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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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