It seems to me that, broadly speaking, there are two main approaches to 'flirting'.

The first - which i'll call "type 1" - is flirting-as-an-end. In this approach, it's assumed that the flirter isn't actually interested in sexual and/or romantic interaction with the flirtee. Also, in my experience, there's typically an enjoyment of ongoing ambiguity about what is actually being suggested by the flirter.

The second - which i'll call "type 2" - is flirting-with-intent. In this approach, it's assumed that the flirter is trying to "sound out" the possibility of sexual and/or romantic interaction with the flirtee, possibly in an ongoing way. Ambiguities are expected to be gradually resolved, in the direction of either "yes, there's mutual interest", or "no, the feeling isn't mutual", as the process continues.

If both the flirter and the flirtee are both coming from the same perspective about flirting, there's probably not an issue. Type 1s have some fun, and type 2s are able to get involved in sexual and/or romantic interactions, or move on.

When type 1s flirt with type 2s, however, problems can arise. Say a 1 starts flirting with a 2. The 1 is assuming that the 2 "knows" that it's just a bit of fun. The 2 is assuming that the 1 is perhaps actually interested in them. So the 2 might then respond in a way inviting a more direct expression of interest from the 1. But the 1 isn't going to be any more direct, because for them, such a removal of ambiguity removes the point of flirting. Unless the 2 simply asks directly, "Are you sexually and/or romantically interested in me?", the exchange could go on for a while, with the 1 continuing to have fun, but the 2 wondering "Am I simply being toyed with here? What's this person playing at? Are they enjoying stringing me along?" And if the 2 in question is someone that's been prank-flirted1 with in the past, they're more likely to feel hurt when they discover that the 1 was "just having a bit of fun". Such hurt might not have been the 1's intent, but the hurt could be inflicted nonetheless.

i'm not sure there's any resolution to this problem, or at least no easy one; the only suggestion i have is for both types to be aware of the existence of the other type, and keep that in mind when initiating and/or responding to flirting.

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1. As i've blogged about previously, "prank-flirting" is where person A flirts with person B with the explicit intent of mocking them. "Hey, I'm interested in you! HAHAHA no of course I'm not - who would be attracted to you, your dork / nerd / geek??" i myself have been prank-flirted with on a number of occasions.
i call myself a "Judeo-Satanist witch".

Overall i'm a panentheist, which means that i believe that the Divine both permeates the universe (multiverse?) and also exists outside of it. i've also recently become aware of process theism, which "feels right" to me; in process theism, our actions can change the Divine itself, which stands in contrast to much traditional Western theism, in which 'God' is seen as unchanging in such a way that our actions don't change any aspect of God's nature.

i don't believe in 'magick' in the Harry-Potter-like sense of being able to create e.g. fireballs out of thin air, turning people into an physiological animal etc. To me, 'magick' - which many people spell thus in order to distinguish it from stage magic, which is the art of illusion - is about believing that we influence, and are influenced by, the world in much more subtle ways than we commonly consider; and that our psychologies, our "mind maps" of the universe, play a role in this. An example of "working magick" in this sense is sports psychology, which seeks to maximise athletes' performance by trying to reduce mental blocks that affect performance negatively.

So 'magick' can thus be performed by trying to work with psychological associations, our subconscious and/or subconscious to focus our energies on certain things, block other things etc., with the idea that this will flow through to our more subtle behaviours and interactions with the world. 'Magick' in this sense doesn't require one to be anything other than an atheist materialist - 'materialist' not in the lay sense of "being overly concerned with possessions", but in the philosophical sense:

However, i personally believe - but would make no claim at all that this is in any way scientific, just that it doesn't contradict current scientific knowledge - that there probably are energies in the universe that we currently have no direct way to access and measure. (Unlike, for example, the way we can directly access, measure and control electricity.) To me, these energies form a sort of 'field' in which certain types of energies are clustered together in greater or lesser amounts; and these clusters form the basis of various notions of 'Divinity'.

In particular, i believe there's an energy cluster associated with the idea of independent thought, resistance to the idea of automatic obedience to authority, and enjoying sensual pleasures; and this energy cluster gives us concepts like 'Pan', 'Satan', 'Lilith', 'Lucifer', and 'Baphomet', who to a first approximation i regard somewhat like my personal 'angel' (to use that word).

Which finally brings me to the 'Judeo-Satanist' aspect of my spirituality. In Judaism, 'HaSatan' - literally, "the adversary" - is not an angel who has been cast of out of heaven, and who is pure evil and the source of all evil. Instead, HaSatan is like "God's Chief Prosecutor"; someone who challenges us to look at ourselves and examine whether we're living a good life. And although i'm not technically Jewish myself - i was raised in a nominally Anglican but basically secular household - Jewish spiritual thought strongly resonates with me, and i do a lot of reading regularly of Jewish spiritual sources. (Including about Jewish Kabbalah, which is a whole 'nother topic in itself!)

One of the central tenets of Judaism is 'Shema Yisrael', from Deuteronomy 6:4; the verse can roughly be translated as "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one". For me, the "energy field" i wrote of above, together with our universe, "is one" - it has different aspects, in the form of various "energy clusters", but they're all part of the same thing.

So my Satanism isn't, of course, the Satanism of either the mass media, or of what theistic Satanist Diane Vera calls "brat brigades" ("I'm such a rebel, I'm a Satanist!"), which usually don't involve much beyond a sort of "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me!" It's about finding my own path; constantly challenging myself to confront my issues and grow from them; not simply accepting "common knowledge", "received wisdom", "what everyone knows"; and not automatically genuflecting before authority figures / celebrities / etc., instead expecting them to have to earn any respect i give them beyond the basic respect i give to all people.

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2012-11-29 22:52
Nb. This is a work of satire.

i'd like to discuss an issue pervading Western society which doesn't get anywhere near the attention it deserves. That issue is the commodification of food, and the scourge that is the food industry.

Food shouldn't be commoditised. It is an essential human need. When people buy and sell food, the act of preparing and eating food becomes mere support for, and reinforcement of, the notion that it's acceptable to transform relations between humans into relations between a human and an unimportant unfeeling object. We must reject all buying and selling of food.

Sadly, most people seem to be blind to the way this is damaging all of us.

  • Most people feel entitled to pay someone to provide them with food. The conditions in the euphemistically-titled "restaurant industry" are horrible - exploitation is rife, with excessively long hours and poor incomes. Overwhelmingly, those exploited have been trafficked into the situation - although the euphemism "migrants" is all too often used, an attempt by the powerful restaurant industry and its lobby to put a pleasant face on what is in fact modern-day slavery.

  • In order to provide the raw materials for the restaurant industry, an entire international network is in place to ensure a steady supply. Again, exploitation is pervasive - long hours, poor incomes, an insistence by high-level people that people must use their bodies as directed, regardless of any consequent physical effects - or face even more dire physical consequences.

  • At the other end of this chain of misery, we have entire swathes of media promoting the idea that there's nothing wrong with purchasing food from others, despite the physical sacrifices often required to produce that food. People like Jamie Oliver, for example, spend most of their time focusing on the qualities of the food they have just purchased, whilst only occasionally paying lip-service to the evil industry that has provided that food. Indeed, Oliver is hardly going to do otherwise, since he himself has actively assisted the "restaurant industry" by establishing, or helping to establish, "restaurants" himself.

Clearly, it is time for the buying and selling of food to end. There is no choice but to criminalise the purchase of food, to attack the problem at its source: the demand for food. We need to send the message to buyers that they are not entitled to purchase food from others; that the "restaurant industry" is not harmless, but indeed merely the peak of a pyramid of suffering; that it is not acceptable to treat fellow human beings as no more than objects to facilitate gustatory satisfaction. Moreover, we need to immediately mobilise governments to rescue all those trapped within this pyramid, as they are themselves completely powerless to change the conditions they have been trafficked into. Nor should we heed the voices of those who argue that it is not the buying and selling of food that is the problem, but the conditions under which that is done: such an attitude ignores the fact that buying and selling food fundamentally robs people of their humanity, and no changes to conditions can remove that stubborn fact. All food must be produced directly for someone else, as an act of love and commitment from one individual to another. For things to be any other way must finally be recognised as morally unacceptable.

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Issue 4 of @ArielleLoren's "Corset" magazine is out, with an article by written by me: "Owned: One polyamorist's relationship with BDSM".
The second piece in my "poly 101" series for Gonzo Times is now up: "Poly logistics: The times of our lives".
@cuntext asked me if i'd be willing to participate in a Blog-Hop, involving one self-interviewing and then passing the "Blog-Hop baton" to another blogger. i was flattered to have been asked, and agreed!

@cuntext's Blog-Hop post is here; my own tongue-in-cheek self-interview is below. :-)


When did you decide to start calling yourself a 'woman'?

You know you have those days where you wake up and think to yourself something like: "You know, I should learn to skateboard!" or "Hey, maybe I should put some colour in my hair!" It was like that. Exactly like that. i woke up one morning and thought "Hey, being a chick seems like a lark; why not try it on?" And there it was.

So the original motivation wasn't to be a fifth columnist for patriarchy?

Not at all! The original motivation was just a spur-of-the moment thing. But having said that, it's true that i soon realised being a fifth columnist for patriarchy was going to be a major positive side-effect. For years, i'd been thinking to myself: "Oh how i wish i could destroy feminism! How i wish we could live in a Gorean world where women knew their place, naked at the feet of all men! But, damn those radical feminists! They continue to maintain a staunch defense of feminism against all Male Energies! Man, if only there were some way to break through those lines of radical feminists, and erode the foundations of feminism from within!" Pretending to be a woman, and demanding that i be treated as one despite not really being one, was going to be the perfect opportunity to set my pro-Gor plan in motion.

But hasn't retaining your penis, rather than undergoing genital reconstruction surgery, made your efforts in that regard more difficult?

Oh sure. It's certainly required me to come up with some, er, "creative misinformation" about gender and sex and biology! Like: "One's gender isn't simply about whether or not one has a 'Y' chromosome." [laughs] But, you know, i'm a man, so i'm better at creating things than any female. And anyway, like i'm going to give up the symbol of my natural superiority over all women! [laughs] Sure, i'm happy to make some sacrifices for the patriarchal Thermidor, but, yeah, there are limits.

The big challenge has been being able to flaunt my penis in front of real women in changing rooms. That's a critical bottleneck on the path to Gor: forcing all females to accept the sight of a penis, to psychologically traumatise them with it, so they'll be too damaged to do anything but submit to the superiority of men. And radical feminists know that, so they put in an extra effort to fight against it.

You mentioned "sacrifices" - do you mean, things like getting your gender changed on various pieces of bureaucratic documentation, like for government agencies, private businesses, and so on?

Yeah. There's been a fair bit of effort involved in doing all that. One example: i've had to work with my collaborators in the medical parts of the transsexual empire to get documentation 'proving' [does air quotes] that i should be treated as a woman. You know what bureaucracies are like: things have to be "just so", and even when they are, sometimes common sense gets in the way, and bureaucrats think things like, "Surely it's not possible for a man to suddenly be a woman? Maybe I need to be wary here." And they block you, and you end up having to call in senior officers in the patriarchy, and getting them to order those bureaucrats to do what needs to be done. i mean, those officers understand the bigger picture, that this apparent increase in the number of 'women' [does air quotes] in the world is a temporary, tactical, manoeveur on the path to final victory. But the front-line staff don't.

So it's a been a hassle. But i've got there in the end!

Do you have any advice for any men themselves wanting to become fifth-columnists for patriarchy?

Do it! It can be hard work, but it can be really rewarding. Like, distracting radical feminists from talking about under-representation of women in STEM fields, or in the pool of 'experts' the mainstream media draws on when discussing various issues .... that feels really good! And though you might be asked to commit suicide for the cause, that's not a certainty; what is a certainty is that you'll have helped your fellow men to roll back all the encroachments women have made on men's dominion over the last few decades. That's something to be proud of.


It's amazing how cathartic i can find sarcasm .... :-)

@polyvanilla has a blog about being a kinky polyamorous woman happily married to a monogamous vanilla man. One recent post of hers i particular enjoyed was this one on breast orgasms.

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NB. As this is a "reference post", created in response to experiences and interactions i have had with others, i will change its content as needs dictate.

If you follow, or want to follow, me on Twitter, here are some things you should know:

  • What i'm seeking to do with Twitter is connect with like-minded people who accept me and where i'm coming from. i usually don't have this experience either online or offline - with the exception of my partners - and haven't for most of my life. So i hope that my tweets will resonate with people who feel that what i write, and where i'm coming from, strongly resonates with them. i thus seek to build a network of people more likely to be generally supportive of me, rather than constantly criticising / critiquing me, as is often the case. i also use Twitter as my ventspace: i often use it to vent my feelings and thoughts. When i'm venting, please consider that i'm even less likely to at that moment be in a space to be 'helped' by critique / disagreement.

  • i'm a highly sexual person, and my tweets can be very sexually explicit and/or link to very sexually explicit things. No, i'm not going to change that. My Twitter account is a space to be me, and that includes expressing my sexuality. i will not, ever, mark tweets with a '#nsfw' tag1, because what is "safe for work" varies from work environment to work environment. However, i do try to use tags to describe the content of what i link to: for example, "Here's a #cunnilingus pic i just adore".

  • Empathy is really important to me. If you can't or won't show empathy for me at least occasionally, or only ever do so in a qualified way, our interaction styles are not compatible. As someone with a limited amount of spoons due to chronic health issues, i simply cannot afford to give some of my energies to people who merely drain my energies in return.

  • There are many issues i feel strongly about, but for my own mental health, i tend to focus on tweets about a small selection of those issues: most commonly, trans issues, fatphobia and sex work. Still, i am not here to be your personal educator about these issues - particularly not in the case of the latter two, as i have thin privilege, and am not a sex worker. But i do happen to count fat people and sex workers amongst my partners and close friends.

  • i tend not to tweet about things i haven't given lots of thought to. So when i tweet about feminism, be aware that it's in the context of me having been involved with feminist politics and activism for over two decades2; when i tweet anti-statist politics, be aware that it's in the context of me having formerly spent many years as a pro-state activist pushing for extensive government management of society; when i tweet about computing, be aware it's in the context of me having been using / programming computers since the early 80s3; when i tweet about sex work and porn, be aware that it's in the context of me having been involved in debates around these issues for as long as i've been involved with feminist politics; when i tweet about matters spiritual, be aware that it's in the context of me having formerly been an actively militant atheist for over a decade and a half. Additionally, my views on various issues are often relatively complex; keep in mind that the format of Twitter doesn't allow much space for subtlety and nuance.

  • Some things i'd expect you to have read and be familiar with before i even consider entering a discussion with you on certain topics:

So if you're willing to keep all that in mind - follow away! :-)

1. i've written a critique of the 'NSFW' tag.

2. So that, for example, yes, i am aware that there's a multitude of strands of feminist thought: anarchafeminism, black feminism, cultural feminism, ecofeminism, first-wave feminism, individualist feminism, intersectional feminism, Islamic feminism, lesbian feminism, liberal feminism, libertarian feminism, Marxist feminism, queer feminism, radical feminism, second-wave feminism, separatist feminism, sex-positive feminism, socialist feminism, third-wave feminism, and so on. And i'm sure there are many varieties of feminism i've missed.

Further, if you're the sort of person who requires formal qualifications, i have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women's Studies. This doesn't, of course, mean that my word must be taken as gospel; it merely suggests i'm not a noob when it comes to feminism.

3. An initial list of computing environments i've worked on or programmed in would include (amongst others i've probably forgotten): the TRS-80, the Apple IIe, the BBC B micro, the C64, CP/M, MS-DOS 3.2 through 6.0, Windows 3.1 through Win 7, Red Hat Linux 5.2 up to Fedora, various versions of Mandriva Linux, various versions of Ubuntu Linux, Linux Mint Debian Edition, Debian Linux, pre-OSX Macs, the Acorn Archimedes, SunOS, Solaris, OpenBSD, and various versions of Android. (No OS/2, sadly!) Programming-wise, i have various levels of experience with (again amongst others i've probably forgotten) Perl, Emacs Lisp, JavaScript, Scheme, Haskell, Common Lisp, various BASICs (including Visual Basic for Applications), Clojure, Factor, C, x86 assembler, Python, Java, PHP, BASH, Ruby, Ada and Io.

The first piece in my "poly 101" series for Gonzo Times is now up: "Polyamory: Ethical consensual nonmonogamy".
Thanks to Dee for her review of, and feedback on, this post!

i often see 'gender' defined by various people as being about sociocultural expectations regarding presentation and roles/behaviours. Which is to say: rather than being about whether or not one is, for example, a 'woman', it's about presenting as 'a woman', behaving as 'a woman', and so on. Furthermore, this definition is then contrasted with 'sex', which the same people then define as being purely about biology.

i've previously written a critique of the notion of sex-as-purely-biological; here, i'd like to critique the conflating of 'gender' itself with "socioculturally expected gender roles/behaviours and presentation". Unsurprisingly, given the definition of 'gender' outlined above, many people go on to argue that we need to work towards a "gender-free society". With 'gender' defined as necessarily involving (relatively) rigid notions about presentation and roles, that desire seems to me to be a reasonable conclusion. The problem is, this definition is fundamentally hostile to trans people1.

One of the accusations often levelled by radfems2 against trans women such as myself is that we are reinforcing gender stereotypes, via:

  • "changing genders" (an oft-used phrase which i feel is usually inappropriate – we are not changing genders per se, we are changing which gender we publicly assert ourselves to be); and

  • adopting certain socioculturally expected physical presentations (regardless of the reasons for doing so).

As part of the process of transitioning, many trans women adopt an 'ultrafeminine' look, where what's considered 'feminine' is based on sociocultural ideas – in Western society, for example, predominantly wearing dresses and not pants, removing body hair, wearing jewellery, using facial makeup etc. There are at least two pressures for trans women to adopt this presentation, however:

  • 'Gatekeepers' - people such as psychiatrists and doctors – often require 'demonstrations' from trans women, to 'prove' we are serious about our sense of gender, before giving us the go-ahead to use hormones, have surgery, etc. That said, many gatekeepers often have *cough* 'traditional' ideas about what such demonstrations will look like. They don't find it sufficient for trans women to merely be suicidal about not being able to live as the gender we know ourselves to be; they require us to demonstrate to them that we're willing to conform to their stereotypes about the presentation and behaviours involved with being a 'woman'.

  • More generally, cisnormative society is constantly seeking any 'flaws' in how trans women live as women, to thus 'prove' that we're 'really' not women. A cis woman who prefers to wear pants, or who enjoys watching the footy, is nowadays only criticised by the more conservative conservatives, and doesn't seriously3 have her womanhood fundamentally questioned. This is not the case for an equivalent trans woman. So there is immense pressure on us to adopt 'ultrafeminine' presentations and behaviours.

In this context, defining 'gender' as inherently being about presentation and behaviours further reinforces the notion that trans people must present and behave like stereotypes in order to be accepted as the gender we know ourselves to be. Further, when one then uses this definition to argue for a "gender-free society", it's further reinforcing to trans people that we have no right to experience gender outside of that 'permitted' to us by society.

The argument might then be made: "Oh, but what we need to do is expand the definition of 'gender' so that it's not so limited in terms of presentation and behaviours!" There are at least two issues with this:

  • Assuming that one can expand the definition of 'gender' in such a way seems to me to imply that the essence of gender is in fact not about presentations and behaviours. So why include presentations and behaviours in the definition of gender in the first place? Why not distinguish 'gender' from "sociocultural expectations regarding presentation and behaviours for a given gender"?

  • In any case, who gets to decide which presentations and behaviours will be included in the expanded definition? If no-one or anyone does, surely that means that any presentations and behaviours can be included, which then renders presentation and behaviour irrelevant to the notion of 'gender' itself?

Here's something to consider. The word 'gay' - in the sense of 'homosexual' - has particular associations for many people: they often think of a guy who is flamboyant / camp. And though there are many people who realise that this is a stereotype – that although there are indeed some gay men like that, not all gay men are – it's still a common, pervasive stereotype in Western society. So should we then say we need to start working towards a "sexual-orientation-free society", simply because many people insist on linking sexual orientation with certain presentations and behaviours? Should we in fact define 'sexual orientation' as inherently involving particular sets of presentations and behaviours? Should we then state that a person is "not really 'gay'" unless they exhibit flamboyant, camp behaviours? If your answers to these questions are "no", why do your answers change to "yes" when discussing gender rather than sexual orientation?

i have to fight for my gender to be recognised every day. Every day i am involved with situations where people will regard me as "really just a guy" for one or more of many reasons: because i have a cock (and want to keep it)4, because i enjoy studying maths, because i top, because i have a goatee, because i watch porn .... the list goes on. And in the face of all that, i declare: "i am a woman. Whether or not you feel my presentation and behaviours fit your idea of the gender 'woman' is irrelevant. i am a woman. And don't try to tell me that i have to abandon this gender identity i have had to fight for just so that we can work towards your idea of a 'gender-free' utopia."

What i want is a society free of nonconsensual gendering. i refuse to demand that people not feel a sense of gender, or to claim that people wouldn't feel a sense of gender in some theoretical utopia. i want a society which doesn't assume people's gender based on presentation and/or behaviours – just as i want a society which doesn't assume someone's sexual orientation/preferences simply by looking at them – and which respects a person's sense of gender, or lack thereof. i will not support any theories or notions of gender which fly in the face of my experiences and struggles as a trans woman.

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1. And, i believe, genderqueer people too. (i myself identify as 'transgenderqueer' - i am both a trans woman and genderqueer.) But for the purpose of this essay, i'm going to focus on the impact on trans people.

2. A contraction of the phrase 'radical feminists'. A brief summary of my perspective on "radical feminism" can be found in this old blog post.

3. As distinct from jokes about "being one of the boys" etc.

4. i explore the particular form my body dysmorphia takes in more detail in this post.
i've been involved in a lot of online discussions, debates and arguments over the years. As a result, for my own mental health, i've developed a set of criteria which i use to determine the extent to which someone is likely to be debating me "in good faith":

  • Does this person refer to the documentation i have provided in support of my position? They don't need to necessarily do so in detail; merely saying, for example, "I have read that document, and I still disagree" would suffice.

  • Does this person respond to the questions i ask of them, or do they ignore them? This is particularly important when i'm asking clarification questions, e.g. "Can you explain what the word 'queer' means to you personally?"

  • Does this person also suggest documents which support their own position, or do they just expect me to take their personal explanations as gospel? The documentation need not be e.g. experimental data; it might simply be a line of reasoning.

Note that "agreeing with me" is not listed above. Of course i am genuinely trying to convince people of my position; i only rarely debate for debate's sake1, and instead debate because i actually personally care about the issue under discussion.

So i am invested in the outcome. But the outcome i'm looking for is arriving at the position which is "most correct" (for some definition of 'correct', depending on context). There is, of course, a chance that my position entering a debate is either "less correct" or "completely wrong" (or perhaps "not even wrong"2) in comparison to the position of the person i'm debating. In that sense, i actively want to be shown to be wrong.

However, when i feel strongly about an issue, i've usually done a lot of reading about it and given it much thought. So i've probably already considered initial arguments against my position on the issue and found them wanting. Consequently, i seek what i consider to be strong arguments why i'm wrong - 'arguments' of the strength of "Genesis talks about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!!1!" will not suffice.

i can really enjoy grappling with the complexities of an issue, and being challenged to think about it differently. But through experience, i've learnt that's most likely to happen in the context of the above provisos.

So if it seems to me that a person is failing to meet the criteria i've described, i do one or more of the following:

  • Repeat my point or question, in case they've inadvertently missed it.

  • Ask them to please respond to the questions i've asked, to help me gain a better understanding of where they're coming from, so that the discussion can move forward productively.

  • Note that i am feeling they are not debating "in good faith" in terms of my criteria for this, and that without counterevidence to the contrary, i am unlikely to want to continue the discussion further.

How they respond will help me determine whether to bother engaging with them further, and hopefully sort the debate wheat from the chaff. :-)

1. And when i do so, i try to be explicit about that fact.

2. A phrase popularly attributed to physicist Wolfgang Pauli.

Earlier today i had a Twitter conversation about the looks of trans people in porn; and i felt it raised some issues i feel are better discussed in a blog post than within the confines of the Twitter 140-character limit. :-)

My initial tweets were:

i must say i often feel intimidated by the looks of the people in 'shemale' #porn .... #trans #lgbt

.... but then, i'm intimidated by the looks of most people in #queer #porn, too. #trans #lgbt

i guess every type of #porn has a 'blessed' look associated with it ....

.... where by "'blessed'", i mean looks which are repeatedly publicly endorsed by various members of relevant communities as being "suitably attractive"; not using that exact phrase, but by comments like "Woah, how hot is this person!", "This person is just so fuckable!", "Seeing this person makes me so horny!", and so on.

In response, @amiewee asked "How intimidated?" To which i replied:

Well, i guess i feel i'm rather 'unattractive' in comparison.

i mean, i know professional porn has to cater to what its target
demographic deems 'attractive', [+]

so in that sense i see it as an issue with wider societal notions of 'attractiveness' rather than something specific to porn.

A basic premise of 'queer porn' is that it's about diversity - showing a wide range of people, regardless of their size / gender / ethnicity / shape / sexuality / ability / looks etc. But in my experience, even though the queer porn i've seen does show a range of body sizes and shapes, and a range of queer sexualities, i've felt it often has a certain aesthetic about it which i find difficult to describe, but which i tried to describe to @amiewee as being rooted in looks i think of as 'trendy'/'alternative': piercings / tattoos / brightly coloured hair done in certain styles. And i further feel that there often doesn't seem to be that many trans / genderqueer women i can identify with.

i know of a number of trans women who feel we as a group are underrepresented in queer porn; there's been discussions about the issue in groups on FetLife, for example. i admit, i initially thought that the issue might be with attitudes/biases from queer porn producers/creators. But two things have changed my mind in this regard:

  • i tried creating a Tumblr, 'AmateurTransSex', seeking submissions from a variety of trans people - but certainly from trans women - showing them having sex, to show the diversity of trans people's bodies, and how one can't automatically assume the gender and/or sexuality of people in pictures of sex acts. i announced the project in relevant groups on FetLife, and prominent people within the queer porn community helped to promote it on Twitter.

    The response? Near-silence. Even after further attempts to promote the project.

  • A similar Tumblr project is the TransQueersXXX Tumblr. When it became apparent that TransQueersXXX was having more success than my own Tumblr along these lines, i 'officially' ended my AmateurTransSex Tumblr project and directed any interested people to TransQueersXXX. But although TransQueersXXX is getting a fair number of submissions in general, they often seem to be struggling with a lack of submissions from trans women, despite, to their credit, regularly putting out calls for such submissions.

So the overall impression i've been getting is one of enthusiasm from queer porn creators for supporting getting more trans women into porn, and other people making active efforts to try to display more representations of trans women being sexual - but an apparent lack of willingness on the part of trans women to put themselves forward. Which in turn has made me ask: Why might this be the case?

Some thoughts that i've had in this regard are:

  • i would wager that when the average-person-in-the-street thinks of trans women in porn, they think of the 'shemale' genre. i know quite a few trans women, and hardly any of them look like 'shemale' actors; they often don't completely 'pass' as cis women1, which i feel many 'shemale' actors do2. And i suspect many, if not most, trans women are very aware of the extent to which they don't 'pass', and thus feel they are therefore 'unsuitable' for appearing in such porn.

  • More broadly, representations of trans women in the mainstream media in general - are very limited at best; and when we are represented, we're often presented as "eww, it's an ugly man in a dress, gross!" So we don't often receive societal messages suggesting that we're an attractive group of people overall, or even that we can be attractive; only when we 'pass' sufficiently well does the possibility of us being 'attractive' begin to be assessed. In this context, it's hardly surprising that many trans women might not feel particularly comfortable putting themselves on display, to be mocked and labelled ugly by people on the Internet - particularly when we often get that going about our daily lives in any case.

  • More specifically, however, the experience of myself and, from what i've read, a number of other trans women is that queer communities often seem to have an aesthetics which lauds AFAB3 people in a way that AMAB people aren't - which often seems to not be apparent to people who aren't trans women, just as straight people often don't notice the lack of non-heterosexual people/relationships in the mainstream media. Enthusiasm for 'androgyny' often seems to accompany pictures of trans guys / AFAB genderqueers4; in my experience, it rarely accompanies pictures of trans women or AMAB genderqueers. So again, the overall metamessage that this can send to trans women is: "You're unlikely to be someone who is attractive".

  • Despite the constant message that it's self-confidence that makes people attractive, we live in a world where pictures of dark-skinned people get modified so that their skin appears lighter, regardless of how self-confident those people might be - because 'whiteness' is an aesthetic that is highly valued, not only in Western countries, but in countries such as India. In this context, the metamessage that gets sent is: "Even if you do think you look okay, others won't necessarily think so unless we change how you appear in pictures."

Thus, even when queer porn creators actively seek trans women, there are factors working against trans women responding to their call. And this creates a catch-22, because this reduces the representations of trans women in queer porn, which then reinforces trans women's notions that we're not attractive enough for it.

To me this is yet another example of how we need to start critiquing standards of 'attractiveness'; there's an interesting post on the Radical TransFeminist blog on this issue called "Significant Othering: Attraction Down the Privilege Gradient". [NB. The author of that post has expressed concerns about my use of the post in this context.] Still, that's a long-term task; what can we do in the meantime?

Clearly more of us trans women need to either be putting our hands up to appear in queer porn, or start making more of it ourselves. It seems to me both things are happening: i'm a fan of Tobi Hill-Meyer (@Tobitastic) and Maya Mayhem (@Maya_Mayhem), and there are other trans women whose work i've not yet seen, such as Drew Deveaux (@DrewDeveaux). i would suggest that trans women can work to increase their profile and visibility, and if finances permit, pay for porn featuring them. (i myself had a subscription to QueerPorn.TV which i unfortunately recently had to cancel due to financial constraints.) Further, whilst acknowledging that we regularly receive many messages that we're inherently unattractive, we can, as an act of political resistance, try to put such messages into their broader sociopolitical context, and work on reevaluating societal notions of who is and isn't considered 'attractive'. And i say this as someone who certainly does not think she's attractive enough for any porn, including queer porn; i don't feel i have 'trendy'/'alternative' looks (despite my body piercings :-P).

If we can work on rejecting notions of the extent to which we're 'attractive', it increases the possibility that we would feel comfortable making our own porn. Of course this is not an option for many trans women, for various reasons, including:

  • overall body dysphoria;

  • not wanting to provide 'evidence' (e.g. still having a cock) that one is "not a real woman";

  • not wanting to 'out' oneself as having been AMAB / that one is trans;

  • having other life / community / activist / personal commitments which take up the bulk of one's time/resources;

  • more generally, social sanctions - which include such things as losing employment, when unemployment is already very high amongst trans women - for appearing in porn in general.

But even if there are at least some of us who do have the option to consider appearing in professional or amateur queer porn, and even if only some who do consider it end up actually choosing to do so, i would feel that's progress which might well help many other trans women feel better about themselves and their bodies.

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1. i note here that i feel there are significant issues involved in the 'passing' concept; but i feel those issues are relatively tangental to the issues i want to discuss here.

2. Hence the term 'trap' often used by cis men to describe trans women; "It looks like this person is a woman; but the pants come off, and Woah! there's a cock. So this person isn't really a woman - the whole thing was a trap!" i find it terribly offensive, particularly when it's used by "tranny chasers" who think it's a term of endearment. :-P

3. ETA, 2013.04.13: Nowadays i would write 'D[F|M]AB', "Designated [Female|Male] At Birth", out of respect for concerns expressed by intersex activists about inappropriate usages of the word 'Assigned' in the context of sex/gender. However, i don't believe in rewriting my old blog posts to pretend that i didn't write things i now find problematic (or indeed, simply wrong).

4. Cf. this old post of mine on 'androgyny', which explains why i tend not to identify as 'androgynous', even though, as a two-gendered transgenderqueer, it should technically apply to me. To my satisfaction, in more recent times i've seen increasing numbers of people making similar critiques.

This is a placeholder post for links to research relating to women's mathematical ability:
In recent years, my ongoing experience of 'progressive communities is that issues around gender, sexuality and race seem to get acknowledged in a way that issues around class seem not to be.1 And i can't help but wonder if much of this is due to many progressive communities being dominated - either in terms of numbers or influence - by middle-class2 people.

i should preface what i'm about to say by noting that i myself come from a middle-class background. Both my parents were professionals. i wouldn't say we were particularly well-off - at least by Western standards - but neither did i ever want for food or shelter. So i had access to resources when growing up that many less privileged people don't. My enthusiasm for reading was supported through the purchase of books and access to the wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction, in my parents' libraries; my interest in computing was supported through the purchase of a IBM-compatible PC; my learning in general was supplemented. My family background also resulted in me developing a "general Australian" accent, rather than a "broad Australian" accent; the latter is often read as implying that one is not particularly intellectual. All of these things, together with extra-class privileges such as being Anglo, contributed to my success at school, at university, and in finding work. So my comments here are written from the perspective of someone trying to be conscious of hir class privilege.

For decades, 'class analysis' was damaged by the often simplistic reductionist perspectives of strands of Marxism such as Stalinism. The 'New Left' movements of the 60s helped to address this; rather than dismissing any non-class systems of oppression as ultimately unimportant, they were increasingly treated as objects worthy of change in their own right. Further, the late 60s saw the rise of postmodernism and its important critiques of 'grand narratives', particularly those based in modernism, such as Marxism. The eventual collapse of the "actually existing socialism/communism" in the Eastern Bloc further marginalised class-analysis perspectives, as people like Fukuyama declared "the end of history".

However, the needed correction to reductionist political analysis has, i feel, become an overcorrection: class analysis has become at best ignored, and at worst dismissed as irrelevant. In turn, 'progressive' politics, lacking in class analyses, has become dominated by middle-class voices whose class privilege - not only in terms of economic capital, but in terms of social and cultural capital as well - allows them to both speak and be heard.

Some common - and, i feel, problematic - perspectives that i think are probably linked to middle-class privilege include:

  • The (at best naïve) belief that Western states are an essentially neutral institutions that just need "the right government".

  • Western 'democratic' governments care about people who have at least middle-class levels of access to resources. They care about home owners, those who have investment properties, and those who have shares beyond those that exist in their (in Australia, compulsory) superannuation funds.

    To these people, governments can seem relatively (or potentially) responsive to their needs, because, due to the above, they are indeed responsive, at least relatively speaking. But that overlooks the fact that governments aren't particularly responsive to people who don't have those sort of resources: those who can only afford to rent housing, those who are homeless, those who have to use public transport because they can't afford to run a car, and so on. Governments only care about meeting the needs of this latter group to the extent that society would be substantially destabilised were they to do otherwise; they generally do the minimum amount necessary to prevent such a destabilisation from occurring.

    Related to this is an emphasis on - and sometimes an apparent obsession with - electoral politics. i've often noted with wry amusement that a number of people who look down upon those who enjoy television soap operas and/or 'reality tv' nevertheless seem to follow the sayings and doings of parliamentarians with a similar fervour. "Did you hear what Julia said?" "Oh I know! And then Tony's response, well, that was even worse!"3.

  • Hostility towards unions.

  • Middle-class people often have, or have had, access to resources that have allowed them to spend time in education to develop skills for which a premium is paid in the employment marketplace, and which they can bring to the table when looking for work.

    People that don't have these skills, or who at best have 'commodity' skills - such as those required for entry-level construction work - don't have this bargaining power. The strength-in-numbers that unions provide is a significant way in which many people can improve their bargaining power to ensure that they receive a living wage.

    One of the grounds on which i've observed 'progressives' to attack unions is that they are, in some sense, corrupt organisations. And it is true that, in Australia - and, i believe in most Western countries - many, if not most, unions are dominated by careerists and opportunists for whom union activity is not so much about improving working conditions for union members as about being a stepping stone on their path of personal advancement, often into electoral politics (cf. Martin Ferguson). i feel this not inherent to unionism, however; i consider it to be connected to unions believing that the state is a neutral institution which can be filled with 'worker-friendly' politicians. "Don't let a Coalition government get power, that will be so much worse for workers than a Labor government!" "Striking is a last resort that we use to help get the ALP back in to power!"

    More concerning to me, however, is when 'progressives' argue that people working in 'essential industries' - e.g. power supply - should not be allowed to take any industrial action which significantly affects the ability of those industries to provide their goods and services. i find this appalling. If one is not allowed to withdraw one's labor power, one is effectively a slave. And countering with "if you don't want to work under such conditions, find work elsewhere" significantly ignores the probability that for many people, practical employment options are quite limited, which further suggests privilege-made blinkers.

  • Hostility towards the "uneducated unwashed masses".

  • Here in Australia, this often manifests as derisory attitudes towards 'bogans', who are regarded as inherently lacking in intelligence and/or 'progressive' attitudes (such as "If you don't vote ALP, you're letting the reactionaries win", or "You should be forced to work to provide power to my computer" :-P ). And not only that: actively reproducing such stereotypes is itself somehow regarded as a demonstration of "progressive street cred".

    Ironically, dismissing the "uneducated unwashed masses" as unsophisticated is, to me, a highly unsophisticated approach, which i can only (charitably) assume comes from regarding the 'lower' classes as a homogeneous mass in the same way that Anglo racists feel that "all Asians look the same". It assumes that 'education' - where 'education' is defined as "credential-producing education" - is there for anyone who wants it, and that anyone who isn't 'educated' is therefore simply willfully ignorant and/or stupid. And it also arrogantly dismisses ways of being intelligent and/or analytical which don't involve e.g. the tertiary education system.

  • An overoptimistic belief in the possibilities of technology alone producing political change.

  • A number of 'progressive' people seem to have the belief that the development of new technology can automatically and inherently bring about positive social and political changes, as though if and how technology gets deployed isn't strongly influenced by social and political issues.

    In response to second-wave feminists who have decried the apparent lack of gender activism among younger generations, some feminists have essentially said "Hey, grandma, we're doing stuff - it's just that we're doing it online". But Internet access is strongly mediated by various forms of privilege - class privilege not least amongst them - and such attitudes don't do much to dispel the oft-justified notion that feminism is a white middle-class pursuit. And not only 'net access: although it's true that one can get second-hand hardware for free and install FOSS on it, this overlooks the fact that doing so often tends to require middle-class privileges.

    As i noted above, my own middle-class background enabled me to develop a certain level of literacy, and an idiolect, which in turn enabled me to relatively easily obtain skilled work, which in turn enabled me to purchase (good quality, but expensive) O'Reilly and Associates books, which in turn enabled me to develop skills in programming and system administration, which in turn has allowed me to set up several FOSS-based LANs for my extended family on the cheap, using second-hand hardware provided to me gratis by people whose workplace was planning to throw them on the garbage heap.

    As with formal education, it's not true that technology is accessible to anyone who wants or needs it.

  • Overestimating the extent to which government services are available and accessible.

  • As someone who has presented to government agencies looking very dishevelled and the worse for wear due to CFS, i can tell you that one gets treated very differently by bureaucracies depending on how one looks when one presents oneself at government offices.

    People see advertisements on television saying "Help is available!" for mental health problems. So they assume that anyone who isn't getting help for mental health problem must merely be indolent / lazy / slack etc. Anyone that has actually tried accessing those services, however, knows the very different reality; the mental health system in Victoria is a shambles, and i know a number of people who have been continually bounced from one service to another in their quest for help.

    So there are many people who "fall through the [many] cracks"; and if you're one of those people, and still actively want counselling and support, you'll find that accessing private mental health services doesn't come cheap. Even when one can, in Australia at least, claim back most of the expense via Medicare, one still needs to have the cash to spend it in the first place - something that's not necessarily the case for those whose mental health issues prevent them from earning a living income.

The middle-classes can have a strong interest in defending the status quo, and diminishing or ridiculing class-based analyses, since they can be threatened by the possibility of losing their privileges and being "cast down" into the pit of the lowly masses. They can also have an interest in promoting and buttressing the mythos around middle-class values, beliefs and aspirations (such as "You can achieve anything if you're just willing to work hard enough"). So the middle-classes don't occupy some unique position which 'transcends' society, politics and culture, and which leaves them able to 'objectively' assess how society should work, "based purely on merit". On the contrary, they are as deeply influenced by their sociopolitical position (and its attendant social and cultural capital), and the class-based privileges and "invisible knapsack"4 that usually accompany it.5

i think it's well past time for class issues, and recognition of class privilege, to become a more significant part of 'progressive' discussion and debates.

1. By "acknowledged" i certainly don't mean "always acknowledged upon and resolved appropriately"; that's all too far from being the case. Rather, i mean "at least acknowledged in a theoretical sense, if not practically". Issues of disability, which frequently end up connecting with class issues, are also less acknowledged than i think appropriate; but i'd like to focus primarily on class here.

2. An important issue is "what constitutes 'middle-class'?" Although e.g. one Marxist perspective might be "the petit-bourgeoisie; that is, small business owners", i'll here be using 'middle-class' in the lay sense i most commonly encounter. This sense contrasts "the middle class" with both "blue-collar workers" (i.e. those whose work primarily involves physical labour, such as construction workers, farm laborers, assembly-line workers etc.) and with "the upper classes" (i.e. those with many millions of dollars of assets, on the boards of corporations, those from "old money", etc.).

3. Rogers Waters, ex of Pink Floyd, has referred to "the soap opera state", e.g. on his Radio KAOS album.

4. A reference to Peggy McIntosh's influential essay "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack [PDF]".

5. Thanks to Flavia Dzodan for raising these issues in a private email.
This is a 'reference' post in which i'll post stuff to support the idea that the role of the police, the military and the law in Western 'democracies' is ultimately to support corporate/state interests, i.e. that their work in supporting the average person-in-the-street is ancillary to this. It's currently very rough! i decided to create it based on the following Twitter conversation of 2011.10.26 (AEST):

flexibeast: Reminder: Ultimately the job of the policy and military is to protect state/corporate interests, not the average person-in-the-street.

flexibeast: Yes, of course the police and military help the average person-in-the-street during accidents, disasters etc., but when the chips are down ....

flexibeast: & even if many police/military people didn't sign on to primarily protect state/corporate interests, they'll be asked to do so in a crisis.

masterslaves: Where did you come up with that statement?

flexibeast: Er. Through years of observations and concrete experience?

masterslaves: It seeps [sic] a rather sweeping statement lacking concrete evidence, but then I guess it is just your opinion, correct?

flexibeast: Sure, supposedly, in theory, their job is to "protect and serve" everyone, but history shows the reality is otherwise.

flexibeast: *laugh* "lacking concrete evidence"? a) This is Twitter. b) Look at the history of social justice movements, unions etc.

masterslaves: Twitter has little to do with how an opinion is being presented. And comparative history would probably end up making a point

masterslaves: for both sides of the story. Police is an institution of the democratic principle so of course they are not neutral

flexibeast: Yes, of course it's my opinion. But it's much better supported by events than the "police/military are neutral" theory.

flexibeast: i'm trying to summarise an evidence-based opinion in < 140 characters per tweet! There's not much room for citations.

flexibeast: If they're an institution of "the democratic principle", why do corporates get away with things the average person doesn't?

masterslaves: No people with money and connections have good lawyers which again comes down to a flawed judicial system.

flexibeast: Why are they brought into [sic] bust unions?

masterslaves: Every police force I know enforces the law. The judicial process is probably not perfect as such you will most

masterslaves: likely find the fault there. Ad [sic] as much as I despise what happened in those cities they were enforcing bylaws of those cities.

flexibeast: Why do they come in and drag off peaceful protestors as they just have in Melbourne, Sydney and other cities?

masterslaves: I do not agree with it, at all, but that is their job, period.

flexibeast: Why does the military overthrow "democratically elected" governments, such as Allende's in 1973?

flexibeast: The law is enforced selectively. People with money and power get away with things that unprivileged people don't.

flexibeast: So their job of enforcing democratic principles involves dragging away peaceful protestors?? How does that work?

masterslaves: I DO NOT like those types of enforcement, but instead of moaning about the police (not saying YOU do)

masterslaves: , go and pass a bill, defeat a bylaw etc. It is possible I did it, took 3 fucking years, but it happened.

flexibeast: The Allende government was overthrown by its /own/ military (albeit with US backing). So much for "protecting democracy".

masterslaves: They enforce the law, if the bylaw says you cannot gather there and you have been warned x times,

masterslaves: what do you think they are supposed to do?

flexibeast: The protestors in Melbourne and Sydney were taken by surprise. There are so many laws they can be selectively enforced.

flexibeast: So the question then becomes, assuming there is an applicable law - and there probably is - why this time and not others?

flexibeast: Why is it that when people gather to celebrate a sporting victory, the law isn't enforced, but during a protest, it is?

flexibeast: Of course it's possible. But not everyone has the resources to sustain such a campaign (which might not be successful).

masterslaves: All it takes is time and hard work. I had no resources. I just had resolve and passion.

flexibeast: And what sort of 'democracy' is it when nonviolent protests are cracked down upon?

flexibeast: Is "freedom of assembly", /particularly/ anti-government assembly, a fundamental part of 'democracy' or not?

masterslaves: NO idea how that is handled in US law. But in Canada you cannot assemble where a bylaw says you cannot assemble there.

flexibeast: i've been involved in activism for two decades now, i know what's involved.

flexibeast: i have resolve, i have passion - and i also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and people to support and take care of.

flexibeast: But i'm still involved in all sorts of activism for social and political change, using a variety of methods.

flexibeast: And it's based on my decades of activism experience, and studying history, that i have the opinions i do.

flexibeast: Well, i'm not in the US myself; i'm in Melbourne, Australia.

flexibeast: Sure. But you still haven't answered why sometimes such bylaws get enforced, and other times don't.

masterslaves: Because that is not for me to answer. The decision is made by the Chief of Police I would guess? I am not a mind reader.

flexibeast: Plus, there are such things as unjust laws, that actively deny basic human rights on paper and in practice.

flexibeast: So it /just happens/ that bylaws get used against political protest but not against e.g. sports celebrations? Coincidence?

masterslaves: Your sports celebrations last longer than a week? Come on, be realistic when it comes to the application of the time period.

flexibeast: i feel we have to ask such questions, because if not, injustice in how the law gets applied just goes unchecked.

flexibeast: Heh, sometimes such celebrations do, yes. (Australians can be rather sports-obsessed.) But, [more]

flexibeast: i have /personally witnessed/ brief political protests get broken up by police in ways that non-political protests don't.

flexibeast: But the underlying issue is, laws aren't ends-in-themselves; they're intended to serve a purpose.

flexibeast: So we need to ask, What underlying purpose is served by enforcing laws at some times and not others?

flexibeast: Are people who make decisions re. enforcing the laws omniscient beings who are always right and don't have their own agendas?

flexibeast: There is /voluminous/ evidence out there demonstrating social differentials in access to, and persecution by, the law.

flexibeast: i should really get on with other work that i need to do .... thank you for engaging with me. :-)

masterslaves: anytime!


Thoughts / questions / notes

  • "Crackdowns Show What the State is Made Of"

  • 'Missing white girl syndrome': Compare resources devoted to finding 'pretty' cis white girls versus anyone else.

  • Why have anti-choice protestors not been 'moved on' from their permanent protest outside the abortion clinic in East Melbourne?

  • Why do people camping out for iDevices or concert tickets not get 'moved on'?

  • [Twitter, 2011.10.27] Steffi5461: Remember when the tea party had rallies where they openly carried guns. Remember when they were tear gassed? Oh, me either. #occupyoakland

Those around me for any substantial period of time eventually get to hear me complain about the "feminine energy / masculine energy" concepts beloved of so many religious / magickal / spiritual systems. As a feminist dual-gendered transgenderqueer, i feel my lived experiences make this notion problematic at best, particularly given the more general issues around defining 'sex' and 'gender'.

It recently occurred to me, however, that maybe the problem here is one of people confusing a map with the terrain. i can easily imagine individuals who have had spiritual revelations / insights trying to convey a feeling of connection with the Divine, and reaching for a metaphor that is likely to resonate with the majority of people: sexual union between a cis woman and a cis man. But then people infer this to mean that 'female' and 'male' are the underlying, fundamental concepts involved.

In Kabbalah's Etz Chaim, "Tree of Life", the first sephirah above Malkuth, "Kingdom" - typically associated with the material universe and/or the "Schechinah", the immanent Divine - is Yesod, "Foundation". Yesod is often considered the "Sphere of Illusion", in that neophytes at the beginning of their magickal / spiritual journey can erroneously believe that the images they're discovering and working with are 'things-in-themselves', as it were, rather than simply a 'best representation' created by the human mind as it tries to interpret what it's perceiving.

So while the "feminine energy / masculine energy" metaphor might well work for most people, it's not a map that works for me. On the contrary, its attempted symbolism creates sign(post)s that don't make sense to me given the personal understandings i've developed on my life journey. But that doesn't mean the terrain isn't nevertheless there for me to explore; it just means i need to create my own guidebook as i go.
The average conversation between the unprivileged (U) and the privileged (P):

U: *notes existence of issue*
P: *denies issue exists at all*
U: *counters P's denial, noting knowledge from experience*
P: *claims U can't be objective*
U: *notes issues with P's position being the 'objective' one*
P: *attempts to explain away U's experiences*
U: *angrily takes issue with P's attempt to invalidate U's experiences*
P: *notes that U would have more success if U didn't get so angry*


[Suggestions re. further details for this script welcomed.]
Several times recently i've encountered commentary in which anarchists1 are accused of being self-centred jerks who are unconcerned with others' welfare and/or wellbeing. More specifically, i've read it argued that whilst anarchists may go on about how we could have a society where people are supported by something other than the state, anarchists don't put their money where their mouths are, and rather than providing practical support to other people now, have a "Somebody Else's Problem" attitude towards doing so.

Well, i'm an anarchist. Moreover, my anarchist politics are partially rooted in those of individualist anarchists such as e.g. Benjamin Tucker. And as we all know, individualism can only ever be egotistical and uncaring, right?2

i am a homemaker for two households. i do (at a minimum) several hours worth of volunteer work per week for an organisation supporting the SGD communities. i regularly provide at least a few hours' worth of emotional support each week to close friends. And i do all this as someone in semi-remission from CFS.

If we're going to engage in political caricatures, it could equally be said that leftist statists' position is: "People should be looked after, but I personally don't want to do it, so how about confiscating part of people's income under threat of physical retribution, and then using that money to pay someone else to do it?"

i recently wrote a comment in which i said:

It depends on what you mean by 'anarchist'.

i now identify as an anarchist, having for many years identified as a Marxist. i do so because i've come to distinguish what i call "political anarchism" from what i call (with a nod to Diane Vera's writings on theistic Satanism) "brat brigade anarchism".

"Brat brigade anarchism" is basically "You're not the boss of me now / I should be free to do whatever the fuck I want". There's no real serious political analysis involved. And this is the 'anarchism' that the mass media likes to promote as all anarchism 'really' is.

In contrast, political anarchism is simply the position that there should not be an institution - "the state" - that claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical violence within a particular graphical [sic - should be 'geographical'] area, which one cannot consent to not be a part of. Beyond that, political anarchists take many different positions; but i feel it's a straw man to assert that political anarchists think that everyone would simply be nice to each other and not try to harm one another. Instead, anarchists tend to argue for things like community self-defence organisations which people voluntarily join, and which are directly accountable to the communities they serve, rather than current Western systems in which policing is often done to less privileged community [sic] rather than for them.

i can assure you that i have only begun to take on anarchist political positions after decades of political activism and thinking about the tendencies i've observed in human behaviour. :-)

i would suggest that analysing anarchist politics on the basis of the loudest and most obnoxious anarchists is like trying to analyse Christian theology via the Westboro Baptist Church. Just as there are literally millions of self-identified Christians quietly working every day against social and economic injustice, rather than devoting their time and resources to spreading hateful propaganda, i'm sure there are anarchists apart from myself also working to build grassroots community organisations for the purposes of mutual aid. Beware the possibility of biased samples.

1 And 'libertarians' too, although i've noticed a failure to distinguish between right-libertarianism - which is often what people associate with 'libertarians' - and left-libertarians, which is a distinction that needs to be made.

2. Although 'defences' of individualist anarchism such as this don't do much to reduce that perception. i found the linked-to piece started off promisingly, but then descended into such a morass of fail that i gave up on it.


flexibeast: Baphomet (Default)

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