Category Archives: Penis Brain
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.
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.
As anyone with an internet connection will know, the last week has been a series of failures when it comes to male celebrities breaking the law and treating women and girls like shit. Everything I could say about Polanski, however, has already been said.
With Polanski, however, it seems like few people outside of Hollywood are engaging in overt rape-apologetics. The people I happen to run into on a daily basis are mostly in agreement that Polanski is a filthy fucking rapist and that the portion of Hollywood signing that “Free Polanski” petition have all lost their fucking minds.
So, I at least have some faith in humanity.
Although it is very shaken when it comes to Letterman. I was always of the opinion that he was a swarmy asshole. Most men in power tend to be, and there were no indications that he was an exception to the rule.
Thus, the news story about how he slept with many female staffers in his long tenure as a talk-show host didn’t surprise me at all. Hey, another famous male abusing his power to harass, rape, or exploit women. In other obvious news, the sky is blue. I bet you would have never guessed that! What really bugged me about the story, however, wasn’t really that Letterman was an unadulterated douchebag of the highest order. It’s the public reaction to his revelation that got my panties in a twist, so to speak.
Unlike Polanski, most people seem to have filed Letterman’s shenanigans either under the “ha ha, that’s funny” category, or moved right into “bitches blackmail men because they didn’t get what they wanted out of seducing them, the whores”.
And the second assumption bugs the ever-living shit out of me. It’s like the entire world has no idea of what power imbalances are created when your boss is a very famous man hell-bent on seducing you, or the fact that sexual harassment in the work place is illegal.
Because that’s what Letterman did: he sexually harassed, coerced, and exploited the women and men under him. He turned the staff of his entire show from the meritocracy it was supposed to be into a harem of peons he assumed were only there to assuage his massive self of self-entitlement and/or his prick. He deprived women of the positions they’ve earned because they wouldn’t sleep with him or he wouldn’t want to sleep with them. He deprived men of the same, because sleeping with him was not an option, and that seemed to be the most sure-fire way of climbing the ranks quickly.
In short, Letterman poisoned the well. He forever twisted the fair and equal power structure that he was legally and duty-bound to uphold into whatever suited his overwhelming sense of narcissism.
And when he revealed what he did to the public, they laughed.
They laughed like it was not a big deal. Like he wasn’t responsible or that an offense against morality hadn’t been committed. They laughed like every powerful man is entitled to behave as such because such men have “earned” the right to viciously undermine fairness and exploit everyone around them, especially if the exploited are women.
Honestly, that scares the crap out of me. What Letterman did isn’t rare or uncommon. It’s very prevalent. People in power use that power, and the threat inherent when they have that power and other people don’t, to do all sorts of unconscionable shit. It’s an endless cycle of cronyism and exploitation/corruption that irrevocably taints most power structures.
Yes, most. Corruption underlies most hierarchical structures in most societies. Letterman’s actions are just more evidence of the same. They’re not a laughing matter.
For shit’s sake, when are people going to stop laughing at corruption and demand some goddamn accountability? Whether it’s Polanski or Letterman or George W. Bush, it should be really fucking obvious by now that most people in power behave as if that power gave them carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want.
Furthermore, this shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When Letterman uses how well women please his cock to determine his advancement policies, people who deserve it don’t advance. When Polanski uses the promises of fame to rape girls, girls don’t have a safe way to get fame or trust those that could help them achieve it. When George W. Bush uses how much contractors are chummy with his interests to determine who does what in Iraq, billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars just disappear and resurface in generous Halliburton compensation packages or are spent on mercenaries that slaughter civilians.
When corruption earns laughter rather than moral culpability, corruption flourishes. It undermines every concept of fairness and justice we think we have. It poisons the well and engages in behavior like rape, sexual exploitation, or outright murder.
So when you think of Letterman, don’t laugh. What corruption does isn’t funny. And it’s about time that we stopped laughing at men who abused power, and started demanding some fucking accountability.
Lo, the rape culture. Verily, we are soaking in it. It would be very melodramatic and feminist of me to say that the reason I have been on hiatus from lady blogging is because the rape culture paralyzes my will to write, but the truth is that I’ve been studying for the LSATs for the past four months, and feel rather like someone installed a shunt into my cranium.
For all those with the fortune not to know the horrors of pre-law school standardized testing, I envy you. Truly.
But of course, nobody is really interested in such boring pursuits, however necessary. Let’s talk about BDSM again.
BDSM is like the no-man’s land between sexyfun feminism and seriousbusiness feminism. There needs to be some Anti-Landmine Convention for that shit, yo. For while I did not partake in lady blogging whilst I was studying, I did participate in my fair share of lady blog reading. Whenever sex is mentioned on a blog, it seems to open a floodgate of navel-gazing BDSM pontification. What is consent? Is it cool to stick my arms up to my elbows in someone’s anus? Why do both dominant and submissive women wear corsets, while only submissive men do the same?
Only the first question really interests me. See, I’ve had a lot of orgasms in my life. They are hardly the pinnacle of human achievement. Color me unimpressed that other people have figured out that they, too, can orgasm. I really have no wish to detail sexyfun time. Am I doing it right? Are you doing it right? The only thing in the world, I fear, more rigid and conformist than the middle-school pecking order is how much people seem to care how other people get their rocks off.
No, I do not excuse said sexyfun people from this critique. Encapsulated in the concept of BDSM is the thought that people outside the “scene” are really missing out. They’re hopelessly “vanilla” or sexually repressed or something. Perhaps they’re godbags and read the Bible every hour and haven’t been naked without shielding their eyes from their loathsome bodies since they were toddlers.
This is all very self-congratulatory. Very predictable too. Someone says, “dude, getting a boner from hurting women is not okay.” Which, by the way, shouldn’t be a controversial statement. But then everything derails into fail about 0.02 seconds later, when someone has to chime in out how fucking awesome BDSM is and how much it is all about consent and celebration of human sexuality and transgressing Puritanical ideas and blah blah blah.
See, that shit doesn’t fool me. It shouldn’t fool you either. Because in that there is inevitably the implicit premise that so-called “vanilla” people aren’t interested in consent, that they aren’t having sex on their own terms for their own self-aware reasons, or that we’re just not cool enough to drop tons of cash on props to have orgasms. Oh, and that BDSM people are totes better at boinking than you, and you really ought to be jealous.
Dude, no. Just no. This kind of shit isn’t just confined to the internets or feminist blogs either. It plays out whenever I go have some drinks with my chums. It becomes a contest of who is the most “liberated” in their sex life. By “liberated”, they mean has the most props, the most scripts, and the haughtiest, most obnoxious, urge to brag about it all the fucking time.
It’s a game of who can dominate everyone else at being more into domination. Patriarchy2. Then you muddle it up with equating orgasm with the absolute be-all and end-all of human achievement, and you have an entire culture centered on hurting women for some dude’s boner so you can brag about it all the fucking time.
And isn’t that just what it all comes down to? I’m not putting vanilla sex on a pedestal either. I’m just channeling Foucault by saying that there isn’t a hell of a lot of difference between one narrow idea of what sexuality ought to be being replaced by other very narrow idea of what sexuality ought to be, which is supposed to be completely different from what it was, but it actually isn’t. At all.
And what that it is, and what it has always been, is the rape culture, or hurting the exploited for boners. There’s nothing new about that.
Which, is very obvious by how people talk about BDSM in feminist spheres and else where. Before the waters get muddied and the shit hits the fan, a woman will chime in in how much she likes it when she fantasizes about being raped.
Did you catch that? When we talk about kinky funtime, I’d like to focus on the fact that there’s a big portion of the male population that thinks that fantasizing about hurting women for boners is awesome. Not just in BDSM “spheres”. Everywhere. That’s the entire premise of the pornography, prostitution, and that little trillion-dollar international thing called Human Trafficking.
But that seems immaterial to most who talk about sex. It always comes down to what woman is stepping on other woman’s toes. For shit’s sake, does anyone really think that I honestly feel that women fantasizing about what they think rape would be like (but it isn’t) is actually the problem?
The problem is dudes. Dudes who hurt women. Dudes who don’t see BDSM as sexyfuntime, but as an outlet to be creepy fucks and sexual predators. Dudes that somehow always wind up being the dominant, the Master, and women who don’t seem to understand that when we talk about rape, and exploitation, and hurting women for boners, we’re not pointing the finger at them. We’re pointing it at the patriarchy, and the dudes who use it to hurt women.
Because at the end of the day, I have no desire to figure out if women who like to be hurt in the name of orgasms are better than me, worse than me, or just neutral. Men are not just inert sacks of flesh that simply respond to the desires of women. They’re the ones, as a general rule, who are doing the hurting, the defining of norms, and the ones that benefiting from said norms.
And to be honest, whether or not anyone gets their rocks off to being slapped around a bit is a little less dire than disavowing dudes of the sentiment that it’s totes cool to hurt or exploit someone in the name of boners. But maybe that’s just because I’m a totally repressed prude.
Before I go off, let’s set the record straight: being queer very often makes almost everything harder in your life (except, of course, for sleeping with women, but that’s obvious). Sometimes, however, you get some benefits out of it.
One of those benefits is how queerness intersects with feminism. Unlike other intersections, lesbianism has had it’s say in the feminist movement back even in the 2nd wave. Most intersections didn’t get any recognition until the 3rd. That doesn’t make up for the dominant preoccupation with heterocentrism in today’s mainstream feminist circles, but at least it means that I can find some feminist theory on being queer without digging too deep.
The best perk of being queer and being a feminist is the knowledge that I might never have to fight tooth-and-nail with male privilege in my romantic life. Sure, it affects it in secondary and very irritating ways, but it’s typically the case that any woman I choose to get involved with has internalized patriarchal values in a way that can be overcome without daily struggles over what they still find central to their gender identity.
Specifically, I am talking about the most important part of being male: a complete aversion to all things associated with femininity. Women never really seem to have as much success with internalizing the thought, “I’m not like those girls, so I don’t care what happens to them or think it’s just the Natural Order of Things™” that men do. Thanks to gender roles, men have to embrace feminism by rejecting what the patriarchy says makes them a man. Women just have to embrace feminism by stop being shits to other women and themselves. Plus, you can always say to a woman, “hey those Bad Girls you dislike? Well, according to statistics, bad thing X that happens to Bad Girls also happens to everyone else, and those Bad Girls are just normal women, just like you.” From there, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get someone to emotionally grasp that sexism is wrong, because it happens to people like them, and could very possibly happen to them.
Men, on the other hand, get the benefit of complete ignorance. Which is why men entering feminist spaces often ask women there to “calm down and be rational.” It’s really easy to be completely unemotionally invested in things that happen to people that are the complete opposite of you, by definition, and that will never happen to you in the way that they happen to them. Yes, men can be raped, men can be sexually harassed, and men can be economically disadvantaged by being a single parent. But they will never suffer the same reaction from the culture that women do, and they have a pitifully lower chance of going through any of that than the women who languish in a cultural epidemic of misogyny. Of course, it also helps that unemotional involvement is supposed to be the mainstay of masculine identity and the paragon of all things rational, so men’s biased flippancy gets a cultural stamp of legitimacy whereas women’s earned outrage is dismissed as shrill, irrational, and unpalatable.
And then there is the whole personal life aspect. Let me tell you, facing a life time of endlessly worshiping the ground my Nigel walks on because he does an equal share or somewhat equal share of the duties of maintaining a family sounds extremely unpleasant. Here, let me praise you for doing the amount of work that if anyone with a vagina did (i.e. less than half) they’d be labeled a bad wife/mother. Also, navigating the choppy waters of trying to object to the overwhelming emphasis on the idea that sex=dick (dick gets hard, dick goes in something, dick cums, sex ends) while having dick in my sex life sounds bothersome.
Most importantly, though, my queerness makes the most common objections to my observations of sexism in our culture fall apart.
Let’s run down the usual scenario: Jenn sees a movie. Jenn sees a metric ton of sexism and misogyny. Jenn objects. Resident chauvinist rejoins something to the extent that men like titties, and ain’t nothing wrong with that/ain’t no changin’ that, or women are actually really like that, or it’s just the biological destiny of humankind (they’ll say mankind though) that women will turn into stupid weak servile children around men because [insert bullshit essentialist evolutionary biology/psychology here].
Here comes the fun part. I get to reply, “hey asshole, I’m queer”. That means a lot of things in different contexts. It means that there’s a ton of women out there who don’t do stupid things for dick, because they don’t like dick. It means that I like titties too, so I’m not just objecting to sexism because I don’t understand what it’s like to be attracted to women’s bodies. It means that there’s people out there that don’t do things for a sugar daddy or some sweet pussy because they like people of their own gender.
And for my trump card, being queer means that men don’t have a single fucking excuse for excusing misogyny and objectification of women. Because I can seemingly still recognize that Meghan Foxx is quite far from unattractive without thinking that the pile of shit that was Transformers 2 was totally not sexist. I can be titillated by some pornography (I admit it!) without thinking that the marketing of a very narrow and restrictive version of female sexuality for consumption is wrong. I can sometimes feel like I need to have sex with someone with a vagina right now or I’ll be very irritated and uncomfortable without excusing raping someone that teased me or was “asking for it” or buying someone at an economic disadvantage to me so I can use and discard their sexuality.
So now what’s their excuse?
Plainly, they don’t have one. A sex drive that focuses on the attractiveness of women and having sex with women is not a good reason to ignore misogyny, like misogyny, think misogyny can’t be helped, or “helplessly” be a misogynist.
Considering all the shit I have to take daily without complaint because of being queer, I very much enjoy ripping a misogynist’s “but I can’t help it” argument to shreds with a simple revelation of my sexuality. At the very least, I might get to confirm that he’s a total homophobe—on top of being sexist—so I can end a conversation with the intellectual equivalent of a dining table and find less futile ways to spend my time.
Laura Woodhouse over at the f-word just wrote an insightful piece about “Women, confidence and fear of male judgment“. In it, she explains how she, and many women, get performance anxiety around men and do less well than they would otherwise in any activity. This anxiety stems from the fear that the men will judge them as inferior and chalk it up to the fact that lady bits makes someone stupid, slow, weak, clumsy, and confused compared to all men’s superhumanly perfect masculine prowess.
Underneath the piece, commenters chime in that women just need to “get over it” and “grow a thicker skin”. It’s all in our silly lady brains. Men are not condescending judgmental assholes. Well, maybe some are. But you just need to put on some big girl panties and get the fuck over it! I mean, it’s not like men run the world and, more likely than not, determine important things like your pay scale or anything on their subjective and bigoted opinions, right?
This is what I call another feature of feminism-lite (i.e. not feminism at all): doing the work like a feminist would and identifying a social problem, and then blaming it on individual women anyway. Of course, they don’t call it blaming. It’s “empowerment”. What-thefuck-ever. Empowerment is the new victim blaming. Were you raped, passed over for a raise for someone with a penis, domestically abused, or shamed for being a big prude/whore (doesn’t matter, your sexuality is icky no matter what)? Well, it’s not because we live in a patriarchy. It’s sure as fuck not because some waste of skin thought that today was a good day to be a misogynist asshole. It’s because you didn’t tap into the faux feminist hive-mind sufficiently and receive your daily dose of EMPOWERMENT™. Misogyny is all your fault. In our post-post-post feminism world, you now have God-like powers, and everything that every shit stain decides to do could have been prevented if you were awesome enough.
Women: shut the fuck up about federal rights and equality. Take matters into your own hands. Ingest toxic waste to receive your super post-feminist powers that will prevent all of the rules of the patriarchy from ever negatively impacting your life! You must be thicker skinned, more compassionate, more skillful, smarter, better educated, more driven, hotter, better in bed, tidier, more fashion foward, and richer than any man will ever have to be for not even half of the handouts he gets with penis priviledge. And this is EMPOWERMENT™. Don’t you feel so special?
Fuck that faux feminist noise. Here’s an idea: MEN OF THE WORLD. Yeah, you with the penis. Stop being gigantic assholes to women. You’re not automatically better than us at everything or anything. This fact should not make you play dirtier, act like a condescending douche, or disinvite women to your all-male happy hours. And when you are better than a woman at something, THIS IS NOT BECAUSE SHE HAS A VAGINA. It’s because we are all individual people with our innate and learned aptitudes and interests. Yours are not better than anyone else’s by the virtue of your genitalia. In fact, your penis has nothing to do with rock climbing, drinking, driving, playing pool, or writing a kick ass dissertation. This should be obvious. Nobody climbs rocks, writes a paper, or drives with their dick.
If a member of the human race with a vagina brings up a topic that you don’t know much about, do not attempt to “school” her with your awesomely manly intelligence. Do not interrupt her. If you cannot bluff your way into superiority—which you shouldn’t be doing in the first place—do not insult her interests and skills because you cannot match them. Welcome to the human race: you will suck at many things in comparison to people who don’t suck. Your dick will not fall off if one of those people is a woman.
Dear brother: I know more than you about philosophy and politics, anything academic that isn’t math-based, and most things mechanical. This is because I am older than you and better educated. Instead of saying “not that shit again” when I bring up something that you can’t pretend that you’re better than me at, you could try shutting your fucking mouth, opening your mind, and learning. Yes, learning. You can do it from people with vaginas who know more than you on a given topic.
Dear male friends: Not everything is a goddamn competition. I do not need to be told that I “throw like a girl” or “park a car like a man”. Nobody throws a ball or parks a car with their dick or vagina, idiot. When I bring up what I’m doing in my classes, don’t tell me that Philosophy, all Philosophy, is full of shit and not as important as your Physics or Engineering major. You don’t know shit about philosophy. Your penis does not impart knowledge upon you in topics that you have no exposure to. If you continue to be a condescending douche and put down my opinions and interests, I will discontinue our friendship. Not because I’m a bitch, but because I don’t like to spend my time with people stupid enough to think that all human activities are accomplished by our genitals.
Dear ex-boyfriends: Thank you very much for convincing me of the fact that relationships with stupid gender power plays are not worth my time. I have found infinitely more satisfaction with other women, and hanging out with people who don’t wax poetry about Their Nigels. You never needed to teach me how to drive a car. I had been doing fine for years without your Y-chromosome mad skillz. When you carried groceries down the parking garage stairs, it wasn’t because I was a weak silly lady who would reward you with sweet pussy afterwards. It was because my goddamn back hurt from my shitty desk chair and you offered. I thought you offered because you were a kind person, not because you had a dick. Also, if there is anything in the world that I do better than you, it’s not because I’m trying to show you up and insult you. If there’s anything I don’t match you at, it’s not because I have a vagina. And if there’s anything I do that you have no interest in, it’s not because I’m stupid and have silly lady hobbies.
Dear faux-feminists: STFU. Kthx.
Dear men: I am better than some of you at things. I am worse than some of you at things. Deal with it, because I’m tired of dealing with your bullshit masculine posturing. I have a life to enjoy that doesn’t revolve around the fulfillment of your masculinity at the expense of my self-esteem and opportunities. When you act like an asshole at all hours of the day, it directly affects my performance. This is not because you have a penis and I have a vagina, it’s because you’re an distracting asshole. Get the fuck over yourself and your cock.
A while ago, I came home from work to find my mother forgoing her usual routine of reality television to watch PBS Frontline’s “Sex Slaves“. The documentary was about sex trafficking, particularly of women and girls.
Now, I think that this issue is enormous and poignant and heart-wrenchingly serious. But somehow the entire two hours or so of the documentary managed to not show the face of a single man who was guilty of raping a prostituted sex slave. What it featured instead was candid-camera shots—reminiscent of titillating homemade sex tapes—of bared mid drifts, jean-glad backsides, and five inch heels. Human interest stories and interviews primarily featured white European women, and men that had “rescued” or wanted to rescue their
sexual property damsels in distress from other men.
The entire thing was sickening to behold. Invariably, my mother—not very savvy on feminist issues—thought that my objections were “silly” (thanks for the condescension, Mom). Wasn’t it enough that someone was paying attention?
Of course it isn’t. The problem with sex trafficking is not about how pimps and traffickers are “victimizing” the poor whittle men and breaking up their nice white familes. It’s not about stealing the virginity of European girls. It’s certainly not just another story about “Bad Stuff Happens to You When You’re Poor”. It’s about the sexploitation of women and girls and the men who feel they have the right to rape women in order to express their sick conflation of dominance and sex.
What the fauxomentary actually showed was nothing progressive or at all helpful. It was just the same pathetic human-interest stories about nice white virginal women being kidnapped and then being saved by their knight in shining armor. Women of color and of other nationalities were dissected into flashes of boobs and asses to titillate the viewer. Women who did not fall within the patriarchy’s idea of “sexy” were not shown at all. Apparently, it’s only rape if you’re hot.
The result was the fauxgressive capitalist-friendly hand-waving treatment of sex trafficking. No men were shamed, only glorified as heroes. No unsexy women were shown. No trends were explored. No cultural critique was done. The expose of one of the most grevious manifestations of patriarchy reduced to sexploitation. I could picture liberal dudez sitting around their televisions debating over which formerly trafficked woman was hotter, and which used vagina was still pure enough to have the priviledge of being approved of by their cock. Their thoughts would have only been encouraged by plentiful erotic camera shots: the sexploitation of the sexploited. The hypocrisy was utterly disgusting.
Now that I think of it, the only television program that has succeeded in doing anything positive for the victims of rape is To Catch a Predator with Chris Hansen. The show doesn’t sex-up the would-be victim, who is blurred out and seen from afar by hidden cameras. The predator is the star of this show. His victim exits the stage within the first minute of the footage, and then we are treated to close up of his quivering visage and “oh shit” face. We get to hear his pathetic excuses and justification of the rape of children. We curl our lips at his explanations of why he has condoms and lube if he’s meeting a ten year old. We get to see his shame when his sexually explicit and criminally damning online conversations to a supposedly underage plant are read back to him.
What To Catch a Predator does is expose the subject and perpetrator of a heinous crime to the loathing of the population. It doesn’t shame victims who “led on” the poor wittle man in need of sex. It doesn’t warn parents to chain their whorish daughters to their beds and not let them touch a computer. Instead, it presents the criminals to public and says, “look, the emperor has no clothes, and he likes to rape small children”.
That is what PBS should have done. Instead of filming what looks to be a pornography on the subject of sex trafficking, they should have made clear who exactly was causing the demand for rape-for-pay. It should have raided brothels of trafficked women and exposed the rapists and traffickers (and called them such, instead of “johns” and “pimps”) as the disgusting pieces of shit they are. It should have waved a bright light in their face and said, “explain why we found you raping a non-consenting woman”. Then it should have plastered their full name, occupation, and age all over the television as they were escorted in handcuffs to a police crusier.
Wet streets don’t rape and traffic women. Men are out there, right now, demanding and dirving a multi-billion dollar economy bought off the backs of viciously exploited women, children, and the occasional man. Showing the faces of these women is just another drop in the bucket for the porn-sick consumers of America. They either become tainted women in need of rescuing, or whores you can jerk one off to in the imagining of the hopelessly indoctrinated patriachial shitstain.
What the world needs is to for PBS to take their stupid blur off the faces of the rapists and ask them to “take a seat over there”. We need to know who these sick fucks are. We need to know that they are responsible for their crimes and that their excuses are hollow and hypocritical. We need to see the law deal seriously with their transgressions.
Only then will a documentary about sex trafficking be about something other than HOT WIMMENZ FOOLIN POOR WITTLE MENZ INTO BONIN THEM.
Setting aside my issues with gendered nouns and adjectives and the use of the male plural to describe a group of mixed genders, I really love French.
Why, do you ask?
My French composition course this week had a lesson about l’injustice dans la société [injustices in society]. I have an essay about injustices due this weekend (note: writing essays in another language is really difficult. Thus, I procrastinate until the last second).
On the list of vocabulaire utile [useful vocabulary] provided by my professor is the following:
le sexisme (un[e] phallocrate)
That’s right, the French word for someone who is a “male chauvinist (pig),” or has sexisme [sexism], is un phallocrate.
I knew I picked the right language to study. Expect later posts referencing phallocrats.
My mother is the queen of bad television. Thus, it was no surprise to find her watching American Idol when I finished my shift tonight. The season kicked off in our hometown, so it was amusing to watch Seacrest suffer in the Phoenix sun.
As usual, the judges made it plain that they’re the same old sexist, homophobic, fat-hating idiots. Fat girls were demonized. A gay teenager with an amazing voice was told that his voice didn’t match his “look” (you know, that gay look. Ewww homo cooties!). And last, but not least, we had this:
Yes, that is a girl fully made up in a bikini and high heels. What is she doing? She’s auditioning for the squeaky clean American Idol contest on the most conservative network ever, FOX!
Oh silly, when I say FOX is conservative, I don’t mean in the sense that women need to be silent and covered. I mean in the sense that women need to be seen, belittled, objectified, and treated like meat:
It’s pretty plain that the girl is a decent singer, but not fantastic. If anyone who wasn’t a perfect fit for the pornoriffic model of “femininity” tried to audition in a bikini, they would be demonized for being fat and ugly, regardless of their voice. What happens here, though, is Simon and Randy—pigs that they are—immediately voice their approval and give her a yes.
Why? Well, she pleases them. She is sexually attractive and willing to bare it all for men in charge; what’s not to like? This sends a horrendous message. American Idol is an extremely popular show, and one of its biggest target audiences is teenage and preteen girls. The last thing they need is another message telling them how sex appeal is more important than personality, talent, and their ambition.
Witness the how newer judge, Kara DioGuardi, has to qualify her critique of her with the disclaimer, “I’m not saying this because you’re a pretty girl…” Because, honestly, we all know that women are just a collection of holes, sexy fat deposits, and beauty products. If one woman is critiquing another women, it must be because she’s hotter than her and she’s jealous!
Not that Kara is the hero of this: far from it. After Bikini Girl rudely throws the judge’s critique back in her face (Simon and Randy laugh, because they don’t care about people disrespecting the female judges after they’ve already made up their minds: you please my dick, you’re in!)—a huge no-no of talent competitions—Kara calls her a “bitch” and asks her to “come back naked next time”. Very nice. At this point, I’m cringing, knowing that now every man in America thinks that the new judge is a bitter old harpy, and deciding whether or not to masturbate in the bathroom during commerical over the thought of them having a cat fight.
Poor Paula, on the other hand, just sits there and says nothing. She interjects a time or two that the girl isn’t up to par, but she’s quickly shut up by Randy and Simon’s great approval of masturbation fodder and Kara’s self destructive display of her own brand of misogyny (yeah, calling another woman a bitch is not cool, even if she is asking for it).
In the end, the girl goes to Hollywood, even though two of the four judges were against it. Why? Well, because teh menz are in charge and teh menz want more boner material! Now, before we cut to commercial, let’s play the parts where you get to see Bikini Girl’s ass twice more, followed by a montage of her jumping up and down.
Right there, in five minutes, is about the sickest, most destructive sexist message I think I’ve seen all week. Talent is meaningless. Just show the men in charge your boobies and that’s all you need to do! Who cares if you insult the female judge of your audition? Who cares if two out of your four judges don’t like you? Hey, you’re hot, and teh menz approve! Jump up and down some more for the camera. That’s a good girl.
Now, before all you women out there think that you can go out and win American Idol if you just take it all off, check yourself. Do you look like a porn star? Are you perfectly groomed and possess a Dude Nation approved body? Just good old self-confidence and vocal talent alone will not do. Make sure that you’re perfectly attractive, vapid, and willing to crush your own will to reflect everyone else’s, or the sexpot act will crash and burn. You see, it’s not about enjoying your body, it’s about how much others enjoy your looking at your body. What, like you expected some respect and recognition of your humanity?
As long as you please Simon and Randy’s dicks, you can even get away with being a subpar singer and insulting your judge. FOX wants you to know, women and girls of America, that’s not about talent, poise, ambition, intelligence, and individuality. You are a woman, and therefore the only things that matter are how hot you are, how far you’re willing to go to please other people with your body, and if the men in charge like it when you twirl around and show off your ass.
Now, remind me again: why is feminism needed?
Now that I’m done with my semester, my days are full of sitting on my ass, surfing the internet, and making myself excuses to avoid cleaning and other unpleasant things. In between working and sleeping, I’ve discovered the great time-suck that is StumbleUpon. It’s the internet for lazy people: press a button and find something mildly interesting.
See, yesterday when I stumbled upon this, an article about the best and worst of December fashion magazines, I figured that I was going to be treated to about five minutes of mind-bogglingly stupid dresses and models that resemble light poles.
Boy, how wrong was I! This is probably NSFW and could be a Trigger: