Monday, March 31, 2008

Forwarded: Call for papers for new anthology, "Feminism For Freaks"

at Sexual Ambiguities.

Feminism For Freaks

At its best, feminism offers an emancipatory potential from gendered oppression, inequality, and violence. At its worst, however, feminism can work to simply affirm the rights of middle-class, heterosexual, white women, and exclude the voices of already-marginalised groups such as women of colour, trans* women, sex workers and so on.

Like Derrida's democracy, a truly liberatory feminism is mostly a feminism to come. Not un-coincidentally, those marginalised groups of women are often demonised by the dominant culture, rendered as monstrous, simultaneously invisible and hyper-visible, compelling and threatening, desirable and disgusting--and forever denied a voice ofour own. The question of if and how monstrosity can be reclaimed or re-worked is a vexed one for feminists.

We therefore invite proposals that affirm the voices of socially excluded people, that seek to create new and exciting knowledge and address themselves to feminist theory and activism or the wider culture, on such topics including, but not limited to:
* Monstrous bodies and identities
* Social marginalisation and exclusions (for instance, borders, walls,and immigration laws, and the silencing of voices such as those of women of colour and transgendered people)
* Liberation/transformation/organisation
* sex work
* queer sexualities and genders
* BDSM
* Visible signs of difference (Muslim women wearing the veil, disabled bodies etc)
* religion and spirituality
* freaks in popular culture, body modification etc
* fat positivity

Academic, non-fiction and creative work will be considered--the call is broad, and we're willing to accommodate new and interesting work by freaks of all kinds. Please submit abstracts of up to 250 words and a short bio by May 31st to estrangedcognition@hotmail.com and suzanmanuel@gmail.com

*Note - Given that some contributors may not feel safe or comfortable telling their stories in the public sphere, submissions under pseudonyms will be accepted.

New Carnival! "Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy."

Huzzah! This carnival was Lina's (of Uncool) idea, and congrats for getting it into shape and up so quickly! The first edition, that is, is up today, go see.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reality check requested plz

I should probably leave it alone, now, especially considering the author of this particular piece of wisdom, but this was really pretty special:

Should [trans women] be able to access women’s services, I would say generally yes. They would however be better served by specialist TW advisors within the women’s services sector, in that way getting specialist needs addressed. However, it may be problematic within general housing for DV due the the majority of FABs already in residence and who may be so traumatised that a TW that does not ‘pass’ (again, this is the perception of the other women in residence) would further traumatise them. This would have to be on a case by case basis, taking into account ALL shelter residents, not just the TW. Witchy I am sure would verify this. Rape counselling for TW rape victims could well be dealt with by existing rape crisis helplines/centres, however, one would think that a TW would be better served by having a TW advisor.

The second part, that of TWs in a serving capacity in women’s services. This would be generally no. As an adjunct for supporting TWs, yes, as mentioned above. However, many TWs do not “pass” as well as they think they do, especially on the telephone. To the FAB ear, most TWs sound like very camp queens, and this is very off-putting to an FAB expecting to hear a female voice on the other end of the telephone. Before you go ballistic, specialist services like rape counselling can be further divided within the FAB group, between lesbian and heterosexual women. Many lesbians would appreciate more focused care for their unique experiences of rape. That isn’t to say that it is any more or less traumatic for any victim of rape, just different, from the victim’s perspective. That is victim-centred thinking, not ‘phobic’ to any particular group.


Source link: follow the trail of breadcrumbs, I'm not in the mood.

So as I'm reading it, according to this person:

1) trans women must be able to physically "pass" in order to be admitted to an abused womens' shelter, lest they risk retraumatizing the other women

2) trans women tend to sound like "very camp queens" over the phone, which is also traumatizing for women who've just been raped or are otherwise in crisis

3) This is not, repeat, not "phobic" to any particular group; rather, we are concerned that every victim get as focused care for her particular experience as possible. We are fine with trans women counseling other trans women; in fact we feel that this would be best. Which is why we also tell lesbian staffers not to counsel straight women over the phone, lest -they- be traumatized by the experience. Oh, wait. * Well, anyway.


Am I missing something? I just want to be sure. I mean, I've staffed hotlines and walk-in counseling centers, but only under the auspices of the dreaded LGBTQ. Generally, ime, the M.O. has been, callers and/or clients can request a male or female or any other specification for the person they talk to; and if such a person happens to be staffing that day/night, why, we'll accomodate the client. Otherwise, the client has the option of either talking or -not- talking to whoever -is- on staff; and suggestions for other places to try may be given, such as they are.

That, and: we tend to be down with the "camp queens;" in fact, being rejected or abused for sounding like a "camp queen" tends to be among the experiences that might have led a client to come see us in the first place. Generally, we tend to chalk up such monikers/rejections up to "homophobia," not just "transphobia." I'm just that is just my hopelessly selfish anti-feminism showing again, though. Anyway, I'm sure that coming from a woman--excuse me, "born and raised female" woman, such things don't cause any harm at all, because women have no power. At all.

Also, lest we forget, it's not a -right- to volunteer for a womens' crisis center, that is correct. And presumably, the decision to be so exacting about who one does and doesn't allow to speak to or help victimized women is the right one. After all, the women are our first concern; and I'm sure it's true that the constant lack of funding and understaffing for any such organization -at all- takes a backseat when it comes to this sort of thing.

No; it's far likelier that an abused/raped woman will be traumatized by the mere presence of a trans woman or, I don't know, an unrepentant stripper (who doesn't actually talk about her job to the clients) on the staff than that the loss of a willing, caring, hardworking volunteer whose only flaw was having the wrong sort of physical presentation or career, might actually be more of a problem.

Because, silly me, personally I had kind of the opposite impression, but, well, I've been wrong before, so. Just checking.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dear Jay Leno: This is my gayest look, from me to you:



Yes! That's right! It's the CLEAR-EYED LESBIAN GAZE OF DOOM. Tremble before its power, Jay Leno (you douchebag). Tremble, I say!

Shakesville has moar
.

Nope, no global warming here

Vast Antarctic Ice Shelf On Verge of Collapse


Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events.

Glaciologist Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado was monitoring satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and spotted a huge iceberg measuring 25 miles by 1.5 miles (41 kilometers by 2.5 kilometers - about 10 times the area of Manhattan) that appeared to have broken away from the shelf.

Scambos alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf - about 6,180 square miles (16,000 square kilometers - about the size of Northern Ireland)- was at risk of collapsing.

David Vaughan of the BAS had predicted in 1993 that the northern part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was likely to be lost within 30 years if warming on the Peninsula continued at the same rate.

"Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened," he said. "I didn't expect to see things happen this quickly. The ice shelf is hanging by a thread - we'll know in the next few days and weeks what its fate will be."..

Sunday, March 23, 2008

This is making me unreasonably happy, today

"Women suck. Call your mother."

Natalia has a post up fisking some Russian Orthodox Christian writer/misogynist ass-stain. Thanks for sharing, Natalia.

I was just saying: it is true that we don't grow 'em quite like that over here; or at least such voices don't take quite that tone on the public stage.

The 8th of March is, in these present times, referred to as a “women’s day…”

So, we celebrate the woman, because she is woman. This has nothing to do with some sort of feminine goodness, which is, in any case, impossible, since there is no such thing. If a woman is capable of having any good qualities they are the same as the good qualities of a man, but weaker and less developed, because a woman’s nature is more severely compromised by sin.


Generally, these days, ime, even our most noisome fundamentalist fuckwits don't take quite this line, at least on that public a platform; it tends to be more, "nonono, the difference between the sexes as well as between masculinity and femininity (which is totally the same thing) is beautiful and natural, no one is saying women are INFERIOR, woman was made to be man's helpmeet but also vice versa, it's totally romantic to be half a person so that your 'other half' can complement you in such profound ways as wearing a different hairstyle, doing the laundry or fixing the engine, going to work or staying home, penetrating or receiving, etc. Oh, and those roles can never, ever change, even when they do."

For one thing, they can't really afford to go on too much about the inferiority of womens' nature; besides the fact that a lot of their (female) base would eat them alive, it tends to sort of put a crimp in the whole "gay marriage is the biggest threat to our civilization ev0r." Why? Well, you take that attitude too far and the next thing you know, some men might start to get ideas. Who wants to remain joined in matrimony to an inferior being when he could be with his fellow man? --ooh, unless the U.S. Religious Right decides that Teh Gay is the lesser of two ev0ls and starts encouraging gay marriage as a way to crush feminism! Totally possible! Likely, even. Maybe some putative leftist and/or feminist should make a timely, satiric movie about it, that'll help matters.

actually, I've no idea, but I was delighted to stumble across this evidence that I was correct: teh Gay Marriage IS directly threatening to straight marriage precisely because people who otherwise would have stayed in their hetero partnerships might, without the threat of stigmatization and loss of legal rights and privileges, actually leave to go be with a member of the same sex:

It may come as a surprise to many people, but homosexual unions often have a more direct impact on heterosexual marriages than one would think. For example, the Boston Globe reported June 29, 2003, that "nearly 40 percent" of the 5,700 homosexual couples who have entered into "civil unions" in Vermont "have had a previous heterosexual marriage."

Of course, it could be argued that many of those marriages may have ended long before a spouse found their current homosexual partner. And some may assume that no opposite-sex spouse would want to remain married to someone with same-sex attractions. Nevertheless, the popular myth that a homosexual orientation is fixed at birth and unchangeable may have blinded us to the fact that many supposed "homosexuals" have, in fact, had perfectly functional heterosexual marriages. And as Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby points out, "In another time or another state, some of those marriages might have worked out. The old stigmas, the universal standards that were so important to family stability, might have given them a fighting chance. Without them, they were left exposed and vulnerable."


...you see.

But, anyway. So meanwhile, over in what remains of the Ev0l Empire, I guess, there's this other doofus who's spouting delightful insights like this:

I have to admit: the natural qualities of woman - for example, the ability to give birth, or, even more so, the ability to be a mother, raise children, and so on - may, perhaps, deserve respect and even admiration, though not in the form of a holiday. But this isn’t what we are talking about anyway; we would then celebrate Mother’s Day, or something along the same lines. Oh no, we are talking about the feminine in its most basic form. We are, factually, admiring the qualities of the feminine soul and body of the lowest, most sinful caliber. Female breasts, genitals, the womb - this is what we worship when we worship “woman.”


...and we certainly can't have THAT.

and then:

Women are given flowers, and the givers know well that a flower is a plant’s genital organ, opening up to be fertilized. A flower is a symbol of tempting lust. This is actually why having little flowers on your balconies is a sin, an innocent-seeming bouquet is an honest symbol of orgiastic sin, of group sex, and any interest or delight one might take in flowers is therefore sinful.

...If you can smell a rose, this means you won’t be too disgusted to smell the unmentionable body parts of a woman - because this, at its essence, is the same thing.


*

My African violets keep dying on me. I thought all this meant was that they're kind of not the hardiest of flowers, and/or that I don't have much of a green thumb. It would now appear, however, that I am in deep shit. (makes mental note to call ob/gyn and/or botanist at earliest convenience)

It also rather delicious that this...person, who is virulently opposed to the former Soviet regime under which he grew up, understandably, no doubt, has the same morbid suspicion of roses as did the militant CP hardliners who told Orwell that growing roses was 'bourgeois' and thus suspect.

...oh, please read Natalia's fisk of the whole thing, I can't possibly do it justice. Hell, I can't even read the original (alas).

Just, one more bit, possibly my favorite:

If you want to spend this day as a human being, and not as a lustful animal, call your elderly mother, or, better yet, grandmother. If you believe, if only a little bit, remind them of how short life is and of that eternity that awaits for us beyond the threshold, of the terrible God’s Judgment, and of how what we must do and how we should live, to have hope in His mercy to us.


I have to confess, I was relieved at the follow-up part about how the reason you're calling is to remind Mom/Grandma that she's probably going to hell, and this is why you didn't buy her any flowers, so as to avoid leading her into further perdition.

Because, this sentence, by itself alone?

If you want to spend this day as a human being, and not as a lustful animal, call your elderly mother, or, better yet, grandmother.


...you know, there are some places you just don't even want to go.

"Sweetie. Your Freudian slip is showing. Actually, it's puddled around your ankles. Bless."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In honor of the vernal equinox

a couple of tender budding ballads, to make you feel all dewy and hopeful and put a spring in your step.

llude sing cucu!



-points silently-

So, y'all may have noticed there's been a certain theme this past week or so. And, I was getting ready to post more about some other stuff, and I will, but I guess I feel more or less obligated to note that there's been this one other post, which is, apparently, truly special, along with much of the comments thread.

And I find that for whatever reason, I just can't do it this time. Not sure why, but "computer says no." Took one look at the topic title and others' comment highlights and the cast of characters and just...no. Cannot Do. Not tonight, Josephine.

But as a matter of public...service, or something, here you go, at "The Size Of A Cow," by one Polly Styrene* (which is not -at all- reminiscent of a drag queen's moniker, please note):

"The trans activist privilege checklist"

comments currently at 112 and counting.

So, if this sounds like the sort of thing you'd like to read and even engage with, and if you would like to tackle such scintillating insights** as, from someone complaining about the label "cisgendered"*** applied to her (straight, too, p.s., this one, and white) female self,

So referring to someone as 'coloured' (sorry) has no
bearing on how a person might interact with their reality and doesn't
contradict or cancel out how they define themselves? You're coming
from a terribly priviliged stance if you believe that how you refer to
me has no bearing on who I actually am.


you now know where to find it.

Alternately, you could go directly to the point by point rebuttal.


* dear Polly: yes, you've got me. I am only saying all this, all these words on behalf of transfolk, to appear "edgy and cool." Not because oh I don't know I might actually fucking mean what I'm saying; that, unlike some people, I'm actually capable of going "gee, as a queer woman, I don't like this sort of treatment; maybe I shouldn't turn around and do it to anyone else, particularly these people who are basically assigned by the Patriarchy to the same boat I'm in, only on an even lower level; maybe it'd be better to form alliances instead of playing 'kick the dog' and then wondering why o why no one else wants to support me and my Specialness." And certainly fuck knows it's not like we're talking about actual real people, you know, like people who might be my friends and loved ones. No. I wish to be "edgy and cool;"--look! here comes the Edgy And Cool Patriarchal Cookie-Giving Brigade right now. It just doesn't get better than this!!!

...you stupid hateful fuckstain.

**ETA In fact this is incorrect; the above quote is -not- to repeat -not- to be found at the above-linked thread ("Trans Activist Privilege Checklist") at Polly Styrene's, but rather here.
The management regrets the error.

*** right, right, I remember, Wiki is suspect too because the owner once looked at pr0n or something and it's much too hard to click on a link and fucking read something anyway, let me spell it out for you, moron:

"cis" is equivalent to "straight" or "white." Mkay? As in: white woman, straight woman, cis woman. It doesn't mean you're "no longer female." It means you're not transgendered. That's it. That's all.

I know that's terribly fucking insulting. And of course it's tantamount to (sweet baby Spaghetti Monster preserve us) the term "colored," white lady. Jesus fuck. Look, drop us all a postcard when you finally break on through to China, will you? Try not to say anything stupid and offensive as shit when you get there, at least not enough to make them throw you back through the hole at 500 miles an hour, at least not for the first five minutes, if you can manage it.

christ.

on further edit: this post by trinity is a much more thoughtful and in-depth examination of why this kind of feminist might object to the term "cisgendered" as applied to herself, and why it's still wrongheaded.

Nick Kiddle also has a more patient explanation of How Things Are.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A moment of clarity

The following comment, found in the ongoing discussion here, just threw a switch for me. And yes, this is still the argument over whether radical feminists should accept trans women as women, much less let them into the clubhouse, so I'm going to leave the reply worded as it is. Nonetheless, I think, you know, you could substitute a number of other specifics here wrt the community in question as well as the thing/population that is being adamantly rejected here. (For example: I think the "War On Christmas" works according to similar principles. You may have your own examples)

The quote:

“I want the ability to be with like-minded individuals and only like-minded individuals.”


Sure, we all have affinity groups. Sociology talks a lot about such things. There's always a point of friction where the boundary comes up -sometime-, at -some point.- Ruptures happen. Lines are drawn. Connections are broken. It happens everywhere. Not trying to say it doesn't.

But here...well, it interests me, because it's coming up at the same time that the argument is supposedly y'know that they're going for this expansive sisterly communion, radical feminism (by the lights of people like this) is all about Class Woman, all 3+ billion of us, you know, we are strong, we are powerful...which is why the stakes are so high, because it's a -universal- movement, not just another little political faction or clique.

AND at the same time, there is an insistence that the -real- danger that transfolk pose to the women-only space is that they threaten the "safe space."

Safety.

This is, in fact, what's on the table; this is what's being so passionately defended when the author (and others) start talking about "radfemphobia" as a counter to the term "transphobia" (which is simultaneously being rejected and mocked as invalid).

“I want the ability to be with like-minded individuals and only like-minded individuals.”


The response:

Here’s a question: why? And, what do you mean by that exactly?

Because that’s very telling, to me. You’re not even really interested in mystical sisterly communion, much less political effectiveness, so much as being around people who you don’t have to argue with. Like, at all.

“Birds in their little nests agree…”

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but: even if you do manage to purge your community of all dissenters on transpeople (much less the transpeople themselves), sex work/prostitution, femme accoutrements, BDSM, and so on and so forth, there’s -still- going to be something that’ll tear you apart. Does. Hell, I can see it happening from here. Yeah, it happens to everyone, we all have fights, often over stupid shit, but y’all…I gotta tell you, from where I'm sitting? you really put the “fun” back in “dysfunctional.” This goes a good way toward explaining why.

It’s, like, a -betrayal,- isn’t it, when your “sister” suddenly turns out to be, -not- an extension of yourself, but -a completely whole other person-. -Different.- This isn’t what you signed up for! You came for the merge! This was supposed to fix everything! Why, it makes you feel so, so…*alone*. Again. And terrified.

Welcome to life.

Welcome to adulthood.

There -is- no “safe space” in this world that’s gonna be safe enough, if that’s your criteria.

You know what really makes a space safe, relatively speaking, ime? Trust. Acceptance. Compassion. Even, dare I say, tolerance.

And sure, everyone -asks- for those things. Even you. Hell, sometimes -demand- it.

But, if you really want a -community-, and not just a clique or some other c-word? You have to give a little to get a little.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

o KICKASS, i'm an EXPORT! Who wants a share of me?! WHO WANTS--

ooh, this is truly special:

Discussing his opposition to the Uniting American Families Act — “which would allow gay Americans the same right straight Americans have to sponsor a foreign partner for citizenship” — Family Research Council Vice President Peter Sprigg recently offered rhetorical support for exporting gay men and women from America. “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society,” said Sprigg.


Hey, can we choose where we get exported to? I always wanted to go to Rome. Maybe they could work out an exchange with some nice Italian marble, and--

Oh. Right. Sorry, dude. You were saying?



Oh. I see.

*

So, I take it the "exporting" probably won't be in the first-class section. Damn. I was really looking forward to the complimentary champagne.


More on Sprigg
:

Of all the speakers that day, Sprigg worried me the most. He is a well-spoken man, articulate (at least when he's following a script), and his talk was sprinkled with references to other people's work -- I cannot bring myself to call it "research," but that is what he calls it. It sounds like he's quoting scientific research and stuff, but when you go look it up you discover that hardly any of it comes from respectable journals or authorities.

The theme of his talk that day was that he was going to dispel some "myths" about homosexuality. And it was the weirdest thing, every "myth" had a kind of rationale that followed it, which justified discrimination against gays...

But the thing that struck you, as he went on and on, was -- what motivates this guy? He spends his whole life thinking of ways to make gay people sound bad. I mean, really, he goes to work at the Family Research Council, and that's what he does. They must have meetings, where they take any tidbit of information and discuss how to spin it so that gay people look bad. They figure out how to twist arguments so their lobbyists can go into the halls of the Capitol Building and persuade our leaders to pass laws that make life harder for gay people. And why? Why not fight real bad guys, robbers and rapists and murderers and terrorists? Why gay people, of all things?...


also:

While Sprigg gave the usual compassionate-sounding phrases of the anti-gay movement—with statements like, "We desire the best for homosexuals, and desiring the best for someone and acting to bring that about is the essence of love…"— he "affirmed" the state of Florida for having the strongest prohibition against adoption by gay couples. He made the claim that "most children raised by homosexuals are the result of previous heterosexual relationships," and proceeded to pontificate about how this "undermines the notion that homosexuality is something fixed from birth and cannot change—there are very few homosexuals who have never had a heterosexual relationship."

Sprigg’s shining moment, I think, was when he chastised the "militant gay rights activists" for characterizing sexual orientation as tantamount to race. He stated that "homosexuality is not equivalent to heterosexuality," and thus is not a civil rights issue like race.

We heard a lot about those "ex-gays" and then were addressed by "an ex-gay" in person: Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International. Chambers worried about "the militant activist groups out to co-opt family life, our rights, and change America into an America that is only good for them." We were told that these “militant gay activists” were "trying to co-opt our very way of life."

[Jaunty musclemen from the 'Family Guy'] In fact, the phrase "militant gay activist" was bandied around so much, I felt silly for having left my weaponry at home … I was also ashamed not to fit Chambers' image of what a gay man is: a "jaunty mustached muscleman," apparently, in contrast to the "nice young people, old people, and attractive women" progressives are said to use in our commercials and media campaigns. Chambers also claimed that "the gay activist movement is wealthy. None of us in the pro-family movement are making money. I am in poverty compared to what the executives of the pro-gay movement are making."

Chambers concluded by saying, "We have to stand up against an evil agenda."


This all sounds...oddly familiar. The rhetoric, the techniques...I mean, like, something recent familiar. What could it be? -think think think- Huh. Well, it'll come to me.

Meanwhile, this is the bill in question, the one people like Sprigg are fighting so hard. The Uniting American Families Act.



I leave you with a rather heartwarming example of how at least one person dealt with this particular assclown.

More of that, please. And, send your Congresscritters a note (yeah, it's HRC, but they're right about this one, and the form is there).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Why, she couldn't even hurt a fly."

Just to say how very, very tired I am of the trope used by yes, often genuinely marginalized in their own right people, in order to justify playing "kick the dog" with even more marginalized people. Besides the handwaving about how what they're doing isn't really so bad and -those people- are the ones with the power anyway, specifically, this tired old tune:

"Hey, -we're- not the ones with the power here. Don't look at -us-. Go talk to the Man/government/liberal media/Church/Illuminati/aliens."

In other words, they -can't- have hurt anyone else, because -they have no power to do so.- (insert long windy quasi-sociological "explanation" of why this must be so, heavily larded with maudlin self-pity alternating with shrieks and accusations of HELP HELP YER OPPRESSING ME RIGHT NOW)

Bullshit.

1) Everyone has power. -Some- power. -Relative- power. Which is why those with relatively less of it cling to what they -do- have so ferociously: can't really take down the System, but by Maud at least we can keep -those people- out of our backyard!

2) If you don't have any power, then how do you propose to effect this sweeping Revolution you keep saying you want? How -are- you going to take down the System, much less replace it with something effective? Whine it to death?

3) The fact that you're acting this horrible -now- does not encourage me to see what you'd be like with any real power, quite honestly, even if you did finally admit that you'd have to have such in order to see the changes you want and I thought you had any chance of achieving this.

4) Being a gratuitously horrible little ratfucker, creating misery and discrimination even on a small scale, is bad enough all by itself; you don't get a cookie because you haven't actually bombed another country or nothin'.

5) did I mention "shut the fuck up?"

6) no, that isn't "silencing," you're -still talking-.

"Iran's Multi-Purpose Transsexuals"

Excellent post by piny up at feministe; go read.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yeah, okay, what -if-?

I decided to go a slightly different route this time.

I -was- going to write this post mostly about how in fact this does work in what some of us laughingly know as the "real world." How I have attended a number of trans-inclusive women-only events, and miraculously, in fact, they have not devolved into anything-goes men-born-men-infested frat parties. That no, the handful of transwomen and/or transbois/men still ID'd with the community who wanted to be there (funnily enough, in my world, the latter has been a much bigger point of contention than the former) did not, in fact, harsh everyone else's mellow, steal anyone's precious bodily fluids, attack anyone in the bathroom...and that that's -even- been true for (zomg she goes to) sex/play parties, wherein the only stipulation was that organically grown phalli/nads not be displayed unclothed in the public areas. A line, drawn. Maybe not one to everyone's satisfaction, but a hell of a lot more generous one than "if you weren't born with a hoo hoo, yer not welcome, even if no one is going to be -showing- their hoohoos;" and, oddly enough, one just as easily respected and maintained as any other.

And then maybe something to the effect of, yes I am aware that there have been (for example) some extremely dodgy characters who've (for example) ignored MWMF's rules, gone in anyway, and/or also behaved abusively toward individuals. I am (online) passing familiar with at least one of these characters, and I would be one of the first to say, by all means, keep THIS person, this woman, sure, from coming into your festival, because she's a toxic individual. This is not, however, because she was born with male genitalia; this is because she is an abusive sociopath, which is in fact a trait that is not directly attached to one's genitalia or chromosomes. Nor is it automatically deducible that because one was born with a certain kind of genitalia , one has received a certain kind of "training" (one size fits all, M/F, respectively, right?), much less that said training or whatever automatically renders the person more or less "safe."

You know how I know that? Because, friends and neighbors, a lot of women-born-women so-called? Are plenty fucking abusive their own selves. Are not, by anyone's definition, -safe-; are -more- than capable of doing everything the above-mentioned individual did and much, much more. Have done. Are doing. Will do again. Sometimes right there within the hallowed boundaries of your "safe spaces."

And if you can't or won't see that, if your understanding of human nature is really so simplistic that you honestly believe that four legs vulva/uterus good, two legs penis/testes bad and that's all you really need to determine whether or not a space may be rendered -safe,- (well, that, and then whether the greenlit persons in question agree with you on positions x, y, and z, but that usually comes later), then, Houston, you've got a much bigger problem on your hands than who gets on the guest list of the annual Wimmins' Scout Camp.

And then, well, once again, I was going to talk a bit more about how relevant this Bernice Johnson Reagon piece is, ironically enough as it was written over 25 years ago and doesn't explicitly mention transpeople at all; and yet, still, same shit, more or less. What's a "safe space?" What's "women-only" really mean, and what is it you expect out of it? And so on.

All of that. And then, in the comments to this post, the following question was posed (by the author of the post inspiring the O.P. there, by the way, as well as this one, the following was posed.

“Do you believe every person who says they are a woman?
The only way this argument works is if *your* actual meaning of the word goes for everyone–that is, of course, unless anyone who claims womanhood gets it.
Can’t have both.”


And I thought: you know what, okay. Let's take that question at face value for just a second, even though we're clearly far, far afield from any sort of handwaving about the ev0ls of patriarchal surgery and so on and so forth.

"Do you believe every person who says they are a woman?"

Let's just say for the moment that the answer were "yes," putting aside the question of "there goes the neighborhood Festival." What then?

Because, the thing is, see, if you're simultaneously claiming you wish to "get rid of gender?" That, like, doesn't really work. Because, putting questions of genitalia and surgery aside, fact is, a society without gender? wouldn't CARE if a person called hirself a woman or not, no matter -what- hir genitalia or other physical features or manner of adornment were. That -is- what you're supposedly after, right? The end of Class Man and Class Woman, yes? That's what "gender" is all -about-, yes? These terrible -binary- divisions, with one "side" valued over the other; this is what Patriarchy -is-, this is what we want to do away with. Yes? No?

Because, see, -now-, I am thinking: this is maybe a bit like the way the CP still gives or gave lip service to the idea of the "withering away of the State." Oh, sure, that's the end goal, someday. Just not anytime -soon.- And no, we're not really the new boss, much less the same as the old boss, just because it -looks- like we're acting authoritarian; we're just, uhhh, doing this because it's a dirty job and someone has to? But, anyway, NO, we are NOTHING AT ALL like the Powers That Be, we -have- no power and -never will-, now -stop saying that,- or you'll be soooorrrreeeeeee....

Look: the truth is, if you're that wigged out about transpeople, or other transgressions against the -purity- of your single-gender space? Well, you're in plenty of company; what you -aren't- is "against the gender binary." To the contrary, you have a deeply vested interest in maintaining that binary. You have no intention of getting rid of Class Man/Class Woman; you've got too much invested in your identity as -radical revolutionary feminist- (isn't that what all this squawking is about? how you don't get no respect just because you know you have the One True Way of leading the world to salvation?) What're you gonna do if/when the "war" (as someone else just called it) is over? Finally enjoy all the forbidden fruits that can only be possible in a non-patriarchal society (x kinds of sex, visual erotica, play, fuck knows what else)? Take up canasta? Fuck no; if you were that sort of person, you'd be doing that -now-. This shit gives your life -meaning-; you have an -identity- now; take that away, and what do you have?

No wonder you fight so hard against people who say they want to change their bodies or names or clothing just so they can live relatively happily ever after; the very concept must be anathema to you.

I mean, it's -hard work-, this whatever-it-is, isn't that what one of y'all was rabbiting about? How terrible it is that people -want- feminism or whatever Movement to be "easy?" And "hard work," as this gentleman so eloquently explains, basically means privation and sacrifice and (implicitly) eschewing such frivolous/dangerous concepts as "the pursuit of happiness."

And you've given so, so much up. And all you want is this little, tiny circle-jill in the woods or some dank rented rec room with the right to exclude whoever you damn please. A little...lebensraum. That's all.

Because, at the end of the day, what else -is- there? Not -fun-, fuck knows, or play, or all these fraught kinds of sex or dressup or art or...

and why o why does this all feel so drearily familiar, again?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Quote of the day, 3/17/08

Said it (at least) once before but it bears repeating, now:

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.



--Carl Sagan

Also? This quote? by Gandhi, I think? Much beloved of certain, um, types of people?

"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win"


"I do not think that means what you think it means."

Specifically, in your case, it's, um. Actually kind of going the opposite way, most of the time. Sorry, dude...

Still more people unclear on the motherfucking concept

I reject your term of so-called transphobia! Especially as applies to me! Who's afraid of the big bad transpeople then! Just because I don't want to share my space with them or accept them as who they say they are! I'm the one who's really being discriminated against! My ideology and/or non-trans status is totally equivalent to being transgendered! (p.s. they could choose to be like me if they -really wanted to-, and in any case, they -should-)

I reject your term of so-called homophobia! Especially as applies to me! Who's afraid of the big bad homos then! Just because I don't want to have to look at them engaging in the same damn acts I do in public or think they should be able to adopt children! I'm the one who's really being discriminated against! My ideology and/or heterosexuality is totally equivalent to being homosexual! (p.s. they could choose to be like me if they -really wanted to-, and in any case, they -should-)

How odd, that a "radical feminist" and a reactionary Catholic liberal-bashing self-ID'd "Reagan Republican" man who is, let's be clear, not at all bigoted, manage to sound, oh so very fucking alike.

and yes, I bloody well am qualified to make that assertion.

p.s. did I mention the part about go fuck yourself?

p.p.s. come in here, try to push that medieval Janice Raymond shite about how no really, it's -totally different- because in fact transpeople are a sinist0r creation of the Patriarchy to eliminate lesbianism, you are in fact a Friend of the Lesbians, hell, are one yourself (most likely without any of that disgusting male-identified desire for other women) or, you know, you will be some day as soon as you finally can clear those penii out of your gaze or decide to divorce your third husband or at least give up his motherfucking name or stop mentally going "ew, icky" at the thought of actually going down on a woman or whatever it is that's holding you back; and so help me, I will chew on your eyes.

on edit: also see this post at Questioning Transphobia

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Yeah. That.

The bottom line, here, really, arcane internecine politics be damned.

Zan says:

The fact is, trans people do me no harm. They don't take anything away from me. Their existence does not endanger me in any way. The world is big enough and wide enough and wonderful enough for us all to share and have what we need. If I care about the abuse transpeople suffer, that doesn't mean I care less about the abuse cisgendered women suffer. It doesn't mean I care less about the abuse PoC suffer. It doesn't mean I care less about genocide in other countries, about the effect our pre-emptive war in Iraq is having on that country and our own, about global warming, about widespread drought, about medical research. My heart is big enough to care passionately about all of those things -- with room left over for more."


That's really the root of all this crap, isn't it? The deep-rooted belief that there's not enough to go around.

How anyone thinks they're going to overthrow the whatever Evil Empire it is this week and actually replace it with something better when they're still clutching this Elect vs. the Damned, Star-Bellied Sneetch crap, is beyond me. I guess "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" is good enough for most people as long as they're convinced they can be the new boss.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

He don't get no respect!



And I feel just awful about it.

Oh, this is not how I meant to draw attention to the original post (the above-linked) or at all, possibly. Basically, the original post is kind of wonderful, a genuine example of feminist "self-examination" that led the author to some new conclusions. Specifically, on her attitude toward transwomen. An excerpt, just so this isn't a total mockfest, because I don't want to let the really valuable part of this get lost:

Less than two years ago my “opinion” of transfolk was one of extreme othering, of downright transphobia - I didn’t hate transpeople but I knew nothing about them and deemed from my place of ignorance that they were weird, freakish, incomprehensible.

Then I met, or rather came across, a transwoman named Alison...

...I didn’t want a man in a dress in the Women’s Dome. Yet out of that discomfort, out of that politeness, came a process in which I began to question for myself what it means to be a woman, what it means to be trans. I began to question my own bigotry - and it was not an easy journey...

I found that transgenderism / transsexualism is not the weird fetish of disturbed freaks, but a genuine - and very difficult - lived reality. I looked at some of the statistics for mental health and suicide rates among transpeople - both those who transition and those who do not. I read the blogs of transfolk, mainly transwomen - some who are out in real life, some who are not. I looked into medical evidence about the causes of transgenderism and found that there is no certainty about the true cause - whether it is physical / biological or whether it is mental / emotional / social or whether the individual cause varies from person to person. Sometimes intersex biology is relevant, sometimes not. From all this I learned that gender identity is a real phenomenon, even if we do not all consciously experience it; and I learned that gender dysphoria (where gender identify does not match biological sex attributes) is a real phenomenon, even if few of us are unfortunate enough to experience it.

What I found is that the definition of class Woman is not a simple matter, and I am not the person who can define what a woman is.

Radical feminists - especially those who are separatists or who advocate (as I do) the need for woman-only space - often struggle with this. We often act as though we know exactly what a woman is, and that a transwoman is not a woman. Even if we recognise that the question is not straightforward, we still struggle with the inclusion of transwomen in women-only spaces.

...I understand that this is hard. We want to protect those among us who have been hurt, who are still hurting. The question is not whether we want to protect women who are asking for safety. The question is whether we can actually achieve that by the exclusion of transwomen, and whether it is even acceptable to offer such protection when it comes at the expense of transwomen, by perpetuating the poorly analysed othering of transwomen, by ignoring the hurts and the violence that transwomen experience precisely because of their (desire to have) membership of class Woman. I don’t think so.


much more, go read.

So, so far, so good, and it is good. I was hesitant over whether to say anything because, well, one, as a cisgendered woman it's not exactly my place to say "thanks," I didn't think, and a number of transwomen, many of them friends, were/are already doing just that, which was nice to see. And, two, well, while I don't think I've had any run-ins with the author, Maia, I am aware that my stamp of approval is sort of the kiss of death among people she's friends and allies with, and I honestly don't/didn't want to get in the way of that, especially if it would mean interrupting what looks to be a rather delicate process.

But then so I'm reading along and immediately run into a comment by possibly my most favoritest male radical feminist ("ally," excuse me) ever, the ever-charming Rich, and, well, all my nascent good intentions promptly go out the window.

Boyo sez:

You might consider how offensive all of what you wrote is to male allies who don’t transition.

Tell me why I — as someone who rejects masculinity, patriarchy, fatherhood, patriarchal sexuality, and even using patriarchal medicine and law to transition and gain access to womanhood — should be excluded from spaces that you’re willing to share with males who often have willingly done the exact opposite, up until (and often after) the point where they transitioned?

What makes them “better” than me? True, I’m not a “woman” like they are, but I’ve never been (and refuse to be) the “men” that they also are, have been, and often will always be (can they take back rapes they’ve comitted? Or even the times they “just” used patriarchy as their pimp in obtaining “consent?”).


Get that? It is offensive to accept transwomen as women, because Rich, a non-transitioning male-born man, is not invited to the wimmins' slumber party.

I do believe this is the mythic desire for a "cookie" which has been so bandied about. Although, judging by past encounters, I imagine the argument would be that in fact the only cookie that matters is the Patriarchal cookie; the radfem cookie is not a cookie, women -have- no cookie to offer, especially to men. Um, probably. (Also, if it's anything like the vegan, organic delicacies offered my the former womens' bookstore collective downtown, it's rather hard to digest).

But, if that's the case, what the fuck is this dude's problem, you ask?

I suspect the real answer to that one begins with "How long do you have?" But, anyway! It gets better!

most transfolk agree that transitioning itself is “privileged” (so post-ops are privileged over pre-ops) as it protects non-conforming people from abuse. If that’s true, pro-radical feminist males who don’t transition are less privileged than those who fit into the much neater and publicized trans category (especially the pro BDSM and pornstitution stances that often comes with trans rhetoric). Thus, I don’t feel out of place saying that many transwomen are MY oppressor, as they help to turn the wheel of gender that grinds me down.

I don’t think my perspective on this is a needed one. I don’t think females should, necessarily, give two shits about what I have to say...


(And yet, we note: he's still talking).

OTOH, I think my perspective complicates the message you’re trying to send about inclusivity, which, I suppose, is why so many transwomen seem to want events that exclude people like me! That’s not very nice.


Mkay. Putting aside for the moment any hints of some murky past and/or interior experience, assuming that Rich is just basically this guy, you know? who really digs radfem theory and hates his own male privilege and lives to serve the Revolution, or whatever it is. Ah, yes, the Revolution.

Meanwhile, though, you're confused, Twinkie, let me clear you up:

1) If it's a women-only gathering, and you aren't a woman, by your own definition as well as anyone else's, you don't belong there.

2) If it's a transfolk-only gathering, and you aren't, by your own lights, transitioning, trans-identified or even remotely trans-sympathetic, guess what! You don't belong there.

3) and this is the really key point: Even if you fit all the demographic requirements, Rich? no woman, no -person- in hir right everloving mind would include you in anything if it were at all possible to avoid it, because oh my GOD you are an unsocialized, hateful asshole. Whiny, nasty, humorless, deeply clueless, self-centered to the point of solipsism, pretentious, contemptuous, entitled AND self-loathing which is always a really lovely combination, and just generally really dull and awful.

And yet, apparently, you've managed to carve yourself a little niche on the fringes of the fringiest radfem, even -separatist- communities. I admit I haven't monitored the situation closely enough to ascertain exactly how this works. It would appear to my jaundiced eye, however, that among certain small and esoteric circles, self-loathing is a hot commodity; and hairshirts, while astonishingly unattractive and irritating to most of the population, are the fashion item of choice. Particularly if it's worn by a male. A male who, as you remind us so insistently, has given up so very, very much:

(responding to this post,)



Ewwwww.

Rich, your whole argument - one that merits consideration - is overshadowed by the overbearing and aggressive tone you adopt.

Could you please re-state your thesis in a less violent way?


Rich Says:

You’re showing a profound lack of respect for me right there. My identity is non-violent. My internal identity is that of a feminist ally and you have no right to question that. Your identity is no more real and no more existentially provable than mine. You’re the one uttering hate speech there, the one being phobic.


...then, to all the ladiez in the house:

There’s no way I can prove without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not a rapist to you. I’m not asking for your unconditional trust, or even conditional trust, any trust. Beware of males, whether they identify as men, women, or anyone else, who do otherwise, who expect you to value their identities over your own safety. Being pro-feminist and an ally means giving things up, not asking for more things.


Thanks for the advice, d00d, really, but you know who/what girlie me is most leery of? Creepity creepsticks like you. You, just you, and people like you, male AND otherwise, fuck knows there are plenty of wimmin-born-wimmin who're just as creepy... You: using transwomen as your own personal projection screen and punching bag, gratuitously bringing up rape when absolutely no one else has (really), befouling yet another small sliver of light on the Internets with your toxic, self-serving spewage.

And the creepiest part is in fact not your maleness (yes, we know, you'd cut it off and out without anaesthetic if only you thought it would help, but you know it won't, silent emo tear) but the way in which you position yourself as one of the Hundred Neediest Cases...because you, by your own definition, "g[ave] things up."

Well, as a male-identified Patriarchal Submissive (tm), I have to say I've always admired that one dude, Orwell. Specifically, now, this insight comes to mind:

...there are two morals, one explicit, the other implied [in King Lear].

...First of all...there is the vulgar, common-sense moral drawn by the Fool: "Don't relinquish power, don't give away your lands. But there is also another moral....It is: "Give away your lands if you want to, but don't expect to gain happiness by doing so. Probably you won't gain happiness. If you live for others, you must live for others, and not as a roundabout way of getting an advantage for yourself."

...Tolstoy was not a saint, but he tried very hard to make himself into a saint, and the standards he applied to literature were other-worldly ones. It is important to realize that the difference between a saint and an ordinary human being is a difference of kind and not of degree. That is, the one is not to be regarded as an imperfect form of the other. The saint, at any rate Tolstoy's kind of saint, is not trying to work an improvement in earthly life: he is trying to bring it to an end and put something different in its place...

[Tolstoy] was not a vulgar hypocrite, as some people have declared him to be, and he would probably have imposed even greater sacrifices on himself than he did, if he had not been interfered with at every step...But on the other hand, it is dangerous to take such men as Tolstoy at their disciples' [or own] valuation. There is always the possibility--the probability, indeed--that they have done no more than exchange one form of egoism for another. Tolstoy renounced wealth, fame and privilege; he abjured violence in all its forms and was ready to suffer for doing so; but it is not so easy to believe that he abjured the principle of coercion, or at least the desire to coerce others.

There are families in which the father will say to his child, "You'll get a thick ear if you do that again," while the mother, her eyes brimming over with tears, will take the child in her arms and murmur lovingly, "Now, darling, is it kind to Mummy to do that?" And who would maintain that the second method is less tyrannous than the first?...

There are people who are convinced of the wickedness of both armies and of police forces, but who are nevertheless much more intolerant and inquisitorial in outlook than the normal person who believes that it is necessary to use violence in certain circumstances. They will not say to somebody else, "Do this, that, and the other or you will go to prison," but they will, if they can, get inside his brain and dictate his thoughts for him in the minutest particulars...

For if you have embraced a creed...from which you yourself cannot expect to draw any material advantage--surely that proves that you are in the right? And the more you are in the right, the more natural that everyone else should be bullied into thinking likewise.


--Orwell, Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool

This is all a bit high-flying, I realize, and distressingly free of gender-related anything, except for the example of mom-n-pop's respective power styles in the traditional nuclear family. Back to you, then:

Rich Says:
15 March 2008 at 3:20 pm

“Could you please re-state your thesis in a less violent way?”

I consider *your* post an act of rape. Please don’t speak to me.


and then:

“Rich, comparing a post to rape is dehumanizing to those who’ve actually been raped.”

No shit. I was pointing out the utter ridiculousness of what was said to me.

It’s also dehumanizing to have someone try to “man you” in order to un-man themselves. I’ve never had a female lesbian separatist tell me that my speech is “too violent.” And yet, in order to push me around, control me, in order to divide hirself from me, in order to prove that I’m not “one of the good feminist folk,” a trans advocate can call my speech violent (and thus my entire identity violent), in order to make hirself look safe by way of comparison.

Zoe = Sugar and Spice
Rich = Ewww

I’m sorry, but that was another case of someone in the trans camp aping the superficial kind of essentialism that they like to try to pin on radical feminists.

Thanks for encouraging that kind of behavior Maia.


***

It's a work of art, really. One scarcely knows where to begin.

So, instead, I'm going to just jump ahead to this:

No one actually cares what you did or didn't give up, Rich. No one, that is, except maybe some of the female lesbian separatists of whom you speak.

I won't even ask what it is that you supposedly gave up, although you give hints of the things you consider privileges that some transfolk have, or had, and you apparently do not: power and influence in the real world; families with themselves as fathers; acceptance into women-only gatherings.

Worst of all, they demand that people accept them for who they are, to live in a way that would make them happy, and oh my god it looks like sometimes some of them might actually be dangerously close to getting it.

Clearly, This Must Be Stopped.


Because, say-hey! It looks like giving up your lands didn't really work, did it? You don't get any respect, dammit. Not that you're ENTITLED to any such thing, of course. But the least people can do is RECOGNIZE your SACRIFICE and not give a drop of that precious commodity to anyone else, least of all the terrible, terrible transfolk.

Because, if you can't be happy, they sure as shit can't be happy.

And it's this dog-in-the-manger, poisonous impulse of yours, Rich, that I find most inimical here. I don't give a shit about your tortuous rationalizations for your philosophies, whether you're "not not a man" and some "not not a woman" thinks you're the bees knees for making yourself so very, very miserable. I don't care about what an epic failure you clearly are, or whose fault it supposedly is. I do care that you use even your fringey, minging influence to try to hurt people who really don't need any more pain, thanks.

And, I suppose, I'm rather morbidly fascinated by the spectacle of it all.


You know the best part, Rich? The very best part? Here you are, a man, being attacked by a woman, a woman-born-woman, yet. Oh, yes, this is an attack. Absolutely. I think you're loathsome. But more important, it is, according to the radical lesbian female separatists you're so devoted to, or it damn well should be, my prerogative to be as nasty as I want to be to you, O Phallused Privileged Untrustworthy Potential Rapist One. Hell, I -can't- oppress you; I can't abuse you; I can't silence you; I have no power, isn't that so?

And I'm sure that if/when you do go running to whine and clutch and cower behind the sensible flowing skirts of your matrons, sorry, allies, they'll have a few choice words to the effect that there's no need to take me and mine seriously, after all I may have been born with girlbits, but I'm one of THEM. You know, THEM. Hardly a woman at all, really. Certainly no feminist. Clearly this is all in service of my pr0ntastic pimps who have their big manly hands up my ass even as I type. Poor little Rich boy. There there, dear. Don't worry: we still think you fight the fight of the righteous. You are right, oh yes you are, at least about this, today.

But sadly: that's as good as it's gonna get, isn't it?

You still can't get into the Sooper Seekrit Inner Circles: that's how it should be. You'll never be fully trusted: you don't deserve it, you just said so yourself. You'll never be fully accepted: you're not worthy, inherently so. And fuck knows a man can never hope to find romantic fulfillment and attachment with a radical feminist and/or lesbian sep....

Oh, right
. Never mind.

The thing is, though, Rich: see, me, that other kind of feminist, person, human, for an example:

I don't lay that shit on my friends and allies. I don't require that people give things up, particularly if those things are really no skin off my ass. I don't demand that make themselves miserable, particularly people I care about. I want them to be happy. I want me to be happy, too. What's the fucking point, otherwise?

I don't tell people they can never, ever be good enough unless they contort themselves into some Procrustean bed (and probably not even then, but keep trying!) I don't require that people be born with any particular bits or wear stars on their bellies, dress in any particular way, fuck (consensually) in any particular way, spout my dogma, dance to my tune. And I don't want to be a part of any revolution or utopia or community or movement or whatever the fuck it is that does.

If it were up to me, the Utopia thing, the how to make a better world by individual choices and self-examination, personal-is-political, let's-make-a-safe-space-through-delineating-borders-of-our-communities bit, anyway? All I'd say is: just don't be an asshole all the time.

By which relatively modest standard, Rich, I am afraid you fail.

And yet, you would think, of all the other apparent impositions which you or whomever put between yourself and success or happiness, people like you, the Malvolios, the sad bastards of this world, that that one ought to be the easiest to rectify.

And yet, and yet.

Oh, well.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quote of the day, 3/13/08

First of all, there is nothing inherently wrong with consumption. Shopping and consuming are enjoyable human activities and the marketplace has been a center of social life for thousands of years.

The locus of oppression resides in the production function: people have no control over which commodities are produced (or services performed), in what amounts, under what conditions, or how these commodities are distributed. Corporations make these decisions and base them solely on their profit potential.

As it is, the profusion of commodities is a genuine and powerful compensation for oppression. It is a bribe, but like all bribes it offers concrete benefits—in the average American’s case, a degree of physical comfort unparalleled in history. Under present conditions, people are preoccupied with consumer goods not because they are brainwashed but because buying is the one pleasurable activity not only permitted but actively encouraged by our rulers. The pleasure of eating an ice cream cone may be minor compared to the pleasure of meaningful, autonomous work, but the former is easily available and the latter is not. A poor family would undoubtedly rather have a decent apartment than a new TV, but since they are unlikely to get the apartment, what is to be gained by not getting the TV?

...If we are to build a mass movement we must recognize that no individual decision, like rejecting consumption, can liberate us. We must stop arguing about whose life style is better (and secretly believing ours is) and tend to the task of collectively fighting our own oppression and the ways in which we oppress others. When we create a political alternative to sexism, racism, and capitalism, the consumer problem, if it is a problem, will take care of itself.


--Ellen Willis, nineteen-sixty-fucking-nine

Sunday, March 09, 2008

To whom it may concern

Just a repost of a comment at Natalia's, because it got rather long and it seemed worth a post of its own. You can read over there for context, or glean from what follows. This is addressed to feminists who take the let's call it abolitionist position wrt sex work/prostitution:

Seriously, let me ask you this. I assume you’re “pro-choice” when it comes to reproduction? (If I’m wrong, ignore what follows). Okay. Putting aside the irony of “choice” being an acceptable feminist concept when it comes to reproductive rights but not when it comes to sexuality (for pay or otherwise) (or even personal adornment and modification, depending on who you ask, but that’s another argument, maybe)

…putting that aside, do you, you know, -like- abortion? I mean, are you like, “yay!abortion!” Are you gleefully advocating that women just go out and have abortions for shits and giggles? Do you claim that “choice” means the -correct- choice is always to get an abortion? Is the “abortion industry” a heartless sinister machine to which you’ve pledged your allegiance in exchange for a mess of pottage and your immortal soul?

Ridiculous, right? Well, funny thing, because this is pretty much how a lot of let’s say non-nuanced pro-lifers see the pro-choice folks.

And, I gotta say it, I’m sure this will go over like a lead balloon, but my hand to Maud: the non-nuanced anti-pornstitution position? Can sound an awful lot like this. The demonization, the “you’re with us or agin’ us,” the positioning of the women in question as either poor brainwashed victims in need of saving or else carpetbagging sellouts who are in cahoots with the Enemy…

yeah, I’m probably talking to the wind again, but hey, my fingers needed the exercise, I guess.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Just a few brief notes

or, The fifteen second version of the posts I would be making if I had the time, energy, and/or inclination:

1) A stranger on the Internets objecting on their own blog to what they perceive as your assery regarding one of their posts, even saying something to you along the lines of "sit your ignorant ass down and shut the fuck up till you know what the hell you're talking about," does not, in fact, amount to your "being silenced."

2) Transpeople are not actually out to steal your precious wimminly fluids, rare and desirable as those undoubtably are.

2a) They're not out to steal your precious Andrew Sullivan fluids either.

3) Yes, racism still is socially acceptable. Yes, so is sexism. No, you don't win anything. Yes, you are still being an asshole. No, you don't win anything for that either.

3a) Phyllis Chesler, oh, and Judy whosis, I'm looking at you. Also, Phyl, the whole mutation into a rabid Islamophobic Pajamas Media-blogging possible McCain supporter, neocon thing? David Cronenberg called, he wants to film it. The rest of us really don't enjoy the spectacle, though.

4) Monday was International Sex Workers Rights Day.

5) I know this is a really difficult concept, but generally speaking, if you want other people to give a shit about you and your problems, it helps if you in turn give a shit about them, once in a while.

6) There is no point six.

7) Baby raccoons sound a lot like baby birds, and dogs get -really- excited about their presence in one's chimney.

8) Stephen King is a pretty good writer, except when he isn't.

9) sweet steaming baby Yog-Soggoth, you're more loathsome every day. p.s. shouldn't you be out campaigning, anyway?

10) This is not, in fact, an autonomous collective.

11) This is not your beautiful house.

12) This is not your beautiful blog.

13) And the London Underground is not a political movement.

14) And, oops, neither are you.