Remember, braiding hair is supposed to be degrading and emasculating to men. But, here we have a man who doesn’t give a shit, so perhaps gender is all made up?!?
QotD: “That’s the fundamental difference between liberals and radicals; one destroys truth to avoid confronting power, and one confronts power to avoid destroying truth”
Radical feminists are so often painted as being unfriendly or unaccommodating towards intersex people because radical feminists are the ones consistently naming the social and political structures that actually do oppress intersex people, and liberals have a nasty habit of confusing someone naming the reality of an oppression with someone propagating that oppression.
They seem to think that saying Hey folks, our violent gender system currently separates people into two absurd and inhuman classes based on genital shape means the same thing as Hey folks, wouldn’t it be great if a violent gender system separated people into two absurd and inhuman classes based on genital shape? And thus, radical feminists and gender abolitionists more broadly are pegged as the reason for intersex people’s oppression, when in reality that oppression is being propagated by the very system that radical feminists and gender abolitionists oppose – you know, gender.
Gender abolitionists work to (surprise) abolish gender and, with it, any society that determines its social arrangement around genital shape. In a post-patriarchal, gender-free society, male, female, and intersex people would exist quite a bit like blue-, brown-, and green-eyed folks do now; one might be comparatively rarer than the other two, but no system would exist to put massive social value on one biology over the other.
Male and female (and intersex) people would still be recognized as distinct categories, and sex-specific medical care – as well as sex-specific spaces to deal with things like pregnancy and menstruation – would still obviously exist, but only in the way that we currently treat different blood types or left- and right-handedness. The current pressures on intersex people to “pick” manhood or womanhood would not exist, and the coercive genital surgeries and hormone treatments given to intersex children would be considered a barbaric cruelty of the past.
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? A world where individuals can live, male, female, or otherwise, as human beings first and foremost, pursuing their dreams and desires in a way that isn’t constrained by two artificial gender boxes? Where your genitals matter when they actually matter (reproductive health and other sex-specific considerations) and not when they don’t (99% of every human being’s life ever)? That world is possible, and it doesn’t require closing our eyes and pretending that male and female don’t exist as discreet categories. In fact, rejecting male and female as discreet categories smacks a little of admitting defeat.
After all, if you met someone who had the bizarre belief that the only solution to white supremacy would be dyeing everyone’s skin purple at birth, you would assume that they have adopted this strategy because they can’t imagine a world where people could have different skin colors and still be equals. And when I see queer theorists saying that the sex binary is inherently oppressive, I can’t help but think it’s because they can’t imagine a world where male and female could exist and not dominate each other. Radicals see the material reality of biological sex and reject a system that uses those facts to organize its oppression of females; queer theorists, on the other hand, can’t separate the two – the non-oppressive reality and the oppressive fiction constructed in relation to that reality – so their only option to avoid the resultant abuse is to deny the facts.
Queer theorists see the intimate connection between biological sex and oppression, and they react by dismantling the notion of biological sex; feminists see the intimate connection between biological sex and oppression, and they react by dismantling oppression. That’s the fundamental difference between liberals and radicals; one destroys truth to avoid confronting power, and one confronts power to avoid destroying truth.
(emphasis is red added by me)
Fascinating article on the BBC website about sex education in India (ignore the cringe-worthyness of ‘sexpert’ and ‘sex guru’, the context is different, he’s no porn-promoting sex-pozzer), worth reading in full.
Watsa was first asked to write a Dear Doctor column back in the 1960s by a woman’s magazine [Trend]. He was in his late 30s and had recently qualified as a doctor. “I didn’t have much experience, I must confess,” he says.
For the first few months the questions were of a general medical nature – about childhood diseases and so on – but then a different kind of letter began to arrive, from distressed young women in remote areas. They told him that an uncle or an elder had interfered with them when they were teenagers, and now they worried that they would not be married because they’d lost their virginity. “Many even suggested that they’d commit suicide,” says Watsa. “This thing about the hymen being intact is very important in this part of the world.”
He realised there was a lot of shame and need for advice out there. “These women had no-one to turn to, so they wrote to the magazine,” says Watsa. All he could do was tell them not to panic about the wedding night. “I had to advise them to just remain quiet,” he says. “Don’t worry, your husband won’t notice. Nothing will happen.” Nowadays Watsa can be more explicit. He explains that the hymen can break in many ways, including physical exercise or some kinds of masturbation – but at the time he couldn’t use such plain language.
He realised that many of their problems stemmed from a lack of sex education, and this set him off on a life-long mission to provide it, first through the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) and later through his own organisation, the Council of Sex Education and Parenthood International, (CSEPI). Throughout it all, he carried on writing.
Something has happened to the women of Japan.
I am not Japanese, but having lived in Japan for nine years now, I do find myself asking questions.
What is their unwritten herstory?
In Europe and America, the witch craze has kept women silent and cowering for centuries until the present day. In China, it was foot binding. In other countries it has been FGM. In India it is widow-burning. Western psychiatry (lobotomies), gynecology (sexual torture and hysterectomies, and clitoridectomies), have been exported abroad. I don’t need to keep listing the atrocities against women.
What has happened to the women of Japan? I caught myself wondering one day as I looked around. Something has happened here. What is it?
The women of Japan, especially the women of Okinawa, were hit hard during the second world war when local governments set up brothels to serve the American soldiers. (by 1945 there were 70,000 women in brothels designated specifically for soldiers) And let’s not forget the mass suicide of women at the Cliffs of Marpi, who all jumped to their deaths upon hearing that Japan had been defeated and they were being invaded. So there is a history of colonization that can’t be ignored.
I don’t mean to draw attention away from the crimes that Japanese men have committed against women in China, Korea and elsewhere – but today I just want to talk about Japanese women.
I believe it’s the pornography that has killed the spirit here. Japanese porn
It’s hard to put into words the way that Japanese porn draws an parallel, and a link, between female sexuality and female death. [...] I can’t explain it. It’s as though they go one step further. They’re showing that the killing of a woman is poetry itself. Pure art.
The killing, therefore, should be done in a properly artistic way, as is fitting with the intellectual posturing that seems to go on in Japanese porn. We have the similar posturing from politicians and writers in the West who define porn as radical, edgy and sometimes revolutionary.
Dear men: there is nothing radical about hurting and degrading a politically and economically disenfranchised group of people.
I have since learned that prestigious and famous Japanese artists, those who are celebrated in the public eye and who are shown in galleries around the world, have drawn pornographic pictures of women nearing death, or dead. They date from the 19th century, but the artistic and creative practice of binding criminals with rope in order to torture them to death dates back further. Women, remember, have been regarded as criminals under the flimsiest of pretexts. Prostitutes are criminals, by default.
I went into the home of a man (European) who was involved in Japanese pornography. He had all kinds of paintings on the walls of his house, but there is one that I remember well because I just couldn’t quite believe what I was looking at. The setting was Japan. It was a Japanese painter. Women were being brought on a ship, by men, to an island, where the victims – all women – were stripped naked, tortured, beheaded, and their heads were put on stakes. I kept staring at this painting because I just couldn’t believe that such a huge and glorified piece of art, from a renowned painter, was showing what my eyes were telling me it was. Women being lead to their death.
But the hanging women are the worst. Artistic depictions of pregnant women, hanging upside down, one dying while an old hag presides over her. Women hanging, slowly dying, while men smoke, drink and play cards in the corner of the room. Old women, hanging. Women of ideal beauty, hanging with their genitals on show. Women orgasming while hanging, with a particular look on their faces that I now realize is supposed to depict the shame of being exposed coupled with sexual pleasure. And another one that stood out for me: a woman in a kimono with autumn leaves falling about her, Autumn leaves representing the beauty of her death. All the women are intricately bound into varying contortions and positions by rope (the tying and binding itself being classed as an “art” in its own right.)
These images are the inspiration for Japanese pornographers today. A popular image is women in snow. Seasons are important in Japan. I have seen images of women, real women, whose hands and feet are so cold that they are blue. Not only from the cold, but from the ropes which cut off their circulation. Photographers proudly take pictures of the damage the rope has caused on flesh. The images are easily googleable. Real women. Real rope. Real trees. Real snow.
QotD: “The ultimate mark of man’s possession of women may well be the ethic of suppression by which he forbids women to hate him”
The ultimate mark of man’s possession of women may well be the ethic of suppression by which he forbids women to hate him.
Jeffner Allen, “Remembering: A Time I Will Be My Own Beginning” (collected in For Lesbians Only)
“Gangs are drawing up and disseminating lists of teenage girls whom they consider to be legitimate rape targets”
Gangs are drawing up and disseminating lists of teenage girls whom they consider to be legitimate rape targets, as sexual violence is increasingly used to spread fear and antagonise rival groups.
The so-called sket lists (sket is street slang for “sluts”) have, according to youth workers, prompted attacks so brazen that girls have been dragged from school buses and sexually assaulted. Police and charities say they have recorded an increase in the use of sexual violence by gangs, including incidents of revenge rape, where the sisters and girlfriends of rival gang members are targeted. Claire Hubberstey, interim chief executive of Safer London Foundation, a charity working with young people to reduce crime, warns that gangs are using sexual violence in the same way that they use dangerous dogs to parade their masculinity.
Scotland Yard has confirmed that sexual violence against women by gangs is now “at the top of our agenda” following initiatives that have seen gun crime fall by 17% and knife crime offences by 11.5%. Det Supt Tim Champion, from the Metropolitan police’s Operation Trident gang crime command, said: “The first thing we had to do is stop people killing each other. The focus now clearly is on women. It’s as prevalent as carrying a knife or a gun – the raping of a girl in a gang.”
Hubberstey said gang members were taking advantage of low conviction rates for rape, viewing sexual violence as a less-risky means to inflict pain on rivals or spread fear than carrying a weapon. “Criminals are clever, they know if they are caught carrying weapons they face a lengthy sentence; it’s risky carrying a gun. The use of sexual violence is the same sort of thing as having a dangerous dog; it creates fear, it’s non-traceable, and they are also taking advantage of low rape conviction rates even when there are witnesses,” she said.
I’m always a little reluctant to post these type of reports; this is rape culture, and it isn’t just young working-class/non-white men and boys in gangs who think of women as ‘deserving’ of rape, plenty of nice middle-class white boys commit rape as well. As the article goes on to say, “Sometimes they [a gang] think it will have a really detrimental effect but actually the boys are not bothered, usually it’s about punishing girls directly rather than boys by proxy.” This is about men’s sense of entitlement to the bodies of women and girls; of course, we have to remember as well, that girls who are socially disadvantaged have fewer protections from male violence, and are less likely to be seen as ‘credible’ if they do go to the police.
Powerful article in the Guardian recently, where Kathleen Hale recounts how she was sexually assaulted as a student, and went on to see the man who assaulted her found guilty and sentenced to seven to ten years. It’s also an interesting article, for the details of how the US legal system works, particularly the fact that jurors who had been victims themselves, or who knew anyone who was a victim or perpetrator, was excluded from service.
The one thing I would like to highlight, is that the man who assaulted Hale was also a pimp, who was probably abusing the prostitutes who ‘worked’ for him. This kind of connection is no surprise to me, but sex industry advocated like to represent pimps as ‘business men’, ‘entrepreneurs’, ‘security’, even the ‘employees’ of ‘sex workers’, rather than the predator from Hale’s account.
They told me I was not the only girl. In addition to prosecuting Duncan Purdy on charges of running a house of prostitution, assistant district attorney Melinda Thompson was also building a separate rape case against him. Jillian Gagnon looked like she could be my sister, and had suffered a virtually identical massage. (There were suspicions that Duncan Purdy had also hurt some of his sex workers, but none of them would, or really could, come forward due to citizenship issues.) Melinda explained that if I built my own case, the judge and jury at Jillian’s trial would not know about me, and the judge and jury at my trial would not know about Jillian. However, if I served as a prior bad acts witness at Jillian’s upcoming trial, one jury would get to hear both stories.
Interesting article I found at nerve.com, by Christopher Zeischegg, a “pornographer, writer, musician, and filmmaker living in Los Angeles, California.”
His is, obviously, not an anti-porn stance, but he is critical of the industry he previously defended more unequivocally.
I am, obviously, only quoting the bits that support my anti-porn stance, so I suggest you read the whole article (and it is definitely worth reading in full) to see it all in context.
I still receive calls because my defense is still out there for anyone to read; my words line the articles of blogs and sex-positive websites. So when bad shit happens in porn, there’s always a reporter to come snooping for my side of the story. In December 2013, I talked to a few such reporters. Porn was in the midst of its third production moratorium of the year due to a performer testing positive for HIV. The news needed its sources.
“What’s your take on this HIV scare?” one reporter asked me.
“First off, I should note that I’m no longer a performer. I quit about two months ago.”
“Why is that?”
I told him the truth: It had to do with my use of ED drugs.
“Do you think that’s another example of the industry’s lack of concern for performer health?” he asked.
“It’s kind of irrelevant. No producer asked me to take the drugs.” It was just what most guys did to get through scenes. “And I don’t think the industry has a lack of concern for performer health.” That was my defense – a knee-jerk reaction to the type of loaded question I was used to. I told the reporter that we tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in porn, that our panel had expanded, and that we’d gone from testing every 30 days to once every two weeks. “It’s not even the law,” I said. “The industry does this on its own.”
Another reporter asked me, “Who takes on the costs of these tests?”
“They’re mildly subsidized by larger production companies, but it’s mostly performers.” I told her the current price, something like $175 per test, depending on the clinic.
“Wow. That’s quite the overhead.”
“Yeah,” I said. “It sucks. Especially for performers who don’t work often.”
She pulled more information from me: that there are no unions, no performer residuals, and basically zero resources for those who are sick, injured, or otherwise in need.
“But look at something like independent film,” I said. “I’ve worked on projects for terrible day rates, with no promise of residuals, and no access to benefits like healthcare.” My point was basically, “Why pick on porn?” I’ve found this is often part of my defense. I explain how terrible jobs are in general, and that there’s at least some money left in porn: Leave us alone to earn the last of it!
Given my generally leftist ideology, it’s a strange argument. I’d never drop my critique of other corporate workforce exploitations based on the fact that they’re “typical.”
But I’m starting to realize that condoms aren’t even the real issue. The porn industry has become an example of unsustainable business. Financial disruption has forced performers into unregulated forms of sex work (like prostitution) and opened up the industry to a greater rate of STI exposure. Advocates for testing have pushed for more rigorous and frequent panels. But most companies don’t want to pay for the increase in cost. In fact, most don’t want to pay at all. So performers take on a greater overhead. Then they’re told that safety measures, like barrier protection, are going to further destroy their ability to work – something that, without transparent and quantifiable evidence, is just regurgitated speculation that feels like it’s real.
It may be that regulation will hurt the expansion of profit. The question is, “For whom?” If companies like MindGeek are earning millions driving traffic to free-porn-giveaway-sites, do condoms even make a difference? Or will the last of porn consumers abandon their purchase of small-time hardcore porn once they see some safer sex?
When the fear of vanishing profit margins loom over the inclusion of a piece of latex, we can’t even get to the conversation of paying for industry-wide healthcare, let alone other benefits. Porn’s taken on the same old be happy you’re working at all mentality that’s become a staple for post-recession America.
Following on from yesterday’s post re-blogging Deep Green Resistance’s support for Robert Jensen, here’s a quote from Jensen’s article which has led him to be ostracised by a book store/cafe/meeting place that claims to be ‘something radically different’.
Jensen’s piece is mild, calm and balanced, and the fact that he is being treated in this way just shows how powerful trans ideology is; any questioning, even in the most balanced and respectful terms, is now a thought crime.
I want to specifically quote the section of his article titled ‘ecology’ as, while the rest of the article is pretty 101 (this is an observation, not a criticism), I have not seen the ecological argument (which covers all ‘big medicine’, not just the ‘sex reassignment’ industry) spelt out so well before.
Many people, whether radical feminist or not, are critical of high-tech medicine’s manipulation of the body through the reckless use of hormones and chemicals (which rarely have been proved to be safe) or the destruction of healthy tissue to conform to arbitrary beauty standards (cosmetic surgery such as breast augmentation, nose jobs, etc.).
From this ecological approach, such medical practices are part of a deeper problem in the industrial era of our failing to understand ourselves as organisms, shaped by an evolutionary history, and part of ecosystems that impose limits on all organisms.
People are not machines, and treating the human body like a machine is inconsistent with an ecological understanding of ourselves as living beings who are part of a larger living world.