Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Correction

I've been meaning to get to this.

In my post about three excuses for female objectification that don't hold up, I made some pretty bold claims.

Sex is a cooperative, collaborative and consensual activity between two or more sticky people undertaken for the orgasmic benefit of all involved.
[Sex is] a fun social activity (2 to infinity players, ages 18 and up.)

I illustrated things with this picture:




And I'm fucking wrong, aren't I?

Not that I'm doing the fucking wrong, I mean... I am fucking wrong about fucking... Like a non-sexual fuck about sexual fuck... You get it.

Let's break it down.

First of all, Past Me, who made you the arbiter on what sex is and isn't? I suspect, Past Me, that in your zeal to make a point about sexual objectification, you overstepped your bounds and trampled all over the sexual experiences, preferences and identities of people who experience sex different from how you experience sex.

Cooperative, collaborative and consensual, sure. Two or more people? No. You can have sex, a sexual experience, on your own just fine. You do it all the time, Past Me. For shame.

Orgasmic? Sure, it's a fun word to use, but like you pointed out, language matters. Sex isn't sex unless there's an orgasm involved? No. You are dead wrong.

Ages 18 and up? Check the goddamn age of consent laws worldwide. Don't pretend your own countries' laws are the only ones that matter, and don't pretend like the law is always just.

And Past Me, I know what you were thinking when you made that image. It's a visual joke that gets the point across, har har, and you knew it was wrong when you made it. You posted it anyway. Because you were too damn lazy to find a picture that accurately represents all your fellow human beings, and too privileged to realize that no such picture can even exist.

Implying that that is what all sex looks like, that this is what sex is, is wrong for so very many reasons.

All "Past Me" cuteness aside, I want to offer my sincere apologies to all the (many, many) people whom I alienated and made invisible. I am sorry for discounting your sexual experiences. I did it out of laziness and privilege and I am deeply sorry and ashamed. I will make it a top priority to correct my thinking, my behavior and my language in the future.

Again, I'm deeply sorry for the misinformation and the hurt I put out there.

a fun social activity (2 to infinity players, ages 18 and up.) - See more at: http://trashyinpink.blogspot.be/2014/06/3-excuses-for-objectification-that-dont.html#sthash.zMTTkOmS.dpuf
Sex is a cooperative, collaborative and consensual activity between two or more sticky people undertaken for the orgasmic benefit of all involved. Objectification, on the other hand, is not. - See more at: http://trashyinpink.blogspot.be/2014/06/3-excuses-for-objectification-that-dont.html#sthash.zMTTkOmS.dpuf
Sex is a cooperative, collaborative and consensual activity between two or more sticky people undertaken for the orgasmic benefit of all involved. Objectification, on the other hand, is not. - See more at: http://trashyinpink.blogspot.be/2014/06/3-excuses-for-objectification-that-dont.html#sthash.zMTTkOmS.dpuf

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

PattiBlows: Flipping Tables Edition


Before anyone starts to feel like I'm a jerk for being mean to Patti, keep in mind that I've got a goddamn million of these:




There's no curbing Us People, ah tell ya.

Patti's particular brand of sexism is as old as dirt (or at least the fifties,) so while it obviously bothers me, I've sort of gotten used to it. Get married yesterday, starve yourself in the name of beauty standars, cake yourself in make-up, smile and nod, shave your legs, wax your tits, nag nag nag. She's more of an out-of-touch single aunt than a credible force for evil. Her brand of Cosmo-style sexism is on every channel and newsstand in the western world, so you kind of get desensitized. After a while the steady drumbeat of abuse just becomes white noise.

Then she went and insulted my husband.




And it is on.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dear Dude Feminist: You're Probably Okay


So let's assume you're a straight white dude, and I absolutely mean that in the nicest possible way. You're probably smart, and you have a good heart, and you're aware that inequality is bad. Recently your social media feeds have been brimming with talk about how the media doesn't really cater to anyone but you, and you can see that. There are people out there, mostly women but all kinds of people, who make inspiring statements prompt you to say "well I never." You've never in your life had cause to say that. That alone makes it worthwhile.

And feminism might still be a bit of an icky word, but there's other words and phrases that you recognize and love and respect. Words like equality, freedom, the right to choose, the right to live free of persecution, the right to representation, and you are down with that. Feminism sounds great! And it is!

Then other words and phrases start popping up. Kyriarchy, patriarchy, male entitlement, rape culture, Schrodinger got involved somehow, and there's a lot of anger. We've already established that you are smart and have a good heart, so you know better than to confuse attacks on systemic oppression for personal insults. You are capable of great empathy and compassion. You know that the good fight is worth fighting no matter how you get involved.

Still, it's complicated. Looking up the dictionary definition of these words and phrases doesn't help much. Every time a new controversial topic pops up, you can't find two feminist blogs that actually agree. You see your own opinion echoed by someone else and immediately torn down. It's super scary. It's complicated. It's enough to make you very, very nervous about participating in this movement. On the one hand, you hear that male voices are needed. On the other hand, you are told to shut up and listen, and ponder privilege while you're at it. Scary, frustrating and confusing don't even begin to describe it.

You've already broken through that barrier of male entitlement. You've done it without taking it as an attack. I commend you. Many people don't make it that far. Now what?

Here the thing though: it's scary for everyone.

Feminist theory, at its core, is an intellectual discipline, comparable to a soft science. A lot of activism and opinion flows from this, but it starts with thought, with history and fact. It introduces a new way of thinking. And any new way of thinking is daunting at first. Nobody comes into the movement fully formed. You cannot walk into your Psychology 101 class and expect to be a licensed psychologist by the end of the week. You should be a little daunted stepping into that class, because you're about to be buried under centuries of history, conflicting theories, opinions, papers, personalities and the lessons of teachers both good and bad.

Feminism is much the same. If you expect to read one or two blog posts and be up on your feminist theory in time for dinner, you're probably going to have a rough time of it. This is the same for everyone, not just straight white dudes. Anyone coming into the movement has a learning curve in front of them. And feminist theory evolves just like science does. You have to keep up, keep learning, keep reading. When have you learned enough? Never. Don't wait until you've learned all there is to know about feminism before you speak up. It's not going to happen.

But you've done all that. You've done your due diligence, you've listened quietly, really listened, you've challenged yourself, you're committed. I know some men in your position, quite a few. Women too. They've done a lot of heavy lifting, they've listened, and now they would like to speak. But they're scared to. Because feminism, like any social justice movement, is filled with people who have strong opinions backed by the fury of a thousand angry voices. And they're all going to yell at you.

Yes. Yes they are. You've done your research, so you know that women aren't a monolith, there is no such thing as a female hivemind, no "all women" anything, nothing in our soul or DNA that gives us even one common trait.

Feminists are much the same.

Of course that group is a little more narrowly defined than "women." There certainly are things all feminists have in common, like the belief that female-identifying people are being systemically marginalized. But we are not the Borg. As in any theoretical discipline, there are different schools of thought, different ways in which different theories are presented, varying levels of engagement and activism.

There has to come a phase when you start speaking. Not lecturing, not teaching, not throwing down the gauntlet, but engaging. You've done it right, you've listened to many marginalized voices, you know your theory and you know compassion. But before you start confidently confronting the issues in your daily life, there's one more step to take, after listening but before activism: it's time to engage with feminists.

Yeah, I know. I was scared too. Not because feminists are grrr scaryclaws, that's just such a nasty stereotype, but because you and I don't want to hurt people. What if our stupid question really upsets someone? What if the point we make in good faith places us on one side of a fence we didn't even know was there? What if we try to do good and cause hurt instead? That's fucking awful. That's the worst feeling in the world, trying to do good and falling face-first into a steaming pile of the opposite. Nobody wants that.

But it's going to happen.

There's a reductive, dare I say sexist joke that feminists could have anything they wanted if they just stopped bickering amongst themselves. It seems like we're at each other's throats a little more than we rally together to sisterly kick the patriarchy in the nards, or whatever it is we do. And in my experience that's not quite how it is, but there are going to be clashing but equally valid and thought out opinions. This is a good thing. Challenging each other to think in a different way about the things we think differently about is intellectually invigorating and crucial to the continued growth of this movement. All facts and opinions need to be questioned from time to time. Everyone needs to be told to check their privilege now and again. Everyone makes mistakes.

Man, I've made some mistakes. Big ones. Embarrassing ones. Harmful ones. I got yelled at and everything. There are thoughts I've had that I'm very happy I didn't vocalize or commit to the internet. I've agonized and picked over every single sentence I've posted on this blog and I'm horribly insecure about half of them. My biggest fear is that I'll cause harm anyway, through privilege, unexamined biases or even plain old thoughtlessness. I've also had differences of opinion. I've had standpoints challenged and after consideration chose to stand by them anyway. It happens. And that's okay.

And so you, dude feminist, you're probably going to be challenged if you speak. You might even get yelled at. I don't support the yelling so much, but it might happen. Being a dude and all, you might even catch more flak than anyone else does. That sucks. But that doesn't make you a Bad Feminist. If you've done the work, if you know how to engage in good faith, how to accept an intellectual challenge and test your own ingrained biases and beliefs on a daily basis, well, guess what?

You're probably okay.

Don't be afraid to speak up. Know that there is a learning curve, and that this curve exists for everyone. It'll be a little less steep for those who intuitively understand these things from personal experience, but we all have to unlearn the habits of a lifetime and deprogram ourselves on a daily basis. It's a lifelong challenge. But being challenged is a kindness, an invitation for growth, not a smack-down. It still sucks, it hurts and smart when we unintentionally cause harm, but it's part of that steep climb up the learning curve. And once we make it to the top, we still make mistakes. The feminists I respect most, the only ones I find genuine enough to listen to, they know how to say "I made a mistake. I sincerely apologize. I promise I will apply myself to challenging the thinking that led to this mistake."

Of course they also know how to say "I see your point and respectfully disagree." I find that the best of them employ a mixture of both, where appropriate.

And I don't even agree with all of them. That's how it goes. And that's okay.

Dude feminist, I thank you. We need your voice, and I'm not even a little bit bitter about that. You are my ally, and I welcome you. Don't be scared. Don't be afraid to speak up for fear of enraging the feminist hive. If you do, and you probably will, it won't be pleasant. But that too goes for everyone. All of us, any gender, orientation, race or background, all of us make mistakes. All of us are unique in our personal interpretation of feminism. All of us are active in our own ways.

You are welcome in my space, dude feminist. Do the work, listen before you speak, practice good faith and learn how to say "I'm sorry" and I promise you, you'll be okay.

This space is yours too. It's okay to speak with care, good faith and confidence.

Until you fuck up.

And you will.

And that's okay.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Maniacs, Losers and Wretches: Flipping the Psycho Switch


(Content note: mental ableism including ableist slurs, normalization of mental ableism in pop culture, personal account of discrimination)

I play a whole lot of video games. Between twenty and thirty a year or so, on average. Every year the Steam Summer Sale wipes me out completely and I've never once felt bad about it. I love games as a storytelling medium. It's quite unique in that way, because the interactivity alone sets it apart from all other storytelling formats. I'm not interested in quibbling about whether they're art or not. They just feature very prominently in my arsenal of tools that facilitate escapism, adventure games especially. There's some absolutely wonderful stories to be had there, and for all the crap video games rightly receive for their gender politics, adventure games do amazingly well with great female protagonists. But I like psychological thriller/horror/mystery stories especially. Like this game:




If you can't watch that, here are the pertinent quotes from the developer:

We're taking full advantage of the asylum setting. It's not a game about zombies, it's a game about patients and their craziness. They're criminally insane people so you never know what to expect from them. They might attack you, but they might also let you live for a little while. [...] What we want to do is scare the shit out of players, so we'll do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. Whatever works.

I spent over half of my life (the fist half, regrettably) being clinically depressed, and a small chunk of that time voluntarily institutionalized. I can confidently say that, at sixteen years old, this was without a shadow of a doubt the kindest thing I have ever done for myself. I finally got the help I needed, medication that worked for me, therapy from kind people, and I was surrounded by people who were going through the same thing I was and were endless wells of support, kindness and strength. Back then I didn't understand the shock and hand-wringing of the people around me that went with that decision. I was sick. I needed to go to the hospital to get better. What's the big deal?

I understood it even less from my fellow patients. All of them, to a man, told me that I should never, ever, under no circumstances admit to having been institutionalized. And again, I was confused. I really didn't see what the big deal about getting medical care was. Well...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

PattiBlows: Blasphemy Edition


(Content note: homophobia, specifically bi-invisibility, kink hate, reductive female stereotypes, alcohol and sexual assault, brief reference to partner violence, copious f-bombs, Patti does math wrong)

I've talked at length about how, for me, the single greatest joy of being of a feminist mindset is giving myself permission to like women. I stand by that. But I never said it was an obligation. Where before every woman in my life started at -50 respect points, these days they get a nice neutral 0 just like everyone, maybe even a little more, because sisterhood.

But I can't talk too much about The Sisterhood.

That being said, I hate Patti Stanger with the fury of a thousand feminists. That's a whole lot of fury. You may not know this, but as turns out we're an angry bunch.

Actually, no, I should qualify that. I don't actually know Patti Stanger. For all I know she's the most wonderful, caring human being I could ever hope to meet. I'm absolutely, 100% sure that just like everyone else on earth, she has the potential to make the world a better place. But that is not her public persona. Her public persona is hateful and reductive. So keep in mind that when I say "Patti Stanger," I am referring exclusively to the persona she (and a whole bunch of editors, producers and publicists I'll bet) presents to us for public consumption.

With that out of the way...

You may know Patti Stanger as the Millionaire Matchmaker, although I sincerely hope you don't. Every collective minute of that show watched sets humanity back a decade. Not just women, everyone. Absolutely nobody at all is better off for this horrible woman and her horrible show existing. In fact I'm pretty sure her innate noxiousness is poisoning the collective soul of humanity. For example, I don't think people who are in the business of matching people up should openly refer someone with kink leanings as a sick, sick person. (And it's called erotic asphyxiation, you dolts. It's perfectly safe and surprisingly common.)

Her website, PattiKnows, is the most inaccurately named thing since One Million Moms had a Facebook hategasm. I wanted to write about that site of hers, but there's too much. The show, the website, the interviews where she claims bi people don't exist and bisexual guys are just in gay denial, and also ew, it's just... There's too much going on here.

So let's start with the basics.



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