Porn by Definition
One thing I learned to abhor about academic philosophy was the almost compulsive need to redefine commonly used terms in order to buttress otherwise confusing or inconclusive arguments. By the end of a 20-page discussion of something as unobscure as “justice,” most theorists had redefined the term itself and spend the majority of the paper defending that definition.
That is not what I’m going to do here.
A lot of people try to draw a distinction between erotica and porn. I don’t think that this distinction is useful. In the common vernacular, I’ve heard people refer to porn as erotica and erotica as porn. True, some porn is more focused on the relationship and emotions of its actors than others. I don’t think that a focus on the eroticism rather than the physicality takes a piece of porn out of the realms of pornography.
More importantly, I think drawing a distinction between porn and erotica legitimizes really toxic stereotypes about male and female sexuality. You can read exactly how people separate porn from erotica here and here, among other places. What seems to be common in these dichotomies is that they posit that porn entirely focuses on the physical aspects of sex and is often obscene with no higher aspirations; and erotica focuses on feelings and emotions, and often has high-art aspirations.
If you feel that this dichotomy mirrors a similar one, you’re not mistaken. The differences assumed between pornography and erotica are the very differences we falsely assign male and female sexuality. Female sexuality is art, and more acceptable for public consumption (witness the proliferation of images of the female form versus the concealment or non-erotic cultural assumptions made of the male form). The sexuality of women is all about emotions and feelings, not about being attracted to the physicality of sex or the body of her partner. Female sexuality is inward-looking and passive. On the other hand, male sexuality only consists of the obscene and degrading. It wants nothing to do with feelings or emotions, just raw physicality. Men can have sex with people whom they’re only physically attracted to, women cannot. Men don’t have any use for love, unlike women. The nude male body is obscene in order to shock, or something that is unremarkable, common, and ugly. There’s nothing artistic about men.
Do I think that the way the divide between porn and erotica mirrors the divide between the common assumptions made of male and female sexuality is a coincidence? Hell no. I think that the porn/erotica divide is another toxic manifestation of gender values in our culture, and entirely useless. There is a very real association of erotica with femininity, and porn with masculinity. The very words themselves conger images of roses, love, and passion versus bodily fluids, full-frontal nudity, and gratuitous focus on the “obscene”.
Likewise, from an artistic standpoint, it’s entirely false to say that a woman’s body and her desires (or what they are idealised to be) are only “high art” while a man’s body and his desires are obscene and serve no other purpose other than to arouse, shock, and satisfy cheap physical needs. I have no erotic desire for the male form myself (since I’m a lesbian), but straight women obviously do legitimately desire the bodies of their male partners. Likewise, the idea that men want nothing to do with the feelings and emotions of sexuality is degrades the humanity and agency of men. It posits that men have no use for love, which is obviously false, and pretends that male sexuality is inherently obscene, disgusting, uncontrollable, and animalistic. Men do look inwards while expressing their sexuality, just as women look outwards. But our cultural messages claim otherwise, robbing both genders of their agency and pathologizing those who express their sexuality in ways not sanctioned by the zeitgeist.
Thus, for the purpose of this series, when I speak of “porn,” I speak of any form of media that depicts some sort of sexual behavior (in the case of more obscure fetishes, this may be more subtle and altogether exclude physical intercourse) with the intent to cause sexual excitement for the purpose of obtaining sexual satisfaction or selling the pornography itself. I think that caveat about satisfaction and selling the porn is useful, because without it, we might have to consider advertisement that relies on arousal to sell an unrelated product “porn.” In the common sense of the word “porn,” I get the feeling that nobody actually thinks that models in bikinis selling beer is considered porn — unless they are using the term “porn” with a negative connotation in order to critique the ad.
What I also want to establish here is that I feel that this definition of porn (which is adapted from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary), most closely approximates what most people really mean when they call something porn, smut, or erotica. And for the purposes of this series, I will consider all of these terms more or less equivalent, or at least different forms of the larger category of media we think of as “porn.”
Likewise, I don’t want to use the baggage associated with the erotica/porn separation, or the inherent negativity invoked by the word “smut.” I think pornography, by definition, is entirely neutral. Here I speak only of the theory of pornography. Considering only the definition of porn — and internalizing no negative or positive cultural messages about sexuality — ought to isolate the meaning of the word from the baggage associated with it.
Of course, the baggage associated with it is precisely what I discuss in this series. But there is something to be said with being semantically clear without redefining words in order to suit my following arguments. Here, I hope I have captured what the common American actually thinks when they call something “porn” without making any connotations of whether or not it is obscene or artistic, masculine or feminine, and divine or sinful.
To be continued in On Porn Part III: Fiction vs. Non-Fiction…
I’ve vaguely referenced porn before, but I’ve never really done a complex write-up about. I know that I’m opening a flood gate of critique, but I think it’s something worthwhile to discuss and reevaluate. One such write-up that I admire is Nine Deuce’s impressive Porn Series, which takes a highly critical stance to the modern porn industry.
What I don’t want to do is jump right in without making an important distinction. This post — and hopefully the posts that follow — are not about the idea of porn. They are about the reality of porn. First and foremost, I am not speaking about porn from a pulpit of righteousness. I have viewed a considerable amount of it ever since it became easily available on the internet. I have even gotten off to it, or used it as some sort of bizarre entertainment if it was not arousing. When I talk about porn, I’m talking about trends I have — firsthand — observed. I am also critiquing things that I have used or enjoyed, probably more than once, in the past. And since porn is so ubiquitous, they are also things I may view and enjoy in the future.
Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes, in a sense. But I think in a valuable sense. There’s something to be said about critiquing an institution from the inside, instead of the outside. Critically analyzing the implications of your own sexuality is a very worthwhile task. I feel that we take far too much about sex for granted, and just internalize toxic cultural messages as the “way things are.” I don’t feel that sex and sexuality needs to be shut into some sacred box, free from critique. Nor do I think that it should be thought of as inherently immoral, and something that we need to control rather than celebrate. But much like fireworks are beautiful, firing them into a crowd is deadly. And I think that a lot of our baggage around human sexuality, particularly when it comes to the porn industry, is not handled with enough care.
One distinction I learned in my years as a philosophy undergrad was that between ideal and non-ideal theory. Ideal theory is the stuff that constructs an ideal model of human behavior or takes a really idealistic view of the establishment of certain institutions. John Locke’s theories on the consent of the governed are an example of this. Even Rousseau, who saw the advent of human civilization as an abomination, deals in ideal theory. Ideal theory is useful when discussing things in the abstract. But it’s not very realistic. I’d compare it to trying to determine how much fuel a plane requires without accounting for air resistance and assuming you are flying it in a vacuum.
Non-ideal theory deals with the reality of things. Most of philosophy is done with ideals, but certain thinkers have been distinguished by describing how things are rather than how they ought to be. One such thinker is Karl Marx, who described the very real alienation of the proletariat from his or her production. Another thinker, unfortunately less well-known, was Franz Fanon, who’s seminal The Wretched of the Earth, which is probably the titular example of anti-colonial theory.
So when I talk about porn, I’m talking about the reality of it. I’m talking about the beautiful, bizarre, dangerous, exploitive, and abusive practices that have gained notoriety today. I’m also talking about the very real effect porn has had on my life — both on my views of myself and my sexuality, and how it has impacted and will continue to impact my relationships (and not only my intimate relationships).
I think the biggest mistake made by radical feminists in the late ’70s and early ’80s was to ally themselves with Republicans to shed light on the abuses of the sex industry (more info here). It had the nasty effect of forever aligning Radical Feminism, and its critiques of porn, with the Puritanical woman-hating bullshit that conservatives and their allies are so often fond of. From this unfortunate association sprung the lie that feminists (particularly Radical Feminists) were anti-sex. Liberal feminists, willing to sell their sisters out in order to realign themselves with the Democratic party, dreamed up the misnomer of “pro-sex” feminism.1
Pro-sex feminism is a misnomer precisely because there are no anti-sex feminists. I’ve read dictionaries worth of radical feminist theory (Dworkin’s Intercourse is probably the most famous text), and nothing in them is remotely opposed to the idea of sex. What they are all opposed to is the reality of sex — in particular, the predator/prey model that alienates women and girls from their agency and sexuality while normalizing violent masculinity, coercion, abuse, and rape. This is why I wanted to make a distinction between ideal and non-ideal theory before I jumped right into porn: I am not opposed to the consumption of erotic materials or sex between two (or more) consenting parties.
Aside from completely absurd religious demagogues that have people believe that you’ll go to hell if you masturbate or have sex without the express and immediate intent of conceiving a child, there’s not lot of people I would describe as “anti-sex.” Thus, that’s a conversation I’m not going to have in this series. I will not make excuses for my critiques, nor will I temper them with “there are exceptions” and “what about teh menz!?” rejoinders.
What I care about is less what consensual people do to get their rocks off, and more of what our culture tells us we ought to do, or what is acceptable to do, to get our rocks off. If you want to critique your own sexual practices, be my guest. I’ve done as much for myself, and it’s a very illuminating task. I am not interested in establishing that certain sexual acts are inherently shameful, dirty, or wrong. What I want to discuss is what those acts represent in the zeitgeist, and what their ubiquity means in porn.
Being sex-positive is not something I’m after. I’m not here to enshrine any sexual practice, nor am I here to demonize one. As I said before, putting what we do in the name of orgasm on some shelf and forgetting about it is a mistake — whether we think our sexuality is holy or sinful. Sexuality is just that: sexuality. It’s uniquely human and established in a toxic soup of really horrible cultural messages that often conceal and distort healthy sexuality. It’s something worth talking about not because it is more important than any other human activity, but because we have established it as more important than any other human activity by the enormous trouble and expense we go to judge, critique, express, conceal, protect, criminalize, and define it.
In closing, I am not trying to be pro-sex, and I refuse to even discuss what entails being ‘anti-sex.’ I am not interested in porn in theory, but in porn in practice and reality. I do not think human sexuality is inherently all that interesting. It’s only really interesting, in a very public way, because we made it so (see: Foucault’s excellent The History of Sexuality for more discussion in this vein). Why, how, and to what ends we did so is what I will discuss.
Continued in On Porn II: Definitions…
1Please note that I do not harshly judge them for doing so. They did so in order to reestablish women’s issues as central in the Democratic party, who was leery of anyone aligning themselves with Republicans. I, in fact, think that Radical Feminists made an even graver error in selling Liberal Feminists out first by aligning themselves with Republicans — who are manifestly opposed to the very idea of gender equality in a visceral way. When it comes to gender equality, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.
So the internet is all in a kerfluffle about Hugo Schwyzer’s recent piece on how almost all men participate in the sex industry, and almost all lie about it too. But that’s not really the content of this post. I’m done with the porn debate, honestly. This post is not about whether or not porn is good or bad. This post is about lying and then arguing in bad faith.
What the subsequent fallout around Schwyzer’s article told me is this: some people think that porn is so important to them, such an intrinsic part of their sexuality, that they are willing to lie about it. What this indicates is that there’s a metric fuckton of people out there that are self-aggrandizing shitbags. Here’s why:
If you enter into a relationship, you agree typically to abide by previously settled guidelines. According to the popular American set up of the traditional relationship, this typically constitutes not expending sexual energy with other people. It also includes not being dishonest. For a lot of women, using porn, buying the services of an escort, or going to strip clubs counts as cheating, since their partner is expressing their sexuality in a way that does not involve them. Whether or not this is “Victorian” or “sex negative” is not the point. The point is that if you do not think that using porn, a prostitute, or strippers to get off (notice that these are all real people, not sex toys, erotic literature, or lurid fantasies) constitutes cheating, you should probably say as much to your partner.
If you haven’t and just take it for granted, that’s fine. I understand how that happens. In fact, many commenters in Schwyzer’s thread seem to think that porn isn’t cheating, and thus, their use of it doesn’t need to be explained. But what that doesn’t explain is why anyone would then lie about it, then, if it was just some silly misunderstanding.
I submit that it’s not. Most American men know full well that unless a woman explicitly says so, she probably thinks that any use of a real person to get off other than her is cheating. I also assert that American men don’t lie about it because they’re afraid women will “jump down their throat” and turn into banshees or cannibalistic she-demons of the netherworld. They lie because they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want a relationship that implies monogamy, but they don’t want to actually adhere to that implication. They want to place their sexual “needs” (however they define them) over their partner’s right to consent to the actual, rather than fictional, parameters of their relationship.
In fact, they’re behaving exactly like extremely petulant and malicious children who really don’t want to justify their behavior with anyone, but want to retain the ability to censure and question the behaviors of other people.
Know what that is? That’s manifest horseshit. If you honestly think that porn, hiring escorts, or going to strip clubs is your right, and that someone is wrong and full of Puritanical bullshit to deny you the ability to do so, then why are you dating them in the first place? Know what I do with people I don’t agree with on the fundamental aspects of what constitutes a relationship or infidelity? I don’t date them. Know what I do with people whose positions on what I do or like to do to get off I object to in a very visceral way? I don’t date them.
This isn’t fucking rocket science.
You know, if I started a relationship with someone, and told them, “don’t ever eat an apple if you’re dating me. In fact, I think eating apples is completely abhorrent and disrespects me and/or our relationship, so if you do it, I will have a problem with it,” I expect them not to eat goddamn apples while they’re dating me. If they know what I think about eating apples, think my opinions about them is completely and utterly asinine and a violation of their “rights” and self-expression, and then eat apples anyway and lie to me, they are being fucking cowards. And liars. And violating the terms of our relationship.
You know, human sexuality is way more complicated than apples. I get it. My opinions on porn, buying sex, and going to strip clubs has nothing to do with what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that if someone holds a position about the very bedrock of your relationship that you highly object to, you don’t tell them as much, and then you go out and do it anyway knowing that they object to it, then you’re a cowardly lying sack of shit. Even if it’s something as utterly benign as eating apples. You want to have a relationship, but you don’t want the other person to have any say in what that relationship entails. In fact, you disrespect your relationship and that person so much that you will allow it to be built on lies and malicious deception. You want all the perks of a relationship without doing any of the work, without being accountable to the person that you have an obligation to be accountable to, since, you know, they’re goddamned equal human beings. Not only that, they are equal human beings you supposedly care about.
In conclusion, men who use sex services, lie about it, and know that their S.O. doesn’t want them to use it are absolute filth of the worst kind. Not because they use sex services. But because they have the audacity to enter into a relationship on false premises, and then pretend as if they don’t understand why anyone would be so angry when their deceptions and lies are uncovered.
Of all the outside events in my childhood—things that weren’t just about me and the insular people in my little preteen world—nothing has failed to fade into obscurity except for the 2000 Elections.
I couldn’t pin down exactly why that is, or sum it up in one coherent sentence. But it was the first time that my little world tilted off its axle, the first time that I figured that there was a world outside of my own personal hell (thanks middle school, for all the angst!), and that it wasn’t any better than anything that came before.
Even at 12, I was precocious and had to have an opinion about everything. I had a good social studies teacher for seventh grade that year. Most of the time, whichever teacher got stuck teaching the poorly taught mish-mash of geographic, civics, and history just read from the text, while scrubbing the world of any of its bullshit and unsavory characteristics. But I remember that teacher. Not her name, of course, but I remember that she had short hair, was quite fat, and inordinately found of Pepsi. She had posters of the Pepsi logo on her wall and drank an entire Big Glup of the sugary crap at least twice a day.
But what I remember most about her is that she was the first teacher that encouraged us to pay attention to politics. Not in the way that we used to, the way that only required rote memorization and only accomplished filled out worksheets, but in the way where we were supposed to think for ourselves.
So I thought for myself for what was probably one of the first times on something bigger than me and bigger than my family. I contemplated Bush, I contemplated Gore. And at 12, totally untutored in the ways of politics and how to fact-check talking heads on the television, I had the overwhelming impression that one of the candidates was incredibly full of shit. Oh, and it wasn’t Gore.
That sort of clarity about politics never really faded as I grew older. What did fade was the black and white mentality. Now, I can’t separate candidates or positions into right and wrong. It typically comes down to something like wrong, horribly wrong, and so absolutely fucking wrong that I can’t believe anyone buys this bullshit. I wish I could say that the world was painted in shades of gray. But it’s not. As time marches on, and the pressures of adulthood creep into my daily routines, the world is just shades of black, speckled with some drab grays—never lightening to anything approaching white.
Today, I was struck by this overwhelming nostalgia for the ’90s. Until November of 2000, I was blissfully unaware of the bullshit of the outside world. The Oklahoma City bombings and O.J.’s farce of a trial (I was 7 when those happened) were blips on the radar. The world was rosy, the future was promising, and one day soon a girl (maybe me?) could be president. My parents got a messy divorce circa ’96, but I figured that was just an indication of my family’s private malfunctions, and nothing to do with the state of the outside world.
2000 changed that. For the first time, I got the sense that the world was full of very corrupt, very stupid people. I watched an election stolen, and I thought, “what the fuck?” They taught me that we lived in a Democracy, that America was the best country in the world. And some douche that knew nothing about shit, who just lost the popular vote, was fraudulently declared the leader of my country over some dude who was pretty awkward, and kind of dorky, but at least knew what’s what, or so I assumed.
I was privileged. Even as my parents fought and my mother bought our clothes at Goodwill, I was insulated from the fuck-ups of the world. There were no bloody Civil Wars, nobody in our family starved or went without birthdays and winter extravaganzas of presents.
The 2000 Elections ushered in a new era of thinking big. For the first time, I saw something that happened that was wrong, and attributed it to large forces that people refused to control. The bullies that tormented me suddenly weren’t so bad after all. I found myself hating their parents, hating the administrators that sat by and watched the brutal abuse visited upon the bookish “weird” girl and did nothing. For the first time, I looked at power and saw cruelty when they alone had the power to make kindness stick.
Now, I know that it was the beginning of a decade of realization: that the strong are offered such opportunity to be callously indifferent, ignorant, and weak while the weak are expected and obligated to be strong, brave, and good when given no incentive or opportunity to do so. This is now what I refer to when I talk about privilege. With power comes the sheltering embrace of ignorance, the ability to push responsibility down the pile until it rains like a foul deluge on those without anyone below them to abuse.
I sit here now, in a crap heap of shattered privileges. The willowy thinness of youth has left, replaced with hormonal imbalances, back problems, and horrid allergies. My refuge of feigned heterosexuality is destroyed beneath the weight of a denial I could not face—without any indication that I ought to do so, that there was any other way that this endless farce of normalcy. My religious heritage has become less of an interesting set of rituals and more of a set of squishy places for the heavy bludgeon of enforced public Christianity to really bruise. My wages don’t meet inflation, don’t meet the cost of living. I face an endless road of insurmountable debt, with the hopeless idea that I could beat the odds and pay it off. What bullshit is that? Pay it off? People who went to college in the ’80s—when it was expensive but not absurdly so—had to pay into their 40s. And this is with a good economy for most of the way, steady jobs, and wages that kept up with the cost of living until recently. What hope have I, with higher debt, lower wages, and an economy in shambles?
Nostalgia is for the privileged, for those who can look back with fondness to their youth. My youth, frankly, was miserable. There are years—somewhere between 8 (the year my parents split) and 14—that I was so unhappy that I only recall bits and pieces. But those fragile memories contain the promise that as long as I could live through the relentless hell of school, there would be a shiny adult life full of hope, if I worked for it, waiting for me.
At 22, I look back with nostalgia because I had hope. Now, I guess I still do. It’s its a flimsy facsimile of hope, because the consequences of facing the hopeless future before me is too psychologically great. There’s bitter refuge in ignorance. My number will eventually come up. Those in worst straights know it better than me—that the future isn’t all that awesome. Maybe they recall with fondness the ’90s, when parents let their children out to play all day and the world was full of the promise of high-tech jobs and high-tech lives. When the counterculture was about raging against the machine and a well-earned anger at authority and less about the crushing demands of relentless consumerism, creating debt to ease the pain of meaningless lives, meaningless values. When people mourned in the streets for their lost heroes—for their Princess Dianas and Kurt Colbanes—instead of overlooking the deadly attempted assassinations of political officials and bombings of medical clinics.
What happened since then? My favorite bands and artists could go up in flames tomorrow and I would not shed a tear. My house could be foreclosed upon, and I would not even blink in surprise. They could ban abortion and I’d shrug my shoulders, knowing it was inevitable.
If this is growing up, fuck it all. Adult responsibilities now only mean adult debts, adult lies you tell yourself to get out of bed in the morning. I’m not depressed. I’m angry. I’m filled with contempt at all the people in authority that had the power to stop this downward spiral, and instead said, “fuck it, I’d rather buy a Hummer.”
Nostalgia is for those with a past to look back on fondly. I could have it worse, but I could have had it a lot better. No matter how many people are worse off mean that those entrusted with the task of being strong for me—a child—should be forgiven for failing in so many different ways.
But what scares the ever-loving crap out me is the concept that in the future, as I see it going, we’re going to have extra awesome new ways of failing those we’re tasked with protecting. The meek shall inherit an Earth devoid of fertile soil, lush forests, equality of opportunity, and Democracy. They will instead inherit insurmountable debt, countries on the brink of dissolution or war, oceans depleted of fish and skies filled with the smog of yesterday.
One day I’ll look back at my nostalgia today with nostalgia, because the way we’re going, it’s going to only get worse. If The Smith’s “How Soon is Now?”—which exclaims, “I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone”—defines our generation, what of the generations of the future? How much worse must it get before we wake up and say to power, fuck you and your tax cuts, your business incentives and your bonus packages. I want a future for me and mine, so sell your fucking yacht, because no greedy ignorant sack of shit like you has the right to plunder the world of its riches, its happiness, its hope, and its future.
So the other night, I figure it’s about time I watch a movie. While running errands, I pick up a copy of The Town from my nearest Blockbuster. I heard it got good reviews, and it was written by Ben Affleck, who generally writes pretty good movies.
And it was a decent movie. Not something that you want to rant and rave how amazing it was, but it was alright, and mildly entertaining. I saw the ending coming up a mile away though, particularly since they really didn’t bother to develop the characters of anyone but the protagonist, his roommate/partner-in-crime, and his girlfriend. Spoilers: Protagonist gets away, roommate (who is not as attractive) dies, girlfriend waves teary good-bye to troubled dude who lied to her, but has a heart of gold. Yeah, real original, I know.
I say the movie is good, though, because it got me thinking. I like thinking. But first, The Town is a movie about some guys who work for a mysterious “Florist” who gives them tips on which armored trucks and banks can be robbed successfully. They’re all very thorough at their job—by scrubbing fingerprints, not leaving the banks with the tracers and dye packs, and never taking hostages or killing anyone they manage to stay under the radar.
Of course, they have to fuck up for the movie to have any sort of plot. Long story short, they take a hostage at a large bank heist, who one of the guys (Ben Affleck, naturally) finds a pretense to “date” in order to see if she remembers anything about her kidnappers, who were wearing a mask at the time of the heist. She doesn’t remember much (what she does becomes a plot point that disappointingly goes nowhere), and her and her kidnapper start a loving relationship based on mutual respect and honesty. I’m totally kidding about the respect and honesty, by the way.
Shit continues to hit the fan because the protagonist’s roommate, who is also the husband/boyfriend/brother (I wasn’t clear on the details) of the girl the protagonist is sort of kind of fucking on the side (who might have a daughter by him, and doesn’t know he’s seeing the hostage that doesn’t know he’s her kidnapper, oy!) is basically a loose cannon, and does dumb shit like shoot people at robberies, take hostages, and kill people for funsies.
Basically, they fuck up a huge heist, and everyone dies but the protagonist and his girlfriend. The fate of his fuckbuddy/baby mama is unknown, but we’re supposed to think she’s a dumb whore or whatever because she sold them out to the police. Of course, the police were threatening to take her kid away from her if she didn’t cooperate, she just found out that her “boyfriend” has been seeing someone else, and oh, she lives with a couple of violent, unhinged bank robbers. But she’s a bitch that ruined their brotherhood. Whatever, right?
Anywho, the plot is fairly dumb. But it’s well-acted, even if the characters are basically impossible to relate to. Basically everyone is either (a) dumb, (b) an asshole, or (c) a dumb asshole. That’s the problem with 99% of movies though, so I’m going to give The Town an 8 out of 10, because it kept my interest without wanting to make me roll my eyes in exasperation until the very end, and only then did I roll them. I didn’t even roll them hard either (high praise!).
But what really struck me is how much time and money people waste protecting the money of rich fucks who own banks. Seriously, who cares if dudes rob a bank? Yeah, I’m a dirty pinko commie, what the fuck do I know, but let’s face it: American banks don’t give a shit about anyone but their CEOs and shareholders. So a bunch of schmucks from the Boston projects make off with $3 million, who gives a shit? So a CEO might get a $5 million bonus that year instead of $6 million. Yeah, boo hoo, right?
I get why dudes want to rob a bank. It’s money: you have it, or you die. It takes money to live, money to live well, and money to do anything worth doing. You live in some shit-heap, you have a crappy education, and no daddy to get you a job at his fancy firm (for reals, the protagonist’s dad was totes in jail and shit for—get this—robbing banks), so you steal to get by. I gather that most petty criminals who steal shit might stop stealing shit if, I don’t know, they could make an honest living and afford what needs buying, you know? Of course, it’s the petty criminals who steal things like cigarettes, money for their addictions, and food that get to jail, while rich dudes get to live the high live, snorting stolen blow off the backs of underage trafficked girls in a house paid for by what amounts to slave labor and employment law violations.
Unsurprisingly, what happens in the end of The Town is pretty mundane: poor dudes all die trying to take shortcuts to the high life (protip: which is basically impossible to obtain, by the way, since the game is rigged by the ones who are winning it).
So, now I’m thinking, “what kind of asshole shoots a dude for robbing a bank?” Seriously, why the fuck would anyone use deadly force to defend the property of rich douches that have enough stolen cash to play high-speed bumper cars Lambos for funsies?
Which is hilarious, in a LOLSOB kind of why when you think about how much time and money poor slobs (dude, it’s not like policemen get paid all that much to take bullets for the property rights of rich dudes) spend defending the grotesque wealth of the haves from the have-nots. Because I guarantee that those haves consume the lion’s share of public funding of law enforcement, all the while moaning from their gilded toilet seats about how those horrible brown people are taking our jobs and how taxes are evil and they shouldn’t have to pay a penny per every eleventy million dollars they earn/steal to do shit like keep people from dying from preventable diseases or starvation.
So, now back to the The Town. I figure I was supposed to get the message that robbing banks is not good for your life expectancy, but all I got from it was fuck rich people and the deluded assholes who would die and kill for them and their grotesque entitlement to the world’s wealth.
Yeah, so I dropped off the face of the planet for a while, whoops?
To those that have blogged before—you know that it’s something a bit like a double-edged sword. It’s nice to put your words out there, in the void, and just get them out of your head. But at the same time, you feel like you need to have an opinion about everything, and that that opinion needs to be cogent and well-ordered. Well, fuck that, say I! There’s a lot that goes on in this old head of mine that isn’t logical at all. So I dropped out of blogging for months and months because I really wasn’t feeling the blogging vibes. I didn’t want my thoughts up to scrutiny. Sure, I posted on other people’s blogs and generally said a lot of horribly liberal progressive shit to Americans completely untutored in the practice of progressivism and leftward thought (the horror! The socialism! Ieeeeeeee!).
Also, I was kind of feeling glum about the title of my blog. I made it up when I was new to this lady business of blogging, and I wasn’t really aware of the intersection of cis-priviledges and feminism. So I equated two X chromosomes with femininity, thought it made a catchy blog title, and thought nothing more of it. Ah, the blindness of priviledge! Now, I’m sorry to whomever doesn’t share my cis-priviledge who stumbles across this blog. I was very ignorant of my own ignorance, and I’m a bit ashamed of it now. And, of course, I’m a bit stumped. I’ve put a lot of work into XXBlaze, and I’m loathe to give up the url and the title that has been associated with me for so long. But I also don’t want to be associated with that ignorant stain of cis-priviledge any more. Yes, I will always have cis-priviledge. But maybe it’s not a great idea to advertise it or smush it in the face of the unprivileged, no?
But the rest of my motives are not so selfless—not that the above two were to begin with. I basically finished my undergraduate degree and received quite a few promotions at my current place of labor. Now, I find that I’m paid to write, and to code websites. So the last thing I want to do, understandably, is write and code when I get home… especially since at least work pays me to do it, whilst blogging is sadly, totally unpaid.
The last motive, and perhaps the most shameful (although don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply ashamed of my cis-ignorance), is that I’m fucking sick and tired of politics. I like dipping my toes into outrage and contempt through other people’s blogs and then going about my day as if I don’t give a fuck. When I actually have to write about it myself, I find that I do give too much of a fuck, and it’s quite the mood-killer. That, and the people around me seem to prefer that I have less of a cogent and less of an outraged argument before I talk to them about politics. When I don’t blog, my opinions are less well-formed, and I’m more apt to give them up so we can talk about meaningless bullshit instead of things like social justice. I put it in italics because I’ve come to realize that it’s a very dirty word, and good girls really ought to have nothing to do with such thoughts.
Well, I had such thoughts this week, when politics basically came to my back door, took a nice stinky shit, and then went on its merry way like nothing at all had happened. See, I live in Arizona. I’m Jewish, and a woman. And once, when I was unaware that you had to be a soulless corporatist piece of warmongering shit in order to get elected (also, a hell of a lot more conservative, and a just a wee —okay, a lot—more demure, and straight), I wanted to be a public official. Now, I’m all like, fuck that, but I was a child of the ’90s, once—a million years ago—and we were quite fond of telling little girls back then that you too could grow up to be president! (Not that we’ve ever had a female president, but it was the ’90s, that glorious age of unbridled optimism and really horrible pants).
So, it was quite alarming, but not surprising, to see someone attempt to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords; a woman that—when I was fresh and funky free—I could have seen myself wanting to grow up to be like. After it all sunk in (sometime around Monday?), I said to myself, “that could have been you.” And make no doubt, I highly anticipate that if I decided to run for public office one day and actually won, I would have been at the other end of the barrel of a gun too.
Because while Giffords was Jewish, and a woman, I am the same—but also left of the Democratic party (while she’s a Blue Dog Democrat), and also a lesbian. The target Palin would have put on the map of my state would have encompassed the entire country.
I don’t know particularly why Loughner decided that Gifford deserved to die. But I’m not exactly going to be surprised if it turns out that her sex, religion, and political affiliation had something to do with it.
In this country, there is a large and violent swath of people that would like to see me and people that are like me, or people that think like me, dead. They want us dead for wanting to cure the sick and help the poor. They want us dead for loving someone of the same gender. They want us dead for wanting to provide a comfortable retirement for the elderly. They want us dead for a thousand reasons, and all their rhetoric belies their terrible sense of entitlement to our demise.
The right in this country is premised on ignorant grassroots that thrive on a culture of eliminationism. Whatever they don’t like, whatever they don’t understand, whatever doesn’t exactly conform to their ideals, deserves to die. Maybe they aren’t willing to pull the trigger. Maybe they won’t even be particularly pleased if someone else does it for them. But they are happy to sit and listen to those that call for our silencing, our deaths, and cheer when we are thrown under the bus, time and time again. And I know that they would not shed a tear if we and our “special interests”—if you can call asking to be treated like a fucking human being a “special interest”—up and disappeared from the face of the planet.
When O’Reilly and Palin and their ilk pretends they don’t condone the actions of the terrorist who attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Giffords, I know the truth. When they use loaded terms like “blood libel” (the Anti-Semitic fucks) and slather their websites in gun imagery, it is any wonder that I assume that they’re utterly and completely insincere?
Here in Arizona, I bathe in a culture of hate. Hatred of liberals, hatred of gays. Hatred of Mexicans, hatred of the poor. Hatred of gun control, and hatred of the sick. Hatred of anything that asks for understanding and empathy instead of exchanging lies for fevered calls for what amounts to fascism.
My country is poised on the brink of fascism, led symbolically by the state in which I preside. From SB1070 to the Tuscon shooting, there really isn’t anything good to say about my home right now. I live in a state of muted horror, nose stuck permanently in the air to avoid smelling the stink of ignorant lies that litter the Sonoran desert like bloated corpses, putrefying in the Arizonan sun. My political opinions are stuck permanently on “contempt.” What do I feel for Republicans? Contempt. Democrats? Contempt. President Obama? Contempt.
It’s exhausting and disheartening. You’d think that when the blinders come off, and now that I see that we live in a country for the rich, by the rich, and fueled by violent hatred, I’d have a lot to say.
Instead, I have nothing much to say at all. The only sound I can stand to make is a long silent scream which echoes through my head —the overlapping sounds of all the impassioned things I would say, if only there was someone in power who cared.
As I’ve grown older and wiser, and sharpened my intellectual criticism and skepticism, I’ve drifted ever closer to full-blown Atheism. I now identify myself as one, with the caveat that if really pressed, I’m much more Agnostic (as in, I believe the existence of God is extremely unlikely, but not entirely impossible). The bottom line is, though, that I’m a Godless Liberal, and semi-proud of it.
I say semi-proud, because there’s a disturbing tendency in Skeptic circles to completely ignore the truth of social awareness movements that draw attention to racism, sexism, and other forms of interlocking institutional privilege. I’m not the only one who’s noticed it.
There’s also a disturbing tendency to be ridiculously enamored of evolutionary psychology and pop science. While Skeptics will quickly jump to dismiss psuedo-intellectual claims that shots cause Autism or that the Bible is the final arbiter of morality, many seem to pick and chose pop science when it suits their purposes.
By “when it suits them”, I mean when it ‘proves’ that they are the superior individuals they think they are, when it confirms that their bad behavior is not their fault, or when it gives them an excuse to avoid skeptically analyzing the station they current enjoy in life.
I could say that I’m surprised that an intellectual movement openly devoted to questioning everything doesn’t feel obligated to own up to the fact that a great many of them refuse to question ongoing prevalent social problems. But I’d be lying, given that I know for a fact that the Skepticism movement, like any other intellectual movement besides the obvious ones (such as feminism, civil rights, gay advocacy, for starters), is led and mostly populated by a slew of economically advantaged white men. And where there is a group of white men pontificating about how their intellectual premises are better than their opponents, there is going to be a veritable truckload of unexamined social premises and advantages. History has taught us that this is inevitable.
What results is that while Skeptics rush in to debunk pop science that demonizes modern science, cosmology, or physics, they aren’t nearly as willing to do so for pop science that ‘proves’ that men are naturally something more than women, or whites are naturally something more than blacks. In fact, quite a few of them will actually go out of their way to parrot studies with even more shoddy methodology than the studies that supposedly show that Western medicine is bad or may cause horrible side effects.
For all the faults of the homeopathic and other cottage industries, at least they can claim that they manage to have better designed methodology than studies, funded by respected universities and conducted by tenured professors, such as the ones that ‘prove’ that women naturally like red more than men because something to do with hunting and cavemen.
So, what does this have to do with Atheism? Actually, an awful lot. A major tactic of Creationists and their ilk, when it comes to defending their faith in a Judeo-Christian God, it that “God is in the Gaps“.
This tactic references the idea that there are certain things in the universe that are currently unexplainable. This could be due to the simple limitation of modern science, or the fact that perhaps human minds will never be complex enough to comprehend the universe in its entirety. Creationists take the stance that some things are unexplainable — probability, the dual properties of light, the mystery of the composition of quarks — are because God is “in” them. They are unexplainable because God is somehow manipulating those factors in a supernatural way that can never be explained by science.
As the Scientific Revolution gained headway, people couldn’t claim that God moved the planets on their inexplicable orbits and kept them in place. Now we had gravity and physics to do that. With each cosmological advance, there is less and less uncertainty and less and less gaps for ‘God’ to wriggle his way into.
The point is that the history of astronomy reveals that cosmological arguments that claim God in is the gaps are always defeated. It’s simply insanity, and pure irrationality, to claim that it’s likely that this time, surely, God is in the quark. Well, he wasn’t in the origin of the Earth, he wasn’t in the origin of the Sun, he wasn’t in the movement of the planets, he wasn’t in the development of life, he wasn’t in the development of geological phenomena, and he wasn’t in the composition of stars. The odds are clearly stacked against God being “in” anything, cosmologically speaking. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to marry cosmology and religion in yet another ill-fated theory that will eventually, no doubt, be proven wrong.
I bring up the idea that “God is in the Gaps” to demonstrate a similar phenomenon. I call it, “Sexism is (Naturally) in the Gaps“.
When women wanted to be considered something other than property, it was decreed that it was the natural way of things to say that women ‘belonged’ to their husbands or fathers, because there was just some natural feature of gender that made the total disenfranchisement of an entire gender necessary. When women fought for the vote, it was lamented that their silly lady brains couldn’t take the strain of political decision-making, and that it was simply the natural way of things to prevent them from voting. When women fought for opportunities to work outside the home, a collective worry rose up to contemplate the inevitable ‘alienation’ of women from their true nature if they moved out of the domestic sphere and into a more economic one. When women ran for high elected offices, many worried that women were naturally unsuited to lead, and that their emotions and passivity would make them inevitably poor leaders. Now, when women demand equal pay for equal work or adequate representation in formerly male-dominated industries and positions, the pay gap and lack of powerful businesswomen is chalked up to our unfortunate inability to think logically, be aggressive enough for a raise, manage employees effectively, and naturally leave the workplace by 40 to soothe the ticking of our biological clocks.
All these explanations propose that the reason women were/are property, can’t vote, shouldn’t work outside the home, can’t be political leaders, and can’t make the same as men and advance as far as them is because we are naturally mentally inferior.
Sexism is in the Gaps theorizes, just as it has for hundreds — if not thousands — of years, that the reason women are collectively oppressed is because it’s just the natural order of things, and everything is really equal, even if separate, because there’s just no helping the natural mental abilities and aptitudes of the sexes.
This isn’t new, and it never was. Every time I see some ridiculously shoddy and poorly designed experiment get circulated as new! shocking! News! that once and for all proves that men and women are just mentally different, because of natural causes (or genetic, take your pick), I roll my eyes hard enough to sprain something. If anyone had half a brain when it came to this nonsense, they could easily see that these ‘studies’ just repeat the same tripe when it comes to differences in achievement between the genders. The message is always the same: the status-quo is good. Men are naturally superior to women in all the ways that society just happens to value. This is surely an extraordinary coincidence in the favor of men. But the implication is clear: feminism is stupid and misguided and possibly dangerous because it seeks to force us all into its wrongful idea of equality. We’re all already equal, and if we are magnanimous enough to admit that women often get the short end of the stick in most exchanges, it’s only because they’re just naturally deficient.
Just as the idea that God is the Gaps has been knocked down time and time again, so has the idea that Sexism is (Naturally) in the Gaps. To honestly point to any current achievement gap between the sexes and blame the ‘natural’ deficiencies of the female brain is completely irrational. And while Skeptics will loudly debunk those who wish to claim that some new poorly comprehended cosmological theory ‘proves’ the existence of God, they hardly ever do the same for poorly designed ‘studies’ (or single anecdotes of one bitchy or stupid woman, or just plain bullshit repeated through the generations) that ‘prove’ that men achieve more than women because they are better.
It all boils down in the end to this: there is always some natural biological or psychological explanation for why men achieve more than women, and it has everything to do with a woman’s natural inferiority and the superiority and honestly earned privileges of men. Bottom line is that bitches ain’t shit.
What’s amazing about this is that pointing out the similar fallacies between Sexism in the Gaps and God is in the Gaps ought to be enough for any logical person to admit that their faith in the natural psychological/biological reasons for wrongful achievement gaps is probably bullshit.
But there’s also another cool way to do the same thing: point out transsexuals.
When it comes to really teasing out the differences between the sexes, transsexuals are the penultimate subjects for research. Nobody else gets to live as both sexes, and nobody is probably more aware of how gender is perceived than those who find it enormously psychologically damaging and depressing that they cannot be perceived as the gender they know themselves to be.
Not only do transsexuals have the opportunity to adopt both gender identities (even if one fits poorly) and be perceived as one and then the other, those that undergo hormone therapy irreversibly alter the chemicals pumping through their bodies. Surely, if there was some biological or psychological explanation for the separation of the sexes, transsexuals who transition to female would notice that their ability to do math declines when female hormones flood their system. Surely, those that transition to male would realize that they are suddenly more apt to be aggressive in social situations and more self-advocating.
They actually didn’t observe anything of the sort. Apparently, transsexuals largely observe that mental and psychological aptitudes and attitudes remain the same. The only trait that often differed between individuals with male or female hormonal levels was the ability to suppress certain displays of emotion. Those transitioning to female reported that they could more easily express their emotions, while those transitioning to male repeatedly attest that they have a much easier time swallowing their urge to cry, even though neither reported any difference in the intensity of the emotions they felt before and after hormone therapy.
So other than the obvious physical changes and reproductive roles, it appears that sex hormones have not a lot to do with the basic psychological functioning of the adult brain. In other words, the biggest determinate of gender — hormones — has almost nothing to do with the ability of the brains of men and women. Hormones can’t explain why women are paid 70 cents to a man’s dollar for equal work. Hormones can’t tell you why men are more likely to sexually abuse women, children, and other men. Hormones can’t tell you why men are reportedly ‘naturally’ better at mathematics. Studies of transsexuals establish that mentally — besides aptitudes/deficiencies in expressing (not feeling) emotion — gender-specific hormonal levels really don’t do shit.
Those still searching for a ‘natural’, or biological/psychological explanation for the achievement gap between men and women will now inevitably turn to genetics, prenatal development, and/or early childhood development. Once a child is out of the womb, his or her physical sex is largely determined by secondary sex characteristics governed by a potent mix of hormones. Which is why hormone therapy can so reliably suppress or create those characteristics for transsexuals. Thus, genetics only determines the gender differences between individuals of identical genetic code (excluding the singular different X/Y chromosome, if they are genetically ‘normal’) for a very brief period of time.
Not only that, the different content between a second X chromosome or a second Y chromosome is remarkably small, all things considered. Although I’m not a geneticist, I’d also gather than the vast majority of that different information is devoted to the formation of hormonal levels that determine the genetic sex of the child in utero and later, the secondary sex characteristics.
This leaves us with an infinitesimally small ‘gap’ to attribute to natural sex differences. The likelihood of mental sex differences being found in this gap is equally small, considering that we’ve failed — time and time again — to demonstrate any other ‘natural’ biological source of psychological-based gender inequality. Additionally, the chances that these differences, if they exist, can reliably explain why men own 99% of the land on this planet, earn more than women doing the same exact work, and display toxic masculine behaviors that destroy their lives and others is even tinier. I’d say the chance that the differences between the genders in something like mathematical ability ever being reliably shown to be based in psychological differences caused by biology is about as goddamn likely as the change that the universe will spontaneously collapse, or that there really is a pink teacup orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
It’s truly pathetic that a group of people who call themselves “Skeptics” — hell, anyone that considers themselves intelligent — can attribute gaps in achievement to the unbelievably tiny chance that there is a biological explanation for such vast disadvantages rather than a phenomenon that pervasive, consistent, and well-documented.
That phenomenon is sexism, not biology or potential ability. Nothing more, and nothing less.
And anyone who chalks up such pervasive systems of oppression to anything other than those systems of oppression is practically denying that 1 + 1 = 2. They are worthy of the same scorn as a fool that passes himself off as an astrophysicist when he can’t even reliably add single-digit numbers.
So I’ve been wrapping up my semester, and thinking all about my philosophy and finals and law. Updating the blog has obviously fallen to the end of the to-do list. Shame. I have a couple of things I’m working on that I might post.
Anyways, I wanted to share with you all this hilarious comment I received on an old post. It seems like my blog has made the rounds at various Men’s Rights forums, and a couple have dropped in uninvited to piddle on my carpet. While I always enjoy the douchebags who think it’s evidence of a VAST FEMINIST CONSPIRACY that I don’t approve their comments, it’s actually because (a) they’re douchebags, (b) they say absolutely nothing of substance, (c) they ignore my commenting policy, and (d) they violate the minimum standards of human decency.
So here’s a nice pile of poo a gentleman by the name of “Hmmm” left here. Consider this your trigger warning for violence, misogyny, and death threats. In short, just a usual day as a person with a vagina on the internet:
Does your husband know you are speaking or using his computer?
In fact, are there any Patriarchs that are aware of your writings?
You had better not get caught or he might decide to either beat you to an inch of your life or overpower you, your feminine Will and savagely rape you for what you’re worth. This will be up to him to decide..
It is simply man’s place to subjugate, use, abuse, rape and harm women, it’s simply what men were designed and ordained by the creator to do. As a result this has been the MOST PROMINENT experience in most women’s lives i.e. that of oppression from men…. If you would like to go to war you are welcome to raise arms but I warn you that you will be put right back in your place where you belong to service me both sexually and any other way I see fit and if you refuse I will simply force you to do whatever I want or simply extinguish you from existence.
All hail the Great Patriarch! I am Man ruler of and master of women! She, thy piece of meat, my servant wench from which the almighty male God created for my use and abuse…. I’m so tickled by my power and control over women.. It really is great to be the Great Male Patriarch! It is important that women mind their place, serve men and bend to our Will or you will be forced to submit, bent open to take what we give you……
Aww, how cute. He thinks he’s powerful. LOL. All joking aside, I’d say that comments like these are pretty much par for the course if you’re a woman blogging about lady business. But since I’m nice, I’m going to take a minute of my time to answer this lovely chap.
Perhaps a man of your esteem and lofty circumstance thinks the law is beneath him, but I think it might perchance interest you to know that threatening people with vicious acts of savagery is, unsurprisingly, illegal. Many a better and greater sirs have made the unfortunate mistake of assuming that the interwebs are a glorious free-for-all, but that is indeed not the case. We do live in a society in which threatening gentle women and men with random acts of violence is frowned upon. Afterall, the law has codified this disapproval. But since I assume that you are a nice fellow, I am compelled to think that you have simply been caught unawares by the passion of your — sadly mistaken — convictions. Instead of turning to a keyboard to vent your ire, might I instead recommend a fainting couch? Or a psychiatrist?
If it pleases you sir, perhaps you might turn to the information I have kindly included on my blog to answer your pressing questions. No, my Nigel does not know that I use my mouth for speaking, or my keyboard for typing. This state of “knowing” for my Nigel is quite impossible, given that my Nigel doesn’t exist. Alas and alack, that is verily because I take comfort in the pleasures of the similar sex. My Nigellete is thusly quite enamored of my keyboarding activities. We converse nightly with the aid of this technological marvel.
Patriarchs my friend? Oh, what an antiquated notion! Surely you do not mean my father? Frankly my dear, I do not give a damn. About the knowledge of my father, that is. Being of the much lauded age of majority, I assume my activities beyond his notice. He does agree with that notion, being that he lives many days away as the crow flies. Or the horse trots. Well, in all fairness, I do have to praise him for introducing me to this wondrous technology we call the internet when I was but smaller and less cooth. Strange, but he did seem to encourage my use of it. The mistake, I fear, is yours.
Might I suggest you find yourself nicer company? It seems that you have be taken by the notion that fathers and Nigels are in the frequent habit of unwanted sexual congress with their progeny and paramours. Nay, but I do not myself know of such men! Verily, I have heard many a frightening rumor of such beasts, but they seem to be unfortunate and, thankfully, frowned upon. Kinder company seems unenamored of such behavior. Perchance, whereby do you find yourself presently? It seems like a ghastly place — where such men are the norm and their behavior expected. I do so wish to avoid travels in that place.
As for the rest of your missive, I find it distasteful to comment upon. I recommend the aid of a learned physician. Once I overheard that hysterics are the unfortunate symptom of floating reproductive organs. It might be in your best interest to uncover whether or not your testes have been firmly tethered to your abdominal wall. Delusions aside, you do seem to have a rather lofty opinion of yourself. While a good sense of the self is always recommended, may I suggest the cooling of your passions? As we well know, success in moderation!
Alas kind sir, but I do not have more time to address your, dare I say it, sophomoric concerns.
Good day, sir. I say, good day!
So I’m two days away from two finals I really don’t want to take, with about twelve posts in draft form that I want to complete, but don’t have the inspiration or time to do so.
Yeah, so I’m not dead, for those that were wondering. You can keep up with me on twitter, which I seem to update more regularly than my blog.
But if y’all could write my thesis and apply to post-graduate programs (PhD, if you’re wondering) programs for me, that would give me more time for feminist theorizing/bitching.
Think about it. Take any social problem. Now ponder it. Ask people about it. Contemplate why that problem exists, and who is responsible. Wonder who has the ability to prevent that problem, and who has the power to fix it.
Now, if you’re progressive, the answers to those questions may be different. You could say that poverty is the fault of an economic system that simply must have desperately poor people toil without any hope of advancement for the benefit of the wealthy. You could say that homelessness is the fault of sub-par mental health facilities and the outrageous cost of living. These are all very progressive answers. They may or may not be true for each individual, but they tend to explain the general cause of large social problems quite accurately.
However, these explanations aren’t common. Most people aren’t sociologists. Most people don’t deal with trends and “social institutions” and privileges. Those words mean nothing.
So why are people poor? Why do people commit crimes? Why is adultery so common? What happened to the stability of marriage? Why are people fat? Why are today’s kids lazier than ever? Why is prostitution and sex trafficking so common? Why are half my neighbors sex offenders? Why?
Here’s why: women. Everything is the fault of women. Women are too uppity, they are too meek. They are too slutty and too submissive. They are too bitchy and too shy. They eat too much and they eat too little. They are too hormonal and too frigid. They are too smart and too shallow. They are too demanding and too accommodating. They are bad mothers and bad girlfriends and bad wives. They are bad nurses, teachers, and maids. They are too masculine. They are too feminine. They are bad doctors, professors, and CEOs. They make too much. They make too little. They think too much of themselves. They don’t have a backbone. They are barren. They have too many children. They frown too much and then they are too friendly. They have too much sex. They don’t have enough sex. They don’t enjoy sex. They enjoy sex too much. They drink too much. They don’t drink at all. They talk too much. They shop too much. They laugh too much. They cry too much. They are hookers, they are asking for it, they have driven off the men. Their movements have gone too far but they haven’t gone far enough.
Does this sound familiar? There is always a reason to blame women — a woman, some women, those women, all women — for something. Doesn’t matter how perfect she is. She could be 5’8″, perfect hourglass, hair like sunlight and skin like silk. She could be cute and fun in all the right circumstances, and professional and formal in others. Then, she’ll be too perfect. That’s her fault too. She’s so perfect, that if anything ever happens to her, around her, to people she knows, it’s her fault.
There is one thing that most self-identified women have in common: a vagina. As long as you have a vagina, you are guilty of something. It doesn’t matter what, because it depends on what needs to be accounted for. Innocent until proven female. That’s how it all works.
Here’s the plot: there’s a kid you know. He’s troubled at school. Or she’s troubled at school, it doesn’t matter what gender the kid is. She’s bullied a lot. He brings home bad report cards. She acts out in class and hits other kids when she’s upset. He cheats on tests and eats glue. She draws in the books and on the walls. He grows up a bit and gets into drugs. She smokes some pot after school. He gets in with the “wrong crowd”. She gets caught doing something for their approval. He goes to jail. She can’t make bail, her mother is too poor. He gets in fights with other inmates. She spit at a guard and attacked her cellmate. He is denied parole. She gets out. He sells coke to make ends meet. She violates parole. He goes back to jail. She dies there.
That should be the end, right? What a sad story. Here’s the catch: that kid grew up without a father. Her mother was single. She never got married. She got pregnant in high school. She got a divorce when he was young. She was raped and kept the child. The point is: this life-long criminal was raised by women. Only women. Her family, her money, and her blood, sweat and tears.
Oh! Now it’s different! See, that kid went down that road because they lacked a “strong male role model”. If their mom had just found a good man to marry, or been a better mother, they would be the motherfucking President. They’d be in the NBA, making six figures at a law firm, and closing deals with international corporations. They could have had the world, if only they had dear old dad. Or their mother wasn’t such a failure, such a slut, having too many kids and not enough money.
Here’s another plot: woman gets dressed up. It’s a hot night, humid too. She wears a short skirt. It makes her feel good and keeps her legs cool. She wears a thin low-cut top. It doesn’t stick to her skin or collect sweat. She puts her hair up, puts her make-up on, and slips into some shoes that just pull it all together. She meets some friends, and they have some drinks. She’s feeling good. She meets a guy. His name was David. Or was it John? He’s funny. His cheeks dimple when he smiles. His teeth are straight. Did you know he was an Eagle Scout? She likes him: the way he makes her feel, the way he wears his jeans, and the way his eyes crinkle at the corners when he grins. She thinks he likes her too: he bought her three — or was it four? — drinks, held the door open, and found excuses to whisper in her ear even when she could hear him fine. Her friends went home a while ago. She doesn’t mind; Victor is all the company she needs. She’s a little too drunk to drive. He invites her to his house. She accepts, and they giggle on the ride to his apartment. He lives on the third floor, and she can’t climb the stairs right now. He sighs, grins, and carries her instead. She vomits in the neighbor’s petunias and apologizes. He shows her to his couch and tells her to sleep it off. She thanks him and passes out. She woke up once, she thinks, and it hurts a lot. Where did her skirt go? Oh, why are you here Thomas? Hey, you’re too warm, get off. She wakes up again. The morning sun leaves stripes on the carpet. Her skirt is on the television. She thought he feel asleep with it on. Her panties are missing. Her thighs are wet. There’s a bruise on her knee. She hurts all over, especially there. She knows what happened. She leaves before he gets up. He calls three days later. Tells her he had a good time, didn’t she? Does she want to do it again sometime? She declines. John is a nice guy. She’s not good enough for him.
What a whore! Her skirt said “yes” even though her mouth didn’t move at all. Her flimsy shirt said “yes” too, even when her lips were sealed. It was her fault really. She could call it rape, but it wasn’t rape-rape, you know? She’s just a statistic. Oh, she’s just the kind of girl that gets raped. Short skirt, promiscuous, doesn’t mind giving it up before you put a ring on it, goes out by herself at night. It’s like she took all those tips that good girls take to heart and spit on them. Good girls know that if you follow the rules, The Rape will not get you. They’re not like her: they follow the rules. They don’t like her: she lives when they hide. She pretends that her body is her own. She pretends that the night is fun and safe. The Rape is inevitable. She should have known better.
Here’s another: she has a kid. No Dad. He wasn’t any good, so she left. Good riddance! She goes back to school, wants to do right by herself. Only classes at night are classes for dead-end jobs. She wants more than that. She quits her job, enrolls full-time, goes to school all day and pays for a babysitter. The savings run out. There’s not anyone hiring part-time. Well, she’s still got something to sell, so she does. It’s hard work, but she sets her own hours, makes her own rules. Sometimes it’s really scary, and the guys smell bad and pant like rapid dogs and their sweat smells like onions. But she’s paying her bills, paying the daycare, and getting her degree. It’s not forever. Until the night she gets caught. She thought he was just another guy. Hell, he even got his money’s worth before he pulled out the badge. Now she’s at the station, what a mess. She doesn’t have anyone to call. She thinks it’s funny that she couldn’t count on them when that one man held a knife to her throat while he fucked her, but she can count on them now.
That’s what prostitutes get, you know. Or whores, escorts, whatever they call themselves, it’s all the same. Prostitution is a blight on society. It spreads disease to good women (white women and rich women!) whose poor husbands are swayed by marketing of the flesh. John’s didn’t invent the business, and pimps don’t run it. If you want to stamp it out, you have to arrest the whores. Whores don’t have dicks like the cops and the judges and the lawyers. They don’t have “urges” like the johns and the pimps. Hell, we can all appreciate some good enterprising businessmen and some lonely sex-addicted slob. But whores? Dregs of society, you know. Washed of women of the night. Breaking up families, soliciting important men, dragging their names into the mud.
It’s always the fault of women. Poverty? Single mothers. Rape? Women whose skirts can consent, even if they don’t. Adultery? Sluts, scarlet women, single women, and whores. The Rape, cheating, crime… all inevitable. You can’t stop it, you can’t ask why it happens. You certain can’t ask who does it. Well, you could if the answer was black men, poor men, or homosexual men. But not white, middle class, Christian, American, able-bodied men. They don’t have anything to do with The Rape. It’s all feminism’s fault or something.
Yeah. That’s how it all goes down. Why focus who rapes when you can focus on who gets raped? Surely, it’s their fault. Why focus on who leaves the kids when you can focus on who stays? Surely, it’s also their fault. Why focus on who buys sex when you can focus on who sells sex? You know that it’s certainly their fault too.
Because all of those people — single mothers, rape survivors, and prostitutes — all have two things in common: they are abandoned/violated/bought by men and they all have vaginas. But since we know that men are never responsible for anything, the reason The Rape, broken homes, and the sex industry exist is because there are people with vaginas. There are people with vaginas, and it’s all their fault. Women — what they are, what they do, and everything they’re responsible for, especially feminism — brought it upon themselves.
They are women. Bloody, beaten, broken, poor, fat, abandoned, or perfect: they all are women. And all women deserve to be judged and scrutinized, no matter what.