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Posts tagged ‘women’

Trans Misogyny

Only one kind of “trans misogyny” exists: misogyny encouraged and perpetrated by trans individuals and the trans community, of which many infuriating examples may be seen here.

Those who bother to understand gender theory, and who are not misogynistic gender essentialists who believe that a gender role is something inborn but something socialized, understand this. When an MTF is attacked for daring to break the rules of the gendered world, it is not an act of terrorism just against trans individuals; it’s an act of terrorism against all women, everywhere.

Trans individuals do not suffer some super-special form of trans oppression: they suffer from gendered oppression.

You know, as in being forced into a gender role from birth; as in being forced and expected to take on a fucking mass-produced personality that never allows you to express who you are, ever, because if you fail, if you trip and fall and show that you’re actually a real fucking person instead of a jendah—if women do not live up to those expectations, they face a very real threat of violence.

Physical violence. Emotional violence. Sexual violence. Economic violence.

Radical feminist women are not cis-anything, and if anyone trans actually bothered to read their real fucking words, they’d know why: radical feminists do not “feel” like women. They were forced to be women. They were forced to be a non-person, because of how their genitals looked when they were born. And radical feminists recognize this and explicitly reject the idea that a feminine mask—or a masculine one, for that matter—is natural and can, or should, be assigned based on your biological sex, no matter how long its hair or how pretty the dress.

There is nothing happy or privileged about being forced into a fake persona, a stereotype that confines you and prevents you from being who you really are: a person.

I would have liked to think that trans individuals and the trans community—given that the basis of trans rights is, after all, the idea that you shouldn’t be forced into a gender role you don’t fucking identify with!—but sadly, I’d be wrong to do so. The trans community seems hellbent on the idea that women somehow benefit by being forced into a gender role from birth, let alone the gender role that is on the oppressed side of the dichotomy.

Somehow, what’s oppressive to trans individuals actually ends up being a privilege when it comes to women who were forced to be women, who didn’t choose it, and who are fucking fighting the idea that any person should be gendered instead of merely being allowed to be a person.

Somehow, when trans women are attacked for not being gendered well enough, it’s a trans-specific crime. Because clearly, women are never attacked for being “too masculine;” they’re never raped or assaulted for being lesbians, or just for not slavishly devoting themselves to “empowering” themselves with the dick of every man who even thinks about fucking them. Because, clearly, when a trans woman is attacked, it’s not a gendered crime anymore, even though it’s all about gender—transition, passing, gender coaching, and internal identity—because it happens to a trans individual. Like women don’t know that would happen to them, too. Like women don’t fucking know that the wages of disobedience to the gender dichotomy and the sexual hierarchy are violence, rape, servitude and death.

Somehow—to use a veganized turn of phrase—what’s sauce for the parsnip isn’t sauce for the potato.

And somehow, when trans individuals claim that their oppression is a special kind of oppression that isn’t oppression if it’s forced on people born into a female body, I’m not supposed to make the connection between this argument and the ages-old misogynistic argument. I’m not supposed to be irresistably reminded of men arguing that rape isn’t as bad for women as men because the rapes women will endure are too much like everyday sex to really be rape-rape; arguing that it’s fine for women to be emasculated—to be disempowered and disenfranchised—because they’re, like, not men; arguing that it’s fine for women to be treated in ways that are atrocious for men to be treated—because men and women are different. I’m not supposed to think of Ili, one of my friends who’s an FTM, who was told that he was a feminist because he hadn’t started taking T yet and still had a “woman brain.”

I’m not supposed to see the connection from that to humans and animals, the way that an atrocity against humans is somehow no longer horrifying or atrocious when perpetrated against animals… or remember the words of white supremecists claiming that slavery was fine for Black people in a way it wasn’t for white people… or hear sizeists speak of how emotionally torturing and brutalizing people who happen to be fat is justified because there is something fundamentally inferior to having a body that is a different size…

Men, after all, are real people; women are not. And humans are real people; animals are not; whites are real people; nonwhites are not. I am not supposed to connect this; I’m not supposed to translate the vitriol directed at radical feminists and forced-to-be-and-raised-as-women as, “Trans individuals are real people; women are not.” Recognizing the patterns of oppression makes me transphobic; refusing to agree that transfolk suffer some special kind of oppression that doesn’t touch or frighten or reinforce the bonds’ of forced women and refusing to excuse transfolk when they employ victim blaming—women are just natural rape victims, didn’t you know?—I’m fucking transphobic.

Right.

This is the line. If you don’t believe that gendered oppression is worth fighting, not on the basis that there are some “real people” who want to be gendered at the opposite side, but understanding that the very assumption of gender at all in our society is the basis of your oppression, then I don’t want to be your ally. Because if you aren’t willing to fight gender—as something that boxes people regardless of how they feel and who they are—then you don’t have any interest in actually ending oppression; you just want to get yours.

So get out.

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.

White Privilege is a Thing

As much as I enjoyed this post by FAB Libber—an excellent takedown of how transphobic hate crimes actually have to be motivated by transphobia—I read through the comments and I cringed, again, at something I’ve seen repeatedly from white feminists of radical and non-radical stripes.

Any privilege that a woman has is bestowed on her by the individual or group of males she ‘belongs’ to, and can be taken away in a heartbeat.

… Specifically referring to white privilege.

Now, I want to make two things clear:

1. I am not “calling out” FAB Libber; she just sparked the thought process leading to this post, and not in a bad way. I mean this absolutely respectfully; I liked most of what she had to say, this subject just itches.

2. I agree that misogyny is the commonality between all women worldwide, even the very privileged who don’t think they experience any oppression or bias, and that women of color have their race used misogynistically against them and their sex used racially against them.

Privilege can best be conceptualized not as an object or substance, but as a set of behavior and reactions. There are two sets: “empowered” and “powerless,” that is oppressor and oppressed, because it takes some blinders to miss the fact that the “empowerment” of fun-fems is about making the oppressed into oppressors and pretending it’s all “individual choice” so that the systematic nature of oppression is obscured, not about actually eradicating oppression.

It is not inborn, regardless of what many misogynistic transsexuals would have you believe; if you swap and raise a child at the other end, they develop the “powerless” set of behaviors and reaction. The sets are learned, and very deeply; you also do not suddenly lose your set if your appearance changes. Many MTFs are, to put it politely, confused about privilege, mostly because they (like 99.9999% of men) don’t want to face the reality of their privilege—that it is not dismissable by being hurt or exploited at any point in your life; that is not canceled out by some other oppression; and that any recognition of it and attempt to counteract its effect is not somehow “oppressing” you.

That’s because privilege is not some kind of substance floating aimlessly in the air, just kinda hangin’ out bein’ malicious and crap; the behavior/reaction sets you learn from being socialized as empowered/powerless is the enforcement arm of the Kyriarchy. Behavior will out. The powerless are socialized to be deferent, meek, excessively respectful and polite, to keep their head down; the empowered are socialized to be aggressive, arrogant, sure of the objectivity and rightness of their own worldview, the superior quality of their suffering.

The behaviors of the “empowered” are calibrated to induce passivity and fear (specifically, fear-based passivity) in the powerless; their reactions are designed—perhaps not consciously, but viciously nonetheless—to reinforce the fact that the “empowered” poses a threat to the powerless, and to rub their face in it.

The behaviors of the powerless are mainly reactionary; they’re harm-reduction. “Powerless” behaviors are damage-control responses to a threat; a system that institutionalizes and legitimizes very real, very dangerous choices given to the powerless. Speak nicely to the man/white person/police officer; they have the ability to seriously fuck up your life if you aren’t polite enough.

And, of course, a large part of the set socialized into the “empowered” is simply to take this deference, this excessive politeness, this fear based on a real threat, and see it as default—as baseline. So that when they are not being deferent, excessively polite, agreeing with your superior knowledge, letting you into their spaces regardless of how uncomfortable you make them, you—the “empowered”—will see them as rude, bigoted, castrating, unfair, shrill… misandrist, “reverse racist” and transphobic.

I find it incredible that someone could possibly conceptualize privilege as some abstract thing that is based solely on appearance or some wishy-washy, internal “identity,” but somehow I’m not surprised.

The first MTF who ever commented on my blog invaded my space(poorly, since it is the internet); zie posted one over-the-top comment insulting me, and when I hadn’t posted it in the next few hours (since, you know, I have a life), proceeded to completely flip zeir shit and post eight successive comments, some of which were just copy-pastes of the original comment and two of which were just “GET UP STAND UP” one-liners about how zie wouldn’t let me quash zeir right to… post a comment on my blog!

The same person also asked me whether I understood what male privilege was.

Lest I fail to mention the similarities between the two, I have also experienced similar incidents from MRAs. Those people also completely lose their shit when someone in the world shows signs of disagreeing with them, and attempt to do the internet equivalent of shouting you down, because they can’t just loom over you and threaten you into silence that way.

The person who insisted that, because of zeir transsexuality, zie did not have male privilege acted with male privilege. Because that is what privilege, fundamentally, is: it means you get the right to bully others into acquiescence.

Because they fear you. Because you are a threat, and your behavior—not your appearance—is the primary indicator and proof of your ability to hurt them.

That’s how privilege functions and continues; that is the process. Privilege is not some mysterious woo-woo magical stuff that, like, sometimes you have but sometimes not; it’s a conglomeration of behaviors.

They are designed to produce the appropriate effect: submission.

And it’s universal to all power dynamic schemes. Adults intimidate and pressure children into obedience with the threat of hurting them unless they acquiesce; men do the same to women, and this doesn’t necessarily change when the former takes hormones or looks like the latter, since privilege does not have a biological fucking basis; thin people do the same to fat people; and white people do the same to non-white people. Humans do the same to animals, but animals aren’t necessarily expected to participate in their own oppression (they’re too stupid to see how superior humans are, after all), and anti-human supremecist humans will do just as well as a target.

So it seems unnecessarily obtuse to declare that privilege is something you just magically lose when you decide you don’t want to be part of a privileged group anymore, or because you “never really agreed with privilege,” when you still act like an oppressor. You still act arrogantly; you still act like you have the right to define the lives of a group of people whose oppression you weren’t socialized into; you still act like you have the right to be listened to above and over them, because you decided you are one of them and you think you have more right to decide who belongs in their group than they do; you still mistake the emotional upheaval you experience from being rejected from that group as de facto evidence of oppression.

And even more, proclamations that you don’t “really” have privilege, that you never really, like, had power because these other oppressors have more and they don’t like you—things like that seem to me to be very little more than a clear indicator that you do have privilege, but that you’re refusing to consider your own behavior. Because you enjoy, far more, being automatically listened to, and privilege warps your worldview enough that you can’t see clearly within it.

Privilege is not something we need to fight each other about; I think that “calling out” and aggressively confronting people on their privilege is counterproductive. And there are easier ways to address privilege internally—though not so much on the internet. Fucking listen to people; treat them with basic fucking respect; genuinely consider their experiences and feelings valid and important; and actively reject the urge to turn and listen more closely to someone with power—an adult, a pornographer or pimp, a vivisectionist or farmer, a thin person, a rich person, a white person, a man or someone who was raised to be a man.

In other words: if someone experiences their own life, they get to be treated like a person.

That is the only way you can fight privilege on a massive scale; humans are, after all, social little buggers, and they’ll imitate each other without really knowing what the hell they’re doing. Behavior, in that way, is contagious; if you treat people with gratitude and respect, and not like property, those around you will follow suit.

The Monolithic Oppressed and “Consistency” in Product

A female-bodied friend of mine related to me something that happened to her the other day. She’d been waiting outside at the bus stop and one of her neighbors had come by; he had a friend with him. Apparently out of the blue, this neighbor turned to her and asked her, “You know how when a girl is raped the cops can tell because the vagina tears?”

My friend, understandably taken off-guard, responded, “Uh… sometimes…”

He insisted, repeating the question again. She repeated her response. Then, while he kept looking back at his friend, he explained that a neighbor of theirs had said one of their mutual friends had molested her. My friend’s neighbor didn’t believe her; his friend did.

“I wanted to tell them that they should believe her, because I’ve been there,” she told me later. My friend (who has given me her permission to post about this) has been raped before—but it was a “nice” rape, a father of a friend’s. He claimed that she’d “seduced” him, and… well. His wife told her that if my friend ever came near their house again, she’d call the police and have them arrest her.

No one believed her because she didn’t “act right.” She was punk in the first place, so “maybe it was some adolescent rebellion thing.” Or maybe she was just “a slut, you know how some cliques are.” And anyway, if he really did it, “why didn’t she go to the police? Why didn’t she tell someone?” Followed immediately, of course, by a parade of women saying that if they’d been raped, they would have gone to the police because, well, you can’t let them get away with it, now can you?

The neighbor kid didn’t know because she’d never told him. She got tired of being triggered every time she told someone because then they’d ask her those questions. She got tired of feeling like no one was on her side in the world, so she made a deliberate choice to not bring up the issue that would make her know they weren’t on her side.

“I figured it was a bad idea to like, go up to ask ‘Hey, are you really my friend or not?’ Because I never like the answer.”

What was worse was that her neighbor was asking her because she was female-bodied: he was trying to see if she bought into rape culture, if he could use her as leverage against other women. He was using her to cover his dick.

She told me it made her feel like he was violating her again by using her as a tool to dismiss someone else’s violation. “Basically,” she said, “you know how Carol Adams talked about the experience of rape victims being just, made into meat? Like objects? That doesn’t stop. We’re all just meat if some guy wants to use us that way.”

And it was an excuse to say that she wasn’t really being made into meat—she was just “crazy.” It was a bad excuse, but the flimsiest of lies will be seen as true if they defend rape culture.

Both of us know that checking for vaginal damage is in fact very rare, and largely occurs on Law & Order SVU, not in real life, a lot like the rape victim balled up in the corner crying. It’s an insidious form of rape culture: a “real victim” stereotype. No True Rape Victim goes out at night, or doesn’t starve herself to death afterwards, or doesn’t try to scrub off her skin in the shower. You think that trauma is something that makes you stop dead and just cry endlessly in the shower.

Me? I kept going to school; I kept functioning; I barely knew I hurt at all. Because my trauma was emotional, not physical, because I didn’t have bruises and broken bones, no one ever said something was wrong so I just thought it was… normal. And it was normal, to me: I barely existed. I didn’t feel hurt and I didn’t feel anything else, except an occasional thin wisp of amusement. Your body and mind is not meant to deal with ongoing suffering.

My friend said the same thing. “I just stopped feeling anything at all. No one wanted to see those feelings, anyway. I felt like I was intruding into someplace I hadn’t been invited if I got sad or angry or upset.” She said she became more like a robot than a living thing.

I felt happy and free and joyous every single day I lived in a tent, using my wits to get food for myself and my friend (and the neighborhood cats we made friends with)… It was world-changing. Those of you who have never had that experience, especially those of you suffering from a mental illness, don’t understand what it’s like to be happy, in totality, to have the thoughts and the feelings and the dull hard numbness just gone.

But even then, a month after I was forced back into civilization—into shelter—the memory of that freedom faded into only the palest idea that it had once existed. I only remembered that I had felt something much different, but I couldn’t tell you its heft, its color, its flavor, its quality and substance.

This is what trauma is like for the vast majority of people—it’s this hazy, heavy absence of self punctuated by sharp, stabbing pain. Anxiety. Triggering. Sadness. Loneliness. Worthlessness. Self-hatred. Rage. After a while, you can’t feel anything else anymore—you can’t envision a way out. Maybe it’s a blessing; maybe the memory of sunlight and ripe fruit would sharpen the hellfire of the brand and make us go insane. Nature isn’t cruel; there’s no reason for it to be, and plenty of reason to minimize pain and to not trap you into it. That’s also the driving behavior of trauma—that it is pain you can’t get out of; you’re trapped. Eventually, like the hum of electronics in the background, you just become numb to it.

But the lie that rape culture tells us doesn’t mimic reality, and so makes sure that as few people as possible are “genuine” victims. True Rape Victims do this, or that, and they’re virgins, and they’re good adherents to the patriarchy, and they would never have done anything to deserve male violation. Survivors are never allowed to be people: as Other, they have to be monolithic, because the more monolithic a group is, the easier it is to dismiss it. “Mother Nature” is monolithic. “African-Americans” is monolithic. “Children” is monolithic. “Animals” is monolithic. You can insert these words into your arguments and never have to ever question the assumption that the people that make up these groups are individuals that require an abandonment of exploitation—prison, pens, pastures, classrooms—in order to do justice to them. As people.

It’s a measure of the privilege afforded to white straight men that “white straight men” feel the obligation and right to protest when someone says anything about “white straight guys.” They tell us that not all guys are like that—that not all men are rapists, not all porn-watching men are sexually predatory, that not all white men are racist. They are also afforded the privilege to not have to prove it with actions instead of words: white straight men are assumed to be people—and actually, personhood is primarily defined by these visible social indicators. You can’t say all white straight men are like that—indignation, outrage—but you can turn to a woman standing at a bus stop, minding her own business, and ask her quite casually if she thinks that stabbing a woman through the soul is acceptable, assuming the entire time that if she says yes, then she is All Women, Everywhere, Because A Woman Said It; if she says no, then she’s just strange.

Meat is an object to be bought, after all. You should always shop around to try to get an object that meets your standards and specifications and, you know, it’s quite easy to find those if you look—all acceptable meat follows the same pattern. As an object—as someone transfigured into a number of objects—you, the consumer, are always the one whose whims should be obeyed and indulged. You can certainly pretend the meat wanted to be there, but it doesn’t really matter, does it?

Since meat shouldn’t argue back.

In the Transitive

Just a small note.

Trans can be used in several ways, because it is merely a prefix that means to move. For example, transition means to move where you are positioned. It stands to reason that trans means different things depending on what it is placed before.

Next, sex is a binary: male and female. There is such a thing as “intersex,” but there’s a reason that the word means “to lie between” or “to take from both sides.” Sex is a binary only in that there are two clearly-defined sides, not to erase the existence or naturalness of intersexed people.

Gender, however, is not a binary. As a sensation or feeling, it does not have any clearly-defined sides whatsoever, and would be better explained by a sphere where all colors and luminosities exist, amorphous and unstable.

Granted, gender can also be understood as the inner feeling supposed to correspond to a given sex, with behavioral (and to a point appearance) stereotypes associated with those sexes described as gender roles.

When you are transsexual, it means you want to be identified as the opposite sex of the one you were assigned at birth. You can be genderqueer and also transsexual, but apparently it’s fairly rare—or maybe not, depending on how the individual interprets gender. Someone who is transsexual may very well simply associate their gender with their chosen sex regardless of “accuracy.”

The trans in transsexual means to go across—because there are two binaries. Like transcontinental, the prefix specifically refers to linear travel.

Transgender is to fall entirely outside of the gendered sex binary: your inner feeling of gender has no reflection or relation to your sex, regardless of whatever similarities it shows to gender roles. In this way, the trans in transgender means to transcend—to rise above or outside, that is, to move from the binary (feminine/masculine and assumed genitalia) outside of it, to the color-light gender cloud described above.

It is virtually impossible to tell who is “cis” or not because of two inarguable facts about the state of gender-sex relations right now:

1. Someone who you would define as transgender were you to see their gender-flavor might not define themselves as transgender for a number of reasons—because they assumed their gender corresponded to their sex, because they never wanted to actively change their sex, or just because they don’t feel any particular importance in identifying as transgender.

2. Large swaths of people—especially those who were assigned the sex of “female” at birth—are not comfortable with their assumed gender, gender roles, and the way they are treated and perceived.

There are serious ethical and ideological problems with focusing so strongly on dis-identification with one’s genitalia and the desire for surgery. Assuming that merely because someone does not want to alter their secondary/primary sex organs, they can be described as “cis”—which is shorthand for not oppressed by the gender-sex system. Similarly problematic is the assumption that someone also oppressed and trapped by the gender-sex binary is privileged simply because they “win,” even though it’s a pretty harmful thing to “win” at.

Destroying the gender-sex binary can only be a good thing for everyone involved. Transfolk, please stop treating people who were assigned “feminine” at birth as enemies: they aren’t in control of the gender-sex binary—in fact, they’re forced to compete in it as well, with consequences just as dire as you have seen for any transperson—and are not the people who are likely to enact violence against you at any level. Those assigned “female/feminine” gender roles at birth do not hold significant social or economic power over you.

Solidarity is working with everyone who is oppressed, marginalized and maligned by the status quo—not slandering them with accusations of nonexistent privilege.

Identity/Fat

It’s been noted before that female-coded clothing is never neutral: no matter what tone you may be wearing or what cut or style, there is no point where that clothing will not be perceived as saying something about you. Large, gaudy necklaces tag you as “artsy”; short skirts, breast-crushing shirts and stockings mark you as misogynistic fratboy fuck-target. Mismatched clothing tags you as “punk,” pathetic, or hipster. Batik clothing makes you a New Ager or middle to upper class trustifarian. Sneakers means you’re desperate to fit in. High heels? Asking for it.

Female-bodied people have virtually no ability to control how they are perceived. Being able to say, “this is the kind of person I am” is something exclusively reserved for men—who, while they may have typed clothing, also have neutral clothing available to them—because women are property, and the kind of “packaging” they have defines what kind of product they are. Maybe you’re an S&M product? Or a Happy Hooker product? Perhaps you’re the Feisty Prowler type—what about the Shy Bookworm? Your identity—who you are as a person—is not as important as what kind of front you present, because your personality cannot be fetishized and objectified: your appearance can.

However, even then, many women have the ability to skew how they are perceived—either through judicious use of clothing tags or making their own clothing. There’s one group of women who have no ability to control how they are perceived, even in the limited scope that most women have. You know them—you’ve been taught that they’re disgusting, and that their fallen state is an external sign of their personal failures: if they weren’t such horrible wastes of flesh—if they just wouldn’t keep shoving fourteen pizzas in their mouth a night*—then they’d be… um… well, fuckable, I guess. That’s about as close as any woman comes to “acceptable,” though.

They’re fat. I want to take a minute right here and give a shout-out to all my fat comrades and the strength it takes them to get through a day, let alone still challenge the status quo.

Fatness is intersectional in nature: it is bound up in body-policing, femininity (of not taking enough, let alone too much), beauty ideals, race, class, and probably a lot of other things I’m not thinking of right now. Beyond anything else, people who are thin are given more institutional power—sexual, social, economic—and those who do not meet the unreliable definition of “thinness” are continuously disenfranchised by the same system. Fat men get farther, but that’s not saying much.

I want to specifically point out how little control fat women have over their projection and acceptance of identity, though. To a point, thin women have some powers of self-identification—again, they’re limited, but still there—but fat women have none because the totality of what they are perceived to be is what could be best described as infintesimal in scope.

My fat female-bodied friends have no option and no choice. If they act happy, they’re stinky and obtrusive; if they’re feeling sexy, they’re laughable and pathetic; if they have desires, they’re gluttonous and smothering; if they’re affectionate, they’re flippant; if they’re bouncy, they’re vapid and unintelligent; if they’re cute, they’re obnoxious and thunderous; if they’re loud, they’re overwhelming and don’t know how to control themselves; if they’re sad, they’re emotional eaters; if they’re angry, they’re bitter, shrill bitches. Fat women cannot win, ever, but with a totality that most thin women couldn’t even grasp at.

One of my friends a few years ago confided to me that her social anxiety and reticence developed when she realized that no one ever saw her as cute and bouncy—they saw her as obnoxious, overbearing and stupid. Her withdrawal was a way out: because she couldn’t bear to be seen as this stupid, silly thing that was such a distortion of who she really was. It didn’t matter that she had an eating disorder, and that she was eating high raw because it was one of the few ways she could make it disappear in totality: when people looked at her, they saw fat. That was the totality of who she was, to them—unhealthy, prediabetic at best, probably cancerous, and definitely an eyesore if not necessarily contagious. Even when people weren’t making “moo” sounds at her, she could tell by their awkwardness and skepticism that they condemned the hell out of her.

She chose to withdraw because that was the only option for control she had ever known: as a child, the only way she could get away mentally from her family’s abuse was to turn to stone inside and convince everyone that nothing mattered to her. The extent of people’s judgment and prejudice against her body didn’t just make her ashamed: it made her change into a different person.

Because the person she was didn’t matter, only the packaging. In a society where your presentation matters more than your personhood, and where your packaging implicitly justifies violation regardless of its austerity… you’re not safe. As someone who is trans, I’m not safe—because my packaging matters more than who I am.

Property status—that process and underlying ideology through which you are turned into a product—must be abolished. No excuses. No mistakes. No compromise.

I want to make clear that fatphobia will not be allowed on any part of this site. Body-policing is unacceptable and only reinforces the idea that womens’ bodies are communal property for whatever reason—though I’m sure it’s just because of their “health.” In light of a history that actively encourages women to starve to fit acceptable ideals of femininity, behavioral and physical, and in light of the fact that there is no known way to make fat people into thin people—you need to do better than a 95% failure rate—you get to shut your ignorant yaps.

*Does anyone actually know someone who does this? It’s highly eating-disordered even so, but apparently I’m eating baby-flavored doughnuts every night… silly fools! I’m vegan! Don’t they know I only eat dumpstered babies?

Transactional Models of Sexuality are Anti-Sex

The transactional model of sexuality is horrendous, and we know this already. But even outside of the paradigm of straight-up rape, it creates the implicit assumption that whenever women are having sex, it’s because they got paid for it somehow, and that whenever a man does anything nice for a woman, he’s entitled to sexual activity sooner or later—justifying rape, since the fact that she accepted the gift (or that he offered it at all) is taken as prospective consent.

Yes, that little bastard of an ideology is also the culprit behind any variation of, “all women are money-sucking whores.”

And it’s also the driving force—and one of the primary justifications behind—defenses of pornography and prostitution. That payment should ever be accepted as a sign of consent is absolutely anti-feminist. This is not the radical feminist stance, it is the feminist stance: that true consent cannot exist in circumstances that require one to “consent.”

When anyone is forced to submit to sexual activity in order to fulfill their basic needs (for example, trading sexual favors for food), we consider that sexual assault at minimum. It’s not like it’s hard to see why consent is problematic in that situation.

Even aside from the sex pox redefinition of “rape” to exclude having to submit to sexual activity because you will starve or freeze, though, the transactional model of sex is harmful to women’s sexual liberation in the view of sexual pleasure at all. Rape can and has been conflated with sex, often. However, as I mentioned earlier, the transactional model of sex also includes the tenet that all women demand money or gifts—payment—for sex, because women have no fundamental interest in sex itself. Men need sex; women do not. Women have no intrinsic interest in sexual pleasure or orgasm.

Because if women did have an intrinsic interest in sexual pleasure and orgasm, it would be unacceptable to approach sex without the assumption that you both were going to try to make sexual pleasure mutual… and it would be downright insulting to offer payment—whether it’s money, jewelry, clothing, relationship stability, whatever—whether sexual pleasure was going to be involved or not. Because it wouldn’t be necessary: if women are human, like men—if women belong to a species with an innate capacity for round-the-clock, non-estrus sexual pleasure—if women are human, like men, then women have an equal interest in mutual, reciprocally pleasurable sex.

Sex is pleasurable. And you can’t really argue that nature doesn’t actively encourage hedonism, even if it is tempered by empathy. Ergo, women have an interest in sex in their own right: because done right, it feels good. There is no reason for men to try to bribe women into sex—and in fact, a bribe implies that consent is not genuine.

And if men are willingly participating in and perpetuating a society that forces women to have sexual activity regardless of whether or not it’s pleasurable for them, but for survival—then men are actively encouraging sexual assault, not because women are not willing to have sex, but for only two reasons: a) men are not willing to consider women’s interest in sexual activity as just as valid as their own, OR b) men get off on sexually assaulting women, and that’s why they perpetuate a society where women must have sex for their safety and survival. Sexual assault comes in a continuum because consent does—however, unlike the sex poxes, I am absolutely unwilling to accept effectively forced consent as anything other than sexual assault.

Because sexual assault strips you of your personhood. It is perpetrated on you whether or not you like it, and often because you don’t like it. And all too often, you have to submit to it because to resist endangers your survival. This is a feminist statement: the decision to have sex should never have to be any part of a calculation on your survival and basic quality of life.

This is not sexy. Being paid for sex is not sexy. But then, anyone who’s been near a porn set knows that it is basically one of the unsexiest places in the world—hospices notwithstanding.

“Sex work is like any other job,” is part and parcel of the transactional model of sex because if you boil it down into its most succinct meaning, it is: “Sex is a job.” Or, alternately, “I have no problem with my lovers feeling as though sex is a job as long as I get laid.” It is something you do in order to get payment from it—without passion, without happiness, because it is a “choice” that is inherently forced, inherently constrained. Pleasure has nothing to do with it. You simply cannot say no.

And believing that is acceptable—that is anti-sex and anti-feminist.

I believe sex is a profoundly good and awesome thing, and that choice should mean something more than just a buzzword that allows you to do whatever the fuck you want, however exploitative, coercive, or depersonalizing it is. Your orgasms are not the only ones that matter. Welcome to women’s sexual liberation.

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