Saturday, May 27, 2006

I guess I did have to cough this up (sigh).

So I was over at The Reclusive Leftist, where there's a fresh nearly 300-post debate/thrash/what have you about porn. I can't remember which of the comments sent me over the edge; all I know is that I did. First I wrote something a bit more level, if angry, and then I ended up writing this:

"–You want to know what my problem is? My button? My “trigger?” I’ll sum it up in a nutshell, here:


or anyone else. Not interested in Big Sister or Big Daddy. Fuck off.

There you go."

This whole trip, or a lot of it, was started off by my anger at having an arrogant hetboy's representation of a scene which is a part of my sexuality (BDSM; an appallingly distorted/silly dismissal of *lesbian* BDSM was thrown in) given pride of place at a highly popular (and I think influential) radical feminist's website (Twisty); and then being dismissed and condescended to again and again in the comments section. Then Twisty's "final word" on the subject, which probably looked on the surface reasonable enough to people who don't really give much of a crap about the whole thing one way or the other. It made me furious; it was dismissive, and contemptuous, and (again!) mispresentative. And people took her word for it. Sure, I have my own voice. But what does it say that a (well-respected, well-read) radical feminist will spotlight a straight boy's definition of an alternative sexuality and then shut down the whole thing after actual kinky women (queer and straight) start speaking their own experience, claiming the whole thing is making her ill? What *is* that?

And then I got into reading others, and others, and others, and...


You know, VS, I like you, and I should have paid you the respect of saying so more directly at the time, but: the last time you came to comment over here, when I was talking about this stuff? couple of months ago, probably. I said I appreciated your responding here and trying to dialogue and your overall tone (or that was my gist), and I meant it. Still do.

But something you said really pushed my button; it had to do with saying, hey, look, I like such-and-such a position in bed, but who cares what other people think if it's "feminist" or not? Why should I need a parade for ___ sex?

And I gotta tell you, that set me off wicked fierce, although it took a while for it to bubble to the surface (that happens with me sometimes, still). Why a parade?

I mean, it's great the whole "I don't care what you do in your bedroom." And--if you're straight? Most people *don't* care--these days, at any rate--what you do in the privacy of your bedroom. Especially if you seem overall respectable and so on. (assuming you *own* a bedroom, aren't fighting for custody of your kids with your vindictive ex-husband who knows about your stash of "Bad Attitude" magazines and your flogger collection, and so on).

If you're gay? Well, yeah, in theory. Sometimes. Sort of. Especially for the last--oh, what is it now? three years? since the Supreme Court finally struck down the last of the anti-sodomy laws.

But as I'm sure you know, having hashed out a bunch of this shit with radical feminists and others, Lily Law isn't everything when it comes to such intimate matters as sexuality. If 'twere, after all, assuming you (as I seem to remember you saying) are against any sort of legal censorship, along with others, then if legality was all that mattered, why, I guess the subjects of porn and so on wouldn't come up at all, then, right?

And as I'm sure you *also* know, there's a fine tradition of Gay Pride Parades. Which, I suppose, one could also ask "but, why do you need it?" (and I am of course assuming that that was *not* what you were asking). People have done just that, of me, after all. I've been polite. Sometimes. I mean, if I think it's an honest attempt to understand. To communicate.

But sometimes, you know, I get tired.

And while kink and porn and so on are certainly worth discussing in their own rights, and while by all means I think it's important to defend heterosexuals' right to pleasure, kink or vanilla, poly or straight, whatever have you--it is just an extra layer of exasperation and incredulity I am going through, when I come across a "radical feminist," of which there appear to be many these days, who is straight, even married! and their *boy* S.O's are right in there rabbitting on about the Patriarchy and oppressive male identified-behavior and so forth, rampant with unconscious male and straight privilege, taking up just as much space as ever they like--and no one says boo!! Do you even know how *bizarre* I find this? I mean, it's one thing for some granola Miz Michigan Wimmin's Fest dyke to say shit that pisses me off, which a number still do, don't get me wrong (never even mind the kink-ignorance; there's been some seriously nasty transphobic shit that I am also saddened and angry to note hasn't died *yet*). But being lectured about my oppressive/brainwashy/unconscious/whatthefuckever it's supposed to be sexuality by straight monogamous women and their men? That is just a whole nother level of my-brain-is-exploding. And I still haven't quite gotten past that, no. One more for the therapist's no doubt.

*deep breath*


It's funny, you know--I spent last weekend at a Body Electric workshop on Power, Surrender and Intimacy (otherwise known to some as BDSM; actually I thought this was a much more accurate moniker, in this context at least). It was, as have been all of their workshops, an exhilirating, joyful, sometimes difficult, often emotionally and even spiritually profound, transformative experience. I left feeling...blessed. People have been commenting to me all week about how good I look, different somehow, as so often happens after these experiences (as someone or other noted, people often say "did you lose weight?" when they know there's something different (and good) but they can't put their finger on what. possibly a sign of something in itself; I used to bristle at that--my ambivalence about body image--and this time? shrug. it was meant as a compliment; dayenu).

Then I come back and being the squirrelly little obsessive that I am, turn on the computer and go to the same old sites, find comments from completely random strangers that I find judgmental, critical--in this case, the Dworkinites--and I'm right back into: stomach clenched, I-feel-like-crap, either get depressed and feeling small (in a bad way) or DESTROY MODE (which is more satisfying, but ultimately leaves me feeling a bit empty and disconcerted as well).

I expect that the work I was doing over the weekend and habit of mine both are addressing the same wounds, at some level. And I suppose there's value in both approaches, else I wouldn't be doing it. Especially when there's actual communication happening.

All the same, I have to say: of the two approaches--endless, circular thrashes, even flamefests, with ignorant, judgmental, seemingly willfully obtuse people, or consensual kinky erotic play with wonderful people--the latter feels one fuck of a lot healthier.


Arkan said...

I dunno, some of that stuff was too deep form my feeble heteronormative outlook to REALLY understand, although I’d tell the people who look down on the consensual sexual activities of others that they are really just looking down on a part of their sexuality, but transfer that hatred onto a safe target, and need to examine their self before they want around condemning others.

I never was a fan of porn.

To me, it's more fun to seduce, but, I'm different than most heteros in the sense that I would still enjoy giving women orgasms even If I didn’t have one myself; I like the foreplay and closeness more than the orgasm (which I love)


I'd like it if planned parenthood or another concerned party were to release pornography that showed activity that women actually enjoyed; because right now young men use porno as training media almost, media that teach men to derive pleasure from the sexual discomfort of their female partner.

Why not teach men to be happy about about the pleasure of their partner instead of teaching them that women are just a place to lay pipe?

Would it hurt?

belledame222 said...

Well, in fact there are some people who go out of their way to produce "women-friendly" porn/erotica/whatever you'd like to call it. Candida Royalle, for instance:

Good Vibrations or any of the "woman-friendly" sex toy/media shops always carry a full line of educational videos. Nina Hartley, who's more on the "aminstream" side but certainly has a fun, playful, egalitarian approach imo; some classics by Betty Dodson, very old-school and fierce and feminist; some by the Joseph Kramer/Body Electric people.

and of course, there's lesbian-made porn for lesbians, but I'm assuming you're talking about stuff for straight women.

There's also now a terrific video out now by Staci Haines, "The Survivor's Guide to Sex." I am not (currently, knock wood) a physical rape/incest survivor, but I found it helpful myself; I think most people would, and particularly if they have sexual wounds in their past. Extremely helpful exercises for getting back into one's body, for determining and communicating "yes" and "no" clearly (something I submit most people have trouble with even if they haven't had their boundaries as severely violated as in rape). I just wish it were more widely available.

There is also a book, which is somewhat easier to find.

According to Sheldon Ranz, via Bitch Lab, "they," i.e. the radical feminists, don't like that either;

" And no, Candida Royalle’s gentle, egalitarian porn isn’t what they like - John Stoltenberg, Dworkin’s partner, called Royalle a pimp when I interviewed him on WBAI-FM on July 14, 1986."

I dunno about "they," all, but it does make me intensely frustrated when I hear/see people putting out yet more (to me) detrimental, corrosive misinformation *in the name of feminism.* Between the fundamentalist anti-porn folk on the one side, the radical feminists on another, and the cynically commericalizing aspect which pretty much dictates that the exploitive shit is gonna be out there for people to find no matter how much railing the antis do (at least as long as the current socioeconomic and overall zeitgeist stands as it is), it's a miracle when any voice that's truly about womens' pleasure can rise above the din at all.

belledame222 said...

And you're quite right, some of this is mostly about an internecine sparring match between two subcultures. Still I write about it not just because (I hope) I like getting embroiled in an endless thrash, but because I, like the people I'm arguing with, think this shit has ramifications beyond the "sex wars," much less porn.

Alon Levy said...

How ubiquitous are Dworkinites anyway? There seem to be a lot on the blogosphere, but the blogosphere isn't representative of the activist population. After all, on the blogosphere, Dean supporters were overrepresented in the 2004 primary, as are anti-Chomskyite linguists and Gouldian biologists.

belledame222 said...

Funnily enough, I was just wondering that very thing, and fired off an email to Susie Bright asking if she had any opinion as to whether this was indeed a trend in the real world, or followed the blogosphere at all, or what.

What I do know is that there's been an overall reactionary trend (hello), which has played out in some odd and often contradictory ways.

also, I think a lot of people are responding to stuff like Levy's "Raunch Culture;" she doesn't ID as a radfem, I'm quite sure, but...well, it's a pretty skewed and shallow vision of the whole zeitgiest and history, it seems to me.

What I was saying to Susie B, and elsewhere, is that I am struck by how many *young* women -seem- to be rediscovering Dworkin and MacKinnon (who does have a freshly released book after all).

And I have speculated: I guess if I were just coming of age now, I might be having a harder time finding any current voice that seemed to be advocating a relevant take on feminism than, say, a shitload of porn. Couple that with mindless reactionary pseudo-sexxxy popculture and an ever-increasing rollback of such things as reproductive rights; and yeah, I could see how it'd appeal.

I just hate to think we all have to reinvent the wheel. particularly when, reading some blogs, it looks like they're attempting to reinvent the wheel based on instructions that have been translated by Babelfish from ancient Sumerian via Swedish Chef, scrawled on a cocktail napkin and eaten rather than actually read.

belledame222 said...

and anyway, I am thinking, even if it is an overrrepresentation, it's not irrelevant. take the Dean business; sure, (we) ended up not being as powerful a juggernaut as was thought/hoped, but it ultimately ended up propelling him into some power, if not the White Hosue or even the primary candidacy.

In that instance, I will out myself, I (still, yes, at least until after the '06 elections; we'll see then) I saw that as a good thing.

Per a Dworkinite/MacKinnonite (particularly the latter, who is after all more mainstream and still alive, more or less) resurgence...ihh, not so much, really, thanks.

Alon Levy said...

It's weird, since for a long while I thought that the trend was in the opposite direction, that is toward ignoring Dworkin and MacKinnon and embracing an increasingly liberal view of sexuality. Maybe I just read Avedon Carol too much...

Alon Levy said...

If you want, I can ask the feminist bloggers I'll meet at Yearly Kos what their observations are. If I have time I'll start going to pro-choice bingo events once I move to New York, so I'll be able to ask even more feminist bloggers. Those bloggers who have gender studies backgrounds, such as Jessica Valenti, will almost certainly know precisely how strong the anti-porn contingent of feminism is.

Jean said...

And I have speculated: I guess if I were just coming of age now, I might be having a harder time finding any current voice that seemed to be advocating a relevant take on feminism than, say, a shitload of porn. Couple that with mindless reactionary pseudo-sexxxy popculture and an ever-increasing rollback of such things as reproductive rights; and yeah, I could see how it'd appeal. have a point here, but I'm also seeing a lot of it coming from people for whom this could not possibly be the case, and it seems to be their own personal hangovers from missing the point of riot grrrl, etc. But yeah, I'm wondering what SB makes of it in terms of being a blogophenom and not something larger.

belledame222 said...

>for whom this could not possibly be the case,

You mean: older women, here, right? Well, yeah. But I mean: that would be the traditional (?) part of the second wave, imo.

But if that were all it was, I'd expect it to be far more clearly a generational gap. I'm not seeing it that way online, at least.

I will say that until I got into Blog O'Sphere I had no idea that people in significant numbers were coming to Dworkin. I trundled around various leftie circles and I belonged to an all-women, mostly lesbian theatre collective for a while (aka Dyke Drama), and fuck knows there were plenty of thrashes, processing, endless browbeating about various I hate to say it goddamit but "p.c." issues of this sort and that. But this one, the sex business; no, not so much. Or not that I was aware of, certainly among the younger women. (In that instance there did seem to be much more of a clear generational disconnect).

Then again, I can't help wondering, again: does this have anything to do with the fact that most of us were queer.

I mean, a couple of the neo Dworkinites/Jeffrysites ID as radical lesbians, that I know of; but, like I say, it *looks* to my admittedly limited view like most of 'em are straight, especially the younger ones.

Which, that was not what the original Sex Wars were about, as I understand it; that was primarily a split between radical *lesbian* feminists and S/M and pro-porn dykes.

perhaps I'm misinformed.

again: would love to hear SB's take; she was there then, certainly.

Jean said...

You mean: older women, here, right?

Well...I mean, if people my age are considered 'older women' (which I'd rather not believe) but I really mean I see quite a few people for whom their m.o. is a magical conversion from what they embraced somewhat cluelessly circa early '90s. Which gets into the psychology of the ideologue, because honestly if I had heard what they were describing as third wave, I...don't know what I'd do. I wouldn't even want to think about it. Levy might be the best example, but these are specific blogfolk I'm thinking of.

belledame222 said...

O, okay. Yeah, I had certain specific bloggers in mind as well, at least one of whom I was under the impression is fiftysomething, hence, boomer.

We're probably about the same age, you and I, right? gen-Xers, anyway.

I guess ideologues and magical conversions happen all the time everywhere.

goddam but they're annoying. One of whom, radfem style, I read recently, she actually said "There is one way, and one way only..." (exactly so many words). Sure, she went on from there; but, really, what else needs to be said, at that point, no matter what she's one-way-ing about?

witchy-woo said...

Not read comments yet but:


And I, as a straight woman, am so tired of fucking patriarchial pornographers defining my sexuality for me!

You see the argument?

Anonymous said...

Hey, belledame - first time here. You possibly know me from the michfest board although I don't post there any longer - I left last November after only a year - over the endless and politically informed transphobia specifically, and the toxicity that unfortunately permeates the political board generally.

Violet, if you see this I can assure you that if you wanted any evidence of a rampant and vicious RF/LF informed anti-BDSM campaign you need look no further than the michfest political discussion board archives. Make sure you're wearing protective clothing if you do. There is a case to be made that the lesbian sex wars aren't over yet.

I am also quite dismayed by the apparently rapidly growing number of young radical feminist and lesbian-feminist ideologues who ignore or invalidate the real-life experience of women - including transwomen - who's stories or feelings can't be accomodated within a rigid political framework. I find myself asking whether or not some of these feminists are actually thinking for themselves. I understand your need to comment in the broader blogosphere, belledame. Many assertions can't be left unchallenged exactly because certain commentators appear to be very influential. I'm also interested to know how marginalised - or not - the most extreme ideologues are in the real world.

I am having problems registering - probably because of my old computer. That's why I've come in apparently anonymously.


belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belledame222 said...

hey, cicely. actually haven't been around the michfest boards. am passing familiar with one person who's apparently a frequent flyer there, if not actually the listowner (Miz "there is one way and one way only to defeat gender norms, and that is by *not* getting SRS surgery. damn those transsexuals for holding up the rrrrevolution, anyway!" gargh).

Not sure why blogger's acting up, although not surprised that it is. In most browsers, even if you can't register, you can click the "other" bubble and pick a temporary name, which would be generally kind of ideal, especially as the anonymouseseseses start to mount up.

Thanks for stopping in.

belledame222 said...

>And I, as a straight woman, am so tired of fucking patriarchial pornographers defining my sexuality for me!

You see the argument?>

Frankly: no. But please, feel free to elaborate.

(getting out lawnchair)

Jean said...

"There is one way, and one way only..."

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." -- John 14:6 (NKJV)

It's prettier when Jebus sez it, though damn patriarchal. Glad they fixed it.


Jean said...

I find myself asking whether or not some of these feminists are actually thinking for themselves

If I wasn't such a techno-incompetent (I know my weaknesses), I would absolutely collate some info on not just 'key words' but entire turns of phrase that I read getting repeated, out of context, like mantras. I would love to be able to count of my fingers and toes how many times I have seen specific, direct questions, or logical arguments, answered with said mantras. As if the Truth is self-evident, and anyone that needs more that a bald statement to accept the fact of a thing is beyond the pale. Alas, I have only ten fingers and ten toes, and that would barely cover the last seven days.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belledame222 said...

But there's no internalized mainstream (patriarchal) Christian thought, from the zeitgesit, going on with all the anti-this-and-that bloviating, of course. Nooooo. No more self-examination needed here! (endless self-flagellation for not measuring up to the theoretical ideal, yes; re-examination of the Theory itself and ways in which it might not be working for you and/or others, no). *You,* however, clearly need to do some more reading and listening, mizzy. I'd recommend the specific actual books and articles that led *me* to Enlightenment, but that would be Telling.

p.s. I'll pray for you.

Jean said...

I'll pray for you.


belledame222 said...

You're very welcome, dear Sister.

and remember: it's only your *behavior* I heartily disapprove of and regularly subject to interrogation and mockery. I love you. I only want what's best for you.

Alon Levy said...

Plus, I'm a tolerant person. I don't want to criminalize your sins - I just want you to acknowledge that you're sinful and change your destructive lifestyle.

belledame222 said...

And it hurts me deeply, and angers me, yes, that you do not recognize how tolerant I am being, even in the fact of your ridiculous and frankly often disgusting behavior. I mean, I *could* be much harsher if I wanted to (you deserve it). But it is not my Way.

(magisterially swelling music in background, dawning, golden rays, a single, poignant tear of pity for the cruelness of the World)

Alon Levy said...

It offends me that you think I don't let people disagree with me. Why, read the New Testament and you'll see that there are disagreements over whether the Gospel according to Catharine is better than the Gospel according to Susan.

belledame222 said...

Stop oppressing me with your demands for backing up my claims! HELP HELP I'M BEING OPPRESSED

and anyway, you're just picking on me 'cause


Alon Levy said...

We all know that the sort of evidence you ask me for is just some patriarchal thing. You see, the very idea of objective facts is in itself a masculine construction that we must liberate ourselves from.

belledame222 said...

I like to get my information straight from the source. MacKinnon said it; I believe it; that settles it. What's wrong with you, that you don't believe a woman when she speaks of her own experience? Even if it *is* talking about an historically documented event which involved a whole shitload of other peoples' experiences, also on record and capable of still speaking for themselves, and all she's saying is "the pornographers lied about me."

Oh, *that* woman over there, who's saying something else altogether? I can't relate to that, and I don't like the sound of that, so she must be lying. She is a liar. There.

(can you *believe* what she's *wearing??* how...patriarchal. psst psst psst)

Why do you hate women so much?

antiprincess said...

>Not read comments yet but:


>And I, as a straight woman, am so tired of fucking patriarchial pornographers defining my sexuality for me!

You see the argument?

So, you both agree that one's own sexuality defined (or negated) by outside influences is oppressive.

Speaking only for myself, I have to say that I see antiporn feminism as oppressive an outside influence as patriarchal pornographers. Neither side respects me as a sexual being.

Jean said...

"Gospel according to Catharine is better than the Gospel according to Susan." don't even know the way my wheels have been turning on this one. :)

belledame222 said...

The thing is, the "patriarchal pornography" per se--if we're really just talking about X-rated movies and images and so forth--feels a lot easier to avoid than institutional homophobia. Call me wacky that way, but: if I don't watch porn, it don't bother me.

Whereas, there are plenty of people going out of their ways to tell me, *legally,* socially, and in other ways, that if I'm queer, I don't or shouldn't exist. I have extensive notes, really. It's kind of like, my life.

Of course, that is in *addition* to the hegemonic sexism to which our pal is undoubtedly alluding by the shorthand of "porn." The *rest* of the media, and so forth, which is *also* heavily reinforcing reactionary, sexist messages.

But, assuming that's the case: why focus on the porn, especially? If it's not the *sex* that's the problem, but the *sexism,* (in the media), then why concentrate on porn?

And we've still never quite pinned down what "non-patriarchal porn" (erotica, what have you) is supposed to look like, in the world according to some.

Or is it that there is and never can be any such animal, because the act of photographing, filming, hell, maybe even drawing or writing about, *any* sexual activity done by *anybody* is, somehow, sexist, all by itself?

If so--how's that work, again?

And if not--again: what's "non-patriarchal porn?" exactly?

Alon Levy said...

Thanks, Jean, but I didn't invent this on my own - I stole it from you. I don't know about Peter and Judas, but Paul is of course Nikki Craft.

Alon Levy said...

Belledame, I think this is a good example of the sort of non-patriarchal porn that might be Twisty-approved.

belledame222 said...

but but but!! that involves eating animal flesh!! don't you know that meat eating is directly related to patriarchal oppression?!

oh, wait, sorry, wrong radical feminism. We're still on Sheila and Catherine; no need to cruise around to Carol Adams just yet, as long as non-veggie tacos are still O.K.

Jean said...

"patriarchal pornography" per se--if we're really just talking about X-rated movies and images and so forth--feels a lot easier to avoid than institutional homophobia.

That's the thing. PP is easy all around. It's easy to pick out, it's real handy as a label because of the whole know-it-when-I-see-it vibe to slap onto everything that Teh Rad doesn't like, and it requires absolutely no personal sacrifice to oppose. I mean, people can blog about how evil it as all day, but at the end of the day, who the hell knows what's stashed under their bed? It's a bit harder to fake genuine inclusion. Oh, and none of the tasty bile.

belledame222 said...

Just an update: SB got back to me and said that she's been wondering about this shit herself, and would like to use my inquiry as a springboard for a post of her own, if that was all right with me.

really looking forward to hearing this...

Jean said...


Arkan said...

I'm always late to battles with the christians!!!!!

Violet Socks said...

Hey, belledame, I'm just now catching up on my blog visits and seeing this post.

First of all, I'm sorry I set you off last time I was here. I've tried to explain on my own blog that I'm a bit of a psychopath when it comes to being guilted about what I should or shouldn't do to be a good feminist -- which is to say, I'm impervious to it. Weren't we talking last time about some girl (a straight girl) who thought she shouldn't have penetrative sex with her boyfriend because she'd been reading Dworkin? To me that's just insane. Jesus Christ, do what you wanna do. That's what I do!

So you see, I have this problem even with other straight women like myself, not really quite understanding on a visceral level whatever that susceptibility is to guilt/shame/etc.

However, what you bring up is that for people with marginalized sexuality -- lesbian, BDSM, transgendered -- this is a much bigger issue. It's not just about feeling comfortable and confident with your feminism and your sexuality, but about facing widespread discrimination and social disapproval -- even sometimes from other feminists. As a straight woman I haven't experienced that, so I have to keep reminding myself of the issue. You and Cicely, among others, are people whose testimony on this I find very valuable and enlightening.

It's never my wish to be dismissive of other people's struggles, but we're all limited. I'm a straight vanilla white woman, and I will never know what it's like to walk in your shoes. I can only try to learn and listen.

BTW, I want to echo what witchy-woo said about the pornography she's encountered as being patriarchal and oppressive. I said that myself on the Thread That Won't Die just last night, when you and I were in dialogue. Pornography is/has been liberating for some people, perhaps especially people with marginalized sexuality who are validated by seeing their particular sexuality affirmed in media. But the mainstream mass-produced stuff is/has been the opposite of liberating for a bunch of straight women, imposing on us a patriarchal template of the Big Boobed Hairless Sexbot. So, obviously, different kinds of pornography can have different effects in different communities (how many times can I use the word "different" in a sentence?)

belledame222 said...

Thank you for that, VS. You are a mensch, you know, and I am truly sorry that my explosions have spattered on you. I really do value talking to you; it's rare to find people who actually listen and talk *to* instead of *at.*

Yeah, I probably would be taking w-w a bit more seriously had it not been for the context of our previous uh encounters. As it is: well, Catherine MacKinnon speaks the Truth, and I am a "fraud," so I expect that nothing I say to her will make a terrible lot of difference, even if I were particularly inclined to try.

belledame222 said...

a "fraud," "not a feminist," and "only interested in making men happy," that is, which I thought was just precious.

Violet Socks said...

A mensch! Wow, thank you. Usually I'm just a shiksa.

Alon Levy said...

A shiksa who's an honorary member of the IJC - don't forget.

belledame222 said...

Tangentially: I'm curious about the whole hairless-and-silicone thing. especially since that's also become more or less de rigeur for men, the hairless part at least. I am thinking: besides the usual annoyingly impossible "beauty" standards for women to compare themselves to, what do these particular fashions say about us now? Because I keep thinking that it's sort of of a piece with the whole (fair, imo) litany of complaints about how mechanical and dehumanizing so much of it is.

I am wondering if part of the bigger problem, besides institutionalized sexism (it's all intertwined, of course), is the whole idea that being human is somehow shameful and less-then. Which these days manifests in a number of curious ways: machine-worship, "hardness" worship. Hey, who cares how silicone breasts feel--to yourself or others? who cares how genetically enhanced tomatoes and strawberries taste? it's all what you LOOK like, baby! shiny, flawless and BIG, and, of course, lots and lots of it. "Over 20 zillion served," you know. Bigger, longer, harder, new and improved!...Who cares what's going on on the inside? Just...perform.

I need to mull over this a bit more; before I post about it. Something.

jack (aka angrybrownbutch) said...

Totally late to the game here, but I JUST SAY NO when you feel the urge to visit that particular brand of anti-anything-fun-in-sex feminist blog. I've avoided them for some time now myself and have saved myself many headaches.

Of course, I did just post a comment on the polyamory post up at Angry For a Reason, and plan to blog about it myself. So much for following my own advice. Sheesh.

belledame222 said...

you see?

Yeah, I've stopped visiting a number of specific blogs. thing is, then the Endless Debate pops up again on one of the larger not-especially-radical Feminist Blogs; or a friend who *is* reading one of those blogs posts a long fisking of some particularly fuckwitted post and of course I have to go see what it's all about, and...we're off.

but, yeah. There is clearly something here about my own need to engage, obviously. which is not new, and is something that had been coming up in other contexts long before this particular thrash caught my attention.

Alon Levy said...

Tangentially: I'm curious about the whole hairless-and-silicone thing. especially since that's also become more or less de rigeur for men, the hairless part at least.

I should add that there's also the penis size standard. I don't know how big porn actors' penises are on average, but I'm certain they're usually much longer than the general population's average.

In addition, there's a myth that men can and want to have sex at any time, which is probably the source of the claim that women's lib causes impotence (women ask for sex independently of whether the man can get his penis up; men obviously don't). Now I know better than to blame the media for that, but then again I don't think the media's responsible to men's fetish for large breasts, either.

Alon Levy said...

About the large radfem anti-sexuality blogs, maybe I'm just lucky but I've managed to avoid them almost completely. I know I'm embroiled in arguments about them on Reclusive Leftist, but apart from that, there's nothing. The mainstream feminist blog I read, Majikthise, ignores the radicals; Lindsay sometimes links to Twisty, but always about issues like war or abortion, on which the radfems and the liberals agree. Whenever I checked Pandagon and Feministing, I found that they similarly ignored the Twisty/BB contingent, and I think that so do Bitch Ph.D. and Feministe.

belledame222 said...

Part of this is that I had found Twisty's blog before any of the others, and was a regular reader/poster for a few months, as I loved her style and humor and agreed with a lot of what she was saying. I remember feeling somewhat put off or just plain perplexed (increasingly so as time went on) by a number of the sex-related posts, not just the kink shit (that came later); most notably something or other about Female Sexual Dysfunction. Wasn't really my main area of expertise, but I was bewildered by what seemed like a general consensus that the marketing of the female Viagra or whatever it was was apparently a sign of sexism. I chalked it up to differing interpretations of marketing vs. actual biology and moved on. but eventually...and so many of the commenters got on my last nerve.

Yeah, I think you're right; will probably have to hang around Pandagon and Majikthise (I have been a bit more on Majikthise recently; she's pretty awesome) and Shakespeare's Sister. Love Bitch Ph.D.; but I hardly ever go there. I'm not sure why. I really should do more often. I like Alas, but even there the usual suspects seem to hold court a lot--well, it often seems to devolve into a three-way or more-way thrash between the radfems, the MRA's, and everybody else.

and then what had happened was, there was another big eruption or three revolving around racial shit, between a feminist of color whose blog I'd just gotten into reading regularly and Twisty (among others, later).

anyway it's been instructive, the whole thing. In a way I'm glad for the rift wrt sexual shit, because otherwise it's quite possible I would've just settled into the amen corner at Twisty's without going much farther afield. As it is, I've been reading a lot of voices and perspective that I hadn't been so familiar with these past few months, and I've boned up considerably on my understanding of various schools of feminist thought. At this point I have a lot more bones to pick with radical feminism than the kink/porn business; I agree with Bitch | Lab, I think there's a fundamental problem with the theoretical framework, which does manifest in concrete ways.

belledame222 said...

There's Feministe, Feministing, and feminista! ...for a while there I just wasn't reading any of them, as it got too confusing. I do read Feministe these days. I like the hosting, but it definitely has not been devoid of this sort of thrash.

it's true it would be easy enough to avoid BB and her ilk if one wanted to. I probably wouldn't have noticed at all if I hadn't been so gobsmacked that people (a number of whom I take seriously themselves) were taking not just her but her asshat boyfriend as some sort of Feminist Guru or something. and then I got caught up wondering how in the blue hell a straight boy becomes a Dworkinite in the first place (I found a few others, not nearly as ubiquitous). I just wanted to poke him with a stick or something. a weakness of mine, that sort of thing...

Alon Levy said...

I guess it's just luck, then. I started out on Pharyngula and then branched out to Majikthise, so my first encounter with blogospheric radical feminism was seeing Lindsay say that the feminist concept of objectification is bunk and trash Andrea Dworkin. Then I stumbled upon a few of Avedon Carol's essays explaining why no, feminism isn't about puritanism. It wasn't until January or February this year that I discovered that there are people under 60 who oppose porn on feminist grounds.

To be honest I don't read that many feminist blogs. The only ones I read regularly are Majikthise, The Countess, Reclusive Leftist, and yours. I read Alas a few years ago, but at the time it was a fairly general blog and certainly had neither radfems nor MRAs infesting it.

As for Feminista!, isn't that Nikki Craft's magazine? I'm pretty sure that's where I first read about the anti-sex-pos movement.

belledame222 said...

probably. I've only dropped in there once or twice, and yes, it has a pretty old-school (or new-old-school) vibe to it.

and yes, before I had really gotten into Blog O'Sphere, I really wasn't aware that there were more than a handful of Dworkinites under 60 around either; I certainly wouldn't have expected so many to be straight. life's rich tapestry, I suppose.

belledame222 said...

I should say: while I do think that Bitch PhD. (among others) doesn't give BB and her cronies much play if any, I do believe she's quite respectful of Twisty. Which, I mean, I understand; she's an excellent writer, Twisty is. Just to say: her influence isn't negligible, I don't think, at least online.

I mean, I don't think most people who agree with her on so many other issues would be/are particularly drawn to her rather dyspeptic views on sexuality if they weren't already so inclined. But I do get antsy at what to me is misinformation about such things as BDSM, etc., being further spread about. I expect the radfems feel the same way about what they see as (people like me/my) characterizations of their point of view.

Alon Levy said...

Well, I know that Bitch Ph.D. posted a pretty strong pro-prostitution post a year ago, when the issue was hot on the libfem blogosphere. And Amanda has said at least once that she thinks patriarchy-blaming isn't real feminism. None of the mainstream feminists has posted anything I've seen about BDSM, but, let's face it, it's a pretty fringe thing that probably disturbs most libfems in the same manner it disturbs conservatives ("Ew!").

belledame222 said...

>but, let's face it, it's a pretty fringe thing that probably disturbs most libfems in the same manner it disturbs conservatives ("Ew!").

Right; which is exactly why I make a bigger deal out of it when people who're supposedly on my side start misrepresenting than I would about oh let's say people dissing on Cosmopolitan magazine.

Alon Levy said...

Well, that makes sense. Progressive movements often tend to be very insensitive to the plight of disadvantaged people that don't have proper political representation. For example, Ward Churchill may be a moonbat, but he's right that almost all Americans, even most American progressives, ignore native Americans. It's always a good idea to make sure that people who're supposed to be on your side are in fact on your side, though sometimes what "on your side" means is tricky.

belledame222 said...

Ward I think there must be other voices representing NA concerns; he struck me as your garden variety narcissistic asshole even before the current plagiarism charges. anyway I really don't get the impression that he's truly out for anyone but himself.

Alon Levy said...

Oh, I'm not saying Churchill's done anything good for NAs. I honestly don't know much about him except for one interview with Chris Clarke and his Little Eichmanns comment. But he's right that other people don't do anything for NAs, either.

Violet Socks said...

Re Twisty, I don't see her blog the same way you do. First of all Twisty certainly espouses a Dworkinesque analysis of patriarchy and pornography, but she's also a thoroughgoing libertarian. I remember her saying at one point that she would be happy for all laws to be abolished if people would just leave each other the fuck alone. She thinks prostitution should be legal and opposes all censorship. I think of her as someone who is critiquing the culture from a radfem perspective, not someone proposing policy. Actually her only policy proposal is, "make women human," which she's repeated a number of times.

I personally would never put Twisty and BB in the same camp, in the same state, in the same universe as thinkers, writers, or activists, though they may agree on certain analyses of porn and sex.

As for Twisty's influence, she is widely respected and frequently linked to by Pandagon and Feministe. Amanda comments on Twisty's blog quite frequently, and Dr. B. and other bloggers do as well.

belledame222 said...

Oh, I understand Twisty isn't proposing policy; I just--really don't agree with her about a number of basic assumptions, I think.

and I wouldn't have especially put her in the same camp as BB for a lot of reasons, and still don't, but--well, I've said my piece about that whole business.

look; obviously I wouldn't be talking about twisty as much as I do if I hadn't been influenced by her myself. i think she's a powerful writer as well as a funny one. and then--I reacted. 'twas ever thus.

tekanji said...

I don't have time to read through the 61 (!) comments, but I just wanted to post my support.

I don't know if it's the same thread, but I de-linked Twisty a few months ago for one of her anti-kink rants. I'm not really interested in endorsing the opinion of someone who's anti-kink and yet refuses to listen to the actual experiences of kinky people.

Alon Levy said...

Violet, the problem is that you don't have to support criminalization here. People who circulate the myths that homosexuality is a disease or that abortion causes breast cancer are pernicious in their own right even if they don't support criminalizing gay sex or abortion.

belledame222 said...

And the thing about kink and all such matters is, it's such a grey area. No, you don't have to actively criminalize any particular activity; but there are (already, still) a number of laws on the books in a number of states that are sporadically enforced, much as the sodomy laws were till *very* recently. Sure, you can *probably* live most of your life happily oblivious, same as you can if you (for example) smoke pot; but woe betide you if you catch the attention of the wrong people. And yes, fueling the fire with such notions as kinky people are somehow sick or damaged or abusive does *not* help the discourse, and in turn does not help when it comes time to try to affect policy.

not to mention, social stigmatization and ostracization is not small, particularly if you're already a member of a marginalized subculture.

That was what the original "Sex Wars" were mostly about, you know, back in the 70's and 80's: eventually the kinky dykes, the butch-femme dykes, and so on had to form movements of their own because they were getting so much hostility from the women who were supposedly their "community." And if you're already getting shit from your family and straight people for being a lesbian, and now your newfound "family," your allies, your lovers are calling you "sick" and shunning you...

belledame222 said...

from dorothy Allison, "Skin:"

"Her voice on the phone was a surprise, not only because the call had come late in the evening, or even because she was so reluctant to identify herself. She had never been a friend, only na acquaintance...There was, also, the too-present memory of the last time I'd seen her, the way her eyes had registered, stared, and then avoided mine. I'd recognized in her face the same look I'd been seeing in other women's faces for all the months since the Barnard Conference on Sexuality...a look of fascination, contempt, and extreme discomfort. She'd gotten away as quickly as possible, and at the time i had reminded myself, again, that it really wasn't any different from the way striaght women used to avoid me back in 1971..."

As it turns out, the woman is calling Allison because she has a deep, dirty secret: she's been 'putting things inside her." The only other woman she'd confided in had told her she was "sick." Allison, full of both anger and grief at the familiarity of this sort of call by now--it's a bit like right-wing politicians railing against homosexuality and then going to a gay prostitute in the dead of night--tries to tell the woman it's o.k., maybe find out a bit more about what and where she's putting inside herself...and then she invokes the name of Pat Califia, who ha written one of the few (at the time) practical guides to lesbian sexuality and whom the woman has undoubtedly heard as one of Them, the Bad ones. she hangs up, hastily.

plus ca change, i think, sometimes. yeah, there's more information out there now, but if you're too shamed and full of self-loathing to seek it out, what good does that do anybody?