The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 2 February 27, 2010

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 1 found here.

Note: I briefly had this post under password protection, as it dealt with some personal/intimate details and feelings. If you read the post and have strong opinions on whether or not it should be publicly published, please drop me a line in the comments (I can delete your comment after if you want).

[trigger warning]

This is a continuation of the sentiments expressed in the other day’s post, Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex). In it, I describe how when I was younger, I assumed pretty much any sexual media to be “sex-positive” and empowering, as some sort of “take that!” to the social conservative, decidedly sex-negative movement. I conflated objectification and rape apologism with empowerment and sexual freedom and agency, in part because none of the former words were in my vocabulary at the time. I discussed how the lack of feminist terminology in popular discourse, or the misunderstanding of same, leads to the phenomenon of all criticism of pornography, etc. being labeled as prudish and anachronistic, and had I realized that at least some of the criticism was based on ideas I would actually agreed with, I would have come to certain realizations much earlier.

Today, I’m going to discuss more thoughts about sex I had at that age and how they were influenced by popular culture and education, so this is your fair warning to leave if it’s something you’d rather not hear about (Hi, Mommy!).

When I was a teenager, one of the paramount themes in representations and discussions of relationships was sexual intimacy (shocker, I know). I was lucky enough not to be in an area of the country or religion where abstinence-only sex education or purity pledges abound, but the impressions I got were still mixed, at best. In discussions with health teachers, other adults, friends, and of course almost all popular media, the following messages were disseminated:

  • Teenage boys are the horniest creatures on the planet. They are perpetually masturbating, or thinking about it, and this is both completely acceptable and very funny. In almost no situation can a teenage boy control his sex drive, whether this means becoming aroused at an inappropriate times or trying to “get” sexual activity from a hesitant (female) partner.
  • Teenage girls are boy-crazy, but any sexual contact with said boys is a result of peer pressure. The vast majority of girls don’t masturbate, which is why any discussion of it is both rare and considered much more”shocking”. Teenage girls can’t control their emotions and fall hopelessly in love with boys at the drop of a hat, which leaves them vulnerable to being “made” to do something they’d rather not (have sex). This is not a funny thing in the same way that boys humping apple pies is, but the girls aren’t pitied very much either, because as the possessors of a lower libido they are the Designated Kill Switch for any teenage sexual activity, which is universally considered to be bad unless we’re just talking about boys having sex with nameless figures, in which case it’s cool and funny. Any girl who fails to properly control her boy’s sexual urges is to be blamed and shamed; any indication that she might have actually invited or (gasp!) wanted said sexual activity should lead to even more blaming and shaming. The terms “fast”, “loose”, “easy”, “whore”, and “slut” should be employed whenever describing a girl that someone thinks might have wanted sex, or had sex, or been “made” to have sex, and are universally acknowledged as the worst things a girl could ever be.

People were not entirely without sympathy for the female half of the population, though. We also received frequent admonitions and instructions on how and why we should “resist” our potential boyfriends’ inevitable (and inevitably unwelcome) sexual advances. I remember distinct moments in health class, for example, where we all discussed what we would say if our boyfriend told us “you would [have sex] if you loved me” – the proper response was “if you loved me, you wouldn’t make me”. A boy who is trying to have sex with a girl who doesn’t want to (pretty much all sexual activity was assumed to fall into this category) is inconsiderate and not a nice person, and it might even be good for you two to have a Serious Discussion About Your Feelings, but breaking up with a boy who was pressuring you into sex was a last resort (don’t want to be a prude! And all boys are gonna do it anyway, so do you really want to be alone?). (more…)

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No One Cares September 29, 2009

[Trigger warning]

You know, you can think and write about patriarchy and rape culture and misogyny all day long until you think you’ve really got a handle on it, and all it takes is for someone to come along and give you a swift kick in the pants for everything to go completely to pot and you have to start all over again.

See, here’s the thing. Women are trained to fear rape. A lot. It’s something that women take completely for granted – it’s expected! – but that nobody who hasn’t lived as one can ever fully understand.

Don’t walk alone at night! Don’t get drunk in public places! Don’t wear revealing clothing! Don’t take a drink from someone you don’t know! Take self-defense classes! Walk confidently! Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail! Hold your keys in your fist so as to have a makeshift stabby implement to gouge out your attacker’s eyes! Don’t park next to big vans! Don’t sleep around with a lot of boys!

Yadda yadda yadda. One of the most chilling things we can realize is that rape is every bit as common as we were told it was – if not more – but that doing all those preventative measures really doesn’t do shit. Because by telling women that as long as we follow all of those rules – ALL of them – we’ll be safe, we lull ourselves into a false sense of security. Anxious security, of course, because there’s tension between “I’m not supposed to be drinking in public” and “I’m a grown adult who should have every right to do so”, but as long as we follow all. those. rules to the letter, we’re safe. And every time we hear about somebody who was attacked, a lot of people’s first instinct is to analyze the story and see where she went wrong. Was she drinking? Was she wearing a short skirt? Did she go home with somebody she’d just met? Well, there you go! Victim-blaming helps those who aren’t victims yet get on with their lives, because as long as you can pinpoint the “rapeable” behaviors, and keep from doing them – ta-da! Of course, not coincidentally, this also feeds right into the patriarchal narrative of women being responsible for men’s sexuality and not having the right to go around living their lives without running the risk of being assaulted, but hey – as long as we can sleep at night, right? (more…)

 

Our Fearless Leader Speaks (about some things) April 5, 2009

Okay, so Obama has actually made a public statement about that law that stripped away women’s rights in Afghanistan, publicly condemning it while at the G20 conference (via).

I’m glad that he took a firm stance on women’s rights being human rights, and an important thing regardless of one’s culture or religion; only time will tell if his speaking out against the law will actually do any good. Karzai, for his part, has promised to review the law, but to me it doesn’t sound like he’s planning on actually changing anything rather than attempting to cover his ass (emphasis mine).

Karzai did not mention Article 132 [the infamous “marital rape clause”] during a news conference Saturday. But he said he had studied the law earlier in the day and that “I don’t see any problems with it.”

He complained that Western media outlets had mistranslated it [which would imply that the women’s rights issues were exaggerated, except…]. He read an article of the law during the news conference that appears to restrict Shiite women’s right to leave their homes, though Karzai underscored a provision that allows women to leave in emergencies.

Call me a militant feminazi, but if the least misogynistic thing you can say about your new law is that it lets women leave the house when it’s on fire, you’re doing it wrong. (more…)

 

On Appeasement April 1, 2009

Today, we have two recent examples of political appeasement – one in Afghanistan, and one in the United States. In the U.S., Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, who is nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services, has signed into law a bill passed in the Kansas legislature, restricting women’s abortion rights (via).

As far as fetal ultrasound mandates go, I think Twisty says it best:

Because stupid ignorant women apparently don’t have the slightest idea what pregnancy is; they need this vital information, available only through a medical procedure, about what is really going on in their lady-ovens. If they are given the opportunity (i.e. forced) to endure a fetus-screening (”Here’s baby’s precious little beating heart, here’s his adorable little brain stem …”), they will see the error of their ways and comply with the godbag mandate to shut up and be punished for the sin of fornication by incubating to term, followed by a lifetime of child-rearing drudgery.

[…]For a woman seeking an abortion, this weepy ultrasound intervention, like most state and medical interference in private lives, is wildly inappropriate. It’s nothing but pressure to conform by shaming the woman into a culturally-mandated response. No “information” is imparted, only social cues. The only possible rationale behind any […]anti-abortion bill is to make abortion as inconvenient, shaming, and difficult as possible.

(more…)

 

Feminism is an uphill battle January 25, 2009

[Trigger warning]

I should know, by now, not to browse Urban Dictionary. It’s like reading YouTube comments or farting around the Focus On The Family website – just plain masochistic (though the latter can be hilarious!). Alas, though – I wanted to see what the currently-accepted definition of “mustache ride” was (note: it was exactly as I suspected) and happened to glance over to the sidebar:

So I also clicked on "mustache party". You would too.

So I also clicked on "mustache party". You would too.

(more…)