18 4 / 2014

I only realised how much I used to count on my ‘femme privilege’, a privilege I grew to increasingly hate as I grew more and more feminist and recognised it for what it was — license to manipulate ‘benevolent’ sexism — when I realised I could no longer do that: when someone described me as butch.  Somehow, despite my unshaved armpits and shaved head, I’d managed not to identify myself as the kind of person other people would identify as anything other than really actually quite feminine.  I used to laugh when I started getting mistaken for a boy, thinking ‘but I’m wearing make up.  And jewellery‘.  I’m also tall and flat chested though, so suddenly my thinness had become masculine, not sylphlike or willowy (two adjectives I had grown weirdly accustomed to).  Now, I couldn’t redeem myself for patriarchy by ‘turning on the submissive feminine charm’ if I ever stepped out of line (most recently by shouting at a sexist, assaulty man in a pub), which is scary and not something I had counted on when yearning for patriarchy to view me as a threat,or hoping to one day think ‘meh’ of men’s approval.  Because men’s approval makes a lot of difference and realising that their masculinity is no longer invested in protecting me (often from the kind of women who look like me as well as other men, and usually along racist and classist lines) is disconcerting.  I feel vulnerable.  I’ve already waxed my armpits.  They’re no longer a fuck you to the male gaze.  But anything that isn’t a fuck you feels like a carte blanche.  Which is also scary.  Hence why it was a shitty bargain, albeit a minuscule one.  But hence also why access to shitty bargains is most definitely a privilege: if it was the colour of my skin that was making me feel unsafe, there’s basically nothing I could do about that.  And even if my sense of safety as a skinny white femme was largely delusional (as all good feminists know, the men I imagined with varying degrees of consciousness as my protectors would probably be the most likely to attack me, because ‘most perpetrators of violence against women are known to the victim/ survivor’, as the saying goes), it’s still nicer to feel safe than constantly under threat.

18 4 / 2014

"Sex is just sex. It should not be taboo. And yet at some point, feminists need to ask themselves, ‘why are things still so fucked up? Why are women considered less human than men?’ It’s not random. It’s to do with power and it’s to do with bodies. It’s to do with fundamental beliefs about what women are for and pornography and sex work feed into this."

15 4 / 2014

"

Why can’t you just ‘choose happiness’ like Dolly Parton apparently did? Then be like ‘Haha! You thought I would hate being mansplained to and harassed but actually I love it!’ à la third wave feminists. Who do, let’s admit, seem to have a good time, unlike us bitter radical and intersectional and Marxist feminists.

Our habit of ‘raising consciousness’ about the aforementioned mansplaining and harassement doesn’t look too good in that light. In fact it’s a catch twenty-two situation which reminds me of a point raised by the ever excellent Glosswitch in a post about corrective/ coercive violence against children (or ‘smacking‘). I’m probably the only one of my siblings who would admit to thinking it did do me harm but it’s not like I lost a leg or anything, I can’t prove the harm was done by the smacking. So I’m just harmed. Damaged goods, you might say. Why listen to what I have to say about it as compared to the whole, unharmed people? Whose very existence, of course, disproves the idea that smacking and other forms of corrective/ coercive violence are inherently or even usually harmful.

Maybe I’m just holding a harmful value, objecting to social structures which uphold dynamics of corrective/ coercive violence against the relatively powerless by the relatively powerful (I’m not just talking about smacking here). If that value is the differentiating factor between me and other people in more or less the same circumstances, and I’m the only one who’s harmed, then somehow, perversely, that is the case.

I am a minority of one, holding an unexpectedly harmful value. I just don’t feel like a lunatic.

Which is why I’m thankful that I know so many other minorities of one. And that we have access to such perverse amounts of gin and each other, even if all too often only via the internet.

"

13 4 / 2014

"

What’s defined as ‘sex positive feminism’ tends to translate to: non-critical of the sex industry, BDSM, burlesque, and generally, anything that can be related to ‘sex’. ‘Non-judgement’ is the mantra espoused by so-called ‘sex-positive feminists’, which is troubling because it ends up framing critical thought and discourse as ‘judgement’ and therefore negative. Since I tend to see critical thinking as a good thing, the ‘don’t judge me’/’don’t say anything critical about sex because it’s sex and therefore anything goes’ thing doesn’t sit well with me.

'Sex negative', on the other hand, tends to be ascribed to feminists who are critical of prostitution, pornography, strip clubs, burlesque, BDSM and, really, sex and sexuality as defined by patriarchy and men. The reason that feminists are critical of these things is because they want to work towards a real, liberated, feminist understanding of sex and sexuality, rather than one that sexualizes inequality, domination and subordination, is male-centered, and is harmful and exploitative of women. To me, that sounds far more 'sex positive' (from a feminist perspective, anyway), than blind support for anything sex-related, because sex.

"

02 4 / 2014

Obligatory Eventual Post about Periods

Ah periods.  Some girls just can’t shut up about them can they?  We all know the type, the type who likes to prove she’s not a respectable bourgeoise white girl, fuck your social conventions and expectations of me, this one time I walked around for a whole day with bloodstains all down my skirt!

Obligatory Eventual Post about Periods

Ah periods.  Some girls just can’t shut up about them can they?  We all know the type, the type who likes to prove she’s not a respectable bourgeoise white girl, fuck your social conventions and expectations of me, this one time I walked around for a whole day with bloodstains all down my skirt!

29 3 / 2014

19 2 / 2014

"

Doesn’t everyone know that once you stop being a proper woman (which an unabashed lesbian feminist definitely is not) and start insisting on being a person, men will stop loving you?

Yeah, that is the conventional wisdom but at this point I kind of think ‘meh’ to that. If I’m going to be loved, I want to be loved as a person.

Feminism literally is ‘the radical notion that women are people’ and exists in the first place because society at large doesn’t seem to agree. One of the most obvious symptoms of that sad fact is male identification in women ourselves (I don’t know how far it goes in genderqueer and non-binary experiences). There’s an awesome, very accessible article here, on the importance of woman identification instead, because male identification is basically just a fancy term for thinking that everything needs to be validated by men in order to be valid at all. As though women and how we feel about stuff didn’t count. As though we weren’t really people.

The threat that men will stop loving you is a powerful one in this kind of context, one where men give everything its value – especially because that everything includes ourselves.

But love and value aren’t the same. If you’re valued but can’t give value then it’s like you’re an object. Your value is in fact a price – ‘can be exchanged for’ kind of thing. You can’t love an object, something that can’t feel back – that’s called a fetish. Fuck being fetishised.

Which is obviously easier said than done. I won’t lie, whenever I’ve gone and lost myself some exchange value in the eyes of men who don’t actually love me – by, say, displaying sexual agency thus proving that I’m not an object – I’ve been tempted to compensate by turning on the submissive feminine charm next time I see them. But I strive to one day just say ‘and look at all the fucks I don’t give’ with an expansive gesture.

I do feel that I’m one step closer to achieving that aim by having made a conscious decision to pursue sexual and romantic relationships with women as opposed to with men.

"

14 2 / 2014

13 2 / 2014

"

The ‘empowered or demeaned?’ game is of course a familiar one. It’s one of those media bastardisations of feminism that ends up reinforcing the dehumanising extremes it claims to avoid. Are you empowered – a tits out, up for it, ball-breaking capitalist – or demeaned – a prudish, frigid, man-hating victim? Are you taking ownership of your life, busting out of the strictures that confine you, or are you standing back, watching while sexism is done to you? There’s no question, really, as to whether or not Barbie, or Page Three, or rape porn, or unpaid labour count as ‘objectively’ empowering or demeaning. It’s all a state of mind. The impression is that you get to choose. There is no such thing as structural oppression. Feminist critique is no longer a challenge to patriarchy; it’s a personal statement. I am empowered, or, I am demeaned.

That there are other ways of being – other ways of responding to images of womanhood – seems to be long forgotten. Are the women in the Blurred Lines video empowered or demeaned? If you question the ethics of this form of representation, are you personally responsible for demeaning those involved? Is a positive attitude all that’s needed to transform women’s experiences of their lives in relation to men? If, in the end, we find womanhood demeaning, can we each simply think our own way out of it? I am not really a woman, not like the other women. I don’t find Barbie demeaning. I don’t find subordination demeaning. I don’t find exclusion demeaning. This kind of thinking becomes an aspiration, a personal triumph. Feminism is not about overcoming oppression, it’s about teaching yourself not to ‘feel’ oppressed.

"

12 2 / 2014

"Internet feminism is fraught not because women cannot support one another. It is fraught because it is not a safe space. We still need the approval of heterosexual men. We don’t want to be ‘the wrong kind of feminist’, one who likes women too much and sucks dick too little (hence the rampant lesophobia of the most right-on masses). We want to be able to blame ‘the wrong kind of feminist’ for everything, from slut-shaming to transphobia to the murder of sex workers. This has no bearing on reality but it makes feminism appear a far easier enterprise. Kick other women and nothing else needs to change."