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On Porn I: Introduction and Disclaimers

Introduction

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).


On Sex-Positivity

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.

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God/Nature isn’t in the gaps

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.

Women: always the problem

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.

MRAs took a crap on my blog

Earlier today, I got one request after another to approve comments on a post. I glanced at the alerts on my Blackberry and decided to wait to investigate until I wasn’t at work.

So I get home, and lo and behold, Men’s Rights Activists had taken over 20 craps on my blog and my view-count for a single day shot up to over 300. You could call them “comments”, but that would be implying that there was any sort of rational content therein. Naturally, they were all on this post, which was authored over a year ago. I guess taking dumps on current posts would have been too hard or something.

Of course, I didn’t approve any of them. I have no patience for fecal matter masquerading as poorly constructed sentences. Also, comments on very old posts typically aren’t something that I approve. Especially ones that come from such high-minded sites as MisandryReview, Remasculation, and the Counter-Feminist. No, those sites do not get any link sauce from me. If you wish to wade through the stupidity for a brief chuckle at  hatred-steeped flatulence, you have Google at your disposal.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the MRA community for widening my audience. Bravo! I so do appreciate thoughtful input. Honestly, I don’t think so highly of any of you that I peruse the internets for your year-old posts and then distribute them to my cabal of hooligans for our puerile amusement. Thus, I am forced to admit that you must think quite highly of me and those lovely like-minded women who posted such things so long ago. Either that or you’re simply too much of cowards to engage me face-to-face, or even give me a link back to the seedy dens of misogyny that gave you directions to my corner of the internets.

Never fear! I have the use of WordPress’s handy-dandy tools which tell me which sites directed you here. I thank you all for the fine chuckle. Really, that amount of delusion in one place is a terrible thing to hide. You should have shared it with me sooner. I especially got a chuckle out of your bulleted list of terrorist tactics instructing your goons how to troll feminists on their blogs.

I especially think it quite hilarious that you think trolling and other virtual harassment is a good thing. I really bespeaks of your claim to the moral high ground, no? Since I am neither a troll nor a coward who uses the internets for such idiotic and juvenile things, I shall take the gifts you have given me and respond to them right here. I have no wish to visit your websites, as hospitable as they may be, to harass you. Nor shall I recruit a cabal of radical feminist terrorists — such as the ones you assume control the universe — to do my bidding. I’m just one fat radical feminist lesbian, with a cat and a blog, responding to your thoughtful posts.

Thus, I have included some of the aforementioned “comments” in this post for the sake of my amusement. Since everything submitted to my blog thus becomes part of my blog, I get free reign to post it where I please. Since I hardly think that such intelligent and thoughtful comments should be buried under the oppression of the chronological nature of blogging, I have decided to post them at the top of my blog to give them the spotlight they deserve.

So without further ado, let us give a warm round of applause for MRAs and the foul gifts they have left so graciously upon my virtual doorstep!

LW:

Wow, I just read through all this and I have to say, they way all you girl’s proved D right was amazing.

Your misuse of the possessive is appalling, as is your misuse of  “girl” to label adult women. Thank you for playing, please come back soon!

John Dias:

Why is disagreeing with feminist views conflated here with not understanding them? Feminism is a subjective political ideology just like so many other perspectives in the world. It’s not “reality,” but rather an interpretation and prescription for reality.

Perhaps because there actually was a genuine lack of understanding, John. Also, you may be thinking of liberalism and conservatism. Or perhaps fascism or socialism? Communism? Marxism? Those are political ideologies, John, feminism is a sociological discipline much like Jewish Studies or Sexology. You could perhaps debate that analysis of sociological trends and gender would be unwise and bear little fruit, but I doubt you’ll break any new ground or bestow upon us any worthwhile findings. You may also want to dispute physics or mathematics while you are at it. I hear those disciplines are aching for criticism from people who don’t understand the slightest bit about them.

Outdoors:

D-sure does show what feminist thinking is all about.

kudos to him for making them look like the spoiled arrogant fools they are

this thread has got to be exploited for what it is-a sound defeat against feminists by a single person who ended up being banned because the feminists couldn’t answer a couple simple questions.

just goes to show the intelligence of this board–none

Outdoors, my friend, I think your caps lock key is broken. You may want to look into fixing that. Also, I think your period and hyphen keys are sticking. It seems that your post is lacking in all punctuation but misplaced hyphens and scant periods. What does this have to do with your comment, Outdoors? Why, nothing of course! I simply followed suit, you see, as your comment had nothing to do with the post it was submitted under!

ryan:

wow alot of sexist women on this thread. so what if historically the poor women were oppressed does the justify the oppression of men today, because thats what it sounds like to me.

gasp men having the same rights as women say it aint so.

You and Outdoors simply must tell me what brand of keyboard you are using. I need to take a note so that I remember not to buy keyboards lacking caps locks keys. I am also puzzled as to which “rights” you are referring to. I detailed many privileges that men possessed, and many rights that women do not. There was little to no discussion of rights that men are currently gaining that women have long enjoyed. Such a discussion would be silly, you see, since women are in the process of gaining rights which men have denied them through vicious oppression.

ryan (again):

oh and D stop arguing with ignorant sexist feminists like these they hate men probably because they cant get one arguing with these silly girls is very stupid of you.

male privilage (the only argument feminazis have against men having equal rights)

Now I’m beginning to think that you like the sound of your own typing. Responding to yourself is quite narcissistic of you. Also, you may keep your men to yourself, thank you. I am quite happily gay, you see, and find women infinitely more fascinating than a group of outwardly misogynist men.

Nicolas:

Nobody seems to have mentioned that rape has dropped by nearly 80 percent in the past 30 years. Why no celebration?

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/rape.cfm

Well, this wasn’t a post about the rape rate, Nicolas. Seeing as you are not the author of this blog, it would be silly of you to assume that I have the same posting priorities as you think I ought to.

Mike:

Well, this blog post and the following “discussion” proves beyond any doubt that feminism is nothing but a cult, impervious to rational reasoning. Good to know that humanity moves on and that “feminism” soon will be nothing but an entry in a dictionary of failed belief systems.

Apropos dictionaries, some definitions of “whore”:
– a promiscuous woman. [New Oxford Dictionary of English, 2001]
– a prostitute or a woman who has many casual sexual relationships [The Penguin English Dictionary, 2003]
– a woman who has many sexual partners [Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2003]

So anyone looking for the correct term describing a promiscuous woman – it’s a safe bet to trust the experts on word definitions.

Why, Mike, this feminism you speak of is a lonely cult indeed. I fear that I have neither paid my dues nor met with the Grand Master Feminist this year, so I have yet to receive notice that this we have moved from a decentralized organization of like-minded sociological theorists to a bonafide cult. I want a temple or something. Also, I do believe I know what a dictionary is: a book that gives you definitions of words, but not an in-depth critique of their use and misuse in the present culture and the sociological implications thereof.

cb750:

This would then mean women also benefit from the very same patriarchy. Nearly all buildings, dams, sky scrapers, infrastructure, roads, electrical, technology is built and developed by men. Men fight wars so western women are safe. In fact western women benefited from the two wars. The less groups like the Taliban exist the safer women and the rights are. Women benefit from chivalry as is the case of Bill Clinton and Obama giving women special programs like VAWA.

The fact is if you argue I and other men benefit from a patriarchy system then it is extremely clear women also benefit from the same system. Why do liberal woman and feminists vote for patriarchs over women in each election? 51% of female democrats voted against Hillary in the run offs.

Men die 5 times more on the job. We have higher drop out rates. We die more in wars that benefit the freedom of Western women. Every 5 floors of a skyscraper one man died. We men perform most of the research, most of the technology advancement… all things women greatly benefit from. Carrie and the other fab 3 from Sex and the City wouldn’t be cavorting around unless men built that city and gave them a world where they can buy shoes and dresses instead of being honor killed, burned alive or beaten for speaking to another man.

Western women benefit off our backs. So if you wish to claim men benefit from patriarchy and I some how owe the world then you women ALSO benefit greatly from a chivalrous patriarchy and you women ALSO owe.

Dear me, cb750, you seem to have forgotten that men could have done all of the above with women at their side more efficiently than they did it in the past with women at their feet. Patriarchy didn’t build civilization, people did. Unless you are in the habit of constructing buildings and paving roads with your penis, I hardly see how the lack of an extra set of hands is a good thing.

Karl:

Why does feminist ignore female privilege but blame – collectively – men for male privilege?

Ahh we all know the answer – typical feminist hypocrisy. End of.

Karl, please contact ryan and Outdoors re: the proper use of the dash. They seem to have mistaken it for a hyphen and could really use your assistance. Also, end of… what?

Factory:

Oh look, Feminists ganging up on, then banning dissenting viewpoints in the name of “safe space for women”. I’m shocked. No really, I am.

I thought you guys were all concerned about men’s issues too…cause you’re all “egalitarian” n stuff…

Or is it simply YOUR take on men’s issues? Men can’t have a perspective of their own? Is it not “valid” unless approved by Feminists?

This whole thread is arrogant dismissal of D, and anything he’s brought up. This whole thread is flat out PROOF that Feminists have zero interest in looking out for men in the same manner men looked out for women.

Just one more reason to ignore anything your kind has to say.

Disgusting.

Wait, so you’ve gone out of your way, Factory, to my “safe space”, read my post, put your hands on your keyboard, and pressed “send” because you’re “ignoring anything my kind has to say”? Also, if you want to make a statement, such as “this whole thread is flat out PROOF,” you may want to prove some context or proof of that yourself. Am I supposed to take your word for it? Additionally, I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark and say that you’re really not shocked at all.

JenK:

This is interesting. I still for the life of me cannot figure out where is all this supposed male privilage, in the USA.

[Insert long list of her experiences arrogantly standing in for all women in America here]

[Insert rosy and overstated female “privileges” here].

I also find it interesting, JenK, that your lack of experiences of male privilege and glut of class- and race-specific experiences of “female privilege” are supposed to negate the experiences of other women. Are you superwoman? A god? The speaker of all woman-kind?

Dakota Smith:

D, you’re wasting your time. I don’t know why you’re bothering.

They’re FEMINISTS, dude. They don’t care about rational discourse, they just want to whine. They’re psychologically predisposed to hating and detesting men, even when it’s self-destructive for them.

And they will never, ever change their minds about ANYTHING, no matter how hard you try.

Reading this thread, I’ve noticed the usual feminist “debating” tactics against you (in no particular order):

Ad hominem attacks
Insulting your intelligence
Insulting your masculinity
Libelous statements

They’re feminists and out of contact with reality, dude. You’re wasting your time. Best to ignore them and go somewhere that the general populace is capable of rational discourse.

Hey Dude! Can I call you dude? I want to relate to you as a human being, so I’m going to use slang that is supposed to stand for all of humanity through the use of the male default on a feminist blog. You might want to look up libel, by the way, just for shits and giggles. I don’t that word means what you think it means. Since this post was original made in September of 2008, D is probably long gone by now. He can’t hear you, dude.

Pete:

The quickest way to know that your argument is sharp is to get banned on a feminist blog. Good job, Jenn! Now nobody will know how badly D beat your group of cat herders in debate.

Quickly, delete his most cogent posts so other commenters may think he is more stupid than your supporters.

Getting banned on a blog = good argument. Sorry, were you just mistaking trolling for intellectual debate? That explains a lot, honestly.

ZenCo:

Don’t sweat it D – the 800-pound gorilla in the room is that THE MOMENT the lights stopped coming on these women’s ‘feminist perspectives’ would dissolve on the spot.
Maybe, after 40+ years of abuse from you ungrateful cows, men won’t want to fix it for you next time.
Maybe, instead of wasting Daddy’s hard-earned money on useless degrees, you should have learned electrical engineering or carpentry. THAT would be empowering.
And, when that day arrives, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU will abandon your Marxist horeshit and find the nearest man to provide safety, sustenance, and security. The only problem is, too many men without short memories will tell you to screw off.
It won’t be male priviledge that sees me through. It will be hard work and knowing how to do usefull things. Whining is not useful.

I enjoyed your mish-mash of cliches, ZenCo. It was sweet as cats on a hot tin roof. Like pie on a cool summer’s day. Once in a blue moon I shot at it and landed among the stars. Or something. Yeah. Your discussion of bovine, daddy issues, Marxism, and he-man heroics was also particularly original and insightful.

David:

…and in particular curious about how you, as an individual woman living in 21st century America, experience oppression and suffering. What direct negative impact does living in a patriarchal society have on your day to day existence?
The reason I ask is because from this distance (I am in New Zealand) it is difficult to reconcile the notion of “oppression and suffering” with my understanding of life in the US.
I would say that black people in South Africa prior to 1995 were oppressed; ditto women in Afghanistan under the Taliban, or pretty much anyone living in modern day Zimbabwe or Somalia. Sadly, there are lots of people in the world who are oppressed, and who suffer as a result.
You on the other hand, live in a country where your constitution guarantees your rights of free speech, association, protection from authority (at least it did before your ridiculous Patriot Act), and to practice you religion. There are no laws or statues that actively promote discrimination against you (but a few that do so in your favor). You have the same access to legal and political representation as pretty much anyone else, male or female, and while bad stuff certainly happens to women in your country, it certainly happens to men too. In western societies, men don’t have rights or privileges that you do not have (despite your assertions to the contrary) and while your government may impose restrictions on your activities that you don’t like, disagreeing with government policy is not oppression; it is a difference of political and social opinion.
The truth of the matter is that your oppression is in your imagination, and you are actually one of the least oppressed people in history.

Ah, I do love a sporting day at the Oppression Olympics. I do hear the scenery is lovely in New Zealand, though, and wish to express my jealousy that you live in such a picturesque country whilst I live in Desert Hell Hole, USA. I also do enjoy hearing that men know more about the experiences of women in other countries than those women do. Really, the foresight and knowledge of the male gender is truly astounding.

Porky Domesticus:

I started to read this irrational rant then i ran into this…

“I refuse to even debate any statements to the contrary.”

and so i am leaving, after all whats the point in arguing with someone who treats feminist ideology the way Sarah Palin treats the bible?

I like your inclusion of my prose without context. It bespeaks to your intellectual integrity. Even more amusing was your entry into the conversation just to say that you’re leaving. It is rather rude to crash a party only to leave when you’ve pissed in the punch 30 seconds after you walk in the door. Hit and run trolling! How very courageous of you.

Anonumous:

Feminists forgot about the women they have enslaved and exploited just so they could, and can, enjoy prestige, entitlements and, power. They forgot about the women who were oppressed by women.

Something you say is not so. I have not forgot the details of history or the oppressions such as racism and classism in which wealthier or white women profit off the backs of poorer or darker women. I merely find it tedious to discuss every single  nuance of reality in every single post to preempt totally inane and off-topic discussions of what someone who is not me thinks I do or do not know from a single discussion of an entirely different subject.

Well, that was fun. A rousing and thoughtful gate-crashing. Round of applause for our visitors, folks, for the free entertainment!

Seriously, Democrats really hate women or I use the skills I got in law school to analyze shit that takes away my rights

So it gets worse.

Behold the absolute draw-dropping shittiness of The Stupak Amendment. Here it is, proof positive, that Democrats really hate women. What’s also awesome is that the first female Speaker of the House presided over a Democratic majority that passed the most expansive restriction on women’s rights in recent history. Not only was the amendment passed by 62 democrats (and all voting Republicans), the bill carrying the amendment was passed through Congress 220-215, with the majority of Democrats blithely signing the biggest roll-back of reproductive rights. Super.

Some Democrats (mostly women) did not take this shit sitting down. They tried to speak in Congress, only to have male Republicans heckling them and shouting “I object, I object, I object, I object” over them. Think Progress has the video. Thrown under the bus by their own party, some of the women we voted into office were forced to speak out against their own party signing away their rights while they were viciously silenced by the very men that orchestrated this new oppression. I’m sure that while the men in Congress, some of them in their own party, thought this was just business as usual, our minority of female lawmakers got a heady sense of deja vu. Men talking over them in a meeting? Nah, that never happens. Especially when you’re talking about your own freedoms and liberty. I mean, just shut up bitch. Know your place.

Out of this process of ugliness came the unholy spawn of the Stupack Amendment. However, unlike some other places, I believe that the proof is in the pudding. I’m not doing to quote from some dude that quoted from some other dude that quoted from yet another dude. I’m including the full text of this steaming file of fail. Here’s your fucking hope and change, right here:

AMENDMENT TO H.R. 3962
OFFERED BY MR. STUPACK OF MICHIGAN
AND MR. PITTS OF PENNSYLVANIA

SEC. 265 LIMITATION OF ABORTION FUNDING

(A) IN GENERAL—
No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the women in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

(B) OPTION TO PURCHASE SEPARATE SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN—
Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any nonfederal entity (including an individual or State or local government) from purchasing separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—
(1) such coverage or plan is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act; and
(2) such coverage or plan is not purchased using—
(a) individual premium payments requires for an Exchange-participating health benefits plan towards which an affordability credit is applied; or
(b) other nonfederal funds require to receive a federal payment, including a State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

(C) OPTION TO OFFER SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN—
Notwithstanding section 303(b), nothing in this section shall restrict any nonfederal QHBP offering entity from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—
(1) premiums for such separate supplemental coverage or plan are paid for entirely with funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act;
(2) administrative costs and all services offered through such supplemental coverage or plan are paid for using only premiums collected for such coverage or plan; and
(3) any nonfederal QHBP offering entity that offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that includes coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section also offers an Exchange participating health benefits plan that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section
.

The emphases are mine.

For those without a background in legalese, this is about as unequivocal and binding as law can get. There’s no wiggle room. No exceptions. What this creates is a health care system in which women are second class citizens, forced to choose between even private coverage of a perfectly legal procedure and all federal funding of health care. This, simply, is an outrage. As far as I’m concerned, this violates both Roe and the substantive due process of the 14th amendment, but for those without a background in law, rest assured that this shit is really, really, really, legally dubious.

So let’s digest this, line by disgusting fucking line.

Section A explicitly prohibits any federal funding governed by HR 3962 (the larger Affordable Health Care for America Act) going towards the provision of abortions. But if you thought that they really needed to put this in, that anyone was really ever in danger of seeing their tax dollars going to “kill babies”, well, you’re a fucking idiot. No, seriously. Behold the related 30-year-old shittiness of the Hyde Amendment. Passed in 1976, in the immediate backlash of Roe decision three years earlier, the amendment explicitly bars all appropriations for The Department of Heath and Human Service budget from going to the purpose of funding abortions. It does not prohibit all federal funding of abortion, just anything out of HHS. Since H.R. 3962 would be administrated by HHS, there was absolutely no way, shape, or form that its provisions would go to funding abortion. Got it straight?

Moving on, the second clause is the kicker: “or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion”. You catch that? If you have a health plan that covers abortion, you cannot receive any federal assistance. Can’t make the last $300 for a root canal? Too fucking bad. Choose between your teeth rotting out of your face or abortion coverage. Want part of your “exchange” to go towards a consultation with an allergist for your seasonal allergies that you couldn’t otherwise afford? Too fucking bad whore, you got an abortion last year on that plan.

This amendment goes beyond limiting federal funds. This explicitly bars even private insurance companies from covering abortions.

Well, so can insurance companies just offer plans with abortion coverage and ones without? Sure, if you’re cool on getting totally substandard care and no government assistance whatsoever. Given that the majority of those who see themselves in low-paying part-time positions that don’t offer health coverage are women, there’s going to be a lot of women who need federal assistance. But they won’t get it unless they accept prohibitions on their rights, and start saving for out-of-pocket abortions if they need it, instead of putting away money for retirement. That’s other thing: men won’t have to save for expensive procedures that they need. They won’t have to choose between affordable health care and their reproductive rights.

But all this begs the question: will insurance companies continue to offer abortion coverage? The answer: probably not to the extent they do now. Providing abortion coverage will undoubtedly require additional administrative costs to make sure that the company remains in compliance with the amendment. Additionally, by section C Paragraph 3, those additional administrative costs will have to be covered entirely without federal assistance that insurance companies could get if they didn’t offer abortion.

The result is obvious: some companies will just not offer abortion coverage. It’s too troublesome and expensive. If they offer it, they’re required by Section C Paragraph 3 to provide identical coverage that doesn’t cover abortions. Notice that the amendment, however, does not require that companies offer plans that do offer abortion coverage. A company would be in compliance if they did not offer coverage for abortion at all. In fact, it’s transparently obvious that this is the goal of the entire amendment: to make it so that insurance companies will have lots of incentives to never cover abortions.

If a company decided to offer coverage including abortion, the coverage would be prohibitively expensive. Not only could the insured not use federal monies for any medical procedure so long as they are covered for abortion, they also would be forced to pay higher premiums. After all, the additional administrative costs of the plan could not be paid for with federal assistance, which would transfer the additional fees directly unto women. To really sweeten the deal, you’d also be ineligible for Medicaid matching even from your state while your insurance covers abortion. Awesome.

At the end of the day, you’re left with a tiered health care system. At the very top are men. They can purchase private insurance. They can use public funds. They can do what you want with them, within reason, and not have to worry about losing coverage.

Quite a way below them are women paying for identical insurance except for abortion coverage, but paying much higher premiums. They cannot use public funds for anything.

Below them even further are women who can’t pay for the prohibitively expensive private insurance of their female peers. Among them are women that need any assistance whatsoever for anything, even something as simple as a teeth cleaning. They must pay for abortion out-of-pocket or choose between any federal or state assistance.

And at the very bottom are the women who can neither pay for prohibitively expensive private insurance or out-of-pocket abortions. They get pregnant, and they’re forced to procure risky abortions by untrained providers or have a baby against their will. At best, they succeed. At worst, they bleed to death or lose their fertility to a massive infection.

Oh, and they will suffer from those cheaper abortions. I’d bet all the money I have that someone will make it so the prohibition against paying for abortions will extend to paying for the complications from botched abortions. Or they’ll extend it to birth control, IUDs, and all those things that wackos say “kill babies”. Before long, everything that has to do with your right to exercise your entirely legal reproductive rights will damn you to fork over big bucks. No assistance. No coverage.

Lo and behold, our fucking Democratic majority has opened its collective asshole and shat out a mammoth steaming pile of shit that only allows us to avoid bankruptcy by medical bills only if we promise to be good girls and never ever kill babies.

There’s your Hope™ and Change™. You thought that Democrats were cool with just throwing gays under the bus? We’re not stopping at anything. Fuck the poor. Fuck women. Fuck the environment. Fuck the Middle East. Fuck accountability. Fuck ending tax cuts. Fuck our progressive base. Fuck federal law and Roe v. Wade and the things we could do with a Democratic majority.

If you have a Senator that would otherwise vote to pass this bill (mine are all Republicans), please, for your rights, send them a letter. Give them a call. Do something! Otherwise, I’m afraid that this is the death-knell for reproductive rights.

Fuck you Disney princesses

Disney Princesses

h/t to Sociological Images

Fuck you Disney Princesses. Out of all the things in my anti-feminist childhood, I have to say that I dislike you the most. Your perfect hair and submissive mannerisms were never the most sexist thing on the block, but you certainly were the most influential. Even though I found that I had a hard time relating to most of you, you still stood alongside Barbie as the most available commercial female role models. You were pretty, nice, and got to have magical adventures. You always fulfilled the things demanded of you by society eventually, and got together with a very charming handsome prince. Or at least you snagged a man who eventually became a prince or someone of equal importance.

To a hopelessly nerdy tom-boyish girl who related to books better than she related to girls and boys her age, you represented an ideal that I know I ought to meet, but found myself unable to. My hair was always too short, my figure too stocky, and the boys seemed to prefer girls more like you than like me. Since having a boyfriend was the best indication of social standing by the time I hit nine, I was equal parts envious and awe-stricken. I even dressed up as both Jasmine and Pocahontas several times each for Halloween, and lovingly kept the costumes even when I grew out of them. Today, I try to tell myself that at least I was unconsciously progressive enough as a child to choose the non-white and more rebellious princesses as my favorites, but the fact still remained that I looked up to you, the childhood scions of anti-feminist lore.

You taught me a lot of things; most of which were incredibly damaging. You taught me that it’s only appropriate to look up to men, and that all older women are inevitably evil, unless they are fairies. You taught me that mothers are useless, and better off dead, and that fathers are well-meaning tyrants that must be defied in small ways because they were understandably hesitant to hand over their power over you to another man.

You taught me that I must be nice to even the meanest of men, in case they were a prince and my kindness and resemblance to a door-mat could redeem them. If they were genuinely mean, I ought to know instinctively, or at least suffer silently until a prince rescued me. If I tried to rescue myself, I would inevitably end up in more trouble. You taught me that good girls always enjoy housework, caring for children, and sacrificing themselves for the sake of a man.

You taught me that that sacrificing myself for the sake of men may involve using my sexuality to seduce villains that I want absolutely nothing to do with, putting my life on the line, allowing myself to be imprisoned and abused, and giving up all the hobbies and talents that defined who I was. Those hobbies and talents didn’t really matter anyways, because they were only bargaining chips for snagging a prince, who cared more for my physical beauty then anything I was capable of or enjoyed doing.

You taught me that men knew better than me, even if they were abusive, angry, immature, and foolhardy. You taught me that the most important thing in a man is his legacy and royalty, his physical attractiveness, and his charm and wit. If he wasn’t royal, he must fake it, even if a show of material things didn’t really impress me. For a prince charming must buy me, even if I don’t wish to be bought. A proper man, you see, always pays for me, because women are objects.

You taught me that men go out and do things, and that I’m just there as a prize to be won or a silently suffering support system who is always waiting, never doing.

You taught me that I must wait for “true love” and never waste myself on short but enjoyable flings. True love was always the product of a simple kiss, by which I could determine the course of the rest of my life. You taught me that there was no divorce, no uncertainty, and no break-ups. A princess stays with one man, the first man, forever. You taught me that a whore moves on and does what she think is best for herself. A whore leaves a man who is abusive and angry instead of sacrificing her comfort and pride to turn him into a prince. You taught me that all men are redeemable by the charm of my physical beauty, naïve optimism, and willingness to put up with anything.

You taught me that if I somehow erred and found myself with a man who was not redeemable, it was because he was a villain that I must stay with until a true price comes and saves the day. If said prince never came, it was because I was not sufficiently beautiful and forgiving to the man I was with, and that if I tried harder, he would stop being so abusive. You taught me a that a good girl is never single, and never happy being single. Her entire life revolves around men and self-sacrificing relationships.

You taught me that good men will overlook me if I’m poor, too homely, or insufficiently wealthy. I must wait for someone to grant me with the material objects to fake being wealthy instead of seeking them myself. You taught me that if a prince only notices me if I doll myself up and meet his expectations of womanhood, that he isn’t a materialistic shallow jerk, but that I must follow certain rules and never question status-quo in order to be happy and taken seriously.

You taught me that men blinded by their incredibly lofty, but never wrong or shallow, standards for the opposite sex, and are therefore easily manipulated by the physical beauty of evil women, and thus that I must “save him” by being even more physically beautiful than them. You taught me that if I was richer or more beautiful than a man, that my wealth and power and standards of physical beauty were erroneous, and that I should be happy to marry  a thief or someone cursed or disfigured. You taught me that I must meet his standards, whether he is a prince or a pauper, and that his standards are always right, and mine are always wrong.

You taught me that a princess is never gay, fat, anything less than absolutely stunning, or a tomboy out of anything other than desperation. You taught me that inter-racial relationships are only allowable if my prince is conquering or colonizing my hopelessly backwards and savage ethnicity; an ethnicity that is always somehow more sexist than his. You taught me that only then is it fine if I wish myself to be his “prize” for showing the savages the benevolence of the white man.

You taught me that good girls only marry for love, but somehow inexplicably only fall in love with conquerors, princes, and men who could suitably become royalty.

Disney princesses, you taught me a lot of things, but never how to be true to myself. You never taught me how to love my mother or have good female friends. You never taught me how to look up to anyone who didn’t have a penis. You never taught me how to be successful by not waiting for the heavens to open up and hand things to me because I was beautiful or because I existed only to make myself beautiful. You never taught me how to deal with what I was given instead of wishing for a man to save me and bring me back into line with the status-quo. You never taught me how to fall in love with someone I was actually attracted to or someone that was good for more than trying to save me when I was perfectly capable of saving myself. You never taught me how to say no to anyone. You never taught me how to watch my ass, protect my self-esteem, and judge standards for myself. You never taught me how to think for myself. You never taught me about things that mattered like politics, ethics, or anything else but fashion and a narrow definition of love. You never taught me to get out of tight spots by my own wit and force of will. You never taught me that my sexuality wasn’t a bargaining tool, a prize to be won, or the only thing about me that was worth two shits.

Out of all the things you didn’t teach me, you didn’t teach me that being a chubby bookish gay girl who didn’t take shit from anyone was perfectly okay. You did teach me, however, that I was a freak of nature. You taught me that I ought to put down the books, shut my mouth, and take up putting on makeup and doing laundry as my hobbies instead. You taught me that I should fumble my way through several ill-fated abusive or uncomfortable relationships with men instead of looking for love where I was endlessly more likely to find it. You taught me that my body was an unruly tool, and that by viciously controlling it with eating-disordered behaviors and self-hatred I might become a woman worth anything but scorn.

But you only succeeded in teaching me these things because you weren’t alone. You were a bullhorn in a room of sympathizers. There were healthier less damaging whispers around the outskirts, but you and the like-minded denounced them as social pariahs, sexual deviants, mentally disturbed, and political extremists. As a girl desperately just wanting to disappear and fit it, I never really had a chance. Neither, I gather, did the majority of my peers.

In short, fuck you Disney princesses. I will not pay to see your regressive movies, I will not look up to your flawless beauty-standard-compliant faces. Additionally, I will live my life telling everyone who will listen that we’ve got it all wrong. You and your clique of impossibly beautiful peers are the ones that ought to be silenced and ostracized. Not me, and not all those other beautiful and achingly real girls who desperately need to be heard and appreciated for how they are, not scorned for how they fail to be just like you: the perfectly useless, silent, submissive princess.

Discussing kink and evidence of the rape culture

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?

Fuck no.

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.

Wev.

South Park… feminist?

South Park is my guilty pleasure. I remember turning the volume down really low at night so that I could watch it without my parents hearing. It was so deliciously foul—and it horrified my parents. What wasn’t to like?

Recent episodes have rekindled that warm feeling that deliberately foul and excessive toilet humor inspires. I thought that it really couldn’t get much better than when they parodied the bailout by turning the Treasury Department into a gaggle of idiots.

I suppose I was wrong.

For April 1, South Park released it’s newest episode, “Eat, Pray, Queef”. Which is exactly what it sounds like: 30 minutes of jokes about the sound air makes when it is expelled from a woman’s vagina.

In the episode, the men of South Park overreact to the queef, and the women in their lives that find it funny. Culminating in a Senate hearing in which a female senator queefs a monologue to Roadwarrior, the funniest part of the show was how my brother, who watched it with me, didn’t think queefing was as funny as I did.  It made him a tad uncomfortable.

Most astounding though, By the end, when the men ban queefing, one of the female characters has a monologue that is undoubtedly the most feminist thing I’ve ever heard on television, bar none. My jaw literally dropped. It wasn’t tongue-in-cheek, it didn’t reference bra-burning or any of the other anti-feminist bullshit memes.

Even more hilarious is how disturbed by the episode fans are on IMDb and elsewhere. I came across numerous posts about how queefs are “disgusting” (but apparently a talking piece of shit isn’t) and how vaginas are gross and look like “gun shot wounds”. Rather than just say that they didn’t like the episode though, numerous viewers gave it a 0/10 when asked. Me thinks this might be because they’re just mad that South Park pulled off a joke at their expense. I have to say, the reaction of people to this episode is even funnier than the episode itself. When pushed, the commentors will eventually resort to excuses such as “vaginas are gross” or “feminism is stupid”. Excuse me, wasn’t the point of satire to laugh at yourself? After being bogged down by the minuta of the bailout, an episode on how stupid it all was made me laugh at myself for taking it so seriously. Would it fucking kill people to laugh at themselves instead of other people? Apparently not. Which is extremely funny in a very dark way.

All in all, South Park still isn’t outwardly feminist, and still does have its problems (jokes about rape anyone?), but it was still the most feminist thing I’ve seen on television, for a general audience, ever. How sad is that? Even sadder, how many men are complaining on the IMDb boards about their butthurt that sexism isn’t funny? Way to get a joke, morons.

Women and children: Guilty until proven innocent

Mum’s been the word around these parts on the Rihanna domestic violence case around these parts. I figure that my input is just unnecessary and encouraging people to further invade the woman’s privacy. Which, obviously, I do not approve at all. So, here you will not see pictures or run-downs of police statements. Plenty of other sources have already covered that, and you have Google at your disposal. Look it up if you so wish.

What I will say is that the framing of this case in the media disgusts the ever-living hell out of me. It did from the first second I heard about it at the Grammys from that Seacrest douche. I recall working on some International Ethics paper at the kitchen table, and hearing Seacrest announcing on the television in the next room that neither Rhianna nor Brown was going to be performing that night because of “alleged” reports of assault and battery. Seacrest finished with some sort of sentiment that boiled down to that “we don’t know all the facts” and “our hearts go out to both of them”. Huh?

Immediately, I rolled my eyes in disgust. It didn’t occur to me that there was anything “allegedly” about it. I know far far too much about domestic violence to be stupid enough to assume, without anything concrete, that reports were false. Furthermore, the sentiment that I was supposed to feel bad for the both of them just blew my mind. What the ever living fuck? I mean, when reports surfaced about Michael Vick, that asshole, it didn’t occur to me to pray for him. I felt horrible when I imagined the dogs that suffered at his hands, but I would be have to brain dead to pray for Michael Vick. The only thing I prayed for was swift justice and a long prison sentence for such a sick asshole.

So when the Rhianna/Brown case broke that day, I didn’t want to pray for Brown. First, I’m not one to pray to begin with. Second, I have a lot better things to pray for than accused woman beaters. Like world peace, starving children, and the women  abused by said batterers.

I knew that the case was only going to get worse from there on out. If Seacrest’s sentiments weren’t already mind-bogglingly stupid, the media coverage was about to go from plain ignorant to malicious and then lovingly embrace the abyss of bat-shit-crazy. And fuck me, I also pessimistically thought that the negative media about to leveled square at a woman who really didn’t need to be victimized again by a society that ought to have her back would probably drive her right back into the abuser’s arms for lack of better options.

Fuck, I hate when I’m right.

So the shit came outpouring from every media mouthpiece. Rhianna was slandered: did she make him do it? Did you hear that she gave him an STD? Did she read his text messages and need to be “put in her place”? Then some shithead at TMZ got a hold of her picture taken for evidence (no, I’m not linking to it) and posted it all over the Internet, regardless of how illegal and violating that is. Anything for a buck. Pictures of Brown surfaced: defending himself, “remaking his public image”, partying on a boat with friends, hanging with fellow rap artists that would eventually push Rhianna to reconcile with him, which she did.

And I gagged on bile the whole way through. I was forced to consider that people I thought were intelligent were actually dump as stumps when they started spouting nonsense about Rhianna too.

So, back to that first day. I recall asking my mother, “did they just seriously insinuate that I ought to feel bad for Brown?” Her response was the very thing falling from most ignorant lips, “well, we don’t know the details. Innocent until proven guilty”.

Except not. That excuse to rally behind batterers, rapists, and murderers always left me dumbfounded. “Innocent until prove guilty” is a legal doctrine. Which means, that it is not something that ordinary citizens are held to, nor should they be. And most people plainly do not really believe in “innocent until proven guilty”.

Most people simply take cases as they hear them and decide without all the information. The media usually gleefully rips to shreds any celebrity accused of anything. I can’t tell you how many times I had to watch Paris Hilton cry as she was shipped back to jail. Not once did anyone ask, “did she really do it?” Same thing with Winona’s stealing, Lindsay’s DUI, and Vick’s dogfighting. Nobody started spreading rumors about police framing, dogs asking to abused, or entrapment. If there was someone that did ask such things, they were labeled a fucking idiot and dismissed, rightly I might add.

But what was remarkable is that nobody touted out “innocent until proven guilty” or “we don’t know all the facts”. I don’t recall the media scrambling to assemble excuses for the crime, or reasons to condemn those that accused them of such crimes. It was just basically assumed that if you were caught stealing, drinking and driving, or gambling on abused dogs fighting, that you were probably guilty of what you were accused of. In fact, most people I know were upset that they didn’t get enough time in jail for their crimes.

Notice something striking about these cases though: none of them involved a man being accused of hurting, killing, or abusing a woman.

Which cases do?

Well, Rhianna and Chris Brown. Roman Polanski, who got someone to direct a biopic about how the 13 year-old girl he raped asked for it and won a fucking Oscar in overseas exile to avoid being brought to justice. O.J. Simpson, who people still to this day defend. Michael Jackson, who need no further explanation. Mike Tyson, who has high-profile celebrities defending him from accusations of date rape. Kobe Bryant who said he didn’t “view the encounter the say way she did… I believe that it was consensual.”

All of the above were, and still are, defended by the media. Their accusers were slandered, their names leaked, and their lives ruined. Many of them still are extremely wealthy, and their careers are unaffected. When Kobe dunks at a Lakers game, nobody prefaces their play-by-play with references to his crime. People still buy Jackson’s music and think of him as the King of Pop. Polanski is still hailed as a hero in Hollywood. The 13 year-old that he raped? She’s considered a whore.

Innocent until proven guilty, but only if you’re a man accused of hurting a woman. Everyone knows that women and fucking children, for shit’s sake, are just a bunch of liars.  The only people in the media who are ever accused of crimes without proof are the very women and children that have been killed, beaten, raped, and victimized by sick male celebrities. The media and plenty of citizens will go to any lengths to invent crimes the victims of such horrible crimes are guilty of.

You and I know better. Their only crimes are not being silent when a man decides to use his penis as a weapon against them. Guilty for slaking the male right to sex, consensual or not, and then objecting to the Natural Order of Things.

Good God, this shit makes me mad as hell. I’m ashamed to live in such a sick world populated by such delusional woman-hating fucks.

The Highway Robbery of Your Oppression

I thought perhaps the most irritating thing someone could do was to insinuate that I was the other, or less human, than them because I was Jewish, female, or gay. It seems that I was wrong.

Over in a post on the blog of Nine Deuce—a fellow rad fem—a couple of fucking idiots have decided that the distaste some have for their sexual practices is akin to oppression, in specific, the oppression of homosexuals.

Yeah, no.

If you’re having sex in a manner completely consistent with the dominant idea of gender roles, you honestly can’t call that oppression. Perhaps if you were madly in love with two people, who were in turn madly in love with you, and you couldn’t recognize that relationship legally like most couples, I might be tempted to call that some sort of injustice, given that it defies the usual heterosexual one man one woman shebang.

Unless, of course, those three people really wanted to throw down and insinuate that criticism leveled against them is exactly like the oppression of homosexuals.

Let’s get this straight: the oppression of homosexuals is exactly like nothing else. There are other forms of oppression, obviously, but all of them are experienced differently—sometimes in an intersecting fashion with other oppressions—than the oppression of homosexuality and all of its flavors such as transphobia, homophobia or denial of bisexuality.

My ire has everything to do with what oppression is, and what it is not. Think of the word “oppression”. You might notice that this insinuates the heavy hand of something is “pressing” down on the oppressed. Oppression seems like some sort of pressure or burden, something that encumbers the back and strains the spine. Or you could think about a press, like a clothing press. Someone who is oppressing is trapped between stronger forces, molded and flattened, their essence wrung out of them. This common interpretation of the word is almost identical to the etymology. The English word “oppression” comes from the Latin word oppressio which means “a pressing down” or “violence”.

Oppression, divorced from its present misuse, seems to be a word that implies a very grave perversion of human dignity, a burden that an individual is made to bear unjustly, or something that distorts and twists the social and internal perception of the self. It might be accompanied by shame, self-blame, and immobilization of the one’s autonomy. This “pressing down” is something that not only warps the self; it functions to keep the self from truly grasping the injustice of the oppression. Socialized in the notion that they are wrong—or the other—oppression is accompanied by a heady dose of self-hatred that may be consciously rejected at some point, but never erased from the psyche.

From the above, it’s easy to understand the general idea of oppression as it is experienced by the oppressed. But this only captures half the picture. The true nature of oppression cannot be grasped only by the effects it has upon the oppressed. To do such would be misconstruing all sorts of unhappiness as oppression. One can be genuinely miserable without being oppressed. Because of the current misuse of the term, “oppression” has been hijacked to apply to all forms of unhappiness that stem from social censure.

This highway robbery, so to speak, is not only invalid; it directly undermines the suffering and legitimacy of the truly oppressed. It functions as a backlash against the unwanted realization that large swaths of our society—both domestically or abroad—have been, and continue to be, wrongly oppressed. The true recognition of oppression of a member-group that one is not part of inspires a sort of guilt or shame over one’s majority status once that the privilege has been unmasked as atypical rather than something shared by all on virtue of their humanity. Since most privilege also exists solely because it is not extended to all, this inspires an even greater sense of guilt and betrayal of one’s faith in what one thought to be a just world.

This is a fundamental character to oppression: the experience of an unjust world. Oppression is something that is furtively hid by the dominant class. And for all oppressions, there must be a dominant class that oppresses, or at least directly benefits from oppression. What this means is that the oppressed will not be able to observe their experiences being portrayed in the dominant culture. If their existence is ever acknowledged, it is for the function of ridicule, reestablishing inferiority, or elevation of the oppressed.

The features of the oppressed life are characterized by constant double-binds, self censure, and social disapproval. Because it is their identity that is stigmatized, the choices that the oppressed can make in life are not only severely limited, but subject to social critique regardless of outcome in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” manner. The oppressed will often self-limit their choices and full enjoyment of society for fear of censure, or under the heartbreaking assumption that the crime of being who they are in public is inappropriate or obscene. Thirdly, and most importantly, the lucky few of the oppressed who realize the wrongful nature of their oppression and decide to freely be themselves in the social realm to the same, or even lesser, extent that the majority class can be will often be subjected to the most cruel and unusual social alienation, stigmatizing, discrimination, violence, and even death either sponsored or allowed by the state. Even ideally, the state or any other body of justice (such as a community) will actively fail to protect the oppressed from the violence of the majority class by not criminalizing hate crimes, dismissing the epidemic violence, punishing transgressions of the oppressed class’s rights half-heartedly, and/or punishing retaliations—real or assumed—against the oppressors more harshly.

The present manifestations of oppression must also be accompanied by historical oppressions and norms that dictate that the oppressed stand outside the default definition of full humanity. These will be accompanied by what I have detailed above as well as institutional underrepresentation, economic vulnerability, unequal labor distribution, and rigid expectations of dress, demeanor, and visibility.

As an aside, the radical feminist presumption is that all forms of oppression are modeled off of the division of labor by gender and the resulting sexism. As far as anthropology has suggested, other than differences in bodily strength and intelligence, the earliest form of differentiating human worth has been by gender. Even racism, presently a very real epidemic, was only invented when the popularity of differentiating by specific physical features supposedly related to origin arose to justify colonialism and slavery.

But I digress.

The vital characteristics of oppression, therefore are:
– alienation, marginalization, and invisibility
– some sort of self-censure or internal lack of worth
– scapegoating or exploitation
– historical precedent
– location of the individual and group on the lower end of a continuum of subjective worth
– vulnerability and violence
– institutional maintenance of oppression, or at least unwillingness to correct via injustices, underrepresentation, etc
– limiting of choice or increased social critique of choices
– stereotypes, rigid expectations, confinement specific roles
– formation of society in such a way that blocks or severely impedes the formation of self-defined autonomy and the expression thereof

I argue that while the above list is not exhaustive, all forms of valid oppression are characterized by most, if not all, of the above.

What then, qualifies as “oppression”? A part of me is deeply saddened that I even have to delineate these identities, in no particular order, and correct me if I miss any:
– gender
– race
– class
– mental or physical ability and/or health
– body size and physical norms
– religion
– nationality
– sexual orientation

Take sexual orientation. Homosexuals are undoubtedly alienated from full enjoyment of social life, their love and experiences are marginalized, and their lives are invisible. Because of the internalization of their “othering” they are more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. They have been scapegoated with such things as Hurricane Katrina, the spread of AIDS, and sexual abuse of children. They are considered “less than” heterosexuals, as evidenced by the pervasive social insult of insinuating that someone is “a fag”. 1 in 5 gay men and 1 in 10 lesbian women report having been assaulted because of their orientation. In many countries around the world, homosexuality is punishable by death. In the United States, discrimination by orientation is not criminalized or prohibited. The choices to adoption, choose any profession, and get married are routinely held from homosexuals. Ridicule through stereotypes and the demonization of those that defy the heterosexual precedent is swift and pervasive. Finally, the stigma attached to homosexuality severely impedes the formation of individuality within a society that shuns a homosexual identity. Thus, non-heterosexuality clearly meets the principles of oppression I have delineated above.

However, sexual practices and fetishes are not oppression. This includes things such as BDSM, pedophilia, foot fetishes, water sports, and fur-suiting. The post that inspired this philosophical examination of oppression featured various practitioners of BDSM or a “BDSM lifestyle” insinuating that the questioning of their fetish was analogous—identical or at least relevantly similar—to the hate speech and oppression of homosexuals.

What this asinine proposition ignores is that while practicing BDSM may meet some of the conditions of oppression, it obviously does not meet all of them, or even most of them. Most importantly, it is not an identity. While one could argue that the formation of self may somewhat depend on sexual practice, this is not a pervasive and broadly recognized locus of identity that is commonly stigmatized. Furthermore, the formation of identity solely on sexual practice is something that is self-decided, not imposed. An important and mandatory feature of oppression is that the classification of the privileged and the other are unfounded and delineated solely to structure oppression and define it in a concrete “us versus them” dialogue. While race and gender roles are constructs, the choice to internalize them is not freely taken, nor is it optional. Defiance of imposed identity and assertion of one’s experience as part of valid human life results in swift social consequences. Think of a man wearing woman’s clothing or a woman who does not have any sexual feelings for men.

These constructs and formations of identity on the basis of orientation, size, ability, class, nationality, race, religion, and appearance are recognized forms of separating and ranking the subjective worth of an individual within a system of artificial hierarchies. To any outside observer within the same society, the tabulation of an individual’s identity within these parameters is useful and often required. This can be for benign reasons of recognizing their alternative and varying experiences, but also is for—and usually is—designating an individual as the “other”. For example, American society typically considers a straight moderately attractive middle-weight able-bodied middle-class American white Christian man as the default exemplar of citizenry. This default is the most often expressed when a representative of a large group is chosen, or when one wishes to construct a representation of human life. To all people who fit this default, most aspects of non-default life—especially if it deviates from the default in more than one way—are invisible or incompletely understood. However, to those that deviate from the norm and are therefore oppressed, moderately or severely in some fashion, the minutia of the default life are readily apparent and intimately known. To say that a black person does not understand white culture is to completely ignore the pervasiveness of white identity, and how it is accessible to all, whereas black identity—especially the features outside of the stereotypes and the unpleasant realities of oppression—are underrepresented in the public sphere and invisible to those who do not deliberately seek them out if not actively ignored, denied, or suppressed.

While BDSM is not as readily available as “vanilla sex”, it is an identity that is self-chosen and not at all relevant to public life. It is wholly unlike oppressed identities, which are stigmatized, universally recognized, and form organizational structures of privilege and discrimination. Thus, to say that the content of a critique of a sexual practice is equivalent or at least relevantly similar to hate speech about homosexuality is to completely ignore the difference oppression makes in the functioning and structuring of everyday life and society.

Why people have hijacked the definition of “oppression” is three-fold. First, they have a misunderstanding of what oppression entails, and collapse the complex and valuable recognition of oppression into simple perceived wrongs stemming from social critique or censure. Secondly, the denial of oppression has been conflated, wrongly, to insinuate that the feeling of unhappiness or the wrong someone has suffered is illegitimate or unworthy. Thirdly, the hijacking is an attempt to ride the coat tails of legitimate protests of oppression by undermining them and opening the idea of oppression so wide that it fails to capture the gravity of what oppression is.

I have already delineated above what oppression is, how it functions, and why certain things—such as fetishes—are not oppressed identities. However, it is absurd to think that only oppressions are things which people may feel genuinely wronged or unhappy about. A default person can be unjustly passed over for a raise by a less qualified peer. But this is not a manifestation of oppression of white male-hood (which it is often misconstrued to be if the promoted is female or a POC), it is simply a personal injustice again a specific individual. Injustices are still things that may be debated and condemned in the public sphere, and I would be stupid to deny that negative feelings are unfounded if they stem from individual injustices.

But thirdly and most importantly, the hijacking of the word “oppression” specifically has undermined the determination of what oppression is, how it functions, and whether or not it is something that we must publically recognize, denounce, and correct. When a man asserts that he is the victim of “oppression” when wrongly accused of rape, he directly undermines the legitimacy of feminism by denying the power structure of gender that has always penalized women more harshly than men to the benefit and privilege of men. When someone who practices BDSM in a heterosexual male-dominant context asserts that they are “oppressed” when their sexual acts are critiqued they are undermining the legitimacy of gay rights by denying the power structure of heterosexuality that has never discounted domination as the “other”, nor has it subjected those who play with power structures in the bedroom to the most cruel and unusual social discrimination. When a white man asserts that he is “oppressed” when a POC gets promoted over him, he undermines the legitimacy of racial movements by denying that his whiteness grants him any privilege or authority, or that throughout his life and that of his ancestors (whom have undoubtedly passed down some of their privilege to him) he has directly benefited because of discrimination by race.

Thus, the hijacking of the term “oppression” is ignorant, insulting, and bigoted. There is absolutely no need to use hyperbole for individual injustices in such a way that completely undermines the legitimacy of movements that attempt to correct specific and pervasive forms of oppression. If you are wronged and unhappy, that does not automatically mean that the entirety of society has stigmatized your identity in such a way as outlined above. Furthermore, I am completely and totally unsympathetic to those who try to ride the coattails of legitimate social movements opposing oppression in order to lend their complaints validity. If you cannot assert that you have been wronged without specifically, ignorantly, and shamelessly undermining other’s suffering shut the fuck up.