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Feb 09 2009

Use it or lose it: humanity vs porn

It was bound to happen. The discussion on the new sexuality post has begun to take a dudely turn; a couple of male commenters started talking about porn-poisoning. For the purposes of blogular discourse, I’ll define porn-poisoning as the universally internalized message that porn = sex = women (or sex = rape = love, or whatever, it’s all the same fucking day, man).

According to the dudely blamers, porn-poisoning makes it difficult for men — even feminist sympathizer men whose intellective powers impart unto them the objective knowledge that pornography is the graphic representation of rape — to behave as though, or, one extrapolates, to believe that, when doin’ the boinky, women are human, and congratulations if you made it through this sentence alive. Their discussion centers on whether it is even possible to “dislodge the [pornulated] ideas embedded in [a chap's] brain.”

At least, I think that’s what they’re saying. I need new glasses really bad, so there’s always the possibility that they are actually talking about mule racing and I just read it wrong.

Well, you know what I was thinking. I was thinking that there’s a time and a place for dudes to chew the fat about the curious ways in which the culture of domination has harshed their sex-mellow, and I Blame the Patriarchy ain’t it. I was gonna tell these guys to take their what-about-the-men party to the Dude’s Auxiliary message board. But then a slightly interesting thought popped into my lobes.

The thought was predicated by my having just read a disturbing comment written by a woman blamer. What the heck, let’s call her Blamer X. In her comment Blamer X went on at length about her sadistic fantasies and how, although she identifies as feminist, she believes that these fantasies are value-neutral.

I summarily deleted this comment because, you know, I just don’t like confessionals about sadistic fantasies. Particularly those that assert that there’s nothing antifeminist about sadistic fantasies. Oy vey, this is remedial blamer 101 stuff, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

But then I got to thinking. Clearly Blamer X suffers from dudely porn-poisoning. Lots of women — maybe most women — suffer from some degree of dudely porn-poisoning, of precisely the sort under discussion amongst the dude blamers.

I know, I know, it’s no news flash that women internalize the pornocracy’s violently misogynist ideology; I’ve been blurbulating about this for centuries in my ever-popular “I mock your corny BDSM lifestyle” essays. The same misogynist message is the nexus of the whole raunch culture/ funfeminism dealio, too. And, somewhat less hilariously, it accounts, I believe, for the appalling phenomenon that so many women expect sex to equal humiliation, they don’t even know when they’ve been raped.

But here’s why I didn’t tell the guys to scram. Blamer Jonathan avers not only that it is possible to dislodge pornulational programming from your brain, but that he has done it himself.

You just, he suggests, need to get your lost empathy back.

Which sort of blew my mind, because I had just watched a cheesy episode of “The Twilight Zone” (not the real one; the mediocre 80′s one) about this spooky Lost & Found Emporium existing in some sort of nebulous hyperspace at the back of a sex shop. The protagonist shows up looking for his lost compassion (he gets it back after breathing in some compassion-gas. He also gets the girl, and, since this is a Hollywood TV show, the plot works out so he’s the boss of her and she’s just fine with that, but I’ll get into that some other time.). I was kind of intrigued by the idea of walking into a lost & found and reclaiming nebulous concepts.

Anyway, blamer Jonathan got his nebulous concept back, he says, by volunteering in aid of sexual assault survivors in emergency rooms, where, I’m guessing, he witnessed firsthand the catastrophic results of porn poisoning. It reprogrammed him in a hurry.

It’s a simple idea. Empathy and domination cannot coexist. Other stuff that cannot coexist with domination: compassion, enlightenment, love, truth, beauty, and whatever else H. sapiens fans are always touting as the best part of humanity.

You know this is true, because remember that Star Trek episode where Kirk goes into the transporter, but, uh-oh, malfunction, two Kirks come out? One of the new Kirks is a domineering rapist asshole, and the other is a nice guy; Kirk’s been bifurcated along the traditional masculine-feminine line of demarcation. In the end it turns out that the two Kirks can’t live without each other, that humanity supposedly encompasses being a rapist asshole as well as being a kind, considerate nelly. Kirk doesn’t like the domineering rapist asshole, but everyone agrees that he needs that guy in order to go where no man has gone before with such exemplary aplomb.

I use this as evidence in support of my hypothesis because this dumbass show was written in 1966 and produced by misogynists for misogynists in a climate of misogyny; its message is necessarily the opposite of feminist truth. Yo, Gene Roddenberry, there is no humanity in embracing your inner domineering rapist asshole!

But I digress.

This is just a blog, and it has no cosmic transformative powers, and I am but a shrill humorless internet feminist who hates sex and babies, but maybe some of these women — women who, like Blamer X, eroticize dominance and submission (not to mention those who have been conditioned to expect degradation as a consequence of their sex, or those whose Nigels use pornography) — are reading this. Maybe they’ll see Jonathan’s remark and grasp that obeisance to the pornocracy is the repudiation of their humanity.

Then again, maybe they won’t. So knock it off, you guys, with the men-suffer-too stuff. Meanwhile, that Lost & Found Emporium story could do with a radfem rewrite. I’m off to the Lit Lab!

138 comments

3 pings

  1. Orange

    It is bullshit to question whether it’s possible to dislodge “porn-poisoning” from one’s brain. Is it not incumbent upon white folks to strive to dislodge racist thoughts (which have permeated this society) from their minds?

    The first step is identifying the thoughts we have that deny someone else’s humanity (whether they be racist, sexist, homophobic, porn/dominance-inflected). The next step is to root out those thoughts. Jonathan’s reorientation of his frame of mind is an excellent example of how this can be accomplished.

    It saddens me that so many of today’s teenage boys and girls are encountering such hardcore internet porn when they’re still formulating who they are and what sexuality means. They think they’re seeing adult sex, but no, bukkake and gang-bangs aren’t par for the course for heterosexual intimacy. (There’s a useful blog post out there somewhere that was written by a woman who works in the “sex industry” and porn world. That post explains point by point how things commonly seen in porn fit into reality. For example, she says the majority of women don’t like being hit during sex and they don’t like being ejaculated on. And yes, kids these days apparently do need to be told this!)

  2. Stella

    Orange: “That post explains point by point how things commonly seen in porn fit into reality. For example, she says the majority of women don’t like being hit during sex and they don’t like being ejaculated on. And yes, kids these days apparently do need to be told this!”

    I’d say this also goes for the expectation of hairless female genitals, a convention which is apparently near-universal among high school and college women today, even among a shockingly high percentage of self-identified feminists of my acquaintance. I refuse to concede that this is not porn-born – and creepy, to boot. (Flame away, folks, flame away.)

    And, yes, I am sitting here waiting for the next post. I am off sick. I await the Lost and Found Emporium Post. Or another picture of a killer arachnid.

  3. Cute Bruiser

    @Orange: You mean this site, right?

    http://makelovenotporn.com/

  4. Lizard

    I think Twilight is doing more net damage to pre-teen girls in these arena than pornography: it doesn’t take explicit sex to convey that dominance and submission is erotic. And just like many folks say knew they were gay or bi even before they knew what it was called, if you ask people who do this stuff when they first thought about it, you’re more likely to be told 8 than 18. Maybe that was us getting messages socially from media/everything around us — but for some us, at least, it wasn’t pornography, because we weren’t watching pornography. Maybe it was Star Trek plus Gone With the Wind plus Father Knows Best plus everything else that fetishizes gender roles, which interacted with some peoples’ brains differently than other peoples’ brains. (And for some people, it’s probably pornography.)

  5. TP

    One of the first things that blew my mind about you, Twisty, was when you told me you didn’t like sex all that much. I’d heard that before, of course, but you were telling the truth and I knew it, because there was such an innocence of desire to be degraded in your entire being that I realized how quite true it was.

    Another unforgettable discussion revealed that you didn’t seem to quite get how women could willingly allow themselves to be sexually degraded. Since I always found my former reliance on porn to be both degrading and addictive, I thought I understood it but couldn’t get it across to you.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that sex can be addictive, that the chemicals you release in your brain can become an obsession that needs to be fed far more often than needed. Since you don’t live with it, you might not understand how it can take over your life and make the choices you make in direct contradiction to your own ideals. Especially since porn fetishizes any struggle to remain sex-neutral with the coercive slide into desire we refer to more politely as seduction.

    Much of the culture is absolutely devoted to advancing the idea that sex happens all the time and with everyone who is sexy. The idea of sex as needed is nowhere in the picture.

    We’ve gone, in my lifetime, from the idea that if you need sex it shouldn’t be restricted just because some angel up in heaven might frown on it to the idea that we all have to be horny teenagers our entire lives.

    I think many posters, even you, might have been confused by my statement that such thoughts are almost impossible to dislodge. I meant forget, to live as if they never were, not to heal and get over it. I think getting over it and getting it out of your life is pretty damn easy, precisely as the empathy dude says. If you are the victim of rape yourself, empathy for the raped is all too easy.

  6. Twisty

    That makelovenotporn site is kinda sitting on the fence. It seems to be saying “it’s OK to internalize dudecentric pornocratic imagery, but not required.”

  7. Nolabelfits

    I agree with Lizard on the whole Twilight series. I read it ‘cuz my daughter was reading it and there’s a whole lot of power and control in that book. I thought at one point that S. Meyer was going to turn the tables and show what a domineering creep the vampire dude was becoming over whats her name the protagonist. I never expected her to MARRY the vamp dude. Watching her sleep? Creepy. Removing car parts so she can’t go somewhere? Controlling and abusive. All presented as romantic to the teenage girl crowd.

  8. Daisy P

    Men think they will die if they don’t have sex. The other day, I came across, as you do when online, a little report from Germany, which stated that men will live longer if they get to ogle breasts regularly, ideally, every day. Get that heart a-pumpin, and the sweat a-pourin. No mention was made of masturbation or anything…dammit.

    Of course, the report seemed to be from a female doctor, so yay, must be true. Oh, the joy I felt….men’s health is top of the agenda once again. And objectifying women has been proven to be good for THEIR health. Oh well, that’s ok then.

    No mention was made of the women who were to be the ogle-ees. No mention was made of what would make women feel good. Oh, I think I can figure that one out….women should go have boobie jobs, as it feels great to be ogled!! Tear into your own flesh, as if it was plastic. Get it stuffed with foreign blobs, for the sake of men’s ogle-isfaction. You hate your body?? Don’t cut yourself, get a surgeon to do it, and “fix” you at the same time!!

    I remember that report around in the 90′s (thereabouts)…saying that men lived longer if they had sex regularly. So, at least 2 questions….what about women? And, what if these men did not have access to regular sex (not emotions, or love, just sex…the “L” word does not come into it).

    What if their partners just did not want to put up with their demands for the “health strategy”?

    More questions (I know, I’m annoying like that) came to me after the dawn of the “Brave New Wonderful Era” of viagra. Hmmmmm….where are the women? I am not sure they are all like the middle-aged women in the ads, smiling adoringly up at hubby, the pic trying to convey “oh, thank god, I will be a new woman with his newly-re-charged errrr…manhood, pleasuring me even more now”. (Translation: ” (thinking to herself) -this is a grimace, not a smile, I’m post-menopausal, and I’ve already had too many years of him spitting the dummy when I don’t “give” him sex….ffs, pleasae, not more…the last think I want is his icky Mr Zippy staring at me, never mind coming anywhere near me – gross”.

    She’s probably decided “I’m off now, that’s it, that’s the final straw” and that’s why she’s smiling??

    I know, I talk to women about this. So, that begs the question, is viagra fuelling even more rape behind closed doors?? And if these women are refusing, where are the men going to unleash their viagra-infused man-juice?? Ugh Ugh Ugh.

    Why, you’d think that men would be poisoned by their own toxic semen, unless they regularly released it, just as automatically and functionally as taking a s**t?? I guess so?!?!

    I will leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one.

    AS for the sadistic-fantasy-poster, I did read that post, and wondered if the poster was a man. You wouldn’t believe it ya know, but men have been occasionally known to pose as women on the internet…and it has been known for them to invade places where women talk of sex, (not love) and they LOOOOVVVE (oh, there’s that taboo word)infiltrating feminist sites. ( I know you all find this unbelievable but it’s true.

    So now, where’s that Katy Perry vid??? Wow, yeah, I so would!

    Could that have been a rant???

  9. TP

    I so agree with the Twilight comments that I just have to say that for quite a while I’ve been thinking of all graphic representations of women seeking male approval as pornographic, since that’s sex to the patriarchy, baby! Sexy girls vying to arouse the jaded lust of arrogant creeps? That’s porn.

  10. VibratingLiz

    Anyway, blamer Jonathan got his nebulous concept back, he says, by volunteering in aid of sexual assault survivors in emergency rooms, where, I’m guessing, he witnessed firsthand the catastrophic results of porn poisoning. It reprogrammed him in a hurry.

    I’ve never run across a sexual assault crisis center that let male volunteers anywhere near a recently raped woman, especially during medical exams. In my volunteering experience, it’s always been strict policy that the ER advocates must be female.

  11. AM

    Empathy. Yes. I like to think there’s an Empathic Nervous System, same like the Autonomic, Sympathetic, etc, but it just hasn’t been foregrounded, for the same reason all the medical guys, except William James, maintained that one side of the brain was a spare, had no function of its own, until about 1970. Empathic IQ tests needed.

  12. Tierney

    This post is the perfect antidote to an article I just read excoriating the menfolk for being too “nice”. It was especially hostile to men who are nice in the bedroom where, it explains, women naturally want aggressive men to “ravage” them. Such views were duly supported by the dudely commenters, who expressed their sympathies to any “poor guy” who has to have sex with someone who expresses a dislike of being ravaged. Lust and passion are written in the language of violence and power and IBTP.

  13. Mordant Espier

    I am not so sure that empathy and domination cannot coexist. To me, it’s always been troubling that bonds of love, friendship, care, and so forth can form between people who cause one another such pain. Does your father love you? Probably, in most cases, but that doesn’t end patriarchy. Same goes for the “but I loved my mammy” crowd, and all others who wish that the power of their personal affiliations and affections mitigate global capitalism, misogyny, and oppressions and inequalities of all kinds.

    Compassion alone is not the answer to domination.

    Maybe only compassion taken to its most extreme and radical conclusion, which would be some sort of revolution.

  14. yttik

    I don’t believe anybody escapes the porn culture. You don’t have to watch porn to be inundated with it. Can you untangle yourself from the rape culture and reclaim your sexuality? I’m going with no. This is a patriarchal culture, one in four girls are physically raped before they reach 18, the rest are emotionally raped by constant images and reminders of the status quo. At best I believe all women can really do is to try and cope as best they can and to try and find something that works for them. If this involves men, then you’ll probably have the best luck with those who at least acknowledge the problem.

    I have a dreadful attitude about women and sexuality, it’s kind of bleak, I know. But I view it a lot like slavery, there were some actual romances between slaves and their owners, even some good times from what I read, but it wasn’t freedom and it sure wasn’t empowerment. The reality of being owned by another person and having no real rights was always there in the background, even if it was forgotten for a moment.

    Women get cranky with me when I say this, but we don’t really own our own sexuality in this culture. Except for a few stolen moments of denial (hopefully extremely enjoyable ones) that’s the best we can hope for within the constraint of the patriarchy.

  15. AdmirerofEmily

    As usual, a stellar, hilarious-at-times (‘I mock your corny bdsm’), thought provoking post.

    I just have one quibble with it.

    Twisty says “this is just a blog, and it has no cosmic transformative powers”.

    Whilst I cannot, of course, comment on behalf of the cosmos ‘in toto’, I can at least say that in my little bit of the cosmos right here, this blog is ‘changing my life’ (like the Womens Room all those years back)

  16. Twisty

    “I’ve never run across a sexual assault crisis center that let male volunteers anywhere near a recently raped woman, especially during medical exams. In my volunteering experience, it’s always been strict policy that the ER advocates must be female.”

    I wondered about this, too, but just assumed that he was working in some administrative capacity or something. Jesus in a jetpack, if it turns out he made the whole thing up I’ll know how Oprah felt!

  17. Twisty

    “I am not so sure that empathy and domination cannot coexist.”

    Well, if that’s true, my entire worldview is blown and I might as well hang it up right now.

  18. Sarah

    Can I just say that I just recently found this blog, and not a moment too soon… I feel like I’ve finally found the land of the sane!

  19. Narya

    Flea (had a post that I am too lazy to find right now that linked to ANOTHER person’s post, which, in turn, deconstructed the Twilight books from a Mormon perspective (because apparently the author is LDS?). The deconstruction was v.v. funny, but also scary, for reasons alluded to above.

    I have many more reactions to this spectacularfantabulous post, but will keep them to myself for the moment.

  20. Narya

    Okay, okay, here it is.

  21. Tina H

    This is just a blog, and it has no cosmic transformative powers

    With all due respect, I am afraid that I will have to call bullshit right here. Twisty, with all fan-girl crap aside, you are indeed committing cosmic transformation with your words. For that I thank you.

  22. Jonathan

    @VibratingLiz

    “I’ve never run across a sexual assault crisis center that let male volunteers anywhere near a recently raped woman, especially during medical exams. In my volunteering experience, it’s always been strict policy that the ER advocates must be female”

    That is the policy at most crisis centers. The center I worked at was on the fence about the issue. Frankly, considering the bull-in-china-shop sensitivities of most men that I’ve met, I support the women-only policy.

    Men didn’t take female sexual assault go-outs when I volunteered. I did hospital go-outs for domestic violence, hate crimes, and male SA (in the rare times when we got called for them). The DV cases were horrifying, and many also involved past SA. I also handled one SA on a particularly bad night where all our advocates and backups were on other calls and I was the closest advocate to the hospital (it should come as no surprise to anyone living under this godawful P that the crisis centers are underfunded and understaffed). The woman already had the medical exam and police visit (I was lucky enough to live in a state with amazing nurses and good SA hospital programs) and I was arriving afterward. The survivor said she’d rather have a male advocate sooner rather than wait for a female advocate to arrive later. A female advocate would have been so better that night, but as it was I managed to correct a dangerous hospital oversight that severely threatened the survivor’s life (and later reported it to my superiors back at the center).

    The minute funding and stretched personnel at the crisis centers is awful. Women are infinitely better advocates, but things are so bad that most centers just need all the decent volunteers they can get. I just wanted to get out there and do something useful against all this P shit, so I volunteered. I don’t care what I do so long as I help as much as I can. All I’m sure of is that the centers need much more government support.

    Later on, I changed to my current state, and the crisis center in the new state that I am in doesn’t use male medical advocates. These days, I help out with their website, and I’m volunteering with the local Abortion Fund instead.

  23. Sarah

    Narya-
    Thanks for that. It was hilarious and TRUE.

  24. sylvie

    so a little counter-confessional (sorry, twisty). I also used to have domination-oriented fantasies of a kind that I can now recognize as sitting right into the porn culture narrative. But they were compelling, and really did arouse me at the time, and I thought that was just how it was. I then started up with a guy (now my permanent Nigel) with whom I expressed an interest in trying some of this stuff. And he was really put off by it, and quite obviously did not get off on the (even quite mild) domination and submission stuff I was suggesting. I did more thinking about why i was interested in this stuff, and we had a lot of very good sex that did not have that dynamic, and now a couple years later, it turns out that you can get over those kinds of fantasies. they fact was, everyone before him was into it also because we were all so inundated in this porn culture.

    It’s not value-neutral to have those kinds of fantasies. It really does, in my opinion, indicate some deep level of involvement with this paradigm, and it really is possible for women to get past them. But as twisty so effectively pointed out, females are as (or almost as) submersed in this as males, and it distorts what looks like our best interests when viewed from the inside.

  25. Shelly

    I am not so sure that empathy and domination cannot coexist. To me, it’s always been troubling that bonds of love, friendship, care, and so forth can form between people who cause one another such pain.

    I think you’re conflating something that passes for “love” with empathy.

  26. Twisty

    I don’t even know what this Twilight thing is. I googled it and found out it’s series of teen novels about some vampire love affair. Is there anything aside from the obvious antifeminist tropes universal to all vampire plots that I should know about?

  27. sam

    Criticizing Twilight is très chic, unlike criticizing pornography.

    Today’s blaming of women media-makers for rape culture is brought to you by Misogyny Inc., co-sponsors of the 80s blame for rape culture on Madonna, 90s blame for rape culture on Cosmopolitan readers & Lifetime TV watchers, and 00s blame for rape culture on Britney Spears and Stephanie Meyers.

    Pornographers pointing a critical finger at Stephanie Meyers for her promotion and normalization of rape culture is just another patriarchal day in another patriarchal decade.

  28. Nolabelfits

    Twisty,

    There are four really fat books full of obvious anti feminist tropes, as you say. Infantilizing of the inept female protagonist, the struggle for power and conrol over her by two awesomely handome and manly dudes, one a wherewolf and the other a vampire (all disguised as “protection,” of course), an absent and self-absorbed mother and formerly absent but now awesome Dad, female protaganist is willing to give up everything for love of a control freak she can’t really trust and she is in constant danger from because he has to hold himself back from ravishing her and killing her off to vampirehood…should I go on?

  29. Shelly

    re Twilight

    It’s got a lot of the same crap endemic to vampire stories the world over, but I think this iteration is especially insidious. Fetishizing chastity, idealizing the stalking and control/manipulation of young girls, and glamorizing physical abuse are maybe the most obvious bad messages. The girl in the story leaves school and her family in order to get married and reproduce, and this is not presented as at all problematic.

    I think the story is kind of horrifying, and I say that as someone for whom the vampire genre is a guilty pleasure.

  30. Jezebella

    I confess: when men start talking about their sex lives, especially here, I glaze over, and scroll down. Whatever they are, whoever they are, I just don’t trust that they’re not getting off – even maybe just a little bit – on talking about the details of the sex they have in front of a female audience.

    I also don’t believe anyone – male or female – can have non porn-influenced sex in this culture. And by porn, I don’t just mean viddies of people “doing it”. I mean perfume ads, car ads, Harlequin romances, and all the rest of porn culture. Sure, a dude can acquire some empathy, and that’s awesome, but he’s still as steeped in porn culture as the rest of us. You’re soaking in it. We’re all soaking in it.

  31. Nolabelfits

    And don’t forget that the sex that leaves her all bruised up and gets her pregnant is sex she begged for and poor Vamp Eddie was forced to do and he just couldn’t help himself.

    Shelly, I haven’t yet labeled the stalking. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

  32. yttik

    Yes Twisty, Twilight is worth exploring. LOL, both in horror and in fascination. It is kind of interesting, a vampire love story from a mormon woman that somehow managed to capture the attention of a whole lot of women. Disturbing on so many levels.

    There’s a facebook page called, “Since I read Twilight I now have unrealistic expectations in men.” Gave me a laugh.

  33. thebewilderness

    No, Twisty, there isn’t. It is the same old propaganda in a contemporary setting, and the kids can’t get enough of it.
    Vampires and Werewolfs are the superheros of the emo/goth generation.
    My grandson and I have been discussing these books for the past year, and the main topic of conversation is that dominance wins and empathy loses in every book.

  34. Lizard

    Also, it’s sold about 10 million copies since 2005, and the movie grossed $35.7 million on its opening day. Most of the readers and viewers are – I believe – preteen and teenage girls.

    I think for at least some folks, imprinting on sexual desires happens way before we’re ever exposed to pornography. I don’t know how sexual desire/identity formation happens, or how malleable it is. (I’d guess: there’s a lot of variance between people on both of those.) But I remember watching stuff like Star Trek as a kid and definitely absorbing some fetishization of power dynamics stuff (or, maybe it was already there, and this just sort of worked with it).

  35. Intransigentia

    re. the co-existence of empathy and domination – I would argue that a certain level of empathy is necessary to be able to dominate effectively. In particular, it requires a creepy kind of empathy where the dominator is totally aware of how the victim feels, and instead of having a normal, human(e) reaction of “this is awful I have to make it better”, feels pleasure. Normal as in, when a baby human hears another baby human crying in distress, it starts crying too. Toddlers also tend to be distressed by the distress of others, and try to do something about it as much as they can at that age/stage. Bigger kids and adults somehow manage to suppress that response. (Source: Barbara Coloroso, Just because it’s not wrong doesn’t make it right) Coloroso argues that the emotion allowing the shift from healthy empathy to empathy in the service of domination, is contempt.

    Which brings us back to “men hate you.” I would argue that men who hurt and degrade women* rarely do it innocently, out a genuine belief that women like it and an inability to receive empathic feedback to the contrary. Their words give it away. The sports metaphors that involve winning and one-up-manship. The colloquialisms that equate having a bad thing happen to you with being sexually penetrated. Some, like the repellent specimens in a long-ago Forbes (I think?) article about anal sex, will actually admit that what gets them off isn’t the act, but getting the woman to agree to do something she doesn’t want to.

    Which is all a long-winded way of saying, I don’t buy the “men just need to get empathy” argument. Men already have empathy. They need to stop hating us and holding us in contempt, so that the empathy they already have can direct them in humane and ethical behaviour.

    ——————-
    *By “men who hurt and degrade women,” I don’t just mean men who do things that meet the definition of rape in criminal law. I’m finding it exhausting and depressing to try to make the list of who I do mean, though. Menz with sensitive feelings and a vague sense that I might be talking about you – I probably am. Menz who are outraged I’m even suggesting this is possible – I’m most likely talking about you. Men who are pretty sure I’m not talking about them, I’m probably not, so please don’t try to make it about you**.

    **I’m angry today and not in the mood to give much benefit of doubt, let alone apologise in advance for hurt feelings.

  36. luxdancer

    I hate to defend Twilight, but Bella doesn’t leave her family to reproduce. She leaves her family to become a vampire and be in TWUWUV. The getting pregnant part was kind of sprung on her, the entire baby plot near the end is like a really idiotic response to the pro-choice “what if the woman’s life is in jeopardy?” and the pro-life argument “what if you aborted Mother Teresa?”

    There are lots of things to hate about Twilight. Like the whole damned “imprinting” thing, that the much older werewolf male named Quilty, who had imprinted on the 2 year old Clare, who eventually grows up to be his lover. Clare Quilty, like from Lolita?

    Although the caesarean section by vampire fangs is awesome.

  37. Hedgepig

    Intransigentia, I agree. Your analysis reminds me of the common explanation of psychopathy: that psychopaths don’t empathise with their victims. Why, then, is it any more fun for them to torture and kill than, say, do a bit of weeding? Surely it’s the thrill of doing something to someone that you yourself would hate having done to you? Unless there are a whole lot of psychopaths out there getting off on gardening and they just don’t make it into the news.

  38. undercover punk

    Stella!!!

    “I’d say this also goes for the expectation of hairless female genitals, a convention which is apparently near-universal among high school and college women today, even among a shockingly high percentage of self-identified feminists of my acquaintance. I refuse to concede that this is not porn-born – and creepy, to boot. (Flame away, folks, flame away.)”

    I flame! I flame! Oh, I have been just DYING to discuss this perverse practice!! My experience too (or least what I’ve been told) is that this is VERY popular amongst young women these days. I always express my disgust and ask the participators to help me understand HOW it could *possibly* be ok, but such discussions are rarely appreciated. I don’t care, if women don’t talk about it amongst ourselves, it will NEVER be the taboo that it should be. *We change minds one at a time.* My mother, the radfem that she is, teaches college and had NO idea this was happening. It is. My college-aged SISTER (with a straight face because she knew I wasn’t gonna buy the I-wanna-make-my-man-happy line) said that it is commonly believed to be HYGIENE based!! Cuz pussy is dirty, you know.

    Anyone else being horrified by the common practice of pubic-hair-removal-for-your-man’s-pleasure!? It is wrong in so many, many ways. Not the least of which is a grown woman appearing to be a pre-pubescent child in the genital area.

  39. Rozasharn

    The distinguishing characteristic of Twilight is that it has a bunch of Mormon tropes piled on top of the usual ‘glamorous vampires’ tropes. Stoney321 explains it all for us non-Mormons. You can reach her deconstructions of the later books through the ‘sparkle!’ tag.

  40. Shelly

    it requires a creepy kind of empathy where the dominator is totally aware of how the victim feels, and instead of having a normal, human(e) reaction of “this is awful I have to make it better”, feels pleasure.

    I would argue that empathy requires more than just awareness. The empathizer actually feels and relates to the emotions of the empathee. What you are describing sounds like sadism to me, which is not at all the same thing as empathy.

  41. Jonathan

    @Intransigentia

    “I don’t buy the “men just need to get empathy” argument. Men already have empathy. They need to stop hating us and holding us in contempt, so that the empathy they already have can direct them in humane and ethical behaviour.”

    You said it better than I did originally.

    I was lumping healthy empathy and moral behavior into one word. Also, when I wrote, I assumed the nigels were talking about internalizing pornographic imagery that we are exposed to on a daily basis (beer ads, Sears catalogs, etc.). But if they were talking about seeking and consuming porn and the “difficulties” in giving that up, then what I wrote before doesn’t go nearly far enough.

    For porn-sick violence-fetishizing dudes, the solution is for them to remove themselves from society, perhaps by throwing oneself into solitary confinement for life.

    And I’ll tackle porn in my blog for awhile (as soon as I have time to write) so send the Men’s Auxiliary Club that way.

  42. orlando

    Maybe I should check my dictionary, but I don’t think empathy means merely being able to imagine what someone else is experiencing. I think it involves imaginitively experiencing it allong with them.

    But in my world pedantry means over-preciseness and decimation means killing one in ten.

  43. Intransigentia

    “What you are describing sounds like sadism to me, which is not at all the same thing as empathy.”

    I guess it depends on your definition of empathy. We both agree that mere awareness of the emotional state of another person isn’t enough to prompt kind behaviour. I think there are two dimensions going on, knowing, and caring, and “empathy” may not be a precise enough word for what either of us is talking about. You can know or not know about another person’s emotional state, and if you do know, you can care, not care, or have a sadistic kind of anti-caring.

    I do agree with you that what I am describing is sadism. I think my main point got kindof buried in my ranting, and it was, men know they’re hurting us and they enjoy it and they do it on purpose.

    My sub-point that I wish I’d made is that in a dominator culture, it’s necessary for members of the dominator class to override their normal, inborn empathy with contempt and sadism. An effective member of the dominator class does posess a highly attuned /awareness/ of the emotional states of others, because that’s how he gets feedback on whether his dominance behaviour is working. He needs to have the knowing part of empathy, without the caring part.

  44. Cottonpants

    First of all, I’d like to say that I absolutely love this blog. I’ve been going through the archives for a couple weeks now.

    Second, a few things are bothering me, and today’s post seems to tie in pretty well to some of it. I apologize in advance if this turns into a small novel, or veers wildly off-topic.

    First, a bit of background. I’m 22, in possession of two X chromosomes, and have been thinking for a long time about going the FTM route and transitioning to male. There are a lot of reasons for it, but some of them include:

    - I’ve never really felt comfortable around most females, because I often feel like I am inadvertently deceiving them just by looking female myself. Basically, they talk to me about personal female stuff, and I worry that if they ever found out I was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (a terrible but at least somewhat accurate metaphor), they would feel incredibly betrayed. That’s the last thing I ever want to do, and the whole situation makes me feel agonizingly guilty.

    - All of my friends are (and always have been) guys. They are good people (read: not drunken, misogynist fucks), but I always feel really sad that I’m physically different from them. I don’t like being the odd one out, when, in all other ways, I feel like one of them.

    - I really want facial/body hair, and I feel zero solidarity with my lady bits.

    Anyway.. I have to admit that reading this blog has made me feel guilty for wanting to change my body to look male. Especially because I am a regular consumer of porn. I mean, I seem to be the only person on earth who judges the appeal of porn based on how happy and how much fun the woman seems to be having. And, every time, I distinctly fantasize that the woman pictured is my girlfriend, whom I am deeply in love with. And 95% of the time I’m not even interested in “tapping that hot ass”; I’m thinking about giving her orgasms, not giving myself orgasms. But, well.. I still look at porn. Fancy details aside, I am still a porn user. Have I been porn-poisoned? Does using porn make me fundamentally wrong/bad? And, are straight male porn users “worse” than lesbian female porn users, even if they look at the same stuff and look at it the exact same way?

    Does it make me a worse (or a more harmful/deluded) person if I would rather date a woman as a man instead of as another woman? I’m not asking these things rhetorically; I’m honestly worried. I mean, I can assure you: I’m NOT looking to dominate or own anyone, and I certainly don’t feel “entitled” to women. I’ve lived my entire life thus far as a female, being treated like a piece of meat. I physically recoil at the thought of treating anyone else like that.

    I’m worried, though. Does it make me a bad person to “sell out” and rise in social status (ugh) by becoming male while other women are still being treated like subhumans? Should I stay female and take my lumps like everyone else, even though every part of me screams “This is wrong, this isn’t who I am”?

    Sorry, I knew this would go off-topic. I’ve been really worried about these things, though, while reading through the archives. I don’t think Twisty has said anything yet that I’ve not agreed with. But.. I really don’t want to be Part Of The Problem. And part of me is worried that I already am.

  45. Intransigentia

    forgot to say – it’s not just women that dominators know they’re hurting, enjoy hurting, and hurt on purpose. It’s whoever’s below them in the dominance order. It’s big boys picking on little boys in the locker room. It’s smart kids picking on the less-smart kids. The pretty/popular girls picking on the fat girls. Gay bashing and race bashing and beating up homeless people and being rude to the waitress at Denny’s.

    It’s all that same thing where we’ve deeply internalised that putting others down brings us up, and if we can we should.

  46. Yeny

    Re: shaving body hair

    Everyone who has even spoken to me knows that I’m a feminist and not the ‘fun’ kind, so I was taken aback at uni when some of my classmates started discussing how dispicable it was for a woman to not have regular bikini waxes. When I protested that that shit hurt and betrays sado-masochistic tendencies they used the same excuses that undercover punk’s sister mentions- hygiene. The recurring theme was that body hair is disgusting because it traps sweat and makes you smell. When I pointed out that the long hair on their heads traps more sweat and dirt than their bodily hair combined and they weren’t all rushing to shave that off, they fell silent. I don’t think I got any of them to stop shaving and waxing, but I got them to recognise that their aversion to body hair is not simply a personal preference for better hygiene.

  47. orlando

    Intransigentia, I’m curious about your world where the dominance order puts smart kids above less smart kids. Everywhere I’ve been the stupid kids bully the smart ones.

  48. Stella

    Re: hair removal

    Among the people I’ve seriously discussed this with (late 20s to early 30s, financially independent, single, self-identifying feminist women), their main justification is that it makes THEM feel “sexy” and that they do it whether they are with a male partner or not. They seem insulted that I think otherwise, and sometimes even shocked that I don’t think it’s “so worth it!!!!!”, too.

    From my personal experience, the only male partner who ever raised this alarming desire with me was also emotionally abusive, physically abusive, and a libertarian-capitalist of the nastiest Thatcherite variety.

    /hijack

  49. Intransigentia

    It goes both ways, I suppose. The stupid kids pick on the smart kids as long as they have size and numbers. The smart kids, in turn, pick on the kids who are not smart enough to be one of the smart kids, and not cool enough to fit in with the stupid kids who are picking on the smart kids. I imagine you have to be in a fairly big school for there to be enough kids to get the extra layers in the pecking order – for example, enough “smart” kids for them to form their own clique. Plus of course the “smart” kids are doing their picking-on in subtle, passive-aggressive and humiliating ways rather than stuffing people into lockers.

  50. Shelly

    I guess it depends on your definition of empathy.

    I guess you can dismiss it as a semantic argument, but words do have meanings, so it’s not a matter of you defining the word one way and me another.

    I think there are two dimensions going on, knowing, and caring, and “empathy” may not be a precise enough word for what either of us is talking about.

    Empathy is more than just knowing or caring how another person feels. It requires *feeling* what the other person is feeling. (This, by the way, is the first time I have ever encountered anyone arguing that sadists empathize with the person they are hurting. Everything I know tells me that sadists are the way they are because they are lacking in the empathy department.)

    The rest of your comment I get, and agree with. A sadist must be acutely aware of the emotional state of the person he’s hurting. That’s what he gets off on. I just don’t think that it’s at all correct to call that empathy.

  51. undercover punk

    Thanks for discussing HAIR with me, fellow blamers!

    I think hairless genitals is an especially important topic to broach with our fellow females (the non-blamers)– mostly because I cringe at the thought of what could be next!
    Most of the women I’ve spoken to are extremely defensive, also stating (if not the hygiene rationalization) that it makes THEM feel sexay/happy and act offended that I should question them. Its probably because I’m a lesbian, I just wouldn’t understand. Plus, oooh, that’s too personal! *I* think it’s because they don’t have a reasonable explanation! I suspect that many of them haven’t thought about the implications of the hair removal outside of their desire for sexual validation.

    Ok, but let’s take this from a purely experiential perspective. So, (assuming this were possible) all patriarchal implications aside, how could it POSSIBLY be comfortable??!! The hair-growing-in process is undeniably uncomfortable (I’ve at least been able to get this concession from most of the participators). Putting a razor blade near your vagina is downright masochistic, if not suicidal, and you will never convince me that having your public hair waxed off is anything but extremely painful. There is NO justification for this practice that does not involve patriarchal submission. None!
    That’s why I think it’s sooooo important to plant the seed of question(ing?) in the participators’ minds. Maybe one day, when they’re riding the bus with an itchy, stubbly vagina that they’re too embarrassed to scratch in public, they’ll think: why the hell am I doing this???

    Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

  52. AngryYoungFemme

    RE: Pubic Hair Removal

    My ex-Nigel found it a novelty the one time I extensively groomed my lady bits and then asked me never to do it again. Once the garden was back, he emphatically asked me if I could somehow grow MORE. I was happy he appreciated my pubic hair, especially since he was the ONE guy I’d spoken to who actually PREFERS it to a bare mound. But then,I didn’t have ENOUGH for him. If it’s not one thing it’s another. I say leave your bits as they are.

    Also, have these hygiene chicks ever heard of pheromones? And that hygiene thing doesn’t really make sense to me, if it’s a message coming from porn-poisoning–you can’t tell me people that get off on the horrid two-girls-one-cup misogyny-show are suddenly worried about vaginal hygiene? Seems to me the less hygienic, the more porn-fabulous our pornulated culture finds it. The ex-Nigel who appreciated the pubic hair also told me, on more than one occasion that “for guys, the grosser it is the more they like it.” There are reasons he’s an ex.

    Personally, I’ve been involuntarily celibate for over a year and I have to say that this post is quite timely–I’ve been struggling with my own sexuality for a while now. I can’t seem to divorce this porn-poisoning from my psyche (which I don’t think is possible, but I’d like to cleanse myself of it as much as is possible for sanity’s sake and for my own sexual self).

    It’s gotten to the point now that I have feminist guilt over my arousal from certain stimuli (a ravaging “sex” scene in a porn culture approved movie, for example) much like I’ve heard the religiously-raised discuss sexual guilt, only mine stems directly from our culture and not from the Christian-misogynists-porn-culture-how-to-guide, the bible. It used to be that this guilt would arise after arousal had come and gone, but now it flashes almost the instant I realize I’m aroused.

    I wonder if this has begun to happen since I’m nearly in my fifth year as a radical feminist and I just can’t handle the misogyny any more in combination with the fact that, like I said, I’m involuntarily celibate (moved to a new place, making friends has been hard, one night stands ain’t so fun for me, etc) and with no real live person in front of me to anchor my thoughts on, my feminist brain takes over. Especially since I used to be a rape-fantasist before I knew what internalized shite that is.

    Basically, the patriarchy has gone so far in trying to sex-class me that it’s broken my Stockholm Syndrome, female chauvinist pig self.

    To the Patriarchy: sex, ur doin wrong.

  53. Spiders

    VibratingLiz, thankyou for pointing out the elephant in the corner (dude being allowed to “volunteer” in rape crisis unit). I thought I was the only one.

  54. Oliver

    “Maybe they’ll see Jonathan’s remark and grasp that obeisance to the pornocracy is the repudiation of their humanity.

    Then again, maybe they won’t. So knock it off, you guys, with the men-suffer-too stuff.”

    Twisty, help. If I am to acknowledge the pornocracy as the repudiation of my humanity and ackowledge the impossibilty of a non-exploitative encounter (sexual or otherwise) with a woman, how then, if not in forums such as these, am I to grasp for a thread of help in doing so? If it’s revolution you are asking for, am I just supposed to wait for it to happen and accept it? How am I supposed to live in the margins when the margins don’t care to hear men speak?

    I have been reading this blog for a while and the nebulousness of your call to arms is increasingly distressing. If it’s not all hopeless, then lead.

  55. Intransigentia

    @Shelley – I’m sorry for appearing to dismiss your disagreement as semantic; being dismissive was totally not my intent but I can see how it came across that way. What I actually meant to do was try to explore subcomponents of empathy. I think you’re right in your definition, and I’m having trouble finding another word that says what I want it to. What I’m talking about seems to be related in some fundamental way to empathy, in that it requires the same basic social/emotional skills, but unlike empathy, results in anti-social behaviour.

    The thing I like about using “empathy” to describe what a sadist experiences is, it makes it harder to think of a sadist as “other”. Every single one of us who has ever said or done something deliberately mean, has done what a sadist does: we’ve used our emotional intelligence to find and exploit vulnerability. Every single one of us who has said or done something deliberately mean, found out that it really did hurt the person we did it to, and doesn’t regret it (or thinks “serves them right” or any number of rationalizations), has done what a sadist may do: overcome our normal, healthy empathic response of feeling bad for a person who is in pain – assuming a sadist is capable of such a response.

    I like to think I’m not a sadistic person, so I can’t really know for sure, whether a sadistic person is actually inherently lacking in the empathy department (and therefor somehow less culpable because he doesn’t understand at a normal level?), or is “better” at suppressing their natural empathy through hatred, contempt, rationalization, etc., or some combination of the two.

    What concerns me about seeing sadists as abnormal* is that there have been many cases of people with apparently normal levels of empathy becoming sadistic under particular social circumstances – the Stanford Prison Experiment comes to mind, or the Rwandan genocide, the Holocaust. In these cases, I don’t think it was that people’s ability to empathise suddenly went away – they were still able to be kind and compassionate to members of their own group, for example. Rather, they had (or developed) a belief in the sub-humanity of certain groups of outsiders and were put into situations where they could act on that belief with impunity.

    When we say sadists are abnormal, on the one hand we do the good old bootstraps-American thing where all problems are individual, not structural; and on the other we avoid having to think about things like, “there but by the grace of [abstraction] go I.”

    That patriarchy sets women up as subhuman and allows (encourages) men to behave sadistically towards women with near impunity, seems a bit 101 for IBTP but at least it brings me back on topic. While I believe that the entwinement of sadism with hegemonic masculine sexuality is a structural problem in patriarchal society, I also believe that there is some room for individual choice: once you are aware of it, you can choose to continue to internalize the patriarchy’s messages about the subhuman status of women, or you can do whatever is in your power to resist. At this level, every man who continues to relate to women as sex objects rather than fellow human beings, has laid in himself the groundwork for becoming a sadist.
    ————————
    *I don’t want to be putting words in your mouth if that’s not what you meant. It is, however, what I want to talk about, so I’m jumping off and going on ranting from there.

  56. Pinko Punko

    I feel like I am privy to a weird reality show where the Jane Goodall-esque commenters expose the Spinster Aunt to various shiny and horrible objects, like Twilight. Inevitably, I fear TF will retreat to the cool whip.

    On a slightly more serious note, I remember that we bandied about that particular Star Trek episode previously, and underneath the writer’s trope of exploring a handy dandy binary (things can’t get more than two, ever, in the simplistic world), which of course was layered on top of so much Freud and maybe some other dude that I haven’t the time to consider (Jung?), I thought the most interesting aspect of the show was to unveil the universal rapist as a core identity of the emotional side of dudes. Now, whether the issue with this core identity is that it is inherent in dudes, or whether it is inherently socialized in dudes, was not addressed. I’m not sure what is blacker or more cynical, or what is more true, but amidst the usual binaries, gender and other, tossed around the persona of one James T. Kirk, male archetype, I thought that episode was on accident or maybe secretly on purpose, pretty provocative.

  57. Mary Tracy9

    Re: Pubic hair removal.

    No justification. NONE whatsoever. What I want to know is how bad is it for the actual genitals? Because it must have an effect. Why aren’t doctors, sexologists, dermatologists and “people who know” telling us of the possible implications of waxing your vulva? Like, you know, killing your lady parts altogether?
    Notice how porno practices cannot be questioned, not even by health professionals (of which some are BOUND to be women!).

  58. Hedgepig

    De-forestation of the cuntal area does conjure nasty pedophilic associations doesn’t it? I think it possibly began with the practicality of being a prostitute: easier access for many dicks in small amount of time? Then of course that translates straight into porn and via porn to the rest of us. Such a great example of how we are expected to learn from and emulate our empowerful role models: porn stars.

    Instead of requiring men to attempt the messy and confusing task that is empathy, perhaps just a bit of sympathy would do the trick. Most won’t have the powers of imagination to really feel what it’s like to be the designated orifice in society (i.e. female), but if they can logically deduce that it would be a shitty situation to live in, they should be able to feel sympathetic enough to avoid being total arse-heads.

  59. Spiders

    “De-forestation of the cuntal area does conjure nasty pedophilic associations doesn’t it? I think it possibly began with the practicality of being a prostitute: easier access for many dicks in small amount of time?”

    …and, all the better to infantilise us/remind us of how inherently gross our bodies are au naturale, and how we should keep forking out shitwads of dollars to try and be less gross.

  60. undercover punk

    Amen, sisters!

  61. PhysioProf

    I am but a shrill humorless internet feminist who hates sex and babies

    Twisty, you’re not humorless!

    Hugs,
    Comrade PhysioProf

  62. Meg

    “De-forestation of the cuntal area does conjure nasty pedophilic associations doesn’t it? I think it possibly began with the practicality of being a prostitute: easier access for many dicks in small amount of time?”

    I think a lot of it comes from Elizabethan era, where prostitutes were compelled to shave in order to help avoid lice, crabs and other creepy-crawlys…all of which boils back down to the traditional concept that lady-bits are dirty, rather than worrying about what disgusting things might have come off the men.

  63. another voice

    At what age (I’m old and have not experienced this phenomenon) does the waxing and shaving of the ladybits begin? Is this the 30 and down age group? Or just the twenty-somethings and younger?

    It makes my bits itch to imagine that all of my students perform this new slice of patriarchal hopstep.

  64. Kathleen

    mmm — I’d like to suggest the possibility that the whole label “rape fantasy” is, you guessed it, a tool of the patriarchy. Like, at least 50% of hetboy porn scenarios involve sexy ladies who cannot keep their hands off the (tubby-n-hairy, natch) male star, can’t control themselves, are just wild to tear his clothes off him and get at his exciting naughty bits.

    In that scenario, we are like — ah yes, a fantasy in service of the male ego. Of course.

    But the reverse scenario, which many hetwomen *do* fantasize about — some guy who is just wild to get at her exciting naughty bits, etc. etc, — the big P is like, oh, that’s a rape fantasy. Because to say a woman MIGHT have a sexual ego which she MIGHT flatter with self-serving fantasies, oh god, we can’t let women go thinking they might have egos! if they show the slightest hint of such an oddity, let’s tell them it’s not their ego (which they don’t, can’t have), it’s really about them wanting the ol’ boot in the face, and — if they are feminists — they’ll conclude for themselves that really the only safe route is to stop fantasizing at all.

    What an effing buzzkill. That branch of fantasy is not hetgirl specific, it comes in hetboy and queer flavors, too, and is a fantasy about the object of desire being passionately, out of control full of desire for ya. Don’t let the P take your dreams away, particularly not the dirty ones!!!!!!!

  65. Kathleen

    p.s. just in case the above gets mistaken as yay empowerful funsexyfeminism, look, the point is just that *nobody* is more fond of the “rape fantazy” thesis than assholes who think women really do live for the boot in the face. They are *full of it* and we should be on to them, is all I am sayin.

  66. lauredhel

    Maude’s teeth, the last thing a recently-raped women need is some porn-poisoned dude all up in her face using her as his personal growth journey. Shades of Kyle Payne. I’m officially creeped out.

  67. slythwolf

    Lots of women — maybe most women — suffer from some degree of dudely porn-poisoning, of precisely the sort under discussion amongst the dude blamers.

    Yep, that would be me. Used porn from middle school right up through college. Still working on retraining myself to reliably become aroused by anything other than fantasies about women–usually me–being degraded in awful and disgusting ways.

    I think it’s not necessarily a loss of empathy, for women. For some women, sure, that’s probably got a lot to do with it, but for others–for me–it’s like I still don’t have it through my head that I’m a human being, that I don’t deserve to have those things happen to me, that it’s not my purpose to endure those things and like it.

  68. Slashy

    Hey Cottonpants, I hope you haven’t been completely lost in the pubic hair discussion between your comment and this one, because while this post hasn’t yet become the “FTMs & feminism*” thread I wanted to reply to you and I can’t see any way to do that other than responding to you on here.

    So, as a disclaimer, I am not trans myself, I come at this from a cisgendered** queer perspective.

    My main motivation is to let you know that there ARE plenty of feminist transmen in the world, and that there are some really, really interesting discussions & breakdowns about radical feminism and transmasculinity around if you look. One of the blogs I read is “Coffee and Gender” (http://coffeeandgender.blogspot.com/)- the author calls himself a “feminist anti-racist white transman”. You could also try googling “feminist transmen”, “transfeminism” or “feminist FTM” to see what you can find.

    I don’t think you should NOT transition based on a desire not to become one of the dominator class, because, well: forcing yourself to endure a lifetime of gender dysphoria is probably not the most productive way to contribute to the struggle. Looking after your own mental & physical health is a good first step to being a productive part of the movement, and if that means transition, then do it. Being female should not be an act of deprivation, or punishment, or even ‘solidarity’- if you are not actually female, struggling to remain female-bodied and female-identified doesn’t gain you, or cisgendered women, anything. If you are not comfortable in a female body or a female identity, ‘enduring’ those things isn’t actually an act in support of women.

    I’m saying these things in part because my experience suggests that some feminists will disagree with me, and tell you to remain female, that transitioning to male is some kind of a sell-out or rejection of femaleness or trading-up in the privilege stakes. I don’t think it’s nearly that simple, though: you might trade in your female non-privilege for male privilege, but you’re also trading cisgendered privilege for trans non-privilege. Being a man might be tops in this society, but being trans? Not looked on so glowingly. The patriarchy is probably not going to greet your transition with a balloon-drop, free car & awesome big party. But it will, when it reads you as a guy, begin to treat you with male privilege, and that experience can be a very, very valuable point of evidence in your support of radical feminism.

    A lot of radical feminist writing comes from an intensely binary-gendered perspective, and radical feminism has a long history of getting twitchy around topics of transness. I don’t suggest you limit your own lived, embodied & gendered experience based on schools of feminist thought, or the desire to avoid taking on unfair privileges. Whether you transition or not, you are experiencing privilege in your life that others don’t have: if you are white, white privilege is a part of your life- if you are able-bodied, that privilege is a part of your life. You can’t be part of an industrialised nation, and a person with access to a computer & an internet connection, and not have SOME privilege in your life. The point is not to despise yourself for it, or take on guilt about it, but to be aware of it & then do what you can to fight the injustices that are explicitly & implicitly a part of it.

    Do what you, in your body, need to do to experience life as happy & healthy human being, and carry your feminist voice & experience through that. Be a male radical feminist or radical feminist ally, if that’s where you get to. Use your experiences of male privilege to expose them- use your entrance into men’s spaces to fight against oppressor behaviour & language- and use your experiences of being raised female to retain empathy and understanding of women who are fighting for the right to be regarded as fully human.

    Yours, Slashy

    *this is possibly a good thing. Sometimes (historically) discussions about transness in the comments section of this blog have become firestorms that might be a bit too horrible for an early encounter with the intersection of trans identity & feminism.
    **was born female, continue to identify as female.

  69. Kenzie

    As an interesting aside to the issue of pubic hair, it was for a period of time in the absolutely 100% patriarchal medicalized birthing system of the mid-20th century, absolutely essential that birthing women be shaved when they arrived at the hospital. This was, of course, to avoid infection. When someone somewhere finally got around to doing a study on whether it did as purported, it was discovered that in fact higher rates of infection occurred in shaved women than in unshaven women. The practice has since medically fallen out of favour for birthing.

  70. Stella

    @Kenzie

    Damn, I’ll have to remove that from my list of 3,429,870 Reasons Not to Get Pregnant.

    (Furiously erasing.)

  71. Cottonpants

    Slashy, thank you so much! You’ve really put my mind at ease, while simultaneously raising some good points; it could be a definite boon to be able to fight “from the inside”, I am already white and living in a first world nation, and I’ll still be a sub-XY.

    Ultimately, I think you’re right; it’s not the privilege that’s important—it’s what you do with it. Even as a man, I won’t be raping/exploiting women, so I guess you could argue that my transition would be, at worst, value-neutral.

    I’m still a little nervous that I’ll be shunned from the front door of the Feminist Club. But if you say there are some transfeminism resources out there, then I’ll definitely check stuff out/see what I can find. I’m also still worried about being seen as a “sell-out”, but I do think you’re right, that my suffering doesn’t honestly help women, so it’s kind of pointless to stay fem on principle. I dunno.. I think it’s something I’m going to have to grapple with.

    Thank you, though! Your response really took a lot of weight off my shoulders.

  72. Oaktown Girl

    I don’t have time to read all the comments tonight, but I did want to share one thing before I sign off for the evening. Apologies in advance if this has already been covered at length:

    Stella (comment #2) – I’d say this also goes for the expectation of hairless female genitals, a convention which is apparently near-universal among high school and college women today, even among a shockingly high percentage of self-identified feminists of my acquaintance. I refuse to concede that this is not porn-born – and creepy, to boot.

    Thanks for bringing this up. Last year (before I got laid off), I was working in an office with some younger people (under 25), and discovered, to my horror, that women being totally clean shaven “down there” was positively de rigeur among the young folk. I was both deeply saddened and disgusted. I agree – it is very creepy. And anyone who imagines this “trend” can be anything other than “porn-born” has got to be either utterly clueless or intellectually dishonest.

    My female co-worker (age 21) was completely befuddled by my shocked reaction to her telling me this “news”. Oh, it get worse. She told me the reason for her hairless genitalia is because female public hair “chafes” men.

  73. Pinko Punko

    Oaktown, that is freaking me out and making me really sad.

  74. KMTBERRY

    Unless there are a whole lot of psychopaths out there getting off on gardening

    SHe’s onto us !!!

  75. Inkling

    Thank you, Jonathan, for giving me a little more hope.

    “Criticizing Twilight is très chic, unlike criticizing pornography.

    Today’s blaming of women media-makers for rape culture is brought to you by Misogyny Inc., co-sponsors of the 80s blame for rape culture on Madonna, 90s blame for rape culture on Cosmopolitan readers & Lifetime TV watchers, and 00s blame for rape culture on Britney Spears and Stephanie Meyers.”

    Seriously. Twilight bashing, particularly in a “feminist” context, has become the new internet sport of choice. Well, slap the blame-cuffs on, lock me up and throw away the key, because I actually own the Twilight series and think it’s great escapist fun (albeit problematic in subtly, and occasionally not-so-subtly, misogynistic ways, but I dare any person here to tell me that every single movie/TV show/magazine/book they’ve enjoyed this past year is 100% free of misogyny).

    You just know that the majority of these raging internet Twilight critics who go on at length deconstructing the sexist themes in the series are allowing their partners to degrade and humiliate them in a multitude of ways that they’re completely oblivious to. People are funny that way. I do wish more young women (and women in general) would spend at least the same amount of time scrutinizing their own relationships for sexist themes.

    “Putting a razor blade near your vagina is downright masochistic, if not suicidal, and you will never convince me that having your public hair waxed off is anything but extremely painful. There is NO justification for this practice that does not involve patriarchal submission. None!”

    Well, er, actually there is. It heightens sensitivity of the vulva in blissfully erotic ways that you can’t even begin to imagine unless you’ve experienced it first-hand. Shaving is a pain in the arse, granted, but it absolutely has benefits beyond compliance with pornulated beauty ideals that garner dudely approbation. Lots of guys are going bare down there, too, nowadays, and I hate to say it, but it does make oral playtime (even) more enjoyable. I would never, ever demand, hint, or imply that a guy should go through the hair removal rigamarole for my benefit, but I would be secretly overjoyed if a lover engaged in regular man gardening. I actually prefer men waxed from head to toe, but I’ve probably been brainwashed by Playgirl images of marble-smooth musculature.

    “…I used to be a rape-fantasist before I knew what internalized shite that is.”

    Same, and now I’m burdened with guilt for attempting to coerce former partners into “raping” me when they were horrified that I would even suggest it.

  76. AdmirerofEmily

    Jesus, if normal fluffy hair “chafes” Nigel, what on earth would stubble be doing?!

    It’s straight out pedophilia is what it is. Hair = scary grown up woman.

  77. Daisy P

    God I’m tired.

    Porn trains females of all ages, to internalise and take on board what men want. It is subtle training to be a rape victim. Pornography is grooming on a mass scale.

    Why women care about what men want, ie, is that they are conditioned early early on, (Barbie anyone? of Bratz??), and god knows what, forgive me, I have just woken up, to be validated only by how hot they look.

    Porn (and everything that it influences, yes, apparently even Sears catalogues), serves as a constant reminder that this is what they want.

    So, start embellishing this over a period of years, with issues such as cosmetic surgery, the advent of Super-Duper technology of all kinds, making visible what has been in men’s minds all along, with ever-increasing extreme sexual practices being forced into real life, the increase in lap-dancing clube, (which many women now “attend”), and you’ve pretty much got a big fat misogynistic mess.

    Bit of hindsight and nostalgia here….one of my b/f’s back in the 70′s used women’s magazines as porn, the underwear ads. See?? The seeds were there even then.

    I had seen Pukeboy lying around friend’s houses, heard friends whispering about it…even saw a few pics. I internalised that reallly young. God knows how young girls who’s Dad’s used it in an obvious way were affected….sorry, I do know, I’m living in the mess now.

    Re – Pubic hair removal…. probably is rooted in porn, and another reason that women began doing this was the introduction, via porn, of the lovely thong. This was a bit confusing to someone like me…..I mean, it was always the case, if my undies got stuck in my crack, it was hugely annoying, and needed to be dealt with immediately, in a discreet way. So, thongs came along, and the “pants in crack” was being expected of us all the time?? Just so the icky pubes would not ruin the view? Just to look good in case a man wanted us to take our clothes off for thinking we were sexually alluring, and we’d look sexy???

    The pubic hair issue was again internalised by women, who’s men used porn, and probably went to lapdancing clubs, where the dancers quickly learned that when displaying their stuff to paying men, also, here again, the view will have needed to be totally clear for them.

    Empathy and porn do not go together as it dehmanises a whole gender. And of course the women are going to look happy, that’s the whole point. There’s lots of money at stake, so do you think they are going to look any other way. Put it on a one-to-one level, the rapist will force the woman to say she wants it, and likes it.

    Change of subject….I know Americans won’t get this one, but at the moment, the BBC radio 1 DJ (Mr Misogyny himself Chris Moyles- *spits*) is trying to sound like he knows about politics, and is expounding his adoration of Oba. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  78. Daisy P

    Oh, and one little other side-note…porn led the advances, indeed the “invention” of internet technology, not the other way around…and of course now, that is obviously the case, no one tries to even hide that motivation now…porn is cool now.

    Will we get The Dude himself, the Big BG, with all of his infamous philanthropic deeds, starting a charity to help females of all ages who have been damaged by what his empire has mostly benefited from?

    Any takers???

    sorry, I am not an academic, I’m a reasonably intelligent woman, who has seen a lot in her life, and experienced enough porn-induced misogyny to, if I believed in reincarnation, last quite a few more lives. I wouldn’t want to come back though, as I cannot imagine what it would be like, even in 10 yearsm, if it’s this bad now.

  79. Astrophilia

    Just to interject, I was wondering what everyone thinks of Beautiful Agony?

    beautifulagony. com

    You see nothing from the neck down, it’s mostly masturbation, and then an accompanying video is a “getting to know you” with the person featured.

  80. Twisty

    Yo Slashy,

    Well done in the Cottonpants department.

  81. Twisty

    “Just to interject, I was wondering what everyone thinks of Beautiful Agony?”

    Niche porn. Conflation of pleasure and pain consistent with normalization of BDSM. Commodifies women at $14.95/month subscription. Promise of “new” porn every week (porn users don’t recycle used women). “Contributors” paid $200 for homemade porn.

    You seem to be suggesting that because it’s only head shots it is somehow not pornulated. If you are, I disagree. It exists to make money for pornulators, and contains no philosophic value.

    Incidentally, I’m delinking it from your comment. People are free to Google it, obviously. After a few incidents in the past, I find it’s better not to link to porn sites, even as part of an intellectual argument.

  82. Twisty

    Slythwolf: “I think it’s not necessarily a loss of empathy, for women. For some women, sure, that’s probably got a lot to do with it, but for others–for me–it’s like I still don’t have it through my head that I’m a human being, that I don’t deserve to have those things happen to me, that it’s not my purpose to endure those things and like it.”

    This would mean reviving empathy and compassion for yourself. Enpornulation such as you describe has got you looking at yourself with the de-empathized male gaze.

    Yikes, I sound like a Very Special Episode.

  83. speedbudget

    On the shaving issue…I get it. I will admit, I am a sometime shaver. Yes. And I got the dreaded brazilian waxes in days of yore. Didn’t hurt nearly as badly as you think.

    I’ll tell you why, and you can tear it apart. But here is why I started shaving: Hair getting stuck in nigel’s mouth. Yes. It squicked me out. ALSO it squicks me out when I get one of nigel’s hairs stuck in my mouth. I don’t shave it all off, I leave the mons pubis, but for ease of cunnilingus, I do shave. I just…seeing a guy struggle with a hair stuck in his mouth in the middle of it kind of is a turn off.

    I have been with guys who shave their entire area. I love that shit. I can have all kinds of fun without getting hairs stuck in my mouth, teeth, back of throat, wherever hairs end up.

    Am I a bad feminist? I get why it’s disgusting and infantalizing that I do it. But if I require nigel to do it, does it become more acceptable? A sidenote: I gag a little bit when I have to take hair out of the shower drain or my comb. So that is probably part of it.

  84. Jonathan

    @speedbudget

    “I just…seeing a guy struggle with a hair stuck in his mouth in the middle of it kind of is a turn off.”

    I’d look more at the guy’s behavior in these situations than at yourself. If a woman’s pubic hair has become a distraction for a guy attempting to bring oral pleasure to his female partner, then:

    A. He needs more practice.

    B. Is himself, due to pornulated brainwashing, squicked out by natural female genitalia (which porn tells him to abhor) to properly focus on his partner.

    And if it is B, that would be a turn off.

  85. Astro

    I don’t see how Beautiful Agony is BDSM. Can you please elaborate? The name makes reference to a French euphemism for an orgasm. There’s a men’s section that is updated as often as the women’s… And they very often accept more videos from the same people. It’s made up entirely of submissions. I don’t see how it’s degrading.

    Sorry for linking the website.

  86. yttik

    The domination/lack of empathy thing starts very young and is a learned behavior. I have some kid’s co-ed teams and the theme is always how to keep the boys from dominating the girls. The girls are always told to be more assertive, but the more assertive they are, the more obnoxious the boys get. We’ve changed the message so it is the boys responsibility to stop dominating, but it’s really a difficult situation because young boy’s whole identity within the culture involves domination and competition. They’re constantly getting the message that they must dominate or they’re defective somehow. When you’re trying to create teamwork, it’s a real problem. If you don’t pass the ball to the girls, we’re going to lose every fricken game.

    It’s kind of like society and politics, if you don’t pass the ball to the girls, the results are disasterous. Wars, crashing economies, corruption. It’s not that girls are necessarily better players, it’s that they’re half the team, and you can’t have an effective system if all your energy is focused on excluding and dominating them.

  87. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I’ve heard the whole Twilight thing referred to as abstinence porn. I also read an essay on the characters/plotlines from an LDS point of view (don’t remember where, but it was hilarious).

  88. Twisty

    “I don’t see how Beautiful Agony is BDSM. Can you please elaborate? The name makes reference to a French euphemism for an orgasm. There’s a men’s section that is updated as often as the women’s… And they very often accept more videos from the same people. It’s made up entirely of submissions. I don’t see how it’s degrading.”

    Porn sites referencing French euphemisms (I assume you mean “the little death”) don’t get a free pass just for being Frenchy. Parse the phrase “beautiful agony” yourself and explain to me how this doesn’t sum up the whole BDSM dealio.

    The fact that there is a men’s section is irrelevant; males are not used in our society in the same way women are and the cultural subtexts are entirely different.

    This exploitation of exhibitionists for the benefit of voyeurs is fairly nauseating. That there is no obvious coercion is consistent with the hypothesis of internalized pornulational messages concerning exhibitionism. In a post-patriarchal society, such a website could not exist, because the pattern of exhibitionist/voyeur behavior would not exist.

  89. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    OK, Yttik, I can go back even earlier. As a wee lass of five years, I’m playing in the sandbox, minding my own business. Unknown boy comes over and punches me in the arm for no apparent reason. My friend’s mother tells me, “It’s OK, honey, he only did that because he likes you.”

  90. yttik

    Absolutely, Antoinette. I remember well, the boys “adored” me from a very young age. I was eventually suspended for showing one the same kind of “affection”. And so it begins….male domination equals affection, women who don’t cooperate are punished.

  91. Orange

    That site wasn’t the porn-debunking I had seen–it was an individual blog post and I just can’t remember where I found it. I even spent an hour looking for it while procrastinating this morning, to no avail. Maybe the blog doesn’t exist any more, I dunno. I’ll say this: It’s hard to Google for information about a sex worker debunking porn as sex education without encountering a lot of unsavory links.

    I wish I could find that link, dang it, because I think it’s crucial reading for humans who have viewed a lot of porn and think porn is a fair representation of what people do in the sack and what turns people on.

  92. kate.d.

    nice janis reference at the top of the post. what a good song.

  93. polly styrene

    Mary Tracy. I heard of a woman who was hospitalised after pubic waxing, due to an infected hair follicle going nuclear. She is diabetic and developed a very nasty infection. As far as I know, advice is that people with diabetes shouldn’t wax at all for this reason, but the porn is strong.

  94. Nolabelfits

    Inkling said:

    You just know that the majority of these raging internet Twilight critics who go on at length deconstructing the sexist themes in the series are allowing their partners to degrade and humiliate them in a multitude of ways that they’re completely oblivious to. People are funny that way. I do wish more young women (and women in general) would spend at least the same amount of time scrutinizing their own relationships for sexist themes.

    While I enjoy bashing Twilight because I have teenage daughters and I read the books and I’m really irritated about the crap they put up with from boyfriends, I have to agree with you here. Its difficult to avoid sexist themes in a relationship with a man, for the obvious reason that culture priviliges men. You can fight against it but the fight is constant, and it seems like no matter how hard you fight against forced doormat status, you still end up with footprints on your back. To quote Twisty, its a crap deal.

  95. thebewilderness

    “Oh, and one little other side-note…porn led the advances, indeed the “invention” of internet technology, not the other way around”

    History disagrees with you, and the rest of the propagandists, who claim that porn is somehow a leader in technological development.
    No more did light bulb manufacture lead the advances in electricity.

    Al Gore gave me these interwebs, and I’m not giving them back.

  96. Amananta

    “Anyone else being horrified by the common practice of pubic-hair-removal-for-your-man’s-pleasure!?”

    Yes.

    Although this is excused and excused and excused by even self-identified feminists living in this porn-poisoned culture, I don’t buy it. Why? Because at the mere sprat age of 36, I am old enough to remember being a legal adult who had never even HEARD of the bizarre concept of shaving my personal areas. That’s right – as recently as the 80s, shaving the vulva was not considered to be a needed “hygienic” practice. Indeed, doing so, if you admitted to it, would make people look at you like you were a little freaky and wild. And as I recall, plenty of oral sex was being had without any hospital trips for people choking to death on pubic hair.

    I was absolutely shocked a few years ago when I happened to perform the unusual practice (for me) of reading a “women’s” magazine and finding that it is now believed only dirty old freaky hippie women don’t shave – that “everyone” at least trims, because it’s “hygienic”. And here I thought all that bathing I did was what kept me clean. No no! I must risk cutting myself in a sensitive area that is a bit awkward to shave, and deal with the resulting itching, ingrown hairs, and nasty rash – because it’s hygienic! Otherwise, I’m just a dirty hippie who “doesn’t care about herself”.

    Now I will wait for the hundreds of concerned comments that explain to me patiently, as if I am a slow learner, that if I have any sort of skin problems after shaving off perfectly normal hair from a perfectly healthy body part that doesn’t need to have the hair removed from it, I am obviously doing it wrong and if I just use X product that cost X amount of dollars and was invented just for this purpose, and if I do X time consuming beauty ritual before I do the totally unnecessary shaving thing, then I won’t have those annoying problems! Most of the time. Although it seems to me the most efficient and cost effective way to avoid having those problems is to, you know – not do it.

  97. Nepenthe

    “Oh, and one little other side-note…porn led the advances, indeed the “invention” of internet technology, not the other way around”

    Yeah, gonna have to go with thebewilderness here and remind you to put your foil hat on a little tighter. Granted, the military and corporate interests that did lead the advances in internet technology are as tied to the big P as porn is. If you’re thinking about the use of pornographic images as standard test images in the development of computer graphics (wiki Lena), then I’d say, what do you expect from pornulated dudes working in a virtually all-male environment? Still the internet, regardless of what those raunchy muppets may tell you, is not for porn; it’s for making sure that our missiles all go off at the right time when we nuke the Russkis.

  98. figleaf

    (hope this isn’t a double post — my browser froze the first time.)

    All well and good to talk about shaving, spiders, and mormon-fantasy vampires but I thought Twisty said the most important thing on the planet when she said “You just, he suggests, need to get your lost empathy back.”

    Because you can have sympathy for just about any old thing including the giant poisonous centipede Twisty found in her carpet, because chances are it had little baby giant poisonous centipede babies waiting at home for it somewhere and so we can all sympathize with how that must be for them.

    Thing is, though, you can only *empathize* with another human being. You can’t empathize with a lord-and-master, or a lady-is-a-tramp, or an old ball and chain, or a hot patootie, or a stud muffin, or a dude, or a chick, or, really, even with a “husband” or “wife.” You sure can’t empathize with an “other,” or a “them,” or a “these people” You can only empathize with another human being.

    And you can love things that aren’t human beings (the way people love their pets or homes) and even love them in ways that passeth understanding (the way small children love their blankies or stuffies) and so of course you can also love your “husband,” or “wife,” or “mistress (or, WTF? I just realized gender construction provides no male-sexed counterpart to “mistress!?!?”) or “main squeeze” but you can only empathize with a human being.

    And if you can’t empathize then all the porn-scornifying or consensualizing, all the doing-it-with-girls-insteaderating or celibacy-izing, and even all the equalityating in the world is just different coats of paint on the same old patriarchy.

    Sorry I keep taking up dude space in your comments, Twisty. I know it sets your teeth on edge. But you talk about people needing to be human beings before anything else and there aren’t a lot of other folks online who do that.

    About that body-hair shaving business? Um, yeah. Leave it to Americans and other Westerners with the luxury of soap, running water, washing machines, indoor plumbing, and air conditioning to fetishize and sexualize and eroticize something other men and women throughout history (including 1-2 billion people in “developing” countries today) have done on a regular basis to control lice, rashes, and dingleberries. But by all means, if you think that’s more important than regaining lost empathy then don’t let me interrupt.

    figleaf

  99. Caro

    “But the reverse scenario, which many hetwomen *do* fantasize about — some guy who is just wild to get at her exciting naughty bits, etc. etc, — the big P is like, oh, that’s a rape fantasy. Because to say a woman MIGHT have a sexual ego which she MIGHT flatter with self-serving fantasies, oh god, we can’t let women go thinking they might have egos! if they show the slightest hint of such an oddity, let’s tell them it’s not their ego (which they don’t, can’t have), it’s really about them wanting the ol’ boot in the face, and — if they are feminists — they’ll conclude for themselves that really the only safe route is to stop fantasizing at all.”

    THANK YOU Kathleen!! I have strong sexual feelings and am an extremely sexual woman. But hells bells, if I do not get EVERY convoluted excuse and “explanation” as to why I can’t possibly just be horny. God there must be something WRONG with you woman!!

    This happened last weekend, when I met a man I fancied. I wanted to have sex with him. He came up with no less than five reasons (quite impressive in only an hour) about how I really didn’t want sex.

    I pointed that his attitude smacked of severe low-self esteem on his part to me (thought would turn that old patriarchial argument back on him) – and that his attitude only confirmed to me what many men really desire from women. Control over them. That they would rather TURN A WOMAN DOWN for sex than let go of their pathetic P. control just goes to prove this.

  100. figleaf

    Quick p.s.: I guess I shouldn’t doing the “but it hurts men too” thing but I think this is different. About empathy and human beings? The tricky thing is that if you can’t recognize people as human beings, and empathize with them and not just sympathetically say “ooh, that’s gotta hurt” when you see someone hurting and hope it doesn’t happen to you, then *you* can’t be fully human either.

    Anyway, I don’t know if anyone else sees it that way, but that’s why that bumper-sticker slogan saying “feminism, the radical proposition that women are people” isn’t just for or about women.

    figleaf

  101. el

    I don’t even know what this Twilight thing is. I googled it and found out it’s series of teen novels about some vampire love affair. Is there anything aside from the obvious antifeminist tropes universal to all vampire plots that I should know about?

    Yes! I haven’t read the books myself, but found stoney321′s review of the 4-book Twilight series in 4 posts and it was very funny and even more disturbing.

    The most disturbing thing for me was:

    “The Indians that are werewolves/shape-shifters have a super cool feature to being happy: if they see their other half, some weird psychic bond happens IMMEDIATELY called Imprinting. This roughly means that they become crazy obsessed with that person, and nothing else matters beside them, their happiness, their comfort, banging them, whatever.

    One of the kids at the rez IMPRINTS ON A TODDLER. Some little Indian girl is hanging out where he can see her, and now that is his one true love and he babysits her and takes her shopping, and to the beach, and takes her POTTY and on and on and JESUS H JUMPED UP CHRIST. Bella actually has the sense to see how fucking grody that is, but sees them together and thinks it’s super keen. (Seth Whoops! Quil, the Indian kid, conveniently will stay 16 or whatever until little baby-wife is old enough to love him back. Which she will. Because she doesn’t have a choice. Except she could choose otherwise, but no, she won’t.)”

    The posts are here:

    http://stoney321.livejournal.com/317176.html

    If you want, I can email you the first book.

  102. Kathleen

    figleaf — I’m not sure a man announcing to a thread consisting mostly of women that the discussion they are choosing to have about hair removal is a bunch of stupid shite is exemplary of … empathy. But good luck with your consciousness-raising efforts.

    Caro — well, I do think men can actually not want sex, just like women can actually not want sex. But it totes sounds like the patriarchy talking when a man is telling a woman that he knows what she wants better than she herself does, whether it is “sex” or “no sex”! :)

  103. Stella

    Figleaf: “But by all means, if you think that’s more important than regaining lost empathy then don’t let me interrupt.”

    Good, I won’t.

    People can consider and talk about more than one topic at a time. Just because some of us are talking about hair or teen media doesn’t mean we missed the big picture, nor do we need you to pat us on the head and explain it to us. All these little things add up. And pile on.

  104. AngryYoungFemme

    Figleaf, I believe the standard term for the male equivalent of a mistress is simply: “lover.” Women take lovers, men have mistresses. It’s interesting to me, that women “take.” They are stealing, feeding the female human’s illegal sexual appetite. Of course, men, on the other hand, “have.” IBTP.

  105. Oaktown Girl

    This happened last weekend, when I met a man I fancied. I wanted to have sex with him. He came up with no less than five reasons (quite impressive in only an hour) about how I really didn’t want sex.

    Caro – I’ve got steam coming out of my ears from reading that. It’s also causing some serious and unwelcome flashbacks of encounters past. Isn’t it just wonderful how men whom we barely know can, without the slightest hint of self-awareness, proceed to infantilize us by explaining how and why everything we think and feel is wrong, and thank god they’ve come along to straighten us out?

  106. lawbitch

    Kind of like the condescending shit that figleaf is trying to pull?

  107. Ayla

    “figleaf — I’m not sure a man announcing to a thread consisting mostly of women that the discussion they are choosing to have about hair removal is a bunch of stupid shite is exemplary of … empathy. But good luck with your consciousness-raising efforts.”

    It’s exemplary of something, alright. And you’re certainly right that empathy isn’t the answer.

    Figleaf, did you, as a man, seriously come onto a radical feminist website and try to tell women what their conversation means? Seriously? Do you think you just get to decide that because some of the commentors are talking about subject A that means they think it’s more important than subject B? How very male of you.

    I’m usually not one to pile on when someone has already been called out, but sometimes you just have to say something.

  108. thebewilderness

    I think that because it came as a revelation of great importance to figleaf, he thinks it came as some sort of new idea to the rest of us.
    Rather than something we have been shrilling for lo these many years.

  109. luxdancer

    inkling:

    It’s easier to deconstruct fiction. It’s easier to see what’s obvious and that with which you do not have emotional involvement with. That’s why it’s easier to deconstruct the porn industry or prostitution and not as easy to deconstruct why you always clean up after your boyfriend. I think seeing the inequities of our media is the first step to seeing the inequities in our personal lives.

    And sometimes, the reverse is also true.

    Plus, to reiterate what Stella said, albeit to a different matter, “People can consider and talk about more than one topic at a time.”

    I didn’t want to devote any more space to Twilight, but it’s kind of irritating to see any variation of the “why are you complaining about that commercial when women in Iran are being stoned for not wearing a hijab?” even a mild one.

  110. figleaf

    “…it came as a revelation of great importance to figleaf, he thinks it came as some sort of new idea to the rest of us. Rather than something we have been shrilling for lo these many years.”

    Sorry about that. It was a scales-from-the-eyes moment and I probably should have blathered about it somewhere else.

    It’s frustrating knowing you’ve grown up living a lie. Not least because when you figure something out all anyone who already gets it can say is “well, duh.” But it *is* really important and men really ought to be shrilling about this stuff too. Instead of resisting it or wishing we could just keep living the lie.

    figeaf

  111. Caro

    “Caro — well, I do think men can actually not want sex, just like women can actually not want sex. But it totes sounds like the patriarchy talking when a man is telling a woman that he knows what she wants better than she herself does, whether it is “sex” or “no sex”! :)”

    Katleen – I totally agree that men can not want sex. But in this circumstance ….he told me twice that he did! I can only go by what he was saying (as men should do with women).

    He didn’t because whatever I was saying he ignored – and as you said “told me what I thought” rather than actually listening to me. Too many men put “telling women what they want” above sexual pleasure. And that is control. You make good points.

  112. Caro

    “Caro – I’ve got steam coming out of my ears from reading that. It’s also causing some serious and unwelcome flashbacks of encounters past. Isn’t it just wonderful how men whom we barely know can, without the slightest hint of self-awareness, proceed to infantilize us by explaining how and why everything we think and feel is wrong, and thank god they’ve come along to straighten us out?”

    Oaktown girl – YES! Thank so much for that! I think the infantalization really happens when a women wants sex…because women really only want a man to “take care of them” (also infantilization).

    You know – I have totally given up on relationships with men because I have had 37 years of this treatmnet – so I have now all but given up on relationships with them entirely. But I still get horny. I still want sex. But sod me..if I can get any without being told “what I really want”!!!! Think I may have to give up on sex, too! No-that’s not going to happen!!

    Have you heard of a tv programme in the UK (where I am) called ‘Secret Diray of A Call Girl’. It is a programme based on a blog/book wriiten by a real prostitute?

    Well, there is a scene in the programme where Belle (the main character) is seeing one of her regular clients in his expensive apartment. He tells her something like “You know you are so intelligent, you don’t hvae to do this”. She replies “You don’t have to save me”. I think I would have been more rude!! Basically if a women openly has sex (in ANY context) – and is seen to enjoy it….there HAS to be something wrong with her!!

    I have had soooo many ask me “Well, when are you going to get a boyfriend? Women need security and love” I reply that perhaps not all of us do – but it falls on deaf ears. I then ask – “What can I get from a relationship that I can’t get on my own?”

    The answers: “Love” – my reply “I love myself and Ihave great friends”!
    “Cuddles” – “I have a teddy – and great friends”!!
    “Sex – “I can get that in or out of a reltionship thanks”
    “Security” – “I am not a baby – I am a grown woman who is very secure”
    “Babies”!!!!! – “Sex makes babies – not a relationship”!!

    I am not critiszing relationships orthose who have them. It’s just for me that I have noticed far too much male control/infantilization going on in mine for me to want them again.

  113. Inkling

    All right, last words on shaving: If you perform a seemingly illogical act for strictly pragmatic reasons, and if both men AND women are doing it, it is no longer a feminist issue. If you perform a seemingly illogical act for aesthetic reasons within a misogynistic framework, it’s a feminist issue.

    How can anyone who enjoys exploring their lover’s anatomy with their mouth not see how much more pleasurable the experience can be if there is more soft, silky flesh to run your lips and tongue over? How can anyone who enjoys having their lover explore their anatomy with their mouth not see how much more pleasurable it can be if even more skin containing sensitive nerve endings is exposed for stimulation? Greater pleasure for both giver and recipient = good! Ah, just try it sometime, critics. It only itches after the first shave.

    *****************************

    “While I enjoy bashing Twilight because I have teenage daughters and I read the books and I’m really irritated about the crap they put up with from boyfriends, I have to agree with you here. Its difficult to avoid sexist themes in a relationship with a man, for the obvious reason that culture priviliges men. You can fight against it but the fight is constant, and it seems like no matter how hard you fight against forced doormat status, you still end up with footprints on your back. To quote Twisty, its a crap deal.”

    “It’s easier to deconstruct fiction. It’s easier to see what’s obvious and that with which you do not have emotional involvement with. That’s why it’s easier to deconstruct the porn industry or prostitution and not as easy to deconstruct why you always clean up after your boyfriend. I think seeing the inequities of our media is the first step to seeing the inequities in our personal lives.”

    Wow, excellent insights. It’s almost too easy, isn’t it, to point frantically at injustices in the world and get some good old-fashioned righteous anger brewing over it when you feel impotent in the face of personal injustices. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism of sorts?

    Whatever it is, I like entertaining the thought that it’s a stepping stone to confronting sexism/misogyny in real life.

  114. Caro

    PS : sorry about the grammer and spelling in that last post….my computer is going a bit odd!

  115. polly styrene

    Amananta, you will be relieved to hear that I was recently talking to at least two women in their twenties who thought removing pubic hair was deranged.

  116. Twisty

    “If you perform a seemingly illogical act for strictly pragmatic reasons, and if both men AND women are doing it, it is no longer a feminist issue. If you perform a seemingly illogical act for aesthetic reasons within a misogynistic framework, it’s a feminist issue.”

    No, because everything takes place within a misogynistic framework, including pragmatic actions performed by dudes and dudesses. Patriarchy infects the whole ball of leg wax.

  117. buggle

    Sorry Inkling, you don’t get to be the last word on shaving. And you can’t tell other people when it itches- how do you know? Do you have my pubes? No, you don’t, so don’t tell me how they feel when they grow in. And you are incorrectly assuming that none of the posters here have ever tried shaving/waxing.

    Gynecologists have to deal with women’s ingrown hairs from waxing, shaving, etc, more than ever. This is actually a really common thing- for women to get ingrown hairs, infections, and other nasty things from shaving/waxing. Sexy, huh? This has become a big problem, enough that I’ve heard now from several gyns about it.

    I’m 32, and remember when no one shaved their pubes. In college, it just wasn’t a “thing” at all- at least not for me. Things have changed so much in the past 10 years- but it’s not just pressure on younger women.

    I think the original topic of this thread is awesome, but I do think that it is men’s job to write a thread like this, keep in on track, etc. It isn’t our job, as women, to teach men how to have empathy and how to not watch porn.

  118. PornstarGlobal

    “If you perform a seemingly illogical act for strictly pragmatic reasons, and if both men AND women are doing it, it is no longer a feminist issue.

  119. Carolyn

    Cottonpants, if you’re still reading this thread I was thinking this morning of some things I might say to you, to see if they might be any use, but am not interested in people other than you reading them. Now that I’m here it looks like you haven’t given us a way to interact with you directly; if you’re interested, you can email me through my website.

  120. Inkling

    “Sorry Inkling, you don’t get to be the last word on shaving. And you can’t tell other people when it itches- how do you know? Do you have my pubes? No, you don’t, so don’t tell me how they feel when they grow in. And you are incorrectly assuming that none of the posters here have ever tried shaving/waxing.”

    Pardon, pardon, pardon, I meant that *I* am going to share my final words on the subject; I did not mean I wanted to bring discussion of the subject to a halt! Sorry, I did not realize it would be interpreted that way.

    Everyone I’ve talked to about this has said the same about itching and that first lady-scaping (or man-scaping) session. I’m sorry, it probably was a relatively small sample size to base a conclusion on.

    Is that sufficiently repentant?

    *******************************

    ‘“If you perform a seemingly illogical act for strictly pragmatic reasons, and if both men AND women are doing it, it is no longer a feminist issue. If you perform a seemingly illogical act for aesthetic reasons within a misogynistic framework, it’s a feminist issue.”

    No, because everything takes place within a misogynistic framework, including pragmatic actions performed by dudes and dudesses. Patriarchy infects the whole ball of leg wax.’

    Ha ha, you said “leg wax”. Right-o, you’ve got me. I should probably review my posts critically before hitting the submit button. The schema for my own experience probably looks something like this: Patriarchy —> Appropriation of women’s bodies Male-defined beauty standards = Bare-naked vulvas in pr0n —-> Modern meme of shaving/waxing the vulva —> Curiosity is sparked —> Inkling has smooth girly bits —> Inkling discovers the joys of having smooth girly bits. Without patriarchy, it probably never would have happened, regardless of my own personal rationale for shaving.

    It all happens because the ball of leg wax is contaminated. I can’t argue with that.

  121. Inkling

    That should be: Appropriation of women’s bodies “plus” Male-defined beauty standards = Bare-naked vulvas in pr0n. Why doesn’t the plus sign work?

    Ah ha, I just got the line about “dudes and dudesses”. Oooh, that’s a direct hit to the bare-naked vulva.

  122. Spiders

    Inkling, you miss the point about sensitive nerve endings; the reason nature wants them covered with hair (instead of razors and scalding wax) is to keep. them. sensitive.

  123. a Nigel named Dave

    As one of the dudely blamers in question, I’d just like to say it was never my intention to make it about my dudely difficulties, rather I was trying to make one of the same points Twisty makes, which is that pornocratic programming can be internalised by all of us, woman and dude alike. It ain’t just the dudes who suffer from porn-poisoning.

    I think were I differ from Twisty says here is on how deep it can go, and how hard it is to really be rid of it. I wish it was as easy as just having empathy for women, compassion, and the rest, because compassion and empathy for women is something I can manage.

    Rather, I am saying that the patriarchy culture is everywhere, that all of us get many of our ideas, both the superficial and the deep internal ones, about how to have sex and how to go about relating to each other from media overwhelmingly dominated by the patriarchy, and it saturates us and leaches out in our intimate moments. I know enough women, fine strong women of a feminist persuasion, who want to be spanked or dominated, even when their partners find it very confronting and not desired, to think the issue will disappear if only individual dudes learn to show compassion and empathy to their partners. I know more than one lesbian couple that has struggled with the issue, for starters.

    Which doesn’t mean that more of us having empathy and compassion isn’t something that is to be devoutly wished for.

  124. CoolAunt

    My, my, my, but there’s a lot of people doing a lot of talking with people, who are, unfortunately for the rest of us, anonymous and remote yet also authorities on topics that most of us consider to be nunya.

    So, how does one go about asking fine, strong feminist women if they like to be spanked during sex without being told to mind one’s own damned business? And how does one bring up the topic of pubical shaving or the lack thereof and the reasons for or against in a social setting?

    I’m hearing echos of “All of my black friends…” in this discussion and so I’m playing my Bullshit card on both of you.

  125. AngryYoungFemme

    @ a Nigel named Dave

    “I know enough women, fine strong women of a feminist persuasion, who want to be spanked or dominated, even when their partners find it very confronting and not desired, to think the issue will disappear if only individual dudes learn to show compassion and empathy to their partners.”

    Aside from your awful grammar, you’re right. Like Twisty says, this shit will only be over after the revolution. That doesn’t mean that “fine strong women of a feminist persuasion” aren’t porn-poisoned–on the contrary, women desiring “to be spanked or dominated” and who pander to arbitrary porn-inspired patriarchal ideals are the clear manifestation of just that. Read the whole thread, did you?

    It sounds like you’re trying to take the onus off of men and shift it back to women. Sure, you guys’ll make efforts, but you’re all: it’s not gonna happen if just the dudes work on this shit! What do you think this whole thread is? This whole blog? The entire feminist movement? It’s women, doing our part. And our part culminates in revolution unless our dudely oppressors repent and change THEIR ways. I have a feeling, that shit ain’t gonna happen any time soon. Especially if dudes are all, “we can’t do this awone!” Shucks and golly gee!

  126. thebewilderness

    You can’t “show” empathy, Dave. From your comment I get the impression that you do not know what we are talking about when we speak of empathy.
    You know how when guys see or hear a joke or story about castration they usually groan and grab their balls.
    That’s empathy, sorta.

  127. thebewilderness

    Sorry, I should have added, the empathy is what they are feeling, not what they are doing. Although it does inform what they do.

  128. feral

    Is anyone is familiar with Robert Jensen’s discussions of pornography? Twisty, are you familiar with or do you have an opinion of his work?

  129. Inkling

    “Is anyone is familiar with Robert Jensen’s discussions of pornography?”

    I was just about to recommend his work to Nigel Dave. If regular doses of Jensen aren’t enough to convince you to give up porn, your empathy is broken and you should definitely look into having that fixed.

    Just Prudes?: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/justprudes.htm (Very triggery in the sexual violence dept.)

    Other Jensen articles: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/articles_gender.html

    Men and Porn: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/08/gender.weekend7 (Fabulous analysis of the detrimental effects of porn written from a male perspective. All men should read this!)

    `Her first orgy? I couldn’t face it’: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20010406/ai_n14379723 (Article about a male film-maker’s experience shooting the documentary “Hardcore” that showcases the abuses female porn stars face in the industry.)

  130. Inkling

    “Inkling, you miss the point about sensitive nerve endings; the reason nature wants them covered with hair (instead of razors and scalding wax) is to keep. them. sensitive.”

    Things are kind of naturally protected down there, though (I’ll refrain from sharing graphic details since I’m sure everyone here is smart enough to figure out what I’m talking about) and clothing effectively fills the role intended by nature. This applies only to personal experience, however. I’m not speaking for anyone else.

    “And how does one bring up the topic of pubical shaving or the lack thereof and the reasons for or against in a social setting?”

    The internet isn’t a social setting?

  131. Dr. Steph

    “it’s all the same fucking day, man”

    I hear Janis Joplin when I read that.

  132. Twisty

    Perhaps we could discontinue the discourse on shaving, riveting though it is.

    Also, “all my feminist friends are into BDSM” is not an admissible argument at IBTP.

  133. Jonathan

    Thanks for the links Inkling!

    I always cringe these days whenever I hear, “It was never my intention to X” followed by, “Rather, I was trying to say [X from a slightly different angle]“. (Especially since I was a jerk and also used these blame-avoiding crapshoots in the past.)

    Perhaps these two phrases could be added to the spamulator?

  134. buggle

    Heh, sorry for encouraging the shaving discussion.

    As for your second statement, come on, we ALL know that BDSM can be feminist if you just do it right. (Yeah, that was sarcasm).

  135. Twisty

    “I always cringe these days whenever I hear, “It was never my intention to X” followed by, “Rather, I was trying to say [X from a slightly different angle]”.”

    Oh man, I do this all the time. Sometimes I really was trying to say X from a slightly different angle only I was too dumb to say it right, but sometimes, yes, I’m merely trying to weasel out of having blurted out some half-baked chump rot without thinking it through.

    One more thing to add to the Aunt-Improvement List.

  136. Jonathan

    @Twisty

    “Oh man, I do this all the time. Sometimes I really was trying to say X from a slightly different angle only I was too dumb to say it right, but sometimes, yes, I’m merely trying to weasel out of having blurted out some half-baked chump rot without thinking it through.

    One more thing to add to the Aunt-Improvement List.”

    I think you’re doing fine on the ‘intent’ front: I googled IBTP for the terms “never my intention”, “not my intent” etc. and I only found 3 cases of you using the phrase.

    Although I found plenty of guys falling into that crutch, with usually disastrous results. Seriously guys, think twice before hitting the ‘Blame’ button if your comment includes the words “not my intent” or its variants, as that’s usually a sign that you’ve smacked head-on into a male privilege or two. At that point, it’s a good idea to pull over and determine the cause of the accident (hint: 99% of the time it is NOT due to a misunderstanding of your words) before hitting the gas again.

  137. abigail

    how do you feel about the Wife of Bath? The Canterbury Tales version, that is. I’m just curious.

  138. No Sugarcoating

    Could I link to IBTP? I just started up an anti-pornstitution blog.

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