Nature is an ecoterrorist!

Posts tagged ‘pornography’

The Lessons of Porn, Expanded

Referring back to this post on the effects porn had on my sexuality and particularly how I perceived “sex” and the narrowing of what was pleasurable for me, I wanted to write another post about stimulus and conditioning. Especially since people seem to believe that this is some isolated phenomenon, and it’s just not.

One of the things I noted about pornography was that it actually limited the pleasure I could find in sex or masturbation when it wasn’t “aided” by porn, and that it warped my definition of sex so that it consisted almost entirely of penetration, performed pretty mechanically by two or more partners—it could have been anyone, not just me; all that mattered was that penetration happened. It was really about as sexy as a hammer striking a block repeatedly: if you have a healthy sexuality, not at all.

Carnism warped my perception of what “filling” food was. Some months after going vegan, I remember looking at the cover of The Complete Vegan Cookbook and thinking that even eating all that couldn’t fill me up—and it was a depiction of probably more than two thousand calories and four pounds of roasted vegetables! Corn, potatoes, peppers, garlic—that was just the beginning; I can’t even remember all the varieties of food pictured.

Needless to say, I was being pretty ridiculous; it was purely a problem of distorted perception. After several years of being vegan—almost entirely without omnisubs or “meaty” products like tempeh and tofu—the same picture would seem to me an inordinate amount of food, a veritable feast.

Other carnists do this too; one of my friends, who works at Subway, is vegan too and regularly has to deal with comments from customers and coworkers about how the Veggie Delite (sans cheese, nonvegan condiments and patty, natch) just wouldn’t fill them up. The hilarious thing is the maximum amount of meat you’ll get for a six inch is four ounces; mostly you get two to three ounces—the bread is literally the most filling part of the entire sandwich. On top of that, people who say that it isn’t filling have usually never actually tried it—or they only got one or two vegetables at best.

Carnism makes you feel that the only real sustenance is contained in animal products; it warps your perception.

But one of the most interesting experiences for me, taste-wise, was fruitarianism—i.e. 2,000 calories a day specifically from fresh semitropical or tropical fruit, a large salad usually consisting of two heads of lettuce, and every other day or so some avocado, coconut or nuts. I’ve heard rather pretentious vegans remark that you have to like, go to culinary school to have “good enough” tastebuds. (I had no idea that you could be a classist Marxist; thanks, Vincent!) Now, one of the most interesting thing was just how my tastebuds changed.

Without letting myself go hungry, the flavors of fresh food became exponentially more vibrant when they’d already been delicious to begin with; I could taste the sweetness and saltiness of romaine, chard, spinach and the peculiar sweetness of sour limes. But even then, the taste of food became really impossible to explain in terms of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness—much the same way that the joy of sex is impossible to explain with a sexual terminology tainted by porn, or to someone currently limited by pornthink.

Anoretics generally suffer from a lack of flavor—food becomes bland: you have to add salt or mustard, chew gum constantly, something to get a constant rush of flavor. It’s the same for people who are suffering from mineral or vitamin or protein deficiency—food loses its luster; you become depressed and listless and lose any interest in eating. This was a diametrically opposed experience.

What was also interesting was that when I began eating cooked foods again—for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because of capitalism, which is unfortunate because tropical fruit makes humans feel good—it was incredibly… bland.

I also couldn’t stand nearly as much salt anymore; it overpowered the food and ruined the flavor. Salt has its own flavor too, you know; a lot of the time I find this is actually the biggest reason why carnists find vegan food “bland.” There’s just not enough salt in it, and they’re used to salt.

This leads to my point: when you regularly condition yourself to a certain substance, you lose your ability to enjoy the same activities without that substance—usually to a greater rather than lesser degree. When I was younger and tried food without salt, it wasn’t that it had no taste; it had taste, I just couldn’t enjoy or appreciate it.

I literally built up a tolerance to a substance that was supposedly non-habit forming. My taste buds—my brain—got conditioned to only recognize flavor in the presence of salt; similarly, when you consume porn, your brain becomes conditioned to recognize sexiness and arousal only in the context of pornified sex (which basically isn’t very much like sex).

But my primary reason for writing this post was this: technology screws up your ability to enjoy life.

That could sound silly, coming from somebody who’s clearly writing this on a computer. But since I’ve realized just how badly technology impairs my ability to enjoy life, and to be fascinated and fulfilled by nature, I’ve actually been restricting my use of it.

When I lived in a tent with my best friend, I… experienced life, and joy, for the first time ever. Nothing in civilization can ever compare to the enjoyment of life I had then; you can’t experience true joy or fulfillment as long as you are bound to civilization. The reason I chose—and still long for—fruitarianism is that it is the only time that I can get any kind of approximation of that wholeness… 811rv allows you to experience the closest approximation of real life, of nature, that you can get in civilization.

And I had all these beliefs about nature and who I was and what I was capable of just utterly destroyed.

You know how teens and college-aged kids get bored when they’re sitting outside in nature? How older people can sit, and sit, and sit, and be entertained—by looking around or playing solitaire or just thinking? I was one of those kids too. I swore that I’d just die of boredom if I was ever caught without technology—my laptop, my GBA, my iPod… something to take me away from the slowness of nature.

Except that the opposite happened. I had my iPod, and I didn’t use it because I was just endlessly entertained, by talking, by thinking and by watching; I found an almost Buddhist sense of spirituality. There is this certain kind of… sense that is reinforced in you by even a temporary detox from technology, of the inferiority of civilization and human “ingenuity” in the face of nature. I completely lost any appreciation for architecture I once had, because architecture has no real visual texture; the intricacies of a tree—of a living organism—are endless. It redefines beauty. I like to say that of the entirety of what Yeshuah said, “Sell all your things and give them to the poor; and come, follow me,” was the most literal. You can’t have any understanding of love, life, and joy, of the inherent goodness and truth of nature, unless you are a wanderer… unless you reject civilization absolutely. Everything you think you know about the ruthlessness and callous violence of nature, and about the “benefits” of civilization, is a laughable lie. Nature may not necessarily be kind but it certainly isn’t cruel—it won’t hurt you simply because it doesn’t have a reason not to.

When I was forced back into “shelter,” it was awful—you don’t have any idea how it is to feel joy, to feel freedom, to finally understand what it means to say that nature is good, and to just… have that ripped away from you.

The worst part, I think, is that it’s never very long before you forget what it was like Before. Maybe it’s just too much for your mind to really comprehend—nature is not, after all, cruel or malicious; you reach a point where “pain” and “sadness” don’t really exist because there’s not much to compare it to anymore, it’s just normal. Just because it would be so much more painful to remember what it was like to be free, to be safe. The idea that you have to know sadness to know happiness is total bullshit: it only works one way. You can be happy all the time, because happiness is something default, happiness is necessary if you’re going to survive in nature. But you cannot be sad all the time without becoming numb, without forgetting what happiness ever was.

Eventually you’re just left with this uneasy wistfulness for an indistinct memory: you knew. You knew it was better… but you can’t remember anymore.

Technology still does this to me—to everyone; it conditions your brain to a faster but less detailed speed, to a speed where you actually can’t process many details. It conditions your brain to a lower textural quality while ramping up simplistic intensity to compensate.

You can look at movies from different eras to see my point; movies have gotten faster and faster as time has gone on, as advertising has had to continuously compete for effect and audience. I remember a point where I watched Star Wars in my early teens and actually thought it was kind of slow-paced. The same has happened with music, but I’m not glorifying the Beatles; their music also encouraged the loss of musical texture and complexity. Jonsi and Sigur Ros and 65daysofstatic are actually some of my favorite music because their music is so complex and filled with texture.

One of the most damaging things technology does, though, is make you impatient. Car drivers, gamers, television watchers, and even casual internet users become incredibly impatient; I don’t think you really hear or see yourselves. I also become incredibly impatient; I’m more likely to snap at my best friend if I’ve been using the computer at all, I’m more jittery and needy of stimulus. It makes you impatient.

And tired. Incredibly tired. Video games have the same effect on me, even for a small time, but if I keep playing I become overstimulated and can’t get to sleep, the same way as when I try to stay up when I’m tired.

Speaking of which, I’m very tired, so I’m going to end this post now.

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!

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.

Privilege 101: The Slant

Continuing on the topic of elaborating upon and understanding how privilege functions—as opposed to simply its effects—I wanted to talk a little about what I’ve termed “the Slant.” Part of how privilege behaves—the processes it uses to perpetuate itself as a vicious cycle—is a particular mental distortion inculcated within everyone growing up inside a power dynamic.

What makes it so insidious is that the Slant is entirely perception-based. The Slant describes two specific “cognitive biases” that are entirely based around the status quo: the reasonableness and trustworthiness of both the “empowered” and the powerless.

To clarify:

1. The “empowered” are:
a. Reasonable.
b. Objectively motivated.

2. The powerless are:
a. Unreasonable, irrational.
b. Personally or deceptively motivated.

Part A of the Slant is particularly important because the falsehood that humans are uniquely rational, reasonable beings, set apart from all other animals by a capacity for logical processes, is actually the freaking basis of human civilization.

It’s fairly obvious, given enough time and energy seriously dealing with other animals, that this is not the case: all animals have logical processes—they just aren’t necessarily based on sight-stimulus and technology the way humans’ information-gathering is. Animals come to logical decisions, like humans, but using different sets of information. Furthermore, animals only seem “irrational” if one is thinking of them specifically as not-person—as someone malformed because they were not born with a human interface.

And not to put too fine a point on it, tell me I’m the only bee in your bonnet the human concept of “logical” has always had quite a bit to do with whether or not you supported the status quo. Here’s where we get into the mind-boggling reinforcement of one oppression to another, which yes, means you support all of them if you are not vegan.

Women’s insistence that women were not inferior—not irrational, not child-obsessed dunderheads, not incapable of brilliance, not frail, needy histrionic cases—has always been used as an example of how women were inferior and irrational, and it still is. Evolutionary psychologists, MRAs, and trans misogynists use women’s belief that they are, well, people in order to argue that women are irrational. They’re delusional; they don’t get that we’re just the way we are because nature made us that way, which is not an argument for our extermination, somehow, but an argument against it and an argument that women should just, like, let us be evil. Women are just too stupid, self-absorbed, naive and idealistic to understand that the Kyriarchy exists because it is inevitable.

The fact that Black people did not want to be enslaved was used as evidence for how little they understood, and how much they needed to be “guided,” however brutally, by white people (men, generally). The fact that they didn’t agree that they were inferior was proof that they were inferior.

That fat people refuse to starve and emotionally torment themselves over the size of their body is evidence to the fatphobic, body-obsessive, carnist medical establishment that fat people just don’t understand how inferior they are. When fat people point out that any self-destructive endeavor would be fruitless—starvation, even with exercise, doesn’t work for somewhere around 98% of the population—they are assumed to be too stupid to understand “the facts.” Literally, fat people are expected to ignore the actual facts and embark on a terribly scarring journey of self-loathing—the more you agree that fat is evil and wrong, that fat is an indicator of a personal flaw, the more “rational” and “reasonable” you are. Surely we can all agree that you are weak-willed and immoral.

And today, too, if you are “mentaly ill” and object to the idea that you need to be institutionalized and “treated” into docility with psychotropic medicines—or if you and your others refuse to believe that integration is necessary in order to live a healthy and happy life—then it’s further evidence that you are just too mentally ill to understand you need to be controlled helped.

In our society, reasonable is a loaded word. It doesn’t take brilliance to see that.

Part B is simple but slippery, because it’s so easy for the “empowered” to wordle their way out of the claim. I can’t be responsible for what other people think of my motivations; are you implying my motivations aren’t pure? Yadda yadda, whine whine whine, what about teh menz/whitez/humanz.

But really, the best way to describe “assumption of motivation” is in terms of a good-faith/bad-faith argument. An assumption of good faith is the default: it’s reasonable to assume that a given human doesn’t mean you any harm unless you are given actual evidence to suspect otherwise—for example, the epidemic of rape perpetrated by men; the disenfranchisement of nonwhite people by white people; the abuse of animals by humans. It’s not unreasonable to assume that someone who was born and raised as an “empowered” person will be able or willing to see you as a person if you’re on the “powerless” side.

Bad faith is what is automatically attributed to those who are powerless, or who are fighting for the powerless. Their words are interpreted within the most unflattering meaning; on the other hand, when the “empowered” say bigoted things, they are defended and excused. Very often someone challenging the status quo is simply not listened to at all—my experience with trans commenters made me wonder, briefly but seriously, whether or not being transsexual actually impaired your reading comprehension. Simply by not agreeing, you can be accused of derailing or having impure, personally-motivated, bigoted motives:

1a. Animal experimentation has not brought about any serious medical advance; in fact, most medical advances have happened IN SPITE of animal experimentation and were slowed down by it instead of being helped. And in fact many diseases have afflicted humans specifically from their use of animals; it’s not good for humans, either.
1b. You care more about animals than humans!

2a. The gender dichotomy is fucked up. We should destroy it so that no one is gendered; then we can all be free to be people, instead.
2b. You’re transphobic! I worked HARD to be seen as a woman!

3a. Dude, what you just said is really racist; affirmative action doesn’t give non-white people an advantage.
3b. You’re just a reverse racist who doesn’t want to work for what you have!

And on a deeper level, the experiences and feelings of the powerless are unconsciously demeaned. Women are hysterical and overreacting about rape; women of color—people of color in general, but especially women of color—are “angry and militant” when they object to being alienated from a group (yes, as if it were undesirable); children and animals aren’t as complex or as rational and logical as adults, humans; and women who were forced to be “women” from the day they were born are just expressing “insecurity” about their “femininity” when they object to male-socialized people in their spaces.

Unreasonable. Hysterical. Irrational. Doesn’t know anything. Ignorant. Naive. Idealistic. Delusional. Doesn’t understand how the world works. Illogical. Emotional. Silly. Empty-headed. Airhead. Man-hater.

The Slant makes it impossible for you to know whether you agree with, or find persuasive or intelligent or competent, any “empowered” person because of the behavior/reaction sets they and you were indoctrinated into; similarly impossible to know whether your opinion of anyone on the “powerless” end—on the basis of age, race, sex, species, body shape, etc.—is based on your cultured filters of power or on who they really are.

No, scrap that: the Slant virtually guarantees that your opinion of anyone will be, in part, based on the place of power they are given in the Kyriarchy, regardless of how reasonable and logical you think you are.

And there are no easy answers. You can’t watch porn and pass out condoms to encourage sexual liberation; you can’t buy cage-free eggs and grass-fed cow products to encourage animal rights; you can’t put a Black or Asian person smack-dab in the middle of the photo amidst a group of white people and expect to be hailed as anti-racist or inclusive. You can’t decide that it’s okay for people to switch sexes in the gender binary, but not for anyone to object to the existence of a gender binary at all, and ever help anyone except the most privileged male-socialized people.

It is a long, hard, fucking cold road, and it’s one you have to take alone; there are no quick fixes. You can decide that every animal can feel and deserves not to be used as property, to be farmed; or you can give the fuck up and resign yourself to the fact that your unwillingness to dispense with the idea of property—with gender, with capitalism, with a “right” body to have, with the idea that sex can be power—has doomed everyone you claim to be fighting for. Because you are too fucking obsessed with getting yours to ever do anyone any fucking good.

Take people seriously. Listen to them; genuinely consider their experiences and feelings as valid; and don’t ever justify anything that is done to them in the name of oppression and power as “not as bad” as something happening to another person elsewhere.

“I Paid for You.” Capitalism’s Inherent Property Ethic

Even amongst the less capitalist circles, there’s not a whole lot of talk about the totalizing objectification created by a system run by exchange. Pretty much everyone understands the basics of classism: that you’re perceived as being inherently worth more and a better person if you’re richer, and given more opportunities based on that, whereas the reverse is true if you’re poorer. In other words, socioeconomic class is perceived as a reflection on one’s personality in capitalism in a similar way to beauty in medieval Italy. The richer or more beautiful you are/were, the better a person you are/were.

Yeah, that’s basic. And pretty obvious. But classism is inextricable from capitalism in another way—and ageism, racism, and sexism insofar as these groups are capitalistically disadvantaged, too—because, to put it gently, our entire system is based on the value of currency given to anything in general… and it invades everything.

There’s a particular transactional model of oppression that states thus: the more money that others have to give you in order to support your survival, the less you are worth and the more you are owned by them.

You see this everywhere. Look at the anti-welfare crap going around; look at the anti-socialized medicine crap going on in the U.S., the fire being rained down on unions in Wisconsin and Indiana, the sabotaging of jobless benefits. Resentment is bred because the people who feel they are “paying” for these things without benefiting feel as though they’re getting ripped off—because they’re having to buy something without getting to benefit from it.

When you look at it from an item perspective, it makes sense: if a store charged you for items you didn’t buy (and therefore didn’t get to use), you’d be pretty pissed too. It makes sense, except for the fact where we are talking about peoples’ lives instead of an actual object.

… But thanks to capitalism, the monetary value assigned to someone’s life and/or quality of life is the signal that they are property—an item or a product that you are having to pay for without being able to use.

You know those old “jokes” about how wives are merely bad prostitutes—they take men’s money and then don’t even put out in return? This is why. They are being “paid for” as products, but the men, their “purchasers,” don’t get to use them at all. This follows other forms of oppression, too—ageism, for example. Literally, by paying for their children, parents feel an entitlement to force/abuse them into doing something just so because they are effectively buying them.

A person becomes a product when a monetary value is assigned to them for whatever reason—their survival, their quality of life, maybe just a momentary indulgence. It even applies to employers: Aslan, at a previous job, would be stocking about $20,000 of product every night—usually mostly on zeir own, too—but zeir manager wouldn’t even let zem get fucking overtime. That’s another problem with the product-purchaser capitalist worldview: it brings into play the “natural” desire of a purchaser to get the most for their money.

This is endemic, too, unless and until we cut the line tying someone’s survival and basic quality of life to a monetary value. Food, shelter and water must be upheld as basic human rights, inalienable, such that they cannot be sold unless they are luxury products—as with exotic fruits like passionfruits (in some places), animal products, several kinds of sweeteners, sodas, prepackaged “junk” foods, etc. Outside of luxuries, whole foods are your right. So is shelter. Until capitalism falls or compromises, you will be objectified just by surviving.

What Does Life Say About Those Who Die? Submission and Ventriloquism

I found an article on Gary Francione’s blog, The Abolitionist Approach, a post entitled And What About the Four Other Dogs? In it, he talks about how five dogs were scheduled to be euthanized at a shelter; four died, but one—a puppy—was found to be still alive after being given two lethal doses of euthanasia medicine. The dog’s survival was posted by a veterinary technician on a pet adoption website, and hundreds of people over North America began clamoring to adopt the dog.

He asks, as with the title, what about the other four dogs? The ones who didn’t make some kind of miraculous escape?

This story is similar to the stories about farm animals who escape from slaughterhouses and are then given homes to live out their lives. They, too, are “special.” They escaped from the institutionalized exploitation that we have established. They have cheated death.

Many people think that when an animal escapes death in this fashion, it is some sort of divine sign. These sorts of events ironically reinforce our view that because there is no divine intervention for all the other animals that are killed at “shelters” or in slaughterhouses, then this is the way things ought to be for those other animals. They are killed as part of the “natural” order.

This is true. I have heard exactly this kind of “argument” used against veganism, although I last encountered it several years ago, perhaps because the most obvious inaccuracies are hard to ignore: “If animals cared about not being killed, why don’t they try to escape? [Kidnapped African] slaves did, after all.”

That’s paraphrased, but I did not actually add in the part about the kidnapped Africans. She put that in on her own. There’s the obvious problem with the argument, which is that many animals have escaped and that slaughterhouses are built to prevent that from happening—a la Temple Grandin—but then there’s something else wrong that she didn’t realize. The fact that most kidnapped Africans did not try to escape, or successfully escape, was used as evidence for the idea that slavery was perfectly fine.

I. After all, if the kidnapped Africans really objected, they would be escaping, successfully, in droves. II. After all, if she really felt it was rape, she would have fought him off. III. After all, if she really didn’t want to be beaten by her husband, she would leave him. IV. After all, if he really didn’t want to be bullied, he’d fight back or go to a teacher. V. After all, if zie really felt zie was getting cheated by zeir boss, zie would have sued. VI. After all, if zie doesn’t want to be poor and starving, zie would have gotten a job. Et cetera.

This is a variation of the No True Scotsman No True Rape Victim fallacy—the idea that if someone being oppressed really thought it was unjust, they would fight back against it. And they would win. But the idea of the Iron-Willed Escape invalidates not just those who can’t imagine fighting off their abuser—it invalidates the people who do successfully manage to fight off their abuser, too. Rape victims are discredited because, given that he didn’t really manage to rape zem, he’s still Shrödinger’s Rapist and therefore, not really a rapist. The question is always, “But how do you know zie was really intending to hurt you?” because any resistance against power is always seen as fundamentally unjustified.

Thus, if zie was able to fight him off, zie couldn’t really know he was actually going to rape zem—he didn’t, so therefore he’s not a rapist! But if he does succeed in raping zem, then it wasn’t really rape because zie failed to fight him off so zie wasn’t really serious about not wanting it… so therefore he’s not a rapist!

That’s what rape culture is. That’s what victim-blaming is: placing the onus of rejecting violation on the victim instead of the violator. It is Lierre Keith‘s perfect philosophy because, no matter what, the oppressor is never to blame for oppressing. An abuser can’t be held responsible for their actions: you just let it happen. You just let him sell away your children. You just let her beat you. How were they supposed to know it wasn’t okay if you didn’t force them to stop?

“If you don’t like me hurting you, then you shouldn’t let me hurt you.”

The oppressor becomes invisible and the oppressed becomes solely responsible for their own oppression. If they don’t like it, then they should have tried harder to keep it from happening. Somehow, the abuser is never held responsible for their decision to abuse and never expected to actually treat anyone like people. The victim is portrayed in a black room, empty save for zem, shuddering as an unseen hand batters zem—something that is assumed, because of the absence of any visible perpetrator, exists entirely in zeir own mind, that zie is submitting to. A personal pathology. An individual flaw. No atrocity to see here, folks; move along.

You should perhaps question why it is easier to hold the victim responsible than the one who victimized zem.

I draw together all these examples not to show similarities between different forms of oppression, but to show how all oppression is fundamentally the same. Oppression and its justifications are all the same—they’re utterly unoriginal, just a repeating pattern of the same thoughts, the same arguments. Every carb-starved fuckneck thinks that “but plants are alive too” is a unique and compelling argument against veganism, and so does every porn-addled fuckneck think “women’s choice” is a unique and compelling argument against anti-exploitation, consideration of abuse, capitalism, coercion, reality. Then they wonder why they keep hearing the same rebuttals in response, over and over again, and conclude that those desperately trying to scrape their way out of a fucked-up, oppressive world and into a new one, those people simply have nothing else to offer.

It’s the other way around. Being aware of oneself requires an accounting of one’s bigotries, one’s life, one’s actions. It requires a vicious, snarling demand for self-inflicted honesty and ultimately, honesty requires change.

In a society that wants to view oppression as normal, as neutral, as right, it becomes much easier to blurt some self-indulgent nonsense and let yourself fall into the ensuing applause.

Oppressors are Incidental

It’s been bugging me recently how uncomfortable I am with pan-subject “safe spaces.” I never feel safe or comfortable in them because I know who the favor is going to go to, and I know that people I love will not, by popular vote, be considered people—and by inference, me: I have more similarities with them than I do with the denizens of the “safe spaces,” usually, which also means that I am not a person by the same qualities I share with them.

Most carnists, though, perceive me as judging them first and foremost. To these people, I get pissed off at humans consuming animal products because of them—when actually this is basically the most inaccurate way possible to think of my beliefs and my anger. And that mistake is because of one fundamental difference in perspective: where the point of consideration begins.

From my point of view, I care about animals. Veganism is about the rights of non-human animals, not about humans, although human rights are also served by veganism.

Doing it the other way around would be like worrying about child abusers before and above children—although this is actually what usually happens, because parents are seen as having a damn near inalienable right to their children as property. Once property status is solidified, any dispute revolves around “acceptable use,” and this is why I couldn’t give a flying fuck about parents and teachers. A focus on the oppressors gives those oppressors way more time than they deserve and it minimizes attention to the people actually being hurt.

To a carnist, they are the first point of consideration—it’s how you can rationalize animal product consumption as being a personal choice, involving primarily you and what you choose to put in your body. So when a carnist hears me say, “I believe animals have rights, especially rights over bodily and environmental sovereignity,” it gets translated in their head into, “I want to stop you from eating what you want to eat because I’m a silly douche.”

And like I said, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about carnists. I believe that rights should not be bargained out of the privileged—they should be taken, and enforced violently if necessary. Having been out in nature more than most people—more than the vast majority once you include the mental isolation from pro-civ ideology—this is rule #1: fucking respect or you will get your ass kicked.

Nevertheless. Carnists are incidental to me:
I) Animals have rights.
II) Carnists infringe on these rights.
III) Therefore, carnists should get the fuck over themselves and stop infringing on animals’ rights.

The primary spotlight of any rights movement needs be on the people they are fighting for, not those they are fighting against. The first two U.S. women’s rights movements worked, to a point, because they focused on women, not on men. I see very little hope for the Third Wave because, ultimately, they want to focus on men and women equally, and successful rights movements do not work that way.

The focus should be on your first point of consideration, as this is basically the major problem with any oppression. Men see rape and think the first point of consideration is them—so you get Julian Assange complaining about a feminist conspiracy, and you get a bazillion and one anklebiters screaming, “But men get raped too!” and “What if she’s lying?” The first point of consideration is on men—women being raped in droves doesn’t matter because men are raped too; girlfriends lie about rape to “get back at their exes” despite it being possibly the worst mode of revenge you could choose, given how likely people are to say, “What if she’s lying!?”

And, actually, that’s one of the main characteristics of privilege. Outrage over being called on privilege comes around largely as a byproduct of having your belief that you are the first point of consideration called out. Basically, if you find yourself coming up with excuses for why it’s not that big an issue—like, “Well, they’re not like me,” or “I have more important things to worry about first,” or any variation therein, congrats. You are contributing to an oppressive structure, and you are succeeding splendidly in not questioning that contribution.

No, for real: if you notice yourself doing that, take yourself up on it immediately and start questioning and looking for information. I have thought these things way too often to be comfortable—though honestly, I think that my comfort level is “once” and then fixing it, so that’s not saying much—and it’s an illuminating experience.

And then change.

That’s the second problem I run into, and it’s basically the only part of veganism that focuses on the carnists’ actions. For me to believe that non-human animals have the right to be left the fuck alone and that humans are not entitled to go mucking around in other species’ lives and ecosystems, I have to believe that, similarly, you are not entitled to be using/ingesting any part of their bodies or anything that comes from their bodies. And that you should, like, stop, ya know?

Yeah. Any radfem who’s had to argue about porn will absolutely understand how hard it is to get someone to change their actions—especially when their actions now result in some amount of personal pleasure. And the reactions from both porn watchers and carnists are identical, whether you’re saying, “You can learn to be egalitarian, sexually,” or “You know, there’s such a thing as millet, rice, oranges, pineapples, mangos…” They’ve never had any concept of another possibility, as real. This is all there is. It’s normal.

But this is, at its basis, the problem. Porn watchers believe that they are the first point of consideration: the women, and how they’re treated, are incidental. Carnists believe that they are the first point of consideration: animals, and how they’re treated, are incidental.

That’s the opposite of what I believe. Women are the first point of consideration, and destroying their property status is first priority—porn watchers are incidental. Non-human animals are the first point of consideration, and destroying their property status is first priority—carnists are incidental. This is a pretty vital point here: even when someone is actively perpetuating the rape, torture, slaughter of many millions and billions of people, you can never lose sight of the real goal. The beneficiaries of liberation need your attention more than the beneficiaries of oppression—after all, those beneficiaries are used to the attention.

Your definition of “people” is different than my definition of “people,” because your definition excludes anyone it would be inconvenient for you to consider. And regardless of whatever arguments you’d like to come up with that are still all about you, that’s still the point—your supposed “needs” are entirely incidental.

Because it is not. about. you.

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