Thursday, June 29, 2006

 
From Heart:



"If you haven’t had cock shoved down your throat until you gagged and vomited and bled and could not breathe, with ”bitch” and “cunt” and ”whore” ringing in your ears, then maybe you don’t understand."

You know what's the worst about fellatio-unto-vomiting? Always having to clean up your own bloody puke afterwards.

You know how I know? I'll give you a hint - it's not because I saw it in a movie once.

I find it insulting, this idea that if only I was a survivor of sexual abuse, or had even the least little sympathy for survivors of sexual abuse, then I'd understand how damaging the act of fellatio can be; and even more insulting is the idea that unless I was a survivor of sexual abuse I could not possibly understand.

I got news: I am a survivor of sexual abuse. For seven years my exhusband made my life a waking nightmare. And still I can not find it in me to hate the BJ, though I certainly understand why someone might.

I'm not saying that Heart (or people who agree with Heart) are wrong or defective or weak. Not at all. I'm saying that similar experiences do not always generate similar opinions, and it is vital that we remember that.

(OK - here's where I go all into the weeds and wander waaaaaaaaaay off course. I feel it's important to point out that although the rest of this post was inspired by Heart, it is not a reply to Heart. All apologies in advance for any confusion I may cause.)

I don't think it was the idea of patriarchal entitlement that led to my brutal abuse by my exhusband. I don't think it was porn. I don't think it had anything to do with my position on cocksucking.

He abused me because he could. I let him.

I thought he'd "grow out of it" one day. I thought taking it made me tough and strong. I thought I could get all Christlike and turn the other cheek and through consistent unconditional love and patience he'd see that he didn't need to get violent with me to "keep me in line" - that I was already in line, if such a concept was even useful to describe a partnership between adults.

One day I ran out of other cheeks to turn. So that was the end of that.

Blaming the concept of pornography, or Nina Hartley, or Susie Bright, or the concept of Patriarchy, or the act of fellatio, or those women who cheerfully suck the Patriarchy's dick, for his being a hideous stain on the soul of humanity is singularly unsatisfying to me. I blame him.

And myself.

Comments:
Blogger is making me crazy today - there's supposed to be a link to your post, Heart, but it's just not showing up. I put it there, and I can see it in the "create/edit post" window, but it seems to be invisible on the actual published post.

I'm sorry. I'm still working it out.
 
yeah, i find that concept offensive, frankly. and manipulative. i'm a survivor and i have no issues with the BJ.

(of course, i say this without having read heart's full post)

and again, why blame the act? all kinds of acts can be perpetrated on a survivor and the act itself is not to blame - the person is. certain sex acts are icky to me because they remind me of abuse. that doesn't mean i think that they're oppressive or a tool of the patriarchy; it means that i had a very specific, personal experience that makes some things uncomfortable.
 
Blaming the act sort of lets the individual abuser off the hook in a way. It's just another way of excusing their behavior. And that's some bullshit. Abusers are assholes, and they should bear the full brunt of the blame for any and all abuse they inflict.

As to Heart's post... I don't really understand why all this reactionary stuff is still going on. Why is it necessary? I get that some women have had bad experiences with blowjobs (or any other sex act). I respect that. I would never seek to invalidate other women's experiences, no matter how different those experience may be from my own. And by the same token, I expect nothing less than this same respect from other women toward me and my experiences.

They're all valid, and they can all co-exoist. Why is that a difficult concept?
 
Here is the link to heart's post, fyi - http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/06/26/dont-shut-me-up-2/

Now it's got me all riled up. As if I need more blogging material in the backlog! ARgh...
 
well - I'm not trying to slam on Heart.

I think the work she's done in bringing a blogging community together is definitely worth mad props, and it is clear that she wants to be as inclusive as possible.

I just didn't want to hijack her blog with my (somewhat negative) comments.

Last night I was chatting with a friend of ours and I compared BJs to peanut butter. some people find it delicious and smear it all over everything. some folks find it delicious but only in its "proper" context (on toast, paired with jelly, whatever). Some people don't care for the color, texture, taste and therefore avoid it. Some have had enough of peanut butter as adults, having had far too much of it as a child. Some have made bold new experiments with peanut butter and enjoy it more as adults, even despite having had far too much of it as a child. And to some, peanut butter is deadly poison and must be avoided at all costs.

claiming that those who dig peanut butter "just don't understand" those who are allergic does insult the intelligence of the peanut-butter-lover, the peanut-butter-tolerator and the peanut-butter-reclaimer.

maybe that's not what she was actually doing. If she drops by she can set me straight, with no ill will (at least on my part).
 
Her post is entitled "Don't shut me up." Which, okay; but who exactly is shutting her up? People saying "you know, I actually like blowjobs and I sort of resent being told that I can't possibly really like what I think I like, am a tool of the patriarchy, a "sexbot," brainwashed, disgusting" =!
"telling an abuse survivor to shut up about her experiences."

I mean, for fuck's sake, this whole thing started as a supposedly a lighthearted game, right? Tastes icky; less filling; discuss.

I mean, you know: one could posit that if one means to seriously talk about the subject of abuse, there are perhaps better ways of doing it than trolling for your purported amusement; not to mention levelling insults, and so forth.

Really; is it necessary for *everyone in the entire world* to feel exactly the way you (general "you) do in order for you to feel validated and heard?
 
>They're all valid, and they can all co-exist. Why is that a difficult concept?>

That is the question, isn't it.
 
I think the work she's done in bringing a blogging community together is definitely worth mad props, and it is clear that she wants to be as inclusive as possible.

I'm not trying to "slam" her either, but that post was not exactly very inclusive.
 
amber - there's one recent post she did wherein she mentions that she gets grief from just about all directions because of the alliances she makes with many different communities. I can believe that she does (make alliances, get grief).

this particular post we're discussing, maybe not so inclusive, you're right.
 
I'm sorry, but anyone who doesn't see the disturbing racism in Radically Speaking and calls it a good book doesn't get my vote for inclusivity. Not because there's no intention there... And I'm sorry, having sex with people of color, marrying them, and having children with them doesn't get you any more points than it got Hugo when he pulled the same stunt. Critiques of that kind of "some of my best friends..." maneuver are readily availalbe and have been around since 'All in the Family' was popular as a sitcom.
 
Oh, hell no....I just happened to see Heart's full post, and I am practically trembling with rage as I type this.

Who in the bloody hell does she think she is to use her status as an abuse victim just to condemn others who don't have her experience??? It's one thing to have rage towards those people who abused her; but to smack down every man and every woman who doesn't agree with her philosophy of shaming women who don't react as she does??? And she's accusing US of shutting her up???

Out of respect for AP, I will just stop here...but a response will definitely be coming at the SmackChron soon.


Anthony
 
yeesh. me and my big mouth.
 
To be fair, I didn't exactly see her condemning those who didn't have her experience with that post; it was more like, make some rather large assumptions about other people in the process of speaking her own truth.

there's a lot of that about.
 
>Critiques of that kind of "some of my best friends..." maneuver are readily availalbe and have been around since 'All in the Family' was popular as a sitcom.>

in her case i see that as even more egregious wrt the TG thing.

I mean, it's kind of of a piece with this stuff, really: again,

why does *everyone* have to fall in line with your own experience? Why can't she just accept that TG people exist, they have a different experience from hers, and let it go? Speak for your own experience and trust that other people can do the same for theirs? I mean, do whatever you want in your Michfest clubhouse, I *guess;* there's not much one can do besides say "ew, creepy" and start one's own fest (i.e. Camp Trans), which is pretty much what's happening these days;

but to talk as though there's some sort of "debate" about whether TG people understand their own experience better than an outsider, whether it's any of her business what other people do with their own bodies and sex lives; I do not see it as *any different* from well-meaning "some of my best friends are, BUT" homophobia. and i find it maddening that an actual lesbian would not make the connection herself; but, what can you do.
 
that is to say; I could see trying to have talks to a certain point with a basically well-meaning Christian who held onto homophobic beliefs and spread distortions about the gay folk, too, if I felt there were any sort of meeting point; but that doesn't mean I don't believe sie's homophobic.
 
Heart just wrote a response, to which I posted my own. in case it doesn't make it up there:

>...So what I wrote there isn’t just about what somebody posted on his or her blog. It comes out of years and tons of feminist work, in real life, out of my real life relationships with feminists and nonfeminists, and from my engaging with feminists and nonfeminists on the internet as well. But I can always count on it that when we attempt to have these discussions, people will pop up to say something like, “Don’t you women have something better to do?” Or, “Why are you trying to censor/regulate/keep me from doing what I want to do?” Or, “Why are you shaming me or making me wrong?” Or, “Why are you hierarchicalizing feminists like that,” Or, “But I *like* to do-whatever-it-is,” Or, “I don’t believe in false consciousness,” or “If you were really a radical feminist you’d be (insert useful accusation here) instead of talking about (whatever thing about sexuality).” Which is again, disheartening. That’s not the point. The point is not to blame or shame women. The point is to get to what is *true* — about men, about women, and about the mechanisms and machinery and ins and outs of women’s subordination to men.>

and what I said, and believe:

But, and this is the bottom line, Heart: *not everyone’s truth is the same.*

That’s where I think the disconnect is happening, honestly.
 
Heart just wrote a response, to which I posted my own. in case it doesn't make it up there:

>...So what I wrote there isn’t just about what somebody posted on his or her blog. It comes out of years and tons of feminist work, in real life, out of my real life relationships with feminists and nonfeminists, and from my engaging with feminists and nonfeminists on the internet as well. But I can always count on it that when we attempt to have these discussions, people will pop up to say something like, “Don’t you women have something better to do?” Or, “Why are you trying to censor/regulate/keep me from doing what I want to do?” Or, “Why are you shaming me or making me wrong?” Or, “Why are you hierarchicalizing feminists like that,” Or, “But I *like* to do-whatever-it-is,” Or, “I don’t believe in false consciousness,” or “If you were really a radical feminist you’d be (insert useful accusation here) instead of talking about (whatever thing about sexuality).” Which is again, disheartening. That’s not the point. The point is not to blame or shame women. The point is to get to what is *true* — about men, about women, and about the mechanisms and machinery and ins and outs of women’s subordination to men.>

and what I said, and believe:

But, and this is the bottom line, Heart: *not everyone’s truth is the same.*

That’s where I think the disconnect is happening, honestly.
 
Bitch|Lab, you might want to discuss your view that Radically Speaking is "racist" with the women of color who contributed to it.

Antiprincess, don't worry about the links, it's all good.

Heart
 
I am at home now and can list some of the women of color who contributed to the book Radically Speaking: Feminism Reclaimed by Renate Klein and Diane Bell:

Nguahuia Te Awekotuku, Maori-Lesbian-Feminist Radical

Angela Bowen, Enabling a Visible Black Lesbian Presence in Academia: A Radically Reasonable Request

Angela Bowen, Take Your Pageant and Shove It

Marcia Ann Gillespie, The Posse Rides Again

Barbara Christian, The Race for Theory

Yenlin Ku, Selling a Feminist Agenda on a Conservative Market: The Awakening Experience in Taiwan

Teboho Maitse, The Past is Present: Thoughts from the New South Africa

Evelyne Accad, Truth versus Loyalty

Marjorie Agosin, Amidst the Smoke We Remeber: Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo

Powhiri Rika-Heke/Sigrid Markmann, Common Language -- Different Cultures: True or False?

Nganampa Health Council and the Ngaayatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytajatjara Women's Council Women's Health Project, Our Health Project

Mahnaz Afkhami, Towards Global Feminism: A Muslim Perspective

Heart
 
I'm finding an unfortunate strain here of "a liberal is a conservative who's never been mugged."

Or, a more specific parallel: losing a loved one on 9/11 does not make it justifiable to confuse jihadism with Islam, or to suggest that we'd all be better off if people stopped being practising Muslims because certain tenets of the faith have the potential to be problematic.

This is not to take anything away from the very real suffering of people who have been affected by violence, nor to imply that people who twist loving things to violent ends are anything other than monstrous and reprehensible. It's just that if you reject everything that might possibly be used as a weapon - even just the things that have the most obvious potential for something creatively horrible - you're going to be a little sad the next time you want to pound in a nail or chop an onion.
 
All fine and good, Heart...but that list doesn't include those far more prominent women of color feminists who did not endorse that anthology...not to mention those who actively criticized its shortcomings.

And the mere endorsement of some WOC feminists does not automatically erase the right of critics like Bitch | Lab to analyze the book for herself. If you happen to disagree with her, that's your right...but don't deny her right to use her space to disagree.


Anthony
 
I have only just read your post and I agree with it. I remember being told by a radical feminist at my women's group (circa 1989)that it was "obvious" from my anti-censorship position on porn that I had not experienced violence or who had met other women who had experienced violence.

Wrong on both counts because only a couple of months previous to the "discussion about my lack of awareness" I had left a violent relationship.

Porn was not the theory. He was a right-on Marxist who spoke out against the oppression of women but liked to beat me up the confines of his home. There lies the contradiction.

Yeah, I blame him not porn. He never took responsibility for his actions blames me for "provoking him". He really destroyed my trust in men and also in sex. But I am not this "once a victim always a victim". I worked hard to get myself back on track. I take the position that people can ultimately change and have the capacity to change and are not governed by some innateness. I see patriarchy and capitalism screwing up peoples lives and the point is to change it but without the morality and the finger-wagging.

And I certainly don't blame the BJ either! As Kollontai said "sex should be uncomplicated like drinking a glass of water". Fab theory... not always easy in practice.
 
Porn was not the theory. He was a right-on Marxist who spoke out against the oppression of women but liked to beat me up the confines of his home. There lies the contradiction.

what a mind-fuck that must have been. how could you have seen that coming?
 
But I am not this "once a victim always a victim". I worked hard to get myself back on track.

which, of course, is not to say that people who feel wounded are lazy, or not working hard, or somehow "off" track.

I wonder if it does not take more stamina/bravery/courage to wake up every morning still enraged and wounded and fighting. How much of "moving on" is giving up?
 
I think "processing" and "moving on" doesn't have to entail "forgive and forget," in general.
 
As with most other things, I think it's different for every person. That might sound like a cop-out, but I think it's true.
 
It's not a cop-out; it's kind of key, really.

"Women"=! "Borg." sorry.

it is not necessary to become enfolded into this kind of oceanic "oneness" of Class Woman or whatever it is to recognize, look, I had this experience, you had this experience, she had that one; here's how I (you, she, respectively) relate; here's how not. that's how we learn, how we connect. as equals; as individuals who have some commonalities. I think talking about the common stuff is important, but not at the expense of losing the individuality. (or vice versa, i expect; but in these circles that doesn't seem to come up as much, for me. i'm sure it would do elsewhere).
 
is the porn debate really an issue of individual vs collective?
 
"which, of course, is not to say that people who feel wounded are lazy, or not working hard, or somehow "off" track."

antiprincess, Oh I absolutely agree. Sorry...I don't think I expressed what I meant properly. It just feels like much of radical feminism bogs you down with this idea of the victim and that you cannot enjoy life again.

I want to get away from that assumption but that doesn't mean i still don't have serious problems relating to men and sex.

I think for me was that I had to move on or else I would have stayed at rock bottom and not got up. I didn't want that to happen. But I still get angry at that part of my life which was wrecked by him and at what he did especially as he was an active leftie trade unionist who people respected. It was an utter mind-fuck!! I will never forget what he did nor forgive but I want to enjoy life again.

I also think it depends on individual women and how they cope. There is right or wrong way but being able to talk about it on your own terms is a help.
 
>is the porn debate really an issue of individual vs collective?

I dunno about that per se; but I am starting to think that the incessant blanket statements and the constant conflation of "I" with "Women" is maybe more than just semantics or even ideology.
 
I also think that maybe (ideologically?) there is a lot of investment in this notion of...innocence, is it? i don't even mean for obvious shit like abuse; i mean, like there's this need for some sort of blanket amnesty for Class Woman or something. We're Not The Bad Guys.

but in order to maintain that belief, the existence of women doing such and such act and *enjoying* it, of having their own agency, of being capable of being cruel or lusty or aggressive or sadistic *all on our very own,* well, that's just not acceptable.

hence, "male-identified" or "you ARE a man" or "you're brainwashed, poor dear" or "just read/experience this and you will finally Understand the Truth."

because otherwise the whole thing falls apart, apparently. something.
 
is the porn debate really an issue of individual vs collective?

Probably not at its core - but I think it can very easily become that. I have observed it happening across the blogosphere with increasing frequency. "To be a 'real' feminist you must take such-and-such stance on porn."

Additioanlly, a mistake that's made in the porn debate quite often is just speaking of "porn," as a blanket statement - ss if all porn is the same. It's not enough to simply say, "porn exploits women." Really? Is that true across the board? What about porn made for women, by women? What about gay male porn? The subject matter is too complex and varied to be reduced to a simple black-or-white statement.
 
"similar experiences do not always generate similar opinions, and it is vital that we remember that"

I think I have to make a needlpoint sampler that says this or get it tattooed somewhere.

Thank you.
 
no problem. :)
 
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