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Archive for March, 2012

I’ve been thinking of some analogies for that common rape case trope that the victim had previous sexual experience (e.g. “she wasn’t a virgin anyway” and “she liked it before”) hence she must have been asking for it. Here they are: “But you had sex with one woman once, so why wouldn’t you have sex with your mother?”; “you enjoyed apple pie last week, so why wouldn’t you enjoy it when it’s force-fed to you and covered with spikes?”; “you told me once in passing that green was a nice color, so of course you must want to undergo a special surgery that adjusts your eyesight to see ONLY GREEN ALL THE TIME.”

By this logic, if a person ever expresses (or is presumed to feel) desire for anything in any context (i.e. sex with someone pleasant in a pleasant situation in which one is a pleasantly treated party), one must de facto desire it IN ALL CONTEXTS. ALL THE TIME. Had sex with your lover last year? Then, ipso facto, you must want to have sex with every sleazy, slobbering sex offender who ever lived, in front of your family, nonstop, for the next ten years. Play a fun game of Go Fish at one point in your life? Then CLEARLY you must be so obsessed with card games you want to participate in an international card-playing championship and it’s all you think about all the time, you card slut, you.

Obviously, this is not about experience but the bigoted belief that any sexual experience experienced by a woman automatically discredits her because Sex for Women is Bad which must leave heterosexual men in such an unpleasant place, right? Desiring what you hate. YUCK. In this classic, misogynistic view, woman are valued only for their “purity,” not for their minds, thoughts, feelings, favorite foods, favorite books, favorite sexual positions and the surely interesting reasoning behind those selected favorites. One way I think about all this is by wondering: What is my ultimate goal as a person? Are my goals fundamentally different from anyone else’s? Assuming that no, most of us want to be happy and act in accordance with our beliefs, we really cut off our ability to be ourselves by limiting other people’s ability to be themselves  if we immediately stop caring and start freaking out at the emergence of the topic SEX and anything that hints of sex, and sex had by a woman is BAD, BAD, BAD. Ooh, naughty, naughty girl, you make me so—no! Sex is bad! Jesus/Allah/other stuff told me so! My feelings upset me so I will blame them on YOU, woman!

I will now refer to Silent Bob’s wise, kind words in Chasing Amy. Wow, Kevin Smith is cool.

And So! In conclusion! Let’s not be mean! Let’s not use any weird, prejudiced excuse to punish any one group for being human. In the specific case of sexism, let’s just clear this all up right now: Sex is so many things! Sex can be wonderful and sweet! Or not! Why are we so afraid and threatened by autonomous female sexuality (that might want to sexually involve itself with YOU! And you and you! Or maybe not, but either way, another person’s predilections, past, current and future explorations are interesting, worth discussing an considering but not anyone else’s to DICTATE and CONFINE) that we censor it and scapegoat it? Such sensationalism! We’re just people, man.

OK, now that that’s all cleared up, let’s some of us have sex and some of us read books and some of us make apple pie, do math problems, play with our pets–whatever brings us happiness–and stop being assholes.

See: snippets from Thomas Macaulay Millar’s “Toward a Performance Model of Sex”
 
Little kitty wants to be free! You too can be free! Stop blaming kitty for your lack of freedom and run with kitty!
 

 

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But don’t hold me to them! I’m just a person cobbling together connections, impressions and stuff my mom says + other stuff. Also, I don’t want that responsibility. I just want to ideate. Voila!

Here’s my theory: This whole system of female subordination seems based on the defensive insecurity socialized in men (and to which many men do not subscribe, thank the figurative lord) who have been bred to be emotionally dependent on the enforced insecurity of other people, particularly those who threaten the easily-threatened myth of ideal masculinity, e.g. women, gays, other men. But this societally-wrought insecurity is also psychologically-based. Primal envy of a mother-daughter bond or anger that mother-son relationships are more sexually complicated that those between the mother and female offspring create rage and—

Wait a minute! Sociologically, this theory is totally heterosexist! Psychoanalytically, it is lacking! So,  here’s my new theory: According to Adrienne Rich paraphrasing Nancy Chodorow, “The mother remains a primary internal object [sic] to the girl, so that heterosexual relationships are on the model of a nonexclusive, second relationship for her, whereas for the boy they recreate an exclusive, primary relationship”… women “have learned to deny the limitations of masculine lovers for both psychological and practical reasons” e.g. economic survival, not freaking out the conservative neighbors or feeling like a freak in a (rigged to be) rigid society.

But this still seems too subjective a view—which is fine and very interesting but shouldn’t be used as the universal explanation for male violence and self-violence. I’d say the thwarted and frustrated love of one’s PARENT (though usually, in our unequal division of labor, the woman) is what compels all people to oppress and exploit other people but because historically, economically and socially men have more power than women, they can do more damage on a grander scale.

In all respects, all this obsession with controlling women that’s been codified in restrictive legislation and cultural protocol and gender-based apartheid disguised as “eternal” or “natural” biology wouldn’t EVER be so great if the establishment of male power (and female collaborators) didn’t see women–or rather, what women represent–as a threat. Subjugating women is a way to defend against fear of the attributes we socially associate with women and envy of the psychological bond between mothers and daughters—or, envy of pleasant, playful, loving relationships between other parents and their children, blaming of the parent (usually the mother) for withholding love and scapegoating all women as a continuation of this early lack of love.

Hmm. Here’s my proposed solution! We teach by example that our children are valuable and loved and that love ISN’T CONDITIONAL and isn’t contingent on behavior or belief, gender, race, sexuality, etc. because with that assurance of constancy, children who grow into adults will have no cause for manifesting oppressive, corrupt patriarchal privilege. I think a good way to interrupt the sadism of sexism (and all the isms tantamount to it) is to elucidate the causes (better than I just did)–psychological, sociological and personalize it. Examine everything as an institution with political implications. Accept nothing at face value. Except absolutes. Rimshot.

But wait! One more important thing: I think a huge part of ending subjugation (of self and others, since you have to first loathe yourself to loathe others) is directly related to sexuality and expanding our understanding of desires, feelings, hopes, dreams! And, uh, the way we move through the world and assign value. I think if we re-orient our identities as PEOPLE first, not men, women, not any defined sexual orientation (even if you feel awfully straight), we’ll have a much easier time grappling with multilayered and contradictory emotions that are informed BY sexuality and inform sexuality which goes on to inform everything since we are sexual beings and a) that’s good and b) sexuality doesn’t mean sex exclusively (subcategory: what constitutes sex?). When I say ‘sex’ I think I mean about a million things, as do all people with our histories, associations and experiences of the IDEA and actuality of sex e.g. being alive. Basically, sexuality is a microcosm of our understanding of other people, who ultimately speak to our understanding of OURSELVES! As a wise man once said, “The acceptance of our erotic choices ultimately depends on the degree to which society is willing to affirm sexual expression as a form of play, positive and life-enhancing. Our movement may have begun as the struggle of a “minority,” but what we should now be trying to “liberate” is an aspect of the personal lives of all people…”

And I’m not done! As a final thought, I think it’s wise when philosophizing, as I am now doing, to always bring everything back to yourself, otherwise you end up glossing over the origins for philosophies that are extrapolated personal experiences. Also, that way there’s less chance you’ll be manipulated by accusations of hypocrisy if you’re aware of the naturalness of contradictions and your own in particular. Have I fulfilled that mandate? I don’t think so.

Say, what a nice archival picture!

Finis.

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Hey there anonymous multitudes! I wondered, would you be interested in helping me raise funds for abortion access? I thought I’d ask.

I’m participating in the National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon and I would be greatly honored if you would donate to the cause. Here’s my pitch: Reproductive rights are human rights. Until all women–particularly low-income women and women of color–have access to basic bodily integrity and the right to control their own bodies, well… I imagine people will just keep fighting. ‘Cause it’s ethical to do so! So, if you can, any aid would be very much appreciated.

“No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” – Sanger

“By the age of forty-four, eighty-five percent of all women in the United States bring life into the world. By nearly the same age, approximately one third of women, most of them mothers, will have had an abortion. If “pro-choice” advocates keep responding to efforts to re-criminalize abortion only by arguing for the legality of abortion, then we accept a narrow image of women as “people who have abortions” rather than as people who sometimes have abortions and far more often have children and take responsibility for raising them and caring for them and the homes they live in.” -Lynn Paltrow

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