Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quote of the day, 4/11/07

In response to this:

Just because it makes you have an orgasm, doesn't make it ok.
Think about *why* you might have an orgasm that way.
Put it in a political and gendered context. Think.


(you can find the link to the author of that little gem by going to The Strangest Alchemy; I don't -feel- like linking to her directly)

No.

I refuse to play by your rules any more. I refuse to stop and think because you told me to. I refuse to accept that I have not thought enough about anything at all.

I refuse to think so you motherfuckers don't have to.


--trin

21 comments:

Eli said...

Anyone who gives their orgasms a political context, is someone I probably don't want to be dating.

A.J. Luxton said...

(from the Weirdo Freak dept.)

"Think about *why* you might have an orgasm that way."

As a non-neurotypical person, I actually like that particular idea and have employed it at various points, but not in any way the original poster would possibly have meant.

Er... which is to say, I can contort my brain into finding almost anything sexy for some window of time. (Excepting that which I find actively disturbing -- not in a "that's disturbingly weird" way, which can be mutated into interest, but in a "I need to deal with an Issue, right now" way, which just derails sexual thought entirely.)

By firing the right pattern of synapses, I can get hot over tentacles, abstract pencil drawing, or crowd scenes.

Some things are more conducive than others. Why? Because I've imprinted earlier, or longer, on them.

Once you mess around in there enough to know that the ultimate reason why you might have an orgasm that way is "because I say so" --i.e, taking responsibility on a totally self-focused level -- you usually also end up conquering quite a lot of sex-guilt, unwillingness to communicate, and other of the qualities that make it possible to sustain bad power-relations in and around sex. I highly recommend it.

belledame222 said...

Sure. It's interesting to think about the "why" of pretty much anything, orgasms included. What isn't suave is that the OP has an Agenda. It's an open question, not something to which girlfriend already has The Answer. that's what's pissing people off.

belledame222 said...

i'll admit i haven't thought about it in the way you have, and not sure that that...frame? approach? quite works for me, personally; but hey, horses for courses, it sounds interesting.

Holly said...

I think you hit the nail on the head in your second-to-last post, belledame. There are a lot of interesting and heck, downright valuable reasons to ask "why." To figure out your inner workings, how to get off and what that means for you... heck, what that means in the context of your relationships, in the context of the larger world. I think grappling with those questions, even their political aspects, can be really fruitful for a healthy sex life and good for the sexual well-being of our communities too.

But you know what really just does not help people figure stuff out about themselves, learn and grow and come to their own conclusions and feel things deeply? Agenda-driven badgering.

I mean, this should be obvious. Would you go to a therapist, even to a friend, to talk about how you feel about something as intimate as sex, if they were badgering you to think and feel a certain way? If they lectured you with a prima facie presumption of what your destination is, of what ends you have to reach, and best of all, the stick as opposed to the carrot -- how they're going to revile you as someone with no free will, with false consciousness, un-feminist, if you don't go where they're pointing?

That's hardly helpful. I mean, it is not much different from the "Black Snake Moan" school of rehabilitative therapy. "Girl, you got the devil in you -- uh I mean, you have patriarchal false consciousness in you -- and I mean to get it out! Not by chaining you to a radiator, but I'm going to lecture you and make you feel as guilty as possible until you find Jesus -- I mean uh, radical feminism."

You know, fuck these people. They clearly have their own problems and their own demons to sort through, and a lot of times, especially on this sort of issue, I am increasingly convinced that they should just be left to fume in an increasingly irrelevant corner until they vanish. This ideology just doesn't work.

What concerns me more, in fact, is how sex-positive ideas might be developing in a warped way as a result of this malign influence. I mean, I really do believe that it's healthy and good for all of us to question and think about why we find things hot, right? And some of that is even political, horror of horrors... I think we should be asking, do I find fat bodies hot, do I find disabled bodies hot, do I find trans bodies hot... and why or why not? How I have I been shaped and affected by the environment I grew up in, which I recognize as being messed up against these bodies in a lot of ways? And what's my response? The big difference is, I don't think there's "one right answer" or an inability for people to think on their own about this shit. Nor does just wagging a finger or lecturing someone help them.

What worries me is that in sex-positive, queer-friendly, progressive communities it's sometimes hard to even ask these questions because of the spectre of the badgering radical feminist telling you what to think. We have a reaction of "oh come on, whatever gets me off gets me off." Which is true at one level, but also shouldn't preclude being able to think about it more -- without Aunt Radical Rita staring over your shoulder trying to make sure you're thinking right. In our really diverse, fecund, ever-growing-and-flexing communities, we can't afford to be naive about sexual desire, to not think about it or take it for granted or to think in a straightjacket. We have to question and explore and make that part of our politics... not just for everyone's right to desire whatever they want, but for a world where people can explore their sexuality, be supported in their exploration, make connections to their politics, and grow.

belledame222 said...

but I'm going to lecture you and make you feel as guilty as possible until you find Jesus -- I mean uh, radical feminism."

You know, fuck these people. They clearly have their own problems and their own demons to sort through, and a lot of times, especially on this sort of issue, I am increasingly convinced that they should just be left to fume in an increasingly irrelevant corner until they vanish. This ideology just doesn't work.


yeswell, compare and contrast with this last little exchange (scroll toward the end of the comments)

i mean, i'm fine with leaving 'em to it if all it means is ranting in a corner; but if they're really trying to (respectively) inflict their ideas on public schools and influence public funding for various programs, and attempt to censor and even jail people for making -depictions- (the subject of this latest kerfuffle, laws wrt "extreme porn" in the UK and a conference to discuss them)--well, yeah, it does need to be addressed head on. Unfortunately. Because these people are -really tedious.- But, they're -really persistent.-

belledame222 said...

What worries me is that in sex-positive, queer-friendly, progressive communities it's sometimes hard to even ask these questions because of the spectre of the badgering radical feminist telling you what to think. We have a reaction of "oh come on, whatever gets me off gets me off." Which is true at one level, but also shouldn't preclude being able to think about it more -- without Aunt Radical Rita staring over your shoulder trying to make sure you're thinking right.

*nod*


In our really diverse, fecund, ever-growing-and-flexing communities, we can't afford to be naive about sexual desire, to not think about it or take it for granted or to think in a straightjacket. We have to question and explore and make that part of our politics... not just for everyone's right to desire whatever they want, but for a world where people can explore their sexuality, be supported in their exploration, make connections to their politics, and grow.

Agreed.

louisa said...

I think that one should think about how the patriarchy has shaped their sexual consciousness, but to hound someone and make them feel guilty because they're kinky (which almost invariably happens, because OMG kinky=oppressed wimminz!) is really screwed up. Am I supposed to do penance for my sexual desires and fantasies?

belledame222 said...

I'm reaching critical mass on my tolerance for the term "patriarchy" again, myself. INTERCOURSE the patriarchy, i want to say, it's just...i dunno, it's starting to sound totally meaningless to me, much as i know it can be a useful framing device as well as a legit anthropological term, or as useful as any, anyway.

baby221 said...

You know, I have enough trouble orgasming without some high-n'-mighty-tightie-whities coming along and jostling me to "THINK! THINK ABOUT THAT ORGASM WE'VE JUST PREVENTED YOU FROM HAVING! WAS IT A FEMINIST ORGASM?!"

Ugh. There's a time and a place, people. A time and a place.

Trinity said...

Well. I didn't even see this. Thanks, Belle. :)

Holly, I'm not sure how I feel about what you say here. On the one hand, there are people who have particular fetishy turn ons who are gross about that, and will defend their fetish with "It's just the way I am". It's tempting to want to say these people "But think about where that comes from. "

But personally, I'm steadily more and more sympathetic to the idea that many of our turn ons are in fact hard wired, and not things we can change. In light of that, I think that if someone has a creepy turn on, it's much more productive to say something like "Think about how that affects people, and when they hear when you talk about it that way. Is there a way that you can make sure you go after it respectfully? If there's not, is there a way you can do something similar and related that's more respectful instead? If even the answer to that is no, are there other kinks that get you going less but that may be able to take its place when you're looking for actual partners?"

Many kinky people have to make do with derivatives of fantasies that are unsafe, that are unwise, etc. I think so of the people who act like they deserve automatically to be able to act out extreme fantasies, fantasies that center around oppression or stereotypes, etc. could use this sort of reality check more than they could use "Are you sure you're not really being sexist/imperialist/ableist/whatever deep inside?"

belledame222 said...

in fact hard wired, and not things we can change.

not that it matters, but i'm not sure those two concepts necessarily go together. that is to say: even if it is unchangeable, i dunno if that means one was "born with it."

but i mean there are two different questions here, unfortunately: one is some ideal of objectively (i.e. without imposing judgment on the results, not "have no personal experience with") exploring these rather complex and intriguing questions;

the other is just trying to shovel one's way out from the already-existent mountain of other-imposed judgment and Meaning and live reasonably happily.

it may not be humanly possible to do both simultaneously, especially if one is just completely Fed Up.

and, i wouldn't ask anyone -else-, particularly, to "examine" the origins of their whatever; they didn't ask, it's none of my business. i might come to my own conclusions based on observation and so on, but they're just that: my own, speculative conclusions about someone else.

personally though i still do like to really look at all this shit from all possible angles.

as per the latter bit, about how to deal with sexual impulses that would, if exercised, be genuinely harmful:

sigh. i really really don't want to open the can of worms, i erased a long post i almost posted at IBTM yesterday on the subject, but:

where that seems more relevant and pressing than say really obscure shit like the dude who wanted to be killed and eaten (besides everything else: what do you do for an encore? sorry...): pedophilia.

and i kind of don't really want to get further into it specifically again (it came up recently elsewhere), for a whole bunch of reasons, but...it's there.

i mean, right now the popular theory is that the pedophiles are monsters and that's all there is to it.

it'd make things more convenient. and i've no doubt at all some people really are just friggin' sociopaths (the troll i wrangled with recently didn't exactly help the cause).

but: it's a question. I don't believe adults having sex with young children is morally or ethically responsible. but yeah, i don't know as i'd know what to tell someone who -did- have a conscience about that but was still irrevocably oriented that way. the first answers that leap to mind from a "keep them safe first" perspective, i.e. artificially dampening libido, are uncomfortably too close to the sorts of things that are/were recommended/imposed on gay folk and kinky folk.

So, yeah, when you say,

I think that if someone has a creepy turn on, it's much more productive to say something like "Think about how that affects people, and when they hear when you talk about it that way. Is there a way that you can make sure you go after it respectfully? If there's not, is there a way you can do something similar and related that's more respectful instead? If even the answer to that is no, are there other kinks that get you going less but that may be able to take its place when you're looking for actual partners?"

Many kinky people have to make do with derivatives of fantasies that are unsafe, that are unwise, etc. I think so of the people who act like they deserve automatically to be able to act out extreme fantasies, fantasies that center around oppression or stereotypes, etc. could use this sort of reality check more than they could use "Are you sure you're not really being sexist/imperialist/ableist/whatever deep inside?"


Assuming that by "creepy" you mean "actively harmful to someone else"--i guess maybe some extreme self-affecting fantasies like i don't know amputation of healthy limbs, etc., would follow as well (anyway that -would- involve other people, a willing surgeon at the very least)--

--yeah, those -would- be good questions to ask. and maybe including of pedophiles as well.

it just seems like in the current climate, having that sort of exchange is...unlikely in like 99% of spaces. it's too emotionally weighted.

so yeah, it isn't just about "free speech." it's about: is this helping? what's the best way to reduce harm, really?

i don't have a good answer, but in general i think...much as i know i do it myself...putting whole classes of people beyond the pale is dodgy at best. not just for themselves but for the other people we're trying to keep them from hurting.

then again, like i say, i do tend to rave about pathological narcissists and so on quite a bit, because that's my own button. i can totally understand why someone who'd been sexually molested or even a parent would not be willing to even talk calmly about this subject, let alone any..sympathy for the devil. i get it. to a large degree i sympathize (with the people who want to carry pitchforks and torches that is). but...

belledame222 said...

but i mean: even ("even") this stuff already, as you can see, is just so incredibly charged for so many people: "rape fantasies," stuff that looks like domestic violence...yeah, i get why peoples' buttons are wicked pressed. it's really REALLY hard to talk about this shit in any useful way.

but: just imposing a particular sociopolitical or other doctrinaire framework on the whole thing: well, it'd make it -simpler,- but i dunno as it -helps.- particularly i admit when so much of the framework makes no damn sense to me at all.

i mean, i'd -like- to think we're all starting from a core basis of,

"If it harm none, do as you will,"

but besides that we're obviously (obviously!) wrangling about what is and isn't harmful wrt such things as porn where we don't know the conditions of it being made, possible effects of media (in which porn is included) on the behaviors of the general public (and thus causing harm indirectly) and so on;

i'm not, after reading a bunch of some of those comments, convinced that some people DO particularly adhere to that.

more like:

"first and possibly exclusively, we care about not harming this particular group of people. We will be the ones to decide what does and doesn't constitute 'harm,' thank you very much; your input is not required, even if you are a member of the group in question. As for everyone else: they can go hang."

Which won't do, frankly, as far as i'm concerned.

Trinity said...

"Assuming that by "creepy" you mean "actively harmful to someone else"--i guess maybe some extreme self-affecting fantasies like i don't know amputation of healthy limbs, etc., would follow as well (anyway that -would- involve other people, a willing surgeon at the very least)--

--yeah, those -would- be good questions to ask. and maybe including of pedophiles as well."

actually, no I didn't. I meant something more like the white men who want to do race play, or something like that. I'm sure many of them have never even thought about their motivations, or maybe have thought about it to the level of "It's hot to me because it's taboo" or "I saw some movie once and it was hot to me the, but does nothing to do with my actual opinion of people. " what I'm saying is that if we don't accept those answers as acceptable, what does that really mean? What do we really want this to do, and what do we want them to look like once they've done it?

That's why I'm thinking that it's probably more sensible (and I certainly could be wrong) to say something more like "Wait a minute. I don't think you understand why this pushes people's buttons (or far worse.) when you go looking for someone to do this with you, thinking that it'll just be a nice kinky time for both of you, what sort of buttons might you press in the other person? Once you realize how sensitive this is, are you really going to seek partners, or are you going to keep your little secret fantasy so as not to hurt or upset anyone else? If you're actually going to seek out a partner, how will you handle any weirdness that might result? Will you focus on what others need to feel respected, or will you care only about the meanies ruining your time?"

it seems to me that that is in the end more productive than saying something sweeping about where this comes from. I believe that it may well (sometimes? usually? almost always? about THAT I've no idea, honestly) come from imperialism and from a sense of entitlement other people's bodies. But I'm starting to think right now, and again I could be wrong, that I don't think we're necessarily going to get people to realize what that entitlement is about or where it comes from by launching into theory about the source of their desire. It's going to make people defensive, and as much as we can say about the defensiveness of privilege and how silly it is, I'm not sure what that does. It may raise some people's consciousness who already have some clue of the issues involved, but it's highly likely to make some people just roll their eyes and go "I have a fetish. So what?"

I think it makes more sense to engage people by talking about the effects of what they do or want to do. By trying to convince them to understand other people's opinions about these things, and the kind of anger and hurt that motivates them. Where the people I don't like go wrong is in focusing on the source, and deciding that if something comes from an ism, that says something about what should happen and how. I think what should happen has much more to do with intent, and understanding of the potential effects.

Trinity said...

well, maybe yes i did, if we accept that acting that sort of thing out is so bad as to be actively harmful across the board. doesn't seem to me like it is, but i can't say i've studied the matter in huge depth.

Trinity said...

And as far as the born with it stuff goes, it seems plausible to me that some people could have some biological predispositions toward dominance or submission, or that some people could have an inborn tendency to experience pain slightly differently than other people and thus discover intense masochistic desires at a young age (as some people do). I don't believe we're born with very specific sexual desires, such as a preference for shoe heels over 2 in. high, or particular penchant for being called "pet" or something like that, but very specific sexual desires may be particular ways given the culture we find ourselves in of instantiating broader forms of sexual desire.

belledame222 said...

oh, i see. hmm. well--

for me, and i dunno how possible this always is, depending on context, but i would think the ideal would be, as with anyone who generally holds rather stereotyped views, to (gently or not so) introduce them to the many things and people that were not previously dream't of in his philosophy.

i guess the question is: what role does this fantasy play in the person's everyday life? to what degree does sie keep it distinct from the actual people sie is in contact with?

i guess what i'm saying is:

Say there's a white guy with an "Oriental" fetish. totally unconscious, believes in delicate little lotus flowers, the whole bit.

so i mean--you could plonk his ass down in front of Margaret Cho for a few hours. send him to wossname, the parody site (it's in my sidebar, i'm too lazy and brain fried to look at the title right now).

and in general, i'd see it as like...the sort of people who buy yer basic stereotypes about male-female relationships, with a racist dynamic added. iow: it's global, you know, if someone's so unsocialized as to think telling someone "hey, you're the first ___ i've ever slept with! damn, you really ARE better than white chicks!" or whatnot...there are other problems there that have little to do with sexual friction, you know.

but say someone -is- pretty well socialized, -is- making an effort to Not Be An Asshole, sees the objects of his affection as complete human beings...

but, as in any other kind of fantasy, old images die hard; and sometimes the really old shit comes flooding back as a motor-crank.

well, then comes the time to negotiate, and...what you said.

who knows; you might find someone compatible who IS also turned on by playing with this shit; i've seen a few people here and there. what you'd want to work on, as with any such, is being healthy well-rounded adults in a healthy complex relationship the -rest- of the time.

(i can't speak to 24/7 stuff i'm afraid).

but chances are, yep, yer gonna be looking a while, and will probably end up pissing off some people in the process. as long as you understand that, well...

belledame222 said...

And as far as the born with it stuff goes, it seems plausible to me that some people could have some biological predispositions toward dominance or submission, or that some people could have an inborn tendency to experience pain slightly differently than other people and thus discover intense masochistic desires at a young age (as some people do). I don't believe we're born with very specific sexual desires, such as a preference for shoe heels over 2 in. high, or particular penchant for being called "pet" or something like that, but very specific sexual desires may be particular ways given the culture we find ourselves in of instantiating broader forms of sexual desire.

*nod* that makes more sense.

or, well, some people are inherently more aggressive and/or more sensitive to certain kinds of touch than others, that i can believe. i do think how one ends up processing that has to do with the rough and tumble of life (eros is a tricky thing), but sure: physiology has something to do with it, same as with o say food preferences, that i wouldn't doubt.

Trinity said...

"but sure: physiology has something to do with it, same as with o say food preferences, that i wouldn't doubt."

yep. which is why a lot of the "hahahah born with it, how ridiculous hahahahaha" makes my teeth gnash.

i mean, when i was a teen and didn't feel I could talk to my buddies about sex, I let slip to my mom that letting boys boss me about (as she told me was most wise) would be less fun for me than the reverse, maybe --

her response:

"all young women feel like that. it's hormones. yours'll settle down soon."

double you. tee. eff.

i wouldn't be surprised if there's some dominance in our biology.

belledame222 said...

otoh, i do scoff at the idea that something like--well, as you say, a fetish for very high heels is somehow inborn. i do think that people can come about such things in ways that aren't so...-dire- as some of the pathologizers would like to believe.

AJ said...

I have a very peculiar, bizarre, and totally harmless fetish. (I say totally harmless as in: it's not related to any cultural thing at all, nor is it physically at all dangerous. I don't want to say what it is, but for the purposes of argument, it's on the level of fetishizing ... T-shirts? doorknobs? Something like that. When I tell lovers, they giggle and usually indulge or rib me about it.) I've had it since I was a small child. I knew the thing in question 'made me feel funny', but not that this was sexual in nature, until I reached adolescence. The nature of the connection didn't change, though -- I was simply aware of it.

There wasn't anything dire involved in the way I arrived at this fetish . I can't pinpoint when I did, but I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty that it's a simple case of crosswiring. There were certainly no traumatic incidents of any note in my childhood related to the thing at all.