Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A quick note on the Eternal Subject

you know, the bloody Feminist Wars.

just because i've been thinking about some personal shit for a while, and a by-the-way comment in a discussion turned into a rough form of what was going to be my "why i am" for the sex-pos carnival (not yet launched). so roughly, for now: basically i was saying that wrt the whole "raunch culture, pornsick" business, that it's not that i don't see that aspect of the culture; it's that i don't relate to it as the strongest pressure in my life, sexually:

...I don't feel it: the pressure to be a "sexbot." but then I'm heading toward my mid-thirties, of a certain background; the "pressure" I feel is to -not- look too much like "that," to be "serious," to be "professional." Which you can't be, you know, and still be too sexual.

and of course, if i -am- openly sexual, it must needs be for the sake of men, always, always, always; particularly if i am drawn (as i always have been) toward a "femmey" sort of expression.

and as for being openly sexual with the -actual- objects of my desire, to desire, -period,- other women, i feel strong pressure, still, to not have it at all.

and yes, there's been "lesbian chic;" i rate that about as much as i do "raunch culture." a fingernail-thin gloss of commerical trendiness over millenia's worth of the same old repressive shit.

and, even so, as i've said before; i think, when i was a kid, if i'd seen any of the "lesbian chic" that's prevalent today, stereotyped girl-on-girl or not, it'd have been better from my POV than the pretty much nothing at all i -did- see.

the -real- pressure i've always felt is to be--invisible. and asexual, since i couldn't trump up an attraction toward men. i remember wishing/praying (in a not-especially religious sort of way) that i could just stop -feeling- "this way," when i was an adolescent. eventually, i did. then i didn't feel much of anything, for a while. i guess that's a sort of freedom. then again, so's being dead.

the reason i bring up my position as a queer woman is not so much to say "look, I'm marginalized too! maybe more marginalized! I WIN;" i am trying to explain why it is such a particular hot button for me when i hear, as i often do from aniporn/radfems (no, not from everyone so identified, but enough), basically, such and such sexually is sick, or disgusting, or incomprehensible; and well you don't really NEED your selfish little orgasm, can't you ever think of?...

if desire isn't important then all of my agony during my adolescence is also unimportant. and "gay rights" is essentially fighting for...what? marriage? legal rights? that, yes, but it's also about SEX. it's about DESIRE. it's about YES this is important TOO.

that's been HUGE for me;

and when i encounter other people, other -women- especially, going on and on about oh ew ew EW, it makes me see red. Seriously. It's not because i love Cosmopolitan so much, or wanna go work for Larry Flynt, or have been brainwashed by my blowjob-demanding boyfriend.

I own my own hot buttons, mind you. This is for clarification's sake, for those who have ears and eyes.

of course, then, often, it is automatically assumed that any of the above-named scenarios, or something equally far from my actual experience and position, must needs be the case (pimpin' brainwashed patriarchy-blowing sexbot), and that not only that but when i try to explain that actually it's a tad different, try to bring in a perspective more congruent with my own, i am derailing, if not actually trolling...

I mean, look: ultimately? The people who engage in -that- level of whatever-it-is: when my head is clear, I am aware that in fact -those- people, the ones who simply can't or won't engage -at all,- are by far in the minority. And that that is a problem of not so much ideology as, well, something else.

Trouble is, those people end up prominent in the discussions i'm referring to, and sometimes they're called on what frankly i see as shocking behavior, but other times, no; and then inevitably i or someone else goes for the "well then fuck you, Mary" approach, and of course now it's cemented: we're the bad guys.

I am the Bad Guy.

Maybe I am, at that.

-weary shrug.-

It's. just.

I am not in the motherfucking majority. 'K? I say this not because i want to be oppressed Queen For a Day; at least i bloody well hope not. Fuck me, I don't -want- to be marginalized; i do not in fact believe that there is virtue in being oppressed or an outsider merely for its own sake. Primarily because if i -did-, it'd pretty much tacitly accept that i do not believe real change is possible.

No; I am saying this because.


Put it this way, for a start:

Up until three years ago, "sodomy" (in one way or another) was still illegal in a number of states. Probably more often enforced against gay men than lesbians, much less straight people (hey, whatever you do behind closed doors, as long as you HAVE a door, can GET to a door); and yet, oddly enough, i take it rather personally when say Catherine MacKinnon declares, as she did in the introduction to what is possible the most annoying little tome i have read in a long while ("The Sexual Liberals and the War On Feminism," ed. Dorchen Leidholdt and Janice Raymond),

These suspicions about the male supremacist nature of the privacy right were furthered by another thing some of us noticed. That was that the freedom of the penis to engage in anal penetration in the name of privacy had become a priority issue for women under the banner of "gay and lesbian rights," without connecting a critique of homophobia with a critique of misogyny."

Great, Kitty. Thanks a lot. Yes, it's all about the penis; of course you yourself i do believe, as a STRAIGHT WOMAN, continue to enjoy congress with penii (you don't reveal how, much less in which orifice, but then this too is a feature of straight privilege, the automatic assumption that whatever it is you're up to in bed is probably not too freaky and Your Business). THANK you for telling me how scare-quoted gay and lesbian rights are not, should not be as important to me as whatever you deem is important, Straight Famous Feminist. THANK you.

...well, i'd meant to go on, at one point, with the fisking of that odious little book, some weeks back, but i lost heart halfway through and it's now back at the library. It kind of doesn't matter, anyway.

Point being:

Yeah, I'm a woman. I'm also queer. It's really not an either-or. It's both-and; the whole is more than the sum of its parts. At times, I have felt far more at home with gay men than straight women. Hell, even other gay women, sometimes, (when I could find them); and that's yet another post.

And yet, at the end of the day, I am a woman; feminism matters to me.

Which is -why I actually pay attention to these wars in the first place.-

So, but I just wanted to say this, probably not for the first time, but maybe a bit more candidly, to... actually, no one person in particular, this is my overall impression of several dozens of discussions i have both witnessed and participated in over the past year or so, okay.

When you talk about "[straight] men want this, men think that," eventually, I glaze over.

I do not relate.

I don't -care- what they want. or, rather: certainly not in the aggregate. certainly not as explained by someone else, venting about them. endlessly, might i add.

I -might- care what -you- want, what -you- feel and think, fellow woman feminist; but see there's all this porn-is-bad and men-suck talk getting in the way, so I don't often actually know what it is. Especially the "want" part.

Yeah, that's what it is. That's one thing that really bugs me about the porn-n-men business: it -often- becomes a handy way to discharge a bunch of strong feelings without actually having to confront ourselves.

Not always; i do not say such subjects should never be discussed, NO.

But, y'know. One thing i -do- feel i often have in common with (many) straight women (as well as otherwise) is the experience of not feeling heard; of not feeling what i want is really relevant in the greater scheme of things; and especially of not feeling entitled to say "no," much less boldly go up to an object of desire and say, "I want this. I want -you.-"

And, like, maybe -that's- something we could talk about? at some point?

I was going to say something about the experience of abuse, although in a way it opens up a whole 'nother avenue of discussion, I think it's highly relevant. It's also a minefield, though. Briefly, just this:

Yeah, it's real and it's widespread, overt sexual and physical abuse. Molestation. Rape. Beatings. That is an experience that i do not share. I do however take it very seriously.

I get uneasy when i see what -to me- often looks like a conflation of very raw and personal discussions of such abuse with stuff that -to me- seems like a different subject (influences of sexist media, including or even especially porn).

That's another post.

What I was going to say was:

I have been thinking about it, and actually, you know, I'm -this- close to naming my own experience as abusive. In some murky, nebulous way.

I think internalizing that level of shame (which is, if not universal for queer kids, pretty fucking common) about one's sexual desires, and/or rather the environment that leads to such an internalization...yeah. Call it abuse. Why not. It sure wasn't Happy Fun Time, that's for damn sure.

There's also this:

Not to get too heavy into family-of-origin stuff, although i think that's actually -really- relevant, more so than all the media put together, in general, frankly; but, in mine? 'twasn't Dad who was the invasive one, or the one who screamed and raged.

which i suspect has at least something to do with both my not really relating to some peoples' experience of Class Men as well as with my knee -really- jerking when women in particular start acting in erratic and dramatic ways.


Anonymous said...

I love you.


antiprincess said...

hanna - I know, right?

standing ovation from me, right here.

Twanna A. Hines | FUNKYBROWNCHICK.com said...

Just a comment from the pimpin' brainwashed patriarchy-blowing sexbot peanut gallery ... :)

I love you, too.

Honestly, when I do my morning scan-o-favorite blogs, I usually gloss over and yell "neeeeext" if the post has more than, say, I don't know, 3-4 paragraphs.

This post, however, really made me stop, think, and reflect. You've brought up a lot of interesting points that I'll probably continue to chew on throughout my day.

Rootietoot said...

I've been lurking all over these issues.I've kept my fingers still because I am more of a wren and less of a mockingbird, and know when to keep my head down. It seems to me (in my own Hetero Southern White Housewife way) that it boils down to "What I think is right and what you think is wrong because it's different from what I think" Which is about as closed minded as it comes, especially from a demographic that believes itself to be so open minded.

I am sorry for your frustration. I can't pretend to really understand what you're going through, but you've been sweet to me and I like you and I don't like to see people I like having to deal with mess like this.

Here hon, have a glass of bourbon with a little eggnog.

belledame222 said...

thanks, guys. back atcha. xox

bourbon with eggnog in it? is it not the other way around? or am i dense and you're saying it's -really strong eggnog.-

sorry to be overly literal girl this morning.

i don't think i've ever actually had eggnog, come to think of it. i don't think My People do eggnog. for one thing, the assorted neuroses mean NO RAW EGGS; salmonella, you know (paplitate palpitate at the very -idea-)

antiprincess said...

oh, darlin - no - eggnog comes in a carton, all very pasteurized and clean.

don't be afraid of the eggnog. especially when Southern Comfort is involved.

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

oh, -I- have no problem with raw or at least mostly egg and so forth. just sayin': i was not raised with the stuff.

see, the stuff in the carton kind of scares me, too. i mean: what -is- it?

antiprincess said...

I don't know, really.
milk, cream, nutmeg? some kind of flavoring?

totally non-epicurean, really. I'm sure it's not really even eggnog in that carton, more like half-and-half with delusions of grandeur.

but rest assured that anything in it that could be deadly probably wouldn't survive the booze anyway.

belledame222 said...

oh, not worried about deadly; just, will i like it, mommy?

milk cream nutmeg booze; sure, what's not to like?

but like just, so okay: if there's no raw egg in it, but it's EGGnog...what happened to the egg part?

or is it like an egg cream, which has neither egg nor cream?

antiprincess said...

yes! much like an egg cream, as I recall.

of course you'd have to ask a legit bonafide gourmet-type food expert for the real story, I guess.

and them that would deign to converse with people like us are scarcer than hen's teeth, clearly.

Amber Rhea said...

How do you manage to kick ass with so many posts?

Anonymous said...

From an obssession with details/consistency perspective, it's always sort of blown my mind that a group that purports to consist of people who never get to speak, are always spoken for, are so quick to speak for others (Class Men, dissenting women, and occasionally people like me) to the point of denying any differing input. The totalizing power grab and foreclosure of communication really pisses me off, but I tend to disengage for fear of going off on someone and being "bad".

It's posts like this that got me started reading your blog, and keep me coming back.

belledame222 said...

thank you. believe me, i appreciate the compliments, don't get me wrong.

just don't please start naming yourselves after me, okay.


belledame222 said...

compliments and really validation and support, i should say.

belledame222 said...

propsphoros: well, the way i see it is, you can make a cult out of pretty much anything. Buddhism, libertarianism, "spreading democracy." Furry fandom. it's probably true that some ideologies/creeds/whatever lend themselves more readily to black-and-white thinkers and demagoguery than others, to begin with, by nature of who started 'em in what context and what the content is.

but at the end of the day...

and you know, even anti-cultism can and has become a cult. Totalitarian, that is.

still, i value Robert Jay Lifton. like, a lot.

among others.

antiprincess said...

How do you manage to kick ass with so many posts?

I know - she is totally on fire lately.

Anonymous said...

Sure, anything can become cult-y, no question. It always drives me crazy, though, when groups or people who claim to know what it feels like to be pushed aside feel totally justified in doing the same thing to others. It's nothing to do with victim models or oppression, really, and everything to do with empathy; if you say you've "been there", why can't you see when others are "there", too, particularly if/when you're the one putting them "there"?

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Great post, like usual. I love you, too.

belledame222 said...

>It's nothing to do with victim models or oppression, really, and everything to do with empathy; if you say you've "been there", why can't you see when others are "there", too, particularly if/when you're the one putting them "there"?>


well, you know: there's a difference between being sensitive to yourself and sensitive to other people.

confusion comes in when people claim they're "speaking for" we, us, Class Yadda; you, you with the "I" statements, you are SELFISH. no; actually, the one who -can't tell the difference- between herself and the other person is selfish.

and personally, given the choice between plain old straightdorward i-got-mine-jack selfishness and "it's FOR YOUR OWN GOOD" contorted selfishness, i prefer the former.

fortunately those are not, in fact, the only choices.

belledame222 said...


someone put on some music or something, break out the chocolate and the booze already.

Alex said...

I'm getting to it late, but - excellent post.

belledame222 said...


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