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Vanilla is Really Tasty (especially when you haven’t got that nasty porn taste in your mouth)

Here’s the list of “vanilla privilege.” What can I say, I got bored and irritated.

* A vanilla person does not have to fear that discovery of their being vanilla will have an effect on their work life.

Wait. What do you mean by “discovery”? It’s generally a good idea to keep your sex life out of work, especially because your coworkers do not appreciate it, but you can be “vanilla” and in a same-sex relationship—or does that magically count as “non-vanilla”?

* A vanilla person usually does not have to worry about the potential legal implications of sex in the manner they prefer with a consenting adult partner.
* A vanilla person does not have to worry about their being vanilla as having bearing on whether they are considered fit to be parents.

I’m fairly sure there aren’t any legal implications other than losing your children when you’re “non-vanilla,” at least in the U.S. But it’s pretty hard to argue that Peacock Angel is speaking to non-Western countries, since the idea of “kink oppression homigosh” is basically a non-issue when you’re not a privileged brat. Also notice the erasure of intimate same-sex or polyamorous relationships that do not include power dynamics, porn, or kink.

* A vanilla person doesn’t have to worry about their being vanilla being thought of as diseased or pathological.

Oh, yeah—you know, I never get thought of as repressed or uptight or a religious zealot or that I’m somehow just hiding some terrible fetish and pretending to be egalitarian. And I never get told this to my face, either, the same way lesbians never get told that there’s something wrong with them for not wanting to fuck men.

* A vanilla person will have an easier time finding depictions of people with sex lives similar to their own in the media.

Wheeeee no.

Anyone who takes this seriously is disconnected from reality; just for a start, “vanilla” sex is predicated upon a power dynamic of a passive partner and an aggressive one—a “man” and a “woman.” The “traditional” idea of sex—as a heterosexual, monogamously married relationship consisting mostly of missionary PIV and maybe you can talk her into licking your stick—is rife with power dynamics, and inherently not “vanilla” at all. It’s simply beyond me how anyone with an introduction to privilege-dynamics can refer to “vanilla” sex as somehow fundamentally different from what’s defined as “kinky.” Porn makes you incapable of thinking, I guess.

But even more than that, nooot really. Gather together 100 depictions of a sexual relationship from recent television shows and 100% of it will be power dynamics. If you go for references to sex from recent television shows (between adults, not children), you’re likely to find that about 75% of them can refer to “kinky” sex.

And again, because “vanilla” sex isn’t by any means egalitarian or non-pornified, I can’t find any depictions of people with sex lives similar to my own. I’m more fucking oppressed than you!

* A vanilla person will not have their sexual orientation called into question due to their sexual practices.

That’s pretty funny, because the fact is that Peacock Angel doesn’t seem to allow for “vanilla” gays and lesbians or triads. Zie doesn’t seem to be aware that zie is, therefore, questioning the sexuality of “vanilla” gays and lesbians because of their sexual practices.

* A vanilla person will have comparably easy access to reliable dealing with safety surrounding their sexual practices.

Oh, right. Because, you know, there’s so much correct information on the proper use of condoms and dental dams out there, as well as how to use them how to have sex e.g. proper stretching practices, not to mention the plethora of materials surrounding consent that are taught to you from a very young age. And not to mention access to STD protection, contraceptives, and abortion!

I live in a motherfucking utopia. Thank you for showing me the fucking light.

* A vanilla person seeking medical attention due to an accident that occurred during sex will not face scrutiny or be treated unsympathetically because of the nature of the vanilla nature of their sexual activity.

You know it! Women of any age never face scrutiny and unsympathetic medical staff when they have to resolve problems from their “vanilla” sex life.

* Vanilla is not used as a pejorative.

Okay, this one is absolutely true. The mainstream culture, which is in love with “vanilla” misogynistic power dynamics, never uses “vanilla” to mean that you have some kind of mental or personal flaw. No one is ever pressured into having sex they don’t want to have by being told they’re too “vanilla” as if it implies those same mental and personal flaws.

Heck, vanilla is so not used as a pejorative that Peacock Angel is actually using it to refer to real vanilla! All you folks who thought zie was defining you out of existence were simply imagining things.

VANILLA BEANS! HOORAY!

* A vanilla person will not be assumed to be a sexual predator because of their vanilla sexual practices, nor will language used to refer to vanilla people as a group be used to describe rapists and perpetrators.

… ? Besides the language that the kinksters adopted for themselves (sadist, slave, etc.), there’s not much that you can say is used against kinksters that’s also used against rapists. And perpetrators of what, exactly? Power dynamics?

Anyway, I can’t imagine why anyone would attribute sexual predatoriness to someone who finds domination and power erotic. After all, rape isn’t about power and domination at all; they’ve got nothing to do with each other.

* A vanilla person will have an easy time finding media that portrays people with their sexual preferences sympathetically and accurately.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHA

HA

ARGH.

(P.S. The Department of Redundancy Department called; they said they’d like to see if you could come in for a job interview so that they can see about giving you a job to work at for your career.)

* Vanilla people will never have their sexual practices used for shock value.

???

“Vanilla” power dynamics, including groping, sexual harassment, and boys-will-be-boys exploitativeness: not used for shock value.
Egalitarian lesbian, het and gay sex (poly optional): not used for shock value.

… Um, alright. How do I get a ticket to the dimension Peacock Angel is living in?

* A vanilla person does not have to worry about outsiders perceiving their relationship as abusive or pathological.

Hahahaha. Yeah. Having egalitarian sex isn’t weird at all.

Obviously, to correct this we need to acknowledge the truth: that “vanilla” sex is abusive and pathological, too. Then we can have actual, interesting, non-pornified sex where our fantasies aren’t fed to us from a male- and white-privileged hegemony.

* Safe spaces for vanilla courtship and socializing are not privilege to legal harassment in the way BDSM clubs are.

Exactly! Those safe spaces for “vanilla” courtship and socializing have to be kept free for sexual harassment.

* A vanilla person will not have their being vanilla brought up during a rape investigation (either as accuser or accused)

OH SHIT I THINK I JUST PEED MYSELF LAUGHING.

C’mon, Peacock Angel. Cough it up. How do I travel to the world you’re living in? Because seriously, I want to live there instead. I have social-ideology incongruity and I need to transition but hard.

* Vanilla people can assume their relationship partners will not find their sexual arousal pattern disgusting.

Someone’s never read The Hite Report or The Hite Report on Male Sexuality, I see. Or seen or heard the thousands of casual or joking jabs about how women are just so hard to bring to orgasm, or how it’s disgusting to go down on someone’s vulva, etc. etc. etc.

For a kinkster, Peacock Angel sure is awful sheltered.

* A vanilla person will not fear their sexual practices counting against them in a divorce.

Again, sheltered. When you speak in absolutes, you better be damn sure of them. Either people who are “vanilla” are not mainstream—they actually constitute a small minority—and Peacock Angel has just decided that they’re not kinky enough, or Peacock Angel doesn’t know jack shit about the world, or the definition of “vanilla” is absolutely incoherent.

If you checked D) All of the above, here’s an internet cookie. Nibble on it with joy.

* A vanilla person will not be asked about the origins of their sexual arousal pattern, or have it assumed their sexual arousal pattern stems from trauma or disease.

Again with the LGBTAP erasure: apparently you’re just not allowed to define yourself as non-kinky if you’re not the 1% of the world that’s in a heterosexual monogamous marriage completely devoid of anything but missionary-style PIV and of whom both partners were virgins when they got married.

Just, I… this is really incoherent.

* A vanilla person will not have to worry much about their roommate discovering their vanilla-ness.

Yes; everyone knows that it’s a perfectly comfortable situation for your roommate to know details about your sex life as long as you’re “vanilla.”

For which you apparently do not have to be married, even, meaning that a good fourth of this list doesn’t even apply to any of the people Peacock Angel considers “vanilla.”

* A vanilla person’s actions will not be attributed to their being vanilla. (Many people link people’s bad actions to their kinkiness, “Well of course he’s a thief, he’s kinky”)

Yeah, that never happens to “vanilla” peeps… I’ve never heard of any case where a young woman’s actions were attributed to the fact that she wasn’t a virgin or anything. Or promiscuity being attributed to gay men and bisexuals. Or a hatred for men attributed to lesbians.

* Symbols of vanilla affection/romance will not be appropriated as “edgy” fashion statements (E.G. collars)

Exactly, they’ll just be appropriated as non-edgy fashion! Now everyone can “enjoy” patriarchal power dynamics! Because it’s not like we’re not forced into it anyway!

P.S.: Any community that tolerates a subset labeling itself as and eroticising/glorifying slavery has exactly 0.000% of the room in the world to talk about “appropriation.” Seriously, Peacock Angel even identifies zemself as a dominatrix—like that hasn’t been used as a tool of oppression.

* Discovery of equipment associated with vanilla sexual practices, provided they are otherwise privileged (condoms, lubricant, even a vibrator) although embarrassing will not result people’s drastically changing their opinion of the person in question.

Um, exactly what the fuck are you talki—oh, right. Sorry, for a minute there I forgot that Peacock Angel is actually living in an alternate dimension, where this is not complete bullshit and a painful mockery of reality, particularly in countries where the female-born sex class have little to no hope of being able to attain the kind of “oppression” Peacock Angel is talking about. Carry on.

* A vanilla person will not have their masculinity/femininity called into question because of their dominance/submission in bed (I.E. A woman who enjoys being sexually dominant may be called unfeminine, or a man who enjoys being sexually submissive may be called unmasculine)

Of course not. They’ll have their masculinity/femininity called into question because of their lack of dominance/submission in real life! No doy, you stupid radscum fauxminists.

(Extra credit: why is being “unfeminine” or “unmasculine” to someone without power over you a bad thing?)

* The discovery of a famous person having vanilla sex (provided it is within the other realms of privileged sex, monogamous, heterosexual, etc) will not be considered news worthy.

* A vanilla person’s sex related equipment (E.G. Condoms, lubricant, dental dams) will be regulated by government agencies and tested thoroughly for efficacy and safety.

Yeah, exactly! Everyone knows that condoms, lubricant and dental dams aren’t, like, actually necessary to have any kind of healthy and non-reproductive sexual activity, “vanilla” or not. It’s not like they could jeopardize anyone’s life or health if they’re defective, after all! Those things are “sex-related equipment” in exactly the same way that bondage gear and restraints are for the kinksters! It’s not like condoms, lubricant and dental dams are basic STD and contraceptive protection and kinky “sex-related equipment” is restricted to people with the class privilege to buy them! All types of sexual activity are equal, dammit! Peacock Angel and the other kinksters deserve floggers as a basic right on par with minimum safe-sex materials!

Oh man, this is so exciting. Peacock Angel is all over there like GET UP STAND UP STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS to perpetuate a patriarchal sexuality that eroticises power, pain and dominance. ROCK ON!

* Vanilla people can find numerous studies relating to their sexuality and sexual desire from the scientific community that do not treat them as marginal or pathological.

Hahahahaha. Okay. So what’s the punchline?

* A vanilla person can count on the media to usually get the symbols associated with their relationships generally right (Here’s an example of the media getting it wrong, dominants generally don’t wear collars)

Oh my gosh, someone somewhere depicted a dominant wearing a collar! THAT’S LIKE BLACKFACE, GUIZE.

* There is accurate medical research on the effects of vanilla sex upon the human body, kinky people are left with scraps here and there and anecdotal evidence. We still don’t know if it’s safe to flog breasts.

Yeah, you know, they even tested water on animals. Freakin’ water, I’m not even kidding, even though we already knew the effects of water on an animal body. I know, right? Hilarious, or something. Vivisectionists will use any excuse to torture animals to death for grant money.

Huh? What? Oh. Alright, define “safe.” Free of power dynamics? Free of patriarchal imagery? Free of discomfort and pain? Free of a culture that sees violence and force as erotic?

* A vanilla person will not worry about how their vanilla-ness reflect upon their gender, sex, sexuality, age group, etc etc etc.

Sheltered.

* A person’s political beliefs will not be called into question due to their being vanilla. (For example, a heterosexual man who identifies as a feminist and acts as a good feminist but is sexually dominant may be told he is a bad feminist for enjoying a dominant role during sex, same for a heterosexual female submissive, or a sexually dominant woman may be called an angry feminist due to her preference for a dominant role during sex)

What? Wow, sheltered. Apparently Peacock Angel has never encountered politics in regards to LGBTA before.

* A vanilla person will have an easy time finding a counsellor who understands and is sympathetic towards their vanilla sexual practices.

A… counselor? Like, a therapist? A psychologist? A grief counselor? A hypnotist? A school career counselor? Or just “a counselor”? Is this one of those things that exists only in Peacock Angel’s dimension?

* Vanilla-ness is not vilified or exotified by the media (For exotification/vilification of the kink community check out basically any CSI/Bones/Law and Order type show with an episode that deals with kink, or numerous episodes of shows like 1000 Ways To Die)

Well, yeah, that’s true. Heterosexist power dynamics within relationships, and especially within sexual relationships, are just treated like they’re a requirement for a normal sexual life. It’s actually really depressing. Zie’s finally gotten one right.

* A vanilla person can remain ignorant of terms involved in BDSM.

And apparently a kinkster can do an entire list on “vanilla” privilege without ever being able to define what “vanilla” is in a way that doesn’t erase LGBTAP people or contradict zeir own point—either by proving that the population of “vanilla” people is actually close to nonexistent. Or being so consistently incoherent that zie actually proves that the idea of “vanilla privilege” is actually just a dog-whistle phrase with moveable goalposts for kinksters to play around with and pretend they’re oppressed.

* A vanilla person will not be assumed to be sexually experienced because of their vanilla-ness.

Seriously, what does this even mean?

* Vanilla is not taken to mean sexually available.

That only makes sense if you actually define “vanilla” to mean things that specifically are not taken to mean sexually available. (Also, I guess you’re not “vanilla” if you’re single. Eh?)

* A vanilla person can go their entire life without being called vanilla.

Yeah, in countries where they don’t have the word “vanilla” and cult compounds. Just, what is this I don’t even—

* As always, most importantly, a vanilla person can ignore their vanilla privilege.

Translation: if you can clearly see that I am full of shit and that the world does not work the way I think it does, YOU’RE PRIVILEGED!

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I Ain’t Dumb III: Intelligence Can’t be a Quantitative Measure!

At some point I found myself having to seriously consider the idea of “intelligent” or “smart.” I don’t know if it was because of my veganism, my primitivism, or my utter repulsion to the very idea of mandatory schooling, but it inevitably had a lot to do with the school I went to.

It was an alternative public school that’d been around for about thirty years running an individualistic curriculum—basically, you could just go to classes and write your evaluations and be done with it, but there was one extra piece to it: the Passages. There were six Passages in all—Career Exploration, Logical Inquiry, Creative somethingorother, Global Awareness, Practical Skills and Adventure. Social debate and peer review was built right into the grid: you had to have meetings with your “triad,” which could consist of at least three people, and your advisor (a teacher/counselor) before you could either “propose” (start) or “wrap up” a Passage.

The interesting thing about this, and the difference between this and most traditional schooling, was that there were no templates for the Passages. You couldn’t just pull it out of thin air: you had to work. If you wanted to learn, you had to reach for it.

The past few years I’ve come to realize that much of the school’s benefit to students was that it was a sort of anti-school. It was a detoxification center for students who had been taught to hate learning in traditional schools. And the emphasis was always on learning—as an active, not a passive, ability. You don’t go there to “get educated”; it wasn’t a choice someone else could make for you. You weren’t encouraged, as you are in 99% of other classrooms—including ones that “have good teachers!!!1″—to just lie back and think of England, so to speak. Learning was something you did for you, indigenous to your soul, and as such no one could give it to you or force you to endure it. You had the right to learn; therefore, it was your responsibility whatever you chose to learn. Choice. Freedom. Not compulsory. Not mandatory. No excuses, no shortcuts.

And honestly, I just kind of sat around for three years and then got incredibly fucking bored and decided to do something about. From what I hear, that’s not unusual, though it doesn’t make up the majority of the students. That was basically the point where I realized that learning is inevitable because, hell, it’s fun, isn’t it?

In my fourth year I met a German temporary student, Fabienne, with whom I’d be staying in Germany (for the most part; I had family there, too). She had… this attitude. My peers were used to people from other schools looking down on ours because it was so “easy,” I mean, they didn’t force you or threaten you into going to classes and learning. We were irritated about it, but it’s sort of like most fruitarians I know: Bob Torres will bitch at them and they’ll just roll their eyes and be like, “whatever dude, like you’d know anything,” and then they leave it.

While I was in Germany, Fabienne told me that our school was “easy.” (I’d retort and point out that no, actually, most traditional school systems are just fucking prisons—but eh.) She thought that the students there were stupid because they weren’t being challenged—that is, forced into “learning” things they didn’t want to learn and had no use for.

“Fabienne,” I said, “do you like learning?”

“No. Who likes learning?” she replied.

I’m aware she disagrees, but honestly, I won that debate right then and there.

What my “alma mater”—typically reserved for universities, but I think “soul mother” fits this situation perfectly—taught me was something slow and growing, like a seed gestating in warm, damp soil, as veganism and primitivism were for me. Learning had much more to do with joy—with the will to learn—than it did with how much you learned. And as such, learning couldn’t be measured by how many things you knew; it had to be measured by how gleefully you went after them.

And that’s where I broke from the idea of intelligence as quantitative.

Quantitative intelligence is a factor that underlies almost every fucking prejudice in the world. Using adult humans as property has been justified with, “they’re not as intelligent as us.” Same for non-human animals, and children; they’re stupid and unintelligent because adults are too self-obsessed to realize that the knowledge they have isn’t basic or even valuable for the real world. The natural one. No; they’re stupid, obviously. And you could tell that, see, because they didn’t know as many things as us! At least, they didn’t know as many things that “we” considered “important.”

A line between meaningful and non-meaningful knowledge was drawn and, in general, the more abstract the knowledge, the more valuable it was. It was harder to get—like eggs and dairy used to be—and therefore prestigious. And, as with eggs and dairy, this society is still built from the top down off of no longer pertinent concepts of prestige. Baked goods “need” eggs, despite the fact that they were included only because it was a “rich” thing to do. If you want to be smart, you “need” to read Judith Butler and Plato and some other godawful-dry, self-absorbed authors.

I am just so fucking tired of the idea that intelligence and smartness is quantitative. Let’s talk about what intelligence really is.

Intelligence is basic, and expressed in behaviors that allow an animal to navigate the world. The presence of greater intelligence in someone does not make them more valuable; having less intelligence than that person does not make you less valuable. Okay? Good. Now we’ve gotten the excuses for carnism out of the way.

I think the behaviors of intelligence are intensity, curiosity, critical deduction and observation. These all have different parts that make a whole.

Intensity refers to passion, emotional/mental; having emotion enables someone to process and remember information gathered. I disagree that emotion automatically makes you less reliable and trustworthy—after all, the most “objective” people have also historically had the privilege to agree with the present power structure; they had the least to lose from its perpetuation and as such generally didn’t much care to exert the energy to change it.

From my observation and critical deduction, I have come to the conclusion that animals have the capacity for emotion because it is an excellent way to store information about the world in which they live, although significantly less so in cases of trauma. You’re not supposed to be God, here. Your best guess is all that’s required.

Also in my observation, I’ve noticed that the smartest people I know are also extremely emotionally intense. That’s not data and I don’t intend to present it as fact, but simply because you cannot base an entire argument off anecdote doesn’t mean that anecdote is worthless and contemptuous. Something that is not A is not necessarily B if C is present.

Curiosity is the drive to learn things—that’s pretty obvious. It doesn’t necessarily apply to books, either. A hunger for information will drive you to learn, and you will learn much more than those who aren’t very curious.

Lierre Keith, for example, isn’t very curious. She spent twenty years trapped in an eating disorder and even though she had misgivings from the first few months, never seriously questioned them. She was never curious about veganism, or she would have went looking and found out that eating only brown rice and soy wasn’t healthy, and she would have found out that eating eggs and dairy about once a week doesn’t count as “twenty years of veganism.” She was never curious about women’s rights and feminism, or she would have stumbled into the discussion of eating-disorder-as-patriarchal-ideology and realized that the symptoms she was attributing to “veganism” were the symptoms that describe the lives of anorectics.

By the same coin, parrots are hella smart. As is my cat.

Critical deduction allows you to question what you’ve observed and found, and to trace together the lines connecting supposedly disparate topics and phenomena. When a cat does a trick someone meant to teach to the dog, that cat is employing critical deduction. Similarly, when you realize that transphobia is yet another form of patriarchal sexism via gender-policing, you’re employing critical deduction.

At the same time, critical deduction is necessarily critical. Reading a condemnation and carnism or intellectualism and thinking, “But animals aren’t humans—they’re obviously inferior to us,” or “But there’s only one kind of intelligence and reasonable deduction,” is employing the very antithesis of critical deduction. Genuinely thinking about it and saying, “Might be right. Have to seriously think about that, and if I decide they’re right then I’ll have to change,” is critical deduction.

Observation allows you to actually receive information from your experience of life. It can be, and often is, distorted through a lens of ideology—for example, thinking of children as stupid or less intelligent because they express themselves in a limited way.

Observation can only be free when not fettered by the paradigms we are taught to believe. Fundamentally, these ideologies—racism, sexism, ageism, carnism, capitalism, intellectualism, etc.—are invalid because they are taught: you are predisposed to them from a very early age, the shrapnel lurking in the back of your mind. I am always unimpressed by microbiologists that start believing in “a” creator, because even Hinduism is fundamentally monotheistic in its creation story. Come back with something that isn’t floating around in preality and we’ll talk.

Intelligence can only be measured by behaviors, and you might rightly argue that they then can’t be measured at all. But hell, that’s just honest—psychology, at least, recognizes that you can only know what’s going on inside someone’s head via the conduit of their body language, behavior and/or speech.

Ought to come down from your high horse, ffs. Y’can’t smell nothin’ but horseshit from up there.

Privilege at its Extreme is Individualism, Again

Oddly, while my own experience of reading blogs is that it’s liable to make me more depressed and despairing on my own (probably because of the silencing factor), combining it with writing relieves me and makes me angry and passionate instead of resentfully cynical. Maybe this is just because I am “the vegan,” so my passion for basic rights puts me at odds with most “rights activists.” It’s really rare that I read something I feel resonates within me so much:

It was the eighties. The atmosphere was ripe with immanent denunciations. Politics in the still-breathing lesbian community had begun to hollow out into a ritual called “name the racist (classist, homophobe etc).” Who would be next in line to confess her privilege? Once she confessed, she too could be admitted to the ranks of the righteous, entitled now to “call out” any others on their particular “isms” … She now had an Id-entity. Indeed the self became implicitly re-imaged a container-entity either filled or emptied of privilege-chips.

I’ve noticed this going around a lot, and I am deeply uncomfortable with this process in feminism. It’s not that I don’t realize I’m privileged in many ways; I’m also systematically oppressed in many ways, but those privileges and oppressions and their intersections are not nearly as clear-cut as people make them out to be. The way these things interact and play off each other would take fucking years to describe—and by then they’d have changed anyway—and I don’t feel comfortable, in any way, having the face value of my privileges and oppression determine how much I should be listened to.

Because that’s what the effect comes down to: your credibility is directly determined by your relative oppression and privileges. It’s a bizarre mathematical equation that I’m sure gives both the oppressed and the privileged on any given issue some self-satisfaction, but it doesn’t work.

I was born into an upper-class, not wholly white, partially foreign family. But that wealth was not shared with me: money and its privileges were seen as the exclusive benefit of our mother and any money given to children—even for social necessities like clothing, soap and food—was only done grudgingly. I’ve been shocked, again and again, at what kids from only middle-class families feel entitled to, because the privilege people assume I had I never actually received.

Most of my warped worldview comes from the suburbs, where the houses are large and spaced far enough apart so that the neighbors can’t hear the children being beaten—and even then, it’s not much of a feeling of entitlement: my upbringing solidified a sense of distrust in my own perceptions and experiences, so that I assume I am acting on an incomplete worldview. Whether that’s the product of the suburbs or the abuse I can’t say—though I’d consider the suburbs themselves a type of abuse.

But even aside from that—I’m not rich, and I haven’t been for years. I and another person (my best friend, my platonic life partner) survive off of roughly $1,000/mo for all expenses. I’ve been homeless. I’ve had to lift all my food. Right now, at this point in my life, I am so poor that I sneer at the arguments of how poor people can’t not buy junk food, because if I bought junk food I’d starve.

So which am I? Do I get to know what I’m saying or don’t I? Are my anti-capitalist beliefs less valid than a pro-capitalist homeless man, because I have shelter right now?

I’ve been told that it’s because of my privilege that I’m vegan—big fucking NOPE here alongside an explanation of animal agriculture-as-Western-colonialism and genocide/ecocide—and that I’m racist by saying that people of color shouldn’t be treated like animals because it’s wrong to treat animals like that in the first place. Because I’m white enough to pass on the street—though still not white enough to get a job thanks to Mexiphobia—even though I’ve been caged, dismissed, and compared to animals too.

When someone gets told they have privilege, it’s shorthand for: all of what you just said is invalid.

And instead of engaging ideas critically and actually picking them apart, everyone follows that idea—that if you agree with someone who’s oppressed on a subject tangential to their oppression, you’re more credible, too. It’s gone from: the fact is that, as someone who hasn’t experienced the life of a POC or etc., you have a skewed perspective and your flippant suggestions for how to solve XYZ aren’t accurate or useful. To: the fact is that, as someone who hasn’t experienced the life of a POC or etc., you know less than they do.

That’s where it ends. Just, “you’re privileged,” the end.

The trend that Kathy Miriam points out has been my observation, too.

One of the obstacles to critiquing individualism is that the latter, like all ideology, functions by obscuring itself and self-presents as “just the way things are.” It is the air we breathe, the element in which we swim, thus invisible. Because individualism is so naturalized as a belief system, it can disguise itself as knowledge—or invisibly form the preconditions of what is claimed as self-evident knowledge.

Because there’s never any discussion of, “Well, how do I change my privilege?” (at least, that isn’t short-circuited by I shouldn’t have to educate you!), privilege has become this self-evident, unchangeable reality. And so we shift our attention away from demanding rights and equality from the people in our community towards legislation, which has a limited chance of success and an even more limited effect on the people who still have to deal with it on the ground.

We’ve become so caught up in this idea of changing either the individual or the government that we forget that the media, capitalism, religion etc. all spew this poison into our lives. We take the media and capitalism and marriage and religion and everything else so much for granted that we forget that we can—and should—build communities for ourselves if the ones we live in will not accommodate our very real needs for safety, survival and belonging.

Instead we focus on one person at a time, and not even within our communities—we fight over the fucking internet, devolving into a big fucking fight where everyone’s screaming NO UR PRIVLEJD and, in light of all that, activism—real activism—withers and dies.

Privilege analysis is a damn good lens for social justice movements to use. But it can’t be the be-all end-all of analysis and the only tool in the cabinet, and just because you’re privileged doesn’t mean you’re not onto something.

In short, privilege makes you unworthy of listening to when you speak up in favor of a system that you benefit from or that does not directly oppress you. But having been oppressed does not mean you are smarter or a moral-o-meter that can tell the relative ethical worth of ideas, either. And while it’s nice to believe that you, personally, can tell whether or not someone’s been oppressed or privileged—e.g. that women are privileged by gender conformity norms instead of oppressed by them—no one has that super-power, sorry.

And in shorter, you can’t let discussion of privilege limit the ways you move in the world. Now, I’m going to go create some animal adoption posters. Go read Dialectical Spin now. Bye!

I Can’t and Won’t Be You

Gender is an outrageously complicated thing. I’ve been trying to figure it out since I was barely pubescent, and I barely have down the basics. And even those basics are really, really weird. In order to have any kind of grasp on it, I have to believe that gender is (at least) three things simultaneously.

1. Gender is a spectrum, a kind of mental flavor, that intellectualists would scoff at and that on the streets is a vital people-reading skill, much like fluency in body language and intuition. Gender is not a continuum; it’s a complete three-dimensional realm all on its own that most people don’t notice because they’re too busy living it. Because of the huge amounts of variation, gender very rarely correlates to any kind of physical attribute (including sex), but because sex/gender correlation is assumed too often to actually be explained, most people assume that their gender just matches their sex.

2. In greater society, gender is a mental sensation that correlates exactly to your physical sex, unless you’re a freak. Even among many of those “freaks,” though, gender correlates to sex; it just may be the opposite socially-defined sex. Gender is binary (masculine/feminine) except in very rare cases.

3. Gender is a binary-segregated pattern of behaviors that you are indoctrinated into from the day you’re born based on the sex you’re assigned, most of which are unconscious or automatic. You can have gendered behaviors that do not match your gender/sex identity. Gender behavior goes way beyond “male” and “female” and instead defines “maleness” and “femaleness,” which are (again) behavior sets that are then conflated with both social gender laws (masculine/feminine) in addition to sex (male/female) so it all seems very “natural.”

All of these things can be true, because you have to take into account more than just personal or social realities. And often they’re still quite contradictory. You can be a woman who happened to be born with male genitals, because gender is a personal and behavioral reality as well; you can also be a male-bodied person who identifies as female, but acts with male-socialized behaviors. You can be an FTM who identifies as both transsexual and genderqueer (or insert gender-variant-label here) and vice versa. Sex, sexual, and gender identity, like most identities, are convoluted at best for most people.

You can feel like a woman and still act like a man. You can feel like a man and still act like a woman. You can feel like a complete freak and revolve around any one of those. That’s just reality. It’s messy, sometimes unsanitary, more often just strange, and occasionally unpleasant.

So, no. For the record, I don’t think that your gender must match the body you were born into. For the record, I don’t believe that “women” can never be “men” and vice versa, because it’s inaccurate; women and men are not biological realities—they’re social ones. For the record, I’m not saying that your genitals are or should be inescapable. A lot of people seem to think I have, which confuses me, because I’m not sure whether to feel sad or contemptuous. Nuance—detail, variation, innumerable shades of color and texture and flavor—is the way of the world. I can’t accept “men are men and women are women, period” any more than I can accept the idea that one person’s inner reality should override the perception of everyone else—that, for example, a transsexual person that the right to demand everyone accept their identity as a particular social caste when they’re acting like the opposite social caste all over the place, especially when those social castes are defined by behavior—and they’re still participating in the same illusion as everyone else.

I can accept your personal reality as valid while still pointing out that your behavioral reality is at odds with what you believe to be true. I can respect you and still not adopt your worldview wholesale. I can believe you are transsexual and respect that identity while still pointing out that you’re acting with male-socialized behaviors and that those behaviors, regardless of who’s using them, are harmful and wrong. If you can’t understand that, it’s pretty much a problem on your end, not mine.

But more to the point: I learned pretty early on in my internet life* that, even when someone claims to merely want me to accept them as a woman (/man, but rarely), they’re lying out their ass. I can say, “Okay, you’re a woman,” and it won’t be enough. I can say, “I understand it’s hard for you. I understand that you face social pressures and threats that no one should have to face. I understand you have to fight for your identity to be respected,” and it is not enough. I carried on being extremely confused for a while until I realized that it’s not so much about having your identity respected as it is that disagreement on the subject of identity itself—not your identity, ’cause yes, okay, You Are A Woman/Man, since I have never really given two fucks about ovaries and testes—is seen as a threat.

That’s the only conclusion I was able to derive. That, because their politics are integral to their identity, you must agree with their politics in order to respect their identity. And I can’t.

Because in my experience, that means I have to stop thinking about and questioning and developing new layers of nuance and new, better ways to understand the way the human social world works. I have to stop talking about women who were forced to be women, who did not choose it and the attendant oppression that goes along with it, and for whom it was a prison just as much as any forced identity is. It means that I have to adopt the use of “transmisogyny,” even though I’ve never been able to get anyone to explain to me how it’s supposed to differ from either transphobia or misogyny, and similar for “cissexism”—that I have to accept concepts that I believe are unrealistic or simplistic or diversionary.

It means that I have to accept a version of reality that I had to build myself up from in the first place: in order to not be “cissexist,” I have to become ignorant again. I have to regress. I have to give up the personal growth I’ve fought so desperately for, because otherwise a bunch of people will come and be very aggressive and hostile towards me and think badly of me (maybe even talk behind my back!).

What I have been shown it means by these people is that I’m not allowed to have my own identity, and my own way of looking at the world, ultimately so they don’t have to change their way of thinking of the world. Fucking carnists; they’re always insisting vegans are rude to them, or proselytizing, but I never met a carnist that didn’t try to convert me instead of leaving me alone—even when I was over in the corner, calmly eating my smoothie.

I respect your identity, and the suffering that’s been heaped on you from that supposed “deviance.” I also disagree with you. These things are not mutually exclusive; I don’t have to move in lockstep with you so as to not be perpetuating oppression, even and especially if I don’t believe what you do about that oppression. You’re not the only one experiencing it, after all.

It is the most dangerous thing to think you are absolutely right. Because if you do, there’s a high probability you’re wrong.

By the way, negative comments are still welcome, provided you don’t engage in anti-feminist tropes (goodbye, Iambic!), actually explain why it is how you say it is, and otherwise not be a total jerk. (Being a little bit of one is fine.) Some of them are actually pretty good brain-fodder, and one or two have actually been changing my beliefs.

Because I care more about actually being right than just “being right.”

*Because, weirdly enough, it’s only the transfolk active on internet trans communities that act this way. I’ve never known any transdude (yes, it’s a gender-neutral pronoun and I’ll continue using it on literally everyone, deal with it) IRL who’s acted in any way close to this. Is it a problem with the internet transcommunity? Or is it a problem with the internet? I’ve no idea.

To Be Property

Part and parcel of property status is maligning the intelligence of the property class: their experiential, emotional, and mental capacity and complexity. Everyone assigned property status at any point in the world has been said to be simplistic, not in control of their actions, incapable of grasping or using dense logic.

Slaves were—one of the justifications for making it illegal to teach slaves to read and write was that they were incapable of learning. (Apparently it makes sense once you’re dealing with enormous cognitive dissonance; whatever.)

Women were—they had to maintain entirely domestic lives to prevent the atrophy of their frail ladyparts, and also to prevent their descent into violent, frothing craziness. (Which I have to wonder, were they just tired of laying back and thinking of England?) Except for poor women, anyway—the “lower classes” had no problems of the sort because, well, they were lower class, and already had those labels applied to them.

Speaking of, working class people were said to be like that—even now, our stereotype of a McDonald’s worker is completely unsympathetic: a vacant-eyed, slackjawed imbecile flipping burgers with a limp wrist.

Children are supposedly inferior, which only holds up as long as you refuse to take into consideration a) adult dissociation from their childhood and b) that not being able to argue effectively in a language you’ve only had a few years to learn, especially when everyone treats you like you’re fucking stupid, might make accurate results a bit hard to come by. Animals are supposedly inferior, too, in the same ways children are—driven by instinct; impulsive; simplistic and lacking in logic. The idea that animals are inferior falls prey to a lot of the same problems, too—but the one I want to talk about here is that believing they are stupid, crazy, and untrustworthy solidifies others’ power over them.

This is not some convoluted fucking theory, either, that makes you feel like you have to be on drugs to see it clearly. You have to believe that their thoughts and emotions are inferior and unworthy of being taken seriously because if you didn’t do that, you wouldn’t be able to keep doing this shit to them. To feel justified in consuming a cow’s corpse, you have to believe that the cow’s experience wasn’t worth taking seriously; to feel justified in forcing a child to eat that steak, you have to believe that the child’s experience isn’t worth taking seriously.

Zie just doesn’t know what’s best for zem. Pele’s erupting tits, that has been heard for centuries. Let me point out:

Crusades: They Just Don’t Know What’s Best For Them.
Conquistadors: They Just Don’t Know What’s Best For Them.
Native American Genocide: They Just Don’t Know What’s Best For Them.
U.S. Slavery: They Just Don’t Know What’s Best For Them.
Women: They Just Don’t Know What’s Best For Them.
Farmed Animals: They Just Don’t Know What’s Best For Them.

Et fucking cetera. No, seriously, white fucks actually argued that slavery was a good thing because otherwise black people would just run around being violent and tribal and natural (omfg!1) and crap and not knowing what was good for them, and it was up to the Good White Christian Men to kidnap them and submit them to horrendous lifelong multilayered torture to break their spirits for Jesus. And that runaway slaves didn’t say anything against slavery itself, because guess what: They Just Don’t Know What’s Best For Them.

Obviously, there’s that lingering, strikethroughed “Us” right before the Them, unspoken but not unheard. It’s present in every rape, every unspeakable act of violation on another’s body and soul. You just don’t know what you want; you don’t even know your own mind, and that’s why I get to do this to you without feeling a twinge of empathy or regret. You just don’t know that you’re perfectly fine with this, you stupid dog.

This needs to be repeated to you, over and over and over again. Whether it has to do with women, non-human animals, indigenous peoples, children, it does not fucking matter, you need to fucking understand this: the property status came first, the justification after.

It was not: “Animals are, like, retarded, so we’re gonna feel just dandy playing tiddlywinks with their social structures before killing them.”

It was: “We want to play tiddlywinks with animals’ social structures before killing them. Not because we need the food, mind, because there’s plenty of that all around us: we want to because being able to subjugate someone means that you are powerful, and we want that power. But, um, we’re gonna feel pretty shitty if we actually consider their feelings like the non-predatory species we are, so… They’re retarded! Take that, conscience!”

It was not: “Women are simplistic and irrational, so we get to own them and rape them whenever we want.”

It was: “We want to own women and rape them whenever we want… and women are simplistic and irrational, so we are perfectly moral in doing so. God/Science/Nature/Darwin/Psychology says so.”

Part of privilege, part of oppression, is being brainwashed into thinking that it was the other way around. Because if the justification came first, the oppression has a reason to exist—that’s rationalization, right there. It’s never been true, but if the oppression existed for a reason, then you have your reason to disregard it and continue the power structure.

DNA is a damn good self-perpetuating system. But I think oppression may be a little bit better—because even when it’s eating you from the inside until you’re an emotional and ethical cripple, you’ll continue on. Even when you’re killing vast swaths of your habitat and your community, you’ll continue on. And when someone gives a damn good post underlining why those prejudices you hold aren’t trustworthy, you’ll use the prejudices themselves as an argument for why they shouldn’t be listened to.

That’s fucked up, man.

The Only Thing I Learned from Therapy

There’s a longer post coming up on this in the meantime, but the transactivists who’ve been commenting seriously need to get a grip.

You want recognition and respect of your gender ID? Gotcha. There you go; you’re a man or a woman (or your choice of words). Yes, real ones. Unless you happen to be a balloon masquerading as a human animal. There you go. Problem solved.

If that’s what you want, then that’s what you get. I won’t bow to you or shut up simply because you don’t like what I say. That’s not a privilege I give to anyone. And hey, guess what? I can still disagree with you and respect you. Happens all the time. I can even disagree with you on the way your identity came about and how it can be helped and still respect you; I disagree with my friends, several of which are transsexual, but we get along great otherwise. Because… I respect them, and they don’t confuse agreement with respect.

In fact, I don’t need to agree with you on what causes your problems or how your problems can be solved in order to give you exactly what you say you want: respect and recognition. I do not need to agree with everything anyone-who-is-oppressed believes is in order to not be -ist. And, given that I’m a full person and I don’t particularly enjoy the limits compartmentalization would bring to my life, I can even believe several things at the same time! Some of which neither side of A Controversy wants to believe! Amazing.

I don’t need to agree with you on every single fucking facet of the world in order to think you’re a person that deserves respect. (Because that is my priority: that you are a person and all rights flow from that, not that you are someone that needs to be treated nicely because you’re so pitiful, or something.)

And in fact, this works everywhere, with every kind of oppression. Just because you suffer doesn’t make you enlightened on the specific mechanics of that suffering—only the experience of it. Hell, even I don’t claim to know what will fix X with me a lot of the time.

I don’t need to believe in capitalism and socialism and Marxism and anarcho-syndicalism, all of which are believed in by some poor people, in order to be anti-classist.

I don’t need to believe that Black people are better than animals because they’re human in order to be anti-racist.

I don’t need to believe that fat is inherently genetic and that environment plays a minute role in being fat in order to be anti-sizeist, and believe that fat people are people who deserve to be treated with basic dignity.

… But basic dignity doesn’t include the idea that if you say Y, because you experience X, you are automatically right. That’s never been true, but this is the impression I’ve gotten from the commenters I’ve had so far.

Let’s get this down. Among my many beliefs are:

– That everyone, regardless of assigned genitalia/gender-conflation, deserves to have their identity respected. Because they are people.
– That you are entitled to do anything you see fit to your body in order to feel okay with living in it, provided it doesn’t harm anyone else (SRS doesn’t affect anyone but you, so that fits).
– And for free.
– And with a minimum of hassle, too. I don’t have any aversion to people making “bad choices,” (whatever that means), as long as they’re not harming anyone else.
– Everyone has the right to not be harassed or attacked, because they are people. (Mind, I can’t really help it if you still want to believe I’m attacking you. Y’all need reading comprehension stat.)
– Everyone has the right to not just automatically assumed to be lying, or acting in bad faith.
– Everyone has the right to have their experiences listened to, have those experiences seen as valid. Maybe not objectively, I-feel-like-this-therefore-it’s-true valid, but objective gibberish is hardly necessary to treat someone with respect.
– Miscellaneous not-treating-you-like-the-devil item here.

Basic dignity, right there. I can’t and won’t do any more for you than this. And if you’re so bent on acting disrespectfully to me—I’ll note that not a single fucking transactivist has actually asked me anything; you’ve just assumed your initial misconceptions to be true—then, yeah, you don’t need to be here. Go take a walk in the sunshine. It’ll do you more good than running up comments here.

If you want to ask me things, and not assume that I am a horrible fucking person for not believing everything that you happen to immediately, then awesome. I have a lot to ask you too. Most of the comments I’ve let through, I’ve done so in an attempt to learn better—to goad someone into actually having a conversation with me. Alas, “to learn better” is actually entirely different than “accept everything so-and-so says as right.” What I’m asking for is not assertions; it’s descriptions.

But until you’re willing to treat me with basic dignity, too? This is an incredibly annoying phrase that, even when necessary, is still incredibly annoying:

I’m sorry you feel that way.

Now, on to actual posting! Also, comments disabled because y’all can go for a day without having to tell me I’m the Antichrist, I’m sure.

Privilege isn’t Winning, it’s Not Participating

A huge problem I have with the concept of “cisgender privilege” is that my female-bodied friends, and female-bodied people in general, are somehow assumed to have more privilege from being recognizable as feminine, instead of more targeted for victimization. Er, no. Femininity doesn’t work like that: there is no place of acceptance or safety, just different kinds of violence and objectification.

What I’ve seen is that when women achieve or fall into contemporary beauty (i.e. femininity) norms, they are not given a magic shield from gendered violence, whether sexual, emotional or physical. But they are given more attention of the kind patriarchy wants us to believe is positive—a guy not-so-covertly stalking you throughout the entire grocery store, spooking you so much that you keep your keys between your fingers and look over your shoulder walking through the parking lot; some douche who comes up and tells you that you’re pretty, with the obvious expectation that you’ll immediately swoon and accompany him to bed; getting “HAY BAYBEE” or sundry other things shouted at you from a passing man (in a car, on foot) instead of “FATASS” or “FREAK.” Stop acting like these things are not just as invalidating, minimizing, and fucking terrifying as the things women go through when they’re not feminine enough. They are.

Newsflash from Feminism 101: Women do not win. Ever.

But dividing women has one very salient advantage—it keeps them occupied arguing over who’s the prettiest, ugliest, bitchiest or most privileged, short-circuiting any destruction the silly little dears might have otherwise been able to wreak on the existing power structure.

Come on. This has been happening for centuries. Women fight over who’s more beautiful and the winner is men. Women fight over a husband and the winner is the man. One of the sad truths of women’s interactions throughout history is that women are always more likely to blame and fight each other than men. Patriarchy—all power structures—create a competition amongst the underclass to divert their attention and energies to getting small slivers of oppressor-given approval and power, because the easiest way to quell rebellion is to make sure it never begins. By making women compete, patriarchy succeeded in making men and men’s power invisible: in the din and dust of scrabbling to get whatever scrap of male approval was there, women forgot who was standing above them, laughing, and blamed the women around them for being better at the competition, or worse.

Part of the solidarity of the feminist movement was realizing that the women who won were still being forced to compete.

When I look at the belief that women—because it is always women—are privileged because they have an advantage in the competition, I see that history and that community disappeared. When I see the dismissal of this competition as important, as a fundamental shaping factor of all women’s lives—because all women have to deal with this in any civilization—what appears to me is not a fight for the rights of those maligned, but an incredible push to make people forget that the competition ever existed at all.

That’s the voice of postmodernism, individualism, transactional oppression. It’s the voice of the pornographers and the pimps, the doctors and the butchers and the rapists: women have power over the competition because they choose to compete.

This is the voice of reality: women have no choice to compete, because they are not the ones setting up the arenas. Men are, and the prize is sexual, emotional and capitalistic victimization. The only beneficiaries of the Colosseum were the spectators.

The privilege and power that transactivists seek does not lie in being able to participate in the competition, much less in winning at it. Those things reside only in not competing, and women cannot give you this—they’ve been trying for thousands of years to find a way out of the competition, themselves. You cannot give power you aren’t allowed to have in the first place, and women cannot oppress you as women, if trying to found a safe place for themselves and those like them—who were given no power and no choice—even counts as oppression. Demanding that women give you the power to be like them is only begging from an empty hand, because women have never had the power to decide what women were in the first place. And I find it unsurprising that when women finally do try to decide what women are—people designated unwilling competitors from birth in a system they cannot benefit from, because they have ovaries—the reaction is this vicious.

As women, they have no power to give you and even less to take yours from you. As women, they aren’t even allowed to decide who does not get to be around them, because that would be making boundaries, and those without power cannot have boundaries. As people born and recognized as men most of your lives, you still believe that women should not be allowed to have boundaries that are respected, defended. I know you believe this because your actions are written by patriarchy, and they are the same as any other man in the world, speaking slowly and menacingly: you have no right to keep yourself from me.

The only reason that oppressiveness is scented when a woman says, “I feel unsafe, and I don’t want you around me,” is that men have always had every right to women’s space, women’s bodies and women’s time. So when someone who was raised as a man is told no, it is perceived as a limiting of their rights, their privilege. Women are oppressing men by taking away their rights, the rights that were originally taken from women. But that is also invisible, especially to men.

As a genderqueer, I am absolutely skeptical of the idea that such a thing as “cisgender privilege” exists. Seeing it in the light of male privilege and the reality of women’s lives, instead of abstracted to fit the needs of those who have been privileged all their lives, it is just more of the same thing from the same place.

Remember: pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

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