Category Archives: Feminist

*raises fist in solidarity*

TDOR

Chiming in a little late in the day, I know; and after weeks of blog-death. Sheesh.

Transgender Day of Remembrance  is important to me for deeply personal reasons. I don’t think that the struggle of the Transgender movement can or should be boiled down to one or a couple of days out of the year, and I have to take myself to task for not yet tackling some of the cis-supremacist ways of our world here on my own turf.

I mean, the sad truth is that not enough feminists bring that struggle to light in their work. And I’ll take radical feminism to task here- it’s really my home in feminism, and this is where it’s analysis is severely lacking. So many contemporary radfems have come down so hard on the Transgender community and it really gives me pause at times when otherwise I can carry the axe happily, and whistle a little tune as I do so.

I’m not an essentialist. I don’t believe that sex exists apart from culture and I don’t believe that the things we learn when we learn about being good boys/men/girls/women can be all boiled down to “drives” or “hormones.” I don’t believe that estrogen makes people want to wear high heels and makeup.

But I also don’t think it’s right to alienate people who are suffering and just want to fucking belong. Especially not when it’s so obvious, when you spend time with these people and see the shit they have to put up with daily just to walk around in the world.

And you can criticize the gender-binary system all you like, but until you’ve tried to make IT fit YOU in the daily minutiae of the DMV or the Vital Statistics Office, and in response all you get are invasive questions about the aesthetics of your genitalia or other medically-nosy queries, then please. Don’t assume you know what you’re talking about.

I’m posting a video here from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Standing on the Side of Love website. It’s very sad. But it needs to be seen. And spread it around, if you don’t mind.

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Singularity

Over the past couple of weeks I have experienced a unique consolidation of feminist ideas/issues/critical crises and to be honest, I haven’t posted much here about it because I have been fruitlessly trying to find a way to synthesize all that I’ve seen. Concurrently my bathroom reading has consisted of sections from McKinnon’s chapter on rape from “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State.”

I gotta say, even though a lot of liberal/contemporary feminism sort of ostracizes McKinnon, especially in her critique of sexuality, that particular chapter in her book goes right along with what I have been reading on the blogosphere about rape culture and male supremacy. I just don’t see sex and sexuality as existing as some abstract, monolithic entity apart from violence and male supremacy, and I think a lot of contemporary feminist theory on sexuality tries to frame it in that way. I understand that this comes from a desire to create feminist sexuality, but I feel that women as a whole have been duped into internalizing male supremacist sexuality as that theoretical “objective” sexuality. I don’t think of rape as “violence, not sex.” I think of rape as very violent sex and I think that the way that our legal system treats it – making it difficult to define, and defining it in very male-centric terms- turns it into a valid form of sex. Now, note that I’m not saying that it *should* be valid, but that it *is* valid.

We are expected to internalize the idea that sexuality *has* to look only one way, the way deemed “natural” by white supremacisty, misogynisty, capitalism. We aren’t supposed to question it. It’s supposed to be good an healthy. In all forms.

What I’m saying is that the existence of rape proves that this isn’t true, because rape is a socially-acceptable form of sex that is violent and painful and dehumanizing. I mean, just look at all the folks who came out in support of Roman Polanski. Just look at how hard it is to prove whether or not someone has been raped in a court of law. Just look at how often women don’t report it.

Reading this thread and this one on Shapely Prose was very validating to me, because these did well to illustrate and consolidate thoughts that I have had in respect to sex, male supremacy, rape culture, etc. for a number of years, but the articles were not written by radical feminists- though the analysis therein seemed to mirror a lot of the analysis that I have related to personally and theoretically, and had difficulty expressing. It was just so good to hear liberal feminists come out with this hardcore analysis.

And as I am struggling and scrambling to keep up with all the stuff out there in ‘Sphere-land, I find this on The Rotund, which links back to this at 2 Zaftig Chicks. Needless to say, my head is spinning with all the implications.

I think it all just goes to show that the various forms of oppression can’t be “cured” discretely. It’s a bit meaningless to talk about how fat people should have “equal rights” (whatever that means under the current system of divide/conquer/control/rinse/repeat) without very thorough analysis of the other oppressions that tie into a person’s fatness. I don’t think that my “right” as a fat woman to be considered “hot” or “fuckable” is as important as my right as a Fat Person to  basic human dignity. I have to examine these other ideas and ask myself, is that basic human dignity I’m asking for, or am I asking to be oppressed in a more tolerable way that the way to which I am accustomed? Am I demanding my place at the table or am I saying, hey, it’s better to be a cute pampered poodle than it is to be a mangey stray?

So anyway. Reading comment after comment, I kept stumbling over the word “kyriarchy” and went out looking for definitions for it. This seems to be a pretty good one; but I gotta say. To be honest there are memes floating around this term that I’m not quite sure I’m analytically comfortable with. I am still mulling it over. It seems that the point of the term is to highlight intersectionality of oppression, and as I read more about it I hear people talk about how they use it and “patriarchy” to describe different things. Ok. I get that. And I get that there isn’t any one good word to encompass all forms of hierarchically-derived oppression. From what I am reading about this new terminology, however, I wonder how much it really helps to enrich understanding. I mean, when I see examples that cite BD/SM relationships as places where “patriarchy” isn’t always applicable, I have to question it, because I thoroughly do NOT think that a flipped-script adoption of a particular sexual role by a member of an oppressed class is necessarily an example of “liberation.” Not even momentarily, IMHO.

I think to take the focus off of the ruling class (which in this day and age is a white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, christian, capitalist class [and feel free to ad-lib if I have left out any pertinent descriptors]) as a “target,” if you will, leads to even more divisiveness and doesn’t foster unity in action, which is what is needed if the world is ever going to look anything like fair and still have human beings roaming around in it alive. Which is what I would like to see, personally. We might fight amongst each other, and that’s an awful thing. We might act as gatekeepers towards one another- again. Awful. I KNOW!

But here’s the thing, and here’s the reason that it’s important to keep the eyes sharply focussed on that sliver of society I mentioned earlier: THEY HAVE ALL OF OUR STUFF. ALL OF IT! And they want to keep it all. So this complex pyramid is incredibly important in so many ways, and must be understood. But a woman whose only income comes from acting like she’s dominating a man (while she’s really carefully playing out what the man has most likely scripted for her) isn’t in actuality holding a position of institutional power over that man.

In our culture all but the most powerful in an institutional sense- and money does equal institutional power when you start talking about the legal system and systemic violence- have to rely on “the Great White Father” to get their “fair shake” or their “day in court.”

So much to think about. And it’s not even Thursday yet. Jeebus.

note- this image is not mine. it comes from mactheory.wordpress.com

note- this image is not mine. it comes from mactheory.wordpress.com

Movie-Maker-Rapist

Well, all I can say is, LIKE. WHOA.

I feel like I have to say a few things about all the buzz around the arrest of Roman Polanski. The blogosphere is just busting with all kinds of analysis of it. Kate Harding (as usual) has been right on top of the whole thing the whole time and has a great, one-stop post about it if anyone feels inclined or hasn’t had time to go over a lot of the information or doesn’t know wtf I’m talking about. Here’s another link to a Kate-ness for anyone reading who feels compelled by “the art godz(TM)” to defend the asshole.

You can find some very insightful survivor analysis here and here.

You can go here to see the list of dipshit, fuckwad, celebs and quasi-celeb sycophants who’ve decided to “take action” to free an old guy who admitted to having illegal sex with a kid. I hope you’ll use the list as a reference point for film-makers you won’t be supporting with your hard-earned money.

SO much has been said, it really isn’t easy to think of too much more to say about it. However.

I’m the kind of person who’s already formulated an analysis against the prison-industrial complex, who’s an artist herself, who values cutting-edge thought and new ideas. I hate the way our legal system works, because it only “works” for about a tenth of the population. At my job, my boss has posted a sign on my mailbox that says “bleeding heart liberal.” I’ll just put it out there and say, due to the fucked-up-edness of said legal system (in which you have civil versus criminal courts, neither of which address the roots of fucked-up behavior but attempt a garbage-pail stab at the consequences of said behavior) I don’t necessarily think that “jail time”, IMO, is going to do anything in the way of “righting” the “wrong” that’s been committed in this situation. It might make some folks feel ok for a few minutes once they read the headlines. It might make this asshole feel like the asshole he really is for a little while, before he retires back to his mansion to die a rich, old man.  It might. :: shrugs ::

My own, personal- I dunno, feeling? Maybe? I think that I would get a kick out of seeing Roman Polanski sentenced to life- IN FLORIDA. Seriously. Think about it. He would have to come to Florida, register as a sex offender – so that everyone would have access to his home address- and live in one of the few tiny niches where sex offenders are allowed, by asshole landlords, to rent apartment or trailer homes. Then maybe a nice gesture would be to take, like, 90% of the dude’s net worth and donate that money and land to a feminist separatist community that heads up rape prevention education and teaches little girls to do killer ninja karate fighting. Or something like that. But that won’t happen, nothing like that will happen. I would bet that if he gets out of Switzerland and comes back to the US for trial, he’ll get a little slap on the hand and then go back to making movies as usual. He’ll get to pretend he’s some kind of martyr for film-making. And more dudes will think it’s hip and cool to infantilize the women they sleep with. But I really hope he does end up coming back and having to register as a sexual predator. I think that’s just fair.

If you haven’t yet looked at the national sex offender registry website, you should. Because, conveniently, that brings me to my next point.

You shouldn’t go there to gawk out of some sort of “righteous indignation.” You should go and look at all the different types of people who are on there.  What kinds of things do you think, when you put your zip code in and see all the faces that pop up? Besides “monster monster monster rapist monster,” I mean. I don’t ask necessarily to glean empathy or respect, or whatever, for the folks you’ll see there; I’m not trying to point out the plight of the convicted sex offender. I just want people to see how common some of these faces look. Because they are COMMON. Some of the folks on there do indeed look like they might be in need of some heavy psychotropic medication. But most of them, shit. They could be your next door neighbor. They ARE somebody’s next door neighbor.

So the folks in the art world who want to talk about Polanski’s “genius” and “artistry” have some things right. He’s not your “common rapist.” Not because he deserves any better treatment than anybody else on the registry I linked to- but because he’s wealthy, white, and part of the ruling class. He will probably have a legal team, not a P.D. His files probably won’t get lost or shuffled around into nothing while he sits in a cell, forgotten. He’ll come out of jail, or prison, or wherever he does his token time and he’ll still have won an Oscar. Not all convicted sex offenders have much in common with Roman Polanski.

{Not that we don’t already have our share of celebrated child rapists. Edgar Allen Poe and Jerry Lee Lewis spring into my mind. Of course, what I am calling rape others would call “appropriate for another time,” or whatever- and validated by the human sexual slavery machine that is Patriarchal Marriage. So I guess they don’t count, per se.}

The point, though, is that talking about people who rape other people as though they were some sort of statistical anomaly is not correct and it isn’t useful, either. Abbey McDonald’s post pretty much sums up most of my thoughts on the topic, but still, there is this glittering assumption that there is some sort of legal answer. There’s an assumption that *if* someone like Polanski goes to prison and does some sort of “hard time” or gets some other kind of legally-sanctioned punishment for his *crime,* that some obscure, abstract notion of *justice* will be *served*.

But there isn’t. And it won’t. There is no fair in this system. This is NOT A NEUTRAL SYSTEM.

The liberal law of the United States will be “served” precisely if and when this rich white man gets off with a minimal sentence due to his wealth and his influence. This is what the law is designed to do. The “Great White Father” that is the United States Government has been raping and hurting and abusing common people since its inception in order to acquire capital for itself. Why would it do anything EXCEPT protect someone like Polanski?

With rare exception, the only people in this country who are punished for rape or either 1. survivors of rape or 2. people who rape and can’t afford good attorneys. But the thing is, that isn’t even *supposed* to be a glitch. What do you think They mean when They talk about “protection for the minority???” Hint: They don’t mean “minority” in the political sense of the word.

For me, though, the only good things that can come out of something like this media-shitstorm surrounding a very slightly avant-garde filmmaker are an increased awareness of sexual exploitation and how very fucking mundane and common sexual violence actually is (instead of being some rare, scattered, and random atrocity) and an opportunity to hold, maybe this person, and maybe some other people who would defend him socially accountable. I think that boycotting is *actually* a good idea here. We don’t have to let this supposed “vanguard” of upper-class twits decide what’s good art and what’s bad art.

Jesus fucking Christmas. We don’t get to decide who’s famous and who’s not- so why should we let famous artists tell us what to do??? Why on earth?

I mean, really. Do I love the films of Pedro Almodovar? Absolutely. Every one I’ve seen. Does that mean I should support a decision like this one; to publicly support and defend a rich, white man who raped a kid? Fuck no. There is better art out there, anyway. If all else fails, I can find a fucking camera and make my own art. We have the stuff and we know how to use it; we don’t need some ficticious “vanguard” to guide our decision making process.

Just the same, I don’t take it as *a given* that a legal system that routinely oppresses women is going to come up with a solution for rape culture. It’s circular thinking, folks. It don’t work.

We are better than this. Human beings are intelligent, creative animals. We don’t have to believe that a young girl’s bodily integrity and sense of self are worth less than some slightly-artsy films. We don’t have to just *blindly* trust in power structures that don’t give a shit about us. We should use this moment of cultural clarity to SHOW the powerful what we’re made of.

So that list I posted, the one full of people who are willing to openly support rape culture? I’m going to boycott the people on that list. And I really think that others out there should as well. And I’m going to continue to talk about this truthfully to people, even when it’s difficult and inconvenient.

That said, I’m on to my regular nightmares and fitful sleeps. Hope everyone’s had a good Tuesday and is taking good care of themselves.

WTF Thursday post

Just mostly some randomness. And maybe… a new art journal post? Hmmm.

I have been thinking lately about what the “dawn of patriarchy” might have looked like. When did it happen? How? Why?

Being a veganish-leaning vegetarian has made me wonder if there is a correlation between it and the domestication of non-human animals.  Maybe  I will post more on that tomorrow, in keeping with the “Feminism Friday” thing.

Anyhoo. Here’s a wee-tiny art journal entry:

joined

Wednesday Art Journal Post-ness

I was just looking through my little wee art journal, and decided to scan/upload some of the stuff in it to the new blawg. Makes me want to do an art journal entry, heh.

WHATever

I had to muck about the colors in GIMP on this one. Scanner Fail.

I had to muck about the colors in GIMP on this one. Scanner Fail.

I have decided that I need to get better at drawing/painting fat people. It takes a level of technical skill to do it well, and that is something that I am working on. The thing I like most about the gals that I paint/draw/etc. is that they all are pretty much doing something. Even the ones that are just sort of portrait-heads look like they’re thinking about stuff. 😀

In other news, tonight I thought about using the last few eggs in the kitchen; kinda a bon-voyage to ovo-lacto-life. But I didn’t want them. I am going to try and use them in foods. I don’t want to throw them away because I don’t want to waste food. *makes note to add a recipe section to blogness*

I think I might have done enough blog damage for one day. Off to bed I goes.

Hatred and Low Self-Esteem

So I was google-ing around for a Fat Acceptance *anything*

in the Orlando Area and I found some random thing,

like from a newsgroup or something where this totally

random person, in all hir wisdom, proclaimed thusly

in regards to fat people:

> >>I’m losing weight strictly due to the health consequences before they

> >>get any worse…

> >>Living with chronic pain is no fun. Losing some lbs. is helping.

> >>So are the specific regular exercises prescribed by my therapist.

>

> > I too began losing weight in order to reduce my diabetes risk, improve my

> > gout

> > and lower my cholesterol. Even with indulgent periods on South Beach, all

> > that

> > has happened and stuck. I didn’t lose weight because of how I looked or

> > how> >>I’m losing weight strictly due to the health consequences before they

> >>get any worse…

> >>Living with chronic pain is no fun. Losing some lbs. is helping.

> >>So are the specific regular exercises prescribed by my therapist.

>

> > I too began losing weight in order to reduce my diabetes risk, improve my

> > gout

> > and lower my cholesterol. Even with indulgent periods on South Beach, all

> > that

> > has happened and stuck. I didn’t lose weight because of how I looked or

> > how

> with 100+ lbs of lard hanging on it. Visceral fat interferes with the

> functioning of vital organs like the liver. Rolls of fat interfere with

> movement. Doing simple tasks make one short of breath, simply due to towing

> that load. Joints bear more weight than they were designed for and fail. It

> really is not so much about looks for me as it is about function. I watched

> my sisters become old women before their times. And this is aside from the

> cosmetic considerations.

>

> As for sex, if you look hard enough you can find people who like to be

> pooped on. It cannot therefore be that hard to find people who think the

> rubbery suit filled with lard (this is your body on obesity) is sexy.

>

> Self acceptance for the sake of self acceptance is more than overrated. It’s

> pure fucking duncery.


To which I began to respond :

“No. “Pure fucking duncery,” at least as I see it, is feeling entitled to insult and dehumanize people based on their appearance or “physical health” as you measure it according to your own standards of acceptability.

It seems to me that YOU have a mental health condition. Not that I’m a doctor or anything. But. Hey.

Does that make me qualified to say that you should be locked up and/or penalized for the utterly baseless, stupid, insulting shit that comes out of your mouth? No.

And you aren’t qualified to judge anybody’s health based on their fucking appearance.

If you ain’t got anything nice to say, STFU. I swear. You know why people get so incensed when this is questioned? Because for a very long time, treating fat people with utter disregard has been acceptable and normalized. So small-minded folks who have no other leg to stand on to judge people have “enjoyed” this form of abuse, basically without any consequences. The little “Napoleon” complex inside people really comes out when they have to deal with this issue.

You don’t talk about or to people in this way if there isn’t SOMETHING eating at your own soul; I have to remind myself of that. A well-balanced, well-adjusted person has no need to cause pain for another person, even if something needs to be said or if some sort of behavioral intervention is needed- if someone is doing something that is harmful to hirself. A person with hir head on hir shoulders can find a way to voice concern without insult.

However, empathetic as I may be (and no matter how much science, or whatever, backs me up) that doesn’t change the fact that whether I weigh 100 or 500lbs I am still a human being and respect is a right, not a privilege. Nobody has the right to talk to me like I’m a piece of shit; and nobody has the right to violate the rights of another to decent fucking treatment.

So Ms/Mr “IknoweverythingaboutfatpeopleandOMFGaretheydisgusting”, your opinion is heard, and duly disregarded as utterly wrong and uneducated.

Signed,

Elaina- a very fat person who would rather not be your friend anyway”

And then, upon re-reading- which is why one should always

read something more than once before they respond to it-

I realized that this was not some skinny-supremacist

douche just wailing on us fat folks.

No.

This is a fat person talking.

While it makes me sad in a lot of ways that this person has

so thoroughly internalized the dominant culture’s paradigm

that says fat people are worse than Nazis barbecuing baby harp seals

in front of small Jewish children and then making them eat them, It makes me more angry, even, than sad.

I know that people take on this attitude as a survival mechanism. I

know that folks are vulnerable to all the poo-poo moments that come with living under teh patriarchy.

But still. Your fat isn’t where the problems are. Our culture has given us the perception that hurting and shaming are signs of dominance- and it’s given us the lesson that only the dominant survive, or even have the right to exist.

Even if you don’t fit the dominant paradigm, you can garner favor with those who do have power by internalizing the dominant voice, and then externalizing it in the form of self-shame, and shaming others who don’t strive to be what they “are supposed to be.”

I have heard folks in the fatosphere say that trolls and other hurtful people don’t necessarily suffer from low self-esteem. I don’t necessarily believe that low-self esteem is the thing that they really suffer from. I think it’s more apt to say that anyone who wishes to assert dominance by any kind of force- be that on the interwebs or through asshatted and oppressive forms of legislation- do it out of fear of losing privilege.

I think those of us who exhibit these behaviors while inhabiting rungs relatively lowly slung on the “totem pole” of teh patriarchy do it out of sheer, unadulterated skeertness in response to one of their few privileges- that of being able to poke fun, humiliate, and degrade a group of people with impunity- being taken away.

I get sick of the debating part. I think this is the crux of it. I shouldn’t have to reference 800 health journals to get treated like a decent human being so long as I am acting like a decent human being. And I should always be treated like a human being, because I am one, even if I weigh a thousand pounds. Anyone who would take this kind of tone with anyone, including themselves, has some underlying issue that they refuse to identify.

Gah.