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While we’re on the subject of analogies about rape….

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So this. 

 

And oh good god, didn’t we have this conversation before? Like, forever, always?

And I know we’ve covered how rape is not like robbery, because oh hey, people are not objects.

 

So you know, here’s an analogy: Rape is to sex as dancing is to boxing. Now before anyone gets all BOXING ISN’T RAPE OMG, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying boxing isn’t dancing, and rape isn’t sex. OK? OK.

See, they superficially resemble each other-

But they really aren’t like each other at all.

Sometimes, dancing resembles boxing:

Sometimes, boxing (and variants thereof) resembles dancing:

But they aren’t the same.

It puzzles me, the way that nobody seems to ever confuse boxing and dancing,they way the confuse rape and sex. Boxing may require many of the same movements as dancing, but the intent is not the same

Sex is a co-operative endeavor, even if you’re having sex with yourself.  Not that I should need to write this, but, to say the least , rape is not a co-operative endeavor.

And that is why rape is not about sex. Just because the water is the same color as the sky does not mean you can breathe it.

Rape is not about sexual desire, because sexual desire is in no small part about mutual, co-operative desire. Rape is about the desire for power, not the desire for sex.

There is so much evidence of  this that I don’t even know why we’re still having this conversation, as a species.

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Having completed many important things, I am now eating yogurt. I am the URWOMAN.

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I have never made this face for yogurt. Ever.

 

 

But I’m not laughing, ya’ll, so I’ve still got my feminist street cred. But seriously, Greek yogurt is delicious.

I’m in a better mood than when I last blogged, because I’ve taken care of (I hope) some debt related trouble. Like many other people, the combination of health problems and the tanking economy as well as a really shitty ex boyfriend who I shouldn’t have trusted, has tanked my finances. There was a time when Pepper had AAA credit, oh yes. Ha ha ha ha it seems like a dream!

Those were the halcyon days of 2007.

Now I have a shitload of defaults, and I’m trying my best to clean it up. I’m not proud of this, but I also don’t see much point in being ashamed or acting like I’m the only person in the history of life that has ever been unable to pay all of their bills on time. In fact, having worked in collections, I know damn well I’m not.

I really have to be conscientious about not viewing my debt as a moral failing. I am not a bad person. Nobody is suffering because I defaulted on a half paid off credit card. In terms of scale, not counting my mortgage or student loan debt, and oh god how I enjoy not counting those, I owe less than 10,000 dollars.

I realize that talking about money and debt is gauche. But I think that it’s a kind of secret that leads to profound self hatred. I don’t have a bad relationship with my body. We’re ok. I accept my body. But I have to fight to accept my circumstances as they are, accept that I’m doing the best I can with limited income, and not hate myself.

Part of this, I think is all of the rhetoric around making good choices, which effectively erases privilege from the equation. I made the choices I did, and took on the debts I did, for a variety of reasons, some noble, some stupid. Mostly it was so I could eat, buy books and gasoline for my 22 miles daily commute and pay utilities to get through college.

I am unapologetic about the fact that I will not live off of rice and beans and ramen to satisfy anyone. I lived that way throughout most of my teen years, and I won’t do it again. If you consider that a poor choice, and think that I ought to be scraping the pot of hominy and pinto beans while nobly darning my ragged socks, you can kindly go ahead and try it.

I remind myself that I will only live once, and only for a short time. I won’t regret dying in debt, if that’s what happens, and it probably will– but I will regret all of the good food I never cooked  for myself.

I just had the impulse to justify, to publicly flagellate myself and humbly explain that this doesn’t mean I’m spending every paycheck on gold leaf covered truffles- but you know what? If that’s what you think I’m doing, because you assume that the poor are just stupid animals who frivolously buy shit they don’t need instead of eating cold canned tomatoes in the dark to save electricity, you need to  really question those ideas.

There is no magic series of choices that anyone can make to save themselves from hardship of one kind or another. There are privileges, and for the privileged they are generally invisible. They are “good choices”– being born into a solidly middle or upper class family who can bail you out if you get yourself a little too deep in, is luck. That is not a choice.

I’ve had plenty of help along the way. If I hadn’t had the help I’ve had, in fact, I would be homeless, or perhaps in the advanced stages of cancer. That is amazing luck. I wish that the people who think that they have made good choices would acknowledge the element of pure serendipity involved in their position.

As for the rest of us, all we can do is push back against the rhetoric of both the noble poor and the animal poor. Refusing to hate yourself is a radical act of subversion against the kyriarchy, which expects and needs us all to hate ourselves for one reason or another or preferably all of them. I refuse to hate myself today.

 

This Post Brought to you by Viognier

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“It’s been months since I last wrote. I’ve lived in a state of mental slumber, leading the life of someone else. I’ve felt, very often, a vicarious happiness. I haven’t existed. I’ve been someone else. I’ve lived without thinking.”
― Fernando PessoaThe Book of Disquiet“ 

MMmmmm Viognier

 

So.

 

I’ve been silent. Absent? Silent. I haven’t had a thing to say. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to tired, or too busy. But really, maybe I’ve been too angry. I’ve been working, at a job that uses none of my talents, except a talent for schmoozing tourists.

It’s been getting to me, this feeling that I am visibly poor, of the poor classes, that I will always be poor, and that everyone I see and talk to, can smell the poverty on me.

I know how to be poor, with a decent facsimile of not-poor manners. Unless you get too close. My teeth are bad. My nails are bad. My skin is bad. I’m shabby.

I’d like to return to blogging in a blaze of glorious righteous wit, but instead I’m grimly pushing words out between my figurative teeth. Spitting nails.

I’m half a bottle of Viognier down, which tastes like eternal springtime, like sucking the nectar from sweet clover flowers as a child in Seattle, of daisies and the neighbor man’s roses and green fig tree leaves- if it weren’t for that, I’m not sure I could write anything at all.

I’m not unlucky, I’ve been lucky as hell. I have family that loves me. I have a husband that loves me, and friends that love me. I have a job, which is more than a lot of people can say.

I believe in the degree I finished, but I can’t afford to pay my university bill to get my diploma. I can’t afford to apply for grad school.

I have a restless longing for someplace other than here, and a sinking feeling that everywhere is here. I’m curled in like a fist. I’m tired like a bit of plastic sheet lying half out of a dumpster.

I’m tired of feeling as though I made some cosmic choice to be born poor, as though I ever held a good hand to play. The only thing I’m playing into is a lie. But it’s enough to make me bite my own tail off, feeling small and weak and stupid and ugly and silent.

I’m not pleading for anyone to tell me I’m a genius. I’m just pleading for a chance to do something that makes me feel like I have a little worth.

it’s so selfish, I know. We’re all drowning, right?

All the protests in the street I’ve been waiting for are here, and I can’t stop myself, a little nasty part of myself from wanting to spit on the beautiful smooth white boys, smooth as milk glass, spouting socialist talking points in their scruffy facial hair, with their 80,000 dollar degrees from Auburn and Columbia, with their nice parents, and their nice warm houses.

Come down to where I’ve lived, hungry and smelling of fear and sawdust and dog shit. Come down, my wide open mouthed laugh will show where my jaw is partly missing because I waited so long to get my wisdom teeth removed, and the scars of acne that will never go away, and my dimpled thighs and my scarred hands.

Come down to my heavy arms, these arms of a peasant, come and hitch me to a plow, and let me be bovine, simple and peaceful, uncomplaining, unthinking.

I’ve been too bitter to write, too tautly wound to make sense of anything. I want to be pleased that there is at last some movement, but instead it’s a crazy laugh that goes skittering like a water bug, to think that now, now, hipster boys, pretty thin white boys, you’re passionate, you’re engaged. We’ve been here all the time, me and the ones who have it worse than me. Worse than I’ve ever seen, or felt, or imagined.

I’m trying. I’m trying to find something to say that isn’t invective.

 

 

 

 

 

For Norway

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I don’t know what to say to things like this. I remember watching the coverage of the Oklahoma city bombing as a child, and how senseless and awful it all was. This is senseless and awful. This is all of the things I hate and fear the most, and wish would never have to happen again. This is why feminism and socialism must persist– if we were not slowly and steadily changing things for the better, anti-feminists and fascists would not be so disturbed by the progress being made.

Even writing that seems hard, and wrong, as if maybe capitulating, shutting up, sitting down, giving up, would be acceptable if they could promise that no one else would die. But then I know that it’s never enough. There is not enough surrender to make people like that stop wanting to hurt anyone who is not like them. They may even believe that there is some theoretical point of absolute debasement that would satisfy them, but history and the unnamed victims of patriarchy and colonization, of unchecked capitalism and imperialism are always there to remind us that there is no satisfaction for men like Anders Behring Breivik, because what they are afraid of, what they hate, is in themselves.

So I know that there is no salvation from this kind of violence in surrender to it.

What I don’t know is how to balance the demands of a civil society, with tolerance and openness and fairness and democracy, against the need to isolate and excoriate these kinds of ideas, which follow a predictable path to terrible violence again and again.

At what point do we start making note of the correlative relationship between misogyny and violence, between misogyny and authoritarianism, between authoritarianism and inequality– at what point do we decide to teach children about these things, to use our social power to shame these ideas into silence, because they are bad ideas, and they corrupt the people who hold them.

How many times? How much time?

It is no great shock to me that a person so severely misogynist, so seriously racist, would target children. I believe that the otherness and weakness people like that see in themselves is projected onto whoever is “othered” by society, but enacted against whoever is most vulnerable. It’s the same logic that causes people to agitate for an end to legal abortion, and an end to social programs benefiting children.

In the end, I believe that the need for a civil society to freely allow a plurality of ideas, even bad ideas, necessitates that the state does not interfere in the expression of such ideas. But society must. Individuals must. This was not a lone gunman, this was a person acting on common rhetoric, acting from within a community. This kind of rhetoric must be socially unacceptable.

We have to topple the structures that enable this kind of thinking from below and laterally, rather than from above. That means more empathy, more compassion, more outreach and care.

That means that people suffering from fear and depression, need resources and widespread community care.

The answer to hatred and violence, is compassion, kindness and solidarity, but never, ever, surrender.

 

 

 

In which I segue carefully into my thoughts about BDSM

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The way I feel in summer is the state in which I imagine that children perpetually exist– sticky, overwrought and full of angst. I have no patience. My skin is an exciting chinle formation. I wish to be covered in cucumber slices and placed gently on a bed of moss in a walk in fridge.

I feel vaguely disconnected from everything, because I’m so focused on finding work, any work.

I’ve read about the atheist kerfluffle, and the BDSM (mac whats-her-name) boondoggle, and the same sexist shit which keeps on coming in with the relentless regularity of these god damned fucking mosquitos.

For the first kerfluffle– I have nothing to say really except, fuck, the patriarchy is like a planarian. Cut off one half and it just grows itself back.

For the second. I’m a little afraid to write about it.  Because I have…dissonance (?) with BDSM. Personally.

Not in the you’re a bad person for your kink way at all. I don’t get to interrogate other people’s desires. Not in the you’re a bad feminist/womanist/anything else at all either. As a disclaimer, I should note that the way *I* work, is that sexy times arousal and violent times arousal are completely different physical, emotional, and even spiritual experiences for me. They are not routed from the same power station, the cables do not cross, the venn diagram has no overlap.

That is not how other people work, and there is nothing wrong or broken about that.

In the same way as an examination and dare I say hatred of the patriarchy is not about individual men, my discomfort with BDSM is not about individuals.

But. Here’s my problem. So much of the turn on with BDSM seems to rely on the paradox that while those participating are enthusiastically consenting, somewhere, someone is not. I could be wrong about this. Please, feel free to comment on my massive level of wrongness.

But it seems like if it were not really happening, somewhere to someone, in a non consenting way, that if it did not hold an echo of that, the appeal would be gone. It would be as arousing as anemone division, or flower reproduction or any of the myriad other ways and kinds of sex that go on unnoticed by humans.

I don’t know how to mentally or emotionally undo that paradox. That’s basically my problem the whole violent sex helped me get over my trauma about someone elses rape article which I will not link to.

Well, that- and also the person who deserves to talk about the trauma of that sexual assault experience or not, is you know, the survivor. Who happens to be standing at the intersection of some identities that are the opposite of privileged. I have real issues with the appropriation of marginalized suffering.

I feel like I should make it clear here, that I have no problem with sex bloggers, blogging about BDSM. I enjoy The Pervocracy, because despite my aforementioned issue, I think there is tremendous value in challenging my reactions to things.

I think that there is value in decentering my experiences, because I believe in the value of standpoint epistemologies.

But I can’t get comfortable with apples to orangizing trauma. I can’t figure out how to negotiate the weirdness I feel when viewing the connection between the arousal of play violence and it’s necessary component of real violence.

I suppose that I could throw up my hands and say, not my thing, not my bailiwick. I’m torn about posting this, because I am afraid that in the white noise of the internet, all the reader will see is that I think they are terrible bad rapey mcabusersons. I don’t. I don’t want anyone to be miserable or unsatisfied in their sex lives. I don’t want anyone to be shamed for their sexuality either. Be happy, be joyful, have fun, be open and proud. That’s the world I wish for, for all of us.

I sincerely hope that my respect for the individual if not the abstract, is very clear.

Although I don’t have a whole lot of anything other contempt for someone privileged who takes the severe trauma of someone else and uses it as a springboard into any kind of narcissism (I’m looking at you, Bono.), but that bit isn’t about BDSM.

Not appropriating trauma much more severe than any you, privileged white lady are likely to experience is baseline. I don’t care if you appropriated that trauma that was not your own into growing roses, or making paper mache canaries or climbing mountains without an oxygen tank or filling your vivarium with cane toads or whatever. Just don’t, ok?

Oh and also, privileged white lady, rape is not sex. It’s good that you had sex, but for the imaginary amount approaching infinity-eth time? Sex and rape, the mechanics may be superficially similar, but they are as alike as mercury and pluto.

I’m not asking to be educated, either. I’m just thinking out-blog, which I hope is also clear. I remain willing to go and read, and learn given the vasty resources available to my privileged white lady self.

I don’t have a grand finale, I personally have dissonance. I’m working on it.

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Good News For Those of Us Still Clinging To Reality in South Dakota

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HeyOOooOooo!

This is for you, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Karen Schreier!

 

Keep on Rockin' The Logic!

I could not be more pleased with the ruling! Shakesville has a fantastic rundown, well worth reading.

It’s been a rough year so far, with a thousand anti-choice bills popping up like fetid mushrooms across the country, and our grand shit-shroom of a bill here in South Dakota didn’t make it any better. It’s easy to feel like one of about ten fact believin’ reality clingin’ to-an progressives in this state (which I will soon be leaving, with any luck!), but this gives me so much hope. I hope that this ruling will be used as precedent to put down other invasive, unconstitutional, shitty anti-choice bills. I hope that this will send a message to voters in South Dakota, about how voting for people who actively subvert democracy (by, you know, directly contradicting the twice voted down ban on abortion through introducing incredibly ridiculous and heavy requirements that are a de facto ban on abortion) is a BAD PLAN.

There’s been so much going on politically and personally that I have sort of put blogging on the back burner, but I’m still here. We’re still here, in the face of this tsunami of frothing misogyny, us lonely socialist progressives, us lonely feminists, us lonely judges committed to upholding the constitution not just for corporations but for people too. Even women people.

Right now, Mr. Lee Hales and I are unemployed and looking for work out of state because this anti-choice bullshit is CLEARLY more important to the state legislature than creating  jobs. Things are kind of shitty. Things are shitty for a lot of good people. But some good news is better than none.

On Blame Assignment As a Socio-Political and Philosophical Position

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LOOK, LOOK AT MY PHOTO I DON'T CARE LOOOOOOOK!

So, I’ve been away from blogging for way too long, but I’m finally starting to really feel like myself, so WAHBAM as my delightful sister likes to say. Here I am.

Also look, look, I have a vacation picture! LOOK AT MY VACATION PICTURE!

Alright, now that that unpleasantness is over, I have Big Important Things To Say.  Things fomented by a facebook kerfluffle on Paprika’s page, sparked by a link to a blog post by the ever awesome Cynical Nymph (o hai! Blog Love!), because 21st century problems here people.

Anyhow, it’s an excellent post, and please, go read it. Go, shoo, g’won, read that post!

Ok, good.

The first facebook comment on Paprika’s page (because my friends list is deliberately tiny and nobody starts shit with me, so yeah, hijacking Paprika’s page) in re that excellent post was about how the commenter had no sympathy for Cynical Nymph.

Which, wow, dick much? But also she wasn’t asking for sympathy. I pointed that out, because shit, I’m helpful.

This whole thing spun out into a weird argument about how someone (Cynical Nymph, in this case), with ED, or you know any mental illness, I guess (?) shouldn’t be thinking they deserve treatment because personal responsibility and she’s not really sick at all (LOLZ, LAAAHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOLZIES I SEZ), and liberals are just running around saying that OMG everyone is SO SICK and it’s not their FAULT! And people with mental illness just need to… well, I don’t know really, ride a bike, eat a waffle, get some sun and STFUor something.

Because they need to accept that it’s their own fault, this thing that they are living with. It’s their own fault, especially all the privileged bitches with ED (paraphrasing here, but that’s what it boiled down to, essentially), for being so weak and bending to the vagaries of their environment and neurochemistry. And because it is their own fault, fuck ’em.

My question was, as it always is in the face of galtian individualism, why do we need to assign blame? Why does it matter whose fault it is (if indeed it is any one person, which I very much doubt), and what is that value of increasing suffering in the world, which does nothing but increase suffering, shockingly.

Yes, news at 11 people, increasing the volume of suffering in the world, um, increases the volume of suffering in the world. COLOR ME SHOCKED (and Mediterranean blue, I love that color)!! ELEVENTY!!1!!!11!

The desperate need to assign (and escape by special pleading, of course) blame and fault and guilt and shame, is the hallmark of right wing patriarchal thinking. Magical thinking too.

When stinking filthy red socialists like myself say, I don’t care about assigning blame, I care about solving the problem and decreasing the suffering, what we are really saying of course, is it could happen to me. On the most basic selfish level, I know that there but for fortune go I.

I refuse to indulge magical thinking that sets me apart and above and stronger and just plain better, than all those other people.

This is the same basic reason why I loathe rape apologia from women, because it’s indicative of magical thinking.

I am not better or stronger than a person with ED. I just happen not to have found myself living in the nexus of genetic, social, familial and chemical factors that create ED. I have other troubles, I have other struggles. I’m just lucky that my struggles have been the kind that generally receive some empathy rather than the kind of kneejerk reaction that ED and other mental illness receives. I’m just lucky. I never happened to be sexually assaulted either, because I didn’t happen to be around a rapist who raped me. That’s all. There but for fortune.

Don’t get me wrong–blame assignment is socially, politically and philosophically useful within a framework of justice. And in that framework, we are almost always talking  about the individual and the state, or the individual and society, but very rarely just the individual out there individualing around.

Because it’s not useful really– for instance: Someone is hurt.

What is important? Immediately, what is important is that someone is hurt, and that we are shitty awful bastards if we deny them the resources to help them hurt less.

Whether or not I like that person, or feel sympathy/empathy for them matters not a whit. It shouldn’t, in fact, it absolutely can’t. Because that’s not a world that you or I want to live in– not if you’re reading this.

That’s the world where rape victims are afraid to come forward, because they will be blamed, and justice depends on sympathy. Where mean spirited assholes agitate against universal medical care that they themselves would benefit from because somebody they don’t like might get some relief and fuck that noise! See, we’re living in that world.

And it’s shit.