ambergris: (Default)
It strikes me that unquestioning acquiescence and mindless cheerleading are pretty much the exact opposite of the qualities which make effective activists. Or, indeed, useful human beings. (Not of course that people have to be useful, but it's generally better for their self-actualization if they are.)

What I am seeing is this awful dynamic where women who have already been socialised into believing that their own opinions and thought processes are not to be trusted, because hi, that is what bullies and abusers do to people, are being further cowed into not asking questions, not dissenting on even the most minor points, and, I suspect, in a large number of cases (including my own) not saying anything at all. They have to walk on eggshells if they don't want their commenting privileges revoked, and even that may not be enough, because it's in the nature of eggshell-walking that you can never tread lightly enough unless you actually have the power of flight. Which, you know, most humans don't.

I mean, the only two comments I've made there have been met with swift thread-closings, and that's after spending at least half an hour drafting and redrafting them so they actually get published and I don't get banned. And I'm sufficiently paranoid and a sufficiently nuanced writer that I could possibly get another two or three through before my thoughtcrimes were noted and the banhammer fell, but my problem is that I am not often moved to comment by stuff I think is 100% correct and awesome. I am driven to have my say on posts which I don't totally agree with. I am contrary. I am rebellious. I do not have massive amounts of truck with authority. I am too much of a goddamn feminist, is my trouble.

I feel like this would not be a problem if Melissa just quit pretending her site was for anyone other than her and her BFFs. It would make the onerous task of moderation significantly easier if the only people allowed to comment were those who have already been vetted. Obviously one could never be allowed to suggest this because that would be telling Melissa how to run her site and OMG DEHUMANISING! And it might make it harder to get donations.

But now! I am going to unsubscribe, because life is too fucking short to keep obsessing about my exclusion from a party I am no longer interested in attending.
ambergris: (Default)
So I was feeling kind of weirdly triggered by the way that anyone daring to disagree with the slightest aspects of Shakeville's postings on Jacintha Saldanha was getting shut up and sat on and silenced? I don't understand why exactly it is so terrible to point out that Princess Diana had a complex and mutually exploitative relationship with the media, or that Saldanha's identity wasn't actually made public prior to her death (we still don't know anything about the other nurse involved, which is as it should be), or that there was an entire culture of gross 'practical jokes' at the Australian radio station and that maybe it's unfair to put the entire blame upon two individuals, choosing to ignore the environment they were working in and the bosses who remain largely anonymous and unhounded by the media. Anything that doesn't directly serve the 'pranks are evil' agenda must be hushed immediately. Yeah, the 'pranks are evil' agenda is important. But so is a lot of other stuff, like how economic conditions in the UK forced Jacintha Saldanha to live and work away from the support of her family, or how catastrophically Westerners fail to understand Asian concepts of shame and losing face, or how the international media really needs to get over its inexplicable and occasionally fatal obsession with a bunch of random posh people who sometimes get married and have babies.

And I realised, that if those things were not safe to say, there was no way on earth I would ever be able to express my reservations about bullying the bullies, or assuming them incapable of experiencing sincere regret, or the appropriateness of calling them 'shameless dirtbags' when you have just been talking about how abuse can kill people. Because, you know, white people who work in the media and have a proven deficiency of empathy obviously have no triggers whatsoever and can take whatever is thrown at them.

And then I thought: whoa, you have been considering yourself not good enough for a space where it is not even safe to say that bullying is not OK. A space where they are fundamentally uninterested in anything anyone else has to say. The china shop is an echo chamber. It's not about you being an elephant. It's about you not being a mirror.

Which is fair enough, because I don't get to dictate the terms on which other people choose to blog. But I am kind of angry with myself for letting myself be cowed by it. Making myself feel inadequate because the straitjacket didn't fit.
ambergris: (Default)
tw: rape apologism, misogyny )
ambergris: (Default)
and I don't know why they're hinting I didn't read their comment policy etc. in the comment immediately after it. Maybe they're not aiming that specifically at me, maybe it's just standard-issue social anxiety-related paranoia. It's hard to tell whether you're genuinely being shunned or whether you just assume you are because you're so used to it happening.

Anyway...

I am profoundly grateful that my invisibility has spared me harassment and assault (most of the time, anyway; when I do get jeered at it's always by teenage boys who seem mortally offended that I do strange things like wearing winter coats in winter.)

But I used to wish that there was some kind of switch I could throw so that I could be visible to people I found attractive while remaining invisible to the rest of the world. It makes me sad that avoiding unwelcome attention also deprived me of attention that would have been welcome. And sometimes I've even wondered how I can be a feminist when I'm not perceived as a woman, and therefore have trouble perceiving myself as a woman, and am not affected by most of the issues which affect women. It feels kind of appropriative, like I don't have a right to complain about things I'm lucky enough not to have to deal with, however sad and angry I am that other people have to deal with them.


I had more to say, about how sometimes I wonder whether I'm really demi or whether I just got so screwed up by years of being read as asexual that I started to think I must be, because, really, how can everyone you meet be wrong about something like that?

But then I remembered I have a blog for that.

losing it

Feb. 19th, 2010 02:44 am
ambergris: (Default)
If you poke around Scarleteen for a bit you will find plenty of cogently argued explanations of why virginity is an inherently heterosexist and patriarchal concept that makes zero sense in twenty-first century Western culture. If this site had been around when I was, say, nineteen, it would have spared me several years of figuring this out for myself.

Instead, the label of virgin was a millstone around my neck. Oh, it's not that it was something that was generally known or talked about. That was partly why it was a millstone. Part of me wanted to be out, to be visible; to point out 'hang on, we still exist, and it would be cool if you acknowledged our existence beyond groups of American teenagers wearing silver rings.' But mostly, I thought it was nobody else's freaking business. It seemed odd to be defined by something you hadn't done. I mean, there are so many things I haven't done, most of them having far more impact on my everyday life than not having had sex. Like driving a car, or smoking, or getting a full-time job, or buying a house.

I was possibly groping towards a concept of asexuality when I wrote, some years ago: 'I am a virgin in the same way that other people are straight or gay'. Obviously this statement makes no sense because you're not comparing like with like. 'Virgin' isn't a sexual orientation, it is a statement about something that you haven't done. Our culture is sort of hazy about what exactly it is that you haven't done, but it's generally assumed to be penis-in-vagina penetration (or vagina-around-penis envelopment, to be slightly less androcentric).

But then, I don't think I was trying to make a statement about my orientation. I didn't have issues with my orientation. I was straight. This was slightly disappointing for a young feminist who'd read enough 70s-era theory to believe that the practice of penis-in-vagina sex might be inherently oppressive (as well as aesthetically unpleasing) yet also wished to maintain her liberal credentials by being totally cool with all shades of sexuality. Sadly, I just didn't fancy girls. I thought girls were cool and breasts were pretty and nearly all women were much nicer to look at than nearly all men, but the idea of kissing them left me totally cold.

So, boringly enough, I was firmly on the heterosexual side of the spectrum. But I did wonder whether my eternal virginity might qualify me as queer. It was certainly a marginalised state that I didn't feel able to talk about, one that might lead people to judge and discriminate against me, one that wasn't 'normal'.

I was looking to define myself by what I (wasn't) doing, rather than according to who I was. My orientation itself was basically irrelevant. Did it actually matter to which sex I was attracted, when the fact that I wasn't having sex, had never had sex, and would never have sex had more impact upon the way I saw myself and the world around me? The aspect of my sexuality which put me in a minority was, unsurprisingly enough, a lot more influential than the one which put me in a majority. And the only word I could find for it was 'virgin'.

The trouble with 'virgin', apart from the fact that any definition of the word falls apart as soon as you look at it, is that a virgin is what you are before you have 'sex'. It assumes a before and after that doesn't exist for everyone. About the only thing the label has going for it is that it doesn't imply a deliberate choice the way that 'celibate' does. Nor does it suggest you didn't have a choice, the way that identifying as asexual might. It leaves the question of volition wide open.

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October 2013

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