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 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


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.