So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

31 August, 2008

With, Without ... and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?

I've been pondering again.

And one of the things that I've been pondering is that I'm fed up with justification. The whole, "It's okay that I ... because I don't ..." game of marginalise the more marginal. Let's have a little more disgusting finger-pointing. (For bonus fun, we get "It's okay that I X because I don't Y" and "It's okay that I Y because I don't X" thrown at each other by two marginal groups playing "No really, I'm the mainstream-acceptable one". See also approximately every polyamory vs. swinging conversation ever.)

I'm not going to say that it's okay that I'm poly because I don't have casual sex; if I wanted to have casual sex, that would be okay too. It's not okay that I'm married because where I live same-sex couples have marriage rights; it's okay to be married. It's not okay to be kinky because I'm not into pain; in fact, I consider the question of whether I'm into pain to be kind of a counfoundingly open one. It's not okay that I'm 24/7 because I don't live with my liege, because he doesn't control this, that, or the other, or whatever other loophole makes power relationships maaaaaybe not creepy to some observer who wants to be sure that other people have the okay kinds of relationships.

It's not okay that I'm religious because I'm not a Christian. It's not okay that I'm a pagan because I don't publicise it extensively. It's not okay that I'm a sexual being because I don't watch porn. It's not okay that I'm mentally ill because I keep relatively quiet about it. It's not okay that I'm lame from scoliosis because most of the time it doesn't show. It's not okay that I'm female because I conform or don't to a particular ideology. It's not okay that I'm the weight I am because this is where my body sets to without special intervention. It's not okay that I have long hair because I don't present femme. It's not okay that I dye my hair because it's subtle (even when it's green). It's not okay that I dropped out of college and took a secretarial job because I had no other choice. It's not okay that I'm a glorified housewife because I'm smart. These and other things do not become okay because of some qualifier.

These things are okay.

And on the other foot, it doesn't become okay that I was assaulted because I'm not ruined by the experience. It doesn't become okay that I was traumatised because I'm in therapy. It doesn't become okay that someone impersonated an officer to rape some women because some of those women were prostitutes and he was a pillar of the community. It doesn't become okay to kill a woman for being black and involved with a drug dealer. It doesn't become okay to kill a black trans woman because someone can float a rumor that she's kinky. It doesn't become okay to rape that guy because it's 'doing him a favor' to give him sex he wouldn't get otherwise that we all know he wanted because men are like that. It doesn't become okay to deny support and refuge to those who are unable or unwilling to leave New Orleans because they're not doing what they're told or because they don't have ID. It doesn't become okay to direct sexist slams at Gov. Sarah Palin because she's conservative. These and other things do not become okay because of some justification.

These things are not okay.

What makes things okay or not okay is not some weaseling around the consequences; it's the actual consequences.

And yes, some of the consequences will include upsetting people who are deeply unhappy that someone out there is fucking someone with similarly configured genitalia, not worshipping their favorite god, toking up in the basement, dealing with their medical issues the way they need to, enjoying their private affairs and their own lives in relative peace and calm. And some of those people will say how very hurt they are by people who differ from them. Some of those people will cite "trans panic" or "gay panic" or other things to explain how, really, they're the victims of the people they harmed.

And those people really need to face up to the consequences of having personal boundaries as shitty as a screen door on a submarine.

21 August, 2008

Gaming Dog-Whistles

So one of McCain's bloggers called potential Obama voters the D&D set living in their mother's basements, which was, y'know, standard and laughable.

I didn't notice the dog-whistle. WordWeaverLynn at livejournal did, and decodes it for the rest of us.

(Corrected 'McCain' to 'minion'.)

18 August, 2008

Something Appealing, Something Appalling

Questioning Transphobia raised the issue of excluding trans women from areas because a penis -- or a former penis-possessor -- might be "triggering" to abuse survivors. Lisa Harney wrote a followup discussing her own triggers.

So here's the thing.

I am, in fact, triggered by penises; that's the most consistent thing that sets off my flashbacks to the assault. (Other known triggers include the movie A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which I didn't successfully watch again until a few months ago as a part of a really intense scene, certain phrases, and, apparently, attempting to discuss the events in any detail with the shrink.)

Being triggered by penises is really annoying if one is pretty much exclusively interested in male sex partners. For the first ten years or so I was sexually active, I kept the lights off if at all possible, and rarely looked south of the ribcage.

Being triggered by penises is really one of those things that almost never comes up in the ordinary world. I'm more likely to have my unrelated mostly-mild phobia of mirrors pop up than random unexpected penises -- people put mirrors every-damn-where, but it's not often that one encounters a random penis. (Warning: link to random penis includes random penis. Art by the delightfully wacky Ursula Vernon.)

And the reason it doesn't have much relevance boils down to, mostly: trousers.

I live in a part of the world where people, for the most part, wear clothes. The penises the people around me have, if they have them, are irrelevant to pretty much all interactions I have with them, whether they were born with them, had them generated via modern medicine, got cybernetic implants a la Star Wreck's encounter with the Bored, or have a sparkly purple one that lives in the drawer next to the bed. The penises just don't come up, or if they do, they don't come up thoroughly enough to escape the trousers (or occasional kilts).

Hypothetical penises that may or may not be there are not triggering for me. I am not speculating about what is in your trousers right now, whether you are male, female, or not, whether you are cis or trans, whether you are wearing a thong or boxers or nothing or whatever. So long as your clothes are on, your hypothetical penis is hypothetical. With your clothes on, you are as sculpted and nippleless as Barbie to me, though presumably better-proportioned and able to flex your feet.

But ah, you say, what about those circumstances where people may not be clothed, what about those penises?

What about them, I say.

The thing is, my trigger is my problem. Which is not to say I don't appreciate people who are willing to make accomodations for it, as I do, but I can't find it reasonable to demand that other people go to exceptional effort to pad the corners for me.

Let me walk away if there's a penis and I'm upset by it. Don't make me stare at your naked dude spread. Give me space if I flip out. These are levels of consideration I expect from you as a decent human.

Ask me to tell you if I'm being triggered so you can determine if you feel you need to make accomodation to my issue? Sure, that's something I don't expect, but do appreciate, and I consider it a gesture from a friend.

Ban penises in my vicinity, just in case one of them might set me off? Presume to tell people "You can't bring that penis in here, she might have a flashback"? Free clue: my neuroses don't have a right to run my life, let alone the lives of innocents. I have the right to live like a normal person, and let other people likewise live their lives.

It sucks to have to manage triggers. But it's something that I have to do. It's something I've worked on, actively, gentle exposure to the occasional penis, going so far as to look at a few (though rarely for long, because it makes my brain itch in unpleasant ways due to, y'know, triggeryness). But I have to do it, because that's the price of living in my head. Like sometimes walking with a cane is the price of living in my body. I don't get to opt out. If I were crippled by the possibility of encountering someone with a penis unexpectedly, I couldn't go get the mail, let alone have a satisfying life including my partners.

I don't want to be oh-poor-babied and have my fragile spots coddled until I'm made of nothing but twitchy shards of overprotective mess. I'm not going to tell you to leave your penis at home any more than I'm going to forbid you to hum "Everybody Ought To Have A Maid", but I may remove myself from your presence at times if I can't handle it right then.

02 August, 2008

My Little Demon

I wasn't going to write about this. I thought I'd said everything that needed to be said at the Corvid Diaries, but it's been chewing on me, and when I saw that Trinity had posted about it at her place and at SM-F and Lina at Uncool also said a piece, I started formulating my thoughts.

I've written about wrestling with responsibility for my assault; it's a question that has been a major part of my psyche for over half a lifetime now. It's so easy to wipe it away into self-blaming, should have known better, all the things that I could have done differently if I'd been a year, a month, a few days wiser, with the wisdom that I bought with a shattered mind.

It's so easy to fall back in the place where, well, it wasn't really a rape because he stopped just shy of that, so my pain is not legitimate, my flashbacks are appropriating "real" sexual assaults. It wasn't so bad because it wasn't a stranger. It wasn't so bad because ...

It wasn't so bad because my own goddamn mother thought it was a nonevent, just something to take for granted: of course he assaulted me, he's a man and all, that's what men do. I shouldn't expect anything different; it was a nonevent.

I had to fight the demons of guilt and shame to accept it as an event.

I had to fight the world for my right to have been hurt.

I had to fight myself, the world, everything, for recognition of the fact that my sexuality was folded around nonconsent like a car wrapped around a tree by a drunk before I was old enough to know, fully, what it was.

I had to fight to be able to say: this thing happened to me. This was real. I was hurt by it. It was not my fault. In fact, it was his fault, his choice, his decision to never ask, never realise he was pushing, that he was doing harm. And I am far more forgiving of what he did than anyone I've told the story to, still, and even I know that it was his damn fault that he assaulted me, pinning me down under his naked bodyweight while I tried to curl into a ball of adolescent neutronium.

I fought. And I won that fight. I won that fight primarily with the help of a woman I traded stories with, sitting on the floor in her house in Wales one summer night talking about where we had been and what we had seen. I won that fight with the support of my husband. I won that fight with the guidance of the outraged responses to the story that so many people have given me, letting me know that my event was a real event, something that I was allowed to be affected by.

And now I run across someone saying "All men are rapists." (I'm not inclined to chase down the link enough to link that thing there, because I don't feel like retraumatising myself. If you want to read it, the posts I linked above linked it.)

And that throws me back to fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, unable to talk about it, because my experience wasn't actually real, it was "just" an assault, and anyway it was my boyfriend, not some stranger. It throws me back to knowing that, anyway, it was my fault, I should have known that he'd try something, I shouldn't have gone over to watch a movie if I didn't expect that. It's back to being all my fault, not his responsibility, because that's just how men are, that's just the default setting, he shouldn't be expected to be a decent human being.

All my fault.

All my goddamn fault.

It throws me back there, in the whirling mess of adolescence and trauma, back when I was still flashbacking regularly, back when I couldn't face the pain because being in pain was degrading to people who'd had a "real" assault.

All my fault.

And I sit back and bare my teeth at that maelstrom and say, "No."

I fought that fight already, and I won, and no fleabitten RAPE APOLOGIST claiming to be a feminist will EVER take that away from me.

Is that fucking radical enough for you?