Nature is an ecoterrorist!

Posts tagged ‘my mind is not your space’

The Lessons of Pornography

So I wanted to point out the wondrous Elkballet again (I’m really digging that blog) on a particularly compelling post on the effects of porn. In large part because it’s all fucking true.

I watched porn regularly to masturbate for about two years beginning from when I was twelve. It took me more than six years after that point to really rid me of its effect enough to make an impact—of course, it didn’t help that I kept reinforcing the pornthink by repeatedly calling up the images and tropes when I was masturbating. I did this because, like Elkballet, masturbation wasn’t as fun or stimulating without it; it was years before I managed to masturbate to orgasm without using pornthink in some way.

When I first saw my boyfriend again, I found porn images would pop into my head during sex. I would have trouble being turned on, even orgasming without at least briefly calling up images I had seen. I would sometimes wish I could hop online and quickly look up images so things would go easier. Images would randomly pop into my head, without my meaning for them to. Without even realizing I had done it I developed a voyeuristic attitude towards sex. I wanted to watch him do things to himself, to me. I was even pressuring him into performing things, asking repeatedly despite him telling me it made him uncomfortable. I had stopped looking up porn, but my brain wouldn’t allow me to stop seeing it.

Check, check, check and check.

Looking back, one of the most bizarre and disturbing distortions that porn caused in my mental state was that I dissociated from my body during sex. I saw myself from outside—I saw myself having sex instead of actually being within my body, having sex. I became voyeuristic, too: sex developed into a series of actions. Me doing to my partner. My partner doing to me. As Catharine MacKinnon said—subject verb object.

There was none of the sense of sharing and being together that I now consider one of the best parts of sex; it was very mechanical and automated, though not in the way you’d typically think. Instead sex was segregated into roles—the top; the bottom; the sadist; the masochist; the dom and the sub. One was done to and one was doing to, except if the one usually done to was the one commanded to do. In case you can’t tell, I also became obsessed with BDSM; if you’re interested in it, it’s actually quite boring and you should stop and detox for a while. Forcing sex into a series of actions where one partner is passive/submissive and one partner is active/dominant stops you from ever getting to see how fucking awesome sex really is. It kept me from being able to see it for a fucking long time; I saw my partners as mechanical, too—like they were characters: they were just vehicles for the actions that were “hot,” as determined by porn—penetration, no doy.

Even when my partners persuaded me to stop being so intent on doing things and to simply relax, I couldn’t figure out what to do. Enjoying the sensation is alright, but it gets old fast. In porn, people don’t really, like, touch each other when they have sex—which is just beyond sterile; I can’t figure out why anyone would find it attractive anymore.

And you learn sex from porn; even if you don’t think you do, you do. Even if you think you already know about sex, the way you have sex will change if you start using porn. I had to go through a very painful growth period where I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands if I wasn’t doing something to my partner.

Porn inhibited my ability to have sex with another person; I learned not to have sex with my partner, but to be preoccupied with porn. I’d say that porn was my sexuality for a good chunk of my life—that my sex life was haunted by the ideas of sexiness and hotness contained in porn, acting as a go-between for my partner and I, instead of merely allowing us to have sex.

Eventually I got over that. I’m still getting over it. But while I’ve recognized this for a while—recognized just how powerful pornography can be, and just how much it can absolutely cripple your ability to relate sexually to another human—there was another thing that made me decide to post this. I confided in one of my friends, as the post had caught her eye while she was visiting and she went ahead and read it, just how true it was and just how fucking hard ever having watched porn had made any kind of healthy sexuality for me. She replied—and has given permission to me to post about this—that she’s suffered from all of the same distortions in her own sexuality and mental state.

Except she’s never watched porn more than a handful of times, and for their comedic value at that. What caused that shit inside her head was the multiple rapes she endured as a child from grown men.

Rape taught her the same things that porn taught me: sex was penetration; one person was allowed to be active and the other person had to be passive; fear was inherently sexual; dominance was sexy; when having sex, people were really just things—objects using each other. She thought that large, painful penises or inserts were the only things that could be “sexy” and couldn’t stop herself from reducing the people around her into body parts—arms, legs, chest, stomach, butt.

Let me repeat that, more clearly: enduring repeated rapes as a child caused the same worldview changes as porn.

And now more succinctly: porn teaches the same things as rape.

For all the sex poxes may cry otherwise because they’re still having their sexualities warped and twisted by porn, I have to say, because I know better—porn is profoundly anti-sex, anti-sexuality, and just generally hateful shit. It’s much more fun over here.

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Honestly

This is not an issue that directly relates to any form of rights I’ve spoken about. It’s about boundaries, finding an ethical code that won’t tear you up inside with hypocrisy, and protecting yourself.

I was, like a lot of people, brought up to believe that honesty was one of the biggest virtues someone could ever have; at least where I grew up, kids were inundated with feel-good stories about “doing the right thing,” and not getting punished because they had the goodness of soul to stand up and proclaim The Truth. No, the world doesn’t work like that, which makes it an even shittier propaganda tactic to use on children, but the idea of honesty as paramount still looks awful good until you take a look at it in the context of reality—power, prejudice, inequality and defense.

Much like pacifism, the people most likely to benefit from widespread “honesty” are also the people least likely to have to practice it, because the power imbalance is heavily tilted to their side. The rich, the powerful, the white and the dickled have much less to lose from practicing (or not practicing) pacifism and honesty; there’s less of a line between a choice to do so or not to do so for them.

What’s the worth of a white person’s choice to be a pacifist in a society that does not target them with violence, inequality and disenfranchisement? It’s not like that white pacifist won’t be hurting the people of color who do suffer those things; they’re institutionalized. One white dude’s symbolic gesture of non-participation—especially while zie is still participating in other oppressions that highlight and entrench racism like capitalism, carnism, technocentrism, for a start—doesn’t do a whole lot to reduce the impact of racism on actual people. Not even talking about it will stop that shit; it’s not in your hands.

And what does pacifism symbolize to the power structure when taken up by a person of color, except a willing acceptance of victimization?

I’m not asking about the personal value of these beliefs, whatever they may be. I’m asking about what they do. I’m asking where these supposed “subversions” of the power structure become actual subversion, actual sabotage. Especially since I do want to enact violence against the power structure—I want to destroy it utterly. Again: I’m trying to chop down the tree of oppression. You don’t have to join me, but you had better stay the hell outta my way while I’m swinging the axe.

What effect does honesty have on the power structure? How does it help, or harm?

The first time dishonesty as a political act, instead of as simple self-protection, was driven home to me was when Aslan and I were homeless together, living out of a tent bought with the money I’d saved up as our last vestige of hope. We had an average income of $0/mo. I’m the black sheep of the family and have never had any kind of financial support from them; Aslan grew up on the streets under a welfare mother and zeir working-class stepfather was seven hundred miles away, assuming he’d be willing to help the kid he abandoned at four. No trustifarians we. So you can imagine how we got food. Not through a dumpster; they’re mechanizing them all nowadays. Anyway.

We ate better than we had in months, even walking a minimum of 30,000 steps every day. Not particularly because we got “a lot,” but because we managed to get enough. It helped that we’re vegan—carnist foods are much riskier to shoplift than anything else. Some karma thing, I dunno. But it struck me, the first time I went in with Aslan with a goal in mind, just how much capitalism has invested in imbuing this strange, distorted “honesty” into you: the entire structure of a corporate grocery store is designed to hide the underhanded shenanigans occurring on every level of the capitalist establishment while at the same time trying to make it so that you do not have the ability to hide anything from them.

And most of that attempt consists of psychological tactics. Most people don’t know not to twitch, to act as if you have a right to be there, and to do your best to remain as invisible, unforgettable, and impersonal as possible.

There is a direct line from one to the other here. You have to ask: who is profiting from these beliefs? In other words, who is profiting off of making you too nervous and guilt-ridden to ensure that you can eat, regardless of whether or not one of the upper caste will accept your petition to work? Because the answer is fairly clear. Instilling the belief that honesty is a necessity, even and especially when it harms yourself, in order for those who hold power over you to cement that dynamic straight into the ground.

Put another way: if you are honest, who is going to hurt you?

As a matter of policy, I don’t particularly believe that anyone is obligated to tell the truth when they are long the power imbalance. There are a few caveats to that—the consideration, for example, of whether or not you’re going to be directly hurting someone else by lying—but the rest stands. In many cases, I see lying as an obligation, such as with the quintessential “he went thataway!” misdirection of oppressors in search of a revolutionary. The only person you should ever make a policy of total honesty with is yourself. And maybe your best friend/long-term lover, but I’m pretty sure that requires negotiation. A lot of people start “opening up” and then take it way too far because they have no experience with what is an acceptable and desirable limit to that.

Question these social norms you are given at their premise. Why is honesty desirable? Why is pacifism? Why is femininity? Why is carnism? Why is nationalism? Why is the human race? Ask not just why but how—how are these things desirable, and whose interests do they serve?

Your ethical code needs to be informed of this, to be malleable, so that you needn’t sacrifice yourself to the power structure in order to live by your ethics, and so that you needn’t betray your ethics in order to protect yourself. Revolution is not an easy path to walk: you need to set aside a lot of your honesty for yourself, so that you will be neither willing nor able to tolerate or make excuses for yourself when you veer too close to being the kind of person you do not want to be.

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.

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