionally hilarious that dudez out there looking for some hot XX underage rape get a radical feminist blog instead.

6-7. Again, surfing for porn and turning up an anti-porn site is just precious. I wish google bombing still worked like it used to, and for every time someone looked for porn they'd get something like oneangrygirl.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Consent, the patriarchy, and altruism

So it has been said, quite frequently, that my hatred of all patriarchy-inspired "beauty rituals" including high heels, surgery, and movement-restricting clothing is really demeaning to women. My critique of the violent and abusive nature of all things labeled feminine mocks women that choose such things of their own free will. Pro-porn1 advocates claim that objections to the industries of objectification and abuse--porn, prostitution, and stripping--are taking women's agency away from them or applying the same kind of moral outrage that conservatives are apt to.

The disconnect, I believe, lies in the definition of "consent". In a prior post, I confessed that all sex acts within a patriarchy lie along the same continuum of non-consent. Which, although the word is shocking, makes all heterosexual encounters acts of rape. This is not to say that pleasure and love is not possible in this society. Simply, because of our socialization in gender roles, we cannot determine for ourselves whether or not even the smallest adherences to gendered behaviors--such as plucking your eyebrows--is actually an act of free-will. It seems simple: I want to pluck my eyebrows, so I do. But the question is, would I want to pluck my eyebrows if I had not been told that my naturally bushy brows are ugly? If every image I saw of femininity was not a gross distortion of nature, would I still have the desire to forcibly rip hair, and sometimes skin, from my body?

Thus, it stands to reason that the most gendered encounter--the act of coitus--is probably less a product of free will than any other.

However, that is not to say that I think everyone who does not realize that their actions are not their own is stupid. Nor am I infantiziling women. My point is that everyone, even me, does not consent to the violence done to their individuality by gender roles, and that the exercise of those gender roles in this society is inevitable. Humans are social creatures by necessity. Succumbing to our social programming in ways both known and unknown to us is hardly an act of stupidity. It is a mechanism of survival, instilled in us through billions of years of evolutionary adaptation. Basically, social creatures exist in a state in which they trust the members of their immediate social grouping not to hurt them. They know they they will not hurt them by familiarity. The social animal knows that to hurt others would be wrong or unnecessary, and since the other animals around it look and act similar to it, it assumes that they agree with this principle and are thus worthy of some measure of trust.

Therefore, when a new organism wanders into the vicinity of the previous animal's "turf", either seeking admission or to otherwise, the animals are far more likely to trust and tolerate an organism that acts and looks like them.

Humans instinctively know this. The social phenomenon of trends and fads arises from this tendency. Most humans will seek to minimize differences in order to belong to a group, and to be seen as a friend and not a threat.

To say that someone that adheres to gender roles is stupid, therefore, is to assume that people are more like gods than animals. We are lucky to possess free will and consciousness, and these things allow us reason that the things we do are wrong or silly or weird. However, thousands of years of social conditioning in the rightness of gender roles cannot be entirely overcome by any individual in so long as those gender roles are still encouraged by popular society and our immediate acquaintances.

It is hardly easy to admit that the power of reasoning cannot overcome my instinctive need to belong to the point where I can erase all the violence done to the definition of my selfhood. My choices in this mad world are either to submit to the need to belong and be unhappy by the nature of the things I must to, as a woman, to belong, or to resist the need to belong and be unhappy by the nature of my loneliness. The "choice" between two unhappinesses is hardly a choice at all. Even consciously choosing one or the other is hardly feasible, for there are a thousand ways that resistance is overcome.

And so I exist in a perpetual state of non-consent. I have never consented to the person I am or the urges I have, instilled by social conditioning. I can only choose to be aware of my misery and loss of choice, or fool myself into thinking that I am free. The second choice, however, is not the greater of two evils. The necessity of ignoring violence is hardly the actions of a weak mind. That too is human nature. If we see no other choice, then no other choice exists. It is not enough for me to say that one chooses to be a porn star, because I do not know if the rational behind joining the sex industry is entirely free. In actuality, I know that it not entirely free, in the same way that I know my decision to pluck my eyebrows is not.

What, then, of those who would objectify women? Are they not subject to the same social forces, are they not the same helpless victims of human instincts? That answer is complicated.

I believe, as do others, that humanity's instincts are not to rend and tear and kill. I think that we are inherently peaceful and altruistic, and that as social creatures we are apt to do good things for others, even for no gain for ourselves, because this instinct has resulted in the creation and maintenance of societies.

Luckily for women, this altruism is not damaged in the way that it is for men. We might be socialized into hurting ourselves, against the instinct of self-preservation, to serve a need to "fit in", because if we do not fit in, we are vulnerable and lonely. However, the altruistic tendency is socialized out of men by the constant message that women are not human, that they are different, that they are the Other. If the natural human inclination is to do good for, or at the very least ignore, those similar to us, then the only way that this instinct can be overturned is by the notion that those that we hurt and suppress and kill are abused for the sake of self-preservation, because they are not human, or because they, being the Other, like it.

This theme is not restricted to gendered interactions. The above is used again and again to perpetuate and justify every human horror, from sexism to racism to animal abuse and to genocide. People electrocute others on the orders of someone in uniform in order to belong and not resist perceived authority--a self-preserving response to the threat that authority embody. What things like the Mil.gram experiments show is not that humanity is naturally cruel, but that we are cruel when we can be convinced that this cruelty is necessary for our own survival or the greater good2.

It is the socialization of the male that warps the natural human altruism, while the socialization of the female merely distorts the urge of self-preservation. That is not to say that females cannot act in such a way that is deliberately cruel, or that men can act in such a way that is self-destructive; merely that gender roles make it far more likely for men to be abusive and for women to be self-sacrificing.

All of this social theory is well and good, but what does it have to do with consent?

There is something very different between a gendered woman's act, such as choosing to stay with an abusive husband, and a men's act, such as beating his wife. That is where I make the distinctions of moral wrongness and consent. A violence done to the self may not be natural, but it is not morally wrong. A woman who chooses to stay with her abuser does no moral wrong. However, a man that chooses, as the result of socialization, to abuse another is not acting out of a perversion of natural human altruism, but is morally wrong.

Likewise, it is not an act of infantilization to admit that gendered interactions, "consented" to by women, are not a product of natural human instincts. It is an admission of their humanity and the social forces that every single one of us will never be free of in our life times. That is not to say that a man's violence is something that he cannot help. On the contrary. While his attitude about women may never be changed, and while men, in so long as the gender continues to be socialized in this fashion, will never consciously and subconsciously think of women as the Same, and not the Other, their choice to act in such a violent matter is exactly that: a choice.

Because we acknowledge that every one of us has the power of reason. We do know that when we do things that affect other people, even animals, that they probably have the power to form an opinion of our actions and the way that they affect them. A woman takes away no one's choice when she plucks her eyebrows or "consents" to marital rape. A man is morally wrong when he acts in such a way that requires the socialized subjugation of women for that action to be valid or "consented" to. In less words, a man perpetuates and submits to sexism, a woman only submits to sexism.

This can be observed in the incontrovertible fact that men, as a collective, have benefited far more from the present state of affairs than women have. Just as a slaveholder may consent to perpetuating slavery, a slave cannot "consent", in the real meaning of the word, to his own status. And this is shown, time and time again, by the state of fear and violence that the masters shower upon their inferiors. They must be made to think that their submission is an act of self defense and of normalcy, or the vast mechanisms of this convoluted hierarchy cannot function. But a man suffers no real loss in status by refusing to abuse. A woman, however, suffers very real losses by refusing to submit to the social forces that drive her to "consent" to her subjugation. Consent, in this context, can only be applied to those actions in which there is a net gain, rather than a net loss.

For it is taken as a priori knowledge that the act of consent, and to a lesser extent, free will, may only be taken by a fully rational human being. And it is truly a sick society in which the definition of consent is only applicable to those that would use it to submit themselves to some other's perversions and abuse, when the other can excuse his abuse, and gains, with various appeals to his right of superiority and moral wrongness.

And that is how and why, in many words, women's actions are not subject to the same sort of scrutiny and scorn as the actions of someone who perpetually benefits from a society that bestows upon him unearned privilege and rights for his chance of a penile appendage.  

1I refuse to call them "pro-sex". Porn isn't sex any more than a movie with a sex scene is a real sex act. Just because it looks like sex and is marketed for sexual pleasure does not mean that it is sex and not a performance.

2Excepting, of course, those instances of real human sociopathy or mental illness. Which, I am convinced, are extremely rare and usually mistakenly contributed to psychosis and not an extreme reaction to normal socialization.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BlogThings Doesn't Want to Get Some Coffee with Me After Class

You Are A Bad Date!
Sometimes it just seems like your heart isn't in it

At least, not unless the guy is a dead ringer for Brad Pitt (with more money)

You just don't spend enough time wondering if he's having fun...

And newsflash - he probably isn't!

 

Oh God, where to start? Of course my heart is not in a date if the man is not attractive. I see how BlogThings tried to assume that I was a bad girl for not being enthused about a man who undoubtedly spent far far less time on his appearance than I did.

For that matter, who walks around wondering if they are pleasing the person they are with? Women, that's who! Look, dude, if you don't like me, get up and leave. That's for you to decide. If you want me to bat my eyelashes and act like I think you're the hottest thing since the invention of the wheel, you are completely delusional. Honestly, I would be questioning someone's motives if they were so enthused about spending time with someone they hardly know that they are constantly second-guessing if the other person is having fun.

Also, thanks for the snarky newsflash (seriously, who the hell still uses such cliches outside of satire?), but if a guy can't have fun unless I am acting like he is some male Adonis and I am so insecure that I constantly cater his needs by wondering what I would possibly do to make him have fun, then I'm glad I'm raining on his egotistic parade.

So what did I do to BlogThings to make them assume I am such a craptastic date?

First, they asked me what would be a good spot for a first date. I would never want to see any sort of movie with Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon, so that option was out. Furthermore, I do not have the money to be spending it on a nice dinner and concert tickets for a guy I do not even know (shit, I can't even afford to do that with my best friends), so that option was crossed out. I figured that I liked lunches, and lunches at quiet spots, and lunches at quiet spots with views, so I picked that one. Sounded low-maintenance and cheap.

Then we moved onto my pre-date beauty ritual. I was a bit stumped at this question. Honestly, it's not a "beauty ritual". I do not pray at any sort of altar for the gods of porn to bless me with a suitably fuckable face. I immediately knew that I did not spend an hour doing anything remotely like painting my nails and doing my hair, so that option was out. I do have minimum standards of hygiene, however, and I abhor being late, so I could not choose "you really don't have one - unless rushing to make the date on time counts," even as much as I wanted to out of spite for the stupidity of the idea of any sort of beauty "ritual". So I settled on a new shirt, some perfume, and refreshing my lipstick. Even though I don't wear lipstick.

Okay, now we finally get to things about men. Of course, it's things about how we react to men, rather then how men treat us. Because how a man would treat me on a date has no bearing on my behavior on that date. No sir 'ee. I am the picture of modesty and feminine grace no matter how much of a douchebag my potential paramour might happen to be. It's my duty as a woman to deal with the bullshit of men because "boys will be boys" and my lack of penis means I must suffer losers and misogynists by God's holy decree.

So, question three: "What do you try to find out about a guy on the first date?" First, I do not "catch" men, and I am not interested in his suitability to being "caught". I would not bring up the topic of money and income on a first date, probably because I have neither and the issue is fairly touchy for me right at the moment. Also, Donald Trump is probably one of the biggest sexist pricks on the planet, so it's fairly obvious that income does not have much of a bearing on personality. I was tempted to pick "what he's like as a boyfriend... to see if you want to be with him", but then I thought better. Hi, earth to Jen: it's a first date. You don't plan cakes and wedding and moving in together on the first date. I don't even know what the guy likes to do, what kind of person he is, and whether or not I can stand him for a full evening, so I'm not about to question if I want to "be with him". That statement could also be taken as whether or not I was willing to sleep with him on the first date, and then my answer would be a resounding "check please!" coupled with a quick brush-off. So obviously I needed to pick the option that stated that I needed to see what he did for fun and if we had enough common ground to even be friends. Honestly, I don't fuck people I don't like as people. It's not a good situation all around.

Next, the quiz wondered what my reaction would be to a guy who claimed that he loved rollerblading (people still do that?) and that he used to do it every weekend with his last ex. My typical reaction would ask why he does not anymore, simply because I cannot fathom a world in which the prerequisite to exercising with someone is sleeping with them, and that this exercising must immediately cease upon the ending of the sex. So you only have fun with the people you're sleeping with? Check please! But that wasn't an option. Pity. I had to skip over the answer that I would tell him that that was "awesome". Really, rollerblading is not so exciting that I am going to lie about my opinion, because I do not have one, of it. I would also not tell him that his hobby was stupid because my ex-boyfriend used to take me on elaborate trips on the weekends. My ex-boyfriend's idea of a weekend get-away was pestering me to have sex on his roommate's bed. I would probably say something about how I used to love rollerblading, because I actually did, and ask him where he liked to rollerblade. It's always nice to keep tabs on places that are friendly to transportation devices other than cars.

So now my date asks me why I am single. If he was a bad date, I would probably respond that, "because I have had a series of really bad relationships. Also, I hate reruns. Check please!" If he was a good date, I would shrug and say that most dates do not go as well as this one did, and I must have standards. Of course, BlogThings is neither as witty, nor as intelligent as me, so neither of these options were available. First, the idea of "Mr.Right" coming along to make me happy with his shlong of manly awesomeness is pathetic, so that's a no. Complaining about my last relationships ("oh, the last one cheated on me with my now ex-best friend, the one before that was not a man--by the way I'm bisexual, and the one before that raped me") probably is not a good idea either. Thus, I'd tell him that I am busy and that I haven't "clicked with anyone yet".

Now I have to assume that my date is boring. Hardly a stretch. Then, it is revealed that my waiter is attractive, and single. What do I do? Well, I'm certainly not going to corner him, while still on my date, and ask for his number. Advertising my willingness to boy scout in entirely inappropriate moments is not prudent. Likewise, I would not slip him a note on the way out. Having standards, I would probably finish the date, keep my hands to myself, and then come back to the restaurant later, alone, because I'm not stupid.

To mix it up, now I have to assume my date is not boring. I might have to use some brainpower for this exercise. My phone rings, so what do I do? The idea of answering it and saying something to whoever is on the line about how great my date is would be stupid beyond words. Really, why should I have to act so coy? I didn't even bother to look at any other answer other than the one that included "this does not happen because I know where the off button my cell is". If I am in a one-on-one situation with another person, I turn my fucking cellphone off. I also expect the other person to do the same. Common courtesy, where art thou? I'm on a date with John Doe, not with my best friend and my potentially "just checking up" mother. Also, I really hate it when I suddenly become the third wheel to someone who is not even there, so I would never do that to someone. Phone is off.

Now my hypothetical date is over. My first option inspires the gag reflex: asking him to kiss me. Oh lord. If I want to kiss, then I ask him if I can kiss him. Look buddy, these are my lips, I want a kiss, and if you would be a willing participant in this kissing adventure, nod yes and off we go! Also, the idea of asking someone to do something to me, like I am some sort of object, is gross. No thanks. Furthermore, I will not ask someone to call me like I wait by the phone for his approval. Neither do I ask if I should call him. If I want to spend time with you, I'll call. If you want to spend time with me, you call. Why must I make dating into this bizarre "please do X to be because I am too helpless to do it myself"? So, if the date was good, I'd be likely to say, "that was so much fun. Thanks for taking me out!" Because it's nice to thank people for spending enjoyable time with you, and to express how much you enjoyed spending time with them. Hey, I'm blunt and honest.

So, I submitted my test on a lark. And BlogThings told me I was a shitty date. I'm going to assume that this is because I date like a person trying to discover if I like someone rather then dating like a coy flirty "chick" trying to manipulate a egomanic into wanting to do dirty degrading things to me.

Oh how bad am I? I date under the assumption that (a) I like you as a person and (b) I am attracted to you. If either are false, then I'm not dating you. Thus, a first date is an experiment of how I feel. I could really give a shit about pleasing someone else by being something I am not.

Then my results tell me: Newsflash, Jen! Men don't want to date women with standards for themselves and others, and they certainly don't want to date someone more interested in how a woman feels about a guy as person then how much that woman would like to them to fuck her. Because if I have standards, and I want you as a person, that means that you have to behave and meet me somewhere in the middle.

In this crazy world, however, dating isn't about my happiness, it's about how much I can fake liking men for their enjoyment. Thanks for the update BlogThings!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A eulogy for my brother

His memory is bittersweet. I recall the first time I behold his large forehead and open blue eyes as he looked up into my four-year old face from his perch in my lap by the bedside of my postpartum mother. I remember the days when I would throw a tantrum because I hated school and my little brother was always there to play with me, no matter how awkward I was. I was his sun, his older sister, and he fell into my orbit with his wide grin and habit of throwing peas into old ladies' hair at the local cafeteria.

I loved my brother with all my heart and then some. I missed him dearly when we were separated, me eleven and he seven. I wondered if he missed me, in the city with my mom, while I lived under the thumb of my draconian father and aloof stepmother. The weekends were cacophonous and ironically peaceful. The monotony of my schoolwork was broken only by the weekend interludes of the time with my brother. For two days we were together again, and the pull of our sibling love for the other was palpable in its normalcy. I look back at the times my jealousy overcame my young heart with such nostalgia. My rage for his luck of my mother's leniency, and his yearning for my natural book smarts. We were complements, he and I. I was the approval seeker, disappointed when my brother, who could not read, received more attention than I, She Who Devoured Books. My best friend, my partner in crime. He would pick up sticks in the alley behind my father's house at my dare, and stick them between the slats of our neighbor's fence to tease their anxious dog. When the animal bit and snapped and rattled the fence, we would laugh at our cleverness at overcoming such a foul beast and narrowly escape down the alleyway with our lives intact.

He flourished, one day, my brother. He moved out of my orbit and into his own. The height of the diving board became no match for his will and his drive. The things he would not do without the teasing of his older sister became the things he did to impress someone other than me. Perhaps it was himself he was trying to please. His slowness receded, and my best friend became someone other than my reflection and my twin. He read things I had no wish to. The games I played held no interest for him anymore. The weekends we spent, glued to each other's side, became two days in which we saw each other sporadically in the breaks between our own interests.

And I loved this person, this brother of mine. No longer my shadow, but someone new. I loved him not in the childish way that one loves their arm as a part of themselves, but in the way a sibling loves her younger brother, who succeeded where she failed, failed where she succeeded, and sometimes never attempted either success or failure in those things which she once did. We fought with the viciousness of cats at play, confident that there would be a time, usually the hour after, in which we loved one another again. Our arguments were petty: dishes and garbage cans and hair in the sink. But we loved each other still, and the time we spend apart made the times we compromised together sweeter.

But there came a time when my brother fell ill. His guileless blue eyes turned cold, and his head lolled towards the ground instead of towards the sky. His silly games became taunts, a madness, a game, in which there was no object or reason other than the expression of his agony. He did not care anymore for anything at all. Nothing but that which reflected his illness back at him. There was a fire that burned, not of passion, but of pestilence. And that fire was both literal and figurative.

That day was the day I knew that my brother was dying. He stood on the pavement, a mask over his face, his arm wrapped in gauze, and the firetrucks' flashing red amongst the facades of cookie-cutter suburban adobe. The air stunk of smoke and of water. All I smelled was fear, fear and a crushing agony that never abated. As they shoved his wrists in cuffs and I held my weeping mother close, I persisted in holding on to the false hope that this sickness was not terminal. That there would be a day again where my brother's eyes sparkled with glee and my mother laughed at our antics.

For a time, my delusion held. There were no more cuffs, and no more uniforms knocking at our door. We still fought over trash cans, hair in the sink, and drums during homework. But his jacket was still black, and his time was still spent looking into mirrors that echoed his madness, and the fights were of rabid beasts, not of cats. I ignored these moments that broke my lie. I would curl in on myself even as I held my head high as his words of pestilence and famine and death crashed round my ears. I blamed myself for this illness. I blamed my mother for her surrender, unwillingly given by necessity. I blamed by father for his absence and the passing of this malady.

And then there was the day my brother was dead. The laughing boy I loved like myself was gone. There is no anniversary of his death to mark by time. It was only recently that I realized that the foulness of rot was only gone with his physical absence. How do you morn a love greater than yourself? How do you see that which is dead in the face of a monster? And so I bury my brother today. My partner in crime, my love, and my hope.

This memory of love makes my reality of hate so much more unbearable. The monster that inhabits my home in his place says things that hurt, says things that make my own madness laugh and grin and beat a tempo of futility amongst the demons of reality traipsing through my head. I cannot bear to look upon this monster and see my own illness reflected back at me. This illness of hate and violence and twisted love. But we are one and the same, still, this new monster and I. We both hate that which has no name, she who wears my face and my sex. She that taunts and laughs at me for the things I wish and wish not to be, and he for the things he wishes he had or hates that he wishes or and hates that he does not have.

So I buried my brother. I dug a deep grave beside one I unwillingly dug, teaspoon by teaspoon, a long time ago. Here I buried that which was once was my brother, and will never be again, beside the shed skin of someone who was once me. There are no gravestones to mark this hallowed place; no mausoleum at which to mourn for the possibilities now lost.

My only reminder of this death is the emptiness of the monster's eyes as they gaze deep into the emptiness of mine.

Rape Culture or the Perversion of Nature

There exists a portion of academia that I  continually denigrate and mock. Namely, the sociobiologist pseudo-intellectual who argues that all, or most, present gaps and differences between races, genders or religions are a product of evolution. More often than not, they are responsible for completely non-sensible conclusions, unsupported by their own research, to explain how things like the American male aversion to pink or the female dissatisfaction with casual sex are biological imperatives rather than learned social behaviors.

In case you did not already conclude this, I am very much a tabula rasa breed of philosopher. This examination of social forces has largely gone out of style. I imagine that this is because sociological fields require quite a bit more creativity and intuition than the hard sciences. While evolution is undoubtedly more rational than creationism, using it to justify every single minutia of human deviancy is intellectually dishonest. Evolutionary biologists adhere to their theories with all the fervor of religious dogma. Like evangelists, who think that all sins are forgiven, as long as one has faith, the sociobiologist justifies deviant behavior, including his own, with the claim that "we just can't help it".

While claims of the biological inferiority of the female sex never fail to inspire eye-rolls and immediate dismissal from my good favor, nothing quite inspires anger like the evolutionary rape apologist.

Rape, this pseudo-intellectual might claim, is a natural imperative. Men cannot control their penises by design. Even if they could, rape is responsible for the continuation of the species and the fulfillment of the biological imperative to procreate by any means necessary.

First of all, such thinking is not only incredibly dangerous, but also more a product of old Christian ideas on human nature than empirical science. If rape is natural, and we take it as a priori that rape is bad, then humanity is bad. The root of such conclusions does not lie in Darwinism, but in the doctrine of original sin and influential Western philosophers that parroted such notions; namely, Hobbes and Machiavelli.

Secondly, the idea that rape best serves the continuation of the species is completely nonsensical. The biological imperative to procreate is undoubtedly mutual to both sexes. However, sex is hardly an act that requires brutality. On the contrary, the female sex organs are designed for pleasurable stimulation, and new studies have shown that the female orgasm might play a role in strengthening the kelgel muscles for successful childbirth or that the orgasm itself may increase the chances of fertilization.

However, not all rape is brutal. The idea, however, that the manipulation or force of rape encourages sex is absurd. Women are biologically just as likely to want sex, intimacy, and reproduction as a man. Manipulation of her will or the enslavement of marital duties hardly makes the act enjoyable or a female more likely to partake of it. Even a child can tell you that chores are things which they pull out all stops to prevent their necessity or command. Women are quite capable of enjoying sex and motherhood on their own, thus the manipulation of natural inclinations would be more rooted in religion and delusion than science. The loss of control, the violation of selfhood, that rape creates would not increase the rate at which women have children or men have successful sexual encounters. Rape inspires sexual dysfunction, stress disorders, and various other psychological scars that would prohibit a woman from wanting to bear more children and discourage her from all future interpersonal relationships, vastly decreasing the chances that she would bear further offspring.

Pretending that all of the above is irrational, rape still is not a valid evolutionary response. If the purpose of rape is to increase the proliferation of the human species, than leaving a now prospective mother with feelings other than love for the resulting children is hardly rational. The imperative to hunt the most vulnerable female or to manufacture female vulnerability as a cultural norm, likewise, is in opposition to the idea that the biological imperative is to create healthy and strong offspring. Animals hunt the weakest, but they mate with the strongest. A man who claims that his urge to rape a young child or someone he thinks of inferior to himself is not the characteristics of natural sexuality. Reproduction between equals, not a monster and his created inferior, would result from the healthiest genetics.

This deviancy echoes in our society. The acquisition of sexual conquests is expressed with such metaphors related to hunting, such as "on the prowl". In this rape culture, the dominant definition of sex is not, by any rational justification, the makings of an evolutionary imperative. The default definition of intercourse, the having of the woman by the man, has much more to do with cruelty and manufactured sociopathy than healthy proliferation of the species. To say that rape is about power, not sex, is not as accurate as it was once thought to be. Rape, by definition, is the sexualization of power.

Rape and the manufacture of female inferiority, as I have clearly explained above, is also a massive deviation from the idea of evolutionary success. Any intellectual who purports any differently is not a intellectual at all, but a dogmatist seeking to rationalize his, or others, sexual deviancy with a hijacked perversion of science.