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Posts tagged ‘rape culture’

What Men Aren’t Taught About Rape

If you are triggered by graphic descriptions of rape, self-injury and body horror, you may want to skip this post.

To put it bluntly, men are raised to be incredibly ignorant of rape. Male socialization systematically devalues the trauma and pain of rape and leaves those raised to be men painfully and insultingly misinformed on the subject. That’s not to say that men can’t learn—just that an understanding of rape, with all its irrational anti-patriarchy implications like empathy for the survivors, is not included in the syllabus.

What’s interesting, and infuriating—and will doubtless get me called a transphobe, again, because I’m not self-interested enough to selectively ignore the realities of a gendered society—is that male-socialized blindness to rape is only limited by firsthand experience. Which is to say, the ignorance and misunderstanding of rape is universal among people who have been socialized as male, unless they have directly experienced rape or empathy for a rape survivor, as a person—not as property or them-by-proxy. An adequate understanding of rape is not created by considering the theory of rape or by rejecting either stereotypical manliness or by identifying as a different gender; you can only grow one by either being a survivor yourself or by deeply caring for a survivor.

It’s been bothering me lately how flippantly men speak about rape, and how lightly they use it to refer to something without the concrete characteristics of rape; that’s why I’m writing this post. Rape 101, right here, folks.

I. Concreteness of Rape

The concrete reality of rape is this: first, that rape is committed by a specific person; second, that rape is committed against a specific person.

Any other definition of rape deliberately obscures what actually happens in rape. It does not “simply happen,” you aren’t walking down the street and trip over a rock and get raped. Someone does the raping. A rapist isn’t epheremal; there aren’t rapist particles floating around in the air, lurking around particularly sharp dips in the sidewalk.

When rape happens, it happens because a specific person is a rapist, or because several specific persons are rapists. This is part of assigning accountability—when several boys get together and gang-rape an eleven-year-old, they are rapists. They weren’t “drawn into” anything—they are rapists; without an actual, real, concrete rapist, rape does not exist.

The second part of that definition is the counterpart to assigning accountability: it’s assigning harm. Rape is experienced by a person; it doesn’t happen to no one for no reason. A person—someone who can feel and think and experience what is or was done to them—suffers rape, because that’s the meaning of the fucking word, and because the widespread misunderstanding of the experience of rape is what makes men so comfortable with using rape outside of an injustice, against a person, perpetrated by another person.

This is part of what I’d like to submit as a basic guideline for radical feminist questioning of atrocities:

1. Who is targeted? Who is suffering from it?
2. Who is committing the atrocity?
3. Who benefits from the atrocity—i.e., why is the atrocity happening? What use does it have to the Kyriarchy?

Too often, rape is spoken about—by men, but also by people being excessively gentle with men’s feelings—as if it’s this mystical woo-woo magical thingy that just kind of like, happens. “Rape is an epidemic in the Congo…” By who? Against who?

Because the concrete reality of rape, right now, in this universe—not the universe of The Spearhead or Larry Flynt or whatever—is that men rape, and it’s largely women, children, animals, transfolk, and disenfranchised men who are raped on the basis of not being male enough—which also means not being human enough, which also means not being worthy enough. It is an ongoing tactic of rape culture and rape apologists to obscure these realities of rape: who suffers from it, who is perpetrating it.

II. Men Speak Casually About Rape

K’naan, in the song My Old Home: Justice has been raped in my old home…

Emmanual Jal, on his album Warchild, has a song entitled Vagina. It speaks of how Africa is exploited and sabotaged by the Western, white world, but it appropriates sexual violence against women to fight racism… on the same album, Jal talks in Skirt Too Short about how the way women are or are not dressed magically makes him incapable of respecting them.

And have you heard Date Rape by Sublime? It’s a disgustingly upbeat song that describes a near-stranger rape, a rapist who admits he’s a rapist—”If it weren’t for rape I’d never get laid,” sez he (since, obviously, it’s so horrible and life-destroying to accuse a man of rape without his permission)—but never fear! The members of Sublime have no allegiance to such a silly thing as reality; his victim takes him to court and wins and gets him put in prison! And, as a final fuck-you to feminism, the end of the song has the (male, need I point out) singer gloating about how her rapist gets raped in prison, lolololol! Rape is so funny when it happens to people who deserve it! HOORAY EQUALITY.

Nine Inch Nails, too, joins into the fray when Trent Reznor sings in Animal, “you let me violate you/you let me desecrate you.” Of course, it’s really about pain and agony and obsessively needing someone—so sexual violence is really your only answer when you are trying to expressed your tortured manly maliness!

There are more, of course, from AC/DC to Led Zepplin, not to mention the entire genre of gore metal and the “romantic misogyny” of emo, but I’ll leave off the musical references with a shout-out to a classic: Rape Me by Nirvana. Sure, Kurt Cobain was never actually raped, but that doesn’t mean he can’t co-opt the soul-destroying violation for his self-important angst!

Literature is a goldmine of men speaking casually about rape, too.

In this one book I got a few years ago—I am honestly sorry I don’t have the name, but it was so forgettable that the few details I can recall aren’t nearly enough to find the title with—by some Eric Whatshisface manages to write a rape into the first few chapters of one of the few female characters he introduces, and the first native woman on a planet invaded by a species whose language is completely nonsensical when Eric translates it into English (for some reason he thinks having three letters in a row—like “tiiirn”—can work, ever). She gets pregnant from it, and is chastised for even considering abortion by one of the Great White Masters ultra-superior demigods of the invading race—I’m not even exaggerating—because he knows her better than she does.

This Ubermensch, who is masculine, tells her, “but bleeding was never enough, was it?” Implying that she should be thankful for being raped and impregnated, or that being raped and impregnated occured because of her mystical woo-woo womanliness. Because it made her “whole.” This is near the end of the book; strewn throughout are patronising lectures about why animals are not people—Eric has apparently never noticed that animals do change in personality over their lifetimes, which neatly ties off his justification of women not being people either. After that, he has another female character gang-raped and stabbed to death, by the man who raped the native woman earlier (main character’s love interest, naturally). Which is like, fine, because you never develop any emotion for her; she’s evil but she’s in love with one of her rapists, so it’s just another random act of violence against women. Just more to develop male characters as evil (rapist) or as good (rapist-by-proxy by forcing you to carry a fetus to term).

And who could forget good ol’ Chuck? Bukowski, the sainted fucking classic-writer, thinks of women literally as props: they reflect on men, are there for men, to tell the reader things about men, to be used to move men’s stories along. Sexual violence and sexual exploitation is merely a way to progress the story—barely even a fucking plot point.

And Julia Serano, whose Whipping Girl definitely qualifies as fiction, albeit of the likes of Ayn Rand, and who was raised and socialized to be a man, writes this:

When I was a child, I was sexually assaulted, but not by any particular person. It was my culture that had his way with me.

And one of my best friends, who survived several rapes throughout zeir life, shivered and snorted when zie read that. “That’s not how rape happens. That’s not what rape is,” zie said, pissed off that someone who’d never been raped could ever fucking be allowed to say that kind of shit.

Then there’s this: “Trans women are raped by our own bodies.”

You can only say things like this when you don’t understand what rape is… or when you want to trivialize the suffering of those most likely to be rape victims: women who were forced to be women. Which also includes FTMs. Because by the same standard—that no FAAB person “chose” to be a woman, they had that gender role forced on them—women are raped by their bodies, too. Or, if you’re going by the standard of severe body dysmorphia (which not all transfolk have!), fat people who don’t accept themselves are raped by their bodies; people with eating disorders are raped by their bodies.

No. Rape does not occur without a perpetrator. It does not merely happen.

And how many of you have not heard this from men (or have thought this about rape)? Shere Hite, The Hite Report on Male Sexuality, published accounts of men who said they wanted to be raped on pages 794-5. Here is one example:

I have not been raped by a woman yet, unfortunately. But I am patiently waiting for such a moment because it would make me feel sexual if I caused a woman to attack me out of lustful desire. Female motorcycle gangs seem to fascinate me. If I were in a large city where female gangs existed I would like to flaunt myself in hope of being raped. I have not sexually attacked a woman and never plan to.

I chose to display that one specifically because it’s so difficult to justify it as “just a fantasy.” He clearly believes that rape would be a sexual action, and far beyond the idea that men can’t be raped because they “want it” all the time, it’s actually very telling in terms of what men believe about rape victims. That rape is sexually pleasurable; that you are “begging” for rape if you “flaunt” yourself (as defined by what could possibly turn men on—which, as far as I can tell, is basically anything); and that rape is caused by sexual desire for someone, instead of an inability or unwillingness to understand that no one owes anyone the use of their body, whether for gestation or experimentation or orgasm.

George Carlin, whose death I am not particularly saddened by, thought that anything was funny—even rape. Rape just needed the right target to be funny, like an old man. Of course, George Carlin wasn’t raped; it could be funny to him because he never had any reason to know what rape actually was.

Then, of course, there’s the fucked-up shit that went on with PennyArcade. Recap: two white men made a rape joke. Rape survivors thought this was inappropriate and callous and said so. The two white men complained about censorship—which is quite an interesting claim when you are actively behaving in a way that will silence already oppressed people—and along with more white boys, but not only white boys, commenced the twisting of the knife to show how badass they were. Also cue one hundred bazillion dudebros and dudebro-identified women mansplaining why the joke wasn’t about rape, it just used rape as a way to make the joke funny. Yadda yadda, the survivors got death threats and rape threats—but threats and silencing only started mattering once the two white men got ’em. Then it was all like “hey yo, truce man, back off” and everyone forgot about it except for the survivors who now irrevocably knew they were not safe or supported within their community.

And Palaverer believes that rape does not matter when it happens to women when zie says:

[T]he abuse transgender individuals suffer…is, statistically, far, far higher than what women collectively suffer.

Because those who identify themselves as transgender make up, at best, 10% of the population; those raised to be women make up 51%, of which every one out of three will be raped, sometimes more than once. Not even if every single transgender individual was raped would that statistic hold any kind of water. The only way you can claim that is if you do not believe rape—a violation overwhelmingly directed at female-bodied people, and even more overwhelmingly young female-bodied people, and even more overwhelmingly young lesbians—is as bad when it happens to women.

When Julian Assange was arrested for rape—several months after the reports were filed, just in case Swedish women didn’t understand that their country hates them—Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann deliberately and intentionally lied to discredit the women accusing him and the validity of their charges. Assange’s own lawyer lied and said that he was being charged with having sex without a condom, which is a crime in Sweden (except, not); that he was charged with “sex by surprise”—which is, you know, rape, because if someone doesn’t consent then you’re raping them.

Assange’s lawyer made fucking rape jokes on TV; Assange claimed that he was being personally persecuted and oppressed by “the Saudi Arabia of feminism.” And yet I am still expected to be “reasonable,” to not necessarily believe that he is a rapist, when he has shown every indicator—masculine outrage, a fondness for rape culture, a putrid contempt for women’s concerns and wishes, and hatred of feminism—of being a rapist.

Men fictionalize rape in ways that do not even begin to grasp at women’s experience, or in ways that specifically reject women’s experience as ridiculous in favor of what a man thinks rape should be. Men speak casually about rape because they don’t understand it: they may use it to refer to something horrible, but the vast majority of the time they trivialize the experience of rape by stereotyping why it is horrible for women. And honestly, it’s almost worse.

Oh yeah, rape is horrible ’cause, like, you can get pregnant. ‘Cause you’re not a virgin anymore—you’re dirty and used up and since women are objects, not people, nobody will want to buy you from the store and you’ll end up getting put on the discount rack to be bought by some cheapass uncle for his nephew that he doesn’t really care about. ‘Cause you feel like you cheated on your owner husband/boyfriend/predestined Mormon Vampire Soulmate. ‘Cause you can get a VD. ‘Cause you can have, like, physical discomfort (getting torn up).

Look at those reasons. Look for the pattern within those reasons. They’re shallow, sure; they’re fucking awful. But there are two common threads within male socialization of rape culture on Why Rape Is Kinda Sucky For Girls. Do you see ’em yet? Secret fucking eye, c’mon now.

All those reasons revolve around one of two things:

1. Men.
2. Physical pain or inconvenience.

And that doesn’t even begin to cover it.

III. Rape as an Experience

I speak as a survivor of rape.

When I was raped at the age of eighteen, by a man in his thirties who had informally expressed interest in hiring me, I barely registered what was happening. Sometimes I think that the realization of what was going on would have been so intensely painful that my mind refused to acknowledge it; I dissociated automatically, instinctively. I can still barely remember it, the same way I can barely remember my worst panic attacks—I get the gist of what happened, I remember a few details in an indistinct way, but I can’t dredge up anything more. I don’t want to dredge up anything more.

I remember that he had a green wall hanging and that he offered me one of those disgusting Sunkist sodas before he took my pants off. Why do I remember that? I can’t fucking remember how my body felt when he raped me, for Pele’s sake; I just went completely numb, like I wasn’t really there.

I got dressed and went home and he contacted me again for a second interview, which I went to, of course. He told me he didn’t think I’d be a good fit and gave me his private cell number and told me to call him if I “ever wanted to meet up again.” I don’t even know what I thought about it at the time or what I did with it, but two years later I found it in my closet and gave myself a thick scar on my right wrist; I lit it on fire with a lighter and set it on the back of my wrist and kept relighting it, letting it smolder out against my skin.

I thought I was fine. When I figured out that I’d been raped, I felt almost relieved—like, I was one of the strong ones; I didn’t want to curl up bawling in the shower, the way men write rape victims on Law & Order SVU. But at the same time that fucked me up—the idea of rape victims, I mean—’cause I never really recognized on any kind of deeper level that it was rape, and that it fucked me up really bad. I just thought that because I wasn’t one of those victims, that it didn’t really mean anything for me—sure, it was technically rape, but it clearly wasn’t real rape because I didn’t completely fall apart, you know?

It took me four years to figure out that the little terrors—my inability to cope with being watched while eating or drinking, my incessant urge to start stripping off layers of my skin, my need to purify something from my body (hair, lip skin, fingernails, toenails, dandruff, hangnails, skin tabs, pimples)—were actually symptoms of PTSD. The ways my mother had abused me had been so thorough and desensitizing that I had trouble noticing that I was upset, panicky, anxious, triggered, that a lump was forming in my throat, that the urges I felt weren’t just urges. I’d long before dissociated emotionally; by that point I was almost completely incapable of recognizing that I felt anything except “fine” and “bouncy” and “angry,” let alone being able to name or explain the sensations. I thought I was strong; I was just fucked up.

Even now I can’t even go around one of those stores without getting the nerves; I all of a sudden just get antsy. I bite my nails until they bleed; I pull out hair by the roots and pick out dandruff until my scalp bleeds; I run my hands over my upper arms and neck, looking for something to grab at, scrape out or off. If you saw me doing it you’d think I was just jumpy; I act the same way abused dogs do when they get anxious or triggered. A lot of erratic movements and watchfulness, a lot of wary edginess.

But even that doesn’t provide any kind of glimpse into what my life became. I became a raw nerve: seemingly random shit triggered me and after I got triggered once, it would last for days or more and then everything would trigger me.

And now I need to stop and explain something.

When rape survivors speak of being “triggered,” we aren’t talking about being upset or angry or depressed or anxious or offended. To even begin to grasp what being triggered means, you need to understand what rape does to you: it destroys your protection, the line between “you” and other people, the silhouette that distinguishes within from without.

You can picture it more vividly by using one of Aslan’s metaphors: take a human being and peel it like a banana.

Skin is symbolic to a human, in a lot the same way that claws are to a cat: protection, security, safety, identity. It holds you together—makes you distinct from the rest of the world. Andrea Dworkin wrote specifically of the preoccupation of male writers with skinning as a part of sex in Intercourse. They thought it made you more intimate, unable to hide, completely open to your lover; they’d also never been raped.

Being triggered is the sudden overwhelming recognition that you have no skin. It’s not that you’re naked. You have no skin. You have no protection from anything; you are not you; you are not anything except horrible fucking roiling pain and terror and horror. Cut yourself with a knife and pour lemon juice and pat garlic on the wound and that sensation is your entire body and soul.

You become suddenly and unavoidably aware of how shamefully vulnerable—at risk, in danger, threatened—your body is, and you could almost feel pity for the pathetic, defenseless thing except that it’s the thing allowing the rest of you to be threatened, too. You want to scratch your skin off, you want to destroy your body—you want to get the fuck away from this trap that’s so transparent and weak. Your body is a trap that forces your mind into a constant, stinging contact with the world, and there are times when you feel like you’re literally going out of your mind; you’re breaking out of your skin and you contemplate suicide just to free yourself from your body, because through the interface of your raped body the entire world is just one overwhelming violation.

It’s not romantic. Men have a tendency to believe that vulnerability is romantic, sexy, intimate. People who’ve been trained to get off with BDSM tend to do the same thing—to glorify danger, being at risk, being helpless. But this is something entirely different from the vulnerability they adore: in sex, there’s no risk involved because you are sharing, not having something taken from you. Feeling as though everyone can see inside you—that you’re transparent—and knowing that they see something ugly and painful and horrific because that’s what it feels like inside you—is not sexy, not romantic, not hot, not intimate.

And at first I was oblivious—barely, in the way that you kind-of sort-of know but not really—that I felt this way. I’d go through entire weeks feeling vaguely on-edge in a way I couldn’t place, uneasy—not wanting to be bothered but not wanting to be left alone—and I’d stay inside all the time because it felt like everyone was watching me. Not that they were; I just had the unshakable conviction that there was something horribly fucking wrong about me and that everyone else in the world could see it. And I wanted to deal with my pain on my own—I was never comfortable with sharing my feelings with my parents; my father traveled and my mother always managed to make me end up feeling humiliated and inferior for ever feeling anything except “fine.” I’d learned by the time I was six or seven never to confide in her. So feeling skinless—see-through, unprotected, unsafe, insecure—reinforced the idea that sharing any negative feelings with other people would inevitably end up making me feel worse than I’d started out.

I never admitted it to anyone, except my best friend and roommate, Aslan, and then it took so long because zie’d been so horrifically fucking abused that I thought claiming rape would be pretentious—I clearly didn’t suffer like zie did. This is the first time I’ve written about it in detail, ever. It hasn’t gotten better with time; I’ve just learned better tricks, ones where I can ignore a minor trigger in a way that makes it not bother me.

The physical sensations are often the most minor part of rape, especially in the face of emotional turmoil so intense that it actually manifests as physical agony; more than once I’ve woken up in the middle of the night because my entire body was cramping from the tension. It is a peculiar sensation, feeling like it hurts just to be inside your head. It is even more peculiar to be waiting for the crosswalk to turn and suddenly you find yourself seriously considering stepping out in front of a passing car, automatically making calculations on which car will be able to best kill you based on its speed and size. Looking around to make sure no one’s watching you, because you feel like everyone is constantly looking at you, consuming you because you haven’t got any kind of distinguishing line between you and the rest of the world. Punching the wall to make yourself feel the pain because it gives you something to center on and ignore the way your nerves jangle in warning and alarm.

But that’s not what men are taught about rape.

It’s a lot harder to say the things that men are allowed to if you know what rape is: after all, you’re a target.

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A Ranty Post About Dairy

The pro-forced birth ideology is one of the reasons I’ve come to the conclusion that men learned to rape from farming animals. Because the basic concept of “forced breeding” is one of machinery and alienation; fundamentally, it doesn’t matter what your property thinks or feels about it, because the goal is merely to produce more property to be owned and also exploited—unless they are in the owner class, which women, children and animals are (naturally) automatically excluded from.

Remember that if you say, “it’s wrong to treat women like animals,” you’re missing the point. It was wrong to treat animals like that in the first place; ignoring that fundamental wrongness allowed it to be done to women, too. It’s pretty easy to expand a category of inferiors, after all—the trick is to make sure there is no category of inferiors to expand.

I used to believe that being pro-forced birth was merely believing in rape by proxy—raping a woman, taking over a female person’s body against her will, by way of a fetus. At the time I wasn’t yet vegan, and couldn’t understand the nuances of what I was saying; now I can. In a sense, it’s still basically true: you’re reducing a female person to a machine, to property, by affirming that using her body to produce more property—children, whether of owner/property-manager or property class—is more important than anything else she could do with her life, like, for example, actually living it without being subjugated as an incubator.

In short, rape objectifies you by reducing you to a thing to be used (property); forced birth reduces you to a thing to be used (property). Who is doing the using doesn’t really matter; the fetus is still going to be property if/when it actually becomes a sentient being—a baby—and a fetus isn’t exactly forcing itself on anyone. It has no thoughts or feelings—the entire point of gestation is getting a fetus to a point where it is developed enough to have thoughts and feelings—and thus it can’t really force itself on anything. It’s still the people around you, stewing in the putrid sewage of a misogynistic society, who are forcing a fetus on a woman, and don’t you ever forget it.

Without having the inferior property status of her body enforced upon her, she’d have her uterus contracting firmly in a jiffy, and the fetus wouldn’t be much more than menstruation. It would happen, because that is what women have always done.

Always.

The concept of someone’s body being property should horrify anyone; I still can’t quite figure out why it doesn’t. The life of a dairy cow bears an unhappy resemblance to the life forced upon women, by socialization, by culture, by capitalism and men: you are impregnated as soon as possible, for money; you are used to produce more children (caged and slaughtered for veal or caged and impregnated), for money; you are used up, for money. And when you aren’t “good” at producing things for your owner anymore, you are dealt with. For as much money as he can milk from your corpse.

That was a mild description. Do you really need to hear that dairy farmers are basically entirely men to realize what’s wrong with it? Do you really need to know that the dairy farmers themselves gave a nickname to the artificial insemination stands where the cows are restrained, calling them “the rape racks”? Do you really need to hear a dairy cow yowl herself hoarse after they take away her calf a few hours after birth—the best to collect the colostrum, now a new “health supplement” product—to understand how that’s fucked up?

And do you really need to have the lines drawn to understand that property is property, and that exploitation doesn’t become acceptable when it’s directed towards a different target?

Carnism has more implications for women, not merely on the stage of justification—because, as you should know, women’s exploitation has always been rationalized on the basis that they were “like animals”; I am still surprised that feminists have not yet cottoned to the fact that, since men were so wrong about the women they wanted to use, they are also quite likely wrong about the animals they used as a comparison.

There’s more nuance than that; over and over, women end up being destroyed by their participation in capitalism, civilization, racism, ageism and carnism, because all oppressions reinforce each other. It’s just that the link from dairy to women’s bodily autonomy is more direct and distinct because of several things:

1. Dairy contains the more potent animal estrogens (as opposed to phytoestrogens, which are much weaker); the age of menarche and puberty has dropped in tandem with the rise in dairy consumption. FAABs of color are more likely to begin puberty earlier; they are also vastly more likely to have been enrolled in WIC, which is heavily reliant on shoveling subsidized dairy products out of the market (and which only in the past five years included soy formula, thanks).

High levels of estrogen—especially from dairy, which, again, is from pregnant and nursing mothers—are also linked to a longer period of fertility, as many as seven extra years from menarche to menopause. More time to get pregnant and fucked over.

Did I mention that dairy can also increase your chances of having twins which, aside from being incredibly dangerous to the mother, is also fraught with peril for the children and somehow more than twice as tiring for any mother? This has been in the news several times in the past few years; it’s not exactly hidden knowledge.

2. Dairy sabotages herbal abortion methods.

I’ve worked with herbalists over the past several years of my life and, aside from being incredible people, they are also very willing to change the way they think based on how their patients do with different treatments. Three of them assisted abortion regularly, especially for low-income youth; all of them affirmed that herbal abortions were more likely to be successful the fewer animal products were consumed, with no reduction in benefit as consumption went lower; all of them said that a mixture of herbs and activities were best; and two of them were so alarmed by what dairy did to their patients that they refused to assist anyone who wouldn’t give it up for at least six weeks so the abortion could work properly.

And this is why: most abortive herbs, combined with dairy, will wreck your kidneys.

Angelica root (1/2 tsp. as a tea twice a day with 2 tsp. tansy or 1 tsp. black cohosh as teas every two and a half hours) turns into an incredible poison when mixed with dairy. It produces, at best, violent nausea; without dairy it works well.

Pennyroyal (1 tsp. as a tea three times a day with black or blue cohosh 1/2 tsp. as teas three times a day) also produces the nausea, but sometimes causes tingling in the extremities as well. It doesn’t do this with dairy.

Ginger, a well-known, mild abortifacient and contraceptive in large, consistent quantities (as a raw juice mixed with orange or papaya juice, chopped raw taken like pills, freshly powdered, in food, constantly, about 1.5 tablespoons three to six times a day.) loses its effectiveness when combined with dairy. It doesn’t become poisonous; it just becomes useless.

Slippery elm, too (1 tsp. as a tea twice a day with any of the above, with cedarwood essential oil rubbed firmly in a specifically downward motion just below the bellybutton to the mons) becomes completely ineffective.*

All the time, every time, even the most minor intake of dairy will fuck up the chances an herbal abortion will work. I like to say this is because dairy is evil and the cow is cursing you for perpetuating her pain, but only to people who really piss me off.

Carnism fucks up women; it fucks up your ability to control your own body and you can only be carnist by fucking up someone else’s ability to control theirs. Abortion is a necessity for women, and always has been; women have always had abortions and basically always will, unless or until we can make it so that no one ever has PIV unless they really really want to get pregnant. Abortion is a necessity not because it is a special thing needed to make sure women are equal to men, but because it is a basic right not to have your body used against your will—not a human right.

*I’ll make a more lengthy post about nonmedical abortion methods later.

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!

No “Yes” Means No

There are few problems with the phrase No Means No—particularly in comparison to the admirable, but inefficient and naively optimistic Yes Means Yes. But one of those problems is the resulting idea that anything but “no” does not mean “no.” On Elkballet, MRA beliefs about rape were collected and analyzed, which I find especially useful because MRA beliefs about rape tend not to be very different from the general population—they’re just unwilling to rethink rape culture and very angry that anyone would ever have asked them to, so it’s like having a glimpse into concentrated rape culture.

One of those beliefs was this: “So the problem is not that the girl consents, she never consents—she just somehow omits to say no.”

Consent is default; women’s bodies are there to be used sexually, so if a woman somehow doesn’t want to have sex (lying whore! tease!), she’s required to actually make an effort to say no. Which is… really bizarre. It’s basically just the equivalent of saying that women aren’t allowed to say they’ve been raped unless they’ve given the guy fair warning; it’s like, totally unfair that she’d just spring this on him when she didn’t even say no or anything. Doesn’t she know how sex works? It’s supposed to be this boring, unimaginative thing where a guy gets on top and whacks off in her vagina; everyone knows that gender roles are natural and PIV = sex. Gosh, girls are so silly.

I’ve been pissed off about this for a while, especially since I’ve had to live through the supposedly “empowered” women who actually believe that power dynamics are hot and PIV/penetration = sex, not just their be-penised counterparts. But every time I say that you need a yes for it to be consentual, some sex pox pro-porner comes up and does this:

“But *whine* my sex partner and I *whine* feel like actually checking for consent isn’t, like, sexy *whine* and that it makes it like, less spontaneous *whine* and our relationship is perfect ’cause we respect each other’s boundaries even though we don’t actually care to make sure of those boundaries *whine* so why can’t you like, just shut up and not say it for the benefit of women who might actually need it *whine* instead of making me act like the adult I say I am and self-select out?”

No, seriously. I consistently get this. And to that fuckhead who is waiting in the shadows of the internet, ready to pounce in for a whinefest of how you’re such a fucking special snowflake that no one should ever actually talk about or believe in consent because it makes you feel left out, go fuck yourself.

Because, seriously, if it’s such a terrible thing to be a rapist, then isn’t the onus on you to make sure you’re not raping anyone than on your potential victims to keep you from raping? What the hell kind of logic is that? “Well, he didn’t tell me not to murder him and use his wood-chippered corpse to grow tomatoes in Lierre Keith’s backyard.”

Come the fuck on, people; surely you have the sense of tiny unripe sweet potatoes.

Look at it this way: you are passing out cups of soda at your party. You know, because a psychic told you or because you saw your cousin spill bleach on them or there’s a recall in China or whatever, that one or more of the plastic cups could possibly poison the person who drinks out of them. But either way, there is a chance that this person will fall down, convulse, foam at the mouth, and die a horrible fucking death. And it will be your fault.

Are you seriously telling me that you wouldn’t go out of your way to make sure the people at this party are safe? Are you fucking shitting me? You would rather be a rapist/murderer than make very very sure that you are not responsible for destroying someone else’s life?

Because if you’d rather, then you shouldn’t be having sex or passing out cups at a party. You are too fucking dangerous; you are too self-absorbed, and are too absorbed in “getting yours” to think about what you might do to other people. Don’t have sex, ever. Oh, and you got “falsely” accused of rape by someone who you didn’t get a direct, verbal “yes” from? Cry me a river, build me a bridge… and jump off of it, you fucking rapist.

Because No “Yes” Means No, and Only Yes Means Yes.

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.

Rape Myth Dissection Lab 402-A

So we all know that rape culture makes no sense, even if you put a top-hat and a monocle on it. Nothing that comes out is anything but incoherent, victim-blaming gibberish. But I have lately taken to being quite amused by one facet of it which reads: if a woman has has a lot of consensual sex partners, that means she’s less likely to be telling the truth when she says she was raped.

No, look at that crap on its face. The more experience you have with consensual sex, the less capable you are of distinguishing rape from consensual sex. Or, alternately, the more experience you have with consensual sex, the more likely you are to lie about consensual sex and call it rape.

That’s what it means. If you put words together like that, that is what those words will mean. Which is an interesting interpretation, because one wonders if this woman has had so many consensual sexual partners, what was wrong with you. Which is pretty obvious, since you raped her. But nevertheless, it’s kind of like screaming about how Jesus came down and said specifically that he doesn’t love you, and how unfair that is. At some point it’s got to be like, damn dude, you are some fucked up.

Now, really, it’s pretty obvious which two patriarchal tropes are being employed. The first comes directly from the First Law of Patriarchal Sexodynamics—the more sex a woman has, the less value the act of having sex with her; a) and the less resistance she is entitled to put up about being fucked, b) and the less powerful that resistance is on a scale of AVUs (Arbitrary Virginity Units), c) until the relative AVUs of her resistance approaches zero in one of the states of Fuckhole Entropy. The second is, pretty exploding obviously, the idea that the group of people most likely to suffer rape (women) are also the least likely to know what rape “really” is.

The Patriarchal Laws of Sexodynamics are simply that; you can’t argue with them, they simply are, like a cloud of pure, unmitigated Chaos lying just outside the boundaries of the universe. Breathe a word about how “no means no” near it and you’ll be eaten by an eight-foot-tall hyppogriff with spiny ears and a lime-green feather pattern in the shape of Bill Maher’s face.

But the second is more conceivable, because the argument is pretty simple: women don’t know what rape really is, because their rapists don’t agree. How can something really be rape if it’s not acknowledged by both parties? How do we know that he didn’t think it was completely consensual? What was his intent while he was sexually assaulting her? Doesn’t anyone care about his feelings? Think about how damaging it is to be told she didn’t actually worship your blood-engorged penis! It must be so traumatizing for him to live with the distant, detached knowledge that he may possibly have had a penis hand in murdering someone’s soul, leaving her with the indelible knowledge that there is no such thing as safety or a lack of vulnerability!

In other words, when you laydeez are trying to decide whether or not the sexual assault you have experienced was really rape-rape, you should definitely ask your attacker’s consent before calling him a rapist!

The Erasure of Dicks

In about forty different ways.

Now for your daily dose of transactivist transphobia!

This time it’s “the majority of transphobic violence is committed against MTFs.”

It’s a general sentiment, but Julia Serano has actually written this in her book Whipping Girl (very closely paraphrased). And it is an unexplodey piece of shit.

This claim is bullshit because of two things: first, it’s unsubstantiated; and second, if you actually consider the actual way the world works, it’s very likely false. For simplicity’s sake (and honesty’s), I’m going to consider “violence” to be specifically physical violence, because even I know that having something shouted at you from a passing car is not nearly as traumatizing and intimidating as being physically attacked.

The first problem is self-explanatory; let’s focus on the second. Without any actual evidence, for example a survey that takes into account the relative time spent outside versus online, we don’t have any idea how often MTFs:FTMs are attacked—we don’t actually know how often either of them are attacked. Surveys are not very enlightening when it comes to the most vulnerable and abused, because they are the least likely to have the leisure and safety to fill one out.

And that’s part of the problem. From my observation, corroborated by the FTMs I’ve had the pleasure to meet, MTFs are by far the most prominent voices in the trans community. Put simply, FAAB men are not heard or counted as much or as loudly as their male-born counterparts.

This is not a trend isolated to the trans community. Reporting of eating disorders are similarly confused on a class and race basis: because of the way eating disorders are reported, they are incorrectly assumed to be largely specific to upper-middle class young white women. Here are the problems with assuming eating disorder reporting is correct:

1. Reports are gathered from medical and psychiatric authorities. Consider monetary and time expenditure, as well as cultural values and expectations (stigmatization, bootstraps fuckery, et cetera).

2. Eating disorders are often well-hidden until an extreme point; for example, Lierre Keith has gone more than twenty-nine years with an eating disorder without anyone recognizing what it was.

3. Those who are typically victimized by “authorities” are more likely to be suspicious of medical and psychiatric authorities, for good reason, and thus more likely to hide their eating disorders, if they go to aforementioned establishments at all.

4. The majority of eating disorders are not recognized and acknowledged; severe emaciation and/or constant self-induced vomiting is required for it to be seen as a “real” eating disorder.

5. Whether or not someone’s eating disorder qualifies as a “real” eating disorder is also highly dependent on sex, size, age, race/ethnicity and class.

That’s a lot of societal crap standing in the way of that nice, neat conclusion. Fact is, street kids—generally the poorest of the poor and marginalized so much that the word doesn’t even work to describe it—have eating disorders. All the time. All of the street kids I’ve met have eating disorders; the vast majority of the street kids Aslan has met (dude, Denver Five Points Area) also have eating disorders; almost none of them were white. I’ve got way more than enough evidence that the “profile” of people with eating disorders is worth less than the bananas I ate yesterday.

And even then, street kids have one more thing working against them—something that FAAB men do, too: they’re usually starving anyway, so any intentional starvation on their part is obscured and rendered as invisible as the lives of street kids generally are.

Same with FTMs, which the people crowing about how MTFs are the primary target of trans-related violence always miss: when violence is perpetrated against FTMs, how much of it is just violence against women? How much violence against FAAB men is identified as “merely” another woman killed, raped, beaten?

Certainly, that’s what their attackers mean it to be; it’s virtually certain that an FTM’s attacker is going to be MAAB, and even more certain that he is going to be viewing the violence as not against someone who is trans as it is a woman. Generally, MTFs get beaten, raped and killed for being “freaks” and “fags”; FTMs get beaten, raped and killed because they’re girls. The reality of violence is different for MTFs and FTMs, and it is exceedingly male-centric to deny these two things: first, that MTFs are more visible because of their at-birth assignment (that is to say, as male); second, that MTFs are not the standard by which transphobic violence can be measured.

We can see that to deny these things is patriarchal, also, because of the history of homophobic violence and the focus of the recent gay rights movements. When gay men are beaten or killed, it is horrific, although not so much for rape (since sexual violence is still a big no-no in the hot-to-trot social justice scene); when lesbians are beaten, killed and raped, it’s more of the same. The rape of lesbian women is so institutionalized, in fact, that we have a fucking name for it: “corrective rape.” And you can bet how widely-used that is—I found it via surfing a bunch of feminist blogs.

What about the New Jersey Four? What about the lesbians who have been subjected to male violence because they were lesbians? What about the lesbians who have been subjected to male violence because they were women? What’s the fucking difference between those two things? The life of women—people who are put into boxes labeled “women,” a fucking social reality—that landscape is covered with so much blood and violence that it becomes virtually meaningless. Violence against women is normal; as it is said, “the water we swim in and the air we breathe.” When an MTF actually goes beyond a refusal to see and avoid dealing with the privilege and behaviors she was socialized into from birth, when she reaches the point of being just a woman, when that woman experiences rape, battery, abuse, murder at the hands of men, she isn’t experiencing it because she’s trans. She’s experiencing it because she’s a woman. That’s what life means; that’s what the social reality of “woman” is.

And it is important too to ask the questions: Who is doing the beating? Who is doing the raping? Who is doing the abusing? Who is doing the murdering?

If transactivists are genuinely interested in stopping trans-related violence, then the answer to that question cannot be fudged. You can’t argue these words are beating, raping and murdering you. I am doing no such thing and, furthermore, no person who ever reads these words and agrees will be doing any of those things to you, either. Get over yourself. You either care about trans-related violence or you don’t. And if you want to stick the responsibility of violence to people who are not perpetrating actual violence against transfolk, then you don’t care about ending that violence at all.

FTMs are not given this extra-special kind of respect by the holders of power (that is to say, MAAB men as a social reality) because they want to be one of the guys or whatever. They’re still seen as women. When they get attacked, they get attacked because they’re seen as women. And their safety is exponentially more at risk, because they are traveling into the domain of those who are most likely to beat, rape and kill them. Invisibility is paramount. Invisibility is passing, and passing is safety.

But when you’re an MTF, and you’re exploiting that invisibility to argue that you’re the most specialest and oppressed, you’re just acting like everyone born with a dick is trained to act. Which is, well… a dick.

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