Archive for the ‘Sexuality’ Category

It’s a slight cliche to argue that history is written by the winners, but unfortunately it’s true. Admittedly the phrase does imply somewhat more of a martial perspective, so let’s adjust it; history is written by the dominant.

As marginalised people, we only have to look at our own histories to see the truth in that. We are absent from the historical narrative to a very large extent; sometimes there are obscure glimmers of proof of our previous existence, but most often even those of us who achieved a place in the historical hall of fame have been bleached with the ideals of the dominant groups that did the writing.

I am a historian – still studying, and not yet studying exclusively history, but a historian nevertheless – and it frustrates me. Written primary sources were often written by privileged people whose perspective neglects the marginalised. Secondary sources also tend to reflect academia’s skewing towards the kyriarchal ideal. There are ways of finding out about the marginalised, but we rarely find their uncensored voices ringing down the ages.

What effect does that have? A huge effect. Some groups find themselves cut off from their roots, with much about their past lost irretrievably. Others find themselves entering the record only on the terms of their oppressors, with their personhood denigrated and their voices erased. Others find no reflection of their existence.

The neglect of the history of some groups combined with the elevation of that of others has a profoundly harmful effect. People have always looked to the past, for lessons and for inspiration and guidance, and if they find only certain groups reflected there it is very easy to have the idea, already implanted by the kyriarchy, that only those groups are worthy and important validated. It’s also used to denigrate people in the present, implying that they’re making things up because they only came into existence recently when the only evidence we have for that is a void in the general historical narrative with clues generally so small most people wouldn’t pick them up.

It’s important to factor this in as we write our own histories. How will the English Riots of this summer be remembered? Will the memory of the alienation and disillusionment suffered by those who rioted survive, or will they be painted merely as thugs? And the Occupy movement – when protestors say one thing and police say another, who will be believed by posterity? As for the Arab Spring – how will history perceive that?

The privileged classes have always tried to write their history on a higher level than the rest of the populace. Sometimes, just access to the tools of recording ensures their voices are the only ones heard. Other times, restricting access to academia or to certain media spaces is their preferred method. And quite often, they merely rely on their privilege to amplify their voices, as it so reliably does.

People’s minds tend to run a lot on patterns and associations. When someone says a word, we can generally summon up a bunch of connotations from our experiences and the messages we’ve imbibed from our culture. If I try this with a random word generator and get ‘chat,’ I think, ‘room, little, office, experience of the words ‘wanting a chat’ preceeding a lecture that I will squirm through and not dare speak up in.’ (I think this means that I never caught on to using the word ‘chat’ when talking about ringing someone up to talk…)

This gets really important when the words we use impact on people. Words and the way we use them are really influential when it comes to the way we think, especially as we are growing up and learning how to weave those words into expression. We learn them through communication and connotations, which means that the things we associate with a word will forever have an impact on how we perceive what that word is attached to. I had a slight negative reaction with ‘chat’ because it appears I’ve mostly come across it as a prelude to earnest conversation directed at me that I felt very uncomfortable being a part of. That’s what I associate it with; squirming in my seat and feeling silenced.

So what happens when people-words get bad connotations? Those connotations generalise to the people concerned, and negative, prejudiced attitudes creep under the carpet of people’s minds. Also impacted by negative presentations and cultural messages, these negative attitudes are generally at the root of discrimination. Where inequality is legislated, it comes from the underlying prejudices of the people who created the legislation, the people who passed it, the people who elected them and so on. Where inequality is tolerated, that comes from discriminatory behaviour striking a chord with those same underlying prejudices. Language, presentations, culture – they’re important. There is other stuff to fight for, big stuff, solid stuff – but these underlying currents are where they come from. When the big stuff gets fixed, it’s unlikely to stay fixed until the culture changes, as the underlying attitudes find new ways to mess the marginalised up or push the big stuff back to its original position.

It’s very uncomfortable to see people-words get bad connotations, and yet it happens all the time. ‘You throw like a girl,’ makes ‘girl’ the object of contempt, something to be avoided, something lesser. And negative attitudes towards women and girls and those perceived as such are reinforced. I… may be overstepping myself here, since I’m white, but ‘acting black’ troubles me since I’ve generally seen it used against people who act in a way seen as negative – thus enforcing racism. ‘That’s gay,’ one of my own little hobby-horses, associates gayness with something pathetic, contemptible, useless, bad – thus enforcing heterosexism. Slurs work this way. Longer messages, such as the many that enforce rape culture, work this way.

And the worst thing is, it looks like nothing. It’s hard to correct, because you’re seen as being pedantic and petty-minded. And to be honest, merely, ‘don’t say that word’ is unlikely to work. We need to examine the reasons why we’re saying what we’re saying, and the message that sends out, and consciously work on changing it. It’s definitely important to salvage the stuff floating out of reach, issues that have a concrete impact on our quality of life, but one can’t ignore the little eddies and swirls that show the current beneath the surface, the current that could eventually tear the solid stuff out of our reach.

Newsbag.

Posted: September 21, 2011 in Bodies, Capitalism, Education, Finance, Health, Science, Sexuality
Tags: ,

Okay, I’m going to attempt to be back now even though I’m still having trouble using a computer comfortably.

Really, Government, really? Possible proposals to cut the benefits of terminally ill folks? This is obscene. We always knew that this government was incredibly ableist, but here’s another rock-solid indication. It honestly scares me that the people in charge of the country are so very contemptuous of anyone who doesn’t fit the conventional notion of ‘ability’, and that they are actually enacting this stuff (as with other benefit changes that have gone through).

If the data bears it out, which I think is likely, this is exactly as expected. EMA has proved important for many people, and scrapping it is always going to have an effect.

Aaand from a sciencey point of view, the information that deep-sea squid mate with no regards to sex is fairly interesting.

I’m sorry this is a shite post. I’m still trying to think of a way to make a post out of my recent health issue and how that has been complicated by my lack of gender, which is definitely interesting. I realise, however, that I’m probably saying nothing that other people haven’t said before so… Still need to think some more about that one.

Mr MacMaster, you should be utterly fucking ashamed of yourself. You think you can speak for the marginalised? Over the marginalised, making their lives more fucking dangerous while you carry on with your absurdly privileged life? And you think that’s okay?

It’s really, really not.

You wrote a story, constructed a fiction. You did not have to live that reality. You had the privilege to disengage. And you thought that doing that was acceptable. You thought that wearing an internet mask for a few posts on a blog could even approach the real experience. You thought wrong. Other people don’t have the luxury of being able to take the mask off – because for them, it’s their true face.

You appropriated people’s experiences, overruled the voices of those who actually had those experiences. You’ve made their lives more dangerous. You could have caused people to put themselves in truly dangerous situations, while you were sitting safely mired in your privilege. You’ve inserted your straight, cis, white, Western, male self into a discourse where you have no business being because you simply know nothing about the issue. I know nothing about the issues you attempted to write about, but I sure as hell know that it would be an act of breathtaking arrogance and imperialism, it would be totally and utterly wrong, to appropriate an identity, such as the one you took on. Rather, the role of those of us who have no place, in the discourse is to listen. To accept the conclusions of others’ discussions about their selves and try to aid them in their goals. Not to elbow our way in under false pretences and speak over others’ voices. Not to mention, you’re now the blogger who cried wolf. And that could
have serious consequences. You took people’s compassion, their trust, and you betrayed it.

We all know that online interaction is hard because there’s no way of knowing the exact truth. But that’s why, especially in internet
spheres that rest on people’s accounts of their experiences, it’s vital that people do not appropriate identities. Doing so is unethical, appropriative and deceitful. It’s made everyone’s online identities easier to attack, too. I can give no proof but my word that I am a young, queer, agender person from/in the UK. But how easy would it be for someone to claim that my writing was invalid because they thought I was someone like MacMaster? Very easy. And how could I disprove it? I couldn’t. The fact that I really am who I say I am is unprovable – but I swear that I am, and I don’t break oath.

Everything about this (and the Bill Graber/Lez Get Real thing) stinks of privilege, massive, unchecked privilege. Thoughtlessness,
entitlement, imperialism, appropriation. It stinks. I don’t even have a sense of smell and I can tell that. It leaves an utterly bad taste in the mouth, and they should both be ashamed of themselves.

I get really angry with hetero/cis/binary/sexual folks complaining about Pride. I’ve never been to one – and will be missing my local one this year because of an out-of-town trip – but that’s besides the point.

A common complaint is that we’re ‘shoving it in their faces’. If I may put it crudely – bullshit. My heart bleeds. Not.

For one, it’s pure hypocrisy.

Apparently they believe that the hetero, cis, binary, sexual norm is not shoved into everyone’s faces daily. I suppose that the fact that every compulsory primary school reading book features only normative characters is just coincidence, is it? What about the abundance of normative PDA? That’s just an exception I suppose. Oh – and the media emphasis on normative relationships? I guess that’s just representation. And surely the stigmatisation of non-normative identities has nothing to do with it? /endsarcasm.

Most of us had normativity shoved down our throats from an early age. We sung songs about normative relationships, watched programes, read books, saw films about normative relationships. We saw only the normative represented positively. Often we never even saw the non-normative at all.

That is having an identity shoved into your face. Not a group of people coming together one day of the year to celebrate who they are and try to cast a bright flare through the dark clouds that hover over their path.

For two, they’re complaining about something that has grown up as a reaction to oppression – oppression perpetuated by them. Really not their business objecting. Objections from within the community are fine, but from without?

Oh hey there kyriarchy, I saw you a mile off.

People within the gender and sexuality norm do not get to interfere. Simple as. How hard can it be? If your privilege has made you think that people being themselves are shoving stuff in your face, you need to examine your privilege rather than their motives. It stinks the whine of the privileged person who just can’t accept that the oppressed people have needs too. We need to be recognised as the equals of anyone else. We need to resist our erasure at the hands of the privileged. And one way we’re doing that is through Pride. Is through throwing up a light to our youth so that they can find themselves. Is through taking the aspects of us that the kyriarchy hates and celebrating them defiantly. Is through sticking a finger up at the dominant norms and saying ‘We exist too!’

So if the privileged people think we’re shoving it in their faces, they need to examine why they think that and why we need to do what we do in the first place.

Something of the same applies for any situation in which the marginalised – on any axis – are accused of shoving their selves into the privileged’s faces. In a lot of those situations, though, there’s the additional point – if the privileged are allowed to do it, the marginalised should be. If you don’t object to hetero-perceived PDA – don’t claim that gay-perceived PDA is bad. Because that’s just perpetuating oppression.

Sex positivity does not mean encouraging people to have sex. It doesn’t mean elevating sex, or putting it on a pedestal.

Sex positivity means removing the cloak of shame. It means teaching and practicing good comprehending, enthusiastic consent. It means letting people make free choices with regards to their sexual activity. It means not shaming people for these choices. It means sex education. It means trying to empower people to be sexual or non-sexual of their own free will, with their own choices and with consent.

Catch that bit? Sexual or non-sexual. Because yeah, there’s a lot of people who aren’t really bothered. Or who are repulsed. Or who are only bothered when it comes to people they know and like. Or who kinda like it but don’t think it’s very important to them. Or or or.

Shaming people for their lack of desire is not sex positivity. It’s not progressive. It’s not helping remove the cloak of shame around sexuality. It’s just encouraging more people not to open up about the subject, thus reinforcing the shame. Oppressing people about their sexual choices is not on, and it’s no good if the people meant to be fighting that shaming perpetrate it upon different groups. Face it, while there’s a lot of sex-negativity at large in our culture, there’s also a hell of a lot of no-sex negativity.

Sex is everywhere in this Western culture. It’s portrayed in negative ways, definitely – objectification, bad consent, slut-shaming, heteronormativity, exploitation, rape culture, I think I could go on with these problems for hours… but it’s there. What we have is not a sex-negative culture. It’s a culture suffused in negative sexuality, sexuality that is not good, not healthy, for anyone concerned – but it’s not sex-negative. Not sex positive either, because the sex portrayed is not positive, is often not portrayed in a positive light… but it’s pervasively portrayed.

It’s a strange relationship that we have with sex. It’s about contradictions, about dichotomies, about guilt and sin and fear and lust and repression of the true desires for the false. Sex lurks in the background of this culture. We tell ourselves we have ‘dirty minds’ when we think of it. We say that it’s icky. We resort to euphemisms, body language, dancing around the issue when we wish to talk about it. But we still want it. We still think it’s part of a normal lifespan. We still think the lack of desire is abnormal – so abnormal we diagnose it as an illness!

So no, sex positivity is going nowhere if it cannot accept that some people aren’t bothered. If it can accept all other sexual feelings and desires, it can accept the desire to not have sex. I am coming at this from both ends – from the end of wanting to destigmatise sexual desires that are not considered ‘normal’ (eg, in my case, polyamory) and from the end of wanting to destigmatise not having sex (I’m demisexual, which is on the asexual spectrum). Both things are necessary, both things are good. Both things are infinitely compatible.

Fire cannot fight fire, and shame cannot fight shame. I’ve seen these problems in some sex positivity, although I’m only just getting round to writing it down. If you promote sex as a universal desire, your movement is exclusionary. Full stop. If, however, you promote a lack of shame around the subject so that people feel able to express desire or the lack of it without fear, in a healthy way – that’s sex positive. It’s about destigmatisation. It’s about ending the contradictions deeply ingrained in our psyches. It’s about getting rid of the demonisation of certain desires. It’s about making sure that people are safe, empowered, and free to make choices. It’s about ending the shame, the fear and the guilt, and allowing the free, healthy expression of wants and needs. Or the lack of them.

Yesterday was the Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (referred to henceforth in this post as Misohomy and Transhatred, because oppressiveness =/= phobia), and I didn’t do a post. Now, there’s three main reasons for that and two of them are incredibly prosaic. One, I have basically given up on blogging for these ‘days’ because I can never think what to write other than ‘yeah, this oppression is bad, uh, yeah,’ and two, I had… other stuff going on that was sapping my energy. The third reason is that it’s just another day. I imagine most people affected by oppressions that have ‘Day Against’ events going on think this – for them, it’s not just a single day. It’s every day.

For me, it’s every day because along with binarism, misahetery/misohomy/heterosexism and transhatred/cissexism are the oppressions that crop up most in my life. I don’t have the privilege to dedicate a day to fighting them and then take most of the rest of the year off. I fight the damn things whenever they pop up because if I don’t, guess who they’ll end up hurting? That’s right, me.

I do it by existing. I do it by challenging oppressive views – not just against those few oppressions, if something bigoted pops up I try to tackle it, even though I do sometimes mess up. I do it by insisting on being recognised for who I am. I do it by eradicating oppressive language from my vocabulary, and tackling the oppressive attitudes in my own head that caused that oppressive language to surface. I do it by trying to lead others towards doing the same.

This is a constant, ongoing battle. It’s not something we can win with a day of positivity and condemnation of bigotry. All that will do is drive the kyriarchy underground for the one day, around the people who do it, and it will resurface very soon afterwards to continue its oppressive regime.

It’s not easy. None of this is easy. None of us can do everything. But we can all do something, and that something isn’t lip service on one day of the year. That something is work on our own minds. The great thing about anti-kyriarchy activism is that we all have that one area in which we can be incredibly successful, because our minds are our own. Each mind for us is a mind against the kyriarchy. Each mind against the kyriarchy is one brick gone from the wall, letting in one ray of sunshine, one glimmer of hope.

No condemnation on those who did blog yesterday – these days can be good times to get our thoughts in order about the ongoing struggle. The problem is the idea that one day – not just this day, any day – is going to fix all the problems, make our kyriarchal attitudes go away and make the oppression stop. Because it’s not. There’s things you can do that might make a difference on that day, but that’s really only as a catalyst for long-term change.

I claim my identity because if I do not, a label will be forced upon me. All words are merely a concept given shape, and the words I use for my identity are no different – except, they make sense. The concept they have been formed from is one that resonates with me, and the words themselves feel right.

While they are there, I have the weapons to fight being non-consensually labelled. I can say, ‘No, I am not [assigned gender]; I am agender,’ and the word I use will be a shield to protect me from the assumptions and the labels others slap on without thinking about it. While I have those identities, the labels that I have chosen, the socially-assigned ones cannot cling to the stuff of my self and twist it to their own will. People may assign them – but I can cast them off because they never fit, and they cannot stick to the shield of my own self-identification.

I also claim my identity to allow for community – to signal to others like me that we are alike, we face similar things, I have your back. I claim it so that others know my standpoint, but first and foremost I claim it for my own self, my own piece of mind.

Some people choose not to ‘label’ themselves, not to claim the words for their identity, to allow it to go unnamed. That’s fine. But it’s not okay to police people’s choice to use them. I have claimed these words as a shield against non-consensual labelling, and that works for me. Some of us need to claim the words, shout them out or treasure them in their heart. We are not ‘fencing ourselves in’. We are ships seeking anchorage in a storm, and the identity is a place where the waves are broken before they can break us. Or we are merely seeking a way to describe our experiences, words that will not erase or oppress us, and when we find those words we are using them, settling down among the blankets and creating a nest with them, using them to carve ourselves some space of our own in a world that would much prefer us not to exist. We can expand the words, use them as they are or define them for ourselves, in line with our own experiences. Or we can choose not to use them at all. And that’s something only the individual person can know; what words, what usage they will be comfortable with.

I’ve come across a load of people on the internet claiming that they have an ‘unpopular opinion’ and then spouting a load of bigoted, kyriarchal slime. It seems to be, along with ‘irony,’ a very common way that bigotry reveals itself. But you know what?

Don’t call it an unpopular opinion if it’s an oppressive, kyriarchal one. Because it’s not. It’s just bigotry, and that, my unfriends, is extremely popular.

Put it this way. If misahetery/misohomy is an unpopular opinion, why is it okay to say, ‘that’s so gay’? Why is that phrase normalised? The clue’s in the word ‘normalised.’ It’s normal. Slowly becoming less normal, but for a non-heterosexual person it is still absolutely normal to find that most people around you either a. hate your sexuality, b. are uncomfortable with it or c. want to ignore it. That’s a sure-fire sign of the normalisation of misahetery/misohomy and heterosexism. Why are marriage options not equal? Why do people experience abuse for being non-hetero? Why are there still inequalities here, there and everywhere? This normalisation and these views are wrong. They’re absolutely wrong. But they’re not seen that way by a regrettably large portion of the population. So therefore, having these views is not an ‘unpopular opinion.’

That was just one example. Binarism – and I’ve come across this one quite a bit – is another prime example. It. is. not. an. unpopular. opinion. to. think. that. we. are. making. it. up. It is an utterly wrong, bigoted, oppressive opinion that has no basis in fact and is complete bull feces, but it’s quite popular in society. Don’t believe me? Why are toilets rigidly gendered then? Why is there no legal document that will allow me to not misgender myself?

And here’s an example that may shock a few of these ‘unpopular opinion’ people – racism. Again, totally wrong. And this time this is an oppression that I am not really equipped to talk about as a white person, so if I mess up please feel free to tell me to educate my damn self. But racism is still a systematic oppression, despite all the anti-racism initiatives. People of colour are routinely hassled, profiled, silenced, subjected to great indignities, denied opportunies, Othered, exoticised, exploited… Racism is still a mainstream prejudice, much to the shame of our species.

The same thing applies for basically every other oppression there is. Many are medically or legally normalised in addition to being socially normalised. Their acceptability is a stain upon humanity – but they’re not unpopular opinions. They’re bigotry.

So these ‘unpopular opinion’ people may think they’re being oppressed and silenced by ‘political correctness’ – but they are not. Political correctness, to start with, is a term created to discredit the movement for inclusive, non-oppressive language, making it an inherently reactionary, kyriarchist term. And secondly, they evidently have no idea about the nature of oppression. Here’s a clue – it’s not being told that your bigoted attitudes are bigoted. Oppression is being on the receiving end of these systematic bigoted attitudes and the actions that inevitably result from them. And silenced? No. Anyone with kyriarchal views can find a million avenues to sound off about their bigotry. Being told that those views are wrong in the few SJ spaces that exist is not silencing.

Don’t call it an unpopular opinion if it’s kyriarchal. It’s bigotry. And calling it otherwise is privilege denying and oppressive. Of course, if you could acknowledge it as bigotry, you’d be able to work to get rid of it and THAT WOULD MEAN THE END OF THE WORLD /endsarcasm. You know what opinions beliefs I’ve found to be unpopular?

Anti-kyriarchal ones. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Those firmly in the grasp of kyriarchy claiming victimisation for their views, while victimising those fighting to get the kyriarchy’s claws out.

Fuck tolerance

There. I said it. Fuck it. Fuck tolerance. Fuck acceptance, too.

I don’t want to be tolerated in our broken world, our awful system, our terrible kyriarchy. I don’t want to be accepted into a structure that oppresses people, into a system of inbuilt oppression. Hell, I don’t even want to be welcomed with open arms there.

I want nothing less than the destruction of the kyriarchy. When the kyriarchy is destroyed, I won’t be ‘accepted’ or ‘tolerated’ – I will be human. I will be equal. We will all be equal. There will be no grudging ‘oh I guess you can live then,’ from the oppressors, because there will be no oppression.

Until then, I will fight for the destruction of the kyriarchy in each person’s individual head. That’s the only place it lives – inside our heads, feeding on our lives. The kyriarchy is a parasite. It is introduced to us from the first seconds of our lives by every human interaction we have, it crawls inside us, and it eats away at us and at every other person we know, so that it seems normal.

The kyriarchy’s in my head, right now. I’m grappling with it, but it’s there. It’s taking my potential and that of society within my influence and feeding me lies about myself and about others. It’s whispering to me that I am subhuman because I am not its privileged ideal, and it is whispering to me that other people, wonderful people, worthy people are subhuman because they are not its privileged ideals.

And I’m angry about that. I’m angry that it’s trying to tell me that my fellow human beings are less than. I’m angry that it succeeded for so long. I’m angry that it’s telling my fellow human beings that I am less than. I’m angry that it’s so hard to excise. I’m angry that my culture ushered it into my head, back when I was a tiny child with no defences or resistance or hatred. I’m angry that my culture is always ushering it into people’s heads, from the moment they’re born.

We are truly better than our kyriarchal prejudices. We all have them. We can fight them, but in this culture it’s impossible to ever be totally free of them. We can only work against them as actively as we can and hope that our minds will become poisonous for it.

Tolerance is useless as a way of working against it, mainly because it’s not working against it at all. It’s merely putting a veneer over the poison the kyriarchy is leaking into our minds. It’s better than hostility – but it’s never going to be a tool of anti-oppression, because it is passive. It doesn’t try to change anything about attitudes, only the person’s outward expression of those attitudes. And while those attitudes are there, the kyriarchy still has its claws dug deep into our mind and is still telling us all those lies, and we are still swallowing them.

If someone tells me they are tolerant of a group, warning bells start ringing. Because they’re not saying that they have stopped having negative attitudes to those people – only that they’ve stopped expressing them as hostility. That’s not right. And that’s certainly never going to end any oppressions.

Oh sure, it might seem to – but it won’t. Behind the scenes, the kyriarchy will still be spewing its lies into our heads, and those lies are going to make us treat the ‘tolerated’ ones differently. As the Other. As the Lesser. Even if we don’t notice, those lies are going to have their way.

So fuck tolerance.

We need resistance.

Apologies for the lack of posts. Life. New morning/afternoon routine that involves a bike and extreme tiredness. Not feeling well. All the normal excuses! However, I will try, after this rather substandard post, to get back to a regular, plentiful posting schedule.

I define my sexuality as pan/demisexual. Simple reasons – aesthetically attracted to and open to mental connection with people of any gender, but with sex as basically the bottom of the priority list. But if someone were to be attracted to me – to any non-binary person – what would they call it?

Most terms for sexuality exclude non-binary folks already. Gay/homosexual – possible, although unlikely; for me, that would mean being only attracted to agender folks. Heterosexual – once you take that out of the binary, HEAD EXPLOSION. Hetero means different. So if I, as an agender person, was attracted to androgynes, I’d be heterosexual. And a woman attracted to genderqueer people would be heterosexual. And a neutrois person attracted to men would be heterosexual. Lovely. Confusing.

As for bisexual? It doesn’t automatically erase us, although the assumption that it means men and women does. A person attracted to genderqueer folks and bigender folks would be bisexual. Polysexual is okay, although people WILL get it muddled with polyamorous – polysexual=attracted to many genders/nongenders, polyamorous=capable of loving more than one person at once. Pansexual is so broad it encompasses anything, although there are a lot of BIRDSHITS who think it means ‘men, women and trans folks’ (ie binary trans folks). Er, no – the whole concept is due to the fact that THERE ARE MORE THAN TWO GENDERS HELLO. There are other terms, some not even related to gender – for example, sapiosexual is attracted to intelligence.

I have liked terms like gynophilic and androphilic in the past, and they’re great for the binary genders. But non-binary folks? Nothing. Neutrophilic is probably a possible for neutrois folks, and androgynophilic for androgynes – the rest of us get left with strange put-together sounding terms. Agendophilic – bigendophilic – genderqueerophilic (oh dear. first two were all right, third one went a bit wrong).

It’s a conundrum. Rambling post is rambling. Sexuality can be fluid anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter much. Just one more area of language build with our door walled off though…

TW – violent metaphor.

The kyriarchy, by definition, is all-pervasive. There is no escape from it. If you have privilege on an axis, any misstep you make is not ‘regrettable’ or ‘a problem’ – it’s oppressive. If you lack privilege on that axis, that misstep is treading on you. Hard. And it hurts.

It’s not conducive to great understanding between oppressor and oppressed. If the oppressed person is yelling ‘OW SHIT YOU HURT ME!’ and the oppressing person is yelling, ‘SHIT MAN IT WAS ONLY [X]!’ no-one’s really listening to each other. In a vacuum, it would just be an argument between two people. They’d shout each other down, maybe neither would back down – maybe they’d agree to differ.

But in a kyriarchy, in that situation, it is all too likely to end up with the oppressed person being squelched. Because that’s the nature of oppression. When an oppressed person is justifiably angry or hurt and the oppressing person feels that the oppressed person has overreacted, who has the weight of society behind them? That’s right, the oppressing person. Whose view is legitimated? The oppressing person’s. That’s one reason why the tone argument is bullshit. You just invalidated me – you caused me pain – you denied my selfhood – you contributed to my oppression – it is not my job to tiptoe around your feelings. And the other thing is, mostly, if we talk quietly and politely, we’re not listened to. I have had conversations online where I have told people gently that something was out of order and had them continue doing it – then I’ve blown up in their faces and made sure they knew exactly what the problem was and that it was a big fucking deal. It’s a weapon. And it’s a weapon that, deployed in the right way, can be damn powerful. But it’s also an automatic response that we should not have to apologise for.

The kyriarchy surrounds us, so much that it’s hard to even see it. It’s everywhere. Once you’ve come to consciousness, you find yourself being slapped in the face with it in every situation – pop culture, activities you enjoy, people you love, subjects you are interested in. There’s no escape from it. And that feels awful, a lot of the time, even when you only have an academic knowledge of some of the oppressions involved, even when you have privilege along some axes (as we all do). It hurts when that stuff hits you.

Yeah, sometimes it can seem like people blow up over the little things. But how little are they, when a thousand of them shred our skin each day, hammering at the barriers, giving us no safe space? From the kyriarchy, there is no escape. And when you’re ripped raw from scores of microaggressions, each one hurts a hell of a lot more than it would falling on intact skin.

How little are they, when they actively contribute to oppression? How little are they, when they actively harm people?

I don’t think they’re little at all. And we have a right to our feelings.

As mentioned in the previous post, I have been looking for non-ableist alternatives for words following the pattern of homophobia, transphobia etc. The ableism inherant in appropriating the word ‘phobia’ is a discussion that I have seen a lot of on Tumblr, and I can also see that getting rid of it would remove the common defence ‘I’m not scared of them.’ I will continue to use words in this pattern as tags until alternatives – not necessarily mine – become widespread in the anti-kyriarchy movement, but in posts I will be using the following alternatives unless others become more widely used and accepted;

Misohomy – homophobia (I prefer to maintain a distinction between the elevating of heterosexuality and the denigrating of homosexuality, hence not using the term heterosexism instead of homophobia). I may also use misahetery (mis=hatred, a=non, hetery=adaptation of hetero) for the hatred of non-heterosexuals, not to replace a -phobia word but to try to avoid monosexism.

Transhatred – transphobia (again, I’d prefer to maintain a distinction between this and cissexism).

Misoxeny – xenophobia.

I will continue to write other -phobia endings in long form, such as hatred of Islam/Muslims for Islamophobia, since I do not feel it is right for me, as a non-member of these groups, to coin terminology for them. I was unsure even about coining misoxeny.

These words are merely what I prefer to use, and do not represent me attempting to force them on others or create a more-progressive-than-thou dialogue, which is not productive. I will probably be linking this post a lot when I use the words, simply for understanding’s sake.

Love, not hate

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Law, Religion, Sexuality
Tags: ,

Preface to this post; I have no problem with religion. If your religion is a positive thing in your life, if your religion harms no-one and perpetuates no oppressions, and if you do not try to force me to follow your religion, then I am supportive of your beliefs. I personally do not believe, but I respect the right of others to whatever religious beliefs they feel are right for them.

A Pentecostal Christian couple have been barred from fostering children because of their views on homosexuality, which they have drawn from their religious beliefs. This is a problem that I have seen consistently, in many outlets – people, mainly believers, getting the idea that Christianity disapproves of homosexuality. It does not. For a start, most Christians disregard most of the laws laid down in the same Book as those perceived as against homosexuality. Also, those laws are most probably made to oppose lust, as are the huge number of laws regarding heterosexual interaction. Besides this, the New Testament, which is generally held to be the principle holy book of most of the Christian faith, emphasises love. Love is the central tenet of all of Jesus’ teachings. To hate is to go against that, and to hate love is to doubly go against that.

So no, religious freedom is not really an issue. If it is invoked, it is a classic case of overprivileged people mistaking freedom to worship for freedom to discriminate, two things that are very different. They, as all others, are free to believe what they want; they just aren’t free to interpret those beliefs as an excuse for discrimination. And claiming that they are ‘normal’ Christians? Please, introduce me to your circle. Actually, don’t. I doubt both of us would walk out of there unscathed. Believe me, I know many Christians. They are on the whole tolerant, loving human beings who have no problem with non-heterosexuals. Hatred is not a mainstream Christian belief, it’s just the one we see most often in the news.

And now to address the misohomy aspect of it. (misohomy; hatred of homosexuals, following the same pattern as misogyny and misandry, as a non-ableist alternative to homophobia. Coined by myself, although I wouldn’t be surprised to find someone else had thought of it.)

They can’t tell a child that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable. Forgive me, but isn’t this a trifle absurd? It’s quite easy – you look at a child, open your mouth and form the words. The only way this would be hard for you to say is if you have trouble saying anything, or if you have trouble saying anything that isn’t misohomic.

They say that, “We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith and we feel sidelined because we are Christians with normal, mainstream, Christian views on sexual ethics. We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing.” No, sorry to break it to you. You feel sidelined because the world has moved on from the days when hatred was okay. You feel sidelined because you can feel your heterosexual privilege trembling under your feet as all of us non-heterosexuals decide that we do not want to be trampled on anymore. Cry me a river. Listen, you experience kyriarchal oppression too. All our oppressions are interconnected. Stop standing on others to try to get to the top and start demolishing the pyramid.

You’re prepared to love and accept any child? Well, as long as they’re heterosexual. And, presumably, cis and binary (since misohomy and transhatred and binarism tend to come together). I don’t call that any child. Non-het/cis/binary kids deserve love and acceptance too, because we are human, and we are dying from the hatred of people like you. And also – the practice of homosexuality? The homosexual lifestyle? Bullcrap. Non-het folks are human. Those who love, love like you do. It’s not a choice, it’s not a practise. It’s human.

And as for the Christian Legal Centre saying that it ‘sends out the clear message…that Christian parents with mainstream Christian views are not suitable to be considered as potential foster parents’ – uh, no, it doesn’t. It sends out the clear message that misohomic parents with mainstream misohomic views are not suitable to be considered as potential foster parents. It’s a different thing. Christianity is not about hatred. If you want to align your own experience of your faith with hate, so be it – just don’t expect to be treated as anything other than the hater you are, and don’t try to claim that you represent others’ experiences of that faith. I really hope I’m misinterpreting the comment and that it was meant in a positive way, but it really doesn’t sound it.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Yay for a day devoted to consumer capitalist expressions of lurrrve… (heterosexual of course). Or rather, boo. Valentine’s Day, how do I hate thee, let me count the ways.

Firstly, well done for marketing the day as a day for everyone who isn’t part of a happy couple to sit in front of a TV crying. I’m noticing this among het cis female friends particularly – they’re using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to shame themselves for their looks, their weight and their personalities that somehow have prevented them finding a boyfriend, going off into the ‘forever alone’ idea. This discomforts me – I hate to hear people putting themselves down, especially in the kyriarchal, fat-shaming, heteronormative, misogynist, slut-shaming language they’re using. This is for anyone who is blaming themselves for the lack of companionship they desperately want;

You are worthy. No matter where you fit in our defective beauty standard, or our defective intelligence standard, or our defective gender standards, or our defective standards of worth; you are worthy. You are worth celebrating. If you want a companion and you are going to conduct that relationship in a respectful, consensual, enjoyable way, then you are worthy of one. And you don’t need to use the language that marginalises you, that puts you and others down. Leave the oppressive language.

Secondly, not everyone is heterosexual. Not everyone is binary. Not everyone is monogamous. Outside of the internet, I have never come across any Valentine’s Day paraphernalia that acknowledges the existence of non-heterosexual folks. Seriously, Valentine’s Day, our love is just as worth celebrating as any other. Implying otherwise reinforces the heterosexist dialogue surrounding romance, the heterosexist dialogue that entwines itself in our lives from ridiculously early ages and poisons our youth’s minds. As for folks outside of the binary, we get relegated to our normal position in society – not existing! Isn’t it fun? And the same for polyamorous folks – polyamory doesn’t exist either! This is for everyone made invisible by the Valentine’s Day dialogue;

If you love, and you love consensually, respectfully and enjoyably, then your love is beautiful and worthy of celebration. No matter how many people are in your relationship or what gender/s/non-gender/s they have. No matter how you conduct your relationship. The erasure is wrong; a day for lovers includes you too. You too are a part of the rainbow of humanity.

Thirdly, not everyone wants a relationship. Relationships aren’t any kind of compulsory life step. They’re just one branch of the river that is life, and some of us will go down it, others will head off elsewhere. It’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t make us freaks for not wanting it. This is for everyone who shakes their head in bafflement at all this stuff;

Don’t worry. You’re not a freak for not wanting what our entire culture says that you should want as a part of a normal life course. You’re another manifestation of the beautiful diversity of the human experience, and you are worthy because of it.

Fourthly, sexism. Gender essentialism. Guys can’t buy bras! Girls, don’t get too soppy! Guys, humour her! Girls, buy new underwear for your man! You should be having sex tonight, dammit, it’s Valentine’s Day, damn what you actually want! Shut the hell up, advertisers, writers, anyone talking about this in these terms. You’re adding to a creepy, misogynistic, binarist, cissexist, heterosexist culture, and that’s not good.

Fifthly, COMMERCIALISM! CAPITALISM! CONSUMERISM! We’re meant to become zombies to red-packaged, overpriced trinkets that are supposed to symbolise love, in all its weirdness and diversity and complexity. Talk about reductionism. You will consume, the media repeats, and we fall for it because we think that love is expressed by the box of chocolates when it is really the person handing over the box of chocolates that is expressing love. But then, in a capitalist culture, it makes sense to conceptualise love as something that involves spending loads of money on someone. Look, it says, I’m willing to spend the fruits of my slavery to capitalism on you. This is how much I love you.

Sigh. Comrades, if you want to do things on Valentine’s Day, do it and enjoy it. Just be prepared for the inflated prices. But remember, it’s really just another day. There’s nothing you can do on Valentine’s Day that you couldn’t do any other day of the year. The media Valentine’s Day machine is harmful, so do your own thing on your own terms. And remember to honour yourself and others, respectfully, consensually, enjoyably.