Links of Great Interest: HOORAY IT’S THE WEEKEND

Signal Boost: From SunlessNick: Silencing queer communities in Russie

Signal Boost: Mona Eltahawy was assaulted.

Peta hates your pubes.

Thank you for menstruating.

From Casey:

From Tiger Beatdown, apparently NPR has been doing a series on
“obesity in America” and it’s been rife with fat hatred and shoddy,
nonsensical reporting (going so far to assert that fat employees cost
their employers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just by
existing and are less productive than their thin or average-sized
peers, with no study or data to back it up) this is very disappointing
to me.

From Elee:

Haven’t been very present on the site for a pretty long time, so here
a little life sign from me:

Found it highly interesting, exp. because yay, acknowledgement that
geek girls and queer geeks exist, and sometimes they want to be able
to use a dating service like everyone else.

If anything would make me accepting of the Twilight phenomenon and
the trainwreck that is Edward Cullen, it is this: Edward never
pressures Bella for sex. Incidentally, I love this blog.

Why such a panic over public space?

What do we gain if we stop thinking of rappers as activists?

GALLEY GIRL!

Seriously, where is the It Gets Better Campaign for immigrants?

More on the Occupy movement. It’s apparently a some sort of thing.

On gaslighting. Oh, wait, you might’ve known that already.

Why rape jokes aren’t funny.

More on the Udall amendment.

Two lesbians raised a baby and this is what they got.

From Jenn:

“As this study makes clear, women still police other women’s sexuality. It reminds us too of what we already know: that policing does tangible damage to women’s relationships with other women. Few things do more to fray the already tenuous bonds of sisterhood. But what this study (and so many others before it) miss is the obvious point that this competitive “bitchiness” towards other women rests on the assumption that men are so unreliable that there’s no point in trying to “police” their behavior. If women believed that men had the power to resist sexual temptation, if they believed that male infidelity was the result of a choice rather than a biological inevitability, then women wouldn’t feel nearly as threatened by cleavage.”

From Shaun: Siri hates women.

From Anemone:

What if the male Avengers posed like Scarlett Johansson’s Black
Widow?

This church opposes interracial relationships.

More on US civilian detainment by the US military.

Really moving post on “oppression olympics.”

Doctors Without Borders calls out to donors.

Comments

  1. says

    Peta is WTFBBQ.

    I am SO glad I never sponsored NPR. I’ve been listening some for the past few months, and I find a lot of it useful and interesting, but I didn’t encounter this bullshit until yesterday. They want Medicare to start paying doctors to help people lose weight. Fine for people who actually need it, but of all institutions, the MEDICAL INDUSTRY really needs to learn already that being 30 pounds overweight (their def of obesity) does not on its own cause one single health problem. MORE RESEARCH NEEDS TO BE DONE. Why can’t people with degrees figure this out?

    I am SO SICK of the attitudes about weight in this country. Fuck NPR for perpetuating. I hope my preferred talk radio station gets back on the air today – we’ve had 100 mph winds lately, and I’m hoping that’s what knocked them out.

    Dear Pastor Thompson: please to be showing me immediately where in the Bible does it say thou shalt not marry someone of another race/ethnicity. If you cannot show this, then please to be fucking off with your ban on interracial couples. You are an embarrassment to your race, fool. ;)

    This is definitely the quote of the day, and 100% correct:

    A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?

    Rapists do.

    They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.

    Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better.

    This. Is. It. They are narcissists (yes, the article is being worked on as I type, LOL). They think everyone is like them, or would be if they could. If they want to rape people, it follows that you do, too. And they believe you do want to, and if you DON’T rape it’s only because you’ve never had a chance to do it with reasonable expectations of not getting caught and deprived of your freedom. After all, that is the only single solitary thing that stops THEM from raping people more often.

  2. Casey says

    The “Thank You for Menstruating” link and the Slate link no longer exist. :(

    That post about slut-shaming in the winter and whatnot was good, but the Jezebel commentariat left much to be desired (no wonder I stopped reading them ages ago), but I guess they’re not as bad as the whiny MRAs that permeate Hugo’s blog. Plus, isn’t using the no-head-having body of a black woman in a skimpy dress kinda problematic?

  3. says

    The Siri thing is just…ugh. In addition to its inability to help women (and some men) with their problems of abortion, birth control, rape, and domestic violence, it also can’t help women (and some men) with sexual pleasure, although it can for men. It knows multiple words for male pleasure and can direct you to escort services, but none for female pleasure.

  4. jennygadget says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    As always, even more than the fail, I am annoyed by how people are handling the fail being pointed out. Everything, from “why would you ask Siri that?”* to the claims that Siri is in beta** to painting the complaints as paranoid*** to the mansplanations regarding how computers work****.

    *srsly, slut-shaming much?

    **really? because they didn’t mentioned that in either of the spiffy tv ads for it – and also, well, then…Apple’s reaction to people pointing out “glitches” should be “Thank you!”, yes?

    *** which conveniently ignores the actual assertions of the complaints (which are largely accusations of institutional bias) as well as the overwhelming proof that what is happening is a trend, not random occurrences.

    ****well, yes. relying heavily on Yelp and crowd-sourcing the search vocabularies would explain a lot of the problem. I fail to see how this affects the assertion that the fundamental problem is a matter of bias. Or the conclusion that Siri’s results – or lack thereof – are still a design failure on Apple’s part. It’s not like they were limited to these options.

  5. Raeka says

    In response to the rape jokes article, for those who work better with real-world examples: the belief that rape jokes are okay leads to things like an online friendly acquaintance of about a year telling me his brother ‘had sex with’ a girl who was passed out drunk and that it was funny because “no one liked her anyways”.

  6. Casey says

    As I read more and more of the Feministe link about Yashar Ali’s gas-lighting article being mansplain-y and just plain ill-conceived (and downright WRONG in it’s definition of gas-lighting), the more I’d like to send him some kinda e-mail explaining how WRONG he is but IDK what his e-mail is. >_>V

  7. Casey says

    As I’ve read and re-read MissVoltairine’s post I’ve begun to feel conflicted…Reading MV’s account of being BEAR GASSED just because a queer theater troupe was performing in town reminds me of when I watched Anatomy of Hate and saw the Westboro Baptist Church and a bunch of white supremacist rallies…it made me think “WHEW! The -isms I encounter on a daily basis PALE in comparison to this, I’ve got it easy!” Then I re-re-re-programmed myself to remember that if we (general we) look at hateful rhetoric in that manner, we end up not doing any self-reflection, like “hey, at least I’m not as bad as THOSE guys! At least I’m not a terrorist or burning crosses or something!” which doesn’t get us anywhere ‘cuz the little things add up and play into the big things like attempted terrorist gassings…which is why as much as MicroAggressions has A LOT of problems (like the fact that I’ve submitted 10+ instances of microaggression-y action and none of them have been published AND they kept mis-tagging trans-related aggressions), it’s still an important thing and it’s still valid. Also, what qualifications are there to be queer? That you’re attracted to the same sex and/or various other genders? I guess I just feel like I’m “diluting” queerness ‘cuz I haven’t dated someone of the same sex yet (let alone someone of a different sex)…or something. Eh, I guess I’m just being defensive. And rambling. :P

  8. says

    Casey,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, anybody, but I think there’s debate about who belongs under the umbrella of “queer.” Once upon a time, “gay rights” had nothing to do with lesbians, bisexuals or transpeople. Then those groups convinced gays they had a common cause, and the movement became “LGBT” to remind everybody who was “in.” But since then, concepts like asexuality have been defining themselves, and where do we put them? (And what does she even mean “straight asexual people?”)

    I’ve talked to some LGBT queers who feel the movement should include asexuals, while others disagree – often vehemently. Poor asexuals – heteros are hardly accepting of them, and neither are loads of queers. (But I think they’re going to emerge as the biggest minority of all someday, so perhaps the joke will be on everybody else.)

    I guess what I’m saying is: movements do need some boundaries, but in the case of queerness, there really are some legit questions yet to be settled about where those boundaries should be set.

  9. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Queerness really is in flux right now. There’s a lot of infighting, and the name LGBT implies acceptance of groups that really aren’t accepted, or are expected to give support without receiving any. I see a lot of biphobia from prominent gays, and it’s far worse for trans* folks.

    “Straight asexual” usually refers to a heteroromantic asexual. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any queer deny the queer label to homoromantic asexuals; aromantic and heteroromantic asexuals’ status are generally the ones whose queerness is under discussion.

  10. Casey says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Straight asexuals are hetero-romantic people (IE, they’re capable of heterosexual romantic feelings but not sexual attraction). There’s also homoromantic asexuals and and aromantics who I think are incapable of feeling romantic love, then the double-whammy of aromantic asexuals who feel neither love nor lust (anybody more knowledgeable feel free to correct me!).

    Yeah, there was a guest post on Womanist Musings by an asexual and Sparky got pissed and accused them of coat-tailing on the LGBTQ movement.

  11. Shaun says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    There is some debate about that, but there really shouldn’t be. “Queer” is a slur. You can’t reclaim a slur if it hasn’t been used against you. Queer refers to people with same sex attraction or who don’t experience cis gender identity. It does not refer to cis people who experience no or exclusively heterosexual (which includes heteroromantic) attraction.

    This is also a different question from whether the LGBTQI community can include them–straight trans women and cis gay men are both parts of the community but cis gay men as a rule don’t get to reclaim “tr*nny.” Queer is like that, like d*ke, like f*ggot, not like “gay.”

    Also, the “gay rights movement” was never about the gays exclusively. You’re talking about a movement that is traditionally attributed to being started by Stonewall–which was a bunch of drag queens, queer men, trans women, and even some cis lesbians. It’s NEVER been an exclusively gay or even gay/lesbian movement, but the most privileged in the community have largely successfully reframed it as such.

    The other issue I have with asexuals trying to claim the label, aside from the fact it doesn’t apply to them, is that they’ve never historically suffered the same stigma or faced the same level of violence, nor do they do this day. It’s not an accurate comparison. Nor do kinky or poly people face the same level of stigma, nor should cis straight kinky or poly people think they can call themselves queer. I’ve even seen cis straight vanilla monogamous people think they could be queer, or queerer than actual queer people, by living a “queer lifestyle” whatever that means. I guess if I live a “spiritual Native American lifestyle” I can be Cherokee, or more Cherokee than modernized Cherokees at least!

  12. Shaun says

    Casey,

    If you experience same/similar sex attraction then you’re queer, at least in the sense that society deems you to be queer (you yourself may not prefer the label, which is another story). We’ve all heard of passing privilege and obviously there is some advantage to being perceived as in a heterosexual relationship, but that doesn’t mean you have straight privilege. It’s kind of a bullshit concept–even a cis gay or lesbian can experience “passing privilege” when s/he is not actively with a partner. You understand you don’t experience the same level of danger not being in a same-sex relationship, that doesn’t mean you don’t know your orientation or that you aren’t adversely impacted by it.

    I don’t think Microaggressions is invalid, and I think a lot of people feel vindicated by it, which is important–it’s definitely more important to me that marginalized groups have that vindication than that non-marginalized people might be using it to convince themselves of non-existent oppression. But there’s a lot of focus in the online social justice community of ‘identity’ when the actual experience of oppression is really, really important, and -you don’t have a right to any identity you want.-

  13. says

    Thanks, everyone, for the additional info and clarification.

    Shaun: is that they’ve never historically suffered the same stigma or faced the same level of violence, nor do they do this day.

    No, AFAIK, they don’t experience quite the same stigma nor any violence. But the thing about all the groups the queer movement wants to leave out is: they ARE stigmatized, whether or not they’re targeted as violently as LGBT people (I find a lot of people are unaware of the stigma asexuals face, just sayin’). Is the LGBT movement specifically and exclusively for groups that are physically targeted? Is that how it’s defining itself?

    Because there’s another thing here, and it’s that the REAL rules for being properly hetero are EXTREMELY narrow, and the vast majority in that group is really just “passing” (i.e., there are kinky hets, very picky hets, hets who date interracially, and a lot of people living as hets who really sound like asexuals pressured into it without knowing they have a choice, etc.). If we took those “passing” heteros out of the “het” label and grouped them with the more obviously not-traditional-het groups, suddenly we have a huge majority, and those traditional hets become a tiny minority. This *could* be beneficial as a political tactic.

  14. says

    Shaun,

    I really like that comparison, and if you don’t mind I’ll be borrowing it from you in the future.

    Jennifer Kesler,

    While a political movement based around “not heteronormative” could be beneficial, I would not want it associated with the existing movement. Because…well, because of everything in Miss Voltaire’s article. There’s a stigma associated with kink or poly, true, but being queer goes far beyond the level of stigma and into survival.

    Plus, when you’re at the point where the qualification is “dated outside my race once”, I’m rather visualizing hordes of straight Whites descending upon the movement to tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we really should be doing it. No thank you.

  15. Shaun says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    You’re conflating LGBT community and “queer.” They’re not necessarily the same thing. I would like them to be, but I think it’s more helpful to separate the two when dealing with this appropriation issue.

    For the record I’ve identified as asexual most of my life. I’m familiar with that level of marginalization. But no one ever hurt me for it, and no one systematically oppressed me for it like I experienced as a bisexual. Oppression Olympics is a useful term when people experiencing actual oppressions want to argue about who has it worse off, but not everything is an oppression. Cis straight kinky behavior is heteronormative–some of it more normative than others, but a straight male Dom is about the most normative identity you can have in our culture.

    This is not the same as cis gays and lesbians wanting to leave out bisexuals, trans people, or intersexed people–those groups actually EXPERIENCE queer oppression, and in many cases experience more acute oppression than cis monosexuals. This is a group that does not experience that oppression that wants to claim the label of that oppression because no one can police their “identity.”

    Obviously I’m not saying all asexuals are like this, but those who are trying to appropriate that label are acting inappropriately–just like AVEN’s appropriation of the pink triangle for their symbol, which was a mark used to tattoo queer prisoners in the HOLOCAUST (no, not Godwin, Nazis for real). Obviously nobody copyrights a triangle, but when you use a triangle and then say, “and this is a parallel to the pink triangles the Nazis tattooed onto queer Holocaust victims!” this means something and is grossly fucked up.

    It’s not just asexuals, but a slur is a slur, and claiming it is not based on what you are NOT, it’s based on what you are and whether the term even applies to you.

  16. Shaun says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    I saw a (presumably queer poc) person make an argument that “everyone has a right to their identity” is an attitude of whiteness. While I have seen cis straight poc attempt to claim the queer label, there is definitely a parallel with white people feeling like their “feelings” are enough to justify a racial label–hell, including white queers who feel the right to claim two-spirit identity. I definitely respect people’s identities to a point, but there is a point when you’re stepping over (and on) marginalized people to do it, and that’s actually not okay.

    And you’re right, the idea of white straights feeling like they can come into the community because they dated a poc (dated something strange? dated the Other? How would they even parse that?) is more than a little horrifying.

  17. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    That makes sense. And I was actually thinking of it more as a separate, overlapping movement – should’ve been clearer.

    Shaun: You’re conflating LGBT community and “queer.”

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Shaun: This is a group that does not experience that oppression that wants to claim the label of that oppression because no one can police their “identity.”

    Are you defining oppression strictly as a political issue? I think maybe I’m getting hung up on what constitutes oppression, because as I see it, when the culture consistently reacts with hostility toward a person for no rational reason, there’s some form of oppression going on, but maybe you have better terminology. (Now I’m thinking about smart kids getting bullied for being smart, and how somehow that is NOT considered oppression. I’m confused in general, I think.)

    I do get what you’re saying about the word “queer” and who it’s been applied to and that determining who can appropriate it. I’m not entirely sure I agree – I think if it’s truly been appropriated, then the appropriating group can use it however they like. It just seems like otherwise the slur group is still effectively calling the shots on how the word gets used. But I may be wrong.

  18. Shaun says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    To some degree, yes, but it may be a question of terminology. Like you I think media is very, very important and that stories convey the morals and institutes of society. I think that a group can be marginalized (that is, outright dismissed, which would be reflected in media) without necessarily being oppressed (defining this as more institutional methods of suppression, or violence), but I don’t think it’s invalid to define oppression as encompassing both. I just, for the purposes of this conversation, needed to distinguish between them.

    I agree with you about the appropriation–but the only ones who can appropriate it in the first place are going to be that group, and they’re the ones who are going to decide who it applies to.

    You’re not wrong in that a lot of our communities–queer, kinky, asexual, poly–could be a pretty effective organizing force if we worked together, but even the LGBT community itself has issues with this, and if even goals that similar can cause divisions, I would question whether or not I had the same priorities as a straight cis asexual or poly man by default. But issues like this tend to cause a reaction in some of us because of our histories with words like queer being used in violent contexts, or to induce fear. I’ve never been hurt while hearing that word, but it has been said to me to terrify me, and I know what it means could happen. It certainly affects my feelings on use.

  19. says

    Shaun,

    You’re saying everything I want to say, only more clearly. :)

    Shaun: I saw a (presumably queer poc) person make an argument that “everyone has a right to their identity” is an attitude of whiteness.

    I agree. I think it’s also rooted in Christianity, (which can be strongly correlated to Whiteness). In most Christian denominations, conversion is an active part of their ministry. And so people who grow up in this, who are used to being embraced by Catholics or Mormons or Baptists if they show the slightest hint of interest and have never checked their ethnocentricism, assume every religion and culture is theirs for the taking.

    Jennifer Kesler: It just seems like otherwise the slur group is still effectively calling the shots on how the word gets used.

    And what’s wrong with that? Black people get to call the shots on how the n-word is used, and they absolutely have every right to. Why should it be different for queer or dyke?

    There’s also a huge difference between appropriation and reclamation. Appropriation is when you take something that doesn’t belong to you and devalue its meaning. For example, Native American war bonnets being used as a fashion statement. Something with a profound cultural meaning is turned into something I can buy at the dollar store.

    Reclamation, on the other hand, is taking something that has been used against you and turning it into something positive. Thus, “we’re here, we’re queer, get over it”. Reclamation is not an invitation for just anyone to use the word, and it’s perfectly acceptable if the marginalized group decides the word is too loaded for any of the privileged group to use. That’s the right they have as the marginalized group, and it’s not the place of the oppressing group to say, “Actually, we’re going to use a word that’s been used to hurt you, against your wishes.”

    After all, it’s not the job of the marginalized group to distinguish the well-meaning buffoons from the genuine assholes. It’s the job of the privileged group to make themselves distinct.

  20. says

    Re: the word “queer”, this link just popped up on my Tumblr dash. Janice Daniels, the mayor of Troy, Michigan, Tweeted: “I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there”.

    As a self-described queer, I cannot assume that everyone who uses the word means to reclaim it. Some are still using it to deny me and people like me our rights, even in their capacity as government officials.

  21. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    By “slur group” I meant people who say “queer” as s slur. I think you thought I meant the group of people being slurred?

    Shaun,

    Thanks again. I’m clear on what you’re saying now, and I feel like I understand it better now. (For the record, I have never talked to asexuals who wanted to appropriate the movement. The ones I’ve known just wanted to be included in some sexual community, because it was made very clear to them they were not wanted by the heteros.)

  22. Shaun says

    Sylvia Sybil:

    I agree. I think it’s also rooted in Christianity, (which can be strongly correlated to Whiteness). In most Christian denominations, conversion is an active part of their ministry. And so people who grow up in this, who are used to being embraced by Catholics or Mormons or Baptists if they show the slightest hint of interest and have never checked their ethnocentricism, assume every religion and culture is theirs for the taking.

    Yes. I wanted to explain identity-as-appropriation to a guy just last week, and I had immense trouble because the only points of oppression he personally got were classism and anti-Semitism. Well, there is no defining line of identity in income–we can call ourselves the 99% or the 80% or those living below the poverty line–and even if Judaism doesn’t actively proselytize like Christianity and Judaism, you CAN become a Jew. You can’t just become disabled or a person of color no matter how you feel about it, and while I guess you could engage in “homosexual behavior” I really don’t know any straight person who would do this JUST so they could call themselves queer. But then I find it harder to explain specific kinds of oppression to someone the fewer intersections they experience anyway.

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I don’t think appropriation is usually intentional. And I am sympathetic to their situation, I remember it was very frustrating when I identified as asexual. I think we could all benefit from more discussions about sex and gender but you need to be aware of your privileges when you’re interacting in a diverse community (for the most part I don’t feel like cis gays and lesbians do this either). Even when they are, though, I don’t think I’d feel like an LGBT safe space populated by straight or aromantic asexuals would be a safe space for me. Dealing with biphobia in LGBT spaces is bad enough, and I’ve left safe spaces for that reason. Having that much straight privilege and prejudice, no matter how well meaning the individuals, would probably drive out anyone else stalwart enough to stick around too.

  23. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Ah, yes, that’s what I thought. So now I’m not sure what you’re saying there. Do you mean that the measure of if the oppressed group has reclaimed a slur is based on whether or not they feel free to use it in ways the oppressing group did not?

  24. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    I wasn’t thinking about ways to measure it. I was just thinking that if you’ve appropriated a slur, you have every right to redefine it, in my mind. I don’t think African Americans use the N word the way white racists do or ever did – that’s all I had in mind.

  25. Elee says

    Huh, I can’t use the word queer anymore? I thought it was an acceptable alternative for the lettersalad of LGBTQ. What does the Q stand in LGBTQ for? I thought it was kind of encompass at the end of the name, to demonstrate the unity of L, G, B and T. My logic goes that queer is everything that is not straight, so practically every sexual identity a consenting adult can have, that is not heteronormative (and usually also monogamous). If it is not an okay word, then I am sorry about having used it.

    I am kind of torn about MV’s blog. Sure, as an asexual I am probably less likely to get bombed or killed; but my disinterest in relationships is still going to be an affront to (most) men and women, I still will be regarded as defective or dismissed and can fall victim for correction-rape for daring not to be a sexual object. Assholes will always find an excuse for being assholes / haters gonna hate. OTOH I see the point MV is making – some of differently identifying folks don’t have a history of oppression in a way the LGBT-movement faced (though it probably would be a different experience if these groups presented an united official front, practically painting a big red target on their backs. Weren’t nunneries and temples always one of the preferred targets in wars for raping and pillaging? It is the nearest way to organizing themselves asexual women would have had). As an asexual it is easier for me to mask the indifference than to hide a living breathing partner. Still, trying to be considerate about speech seems like small cookies in the face of being endangered by hate crimes; but small steps allow for big steps. I found myself policing my speech over the last months and instead of going for cheap shots like “That is so gay!” or “Sorry for that insane teal deer” finding alternatives, because like with rape jokes, I don’t want to make raving bigots think that I am siding with them, but make to oppressed groups feel comfortable and accepted. It is partly about self-reflexion, like someone upthread said, and partly about making our society more inclusive. All in all, I am glad to live in a more or less enlightened western country, where the oppression is of a subtler nature.

    And, Shaun, I better have the damn right to my own sexual identity, if the society keeps telling me that I can only be hetero-, homo- and bisexual, but being asexual/poly/whatever is just a fluke. Having the possibility to define my identity when there is no existing term is not the same as redefining an existing term until it loses all meaning and can be used for whatever purposes, which is probably what you meant as an “attitude of whiteness”. (Even with race it is not so easy as “you are white” and “you are a POC”, if I remember correctly. Didn’t we have a discussion here, on THL, about some groups defining themselves as white in the context of a middle-eastern country, but suddenly being regarded as POCs when they move to US? But I know next to nothing about racial problems, so I better shut up.)

  26. SunlessNick says

    Shaun … I think that a group can be marginalized (that is, outright dismissed, which would be reflected in media) without necessarily being oppressed (defining this as more institutional methods of suppression, or violence)

    The marginalisation of asexuals tends to revolve around the idea that we don’t exist at all. And it’s hard to extend a great deal of deliberate active oppression towards people you don’t believe in. What we have in common with queer people is being pathologised: the assumption that we’re deluded or repressed, and can’t be what we say we are; which sometimes turns oppressive in the form of imposed mental “help.” But I’ve very rarely seen asexuals depicted as moraly deficient or societally dangerous – certainly much less often than homosexuals – we’re depicted as a myth, not a threat. So we don’t come in for any of the oppression that’s based on being a so-called threat – which is where the pink triangle is definitely rooted.

    So I can be convinced by all the arguments for not letting asexuals into the queer community, or regarding it as appropriation to claim that label. On a less activist-y note, in my experience LGBT people have been no better than heterosexuals at understanding that asexuals are actually real, so it’s not a space that makes me want in (in that capacity) in any case.

  27. Shaun says

    Elee,

    I think I missed the part where I implied you couldn’t identify as asexual? I said that right to an identity didn’t trump appropriating other groups’ identities.

    I’m not really the gatekeeper of the word queer, but I am a gatekeeper. I think it’s fine to use as an umbrella for LGBT–in fact I prefer this over calling everyone gay–but not as a form of address. I would really not be okay with straight friends addressing me with “hey queers.”

    I’m a little on the fence about whether or not aromantic asexuals are straight–but that doesn’t make them queer, and I think it’s okay if queers define straight to include them. Funny thing about straight in that it was originally a term used by queers to refer to the other–who of course didn’t really have a name for themselves. As such I think it’s appropriate that group decides what it means, since what it identifies is tied to queers ourselves. Ultimately aromatics are benefiting from not having or acting on same-sex attraction whether they want to be or not.

    As far as defining asexual oppression or marginalization, I think that’s a very different topic from queer identity. I do question, though, whether that can be attributed to asexual identification. Usually whenever the sexual privilege meme comes up it’s things that are not oppressions exclusive to asexuals, and privileges queer individuals don’t receive for being sexual (hell, there are plenty of Christians okay with queers as long as they stay celibate). Were convents targeted historically because they’re women who weren’t having sex or because they’re women? With other institutionalized isms we don’t just have people in those groups saying ‘I am oppressed’ we have studies backing up how that oppression works, through discrimination and violence. I have literally never seen anything that enumerates any kind of sexual privilege, and the claims I have heard seem to fall under sexism and rape culture.

  28. says

    Shaun,

    The only sexual “privilege” I can see is that sex is culturally defined as “for men”, and women and children are fair game whether they like it or not.

    Sexual oppression, on the other hand, might be easier to talk about. I can definitely see how certain sexualities are targeted with more violence or discrimination than others, and I would refer to this as varying levels of oppression rather than “privilege.” I just can’t see calling heteronormative women, for example, “privileged” when they still have a pretty good chance of being sexually assaulted thanks to male privilege and rape culture. But I can definitely get behind referring to them as “less oppressed” in comparison to other sexualities.

    Conversely, I argued at What Privilege that poor whites (a class I am from) still have white privilege despite being oppressed in many ways. That’s because being white really does privilege someone who is not recognized as also being poor. But being a woman of any sexuality is hardly a privileged position, because women’s sexuality of any kind has been a target of oppression. It’s just some are less oppressed than others. I hope I’m making sense; my brain could use a vacation lately.

  29. Shaun says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    The sexual privilege I was referring to was the idea that all “sexuals” (straight, gay, and bisexual people of all genders) are privileged over asexual people (romantic or aromantic). It’s usually an argument I see heteroromantic people using to dismiss their own privilege while claiming oppressed status. I also see it from men a good deal.

    I would disagree pretty starkly that a homosexual person was privileged over a homoromantic person, and while I would say a straight woman is privileged over queer women, and in certain categories even over queer men, I think you outlined better than I could why the idea that an asexual man (especially a heteroromantic one) is MORE punished for his sexual feelings and behavior than a straight woman is pretty ludicrous.

    For the record Elee I’m not assuming that any of this is your argument, and I’m down with nuanced conversations about sex and sexuality, I’m just presenting and discussing the ideas I’m familiar with.

  30. says

    Elee,

    Nunneries were used as a place to stash all sorts of inconvenient women. I certainly see an asexual woman turning to a convent as a place of sanctuary, but that was hardly their primary purpose.

  31. says

    Shaun,

    I agree that all sexuals are not privileged over asexuals. I do not agree that straight women are “privileged” compared to queer women, because I see privileges as total freebies from society, NOT merely “less likely to be abused.” Heteronormative white guys – in western culture – have the privilege of being entitled to have sex with or rape anyone they care to, and for the most part, society has their back no matter what (see Catholic church on child molesting priests). Now THAT’S a privilege. EVERYONE other than them is oppressed by their privilege. It’s true that those who comply with the narrative by providing heteronormative sex to heteronormative white guys are less targeted, but that’s like “beauty privilege” – being required to conform to something at whatever cost to yourself and no consideration of what you want is not a “privilege”, even if it comes with some perks OR reduced abuse.

    I’m just being semantic here, but I’ve seen one or two people raise the argument that because hetero women are “privileged” compared to queer women, we shouldn’t be complaining about anything and are in fact part of the problem. That argument bothers me a lot, because there are many ways in which heteronormative women are targeted for their sexuality, and while that discussion needs to more frequently take a backseat to the violence that’s happening to queers, it shouldn’t be left out completely because of the misperception that we’re “privileged.”

  32. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    So you wouldn’t consider a straight woman’s right to marry who she loved, over a queer woman’s lack of right to do the same, to be a privilege but something else? Because I definitely see that straight women have advantages over queers, even if those advantages don’t fit the specific definition of “privilege”.

    I’ve made the point myself before that there are two types of privileges, the kind everyone should have and the kind no one should have. So I would consider a man’s increased ability to get away with rape as the latter, and a White person’s decreased risk of victimization as the former. Perhaps this is related to your point; that straight women merely enjoy rights that queer women do not, not that they themselves perpetuate oppression?

    I would agree with you that in the specific realm of sexuality straight women are not unduly advantaged; they have decreased risks, not eliminated risks, and the risks ought to be eliminated for everyone. However, I do think that straight people, including straight women, oppress queer people, including queer women. When laws to grant queer rights are voted down, women are among the voters. When hospitals refuse to allow a same sex partner to visit, women are among the personnel. There are women in the Phelps family holding “God Hates Fags” signs. Michele Bachmann signed a pledge to investigate the LGBT community and her family runs a “pray the gay away” clinic.

    And from my personal experience, straight women worry more about my orientation than straight men do. Straight men think I’m misguided and change the subject; straight women might have that reaction, but they also might think I’m a predator or a pervert and shun me.

  33. says

    Sylvia Sybil: So you wouldn’t consider a straight woman’s right to marry who she loved, over a queer woman’s lack of right to do the same, to be a privilege but something else? Because I definitely see that straight women have advantages over queers, even if those advantages don’t fit the specific definition of “privilege”.

    I see where you’re coming from, and agree with you on everything but terminology. Marriage was set up to benefit men, and even though many individual marriages are quite equitable, the institution as a whole still oppresses women in many ways. So, no, because men are the real benefactors of marriage, I don’t consider it a “privilege” when women are allowed to marry. I consider it “less oppressed.” To be clear, I do support equal marriage rights for all, and consider it an important oppression issue that needs to be addressed already. In fact, opening marriage up to non-hetero people could be what finally shifts it from “designed to benefit men” to “way of publicly declaring devotion and obtaining certain legal rights in relation to each other.” (I’m REALLY struggling with wording here, and have edited this three or four times already. Sorry.)

    You’re absolutely right that many straight women help perpetuate the oppression of queers, and police other women’s sexuality more than men (in my experience, anyway). But I’m not sure where you’re going with this point?

  34. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Just ruminating, mostly. There are some social justice/sociological terms with specific meanings, such as privilege and oppression, and since I like to be precise with language it bothers me when I bump up against the edges of terminology.

  35. Patrick McGraw says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Marriage was set up to benefit men, and even though many individual marriages are quite equitable, the institution as a whole still oppresses women in many ways. So, no, because men are the real benefactors of marriage, I don’t consider it a “privilege” when women are allowed to marry. I consider it “less oppressed.” To be clear, I do support equal marriage rights for all, and consider it an important oppression issue that needs to be addressed already. In fact, opening marriage up to non-hetero people could be what finally shifts it from “designed to benefit men” to “way of publicly declaring devotion and obtaining certain legal rights in relation to each other.”

    I know I’ve said it here before, but I really think what you just described is the underlying reason for such fervent opposition to equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.