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{December 1, 2010}   Pet peeve

You know what I hear all the time that’s good, but unrealistic and therefore not helpful, advice? (Not given to me, but advice being given to someone else.)

“If you can’t talk about it, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

This is about as sensible (and realistic) as, “If you don’t want to get pregnant, you shouldn’t be having sex.”

1. I don’t want to get pregnant.

2. I’m NOT going to stop having sex.

 

1. I have a hell of a time talking about sex.

2. I’m NOT going to stop having sex.

3. I’m not going to talk about sex unless I’m having, or preparing to have, sex.

4. Most of the time, this advice is given to people with issues or teenagers.

5. A teenager is not going to not have sex just because they’re too embarrassed to talk about it, therefore, this advice is unrealistic and unhelpful.

6. Unless someone doesn’t talk about sex because of trauma that lands them in therapy, they’re not going to talk about it until they’re planning on having it.

7.  (From what I can tell) most people talk about sex and learn to talk about sex in the process of having sex.

 

This piece of advice really pisses me off. I mean, in large part I know it pisses me off because it’s threatening to me: I had a hard time talking about sex. I knew that the only way I was going to get over that was to like someone enough to want to have sex, and then talk to them about it. I also knew I wasn’t going to sit down and chat with someone about it until it came up because we wanted to do it, and in that case I wasn’t going to sit and chat about it, I was going to bring it up as needed, in the moment. If I were to follow this advice, I would A) never have sex and B) never learn to talk about sex because I was never HAVING sex. Plus, I could talk about sex in the abstract, I just couldn’t talk about sex when it came down to, “I like that/Pet me there/Etc” so it’s not like I could sit and discuss sex in general and get over this problem. If I followed this advice, which is incredibly prevalent, I’d be celibate.

See? Threatening to me.

Also, as I said before, most often this advice is given to teenagers. Do you REALLY think they’re going to be celibate because they can’t talk about it? Sheeya, right.

Anyway. Yeah. Done ranting now. ;-D

J



{November 23, 2010}   Things I Hate #357834

I saw this on The Femme’s Guide (see sidebar):

Try flirting heavily with a feminine, woman-identified person that you encounter and admire. If she refuses your attentions on the basis of being straight, you might try a line like, “Oh, wow…it’s just that you look so queer. Your ___________ and your ___________ and the way you walk and everything. My mistake.”

I suppose it’s supposed to be cute, reversing the ‘I’m sorry, I thought you were straight because…’ line, but… well, I hate it when people assume straightness on me (or assume I like femme women, which I actually get a lot more despite dating Q).  I mean, they’re essentially arguing with my gender presentation and/or sexual orientation, or at best they’re telling me I’m presenting wrong. It’s not cool.

If I don’t like it when someone does it on me, I don’t think it’s okay to turn it around and do it to someone else. Tempting, sure, because maybe if I did it to them they’d understand — but that particular person probably hasn’t done it to me, and telling someone they’re presenting themselves wrong if they’re trying to present as not-queer (which they’d be dong, if I’m standing there telling them that all these things seemed queer) is really… well… hurtful. I guess I feel like, just because it happens to me doesn’t mean I should do it to someone else.

I suppose I could look at this less melodramatically, and say, “They’ll just assume I mean that it’s about me, why I misunderstood.” And maybe they would. But I do tend to assume the worst case scenario, and go from there. (Plus, ‘less melodramatic’ isn’t in my vocabulary at the moment; I’m PMSing. ;-D)

J



{October 25, 2010}   Things Lezzies Don’t Tell You

When they gave me my Lesbian Green Card (Bi Now, Gay Later!), part of the propaganda was, “Don’t worry, you and your lady friend will cycle together so you only have to deal with periods and PMS once a month, even though there are two of you!”

LIARS.

Q warned me, when we started dating, that she tended to pull people to her cycle. My body, however, is apparently as bull-headed as my mind, and promptly went, “Try it, beeyoch!” What proceeded was a Battle of the Bodily Cycles unlike any that has ever been seen.

There still hasn’t been a conclusion. People, we’ve been dating for SEVEN MONTHS. Wait, let me count.  EIGHT MONTHS. Once upon a time, eight months ago, my cycle was like clockwork. Every four weeks, I would spot a bit around Monday and Tuesday, stop Wednesday, a little bit on Thursday, and start my period Thursday night (typically between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.). The only thing that changed was how long my period lasted (3-5 days) and occasionally I’d spot Wednesday or stop spotting Monday or Tuesday, instead.

This month, on the other hand, I started spotting heavily two weeks ago… stopped… started again last Monday… stopped… didn’t spot at all until last night, when I suddenly started BLEEDING ZOMG.

I am not impressed. The worst part is that I can’t even say, “Well, at least Q and I are on the same schedule so we can have three weeks of blood-free sex,” because her period ended several days ago! AGH. (The good news is, that’s what towels are for.) (Ha ha, I’m totally pointing and laughing at you people who just got grossed out.) (This has to be good for something, after all.)

Humph. I bought chocolate graham cracker goldfish, and Q is going to make me hot toddies. I suppose that while that doesn’t make up for it, it at least makes it better. 😉

J



{May 14, 2010}   Argumentative shut-downs

So. I’ve been reading blogs and comments pages and things, and something I’ve noticed is how, somehow, argumentative shut-downs seem to work. Now, that’s the point of an argumentative shut-down: to shut down the conversation. To shut the other person up. They’re used when a topic is uncomfortable to the person in societal privilege. So, for instance, it’s used by men toward women.  By white people toward people of color. By straight people to gay people. By gay people to trans* people. By gender normative people to gender queer people. By able-bodied people to disabled people, by young people to old people, by pretty people to ugly people, by skinny people to heavy people, and so on FOREVER.

Recently, I learned a lot about argument shut-downs because I had a friend involved in Race!Fail, and she, lovely person that she is, taught us about racist arguments and attitudes and things, and BOY DID I LEARN A LOT. Including things about privilege and how to spot when someone is using a shut-down. Which I have seen frequently in the butch-femme blogs of late.

I was going to post a handy-dandy list of how to spot a shut-down, but instead I’m going to provide you with an awesome link:

DERAILING FOR DUMMIES

Everyone should go read it! Not only does it get the point across, it’s also hilarious. That said, I’m still going to talk about the shut-downs I’ve seen most often. (I’m not nearly as funny as the Derailing for Dummies guy, though.)

1. The Tone Argument.

We all know it. It goes something like this: “I am not responding to the rest of your patronizing comment. You clearly do not engage with respect.” Is this true? Absolutely, could be. But mostly, it’s a way to stop arguing, used by people in power. See, here’s the thing: if the person who holds the privileged viewpoint cannot be proven wrong, they are then right. Theirs is the privileged viewpoint. If they refuse to argue, they cannot be proven wrong — and so they win the argument. This is the tone argument, because they’re not refuting anything that the other person has said: they’re saying, “I don’t like that tone of voice, young lady. I’m not speaking to you anymore.” It’s condescending, belittling, and gets someone out of an argument they don’t like without having to actually think about whatever it is they’re uncomfortable with. Another example is one I actually wrote: “[…] when people aren’t used to reading things in capitals it doesn’t come across as emphasis but rather as screaming, attacking, and/or condescension.” While I wasn’t stopping the argument there (and therefore it’s not really the tone argument), I was suggesting the tone might be modified. I’m pointing this out so you can practice noticing! If you see something like this when someone IS stopping the argument, it’s the tone argument.

2. Why Should We Talk About Your Pain? I’m Privileged: Let’s Talk About Mine!

The most easily identifiable form of this argument is actually a sexist one. Imagine, for a moment, you’re a woman standing in a group talking about the problems with women being raped. Someone walks up and says, “But men get raped, too!” This has COMPLETELY derailed the conversation. Is it true? Yes! But it’s not the topic. What it’s done is shift the topic from something that makes the privileged class — men — uncomfortable, and back onto discussing the privileged class — men. Another example is if a butch were discussing whether or not other butches considered a dildo a sex toy. If someone were to come in at this point and discuss whether or not he was comfortable with anyone but a biomale using the term cock, and how it upset him, this is a derailment. It’s taking a conversation by those who do not have privilege, and turning it back to focus once more on the privileged gender. It says, in short, “I know this is your safe space, but I dislike that the focus is not on privilege, that it threatens privilege by not deferring to it right now, and so I am going to insist that your safe space still acknowledge that my privilege is more important.” Is it totally understandable for someone to dislike that cock is no longer a male-only term? Absolutely. This is just not the time or place to be talking about that. In fact, since most conversations center around how gender normal people feel, interrupting a conversation among gender queer people to talk again about gender normal people is never okay, unless it’s invited.

Let’s have another one, shall we?

3. The I’m Not Talking About You Personally Argument.

Imagine, for a moment, I went to my friend Maelie‘s blog. She’s an AWESOME webcomic artist (free pimping! Check out tentative.net for her comics! SciFi, Fantasy, and one about a girl who runs away from the circus, ohyes). Now imagine I hung around there, reading about how much she likes webcomics, commenting on this, that, and the other thing. Then one day I get in a discussion with someone else in her comments, and in this discussion I say, “In fact, I think it’s Wrong to draw webcomics. I think that’s a sign of deep disrespect for yourself.” If Maelie were upset about this, would she have every right to be? HELL YES. I’ve just gone into her home and insulted her way of living. However, people who use this argument follow it up with something along the lines of, “I didn’t mean you personally, Maelie. I wasn’t trying to disrespect you.” Whether or not I was trying to disrespect her, it is extremely rude. In fact, it is a violation of her safe space, the same way it would be a violation to walk into her house and attack her emotionally in some way. “But I didn’t mean you personally!” This does not make it any better. If I say, “I hate black people,” to my black friend, and then say, “But I don’t mean you,” that does not make it okay. Furthermore, it takes a safe space — a space where people feel free to talk about webcomics — and makes it unsafe.

This brings us to two more arguments!

3. Intention Argument.

“My intention wasn’t to hurt you!” “My intention wasn’t to disrespect you!” Since no one can tell what someone’s intention is, since none of us are mind readers, intention really doesn’t matter. “I didn’t mean to upset you.” This doesn’t really matter. Between friends, sure, it can make a difference. But it is NOT an excuse. Plus, if someone has just pulled a, “I hate webcomics” in a webcomics space, half a second’s worth of thought would have told them that it would hurt people, no matter what their intention was. If they say, “I don’t think butches should use ‘he’, I think it is bad and disrespectful” in a femme-butch community, it doesn’t matter if the intention is to hurt butches: it’s obvious that statement is going to hurt someone, and therefore disrespectful in the extreme to say it.

4. But This Is A Public Space!

The argument has been made that if you put something on your personal blog, it is then in public space. Like a lot of these kinds of arguments, while it is true in technicality, it isn’t true in the unspoken social codes. If someone says this, they are generally arguing to be allowed to beat you up. After all, you put it in a public space. This is bullshit. This is, in fact, a blaming-the-victim argument. I do not ask to be raped by wearing a short skirt, nor do I ask to be verbally brutalized by putting things online. In fact, a personal blog is more than anything a safe space, and should be treated accordingly. Any time you go into anyone’s community, you should act accordingly — and if you should act accordingly, then if someone comes into your community, they should act accordingly!

5. Insults

These are most effective when they are not completely insulting, when they can tread the line so the author can say, “Oh, I was just kidding!” Example: “you’re being a hall monitor. Again.” This shuts down the conversation, and if it doesn’t work right off the bat, they can continue by saying something like, “I don’t like your tone. I was only kidding, but now you’re yelling at me!” when the person gets offended! In fact, this particular quote is extra insulting. The ‘again’ implies ‘you’ are always a hall monitor, as well as adding a great level of condescension; the implication being that the speaker has had to tell you before, because the speaker is obviously in charge of who gets to be the hall monitor, and furthermore that the speaker doesn’t appreciate having to remind you of your manners — like an adult to a child.

6. Shutting Someone Out.

This is most simply done when you tell someone they must be silent for the conversation. There’s a brilliant quote, in fact: “I wasn’t talking to you personally or asking you personally to explain yourself. It was a general question.” So, in effect — anyone can answer it, except you.

I couldn’t make this shit up.

7. You Are Only Saying That Because Society Has Taught You That And You Don’t Know It!

As a femme, I get this sadly frequently (usually spoken so I can’t quote anything, dammit. It’s so much more fulfilling when I can quote something. ;-D). For instance, “You only like butch women because society has taught you to like masculinity.” And when I counter with, “No, actually, I like butch women because I like butch women,” the response is, “You just don’t know you’re repressed by the patriarchy.” (This is also something I get for liking girly clothes, painted nails, and something my sister gets for enjoying cooking and domesticity.) It’s impossible to argue with someone who insists that your every motive is due to being repressed, only you can’t tell. This also takes away any ability of someone to claim they know themselves, it says the privileged person knows them better and knows what’s better for them, and infantilises them. (It drives me CRAZY.)

There’s a really simple rule of thumb I learned when I was embroiled in the Prop 8 arguments: re-phrase it to something ridiculous (webcomics) or something hot-button (racism). Is it patently ludicrous/offensive? Then you’re in the right to haul someone up by their short and curlies and tell them to knock it off. Now, some people enjoy the debate and hearing other viewpoints even when it includes this sort of thing, and I try my very best not to step into those blogs if the blogger hasn’t expressed displeasure. (It’s also sometimes hard to see in your own blog, as in a discussion that went bad here and I let go on too long.) I’m just… not one of them. 😉

J



et cetera